Featuring: Kurt “Escape From New York” Russell , Rosario “Clerks II” Dawson , Zoë “Game of Death (2011)” Bell
Director & Writer: Quentin “Inglourious Basterds” Tarantino
Also Known As:Death Proof
“I’m afraid you’re gonna have to start gettin’ scared immediately.”
Intro: As mentioned in my Planet Terror rerun review, Grindhouse hits the big 1-0 this year, so what better time to exhume the remains of a pair of my old pontifications from the rubble of the old site (I should really get around to having that cleaned up) and see whether or not this double-feature retained its luster after the last decade? The answer: there is no better time…unless we’re talking about last month on the anniversary of Grindhouse‘s actual release date. But, what has been done cannot be undone, and what was not done is being done now. Got it? Me neither. Anyway, heeeeere’s Death Poof!
I mean, “proof”… here’s Death Proof…
Quentin Tarantino comes in with the second feature of Grindhouse and, unlike Planet Terror‘s demolition derby of start-to-finish action and gore, Death Proof makes you earn that privilege by sitting through a lot of characterization and dialogue first. In other words, it’s a Tarantino movie. I’ve never had a problem with Quentin’s movies, I just hate the man himself because he’s a spazzy little pissant that should never be allowed to do interviews or step foot in the general public. But, if I was going to be slowly driven insane by listening to actors spew lines of vulgarity and pop culture references at each other until it pulled a Chinese Water Torture on my frontal lobe, I’d want it to be written by QT…or Kevin Smith.
Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is, well, a former stuntman, in case you didn’t catch that part of his name. Mike used to do a lot of “falling off horses” stand-in work in the old days of TV westerns before falling back on car crash stunts when he ran out of actors to look like. But, in this modern day of Hollywood penny pinching bullshit like computer graphics imaging, jobs are scarce for guys like Mike. With all this free time on his hands, Mike’s got plenty of opportunities to find new ways to keep himself entertained. Whereas most normal guys would simply work on their porn collection or take up a hobby like pyrography, Mike instead discovered his new fetish: killing women!
Mike’s technique of choice isn’t anything as simple as stabbing, shooting or strangulation, though. Instead, he likes to involve them in violent car wrecks the likes of which no one could ever possibly walk away from. This way, said meticulously plotted slaughters can never really be seen as anything more than one guy’s unfortunate string of car wrecks. Would-be accusations of stuff like “premeditated murder” are immediately followed by stuff like “no concrete evidence”, so Mike gets away with little more than a brief stint in a hospital room for a broken bone or two, which is all in a day’s work for a stuntman anyway. But how does SM pull off such a thing without getting himself an early ride to the grave in the process? Turns out that stuntmen can super reinforce a car in a way that guarantees the driver will not be killed should the car be otherwise destroyed. This method is called…wait for it… “death proofing”.
That’s right kids, we have ourselves a title.
So, we have our antagonist. Now, where will we find him some victims? Enter Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Kim (Tracie Thoms), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Zoe (real life stuntwoman Zoe Bell as herself!) – four friends looking for fun. Ab, Kim and Lee are all on break from their current jobs on the set of the latest Lindsey Lohan tripe, which gives them time to hang out with their pal Zoe who’s in town visiting from New Zealand. Seems that while she’s here, Zoe plans to live out a longtime goal of riding on the hood of a car (a game she calls “ship’s mast”) that’s the exact make and model of her panty-peeler fantasy ride from the cult classic carsploitation movie Vanishing Point – a white 1970 Dodge Challenger.
As luck would have it, such a car is being offered for sale by one of the yokels in the Tennessee area where the ladies are residing! After Ab sweet talks the car’s slack-jawed stereotype into letting the gals take a test drive (which includes a terrifying allusion to leaving Lee, cheerleader costume and all, behind so Billy-Bob can “get to know her”), the remaining trio of ladies take the Challenger out for a spin. Too bad for the babes that what starts off as a dream come true for Zoe turns into a car chase nightmare when who else but our homicidal hombre Mike, out of the hospital and behind the wheel of his newly proofed Chevy Nova, is back on the prowl to grind more fresh lady flesh under his Goodyears. What follows is one of the greatest car chase finales since The Road Warrior.
As mentioned before, the movie’s a bit talky. Since Grindhouse is over 3 hours long, people are going to be begging for any opportunity to hit the restroom and empty their Pampers. My best recommendation would be to drain the reservoirs during the first 20 minutes of so of Death Proof. If you love Tarantino’s writing you might want to ignore what I just said, but if you’re not the type who absolutely must see half an hour or so of characters being established only to have all of that effort flushed in the long run, heed my words. I could live with seeing everything before the first car accident scene trimmed down considerably, then leaving the last half of the movie as is, to be honest. But, like everything else on this website, that’s just my opinion. Despite the innately inessential opening act, the latter half of the flick makes sitting through the first half so worth the effort.
Kurt Russell looks like he had as much fun playing the weathered Stuntman Mike as Tarantino probably had directing the whole movie (despite its lack of his infamous inclusion of n-word carpet bombing the script). The man-who-was-Snake runs the range from funny to creepy to charming to pathetic and he does it all with a wink and a smile. His performance is nothing if not a blast to watch… sorry, “blast” was the best word I could come up with when typing this.
The cast of gals are all having a lot of fun here too and it shows. Zoe Bell should definitely mix in more actual acting roles with her stunt work (FYI: she was Uma Thurman’s double for the Kill Bill movies) and she looks like she’s genuinely having a pisser of a time riding that hood. Tracie Thoms is the definition of “crazy bitch” as she hoots, hollers and curses her way through the last 30 minutes of the movie and makes me wish I was cool enough to hang out with her. And Rosario Dawson? I’ve fallen in love with her all over again since the first time she made me do so in Clerks II. She’s cool, she’s sweet, she’s hot, she’s adorable, she’s a FUCKING COMIC GEEK and, when it gets down to it, she’s a hellacious bruiser! Her best moment? Wait till about two seconds after “The End” pops up on the screen and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
As with Planet Terror, everybody else on the credits scroll did their job and that’s about all I can say about that. Eli Roth (who directed the Thanksgiving trailer I’ll be mentioning later) and Tarantino himself have small roles too – Quentin as a friendly bartender and Roth as a patron at said bar trying to get his ovarian target for the night drunk enough to go home with her. Can’t say I blame him though, as I can only imagine the looks he gets when he tells chicks, “Yeah, I’m the guy who made Hostel! Wanna go back to my place and shit on my chest?”.
Aside from the two or three hundred movie references Tarantino drops throughout the dialogue (you’d think he was making a commission on DVD sales from these things…), I’m sorry to say that I’m not a follower of car chase flicks, so many of the tribute pieces were probably lost on me. For instance, if my mother-in-law hadn’t pointed out that the chrome duck hood ornament on Mike’s car was an homage to one used in the movie Convoy, I would’ve just seen a stupid chrome rubber duck. The one thing that I did pick up on (at least I think so…) was a scene where Stuntman Mike plows through a roadside movie marquee advertising a double feature for Scary Movie 4 and a Wolf Creek sequel. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m gonna say that this is a little tribute to Wes Craven’s now classic use of a torn Jaws poster in the original The Hills Have Eyes as a way to say that the latter was a superior scare flick in comparison to the former. Did Tarantino use this to say that the double feature in Grindhouse is superior to an imaginary double feature of these other non-existent movies, or am I just reading too much into it? More importantly, do you care? Me neither.
As far as the Grindhouse gimmick goes, Tarantino shies away from the liberal use of film scratches and superficial burns that Rodriguez leaned on for Planet Terror, opting instead for other loving faux faults like audio hiccups and a couple of frames missing from the reel that cause cars to suddenly disappear, small pieces of conversation to be left out and people to magically teleport from one place to another. He also does a great bit with the opening credits, in which the title card for the movie’s original fake original title of “Quentin Tarantino’s Thunder Bolt” is clipped out for a generic looking still of the alternate title (that of course being “Death Proof”) printed in white on a base black background. That was a definite favorite moment for me. This movie’s “Missing Reel” moment is a lap dance scene that I couldn’t care less about missing to be honest, so if this was never shot and doesn’t make it into the DVD, I won’t mind.
For you trivia hounds out there, Stuntman Mike got into the stuntman biz through his brother, Stuntman Bob. If that helps you win ‘Jeopardy’ someday, you owe me 20%!
All in all, I meant what I said and I said what I meant: I recommend Grindhouse 100%. And now, for the “coming attractions”…
I’m going to talk about two of Grindhouse’s fake trailers here and the other two in my review for Planet Terror, so if you haven’t checked that out yet, do so when you’re done here.
The first trailer (which is actually the third trailer shown throughout the length of the double feature) is Don’t. In a hilarious lampooning of the infamous “Don’t [Action to be Disparaged Goes Here]” movie titles US release companies gave European releases in the States during the sleazy ‘70s, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright previews a fake movie for us about people trapped in a haunted house, including the director’s frequent collaborators Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Pushing the joke all the way, the trailer is entirely narration (by Will Arnett) with none of the actors getting off any actual lines, a trick used by said US releasing companies 30 years ago when they didn’t want potential audience members to know that the European movies being released under these new pseudonyms were cast with actors of heavy accents, worried it would turn people off. Much like Shaun of the Dead, this trailer’s literally brilliant and uses the underlying humor of its source material to full comedy effect. If I were the kind of guy who rated trailers, this would be a five star all the way!
Our final trailer is from Cabin Fever horror wunderkind Eli Roth, who brings us a parody of ‘70s and ‘80s holiday gimmick slasher movies called Thanksgiving that seems to be equal parts Halloween and My Bloody Valentine homage humor. The trailer goes for total shock factor, dick slapping everybody with graphically implied sex scenes and over-the-top gore. To put it in terms of audience reaction, everybody in the theater was laughing for Don’t, then groaning and gasping as loud and painfully as possible for Thanksgiving. Severed heads aplenty here, along with Cinemax level softcore scenes of chicks giving out blow jobs like they were Christian propaganda fliers, a disturbing scene of a topless cheerleader on a trampoline getting a very sharp alternative to a Tampax shoved up her birth canal, and a baffling final scene of someone cooked and stuff like a giant turkey before a very brief glimpse of what looks like Roth himself being sodomized at a dinner table…what the fuck?! Roth has shown he likes shock value over “artistic vision” and I’d definitely watch Thanksgiving as a feature, just to say I sat through it without blinking…because I’m a desensitized sociopath. Though I can appreciate some fairly done graphic violence and sex, the actual urge to see something like this isn’t as inspiring as I think the man was trying to do. 3 out of 5.
Xtro: Okay, for starters allow me to redact my pissing and moaning about Tarantino being a spaz, as it’s hypothesized that the mad genius of genre tropes and snappy dialogue may well have Asperger’s or at least fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum. I’m not saying he needs to be pitied as a result, I’m just over being annoyed by his manic mannerisms and “too much cocaine in his coffee” personality. Considering the mental demolition derby I’ve been involved in in recent years myself, that would also make me a bit of a hypocrite. And remember kids, it’s not hip to be a hypocrite… just ignore the difference in spelling there. My PSA is still viable, G.I. Jerkoff.
Unlike Planet Terror, Death Proof‘s special effects skew more traditional to the grindhouse theme, opting for what at least looks like 100% practical magic (housewife witchery not included) rather than dicking with digital deceptions. This ain’t no Fast and Furious fuckery, fanboys! This is a straight up traditional car-on-car bump n’ grind! And what did R. Kelly teach us before he was trapped in his closet and pissing on teenage girls? There ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little bump n’ grind. Or, if you too were raised on Mad Max movies (like moi) or those classic off-the-radar car flicks of the ’70s, the old way is the only way. It’s an art form that, depressingly, has fallen victim to technology and breaks my heart…well, except for Mad Max: Fury Road, because I pray George Miller my soul to keep.
Tarantino also made Death Proof with what you’d imagine to be an anorexic budget, as its 2 hour run time takes place in fewer locations than an agoraphobic’s weekly routine. So much of it happens in a honky-tonk bar or a diner or on back roads or just in the cars themselves that it has to be Quentin’s most minimalist shoot outside of Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight. This doesn’t keep the man from shooting it all beautifully with his usual “100 different angles” style though, and even for someone who hasn’t spent so much as 5 minutes in a film class, it brings a tear to my eye and a jealousy to my heart. Speaking of jealousy, I imagine that most of the obscure movie posters and paraphernalia that decorates the sets belong to Tarantino himself, which no doubt saved a fair amount of pressure on the prop budget…unless he was smart and used said budget to buy a bunch of cool shit he himself didn’t already have, then just pocketed everything when the job was done.
The cast is fantastic, the direction and cinematography are beautiful (moreso if you’re a foot fetishist like QT, far less so if you’re a podophobic like my mother-in-law), if you’re a fan of Tarantino’s usual heavily scripted free-flowing dialogue by characters who would all kick your ass at Trivial Pursuit you’ll be happy to know it’s all there, the soundtrack is pitch perfect (because it’s gods damned Quentin Tarantino, so of fucking course it is), and the stunts are so eye blisteringly stellar that the team deserves a friggin’ constellation named after them! It’s almost a perfect movie. But…
The biggest problem I first had with DP (huh huh huh) was watching it directly after having sat through the 100+ minutes of Planet Terror. Even if I weren’t a lightweight when it comes to theatrical marathons (I’ve only watched two movies back-to-back in a theater twice), following up a zombie slaughtering action-comedy with a “talkie” that takes the better part of an hour before it sheds any blood? It’s a rough transition. I wouldn’t blame anyone who walked out, fell asleep in their seat, or passed on paying for a ticket altogether. Even as its own entity, I still have a major issue with the movie’s structure: it sandblasts my ass to introduce and flesh out a cast of characters just to kill them off halfway through the movie and introduce a second cast of would-be victims after. Why? Because the only person we follow throughout the flick is Stuntman Mike, but he’s less a main character than a catalyst! He’s the antagonist, fine, but we get no inclination of his motivation beyond that he’s a former fall guy who really hates women for… some… reason. Want to excuse this as part of the bad movie gimmick? No. If you’re giving us snappy dialogue delivered by talented actors but leaving out important background details about the only constant character in the movie, that’s flying like a lead zeppelin full of mud sharks.
My other gripe is the inconsistency of the grindhouse mimicry. The gimmick shit comes on heavy in the first few minutes with intentionally awkward cuts, audio skips, and that great title card change paving the way (pun intended). The grimy grainy motif carries on throughout the first half, but then the second half starts on an incredibly clean black & white scene (of which QT is keen) for reasons unseen. The colors come back on after the new apples of Mike’s evil eye are introduced, but the crisp look continues on until the finale. It’s an absolute orgasm for the oculars, especially now being able to see the grand 20 minute vroom vroom chase in 1080p, but why drop the titular shtick?! Punch my ticket and tickle my pickle.
And if you’re wondering if Tarantino’s penchant for excessively over-salting his scripts with a Lt. Col. Killgore level carpet-bombing of the n-word (and no, that’s not short for “napalm”), then yes. Not Samuel L. Jackson levels, granted, but Tracie Thoms does utter enough “niggas” to give Jeff Sessions a semi. So, if hearing said term churns your aural sensibilities, your ears will not be spared here.
