Featuring: Thomas “Hell Baby” Lennon , Jenny “‘State of Affairs’” Pellicer , Barbara “Re-Animator” Crampton, and special appearance by Udo “Flesh for Frankenstein” Kier
Directors: Sonny “Wither” Laguna & Tommy “Wither” Wiklund
Writer: S. Craig “Bone Tomahawk” Zahler
In an effort to expand my resume as an “artist/creator” (dear Ra can I not wait for the planet to be swallowed in atomic fire), my agent suggested I get a stage show produced so I qualify as a “playwright”. Well, Calamity of Snakes: the Musical, my plaguerism rampant adaptation of the 1982 Taiwanese horror movie of the same name, will be making its debut on the main stage of the Galaxy of Terror nightclub/sex dungeon in Greenvale, Washington for a six week run starting next week. If you actually attend one of our shows, please don’t send me any feedback as all requests for refunds will be denied – a policy that will be enforced onsite by the mutant bear monstrocity from Prophecy. Speaking of mutant bears, here’s that completely unrelated segway into the review that I ordered!
… “2 day shipping” my hairy ebon ass.
Though you wouldn’t know it by the lack of reviews on the site, I’m a long time fan of Charles Band’s Puppet Master series. Well, the first three movies. The latter NINE, not so much. Once the quality started its supersonic descent into crap movie hell with the 4th installment, my interests waned just as quickly, ultimately petering out when The SciFi Channel’s “Originals” line of TV movies vomited Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys directly into my eyes and turned me off of killer puppet flicks like a germaphobe at a GG Allin show. Even when Band tried to jumpstart the series again 6 years later by taking the aggro action figures back to their Nazi killing ways with a new “Axis Trilogy” project, I couldn’t even be bothered to download a pirated copy of the first flick for fear that a viewing would result in time better spent trying to castrate a badger or just crotching myself repeatedly on a cemetery gate. Even the return of director David DeCoteau was too little too late, and this was before he emotionally abused me with 1313: Bigfoot Island!
The Littlest Reich is Band’s attempt at rebooting the series after 29 years of quantity-over-quality lore building, Band-wagoning (*wink*wink*) on Hollywood’s 21st century fascination with trying to re-animate the corpses of deceased horror franchises in the hopes of hoovering whatever loose change is left in the pockets of their pre-installed fanbases. The only good thing about this is that Andre Toulon’s troupe of tiny terrorizers never had a wide enough fandom to catch the predatory eye of Michael Bay and his perpetual trash fire factory, Platinum Dunes. However, can the writer of the much-loved indie movie Bone Tomahawk and a pair of potential pervaded (though not yet fully proven) horror directors give new legs to a series that’s been dragging its decroded piece of crap carcass through the direct-to-video wasteland?Shit, I’ll be happy if I can get through it in one sitting without falling asleep or questioning the further validity of my existence. Mr. Zulu….engage.
(Yeah, this dude gets it.)
The opening introduces us to this alternate dimension’s Andre Toulon (Udo Kier!), whose oddly swollen head means the stems of his eyeglasses don’t have room to fit behind his ears and just sit tilted along his temples instead. Or maybe that’s just how Nazis wear their spectacles in this Twilight Zone episode. Oh, did I not mention that part? Yeah, in this reality, rather than being a one-man resistance army against the Third Reich, the half-French half-German Andre actually worked FOR the goose-stepping blitzkriegers. And what’s the worst way you can use a miniature death squad from Hitler’s side of WW2? Rooting out the hidden targets of your racist “Make Germany Great Again” campaign and slaughtering any and every Jew, Gypsy, black, homosexual, and so forth that they find. He was basically a more hands-on Hans Landa. I’m guessing Anne Frank’s diary didn’t get many entries in this darkest of timelines…
When we catch up to bringer of diminutive death, it’s 1989 and he’s successfully hidden himself in Texas, the self-proclaimed craddle of ‘Merica no less, for 40+ years. Andre 3000 (probably a fair assessment of his kids’ killcount) lives amid the citizens of Pottsville and we catch up to him as he imbibes in some seeming socializing at a local bar, where his not-great attempts to pick up the female bartender send him home in a huff. Unlike 90% of heterosexual men, Toulon is disgusted when the ‘tender’s tender lady lover explicitly illustrates to the old man that this be-breasted drink slinger’s pants are a “Cowgirls Only” zone. Openly lesbianic gals deep in the hateful heart of 1980s Texas?! If it weren’t for Andre’s fatal retaliation, these two probably would’ve ended up on the receiving end of a Boys Don’t Cry from some sobriety challenged, mouth breathing “good ol’ boys” before too long, so… at least being killed by a grown man’s gore hungry toys is quick and devoid of sexual assault.
Yep, a quick death is pretty much the best case scenario when you’re a non-conservative in the Lone Star Shame.
In an unexplained turn of events, the local law enforcers know Toulon is to blame for the lesbians’ roadside induction into the choir invisible (the tiny bloody footprints, perhaps?) and storm his mansion, shooting him dead in his foyer with a hail of gunfire that later lacks sense with one officers report that they actually executed him in his basement workshop, where he was put down for pointing a gun at them. Given what the recent years of body cams, dashboard videos, and civilian recordings have shown us though, the chances of the official report on the incident being plastered with more horse shit than Hercules (“Heracles” if you’re nasty/Roman) flushed from the Augean Stables is almost a money back guarantee*.
*Some exclusions apply.