While my reunion with Planet Terror reminded me just how much fun it is to watch, seeing Death Proof again bore me an all new respect for it. Despite my criticisms, I do appreciate the ass off of it! It’s not Quentin Tarantino’s best (in fact, he’s called it his worst), but it’s only one shelf below top shelf, and that makes it money in my book.
With that, kiddies, it’s time to say goodbye. Join us next episode when we get a visit from a certain team of super powered people who “guard” humanity from evil…
Moral of the Story: Bars offer all manner of pleasantries outside of booze. Alcohol is simply the lubricant for social interaction… unless you’re me, in which case alcohol is the legal anesthetic through which my body pisses off my brain by becoming completely unresponsive to any and all commands.
“I’m so glad I cut an emergency hole in all of my pants so I can plug up any unexpected leakage issues! Why doesn’t everybody do this?!”
“And then the monster was all like, ‘FIRE BAD!’ and shit. Hahahaha.”
“Bitch, does this look like an Appletini? If I wanted a margarita, I would’ve asked you to get me a margarita!”
Eli Roth wasn’t quite prepared for the vitriolic text he received from Keanu Reeves following the critical response to Knock Knock.
Cousin It spends yet another Saturday night dressed in drag and picking up strange men in bars, despite promising the rest of the Addams that it would never happen again after that weekend he spent locked up in Roman Polanski’s basement.
Special cameo by Eddie Izzard!
I wonder if he got that scar from eating pussy… or “pineapple” if we’re being censored.
In case you forgot you were watching a Quentin Tarantino movie. Oh well, it could be worse. At least his fetish isn’t school girls showing live eels up their butts or octogenarians shitting on Precious Moments Figurines!
If this were made in Japan, that would just be an indicator that she’s incredibly horny.
Beauford misread Jake’s comment and leaned in for a kiss that, sadly, would never come to pass. He and his broken heart resigned from the department shortly after to avoid the uncomfortable awkwardness between them that resulted, and spent the rest of his years married to Martha, dreaming of what could have been.
“Damn it, guys, I told you not to let Jenny have second and third helpings of chili for breakfast! I’m stuck back here with her for the next hour and it already smells like the ladies room at White Castle!”
A rare still from the long lost Michael Myers parody porn, “Hallowiener: Is That a Butcher Knife in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?”. The producers were advised not to distribute it as a Betamax exclusive, but they insisted it was the wave of the future. But, as this ad proves, sometimes it takes more than sex to sell.
We’ve all been the odd one out when it came to 3 people riding in a 2 seater and you weren’t fast enough to call “shotgun”.
Despite his wealth and fame, Kurt Russell refuses to pay drive-in prices, opting instead to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from his neighbor’s roof.
“Well, it looks like Boss Hogg didn’t take too kindly to those Duke Boys leaving an upper decker in his private moonshine still, so it was up to Roscoe to put Bo and Luke on ice. And all this just hours before the annual Hazzard County ‘Wings & Wangs’ barbecue and penis measuring festival!”
Hey ladies, are your pants registered with Airbnb by any chance? Because I’d like to live in ’em for a few days while I’m in town! *rimshot*
“And THIS is for Overboard! You ruined my trust in men for years with what you did to Goldie Hawn, you sick freak!”
Anubis will return next time in “In Soviet Russia, Copyright Laws Infringe You!”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
“It’s just like life, isn’t it? There are no do-overs.”
Hello, kids! Your humble narrator here, once again. My apologies for my absence these last few weeks. I wasn’t intentionally being enticingly elusive, I just lost all of my fingers after a “business agreement” with Robert Durant kinda fell through, and have been awaiting their regeneration. They’re still not 100%, but I’ve got enough stubbage to bang out a few words for today’s overdue review!
Also, no matter how hard you try, you’re now unable to read this without imagining my creepy little malformed digits clacking away at my keyboard. Take it, you slut. Take it all! Take it to your GRAVE!
Now then, back when “The New Adventures of Old Anubis” here started up, it got off on the right foot (the left one, if you’re Christy Brown) with The Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation, a repugnantly poor zombie sequel with an upsettingly long title starring personal favorites Andrew Divoff and, the reason The Tomb exists in the first place, Jeffrey Combs! Unfortunate to say, it was a decidedly drab performance by the career Herbert West, which may have had some small part in why I’ve only reviewed one other Combs movie since – Beyond Re-Animator. Though the lesser of the beloved trilogy, BRA was a better-than-average entry in the SIP (Scientists In Prison) sub-subgenre and an exponentially better outing for Combs than what we wound up with for TNotLD3DR. Then again, you can transplant the blame for that one to whomever cast such a master of scenery chewing for a barely-better-than-background-character role, should you feel so inclined to.
Today’s movie is a return to form for Mr. Combs, so I’m happy to start off our next 100 episodes with a heavy dosage of Jeff Monster Dos (Jeff Monster Uno being Jeff Goldblum) in the dinner party game to end all dinner party games! Or we could just get a pizza, order The Bye Bye Man on pay-per-view and stay in tonight. Would you rather? Too bad, cuz this review’s happening with you or without you.
Still here? Cool. Embrace your life of servitude. Our protagonista Iris (Brittany Snow) is one of those unfortunate “had so much potential and was going to college to do great things, but was forced to drop out and return home to take care of a sick family member by getting a low paying job she’s tragically overqualified for” dramatic heroines that we all root for out of a deep sense of pity or, worse, sympathy. The ailed family member in Iris’ case is her younger brother Raleigh (Logan Miller) whose leukemia is a total buzzkiller, man! I’m talkin’ Bring Down City, dudes, population Iris! Totally bogus, she-brosef! When their parents died in a car crash, she literally became her brother’s keeper. While Iris may accept her burden like a leading character would, Rals is less than happy about being a big dumb cancer-riddled shackle around big sister’s ankle, so he sits around all day feeling sorry for her while mocking her inability to speak with a French accent. Given that she pronounces “monsieur” as “man-sewer” like she’s one of the wild and wonderful Whites of West Virginia, I have to question the legitimacy of the movie’s claim that she was on the road to any kind of “greatness” beyond assistant manager of an under-performing Cracker Barrel. C’est la cinéma.
With medical bills mounting and the government dominated by elephant worshiping mutants genetically predisposed to refusing affordable healthcare for people in need, Raleigh’s grave illness is looking more and more deserving of that descriptor as time ticks away. Fortunately for the siblings, this is a movie! And since it’s a movie, the highly unlikely prospect of finding a bone marrow donor for Raleigh and covering the cost of the transplant operation is offered to Iris by the lad’s oncologist, Dr. Barden (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.)! Well, not Dr. B exactly, but he does introduce her to an incredibly wealthy philanthropist type guy named Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) who offers her the self-same salvation.
Hold up. Shepard Lambrick? Shepherd? Lamb? What the fuck is that about?! I hate whimsical naming tropes. Blart.
Shep invites our gal to a dinner party he’s hosting and promises to solve all of Raleigh’s problems if she participates in and wins a no doubt left intentionally ambiguous “party game” with his other guests. Barden vouches for the eccentric, evil emanating gent’s offer, revealing that the mustachioed mystery man’s charitable foundation opened the very same drive thru window of McOpportunity for him some years back when he too was in dire need of help. That might explain why Doc doesn’t seem to give a shit that Sheppy Warbucks has been building a mountain of discarded peanut shells on the fainting couch in his office for the extent of this exchange. Had Ed McMahon ever come through with that giant check he was always promising me, I’d have let him sit naked on my couch during the hottest day of the year and shuck all the legumes he wanted wherever he wanted!
Not entirely sure that she isn’t being set up to play one of the titular tuchi in an “ass to ass” show for a roomful of guys in business suits a la Requiem for a Dream (still a less disturbing scene than watching Marlon Wayans rape stuffed animals in A Haunted House), Iris needs some time to think about the offer. When she goes home and gets the GTFOut callback from TGIFridays about the hostess job she was hoping to land, she’s left with little option but to toss her metaphorical hat into Mr. Lambrick’s dinner party ring. She tells Ral that she’s going out for the night to blow off some stream with her friends, rather than doing the smart thing and explaining the situation to him.
Any time you’re invited to an affluent stranger’s dinner party (the closest to which I’ll ever experience being GJ Echternkamp inviting me to lunch after reading my review for Death Race 2050), you should leave behind every piece of information you can with as many people as you can, as your first presumption should be that said affluent stranger intends to either kill and eat you (not necessarily in that order) or, best case scenario, that their friends are going to hunt you across a private island like some sort of game. A dangerous game, if you will. Perhaps, dare I say, the most dangerous game?
Our embattled heroine is chauffeured to the event, which she's told is not held in the Lambs’ personal home, but in a mansion the family uses solely for this special annual dining event… Sorry to keep harping on the inevitable danger we can all see waiting for Iris like Shin Godzilla on the horizon, but sometimes my mind takes its cue from my Jethro Tull “Thick as a Brick” cassette – it has 1 track. Ready for a 100cc injection of irony? The 8-track version of “Thick as a Brick” too only has said singular track. Think about it.
At the party, Iris (and the viewer, vicariously) is introduced to the other 7 attendees. We don’t learn much about each, so I’ll just give you the quick role call. We have Lucas (Enver Gjokaj), Cal (Eddie “CRABMAN!” Steeples, who still has the same rebellious mane he did in ‘My Name is Earl’), Peter (Rob Wells), Linda (June Squibb… no relation to the man who invented the squib), Travis (Charlie Hofheimer), Amy (Sasha Grey), and Conway (John Heard… what? What has John heard?). Each was recruited for tonight from one corner of the country or another, with Iris as the only local talent. Given that Doc was a past winner though, maybe that’s good luck? You know how competitive people are about their superstitions, after all. Still, that does come off as convenient…
Once their meal gets underway, the reason for the dinner (and our title) becomes immediately obvious when Iris declares herself a vegetarian and apologizes for having to decline the flesh heavy entree. Shep in turn offers her $10k to bypass her dietary morals and choke down her steak and foie gras in front of everyone. Naturally (and literally), she bites and earns herself a handy five figures to stomach rich people food that doesn’t consist of live snails or monkey brains! Nice. Next on ‘Deal or Ordeal’, recovering alcoholic Conway cashes in his 16 year chip for a decanter of “the finest Scotch money can buy” and a $50k payday of his own. Shit, I’d down a gallon of Tenafly Viper and a chaser of Shaq’s sweaty sneaker full of horse piss for $50k! I also have zero shame.
So, as far as asshole rich people in movies go, our antagonist has established himself as the Ted DiBiase type: offering the less fortunate what he considers a pittance to shit away their dignity for his amusement. Ladies and gents, welcome to the game that’s a sadist’s paradise – Would You Rather.
With the pre-show over and everyone sufficiently intrigued/terrified, the guests are offered an out before things go any further. Looks like they all assume that they’re just going to be paid to eat and drink things they normally wouldn’t be into though, so no one takes the Get Out of Guantanamo Free card. When Shep’s hired goon Bevans (Jonny Coyne) rolls in a DIY shock therapy machine, the now imbibed Conway indignantly tries to take his $50k and run, only to be met with a bullet in the face from the former MI5 spook-turned-Caucasian Random Task (hopefully without all that “Christmas Eve gang rape and torture” nastiness)! Yes, kids, when someone who’s clearly a sadist says you’re allowed to leave the situation before things get “serious”, you run for that glowing red EXIT sign as fast as your feet will carry you before Million Dollar Man Jigsaw changes his mind!
In addition to Bev, Lambrick also introduces his son Donald Jr., I mean Julius (Robin Lord Taylor) to the group. As you’d anticipate, Jules is your typical fucking rich kid snot rag who clearly carries daddy’s mean streak in his DNA, minus the false face of eminence and empathy that pops portrays to the plebians. The wormy shit’s last name would be better pronounced “Lame-prick”, and if you didn’t wanna punch the young Oswald Cobblepot in the face with a bedpan bad enough before seeing this movie, you’ll wanna shove Domon Kasshu’s burning finger through his face by the end of it.
Round 1 (FIGHT!) involves the guests zapping each other with the “enhanced interrogation” electroshocker, as two players per turn get their heads wired. Each person is offered the opportunity to rattle their own fillings or give the person to their right a taste of the Carrie Fisher Treatment. It’s like the “take a penny, leave a penny” tray at the liquor store, only with a higher risk of heart attack and self-defecation. Though most of the remaining 7 play nice and opt to take Ben Franklin’s Kite Ride themselves, Amy keeps it 100 and buzzes old lady Linda’s wig faster than Electro on uppers. Clearly someone’s grandma was a bit heavy handed with the wooden spoon while she was growing up and now has a case of Grandmasogyny. You can’t watch this part of the game without thinking about the family therapy episode of ‘The Simpsons’…
With no fatalities (aside from Conway getting a case of .45 caliber gray matter splatter in the pre-show), the Surviving Seven all go on to Round 2. Then again, Round 1 clearly wasn’t meant to eliminate anyone, so much as it was just a way to prod (No pun intended? No, pun intended!) everyone into disclosing who the Samaritans are and who the Jeff Varners/human skidmarks are (*whisper* it’s Amy). During their between-rounds timeout, the gang try to work out an escape plan. While they ponder how best to jump Bevans and his back-up lackeys, they make sure to let Amy know that her bitch-ass is on her own. Much as I echo the sentiment, that’s the kind of thing someone who’s shown themselves to be self-centered to a violent extent is just going to use later to further smother their conscience and fuel their “fuck the rest of you” mentality. Good luck with that.
Round 2 ramps shit up a few levels, graduating to “Would you rather stab so-and-so in the leg with an icepick or cane the ever loving nougat out of Travis”, who made the mistake of talking back to Orange Julius during his intermission “mock the poor people” pep talk. Trav offers himself up as the sacrificial lamb so no one has to risk taking a poke in the femoral artery and bleed to death. Some people opt to look their personal gift horse in the mouth and, rather than just let Travis die, take a chance with stabbing their neighbor instead. Not unlike the way I stab myself in the thigh with the old steak knife I keep next to my keyboard whenever I start zoning out while typing reviews.
Without going into too many specifics, the round ends with 2 victims, which is way more than any of the Stalkers in The Running Man were able to rack up. The remaining players attempt their coup (oddly devoid of background music) before Round 3, only to fail. One contestant tries some saber rattling with an actual saber, but his revenge is cut short by the gun that Shepard keeps on himself for just such as occasion. While the others are forced to return to the table, Iris escapes into the house’s basement, only to be snatched mere inches from freedom by none other than Julius Seize-Her *rimshot*. The living embodiment of a garbage bag full of used tissues attempts to rape our heroine, only to get a first hand taste of girl power as Iris beats the fluid out of the little douche bag and leaves him lying. Doc Barden (whose guilty conscience forces him to try and rescue Iris) appears intending to assist in her liberation, but his best efforts just make him the modern day Dick Halloran when his big ol’ PHD brain proves no match for Bevans’ peacemaker, mere seconds later. You can’t help but hear Groundskeeper Willy uttering “Ach, I’m bad at this!” from the ether.
Bev retrieves our leading lady, with Summer’s Eve being the one who gets punished for his uncouth behaviors. Nothing in a cool “gets his dick shot off” manner, though. The rat faced Pat Bateman wanna-be is just sent to his room and basically grounded from watching the rest of the game. Boo hoo.