Time warping to “Present Day (2018 for us) in the Dallas of Texas, we’re introduced to our protagonist: Edgar Easton (Thomas “Don’t call me ‘John’” Lennon!). Recently divorced from his wife, the comic book writer-illustrator-shop employee is forced to move in with his parents until he can establish a financially viable domicile to call his own. Like most moms, Mrs. Easton is happy to have her little (middle-aged) boy back under her roof, while Mr. Eastman, like most dads, will be using his son as a personal punching bag for his retired old policeman spite and general Republican bitterness. Things look up for the downtrodden graduate from the comic geek old school though, when he gets into an almost immediate romantic bodily fluids exchanging relationship with local lass Ashley Summers (Jenny Pellicer), whose brother he knew during their school days. She works at a record store, takes her cat (and its corpse paint like facial markings) for leashed walks, and when Eddie vocalizes his disdain for hipsters, you’d think their pelvises had suddenly become magnetized by oppositely charged electrons.
If you’re a member of ICP, I suggest Googling that last bit.
Years before this, Edgar’s brother James passed away from an “accident” that nobody feels the need to elaborate on. Amid the deceased sibling’s belongings, Ed finds a very morbid looking puppet he found during summer camp years ago and that would’ve given ’90s Todd McFarlane a hard-on.
If you didn’t collect action figures based on horror movie villains and monsters 25 years ago, I suggest Googling that last bit.
Rather than hold onto the twisted piece of wooden evil for old times sake, Ed opts to sell it instead at a convention in Pottsville commemorating/celebrating the 30th anniversary of the grisly puppet master’s death…except whoever organized it can’t fucking count because 2018 minus 1989 is TWENTY-NINE. Welcome to alternate universe Trump’s America, folks. Anyway, Ed, Ash, and Ed’s friend/boss Markowitz (he seemingly only has one name, like Prince or Cher) road trip to KillerCon, where they learn the legacy of Hitler’s personal toymaker during a tour of the evil bastard’s mansion slash Nazi memorabilia museum, as hosted by retired police officer Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton!) who was one of the trigger pullers that took down the monster. She’s the aforementioned cop that needlessly changes the story about finding Toulon in the basement.
I’m starting to feel like these “fuck-ups” are intentional attempts by Bone Tomahawk guy to bait nit-pickers as part of some trolling fetish he has.
With an estimated SIXTY-THREE of Toulon’s terrors due to reunite at the convention (he was apparently quite the successful mail-order creature carver in his day), this isn’t a question of if shit will be hitting the fan, but when. And the answer is a resounding “sooner than later”. Fortunately, for fellow gore whores and lovers of practical carnage effects, the deaths are graphic and numerous, with no less than (but probably more than) 20 bloody instances of puppetine peril! I definitely don’t suggest that pregnant women, children, or people with particularly delicate constitutions buy a ticket for this ride, cuz once the safety rail comes down it’s NO REFUNDS!
Littlest Reich does so much right as a reboot movie that the cluster-fuckery of its final act hits me in the life pump harder than a Porky Pete’s Triple-Thick Double Bypass Animal Farm Stacker Surprise with Jumbo Cheese-pocalypse Fried Bacon Rings. Without spoiling this “fresh out of the fryer” feature, I’ll just say that the finale feels confused, rushed, and needs to be flushed. Where as most movies are content with one, maybe two twists, Littlest Reich won’t be happy unless it makes Dee Snider eating a party-size bag of Rold Gold on a roller coaster look straighter than Sweeney Todd’s straight razor. If that outburst of metaphors and similes doesn’t impress upon you how unnecessarily throw together this finish is, than my resultant bout of Vertigo was all for naught.
In my last review, The Quiet Ones too was thrown down a spiral staircase for a 20 minute tumble by its own writers, but those twists and turns and twirls galore carried with them some a road map of revelations explaining how we got there. S. Craig Zahler bukakkes us with loose threads only to pull an Elaine Benes by filling in the gaps with “yadda yadda yadda” that only makes things more muddied! Also, he does so while doing that fucking weird “ghosts have taken residence in my bone marrow” dance she did in that one episode. Clearly a sadist.
Frustrating finishes aside, I applaud this new installment of Puppet Master lore for much more. The looming threat of entire legions of Herr Toulon’s little monsters is enticing. Though some of their styles overlap, the new evil redesigns do the trick. As much as it disappoints that they lack much of the individual charm and character of the originals, as a death squad of murderous miniature racist scum fodder doomed for deletion in Hel’s Obsolete Products Department, they fit the loathsome antagonist bill like Nazis should. And the manipulations of the puppeteers giving them life behind-the-scenes is impressive. It’s still not the return to stop motion magic that lured me into the influences of the original series’ first trio of entries, but it’s a Superman leap (over a tall building in a single bound) beyond poor man’s Punch & Judy stuff we’ve been forced to all too much to endure for more than two decades. Kudos to the crew and here’s to the hopes that you’ll return for a follow-up.
Now, to the less novelty based members of the cast. I’ve been a mark for Thomas Lennon and the rest of his friends from ”The State” since it originally aired on MTV in the golden days of ”Liquid Television”, ”The Brothers Grunt” and ”Oddities”. Seeing him take a more serious, well, reserved role like Edgar is interesting. In a good way. I was expecting his usual comedic act to come out and goof the flick up too much, but the introverted divorcee forced to shack up again in the bedroom of his childhood is just as far from Lieutenant Dangle of the Reno PD as he should be. Though he still gets plenty of funny lines, they’re delivered with the fitting deadpan sarcasm of a bemused Gen-Xer instead of the in-on-the-joke flamboyance of his usual characters. Though he’s busy enough with producing, writing, directing, and all of that other creative chicanery, I’d like to see Mr. Lennon stretch his legs with some similarly non-clowning roles.