Would You Rather Round 3 kicks off with the extant contestants not too happy that Iris gets to return to the game despite her near-successful dash for freedom. To be fair, running away is akin to a forfeit, but since she’s the Atlas upon whose shoulders our tale is told, their host turns a blind-eye to any repercussions. Then again, if you consider it, maybe adding Iris back into the game is her comeuppance? Whatever your opinion, the clash’s 3rd quarter is, as Shep calls it, “the known vs. the unknown”. Its gimmick revolves around a series of “punishment cards” issued randomly to each player via nondescript envelopes. Before opening their individual fates, they’re given a choice between gambling on what torment the card holds for them or spending 2 minutes held face down in a cask of H2O by Bevans. Given their host’s upper crustiness, I would imagine it’s VOSS or Volvic or at least Evian in there. Whatever its origin, as you may remember from grade school science, water is not a substance that humans can breathe.
Again, to avoid ruining the outcome of the scene for you I’m just going to tell you what the anonymous tortures consist of. One card entitles its holder to one free FULL dental extraction. Another requires its recipient to hold a lit quarter stick in their hand to completion. A third card forces its owner to slit open one of their eyeballs with a razor blade (at least they get to choose which one, so… that’s fair… right?). The final card, well… I’ll get to that. Now, though we may have shed our gills millions of years ago in the evolutionary march to now, scienticians have told us for ages that the average human can hold their breath for 2-3 minutes with relative ease. So, provided you don’t have a stroke, why wouldn’t anyone opt for the barrel instead of the card? Unless they’ve got “kid on christmas” syndrome and not knowing what’s in the envelope will make them go into seizures. Or you’re horrified of water because someone or someones very near and dear to you drown… which happened to one of the final four. Said player clearly doesn’t want that, so they opt for their card – FOUR minutes of face time with the supposed source of all life (and its fair share of death). Given such a “coincidence”, I have to wonder how true Lambrick’s claim was that these cards were issued completely at random. Hell, given the entire barrel concept I’d say its a safe bet that this entire round was targeting that self same player. Hmmm.
With two more eliminations courtesy of round 3, the game goes into its 4th and final showdown between our last two survivors. A coin toss to decide who goes first sees Iris win (like you didn't know she'd make it to the end) and she's presented with the following scenario: she and her opponent are both allowed to leave, pockets none the richer but both allowed to live, or she has one shot with a dueling pistol to kill the person across the table from her, in which case she stands the victor atop the bodies of her enemies and Raleigh gets an expansion on the figurative ranch house that is his life.
Now, here’s the fun part. If you’re adequately intrigued by this premise and want to keep your brain virginal so as to experience its finale for yourself sans spoilage, you have two choices to continue your adventure – allow me to pop your cherry and continue reading, or close this window immediately and read no further until you’ve watched Would You Rather, returning later instead. Make your choice now before reading further!
Iris' opposition offers up the sob story that brought them here in a last ditch effort to make us care about them, but Iris is even less interested than we are and puts them down before their guilt trip gambit can get past “I have 3 sisters”. Arrangements are made for Ral's operation, a donor was already found beforehand so the transplanted marrow will be on a plane to the US in less than a day, and on top of all that, Iris will be given enough money to take care of things for both of them while also getting the chance to go back and finish her education. She mutters out a mandatory “thank you” to her captor/savior and is taken home. Hooray! The Day is won! At a terrible cost of her humanity and likely any semblance of non-PTSD ravaged sleep for the rest of her life, granted, but at least it all worked out in the end!
…Until she gets home and discovers that Ralo pilled himself straight into deceasedhood while she was out.
There are only two real ways WYR should have ended for me. I would’ve accepted a happy ending (which I always do, ladies) had the final scene been a montage of Raleigh going through the surgery while Iris sat alone in a hospital waiting room until he comes out in the clear and the pair share a brother and sister moment of triumph, only to have a Psycho-ish final shot where the camera pans slowly in to Iris’ face, freezing on her eye, finally saturating into a grainy black & white while a sound byte of her screaming from earlier plays over it. Or, the ending we got, despite my telegraphing it as soon as we got the shot of little bro feeling guilty over his sister having to make special plans to have something as simple as dinner with her friends while probably worrying about him being home alone the whole time. My suspicions were proven as soon as the last few minutes of the movie focused on Iris checking on her “sleeping” brother before showering and getting some manner of rest only to discover Ral’s state when she goes to wake him the following morning. Hey, sometimes being right about the surprise awaiting you is even more satisfying than getting something out of left field just for the sake of an audience swerve.
I also thrive on “sad” finishes. When The Mist wrapped up, I laughed and cheered, clapping as Tom Jane crumbled into a heap of overwhelming, impotent horror. I love downer endings! The Empire Strikes Back was my favorite Star War. Not just because I find the standard issue “Hollywood ending” impractical for as many times as we’ve seen any and every conflict, no matter the scale, wrapped up with a last minute feel good resolution just in time for the end credits, but because I’m a callous prick who likes to see imaginary people suffer horrible losses. And sometimes real people… when the situation calls for it… or I’m just feeling sadistic… or when I can’t sleep… or when I sleep too much…
As a general statement, I’m not a big fan of what the faux-conservative types have long since labeled the “torture porn” subgenre. Clearly not due to some bullshit ethical quandary, given half the tirades I’ve thrown out here over the years. I didn’t mind Hostel, and I’m not against people enjoying movies whose main selling point is graphic violence. Hell, vulgar displays of blood and guts and meat and bones are always welcome in The Tomb! As sad as it may be to say, though, I’ve been doing this (i.e. criticizing “bad movies”) for almost 20 years. With extended gaps in between and having lost 90% of my material from before 2013, sure, but that’s still a LONG time in which I’ve seen a LOT of movies. Mutilating people for fun should be but a single bloodsoaked piece of your plot, not the whole thing. This is where Would You Rather becomes torture porn done right! It’s not just a group of masked sadists causing physical violence on wayward vacationers for kicks, it’s subjecting the characters and audience to psychological torments too. The fact that it doesn’t go to comical excesses the way something like a Troma movie would, and treats even potentially goofy things with a serious tone that makes it way more effective.
I do have a qualm or two with Shep’s excuse that he does all of this under the auspice that it’s for his guests’ “own good” to unveil each player’s “true character”. Just like Jigsaw always said his games were about “making the victims struggle to appreciate their lives and earn the right to keep living”, it’s all bullshit. Both guys are clearly just getting off on making people torture themselves and each other, so don’t pretend it’s some kind of higher level existential crap. They’re violent psychos with too much time and too many resources on their hands that could be making the world a better place, but instead choose to be self-indulgent assholes who can get away with murder, so they do. Repeatedly. Deal with it.
The setup for Shep’s game feels more than a little absurd, even beyond the whole “Iris just happens to live in the same general area, while everyone else was flown in from around the country”. And if you’re asking yourself “Why wouldn’t someone who survived the game have told the cops about all this?!”, that’s an easy one – since the winner is the only one to survive, and their entire motivation for going through with it was to live the rest of their life on the Lambrick Foundation’s tab, why would they go to the authorities? “But why didn’t the doctor just go to the cops when he decided to help Iris?!” you say? Why? So, provided he survives long enough to make it to trial, he can then spend a chunk of his life in prison for being an accessory (and get shower shivved by someone on the inside on Shepard’s behalf) while Lambrick’s money and standing within society gets him off? Sure, he was killed anyway, but chalk it up to the illusion that too many gun owners buy into the fantasy that they’re invincible… until someone else with a gun kills them… or someone without a gun just takes their gun from them and kills them.
I think my biggest logic fart with today’s flick is covering up all of the “unsuccessful” contestants. There’s no mention of how long the Lambs have been shepherding unknowing victims for their slaughter, but it’s been at least twice. Now, if the previous game included the same number of players, that’s 7 victims from each dinner, for a total of 14 people. Among those 14 people, you have to imagine than no less than, let’s say 4 of them must’ve told someone where they were going and what they were doing. Especially given that they were flown in from sea to shining sea. How has the game gone on this long, even if it’s only the second time, without any major red flags being raised over at least 14 missing people?! Given that those 14 people were brought to the house all expenses paid, there must be some kind of figurative paper trail to lead the authorities back to the fucking Lambrick Foundation! I enjoy your your concept in a style befitting of that one kid from Prince of Space (in other words, “Very much!”), and the story plays out entertainingly enough (especially that nod to The Shining with Doc), but the devil’s in the details Steffen Schlachtenhaufen (gesundheit!), so maybe fill in some of those plot holes next time for a smoother ride.
And this isn’t ‘MST3K’, so don’t tell me I should “really just relax” either!
Finally, the cast. Brittany Snow is a serviceable leading lady, at least in a movie where the focus is spread throughout a dozen or so people sitting around a table for most of the runtime. Not sure if she could have carried a more centrally focused flick, but that’s nothing to do with Would You Rather. On the opposite end of the lady spectrum, Sasha Grey makes a GREAT high-riding bitch! Then again, if you’d seen her dominating other women in as much of her, uhm, “other roles” as I have, you wouldn’t be surprised. On the other side of the chromosomal line, Robin “Lord” Taylor is as good a loathsome shit shucker as Grey is a massive cunt. The duo would’ve made a great couple, simply because seeing someone as attractive as her on his arm would’ve just made the audience want to feed him to an industrial lawnmower all the more!
I was a little disappointed that John Heard wasn’t around longer, especially since his character would’ve been drunk for the extent of the proceedings. Oh well, despite his short screen time, it was still better here than what he gave us in Sharknado. Speaking of letdowns, Eddie Steeples. Man, I had hopes to see something special out of the guy. He’s a solid comedy guy, so I was hoping to see how far he could stretch his legs with a dramatic role. Then again, the role didn’t exactly give him much to run with, so go piss up a rope with all that “no small parts” crap, Stanislavski! Everybody else in the movie? Fine. With the exception of Rob Wells’ slight resemblance to Danny McBride (who’s in Alien: Covenant – what the fuck?!), I doubt I’d recognize any one them in another movie ever again. There is always the possibility one of them could be involved in some crazy shit like that Ryan Jenkins “stuffed his dead wife’s naked body into a suitcase he then left in a dumpster” stuff, but I’d imagine not.
As for Combs? The reason we’re all here today? I thought he was amazing. The star of the show. He brought his overacting gloves to the set and a big appetite for that aforementioned scenery! He makes what could have been a throwaway evil rich guy into a memorable bastard who treats the entire game as an amusing but perfectly normal get together. He has a weird respect for the game and seems personally invested in the others’ actions, studying them and eager for the next surprise. He takes joy in it, but keeps a moderate air of dignity for the most part, keeping a firm hold on the reins as he leads the confused, frightened, angry guests through the challenges. He full on loses his cool during one scene and Combs’ voice cracks, but it adds a smidge of realism to the moment, much the same way that Veronica Carwright’s legit delivery during Alien‘s chestburster reveal helps lend it credence. I’m not recommending that JC’s act is going to wow everyone, but for my tastes, I really enjoyed it.
Much as I’d like to see a continuation of the Lambricks’ lethal luncheons, after 5 years I’m pretty sure we’re not getting a sequel. Then again, it was 41 years between Two-Thousand Maniacs and 2001 Maniacs, so as improbable as it is, nothing is impossible! Except that live-action Attack of the Super Monsters movie I keep bugging Senor Spielbergo to direct. That’s pretty impossible. Your lawyers can only protect you from my script for so long, Steven!
If a Would You Rather follow-up isn’t on the table, you know what should be? A board game and/or card game! See what I did there? Because of the table and the games that are played on tables? Yep. Anyway, if nothing else, WYR is screaming for a Kickstarter project to make such a thing happen!… wait, those may be the screams from my basement where I… left the TV on? Never mind!
That’s the tale of “When Anubis Watched Would You Rather”. It’s a nice solid step to start our journey through the next 100 episodes, which is sure to bring us sights, sounds, and stupid shit the likes of, well, what you generally expect from movies around here. You should give it a watch if you like seeing people suffer, you’re a fan of Pitch Perfect – Home Alone crossover fanfic, or you’re like me and worship at the alter of a JC whose hands you can really put your faith in. Combs be with you, brothers and sisters and everyone in-between.
Finally today, despite all of that Kylie Jenner commercial retardation, my stance as a proud Pepsi drinker was only reinforced recently, as it was revealed that President Nacho Cheez Dick Sneeze has a button in the oval office specifically for calling a butler to serve him his favorite beverage: Coca-Cola. Yep. Just imagine he and the rest of white trash Mount Rushmore (palin, nugent, and… uhm… “rock”) in a helicopter gunning down the hibernating Coca-Pola’ Bears this christmas. I think I just gave Hallmark their top-selling holiday offering in the southern and midwestern US markets for 2017!
Moral of the Story: You’ll never know if your dynamite’s a dud if you don’t light the fuse.
IFC Films – Buying back the indie cred our channel lost by putting out movies that no one in your family has ever heard of!
“I don’t care what the commercial said, just because pizza’s on a bagel does NOT mean you can eat pizza anytime!”
Maybe Jason Chaffetz was right. Maybe if Raleigh hadn’t spent all of his allowance on that PSP, he could’ve afforded to pay for an anti-Leukemia health plan! You know, cuz all it takes to prevent Cancer is $100 in GameStop trade-in credit…
“That’s just Norman. Don’t mind him, he’s just feeding peanuts to his imaginary baby elephant again. He doesn’t bite. The elephant I’m not so sure of.”
Brittany Snow is disappointed to discover that plans for the ‘Nurse Jackie’ prequel series she’d audition for have been scrapped.
Looks like he just asked her out for a drink sometime and she replied with “I don’t date… uhm… jazz people.”
Spoiler for Trainspotting 2 – Spud and Sick Boy one made a co-donation at the local sperm bank, and their grown up son comes looking for his two dads!
Disappointed that her blind date isn’t as interested in her as he is in their waitress, Iris begins playing footsie with herself.
“Come on, Fluffy! Do your trick! Show everyone your talent! He eats his steak with a knife and fork. It’s so cute. Usually he does it, but he might be too excited with everyone else here. Fluffy! DO THE TRICK!”
“So then Bill Bixby says, ‘You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’ and starts hulking out like this as he turns into Lou Ferrigno! Grrrr!”
Someone implied the group should say Grace before dinner, not realizing that Shepard is a militant atheist. Shortly after this he started throwing mashed potatoes at them, screaming “Where’s your god now?!” and everyone agreed that Thanksgiving was ruined yet again.
Peter McCallister is briefly concerned that he left son Kevin home alone again, only to remember that Kevin was beaten to death by the Wet Bandits and disposed of in a river 10 years ago.
Ever since discovering Primer, Terrance has been trying to create his own time machine. Just tell him how good it looks and how smart he is, then walk away.
That’s what happens when you’re sitting across from Sasha Grey at a table and ask her if she was “any good” during her adult film days. Like two golf balls being sucked through a garden hose…
When your host tells you they run their home under “Singapore Rules”, DON’T leave your gum under the dinner table!
My grandma gives me the same look every time I try to explain how to access the on-screen guide via her cable remote. Hopefully no one tells her about DVR or I may just push her down her basement stairs.
People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes,something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.
You know you had a hellish night out when you shower the morning after, look down, start seeing red randomly circling the drain and have no idea where it’s coming from.
Anubis will return next time in “Dicks Don’t Get Wet”
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Featuring: James “Black Milk” Johnston , Eliza “Boudica Bites Back” Russell , Marie Findley
Writer & Director: Ken “Tommy” Russell
Also Known As:The Fall of the Louse of Usher: a Gothic Tale for the 21st Century ; Ken Russell’s The Fall of the Louse of Usher
“Even if you come in here sane, no way you’re gonna get out of here anything but crazy!”