The other two big portions of the acting pie, Jenny Pellicer and Nelson Franklin, too do their parts proud. As Ashley, Pellicer is sunny as her character’s last name suggests without going to revolting lengths. She’s a charmer, she and Edgar compliment each other perfectly, her chemistry with Lennon feels real for a pair of newly involved romantic interests, and she’s a perfect foil for the pessimistic Markowitz without, again, taking it to irritating sitcom lengths. It also doesn’t hurt that she gives me good vibrations of a Kristen Wiig variety, and I get hot over women who wear chokers…
Temping down any arousal I just experienced, Franklin’s Markowitz is a nauseating reminder of a comic book store owner I actually worked for. He’s a snide know-it-all prick who thinks he has the answer for everything and any opinion that’s not his is ill-informed, its owner a feckless plebian. Unlike my former employer though, Marko embraces his Jewish heritage once he finds out that their enemies are agents of the Final Solution, and even gets in an act of ancestral reprisal on one of the Fuhrer’s playthings as he introduces it a natural gas powered tanning booth. The something from that oven’s got nothing to do with lovin’!
Of the remaining members of this “and the rest” cast, Udo is serviceably sinister as the newly revolting rendering of Andre Toulon (though sadly lacking in screen time), Skeeta Jenkins and Alex Beh make the most of their ancellary characters Cuddly Bear and the Crispen Glovery Howie respectively, while Barbara Crampton gets a very special mention from moi, the president of her unofficial one-god fan club! Never a slouch when it came to bucking the “damsel in distress” archetype in horror movies, in the 30 years since Re-Animator, BC (as the Evil Dead Bride and I like to call her) has only improved in her acting abilities. I don’t think she gets enough credit for her talent, given her resume in movies that we love though mainstream audiences may not, but she’s easily my favorite supporting cast member here. All my love, Miss Cramps. *mwah*
Before I finish lauding people, allow me to lob one final laud to legendary Italian horror composer Fabio Frizzi for bringing his special touch to Littlest Reich‘s soundtrack and giving Charles Band’s brother Richard’s original Puppet Master theme a tasty splash of his homemade spaghetti horror sauce for what I hope goes on to be a successful reboot.
Despite my middling rating, I still enjoy Littlest Reich. It’s a solid movie that horror-comedy fans and killer toy fetishists looking for a Saturday night popcorn/pizza/pierogie picture should prioritize on their pull list. And if you don’t like it? Well, opinions are opinions and just like at the Outback Steakhouse there are no rules, just right.
Oh, and, uhm, don’t try to cite said corporate motto as a legally binding call for in-restaurant anarchic behavior while visiting an Outback location. They have rules. Many rules. The breaking of which can lead to MOUNTAINS of legal action that the owners, employees, and customers will likely take against you. If you don’t believe me, just go to the restroom and check out the “Employees Must Wash Hands” plaques and see the facade of your Mad Max fantasies crumble in your hands like a sand dildo.
And on that dream shattering peak behind the curtain I bid you adieu, my marionettes of mayhem, and will see you next time on MIDNIGHT SHOCK-TIME HORROR THEATER! MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!
I see Udo’s been eating the crumbs at the bottom of the Oreos bag. Someone tell Mr. Kier that a “wet nap” isn’t just what happens when he falls asleep in his Sitz bath.
Store brand Anna Kendrick is displeased. Or concerned? Maybe gassy. I’m not really sure.
Matthias Hues, seen here contemplating his Ticket to Ride strategy for this week’s Tabletop Night.
“Why does this puppet have lips like Janice from the Muppet Band? Oh god… my brother was using this thing to house his fleshlight! GAH!”
That cat has natural corpse paint! Brutal.
“Lady, if you don’t want to see a stranger masturbating in their front seat, then don’t go peeking in parked cars. Now either give me a hand with this or kindly leave.”
Poor Elton. He’s the only puppet Toulon ever made with a desperate need for a comb over.
“Ed, you know not to interrupt me on ‘New Issue of Gigantic Asses Day’. Now go restock the tissues in my office. I’m going to need at least two boxes this month.”
The lady likes her comic geeks like she likes her hams: BONE-IN! Woooooo!
Hitler was definitely a monster, but if Toulon’s home is in any indicator, der fuhrer provided his employees with a hell of a severance package!
“No, I’m not Kristen Wiig or Kate McKenna, but if I give you a fake phone number will you go away?”
Barbara Crampton teaches the rest of the crew how to do the “2 Legit 2 Quit” salute.
Don’t you hate those awkward days when you get called to a violent shootout at work, only to realize that you left your gun at home?
Given the strength of his grill game, MC Kaiser here will be guesting on tracks with 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa before the end of the year.
“Ah yes, there’s your penis. Just as the mail order bride catalog advertised. Excellent.”
Featuring a special cameo by your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestler, David Starr!
(Whose crotch my face is unfortunately planted in for this screenshot.)
In the name of realism (while also avoiding risk of lawsuits), Marvel’s new Ghost Rider action figure requires buyers to provide their own hellfire.
“Damn it. We can’t watch the new episode of ‘Sailor Moon: Crystal’ because my mom and my ex are both using the Hulu account!”
Karl from Die Hard learns the messy side effects of snorting coke while also watching fan service anime.
“No! No! No! It’s a jump to the left and then a step to the right! The show starts in an hour and NONE of you have learned the Time Warp!”
“Und d-d-d-d-dat ist all, folks!”
Anubis will return next time in
“Crazy Eldritch Asians”
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All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.
Featuring: Olivia “‘Bates Motel’” Cooke , Sam “The Hunger Games” Claflin , Jared “‘Mad Men’” Harris
Director: John “Quarantine 2: the Terminal” Pogue
Writers: John “Ghost Ship” Pogue , Craig “The Uninvited” Rosenberg , Tom “The Hallow” de Ville , Oren “I’m Not There.” Moverman
For those wondering the cause of my latest absence, it all started last year when my court mandated hypnotherapist told me to explore the world and meet new people. I thought she said explode the world and eat new people and, well, let’s just say I had a very awkward several month stay in Germany… Further stymieing my return, the spray-tan-scrotum-golem-in-chief’s racist travel ban made it impossible for an Egyptian Death God/Dog to get back into the US by “conventional” means. Anyway, with all of that behind me, here we are! Did I miss anything while I was MIA? Never mind. I don’t care. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to reviewing I go!