Guten tag, schmutz-kinder! Today marks the annual event known to wrestling fans as Wrestlemania. On a larf, I thought it would be fun to do a roundtable of reviews for Ken Russell movies. What does Ken Russell have to do with professional wrestling? Nothing. At least not that I know of. No, the theme for this gathering exists for no other reason than because it lends itself to the ‘table’s puntacular title!
Yep. That's the kinda shit I do. And thanks to my fellow cinemasochists for taking this journey with me! Though never a big Ken Russell fan, I have seen a few of his better known flicks. I thought Altered States was a fun acid trip through pseudo scientific madness, Tommy was an enjoyably dark and unique musical experience, and Lair of the White Worm is still one of my favorite flicks to come out of the UK and the definite catalyst for my bizarre attraction to serpentine women who want to eat me alive. Despite the creep-ass little goblin from the cover of the Gothic VHS being burned into my memory from childhood, I never got around to renting it. From what Ragnarok has to say in his review, it sounds like I didn’t miss much. Too bad that copy of The Devils I sent him was rerouted back to me via USPS, otherwise he could’ve reviewed that instead. Stupid lack of proper postage!
Before I get started, I’m throwing out the disclaimer that this review is going to be a rush job, so apologies if it lacks the polish (or Polish) of other episodes. I’ve been entangled on the battlefield of the mind in a war with the Overfiend for possession of my soul and just recently managed to lock the beast away in the Crystal of Zoloft, putting me at odds with my own predetermined due date. As such, I’ve filled my gut tank with several cans of Tear Ass energy drink from Dollar Embargo to give me the fuel I need and, as an odd side effect, the ability to taste color! I can confirm that, yes, purple is indeed a fruit. The only flavor they had on-shelf was the nebulous “Citrus X”. Unlike Chemical X, which turns inanimate objects into Powerpuffs, the only thing Citrus X transforms is the odor of your urine. My piss bucket smells like it’s full of orange peels swimming in battery acid. I’m not 100% sure my kidneys aren’t going to explode by the time we get to the moral of this story. Oh well. Sallying forthwith!
In the twilight of his career, Kenny Russell wasn’t much for movie making. He stuck with weird short subject shit for the most part, while my pick for this Celluloid Zeroes collaboration is the final feature length flick the freaky fiend filmed before punching his ticket to the Underworld in 2011. And when I say “filmed”, I don’t mean it literally, because The Fall of the Louse of Usher was shot entirely via camcorder!
Yes indeed my flowers and weeds, the technology your parents used to have to rely on when they wanted to make their own sex tapes (back when they were actual tapes) is the medium through which Uncle Ken chose to tell this backyard gothic rock opera of his. And I gotta say, upon discovering this, my immediate concerns were that I had been bamboozled and this wasn’t the same Ken Russell I was looking for. Learning that its legitimacy is legitimate however, I felt like I was watching home movies of someone’s grandpa in the final days of a fatal cancer diagnosis. Without mincing words, you just can’t shake that awful feeling of pity for seeing someone brought so low. Even if just done as a simple pet project to have fun with his friends and neighbors (which it was), it still feels so beneath what the man had done with his prestigious (or at least semi-prestigious) career that it’s… well… pathetic. If they’d kept it as a private joke to share with each other and bring out for summer barbecue viewings, that’d be one thing. But to put it out on a DVD and demand people pay to see it? By Roger Daltrey’s tasseled togs, are you fucking yankin’ my crank?! Clearly not, otherwise I’d have nothing to rag on here! Well, aside from the extension cord I use for a belt.
Roger Daltrey – Innovator of the “glue huge strands of cooked spaghetti to your sleeves” look.
Okay, enough puttin' off the lovin'. Let's rinse off our genitals, put on my Lou Bega mixtape of bone medleys, and bang this bitch out like Sean Michaels (the porn actor, not the wrestler)! Let's just hope we don't let loose any two-cheek squeaks (or squeakquels) while we're at it.
The setting for our story in simply “Orange County, USA” according to our opening. Okay, so is it the Orange County with the arguing family of motorcycle builders, the one with Mischa Barton, or one of the half-dozen other fucking Orange Counties in the damn country!? Though it’s later revealed that our setting is the West Coast edition, that tiny tidbit of info would’ve been nice to know beforehand. As Baphomet would say, “Bah”.
Roderick Usher (James Johnston, who doubles as the movie’s composer) is a goth rock musician 20 years behind the curve. Lead guitarist and singer/whiner (and occasional whisper rapper) of a heretofore unnamed band (might I suggest “The Poegues”?), he’s arrested for the suspected murder of his wife/maracas player, Annabelle Lee (Emma Millions), to whom everyone likes to attach the preface descriptor of “Sweet”. Not so sweet when she’s found walled up in the Usher house with half her face missing and her pet mini-pincher chewing through her guts! Since her rocker widower is clearly off his rocker at the time of his capture, barely coherent and ranting about his innocence, rather than going to prison Roddy’s instead carted off to the local loony bin. Here he’s put under the care of the demented Dr. Calahari (Ken Russell) and his sex bomb assistant, Nurse ABC Smith (Marie Findley).
Not a good sign of things to come… pun intended.
Not just another bimbo in a medical fetish costume, ABC (Already Been Chewed?) is one of those wonderfully empowered ladies who uses her sexuality to manipulate others into getting what she wants, the endgame of which is often something fatal for those seduced by her charms. Also, as everyone is keen to point out, “She’s a great piece of ass”. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Russell girl.
They’re similar to “Bond girls”, only way more likely to be emotionally damaged and way more likely to have some manner of underlying disfigurement that will make you paranoid of any woman who hits on you during last call. Not unlike how Basket Case taught women to never talk up any guy at a bar carrying a picnic basket.
Russell's oddball headshrinker has a penchant for wearing a variety of headpieces, which may or may not be the writer/director/producer/editor/cinematographer/actor's unsubtle pun to the audience that he himself is a “man of many hats”. Or, it could just be a sign that he had a bunch of goofy hats lying around in his home prop box that he thought would make for a running gag funny only to him. Either or. Said fetishizer of up top props also puts on a “hard to pinpoint but I'm pretty confident it's meant to be German because ABC keeps referring to him as 'Herr doktor'” accent that sounds exactly like the frantic urine lab doctor from the English dub of Dominion: Tank Police. And if you don’t know what that is, your life is a little less happy than it should be. Fix that. Soon. Or be forever denied existence as a complete person. Tank Police. Feel the power that we’ve got. We’ll give it our best shot.
No sooner is Rod tossed into his new cell then he starts in on the standard issue sexually deviant hallucinations that every lead of a Ken Russell movie suffers from. In this case, our hero envisions an orgy of blow up dolls that includes an inflatable dinosaur for added “Da fuq?!” factor. As he writhes, physically in his straight jacket and emotionally in his madness, ABC looks on intrigued. Speaking of our Nightingale on Elm Street, her role at the hospital is seemingly as Calahari’s personal caretaker more so than as his assistant. Much of their screen time together is spent with ABC feeding him, cleaning out his ears, and constantly checking the old fart’s vitals while they discuss the Usher case. Mayhaps the demented doc is a hypochondriac and needs frequent reassurance that he’s in stable health? Could it be that he’s due for a mandatory physical by the Department of Health? Then again, it may just be a thinly-veiled metaphor about how nurses tend to do all the work as doctors sit around getting fat off their fancy college degrees and trying their best to distinguish between a patient’s sphincter and a hole in the ground… which should probably raise some concerns from everyone given that doctors’ offices generally don’t include holes in their floors.
While DC and ABC try to unravel the mystery of Annabelle’s death (and whether it has anything to do with Roderick’s sister/violinist Madeline Usher [Ken’s wife Eliza Russell]) With a bona fide celebrity in their midst, Cal wants ‘Rick to perform for the institution’s patients-and-staff mixer, leaving it up to ABC to do the convincing. When her lusty demeanor isn’t enough to persuade the disturbed music maker, she confines him to a makeshift torture bed (that looks to be a beach chair with a blanket tossed over it) as a swinging pendulum butcher knife gradually descends back and forth above his pelvis. Though the protag laughs off her threat, citing an erectile deficiency, he’s not so sure of himself when XYZ reveals that she gave him Viagra. At the mere mention of her boner juice roofie job, Lil’ Rod (sounds like a personal problem) springs to life and Mr. Usher gives in to his caretaker’s demands. Good thing my doc’s accompanying CRN isn’t that hardcore. Being the world’s worst diabetic, she’d have had me paying dues to the Eunuchs Union Local 37 before you could say “THIS IS A MEDICAL EXAMINATION! STOP EATING THAT CHEESECAKE!”.
During the crazy people social soiree, Roderick is encouraged by Dr. C to get every available appendage he can up Nurse Smith’s very short uniform skirt. Hey, getting turned down by trim doesn’t mean you can’t encourage your fellow phallus holder to have a try! Bro code… or some horseshit. Anyway, Mr. Usher is then accosted by a pair of his fellow inmates that are heavy on a hippie astrology kick, asking him if he’s into “Ass-trology”, which I assure you that I certainly am. They allude to Miss ABC’s past interactions with a group called “The West Side Boys” which, from their intonations, presumably refers to some fucked up tribulations. More specifically, the ones spelled G-A-N-G-R-A-P-E.
No, not “gan grape” you nards! I meant “gang rape”. She had her flower forcibly plucked by a vulgar group of ne’er-do-wells with more testosterone than social grace. At least as far as I can infer. The later reveal that her entire erotic demeanor is made up of literal artificial bits and pieces (including that “great piece of ass!”) to disguise whatever shapeless horror she really is, postulates clearly that her outer self is a deceptive shell to hide the fragile truth beneath. Some obvious symbolism for Uncle Ken to waterboard us with. It’s an interesting visual representation, but is smashed so hard into our faces that it’s like being talked down to by a tech support rep that makes you wanna reach through the phone and elbow them in the throat.
I don’t do great with “message movies”. Unless they involve people getting run over en masse.
While Nursey Poo and The Rod explore their blossoming relationship, Dr. C uses the astrologist gals (one of whom is your typical old gypsy lady, while the other is a minstrel mummy… let that sink in) in an effort to Ouija up the soul of the slain Annabelle Lee and get the story of her demise straight from the victim’s protoplasmic mouth. Unable to establish a direct connection to the lass, they do manage to summon OSIRIS(!!!) instead, who speaks to them through the sacred vessel of… a Big Mouth Billy Bass.
Okay. This part got me. A surprise kidney punch of happiness I wasn't prepared for that left me on the floor with upturned lips ever so slightly trembling. This leads to a riddle that leads to a vibrating slinky version of those “weasel chasing a ball” toys that finally leads to the gypsy character divining that the question to the answer “The reveal of Annabelle Lee's true killer” is “What's the secret of her bones?”. Man, trying to force gags into a ‘Jeopardy!’ shaped mold requires mental gymnastics that my caffeine fueled cortex can’t fucking handle right now. This leads to Calahari sending his masked henchman Igor to retrieve Ann’s pearlies from her gravesite.
Taking a break from all story progress, Dr. Cal takes a scenic route scene to gloat to Roderick about his prized experiment – having hypnotized (via several props acquired from a Spencer’s Gifts clearance sale) a previous patient/guinea pig named Ernest Valdemar (Peter Mastin) in the midst of the man’s death throes, allowing Ernie’s mind to continue living indefinitely and communicating through a voice amplification box despite the death of the rest of his body… except for the part about how his jaw and eyes are still functional, and the other part about how THE BRAIN CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT BLOOD FLOW OR OXYGEN. Unfortunately, despite Mr. V’s predicament being an interesting piece about a person buried alive in the grave of his own corpse for 7 months, this bit of sidetrack has zilch to do with Rod’s tale and only serves as a *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* to EAP readers that reeks of time filler.
Sick Destro cosplay, bro!
Speaking of filler, the next segment takes the same theme, makes like a looter with a new TV and runs with it. Calahari has a therapy session with a woman hidden behind a mask who has some weird psycho-sexual fear of garden gnomes. Through his mania-delving analysis, the doc helps her realize she's actually famed femme fatale female wrestler, Beulah Von Birmingham (Sandra Scott)! Her revelation is interrupted when a masked prostitute named Mary (Mrs. Russell again) inserts herself into the scenario, declaring herself a birthday present to Roderick from his big sister… while ironically being played by the same woman who plays his big sister. Beulah recognizes her as one of her wrestling rivals though, and the pair have a no holds barred hardcore brawl for supremacy! It degrades into the two just dry humping each other before the silliness subsides prematurely with the pair escaping over a wall via convenient step ladder, to the chagrin of Calahari who planned to imprison the pair in his crazy house. Again, fun random bit of wackiness, but also again, entirely disconnected from having anything to do with advancing the damn story!
Wait a sec… Whoa. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it? I establish this review on the basis of its creator’s surname being a pun on the word “wrestle”, and ultimately there’s a scene of female wrestlers doing just that. The hypothesis of my subconscious being an astral projected time traveler while I sleep gains more and more traction. Nanoo fucking nannoo.
When Igor returns with the disinterred dentures of a dozen or so Ushers buried in the same boneyard (or, purchased from a gumball machine outside the corner deli as the case more likely is), Annabelle’s rise from the collection and hint at Poe’s short story ‘The Murders at the Rue Morgue’ as being the key to unlocking what really happened to her. Cal deciphers this as meaning Rod’s wife was actually murdered by a gorilla, but before he can question this logic further he’s called away to Valdemar’s room, where his pet zombie finally gives up the ghost. As if that weren’t enough to upset the bloated old goat, the institute’s previous staff, which the doctor had apparently imprisoned in the asylum’s basement for challenging his “revolutionary methods”, have somehow escaped (or at least the two members we’re ever privy to) and are wilding throughout the building in pursuit of revenge! Less the “pee in the communal coffee pot at work” type and more the “Carrie White on prom night” version.
Roddy, herr doktor, the old gypsy (now wearing a tea cozy on her head) and the blackface mummy lady escape the hospital with all limbs intact, returning to the Usher Estate. Once there, ‘Ricky discovers beloved sister Madeline dead at her own hand on what looks to be a teenage girl’s bed, amid some topless statues in the yard. Seems the “fake news” media reported that her brother had died in the sanitarium riot and the resultant grief with which she was overtaken pushed her to Romeo & Juliet herself, leaving behind a recorded confession (played for them by a crimson faced gorilla) that she was the one who prematurely punched Sweet Annabelle Lee’s mortality ticket! In the thralls of his own heartbreak, little brother Usher demands Death take him too, to which Dr. C relinquishes with an injection of something lethal. The duo are laid in state in their yard, surrounded by potted flowers probably taken from the dumpster behind the WalMart Garden Center.
With 15 minutes left in the movie, the aforementioned gorilla gather the remaining trio of guests in the siblings’ old childhood playhouse to view a VHS tape (played in a microwave for laughs). The vid is a further confession by Mad Maddie, telling of how she used Gory (the gorilla) to kill Annabelle with an obedience chip that the family had planted in the hulking simian’s brain after the poor brute was rescued from an abusive trainer. Thanks to an off-brand Playstation 2 controller, Mads maliciously manipulated the monkey into murdering her only rival for her dear brother’s dingus. From here it’s all about wrapping shit up, as Calahari is captured and returned to the asylum to undergo treatment, Nurse ABC is fine (except for an unexplained hand crushing incident in the end), Roderick and Madeline’s souls descend to hell on a righteous deflating bouncy castle, and their son and daughter prepare to move back into their family home with Gory now that everyone else has been driven away… I’m not going to explain anything from that last sentence, as I’ll leave it up to your own minds to fill in the blanks that, well, we’re never given anyway.