The flick heralding my glorious return to cinema nitpicking is yet another from the ever-swelling sub-genre of “Inspired by actual events” movies. How inspired? As is often the case, only enough to establish a basic foundation for a house of lies.
The actual event in question is a little-known 1972 mental spelunking designated, “The Phillip Experiment”. Headed by a Canadian mathematician (because nobody knows horror like someone whose life revolves around numbers) named A.R.G. Owen (“ARGO”?), it attempted to prove Dr. “Uncle” Owen’s theory that supernatural phenomenon was the result of human psychology and that the supposed specters of the restless deceased (i.e. ghosts) are just a case of shared hallucinations between peers. In testing said population postulation, ARGO gathered a handful of educated associates and the group created a fictional character named Phillip (hence the title), complete with his own made-up background. Once Phil’s character sheet was filled out (I’m guessing he was a half-orc rogue with a Chaotic Neutral alignment), the group went about holding a “seance” to try and Witchboard the imaginary spirit into existence. When their first attempt flopped, they spookied up the second effort like a cheap Halloween spook house and sure enough: *BOOM!* so much spooky shit hit the fan that they needed to pressure wash the walls after.
Despite this supposed evidence to support ARGO’s hypothesis, why aren’t the results of the experiment globally acknowledged as the official debunking of every ghost story ever told? While the majority of the scientific community would rather point out the numerous flaws with the experiment’s execution, we all know that nightmare fuel sells, so consider it an assassination job by the horror industry and the collective con-men (and con-women) who make their livings off of “reuniting people with their dead family members” and making TV shows where nobody actors pretend to be “paranormal experts” yelling at “ghosts” in front of night vision cameras!
Well, that covers the educational portion of the review. Now that I’ve guaranteed a few more weeks of grant funding from The CHUD Group (taking “based on actual events” movies to task since 1984!), allow me to hang up my mortar board and don my rubber monster mask. It greatly obscures my vision and puts me at a heightened danger of asphyxia, but it gets me in the proper mindset for movie mockery…and it scares the shit out of the cats too! Mwa-ha-ha-ha.
Across the pond, in the merry old England of 1974, Oxford University professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris playing the missing link between Frasier Crane’s brother and Hellboy’s adopted father) fills in the role of “curmudgeonly old science type who will sacrifice as many underlings as need be in the desperate effort to prove his crackpot theories”. He gets things rolling by familiarizing his upper class rich kid students with an experiment he himself conducted, centered around curing a mentally disturbed subject known only as “David Q”, a barely pubescent lad with a penchant for making drawings, not unlike Mike Myers’ reoccurring “SNL” character Simon. Pretty normal, right? Except that his refrigerator disasterworks were of a spooky creepozoid he called “Mr. Gregor”, based on a character from one of his dear old dad’s bedtime stories. If you’re thinking of Peter Rabbit’s arch-nemesis, that’s Mr. McGregor, who is slightly less horrifying. Anyway, according to DQ, this Weight Watchers Uncle Fester is “the man that makes things happen”. Unlike Edward “A Man Who Makes Things Happen” Collins, Mr. G’s talents didn’t involve integral advances to the state of Texas’ infrastructure. His “things” were more in the realm of poltergeist-ian happenings around young David that had those close to him believing he was a better candidate for an exorcism than a session on a shrink’s leather couch.
One of Coupland’s mentees (not manatees…though that would make for an interesting twist) decries his work as blasphemous and abandons the class since “Revenant Remonstration” wasn’t listed in the syllabus. I wonder if “conflict with religious beliefs” is a refundable excuse when dropping a subject… Charley Church is pretty much alone in his condemnation though, so Professor Joey Joe Joe had little trouble already convincing two of his suck-up-iest students to help him further his hunt for a cure to a condition that 99% of whose victims only exist in cheap horror flicks still trying to cash in on the popularity of The Exorcist.
Krissi (Erin Richards) is an attention magnet female caricature of a character who gets off on men wanting to engage in sexual congress with her. In a modern setting, she’d be one of those “bi for the guys” types who makes out with other women in bars just so they’ll be in the center of the testosteronal spotlight. She initially tried to sign up for the project as the test subject because she’s “so crazy”, but having father abandonment issues and severe jealousy isn’t what Coupland was looking for, so Krissi tags along to assist and observe. On a related note, Graa-Muhr – the Sumerian god demon that lives in my Speak & Spell and spellchecks my words – has declared spelling that name with an ‘i’ as a heretical act. As such, I’ll be calling her “Kris” for the remainder of my bemused musings. Over and out.
Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) is a pretty persona non interessante in his own right, there to experience what he thinks will be a milestone in all kinds of sciences without providing any real catalyst to the goings-on. He’s also Kris’ current partner in the synchronized mattress gymnastics routine, so expect standard “relationship complications” between the pair in a quarter-hearted effort to make them both seem less two-dimensional. As for the study’s star, she’s an afflicted/conflicted young woman named Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke). Miss Harper is a suicidal amnesiac with “off the charts” brain wave frequencies whose only known past consists of being an unwilling passenger of the British foster care system, hot potato-ed like a human dybukk box from home to home because of her tendency for paranormal “redecoration” in every home she was placed. Claiming she’s not responsible for the destruction left in her wake, the girl (well, woman, as she’s 24 according to my math) insists that another personality named Evey (pronounced like the Pokemon Evee, and not like “every” minus the ‘r’) is to blame. Professor Coupy hypothesizes that Evey is a delusion created by his little guinea pig and is determined to harvest her telekinetic havoc by “trapping” the imaginary friend inside of a doll, thus giving Evey her own physical form, thus making a name for himself in the annals of crackpot horror movie mad science history and likely dooming himself and his cohorts to be menaced and murdered Talking Tina style.
(Run, Bojack! Uhm, I mean, Kojak. Run, Kojak!)
To achieve his goal, Coupland (who’s not nearly as magical as Disneyland) keeps Calamity Jane locked up in an apartment where she’s mentally tormented around every little minute line of the proverbial clock. The theory is that depriving her of sleep and subjecting her to blaring renditions of Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” will stress her to the point of a veritable breakdown, releasing the Dark Hadou within. Given what we’ve seen from shit like Firestarter, Scanners and Akira, this isn’t going to end well for anyone.
Now, until this movie, the only rendition of “Cum on Feel the Noize” (or “CoFtN” as true fans know it) I had been aware of was the version Quiet Riot would cover ten years later for their album Metal Health. So, if nothing else, The Quiet Ones will always be remembered for me as the movie that completely reconfigured the Rubix Cube that is my casual enjoyment of ’80s hair metal. Hell, maybe it’ll help you score a couple points and some free mozzarella planks next time you hit up trivia night at the pub! You’re welcome.
In need of someone to chronicle his self-professed history-in-the-making project, the morally malleable pedagogue employs an independent filmmaker (i.e. someone in the Oxford AV Department, so the Prof wouldn’t need to pay a deposit on the equipment) named Brian (Sam Claflin) to immortalize it all on film…or as “immortal” as a highly volatile medium like film can be, at least. Unlike Harry & Kris, Bri’s a member of the working class, born of society’s lower crust and only “attends” the prestigious palace of higher learning in as much as the people who scrub the toilets do. He’s the movie’s be-sideburned every-man that the general audience can relate to while the other three push the ambiguity of the audience’s presumptive precepts, thus digging their own graves.
In other words, Brian’s the good guy.
In a neat little bit of trivia, it turns out that some of the POV scenes were actually shot by Claflin to add a pinch of authenticity to them. Groovy.
This crew of would-be pioneers in brain science blatherskite don’t get very far into their sadism before being forced to leave the flat-turned-dungeon after one too many calls to the Bobbies by a buzzkill neighbor who just doesn’t appreciate incorrectly spelled songs about girls rocking their boys. Following said run-in with the law (cue Steve Sax and his misadventures in the Springfield softball scene), Dr. Smarty Pants’ funding gets cut off faster than a male Skywalker’s hand. With the coffers of higher learning no longer picking up the tab on their trauma loft and sadism fetish footage, the gang relocate to an old mansion in the countryside that’s straight out of the Oxfordshire Chainsaw Massacre.
“Pip pip, fish and chips. Dog will hunt and all that bother.”
Bry’s also forced to downgrade his film to a cheaper stock to accommodate their now out-of-pocket adventure, or so he says. This claim is inconsistent with the movie though, as the footage with this “cheaper stock” somehow becomes cleaner during the important footage, only to revert back to crappier quality during the group’s “behind the scenes” downtime footage. Not really something to condemn the movie to the gallows for, just a (thumbtack-in-the-)\footnote for our fellow pickers of nit out there in the world wide waste.
In between Jane’s “counseling sessions” (basically more harassment, but with festive novelty trance party lights), typical British ’70s sexpot Kris carries out makeout session with both Harry and Professor Jojo, because we didn’t have enough reasons to be revolted by dirty Dunkirk grandpa before this. While that unsettling game of Love Triangle Twister plays out, our simple hero Brian finds himself struggling with his own twenty-something loin boiling. Not one to take on anyone’s sludgy thirds, his attention ends up getting glued to the carpenter’s dream in the padded cell, who makes no secret about lusting for the handsome cameraman herself. Or are those impure thoughts the work of dirty-minded mental squatter Evey’s hidden valley? Either or, never underestimate the panty-dropping appeal of a tight set of sideburns, folks!
(Uncut folicular sex, right there.)
These new found feelings for (feeling) Jane lead to Brian contaminating the experiment when he disrupts one of the torture sessions, just as Coupland was on the verge of (or so he says) forcing Evey to finally manifest and relocated into Jane’s toy doll. Following the incident, Brier Rabbit starts to question the legitimacy of the experiments, convinced that he’s being played for a fool and this is all going to end up on an episode of Punk’d in 30 years. His search for corroborating proof results in, well, let’s call it “unfortunate evidence to the contrary” to spare too many details, and he realizes the happenings happening are very much real, much like the danger to his new love interest. Kris too voices her concerns for Jane’s welfare, but much more easily silenced than Brian, i.e. with the old man’s tongue down her throat. BLART! However, Special K starts getting jealous of all the attention Jane/Evey gets from the Prof and wants to end the experiment, meeting with consequences of her own. And Harry? Who cares. I don’t and neither should you.
Inhuman as it may seem though, are Dr. Shit Pickle’s edumacated presumptions of Jane’s condition accurate? Is he really the only person that can save her from herself? Is E-V really just a voice echoing in the woman’s head, or is Coupland’s self-proclaimed debunking of the supernatural doomed to its own debunkening? Will he redeem his appearance as a hideous excuse for a human being by bringing peace to her suffering soul and countless others’ (well, maybe a dozen across the globe) by curing whatever fucking pyrokinetic multiple personality disorder is going on here?! Naturally, shit gets out of hand, and the final 20 or so minutes amp up the manic panic with more twists that a contortionist possessed by Pazuzu! But, since this flick’s still underage in regards to my Rule of Five, I won’t spoil them here. I will tell you this much: the Talking Heads would approve of the experiment’s end result.