Unless Russell’s next of kin have some 2-4-5 Trioxin laying around, I’m pretty sure this is the end.
And there it is: Ken Russell’s final feature, The Fall of the Louse of Usher. Though greatly hampered by its poor choice of medium and “let’s just use what we’ve got lying around our houses!” budget, there’s actually a lot of entertainment to be had. The sound quality isn’t great, sometimes even bordering on horrible as it makes certain scenes almost completely auditorially illegible, with the worst being a stair well exchange that’s nothing but shouty echoes. Speaking of noise, one of my least liked parts of this cacophony of crazy are the awful little music videos that Rod and Mad made for their band, not the least bothersome of which involves the siblings being all “anguished high school goth kids” (well into their thirties/forties) with each other in a cemetery, dragging numerous visual aids about their incest relationship across our faces where, like the scrotum intimation I’m trying to make here, none were needed.
The cast is actually pretty solid for a buncha no-names. Not everyone, mind you, but our top-of-the-credits trio – Johnston, Findley & Mr. Russell – all make this a much more pleasant pill to swallow. Their characters are entertaining if not always interesting and their performances are appropriately campy without going overboard. Broken heart throb Roderick is well lost in the forest of confusion and desperate to find his way out; Nurse ABC carries a sensuality, charm and foreboding smile reminiscent of Cassandra Peterson’s beloved Elvira or a mash-up of Rocky Horror’s Columbia & Magenta; and Doc Calahari is a kooky crackpot who’s really a lot of fun to watch when you warm up to him, even in spite of Russell’s absurd German-ish accent, which grows on you if your ears don’t revolt against you first.
If you’re a Poe nerd, or have a Poe nerd in your life, you’ll enjoy picking out Louse‘s varied variety of references to the godfather of goth’s library of extensive materials. Some are obvious, some are a bit more obscure, and still others I’m sure I missed entirely because I’m barely acquainted with the chronically depressed fiveheaded oddball’s greatest hits, let alone his deep cut ditties. If what I’ve heard was true, Louse of Usher is a much better homage to Eddie Allan’s efforts than 2012’s The Raven, so again, consider it for the Poephile in your presence. And don’t you worry John Cusack, I’ll be kicking down your door sooner or later with crackling criticisms to burn your nose hair by!
The “gothic tale for the 21st century” has great potential that peeks out from behind its discounted Halloween seasonal mall shop props and modified tool shed sets, and with a little bit of script tampering and an injection of capital, I think, sans hyperbole, that TFotLoU could have easily been another Rocky Horror! Hell, with a Kickstarter campaign and some talented hands, it could still be. It’s as likely as Hulk Hogan playing the dad in a(nother) remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but it’s fun to think of what could have been. Speaking of what could have been…
Hey! I finally made it to episode 100! It only took me… gimme a sec here…
Three and a half years. Shit. That’s an average of 2-3 reviews per month. Double shit. Billy Bass Osiris damn me and whatever wacky fantasy scenario I’m using today to stunt double for my real life personal hindrances. Oh well. I’ve got a pot of chili and a copy of Cannibal Killer Clowns on Dope calling my name with their siren song, so let’s hurry this up and just say it’s a case of quality over quantity.
Moral of the Story: If you ever want to get out of a mental institute alive, never question the sanity of the staff.
On the topic of superior quality, go treat yourself to some more RussellMania from our fellow Zeroes!
I envision a lawsuit by the Estate of Edgar Allan Poe against the Estate of Ken Russell as presided over by the Estate of Judge Wopner here, in ‘The Dead Peoples’ Court’.
See, shit like that is why you’ll never get me within a mile of a LASIK office!
“I have to say, when my wife said she’d gotten me that reverse-gangbang I’d always wanted for my birthday, I wasn’t expecting… well… this. Oh well, let’s make the best of it, girls!”
Yes, kids, Ken Russell as a literal dick nose.
Scary Movie prop mask purchased from Marlon Wayans’ “Fund the next A Haunted House sequel” yard sale.
The New Slash Co. Mark 12 collection of knives! They’ll cut through shoe leather, a soda can and a full-sized rhinoceros, and STILL sever a human head like it were a ripe tomato without a single sharpening! I’d buy that for a dollar!
What? You’ve never been to a white trash Eyes Wide Shut party before?
My sex shed is way nicer than theirs!
“With the Psychic Readers Network, you can get in touch with the Egyptian gods for advice on life, love, and lucky lottery numbers for just $2.99 per minute! Call me NOW!”
Saint Polident – the Patron Saint of Denture Cleansers and veteran of the 100 Years Crusade against the kingdom of the Cavity Creeps.
And this is why I never trust elderly women in lingerie who ask me if I want to “smell their flower”.
A scene from Annie Sprinkle’s long-since-banned educational video for elementary school children on how bees pollinate flowers.
My attempts at bringing my own Frankensteinian meatloaf man to life didn’t go as I had hoped… at least he made for some delicious leftovers!
The only surviving still from a proposed 1992 reboot of Planet of the Apes that, I think we can all agree, would have probably been too awesomely reprehensible for this world anyway.
Alright! The Better Homes and Gardens annual “DIY Funerary Displays on a Budget” issue is out! They printed my article in this one!
In 1997, Nintendo introduced the first “rumble” function for video game controllers, causing them to vibrate as a form of sensory feedback for players to help increase their immersion in the games. 20 years after the introduction of vibrating controllers, females now make up nearly 50% of video gamers. Coincidence? My eye.
Anubis will return next time in “Guess Who’s Dying at Dinner”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
or “The Murderous Misadventures of the Crisco Kid”
Featuring: Michael “The Video Dead” St. Michaels , Sky “Don Verdean” Elobar , Elizabeth “‘Eastbound & Down’” De Razzo
Director: Jim “ABCs of Death” Hosking
Writers: Toby “ABCs of Death” Harvard & Jim “ABCs of Death” Hosking
“I don’t know what to think about anything right now.”
As I sit here, eating room temperature Dollar Embargo brand clam chowder hobo style (well, my spoon is plastic rather than metal, so “sub-hobo style” then), the looming presence of the anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre reminds me of lost loves. In this case, my most recent (and likely final) failed foray into matters of the heart dropkicks her way to the forefront of my fractured psyche. We fell for each other hard and fast. After the first week she was deep into “I’ve never known anyone like you. I need you like oxygen” territory and we were exchanging ‘L’ words. Hers was “lederhosen” and mine was “lemon curry”. But, only five weeks after that vindictive little pervert Cupid nailed us with a heart-shaped nuke, we were overcome by the fallout. She broke up with me because her other boyfriend “accidentally” impregnated her, so she needed to focus on making an impromptu family with him and his other girlfriend, whom other boyfriend wanted her to “convince” that the best thing for them would be to join together as a trio. But we’ve all been there before, right? “Tale as old as time” and all that.
Anyway, rather than linger any longer on the “loved and lost” debate in the face of this Hallmark hollowday, I’ve instead paired up with my cinemasochist brother from the Hawkeye State (in that it’s the state with the lamest super power and nobody likes it?) to play a round of bad movie Russian roulette! From his secret list of six flicks (five farts and one favorite), random.org chose for me The Greasy Strangler.
Well, it could’ve been worse. I was one chamber away from the bullet of malaise known as Atlas Shrugged. Uggh. Ayn Rand is spending the rest of eternity getting her blood drained by razortooth leeches hanging on every inch of her body for writing that bullshit. Every inch. Anyway, let’s get greasy, disco people!
Oh, and if you’re anything like me (in which case, my sympathies) and were hoping this would be a US remake of The Oily Maniac, I fear that itch will have to remain unscratched…for now.
In keeping with the spirit of the holiday (or its symbolism if nothing else), today’s movie is about love. The love between a cheesy old cornball and a hootie tootie disco cutie. The love between a single parent and their child. The love between an aging disco historian and the music that shaped his life. The love between a pig-nosed weirdo and his rented shoes. The love between a man-beast and his penchant for strangling people…while drenched in grease. The Greasy Strangler is packed so tight with love, watching it will make you feel like you’re being crushed under a roomful of heart-shaped Whitman sampler boxes!
Damn. That was such a whopper of a metaphor. It was less a metaphor and more like a metaphive!
Shut up. You laughed. Liar.
Produced in part by hobbit-for-life Elijah Wood (who pulled similar duties on A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Cooties, in case you didn’t know), our tale takes place in Los Angeles. The City of Angels in the Outfield. The land of nasty redheads and bums on their knees that Randy Newman declared his passion for so, well, passionately. It’s here that tourists and everyday fans of walking tours can take part in Big Ronnie’s Disco Tour – a trudge through the down-trodden avenues and alleyways of abandoned buildings where the biggest names of the industry may or may not have done some things of interest. Just don’t inquire about the tour’s promise of free drinks, because you won’t like the result. Unless you tend to spend a lot of your lunch hours engaging in contradictory exchanges at the Argument Clinic, in which case inquire away!
The eponymous patriarch of the tour is geriatric retiree of the disco scene, Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels), who claims to have once had a backroom bang session with a pair of Korean twins and a certain celebrity whose name rhymes with Jichael Mackson. There was milky cum everywhere. And yes, before you ask in a distressed voice signifying your revulsion, that is an important detail I could not omit. Co-hosting the tour (in a matching uniform of pink shorts, pink sweater, gray knee-high socks and white sneakers) is Ronnie’s son Big Brayden (Sky Elobar), for whom the adjective “big” clearly wasn’t earned due to his personality. An awkward, balding, unkempt milksop of a human being, Brayden manages to catch the hungry eyes of an odd little lady named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) during one such tour. The pair fall fairly quickly for each other, testing the audiences’ gastrointestinal fortitude with a series of uncomfortable scenes of intimacy. You’ve been warned.
Ronnie doesn’t take the pairing well, frequently debasing his boy to others (mostly over Bray’s tendency to shit on seemingly everything) and inserting himself into the lovebirds’ interactions in an attempt to nip their budding romance in said bud. It’s never made clear if it’s because Ron sees Janet as a threat to the odd love-hate relationship he shares with Bray or if the old man’s just jealous that his hideous offspring is getting more action than his own hideous self has had since Bill Clinton was using Monica’s ham wallet as a humidor.
Note: I didn’t use the descriptive “ham” because of a thinly veiled referral to Miss Lewinsky having any perceive resemblance to a member of the porcine family. I used it because ham is both pink and greasy, much like a lady’s rude parts (as long as you’re doing it right, anyway), so please keep any and all aggressive projections of your personal assumptions of me to things that don’t wrongly accuse me of chauvinism. Even my less-than-friendly exes would laugh you out of the room over such accusations.
Speaking of pigs, the rest of this oddball ensemble is made up of Brayden’s pig-nosed (literally) pal Oinker (Joe David Walters, who looks like the result of a drunken night of genetic engineering between Jon Benjamin and Wallace Shawn), Ronnie’s longtime discotheque brother Big Paul (Gil Gex) who’s blind and runs an automated car wash, the wonderfully weird detective Jodie (who’s what I would expect Hunter S. Thompson to become after a few years in the Black Lodge) and a small selection of victims to serve as fodder for the titular wringer of necks. Speaking of, whom is this murderer with such a clear disregard for his own personal hygiene? From whence came this inhuman atrocity that stalks the streets while a coating of congealed Crisco conceals (not really) his visage from his victims? What evil lurks in the heart that beats beneath the monster’s slimy, sludgy, rancid raiments? Why does he take it upon himself to comedically maim and menace his victims in hyper-violent manners like a modern age Toxic Avenger? Shit! Now there’s a crossover I’d sacrifice a finger for! Anyway, as much as I’d like to address there queries for you, I’m afraid you’ll have to watch the movie for yourself!
But should you? Let’s discuss.
Greasy made me wonder if I’d blacked out at some point in my day and woke up during a very special episode of “Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories”. If Jared Hess directed a script co-authored by David Lynch and John Waters, this is a pretty solid approximation of what I imagine you’d get. There’s a hodgepodge of humor, humanity, horror and outright “What the fuck am I watching?!” we’re left to rifle through which will no doubt leave a lot of people put off or pissed off. Deep down in its bowels, it has a charm all its own for those who will enjoy it. However, at the same time it comes off as a deliberate endeavor to manufacture the next big midnight movie. The problem with such an undertaking is that movies aren’t made to be cult classics, they’re chosen. It’s comparable to issuing your own nickname or giving yourself a “World’s Greatest Tubthumper” mug: you just don’t do it!
Sound snobbish? Look at Plan 9 from Outer Space or The Room. Both are movies that were made with genuine efforts and affection, helmed by misguided gents who thought they were making masterpieces. These were movies that no one genuinely liked, they were only enjoyed ironically (something that used to be fun before hipsters ruined it for the rest of us) because they were so awful that they were amazing! If it’s something you and your amigos can vet by riffing the shit out of it like refugees from the Satellite of Love? If it’s the type of movie that qualifies for Deep 13 certification? That is how a cult movie is christened – with the waters of mockery. The Greasy Strangler? It’s unriffable. It’s a movie that wants you to make fun of it, but it’s too easy. There’s no challenge. It’s made to be bad, and that’s not good. It winks so much at the audience that you ask it 20 minutes in if it needs a hit off of your Visine®!
Making jokes at the expense of its visually jarring cast and their clothing that looks like it was fished from, not a Salvation Army, but the dumpster behind a Salvation Army, is tantamount to calling an obese person “fat” or an acne-riddled person “pizza face” or Hi-C Hitler “too mentally incapable to be trusted with chewing his own food, let alone being president”. It’s lazy. It’s the easy way out. It’s what the intended object of ridicule wants you to do so they can C.D. Bales your sorry ass in front of Daryl Hannah! It reminds of my least favorite RiffTrax – Birdemic; a movie so obviously made to be terrible that it’s barely worth making fun of. Lo and behold, the ‘Traxers themselves just released the writer-director-masochist’s latest repugnant rectal release through their own website! Maybe I’m just an asshole…no…I’m definitely an asshole. Nevertheless, count me out.
Where the hell was I driving this bus before taking a detour down Route “Ignore the Rambling Jackal-Headed Old Man”? Oh right, I was evaluating today’s feature. The direction and cinematography are unexpectedly…good. Going solely on its premise, I had prepared my peepers for a parade the likes of a herky-jerky Troma turkey. It happened to me when I first watched The Human Centipede and I was caught just as unawares here. Upon my mandatory second screening, I only enhanced my appreciation, so kudos to Mr. Hosking in that regard. The dialogue is heavily seasoned with quotable lines for fellow fiends to banter back and forth in verbal volleyball, most notably the running accusations between Ronnie and Brayden of each being a “bullshit artist”. I’d bet my collection of West Nile infected mosquitoes that those two words make up no less than 10% of the dialogue between them. I was okay with it (sometimes even entertained by it), but if you’re the type of person who’s not keen on scripts packed with premeditated quotables, prepare to be irked.
The premise of the movie loses steam right around the 50 minute mark (just about the point where the Strangler investigation picks up, strangely enough), but the introduction of the aforementioned Jodie to the proceedings was just the defibrillator that my dwindling interest needed to guide me the rest of the way to the credits and the end of the tunnel. One aspect that didn’t need a jolt in the jimmies for me was the soundtrack. We’re given a mish-mash of delightful tunes and noises that reminded me of the music you’d hear on off-brand NES cartridges half of the time, and just plain charming boondoggle tunes that you imagine a grown up Gene Belcher composing while ‘shrooming alone in his college dorm room on any given Friday night. My praise aside, I have no plans to pick up said soundtrack. I can’t enjoy it on its own, like I would with a Tarantino movie or TMNT II: the Secret of the Ooze. Greasy and its music exist in a symbiotic relationship from which neither can be removed, lest they both die on their own. If the Plover isn’t allowed to eat the crocodile’s scraps from its mouth, the Plover will starve and the crocodile will…get Gingivitis? I dunno. As Thoth once drunkenly slurred to me over a plate of seafood nachos at ChiChi’s, “Neither a zoologist nor a dentist be”.
As for the special effects, they’re solid. There are several instances of popped eyeballs that actually were quite impressive! My compliments to the digital effects team on that. Not so much for their “people being shot” bit, but even big money movies rarely manage to pull that one off without traditional squibs, so it’s not a big deal.
As much as I hate people using the term “revelation”, I’m going to endure some self-inflicted shame and say it now: Michael St. Michaels is a revelation. The best takeaway from The Greasy Strangler is Big Ronnie. Not just because of the lines he’s given, but the way this amazing man delivers them. His rantings remind me a bit of Raleigh Theodore Sakers’ soliloquies off of the Robbin’ the Hood album. Physically, MSM looks like a demented troll, which in and of itself contributes to the actor’s unique appeal, but the little vocal affects he applies to his words are fucking enchanting! He tells a dirty story with a silky growl of aplomb that puts a reading of Wordsworth’s Greatest Hits to shame. I don’t remember a damn thing about the man from his role in The Video Dead (which isn’t surprising since I remember almost nothing from it, having not seen it since high school), but by the bearded clam of Cleopatra did he make Big Ronnie his own. Sublime, you crazy old bastard. Sublime.
Oh yeah, speaking of genital manes, be prepared for a LOT of prosthetic peckers being prominently portrayed. And old man asses. Merkins too. Or, as I like to call them, “pubic zirconium”. So, if the sight of sagging white butt cheeks or weirdly shaped dicks ensconced in gnarled overgrowth gets your gross out gland activated, either skip this ride or bring your barf bag.
In closing, despite my apparent praise for the flick, I’m giving The Greasy Strangler a middling recommendation. A solitary viewing was enough for me, and the only real reason I would go back to it is to show it to others. Beyond that, I don’t really feel the need to sit through it again. Should you take this to heart and seek to experience the greasiness and strangling for yourself, allow this next piece of wisdom to guide you – as I told my Evil Dead Bride/Editor/Valentine while we watched it, don’t question anything in this movie because there are no answers. Trying to understand the gaping maw of chaos will only lead to an eternal void of madness for the mind.
With that, I bid you all adieu. Check out Ragnarok’s review for Oasis of the Dead by clicking this link right here (or the banner image up near the top), then be sure to get your cracks back here for our next episode. Till then, may all of your V-Days be endurable and your VDs be curable!
Moral of the Story: Everybody’s a bullshit artist and too much grease is bad for you.
Hey! It’s the same house where the Lubbocks were murdered by that family of cannibals in the series finale of ”Just the Ten of Us’!
“And this door – where does it lead? Is anyone behind it? Maybe someone famous? Sadly, we’ll never know, as I lost the keys sometime ago and locksmiths are bullshit artists. Any questions? Keep in mind we’ve already explained that our outfits and entirely medical in nature and we won’t explain the matter further.”
Looking for an affordable actor to play an old woman, a van driving child abductor, or the Herman Stiles in your much-needed ‘Evening Shade’ reboot? Here’s your man!
And that, boys and girls, is why you don’t eat an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids in one mouthful.
“Check it out – my sweater matches this little breadstick! Speaking of little breadsticks, before we go any further with this date, I was wondering what your opinion on ‘sounding’ is…”
Despite his insistence that no one’s better at “the economy” than he, donald drumpf’s stimulus plan of flooding the market with his new “Trump Buck$” ultimately lead to a global depression.
Go behind the scenes with legendary actor Paul Giamatti as he prepares to star and direct in his next Emmy Award Winner-to-be this Sunday on ‘HBO First Look: Animal Farm’.
Alternate universe Andy Warhol celebrates his 105th birthday by reflecting on his fall into obscurity and rather boring post-celebrity life tomorrow night in an interview with Peabody Award winning journalist Chevy Chase on ’60 Minutes’.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone named ‘Prince Albert’, nor anyone of regal birthright for that matter. Goodbye.”
Aw, poor guy just got his rejection letter from Disney about his script for Tron 3: the Dark Coder. I felt the same way when they refused my own scripts for Condorman Begins and The Black Cauldron Part 2 – Gurgi and the Cursed City of Gold .
Uh-oh, looks like Fido didn’t take to his new “All Vegan Tapioca and Creamed Corn Feast” canned food.
“Do you happen to have a pair of nail-clippers I could use? I lost mine in ’98 and just can’t bring myself to buy another pair, knowing that my old ones will just magically show up the moment I do. I would feel like such an idiot.”
Curly Sue’s later years weren’t really much to talk about. She tried to get a reality show off the ground, but after 75 different stations turned down the pilot, she gave up. She works as a Time-Life operator in Branson Missouri now.
Upset that the government is too busy concerning themselves with the Mexico border to address the true source of dangerous illegal immigrants, the Sons of North Dakota militia group take it upon themselves to protect their border from nefarious northerners… of which they’ve seen none.
Anubis will return next time in “The Man Who Laughs (and Kills)”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
Featuring: Georgia “Vampire Biker Babes” Chris , Joe “Experiment 7” Davison , Jack “Experiment 7” Amos
Director: Marcus “Rot” Koch
Writer: Joe “Experiment 7” Davison
“You crazy clown bastard! I just mopped these floors!”
You know what I hate? Ironing. You know what else I hate? Irony. Not all irony, just the kind that inconveniences me personally. Like when I’m taking bottles back to the store and their machine, which accepts brands sold exclusively by other stores, will NOT accept drink bottles of their own fucking in-house brands! Slanderman’s Amerika just started and already shit’s going to Hel in a knock-off Louis Vuitton. SAD.
I wish I could indulge in the blissful levels of cognitive dissonance that Cheeto Chiang Kai-shek’s supporters must live in to not only vote the fuck face into office, but continue to sing his praises after the litany of idiocy he continues to vomit from his ass day in and day out. Oh well, ignorance is bliss so I’ll forever be a pessimist. And pissed. And impossible to resist. But not a pacifist. Nor a partaker of the Eucharist. I prefer my flesh and blood consumption to be legitimate and not just some weak cheese metaphor for sipping wine and eating salt-free crackers. Speaking of flesh and blood, let’s review 100 Tears!
The heroes of our picture are Mark Webb (Joe Davidson) and Jen Stevenson (Georgia Chris). The duo are co-writers of made-up articles (you know, ones about “alternative facts”) for a grocery store checkout line tabloid rag called The Midnight Star. This may or may not be a reference to the newspaper Weird Al sang about in the track of the same name, but either way I’d like to clutch my heightened nerd awareness and continue with that line of thinking. It’s assuredly not to be confused with the band Midnight Star, who taught us all the dangers of parking on the dance floor. Thank you for your service, gentlemen. We salute you.
Unable to decide between the raising of the Titanic or the further adventures of Reptile Boy, the pair put their paying job on the back burner for a few days and turn their focus instead on trying to be real reporters by cracking the case of the infamous Teardrop Killer. According to the info provided to her by Jen’s sister in the FBI, Teardrop has iced in excess of 160 people up and down the East Coast over the course of the last 2 decades. Their only info about the monster? He leaves a bloody teardrop smeared at the scenes, hence the name… and that’s all they know?! A maniac violently dismembers people in the triple digits for TWENTY YEARS and all the fucking FBI have come up with is a sugar-free gum equivalent codename for him?! Herbert Hoover must be rolling in his muumuu and high heels!
As “only in the movies” luck would have it, that very night said slayer takes it upon himself to maul, maim and dismember an entire halfway house of fresh victims! What do we know that the FBI doesn’t? The killer is a big & tall guy dressed like a clown who wields a giant meat cleaver that he may have stumbled across in an abandoned slaughterhouse while looking for a place to get in out of the rain and slip in a quick gherkin jerkin’. After the facial devastation of an unfortunate gent in the basement, this Walter Paisley art expedition’s second project is a presumed ex-military dude (unless his dog tags are from Hot Topic and have pictures of Shrek on them) whose best haymakers don’t even faze the grease-painted assailant! Maybe G.I. Joey here got a dishonorable discharge because he throws punches like a Keebler elf? Gung-Ho he’s not.
(Bet you didn’t know the US Military subliminally advertised to gay children in the ’80s.)
The evisceration of a half-dozen people not withstanding, I have some quick thoughts about this killing spree. First, human anatomy. Did you know that you can kill a man instantly by jamming a meat clever into his taint? One whack and two seconds later you’ve got yourself a fresh carcass. It’s true! Speaking of truth, despite being told since childhood that seppuku resulted in literal hours of agony before the participant would finally give up the ghost (I had a good childhood), it turns out that was a lie. As one young female victim shows us, slicing someone’s stomach open also warrants an immediate need for a body bag. All the death without the wait! Additionally, despite what movies like American History X would lead us to believe, the human skull is not nearly as strong as you might think. As our killer clown demonstrates for us, a single stomp from a man’s foot (at least one encased in a comically oversized novelty shoe) causes an adult woman’s head to burst like a balloon full of crimson Karo syrup. No brains, no skull fragments, just a splatter of red goo. Slim Goodbody lied to us all! No wonder he always hid his head under that afro!
As for the halfway house itself, the kitchen seemingly double as a laundry room given the washing machines and coin-op detergent vendor stuffed in the corner. I can’t imagine that’s up to snuff per local health codes, given the risk of cross contamination between the food and shit like laundry soap and whatever microbial eldritch horrors might be living in the occupants’ bedsheets, towels and *dry heave* their skivvies… BLART! Additionally, what kind of halfway house has a big sign on its front door broadcasting that there’s an ATM on the premises? Aren’t those usually saved for corner shops and liquor stores? Unless of course it’s advertising the presence of a prostitute on the premises who offers ass-to-mouth. Yeah, that’s probably it.
Come morning, after Jen wakes up atop Mark (in their shared futon, because they’re also roommates and I guess they don’t have their own bedrooms?) and they have more wacky “fat guy and hot girl” sexual tension (including her offering to fuck him in the shower if he can do 100 sit-ups, followed by his farting in her face as he stands over her) before a hot tip about last night’s bloodbath prompts them to rush to the scene of the crime. They bribe a detective associate of theirs (Rod Grant) to let them take pics of the slaughter before the clean up crews come in to scrub the gore. Finding a terrified girl in hiding, our heroes rightly chastise the cops for not finding her themselves during their own sweep of the premises and learn from the lass that the killer in question was dressed like a clown. So, having been on the case of the Teardrop Killer for all of 15 hours, the pair have already learned more about the mofo than the FBI has in twenty years? Crow T. Robot.
J & M also learn from the attending pig that two other residents of the house are unaccounted for, prompting us to an as-yet-undetermined locale where Bloodthirsty Bozo is revealed to have nabbed the missing couple and taken them home to finish off like human doggy bags. But why? You’ve gotta imagine it’d be more effort than it’s worth to drag two live people across town just so you can kill them there shortly after. Why give yourself additional work to do disposing of them on top of getting them there rather than just adding them to the rest of the mutilated bodycount at the scene of the crime?! How has this putz successfully evaded the feds for this fucking long doing dipshit stuff like this?!
Following up on the clown gimmick, our intrepid off-brand Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson seek a lead at a nearby carnival, interviewing a foul-mouthed old bartender (whose shouting voice sounds oddly like Super Dave Osborne) named Ed (Jerry Allen) and a bite-size circus barker porn mag enthusiast named Draga (Norberto Santiago). Though both peg the pair as cops at first, once our protags ID themselves as tabloid writers hunting a lead the carnies are more than happy to accommodate. Right around here is when we focus our attention elsewhere in the neighborhood and are introduced to Christine (Raine Brown) – a thrift store Harley Quinn who professes an affinity for clowns and a violent dislike for those pesky “normies”, which is a term that Norm Petersen fanboys call themselves. Didn’t know such people existed? Sure they do! They converge for their own convention in Boston once a year, where they cosplay as the iconic alcoholic and occupy the stools of the local drinking establishments for a weekend long bar crawl, nursing beers and shouting “NORM!” every time one of them comes through the front door. No, seriously! Google it!
Oh, and since George Wendt almost never comes up in casual conversation, I’d like to take this chance to tell everyone that he played Dean Halsey in a production of Re-Animator: the Musical that The Evil Dead Bride and I attended some years ago when we still lived in the teeming, heaving mass of bodies and filth you call New York City. He was…okay. True story!
Christine will have a more important role in our tale later on, but for her first few scenes we just kinda watch her get dressed up, go to a bar, pick up some random perm-haired nerd who she convinces to go down on her in an alley (not even with an immunity to STDs and all of my taste buds burned off would I do such a thing to someone I’d just met in a bar) before slitting the chump’s throat and leaving him for a wino to stumble upon later while, she goes home to carve emo etchings on her abdomen for further jollies. Despite this portrayal, keep in mind that the majority of self-cutters aren’t interested in hurting others, just themselves. So if you should see someone with scars on their arms/legs/whatever, fear for them more so than for yourself. Anyway, yeah, now our movie has two killers. When they inevitably meet in the second or third act, do you think they’ll have a team-up or a face-off? Before we answer that…
While Mr. Webb and Miss Stevenson follow up on some other potential leads, Drags is confronted by the obese mirth murderer who threatens short legs’ tiny life until he trades Clowny his continued existence for a piece of paper containing the address of a woman named Tracy. When our would-be Woodward and Bernstein come back to check on half-pint, he spills the garbanzos on all the circustral shenanigans and gore-soaked goings-on. Roll that beautiful bean footage!
The clown’s name is Gurdy (not a great clown name…too close to “Turdy”) and he used to work with Draga at the same circus 20 or so years ago. At the time, two teenage girls named Roxie and Tracy ran away from home and joined said three ring mobile home as carnie groupies. Some ladies just love tiny hands and the overwhelming stench of month old boiled cabbage. I don’t get it either, but every relationship I’m in has to be inter-species, so I don’t judge what gets the blood flowing to your genitalia. Anyway, Roxie shacked up with sideshow strongman Ralphio, while Tracy indulged her fetish for balloon sex toys by sharing sheets with the Gurdler. Turned out that Roxie, despite getting the less nightmare inducing of the potential suitors, was still a cockblocking cunt that didn’t want Tracy being happy too. So, while Trace was getting her womb seltzered, Rox told ‘Phio that Gurds was actually raping her. You know what’s the only thing that makes the idea of being sexed by a clown worse? Being sexed by a clown against your will. The sound of his horn honking as it’s repeatedly mashed between your bodies…
Uggh, I just threw up. Not a little either. It looks like someone just dumped a gallon of Dollar Embargo vegetable soup and a sleeve of mashed up Saltines on my couch. Who wants to take bets on how long I can keep typing through the smell?