(My science fair project, “Shit: How to Tell If It’s Getting Out of Hand”)
The backstory behind The Quiet Ones extends beyond just its looser-than-lunchmeat interpretation of “true events”. For those out there who were unaware, it’s also one of the final movies produced by Hammer Films. Yes, that Hammer Films… no, not M.C. Hammer Films, which was never a thing, no matter how hard we got to pray just to make it today. Anyway, yeah, almost 30 years after the original studio shutdown in the wake of waning gains, a Dutchie by the name of John De Mol bought the rights to the UK house of horrors and its 300+ movie properties. His intention was to stir the smoldering ashes in hopes of finding a few hot coals with which to re-spark the company’s status as a bastion of unique scares for people seeking an alternative to the same old slashers and more-of-the-same monsters. Over the seven year period following their first release (a MySpace exclusive micro-series called Beyond the Rave), Hammer was responsible for putting out the English remake of Let the Right One In, The Resident, Wake Wood, a post-Potter Danny Radcliffe starring in The Woman in Black, and The Quiet Ones before presumably bowing out with 2014’s The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death.
I’m by no means a Hammer-Head. Of the bulging back catalog they boast, my exposure to said selection has been the occasional installment of Chris Lee’s Drac Race and random weirdness like X the Unknown. I don’t question their appeal, nor the tastes of their sizable fan base, I’m just not foaming at the mouth for old British renditions of public domain monster mashes. Now that I think about it though, I’d down a whole bowl of Egyptian style prairie oysters (think camels instead of cattle) if it meant getting a Terry Gilliam directed revamp of House of Dracula. Somebody jump start the Kickstarter machine, stat!
As I was saying before so rudely interrupting myself (with a fucking brilliant idea – you’re welcome), I am no Hammer die hard(er), thus I have no truly viable opinion on how The Quiet Ones stacks up to the previous studio’s legacy. Judging it on its own merits as a stand alone horror flick though, I licked it! Errr, liked it. Liked it!
Unlike Quarantine 2, John “probably doesn’t know Shane McGowen” Pogue’s interspersing of shaky “found footage” cam within the frame of a traditional point-and-shoot movie both fits the theme and manages to not feel nearly as shoe-horned up the audience’s collective colon. The “faux film filter” of the documentary footage is actually pretty well done, setting it apart from the crisp, vibrant look of the rest of the flick. It’s not a perfect replacement for the real thing, but in the wake of digital media, I’m pretty sure actual film is harder to wrangle these days than an Adam Sandler NetFlix release that doesn’t make me want to throw myself into a thresher while watching it. Despite advances in technology though, it’s too bad the CGI effects aren’t nearly as well done, even under the obscuring veil of said filters. Our eyes are metaphorically poked by a digitally rendered “teleplasma” tentacle that couldn’t rouse a twitch in the taint of even the most perverted hentai viewer if its programmer’s life depended on it. An odd scenario that I’m not even sure I could conjure up a feasible setup for, but I said it, like it or lump it. That said, any movie lover worth their weight in salt water taffy knows that you need to temper your expectations around a flick’s finances, so a lesser budget production like The Quiet Ones doesn’t take much of a hit for less-than-stellar visuals. Less a hit, in fact, and more of a tickle. To the armpits. Not long enough to break out into fisticuffs, though. Or lead to any awkward sexual tension…?
And by that I mean, uhm, how about that cast!
Jared Harris plays a perfectly good stodgy old British learn-ed type, giving Old Man Coupland apropos gravitas, charisma and sleaziness in even measure, gradually growing his drive for the experiment into
an uncomfortable obsession without going into full-on over-the-top James Bond super-villainy. Olivia Cooke also does an admirable job of taking Jane between a suffering child that’s a magnet for the audience’s empathy and an uncomfortably aggressive deviant desperate to have her hot pocket stuffed. It’s a performance that’s made all the more upsetting by Cooke’s jailbait appearance, not looking nearly all of the 24 years of Jane’s age thanks to her do-it-herself haircut, barely-there bust, and the fact that she was only NINETEEN at the time of filming. Sam Claflin’s Brian is good enough as the well-meaning hero burdened with doing the job he’s been hired for or doing what his moral compass (and groinal compass) tells him he should. It’s not a meaty role, really. “Brian” is not a part comparable to the thespian equivalent of a Triple Meat Lover’s Meats-a-Treats-a-Rotti Deluxe (Lumberjack style) from Meat Sweat Marco’s All Animals Great and Small Buffet. But, for what it is, Claflin earns his paycheck.
Richards and Fleck-Byrne, though a great name for a Vaudeville act, are just kinda there as Kris and Harry respectively. She’s attractive, he’s a doofus, they fit the parts, end of story. “No small parts”? Go butt-chug some arsenic, Stanislavski.
A quick glance at the official Hammer site (hammerfilms.com) tells me that they’re still working on various projects, despite their movie production slowing to an almost complete halt. They’re currently holding English style horror stage plays in London, curiously enough, but did mention that as of October of last year they’re working on a new movie-to-be called The Lodge. Despite its fairly poor critical reception and a few plot hole potholes (having FOUR writers will do that) that could’ve been filled-in to make the ride smoother, The Quiet Ones was enjoyable enough to this particular Death God Dog to put this new(ish) version of the old company into my vision cone. Whether I opt to review them or not, I’ve got an interest in tracking down the handful of Q1s‘s fellow Neo-Hammer creations now, so good on you, sirs and madams.
Now, if you’ll excuse me (and even if you won’t), I flushed something that looked like a brown version of the titular terrorizer of Chuck Band’s Parasite this morning and should probably inform the local Water & Sewer Department before it starts laying eggs and making indecent proposals to Demi Moore…
Cheerio and bugger off, ya blighters and bints!
“Hey, what are you… Damn it! STOP THAT! What is it with you Millenials and this fucking fascination with rimjobs!? Do you think that’s where Tide Pods come from?!”
If someone at Warner Bros. ever wanted to make a live-action “Wacky Races” movie, there’s your Penelope Pitstop.
A new documentary finally reveals just what is Behind the Green Door. And it’s… a green… room? Huh. Looks like someone’s getting their grant money revoked.