A social justice warrior for his time (not a bad thing, despite what tiny penised douche boys would tell you), Ralph didn’t take Roxie’s declaration well and laid a wall-to-wall walloping on Gurdy, stomping his ass like it was flaming bag of dogshit. And just like stomping said immolated brown paper IED, the strongman instantly regrets his actions, because Big Top Shakes responded by strangling Rox and jamming a tent stake through the back of big boy’s brain case. Citing the landmark case of Eye v. Eye, the rest of the circus folk “dealt with Gurdy for good” in a way whose specifics are never explained. Unless Gurds is a literal ghoul (which might explain why he doesn’t talk), I’m presuming “dealing with him” didn’t include killing him, as you might expect. Whatever the case, the painted madman has been cutting throats and gutting folks, following his old place of employment up and down the East Coast ever since. Draga says you could always “feel his presence” at the circus despite having never seen Gurdy in person since the incident. So, now big murderous old Gurdy has finally found Tracy, who he’s been searching for all this time…while slaughtering people for…no…real…reason.
I know it wasn’t easy to find caulrophiles back in the ’80s, but if someone had just shown Gurdy OkCupid or Craigslist or JuggaLove, he could’ve given up his desperate quest to find Tracy and a whole lot of nameless extras would still be alive today.
Speaking of dead extras, while all this has been playing out, Gurdles has been adding a whole lotta notches to the handle of his giant guillotine blade with a handle. His current crash pad is the basement of a local warehouse, and when the place’s realtor stops by with a pair of potential tenants, all three are turned into stew meat for a cannibal potluck. Not exactly smart given that the realtor’s secretary knows where the guy was when last he spoke to her, so when neither he nor the two other guys he took with him return, that’s an easy call to the police to send someone by to check the property out. She doesn’t and they don’t though, but a rent-a-cop instead finds the bloody remnants of the guy in his SUV later that night, which Gurdy just LEFT OUT IN FRONT OF THE WAREHOUSE. Again, HOW THE FUCK DID THIS GUY LEAVE THE FBI CHASING ITS OWN FUCKING TAIL FOR TWENTY YEARS?!
Gurdy’s decades long search for his lost love is all for naught though, as he finds her on the floor of her home with her throat slit! Who could’ve done such a thing? Yep, you guessed it, Christine is Tracy’s daughter and she just killed dear old mom. Rather than hanging the girl by her own intestinal tract for killing the woman he’s spent half a lifetime hunting, Gurd kidnaps Chris (seems she’s only good at killing people who don’t expect it), takes her back to his wretched basement apartment and reveals to her what we’ve all been expecting this whole time – she’s his daughter. Contrived as it is, it’s much better than the other possible outcome, which would’ve been Christine being his new groupie. Not only would that have likely resulted in an ipecac of a sex scene, but it also would’ve made zero fucking sense that a random civilian thrill killer would have known about Gurdy and been able to track him down when, again, the FBI (Fucking Bunch of Idiots) are all too busy giving themselves first-person colonoscopies.
Despite the initial horror of a big psycho clown materializing in her home mere moments after giving her own mom a botched second-chinectomy, Christine seems pretty nonplussed by her poppa’s sudden appearance. She also doesn’t seem all that confused as to why he’s a mute, nor does she question the validity of his claim, and instead just accepts the whole thing as legit. The pair have an instantaneous connection and waste no time getting to the daddy-daughter bonding stuff either, when a gaggle of convenient twenty-somethings out to rave the night away pick the absolute wrong seemingly abandoned warehouse to pass their tress…tress their pass? Whatever, Officer Leroy! (Sifl & Olly joke, so don’t feel bad if that one lost ya) Brandishing the massive slice n’ dicer and a sledgehammer between them, Gurds and Whey make quick work of the kids in their typical gory fashion. Naturally the prey are all too terrified to stop and realize they outnumber their attackers 5-to-1, or that Tweedledaughter shouldn’t be too hard to disarm while awkwardly wielding that big clumsy hammer around, but this world is generally populated by the kind of morons that always come to mind when you ponder just how the “so-and-so wouldn’t know the difference between their asshole and a hole in the ground” witticism gained so much traction.
In our flick’s big finale, Matt & Jen are clued in to the locale of our killers by FBI sister (based on the guard’s SUV discovery the night before) so they head out to investigate before the place is taken over by feds. On the way, they call in their local police squad pals (one of which just wants to bone Jen, not that I blame him) so they won’t be without some form of backup. Rather than wait for the 2 guys with the guns to show up (and it is just the two, since neither apparently thought it a good idea to call in the rest of the pig parade precinct to take down a SERIAL KILLER RESPONSIBLE FOR 200 OR SO MURDERS), our intrepid investigators search the basement of sins (that appears to be lit by some battery powered stick-up lights and a blacklight from Spencer’s Gifts) and end up face-to-painted face with Gurdy. A struggle ensues and Matt shows us that he’s never fired a gun in his life, shooting off a few rounds without so much as a scratch. All the sadder because Gurdy’s of sizable carriage. Have I mentioned that? That he’s fat? I did? How about old? Did I mention that he’s also old? I did. Okay. Just making sure.
Discount bin Crockett and Tubbs show up soon after, but in the interest of expediting these final 15 minutes, let’s leave it at this – the daddy-daughter duo are too much for the quartet. Despite the movie’s earlier exchange of the ex-military dude punching Evil Binky repeatedly in the face to no effect, Mike socks the lummox once in the mouth and fatty’s left reeling like friggin’ Glass Joe. His Tyson-like punches (less the boxer and more the frozen chicken products) notwithstanding, the illegitimate son of Louis C.K. ultimately takes a bullet in the mouth and sheds his mortal coil. The white cop gets his throat slit by Christine (who pretends to be poppa’s prisoner), the black cop (Kibwe Dorsey) gets his head lopped off by the novelty sized butchering implement, and Jen gets slashed up by Chris’ razor blade, has her spine tenderized twice via sledgehammer and finally has her face smashed into the floor multiple times before being left for dead…which she clearly isn’t, as her eyes are wide open and she’s still breathing and writhing around. Rookie mistake on daddy’s little monster’s part. Speaking of, Chris shoots her father in the head (cuz bitches be cray-cray, y’all!) before leaving the scene of the crime. She ends the flick Bill Bixbying down an empty backroad before bursting into 100 Tears‘ final splatter of hemoglobin when she’s street pizza-ed by…Jen. Do Greek women have adamantium skeletons by nature? I mean, even if she didn’t endure multiple concussions from having her face repeatedly bounced off of concrete, I’m pretty sure those SLEDGEHAMMER SHOTS DIRECTLY TO HER SPINE should’ve turned her into b-horror Ironside!
But, you know, movies. What are ya gonna do?
And that’s our movie. It’s truly an HG Lewis flick for the modern age (besides 2001 Maniacs, Blood Feast 2 and so forth). Not because it’s in any way revolutionary or controversial, just because its only real selling point is its graphic violence! It’s a gore whore’s goregasmic delight to behold. The red stuff and chunky inner bits are so prevalent that the movie was given an NC-17 rating for “extreme horror violence”. A badge of honor I’m sure those behind it are proud to display! As they should be. Said splatter showcase is one of the finest (if absurdest) bloodbaths to hit my screen since the last time I watched Evil Dead 2, which any fan of cinematic viscera will recognize as high praise. Give me practical effects for the win, Peter Marshall!
In contrast, 100 Tears‘ story is the whitest of white breads in terms of slasher fare. Think Wonder Bread dipped in a jar of Miracle Whip and fed to an albino polar bear. Whiter than the sheets the republican party wear on their weekend “retreats”. A man and a woman track down a serial killer with a gimmick? Meh. His gimmick is that he’s a clown? And he’s hunting down a figure from his past? Meh again. His murder weapon of choice is a massive meat cleaver? Okay, it’s not just another machete or power tool, so that’s fine. Sadly, making matters worse, this shoestring plot’s got more holes in it than the dozens of apple pies in Jason Biggs’ linen closet. When you’re telling us that the FBI have near-zero info on a serial killer responsible for the deaths of more than 160 people over a twenty year stretch, all of which just happened to be done along the coastal route of the same traveling circus every year over that period, it’s mentally comparable to getting a fucking sliver! It just sits there, stinging and infuriating me more and more as I gnaw at it unsuccessfully in impotent frustration.
Don’t read anything more into that last part, either! Those pills I ordered from Canada are for my liver and nothing else!
On top of that, we only ever get to see Gurdles either in full clown regalia or in the final stages of applying his makeup. Given as such, he must spend time without the greasepaint on if he has to paint himself up again. He has to have more duds in his wardrobe than just his work clothes too, otherwise that shit would’ve been reduced to tatters, cuffs and a collar after twenty years of constant usage! One would have to presume that Gurdy has a secret identity, right? A persona under which you would image he does odd jobs or something to contribute to his basic nutritional needs and travel budget? Or has he just been dumpster diving half-eaten corn dogs from the carnival’s midway trash cans, hence his constant “presence” since his disappearance that Draga refers to? And mayhaps he was just really good at hiding amid the trucks and trailers so no one ever caught him hitching a ride every time they pulled up stakes and moved on? If the devil is in the details, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this flick to any Satan worshipers…
Of which Satanists are not included, so stop being so egocentric with your ignorance to the workings of religions that aren’t your own.
The cast is every bit as amateurish as you’d expect from a homemade horror movie, with writer-star Joe Davison playing comedy relief and giving himself the best lines of the script. At least he delivers them better than I imagine most writers probably would. Georgia Chris and Raine Browne were okay. If nothing else, Raine wasn’t nearly as bad in her pseudo-Harley Quinn role as Margot Robbie was in her actual Harley Quinn role, so…there’s that. I guess. Santiago, sadly enough, seems to have been cast simply for his stature rather than his acting talent. The guy staggers over his lines as if he were a first timer, of which I’m relatively assured he was. If you told me he had even a week of acting classes, or Hel, even some high school drama club experience, I’d probably slap your mother for raising such a foul liar.
As for Amos’ portrayal of Gurdy? For starters, he didn’t have a single line to utter, so he’s off the hook there. His physical stuff was good though. His imposing size and massive cleaver did a lot of the work for him, but his use of the classic movie-killer head tilt was well done. On the downside, the way he’d fling Ol’ Chopper (my name for his cleaver) over his shoulder with a heavy cockiness to his mannerisms and a sneer on his lips just came off as silly bullshit. I’d ask for some leeway when it comes to the cast though, as I’m guessing that a number of these scenes were made under the Roger Corman “one and done” method, because if there were multiple takes and these were the best performances they opted to keep, that’s going to keep me up at night.
So goes today’s feature, 100 Tears. Come for the gory clown violence, stay for…more gory clown violence. If fake blood drenching the screen ain’t your thing, don’t bother tracking this one down, as that’s about all it has to offer. Can’t say a lot for Koch’s directing (especially the lack of fucking lighting in the last 15 minutes), but his special effects are worthy of a girthy upward pointing thumb! Good to see that’s where he’s spent most of his 20 year career.
Before we go, I’ve got one final bone to pick. During Draga’s first scene, things get jarringly goofy when Matt and Jen resort to chasing him on foot through a lightly wooded area. Fat guy awkwardly running after a midget? You betcha.
“Get in mah belly!”
It’s not the chase itself from which said bone protrudes however, but rather the accompanying music that gave me cause to pause. Why? Because it steals the opening to Gogol Bordello’s “I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again”, the 2nd track off of their 2005 album Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike! I only say “stolen” because there’s no credit accredited said band anywhere in the credits. In other words, well, it’s stolen. So here I am, making sure the lads from the Lower East Side get as much recognition for their work as, well, posting it here will give them.
Moral of the Story: The dead don’t Cha-Cha. No, we’re more about the Electric Slide and the Butter Churn down here.
You don’t wanna know where that finger’s been. Clowns are disgusting creatures by nature.
“You’re putting too much effort into the jokes actually being funny. We’re writing a sitcom about a fat guy (me) married to an attractive wife (you). Whether it’s funny or not, there’s no way one of the major networks won’t give us a 2 season deal!”
She thinks she’s on hold with the Suicide Prevention Hotline, but it’s actually one of those morning radio show prank calls.
“Heh heh. Just look at that bisection job! Damn, I’m good. Look out world, Gurdy’s coming for ya!”
If “The Truck Stop Massacre” isn’t already in production at Troma, I’ll be disappointed.
Portrait of a man who will never have sex with his hot female friend. Been there, done that, walked out of the sequel.
“Of course I’m a detective! Just look at my long coat, my taint-length tie and my dress shirt tucked into my high-waisted pants!”
Ladies, no matter how sexy it makes you feel, this is why you never go out in a skirt or dress without underwear. You never know when Aunt Flo is gonna make an unwanted visit.
“Alright, baby. Now I’m gonna show you how a real man… FUCK! YOU TOLD ME YOU’D ALREADY HAD THE SURGERY! GROSS!”
I hear they sold their original SCAT ride to a wealthy German Count.
I see somebody turned my worst Porta John experience into a logo. How fun.
“Sure, the internet may be filled with every kind of porn you can imagine, but you just can’t beat the feeling of a crinkled magazine between your fingers during ‘foreplay’. I guess I’m just a romantic!”
He’s the writer, the male lead AND he does his own stunts! Watch out Hollywood, because Joe Davison is a genuine triple threat!
“21 across – ’45th president of the United States’; 5 letters; begins with ‘P’. Any idea?”
And this, children, is why you never eat an entire package of Gushers fruit snacks at once.
“Try not to blow any of your lines on this take. We need to finish shooting this scene before the Olive Garden employees realize what we’re doing in here.”
On the drive home following Burning Man, Lisa realized that she had a lot of life choices to make that she just couldn’t put off anymore. She’d probably never be able to forget the things she saw that fateful weekend, but she preyed that somehow, somewhere down the line, she would one day be freed of those demons and learn to be human again.
Anubis will return next time in “The Murderous Misadventures of the Crisco Kid”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
Featuring: Manu “Arrow” Bennett , Marci “Days of Our Lives” Miller , Malcolm “A Clockwork Orange” McDowell
Director: GJ “Virtually Heroes” Echternkamp
Writers: GJ “Frank and Cindy” Echternkamp & Matt “Virtually Heroes” Yamashita
Remake of:Death Race 2000
Also Known As:Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050
This Episode Personally Approved By: GJ Echternkamp (Director/Writer)!
“Your review of Death Race 2050 was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read… thanks for making my night!”
“It’s like having sex with 500 men at once – awesome.”
So,we’re only two weeks into the new year and already David Blaine has shot himself in the mouth and Martin “Shcrotin” Shkreli has gotten a face full of doggy dung. Don’t do it, 2017. Don’t tease me like this. After all the bullshit that 2016 pulled, you’re gonna have to give me a LOT more than this to wash off the stink of your predecessor’s legacy! Now, if you were to have Blaine and Criss Angel kill each other off in some form of magician blood feud a la The Prestige and have Shkreli choke to death on a log of piping hot canine crap straight from the pooch’s poop chute, you’d score a fair bucket of cred with both myself and many others. But you’re on super double secret probation until at least mid-April, so keep your nose clean.