Wednesday Addams learns the terrifying truth of the world outside of the family fortune: studio apartments, minimum wage, and having your power shut off because you just HAD to buy that $200 pair of knee high goth boots from Torrid for the Marilyn Manson concert next week instead of paying the electric bill.
“Alright, I give up. I haven’t the slightest bloody clue how to play Croquet!”
Tolgate Transportation – when you need windowless vans to relocate your ethically questionable “human abuse in the name of science” projects, think Tolgate!
This promotional picture leaves me feeling really uncomfortable for the “new direction” Disney has planned for the next season of “Girl Meets World”. Maybe they shouldn’t have handed production over to the “True Detective” people.
Oh no. Is this one of those horrifying FLDS arranged child marriages situations?! I’d rather watch snuff footage of Andy Griffith killing, sodomizing, and eating Don Knotts whole than see underaged girls gifted to their fathers’ business partners and/or religious leaders. UGGH!
Here at the Spencer’s Gift Novelty Lights Testing Facility, we make sure all of our products are just what your next rave needs to achieve peak freak out!
“I know the nuns said that the Catholic school uniform dress code was strictly enforced, Father, but all this over a Hello Kitty hair clip?!”
“Whoa there, Debbie Harry, save some for the rest of us! That shit’s supposed to last us until Thursday.”
Napoleon Dynamite’s father, Cornelius T. Dynamite, seen here in the last known photo of him before “the accident”.
Before Toys For Tots initiated their “New Unopened Items ONLY” policy on donations, this was the scene for many a tear streaked face on Christmas morning. If I ever find the person that “donated” the limbless Hordak torso I ended up with in ’91, the aftermath will make Pol Pot’s ghost vomit.
“For the love of Harry Smith, THAT’S what my colon looks like?! Where do the polyps end and my pooper begins?! I think I’m going to be sick.”
Anubis will return next time in
“Adolf Hitler’s Muppet Babies”
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All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.
Featuring: Nathaniel Holt , Julie Fortenot , William Almaguer
Director: Eugene Hughes
Writers: Eugene Hughes & Buddy Howard
I come to you with a broken heart today, children. My fellow Jethro Skull bandmates and I have agreed to shelve our ambitions of being a death metal group that covers folk rock songs. After 7 years of trying and failing to book a single show (and no, Allen, that time we played your nephew’s graduation party for “exposure” does not count as a gig), the dream has died, been dismembered, the parts stuffed with blasting powder, and finally set ablaze in a VW bus abandoned in a WalMart parking lot. In lieu of flowers, we’d ask that all mourners send donations via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “My condolences on your loss” and a personal message of your choosing, should you feel so inclined. Thank you.
Now, much like I told my psychiatrist when she tried to convince me to go back on my meds, the only cure for my sadness is some shitty movie badness! And my choice of balm for the occasion? Continuing my year-long march down the trail of clown-based tears! Today’s mile marker? Cannibal Killer Clowns on Dope. Strap in, strap on (huh huh), and strap…up? Uggh. Never mind. Scratch that last bit and let’s just get this over with.
Much like people, sometimes a movie can sell you on its moniker alone. Do you think Martin Sheen would've had the career he did if his name were, oh I don't know, “Joe Estevez”? No. We've seen what happened to Joe Estevez and that wasn't because of his lack of talent, it was all about the name. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but would you want to smell a one if it were called a “shit weed” or a “dumpster squirt” or a “diaper cheese”? No. And if you would, maybe you’re the one my grief counselor should be threatening to have institutionalized because you’re a danger to yourself and anyone within stabbing distance. It was a rubber knife, Barbara! It was a joke! Do you not recognize that I deal with my depression through gallows humor that often infringes on the peace of mind of others, or were you just not born with a sense of comedic timing!?
Anyway, you can understand why the subject of this installment made a big fat blip on my cinemasochist radar as soon as I did my initial search online for “killer clown movies”. For the second time today, though, I have to drop a bomb of misery that will shake your belief in the value of existence – I regret my decision to review this. It’s high up there on my “If I had it to do again, I’d risk destroying the fabric of reality by altering history” list, right between selling my CGC graded 9.6 copy of New Mutants #98 a week before Deadpool was confirmed and getting Rocky Dennis’ likeness tatooed on my left cheek. Thank The Shapeshifter for the person who invented skin grafting! And thanks to Trainyard Larry, the hobo whose face I now wear. Ra rest his soul. You finally caught that leprechaun, Larry. You finally caught him…
“The subject matter of this movie contains blood, gore, guts, murder, nudity, sexual perversion, a man getting butt raped by a clown. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, tonight's movie is damn good entertainment in my book!”
I’d like to thank Dr. Teeth’s understudy for that introduction, along with the rest of the narration he provides for today’s feature, senseless as it may be.
The titular flesh-eating junkie jesters in question inhabit what we’re told is an abandoned farmhouse amidst a secluded section of forest near the small Texas town of “Cooter’s Pass”. Now, I know it’s likely just a crude gag, but in the fantasy world I’ve made in my mind to serve as the vine that will help me struggle free from the quicksand pit lying ahead, it’s actually a heartfelt homage to ‘The Dukes of Hazzard‘ supporting character Cooter. Just let me have that. As for the delinquents’ domicile, no farm house would be located in the middle of the woods, unless the previous owners were fucking tree farmers (i.e. lumberjacks), because it’s kinda hard to farm any manner of crop or animals when you’re surrounded by TREES. Furthermore, said “abandoned” house is clearly NOT abandoned if there are people (clown or otherwise) LIVING IN THE DAMN THING! I’m one paragraph into the feature itself and already I’m saying “fuck this movie”.
Were I to describe CKCoD‘s narrative structure in the form of a non-existent adult breakfast cereal, it’d be Honey Nut Cluster Fucks. The majority of the “story” consists of unrelated segments in which one or more of these refugees from a hillbilly meth circus stalks, harasses, occasionally rapes, and eventually murders random victims that are more than likely played by members of the cast’s friends and/or families. I’d much rather talk more about Honey Nut Cluster Fucks, and their shill-happy mascot – an animated honey bee named Bangz whose stinger had been replaced by a big veiny dildo with which it forcably penetrates (and ejaculates into) honey combs.