Speaking of 2016, despite the murder spree we all witnessed over the length of the last calendar, you know who survived the celebrity serial killer year-that-was? Roger Corman! The spiritual successor of Ed Wood hasn’t directed a flick in over 25 years, but that sure as shit hasn’t stopped the master of the minuscule budget from keeping the bad movie spawning beds bubbling atop his “Producer” chair throne. Much as my opinion of the man’s work ebbs and flows with the shifting of the sands, I will not deny that Cor-Man is the friggin’ Jack LaLanne of schlock. My all time favorite of his features? Without hesitation – Death Race 2000.
If you don’t know that which DR2K is about, it better be because you’re younger than the carton of cottage cheese long thought lost in the dark recesses of my fridge. Why haven’t I thrown it out yet? By the time I found it, I was too afraid to open it, let alone lay my hands upon it. Know what’s in there? Me neither. Let’s keep it that way. Back on topic, DR2K is a 1975 flick that plays like a live-action “Speed Racer” cartoon if it came with an ‘R’ rating and revolved around turning pedestrians into street meat. It was Cannonball Run meets Rollerball. So it was Rollerball Run, I guess. Also, it was already remade in 2008 as just Death Race, as some kind of edgy gay prison sex action-drama art house film starring Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson also executive produced by Roger Corman. It had two sequels, with a third currently in production as of this review. Samuel L. Jackson that’s a lot of spin-offs for a movie that’s never had an actual sequel! Good on Mr. HardCorman for beating every last cent out of that dead horse. At least it’s his own and he’s not just Michael Bay-ing off of someone else’s work. Speaking of deceased equines, let’s saddle up this thoroughbred and see if it’s riding majestically into the sunset or shuffling off to the Elmer’s plant.
Oh yeah, so (not my) president Pissler and his turd reich are on their way into the White House soon, and though I had another movie in mind to mark the end of civilization as we know it, DR2050 dropped itself face first into my lap instead, and the timing was just too perfect not to unzip. As such, if you were shivering with antici………..pation for this as much as I was, well, urine luck!
For those who have already seen Death Race 2000, you can pretty much Choose Your Own Adventure the next few paragraphs and turn to “Page 32”. For those new to the game, continue on to “Page 7”.
30 or so years in the future, the USA is a much different landscape. Well, it’ll probably be like looking in a mirror 4 or so years in the future from where we are now, but let’s all try to escape reality for a few minutes together and focus on the flick. Corporations have hijacked the land of milk and honey and turned it into Occupy Wall Street’s worst night terror, going so overboard as to rename the nation The United Corporations of America. This “re-branding” includes the replacement of the stars on the flag with dollar signs. Like the most constipated man in history would say, I shit you not. The states have been divided among the most elite of the 1% and also re-branded with new monikers to reflect their new owners, and in some cases strip mined of every available resource straight into hellholes that only extras from a Mad Max movie would be fit to survive in. Sitting atop this smoldering shit heap is the Chairman (Malcolm McDowell), whose goofy haircut, bold faced lies and constant disregard for the welfare of his citizens in favor of bilking every last cent out of their pockets make him an obvious parody of a certain baby-handed megalomaniac obsessed with swimming in gold, and I don’t mean the way Scrooge McDuck does.
With the advancement of medical technology, mankind has managed to eliminate life-threatening diseases like cancer, while also giving the people an Extended Play in the game of life, with most living into the triple digits like it’s no big deal. The resultant unexpected population explosion (remember, guys like the Chairman don’t listen to any science that doesn’t bump up their profit margin) left the nation with an immediate need to relocate their excess citizenry. But, since the UCA grabbed the other nations of the world by their pussies with nuclear rape hands, the remainder of the planet’s kinda unlivable. Hence, violent competitions were established where the participants murder the peasantry en masse for the entertainment of said peasantry smart enough to stay home and watch instead. On that note, cue the theme music as we present you with Death Race: a cross-country rally style automotive conflict whose drivers (and their navigators/co-pilots) do their damnedest to turn every person along the path into meat bag versions of the Incredible Crash Dummies. You know, the characters from that weird ’90s cartoon/toy line, not that weird ’90s band/reason I uncontrollably punch people who hum as hard as I can in the face… with a knife.
Not everybody in the UCA is down with an entertainment industry based on a “re-envisioning” of the Roman Colosseum days. Said like-minded individuals have become a like-minded institution of rebels working toward the common goal of “waking up the sheeple” (I hate young people) and uniting the common folk against their corporate oppressors. How? By stopping the Death Race! How? By killing the drivers! These inept understudies from an off-Broadway musical version of Beyond Thunderdome are lead by an ex government Head of Programming-turned-revolutionary hard-ass named Alexis, who’s played by the former starlet of TNT’s ”Witchblade” TV series – Yancy Butler! Oh, nobody remembers ”Witchblade”? Well, fist my ass.
NOT WITH THAT!
And now, your Death Race racer roster!
Frankenstein (Manu Bennett) – Dressed up like a leather daddy wearing a lava golem mask that may or may not be made from re-purposed tire rubber, this four time winner of Death Races past is a manly man budget version of Tom Hardy and the franchise hero of the coast-to-coast abattoir. Bearing the title of Mary Shelley’s most memorable monster (Victor, not his patchwork zombie “son”), he’s survived his fair share of fender benders thanks to the advanced cyber-prosthesis that have left him a mechanical man. Query: though this explains the Frankenstein name, was his name always Frankenstein, even before he became a walking quilt of flesh and circuitry? Enquiring minds are mildly curious! His co-pilot Annie (Marci Miller) is our main man’s mandatory love interest, so try not to be surprised when their elementary school playground name calling and verbal sparring turns into a begrudging union of souls. Finally, am I the only one who looks at Frankie’s car and can’t stop seeing the TMNT Footski toy?
Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead) – The self-proclaimed apex of manliness and a nonstop testosterone factory, Perfectus is the test tube baby byproduct of a genetic engineering experiment tasked with making the ultimate male. He’s determined to defeat Frankenstein (to the point of obsession) and prove himself the new hero that the Death Race fans deserve. A blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan asshole, this personification of the Übermensch would have Hitler creaming his pants so hard you’d think he’d just poured bottles of Coffee-Mate down both pockets. All that aggressive man juice pumping through his brain makes Jed a bit of a psycho though, so when he strips down to his golden Rocky Horror skivvies and his mole-covered pecs get to flexing, prepare for some of the old ultra-violence. Though the gay jokes are frequent and expected, in spite of them, Jed’s fractured mental state is actually an interesting study in the dangers of toxic masculinity. Unlike the prior picture’s antagonist, Machine Gun Joe, Jed opts for a spear gun over a Tommy Gun. Given the whole “insecure man” angle, I’m sure that’s not just a Freudian slip on the peel of a Freudian banana. Wakka wakka!
Tammy (Anessa Ramsey) – Also known by the nom de carnage of “Tammy the Terrorist”, I’m pretty sure this mid-western religious nut heralded by the stink of brimstone and burnt rubber is named after the infamous Tammy Faye-Bakker. Then again, her lack of comically heavy makeup could indicate otherwise. Whatever the case, Tammy here bears no small resemblance to an out-of-work Jaime Pressly. She’s dressed to the nines in her eye-blisteringly “’MERICA!” outfit that approximates a grown-up version of something you’d see at one of those creepy Dallas prostitot beauty pageants that I’m pretty sure are just massive bait traps for pedophiles. Her white trash Barbarella fashion senselessness aside, Tammy’s defining trait is that she’s the leader of a religious extremist group (i.e. suicide bombers) who worship dead celebrities from the past, so expect numerous name drops along the lines of James Dean, David Bowie, Elvis Presley and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. In case it wasn’t blatant enough for you (or you just weren’t paying attention), she represents the ridiculous forms that celebrity worship can take and the dangers that faith can lead to in the wrong hands.
Minerva Jefferson (Folake Olowofoyeku) – The obvious foil for Miss Tammy, Minerva is a hard-nosed hip hop harlot draped in bad girl bling who’s made a career out of calling for the killing of white people. Not “Whitey” or “The Man” in particular, mind you, but Caucasians as a whole. And no, not Caucasian ass-a-holes specifically, hyuk hyuk. Though I’m a member of the “rap is crap” mentality, as a self-hating honky I probably relate more to Minerva’s motivations than any of the other drivers’. Her car (the Whitey Whacker) has a pair of external speakers that are supposedly so loud they can make peoples’ heads explode, but I’m not sure that’s how sound waves work. Minerva’s latest hit single is in honor of her enrollment in the competition and it’s no surprise that it’s just her chanting “Drive! Drive! Kill! Kill!” to a generic backing track. It’s all a flagrant rip-off of a Homer Is B.I.G. track, anyway.
ABE (voiced by D.C. Douglas) – The fifth and final perforator of pedestrian entrails in this endeavor is even less human than Jed! That’s because this driver is actually the K.I.T.T. of the movie, minus Mr. Feeny’s voice or Mitch Buchannon’s ass in its face. The AI’s creator/co-pilot/girlfriend is Dr. Von
Creamer (Helen Loris)… wait… “girlfriend”? Yep. Though we’re given no background on the self-driving murder machine’s origins, going by Creamy’s frequent usage of its passenger pleasure functions, I’m gonna go with the safe bet that the doctor’s obsession with creating the ultimate vibrator got so out-of-hand that she couldn’t keep it a secret from whoever supplied her research grant, so she just said it was a Death Race car and ended up here. Interestingly enough, ABE (the meaning of whose acronym is also ignored) presents us with the ages old “What’s the meaning of life?” query as applied to an AI. Curiouser and curiouser.
And that’s as deep as I’m gonna delve into this gumball rally of gore. For returning audiences wondering where the flick’s endgame lies, it’s both familiar and new. Not soul crushingly new like New Coke, but more “better than we feared” new like the New Mutants. Also, no, that certain beloved pun-based explosive device (you know the one) does not make a return, despite it fitting this flicks goofy-as-fuck tone. A tad sad, but that’s just the way it is. At least we got this guy, so it’s not like we’re left empty handed!
Find someone who loves you the way this guy loves his giant fiberglass wiener.
So there you have it – Death Race 2050. I’m not gonna lie to you (or am I?), but upon my first viewing of it, I was the kid on Cthulhumas morning who was anticipating a severed head awaiting me under the burning tree of madness, only to find a basket of graphically soiled hobo underwear instead. I was hoping for a movie more akin to Death Race 2000 – a lower budget think piece disguised as a campy celebration of the normalization of violence. What I got was a slightly higher budgeted version of Death Racers with much the same eye violatingly miserable digital effects, written by people to whom the word “subtlety” seems to have a “that which shall not be named” air to it. An embodiment of every vulgarity Echternkamp and Yamashita recoiled at during their formative years, and have since become straight phobias. An offense equal to shitting into their respective grandmothers’ mouths.
Upon my second viewing though, I had one of those RARE changes of heart. Having suffered the shit tier special effects once and watching it with my expectational loins properly girded, I was able to ignore the visual garbage fire and really enjoy the extreme lengths to which Brand Echt and Holy ‘Shita didn’t just put their plans out there for us to see, but fired them into our faces via figurative bazooka. Their revulsion of subtlety works in their favor! It gives the whole movie a boost of Idiocracy style absurdity with a hot beef injection of Troma type energy, blatant sociopolitical subject matter, and tongues so firmly in-cheek that they’re seeing daylight. And in today’s climate? Being released mere days before Pissler’s inauguration? You couldn’t have picked a better time to release a movie like this if you had a DeLorean with a souped-up Mr. Coffee strapped to it. It’s one of those movies whose dialogue is endlessly quotable too, so if you hate flicks that focus on snappy-like-a-mousetrap exchanges and one-liners over more realistic speak, take your bland ass elsewhere.
Speaking of great lines, they’re nothing without proper delivery, which is where our cast comes in. And what a cast they are! All of the racers feel fleshed out, with their own defining moments and personal conflicts. The political participants and co-pilots (except Annie of course) have less dimensions than the characters in Megan Fox’s filmography, but the main cast tow the film fine on their own. The lines feel so natural coming out of their mouths that you almost feel like the characters themselves were tailored for the actors. It’s not high drama Oscar stuff. We’re not seeing the next generation of Streeps and DiCaprios here, but for what the roles required, I don’t think we could’ve gotten better than this batch of relative nobodies. That might sound like faint praise, but coming from someone who’d rather cuddle David Carradine’s bloated corpse in a closet for a night than watch The Departed again, consider it my official approval. Officially.
No matter how much I can indulge in everything else though, none of this helps wipe away the stain of DR2050‘s hideous coat of shit colored digital paint. It hangs heavy over the whole thing like a big brown cloud blotting out the sun. I hate the person who invented computer generated cars. And computer generated explosions. And computer generated gore. Fuck he/she/them with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and soaked in ghost pepper sauce. I blame The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, but then I tend to blame Tokyo Drift for most of the problems in my life. Every time I stub my toe or get a paper cut, you can usually hear me shouting “TOKYO DRIFT!” at the top of my lungs. ‘Struth.
In case It wasn’t obvious, I’m recommending this movie for those readers looking to have a laugh with a VERY liberal lean. Just go in expecting Syfy Original “quality” computer effects and you’re less likely to be as mortified as I was at first. If you’re looking for more serious car combat, watch Death Race instead (or again), or just let Fury Road blow your mind for the 20th time. Either way, I’ve had my say, so here’s to hoping it made your day. Later, taters!
Moral of the Story: God is a woman, and she is black as fuck.
“What’s new, pussycat? Whoooooa oh oooooooh!”
“Prop Corn”? What, they couldn’t afford the real stuff? I’m not saying it had to be a case of that fancy Redenbacher bastard’s stuff, but nobody could just pony up for a few bags of generic store brand popcorn?!
In the future, people will be able to splice their genes with other species, Moreau style. Amanda here has just started her transition into a Lepus-American, and we at The Tomb wish her all the best!
Sadly, it’s not whether the black and Asian characters will be killed off, but which one will die first. Sorry, minorities.
“Oh no, darling. This isn’t an oral exam camera. Turn around and think warm thoughts!”
Our hero looks like the gimp from an intergalactic Ilsa movie.
Frankenstein and his car pose for their action figure box art.
From an alternate reality in which Michael Jackson lived well into his 80s and became not just the king of pop, but the king of the world.
NOT the type of face you want to wake up to! Or step out of the shower to! Or… come home to… or… you know what, no one should ever have to see that face… ever.
“How’s our repeal of The Constitution coming along? What do you mean ‘What are we going to replace it with’? No we don’t have anything to replace it with! That didn’t stop us from repealing Obamacare or Social Services, why should it stop us now?!”
“They actually think the audience is going to believe these painted dollar store swimming goggles are VR glasses! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Presenting Mister & Missus Carl’s Jr. 2017!
“You see these sunglasses? They cost more than your car! Why? What’s so great about them? I DON’T FUCKING KNOW! IT DOESN’T MATTER! They cost more than any other pair of sunglasses, so that makes them (and by proxy ME) better!”
When your shadowcast’s Riff Raff calls in sick and Rocky has to pull double duty.
Gah! I’m being haunted by the ghost of Liberace!
I once ate a rancid can of alphabet soup on a dare, and the resultant game of gastric Scrabble I played in the toilet afterward spelled out something like that.
Anubis will return next time in “How Gurdy Got His Groove Back”
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