Actually… that’s everything I had to say about that, so… shit. I guess we have to get back to the movie.
The clowns’ first victim, Dollie, doesn’t even get her own segment really. Instead, she’s given a mash-up of random clips with the narrator telling us how she got there (she went to a juggalo style gathering and was lured away by the temptation to party with the dope slinging slobs), searing our eyes with an “F for effort” photoshopped image of her dismembered body swinging on a rope, and finally alluding to the possibility that her soul is now trapped inside of a toy doll, joining a mountain (well, a sizable pile) of similar plastically incarcerated spirits on the clowns’ property. This potential plot point ultimately leads absolutely no-fucking-where, so any errant agalmatophiles who were directed here while looking for a quick jerk ‘n wipe (I’m looking at you, Charles Band!), you’re s.o.l., and I don’t mean Satellite of Love.
From these first steps into the gurgling cesspool (hope you brought your waders!), we’re greeted by the first actual act of this half-assthology. The victim is a no-doubt poorly compensated and underappreciated single mom type who’s forced to stay late at her job at a hot tub outlet store. As if her station in life weren’t bad enough, being one laugh track away from a ‘Grace Under Fire’ re-hash, the lady is harassed and eventually carcassed-up by a wanna-be Pogo who keeps blathering inane threats of “Who’s got the fuckin’ meat cleaver now, baby?” on repeat. Could he be referencing an untold exchange from their past in which his victim, in fact, once brandished the self-same meat cleaver for… some… reason? As with the number of licks required to breach the core of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know. I tried to ask Mr. Owl, but after ten minutes without a reply I realized I had been in a battle of steel wills with my replica of the StageFright killer’s mask that’s mounted above my chamber door. I guess I’ll get my answer, nevermore.
The tormentous mirthmaker in this instance wears more traditionally appropos attire than the panel of inbred pagliaccis populating the rest of the picture’s residuum, so call me
maybe crazy for postulating that this segment is either a case of unassociated runtime padding, or a possible proof-of-concept made by creators Hughes and Howard to swindle potential investors into sponsoring their movie. And by “investors”, naturally I’m refering to the local liquor store owner who donated old crates of Tennafly Viper and enough petty cash to pick up a stack of DVD-Rs (from the nearest Circuit City’s “Going Out of Business” sale) upon which to burn sellable copies.
The next course on the cannibal clowns’ menu is a “glamour model” (Liz Ashley), who’s apparently no longer able to find work playing a waitress in commercials for local greasy spoon eateries and has reduced herself to doing a nude pictorial for the all-too handsy photog David Sleazy (William Almaguer), who’s plotting to steal her dirty socks and panties when she’s not looking. We spend an irritating amount of time watching her pose in various states of undress on a rundown tractor (or, if you’re an actual farmer like my grandfather was, a tractor) while the sniveling, “what people from the US midwest think the average Frenchman sounds like” accented perv snaps pics and tries to cop feels. The lass is a genuinely attractive au natural gal who could definitely convince me to buy an X-rated Kubota calender and would be one of the best looking girls on the set of a Troma shoot, but if she appeared in anything other than CKCoD and some webcam videos her boyfriend shot of them drunkenly copulating in a poorly lit bedroom, I’d be surprised.
The clowns (the ones from the opening scenario, not the solitary tormentor of the previous) overhear the antics of perver and pervee from nearby and interrupt the backwoods photo shoot, stripping the camera wielding creep down to his panties and garters (and apparently fitting him with a pair of high heels, since he wasn’t wearing them before…) because, again, he’s “French”. David (“No no no, eet’s ‘Dah-veed’.”) then runs off in a girly screaming panic (“French”, ladies and gents…) while the still nude model points and laughs… seemingly oblivious to the fact that she’s now been left alone, bare ass and defenseless, with a gang of miscreants that were possibly spawned from a nightmare Emmett Kelly had after eating an entire anchovy pizza and falling asleep watching Deliverance. She’s made keenly aware of her situation though, when they chase her and her bouncing breastisses down and stab her to death. She also gets the “shareware ‘shop job” treatment previously seen with Dollie, as her quadruple amputee image too is strung up and further pasted over with unrelated images of mutilation. Sleazy’s death isn’t as poorly budgeted, however, as we watch him tied up and clown hammered in his crap hole before being decapitated. All of this for the sole sake of showing off a severed head prop (which bares a passing resemblence to Dahveed if you squint hard enough… and imagine he was bombarded with Frogtown radiation) that the director probably picked up for 70% off at a K-Mart “Day After Halloween Sale”.
The next lot of prey are three misbehaving ladies (names withheld because fuck it, I don’t feel like typing them) who, as our gravely voiced narrator puts it, “thought it’d be funny to get stoned and laugh at the clowns”. The cadre of painted killers are apparently considered to be a rural legend in them there parts, not unlike the ghost of John Wayne or the Chupacabra or someone who wears a cowboy hat while voting Democrat. Unlike those last three though, no one seems to have any trouble finding the clowns, nor do the police seem interested enough to bother investigating them during any of the purported dozens of missing person cases that come up in Cooter’s Ass! I mean “Pass”! Cooter’s Pass! Back to the estrogenical trio, they meet their end about as you’d expect with one chainsaw’d (or at least drenched in blood by a non-running chainsaw that never comes within a foot of her body), one de-sanguinized on a meathook Texas Chainsaw Massacre style (minus any semblence of acting beyond shivering like she’s cold and in need of a jacket) and the third dealt an unexceptional throat slitting.
We now interrupt our regularly scheduled shit show for an important news bulletin, as reported by Buck Ross (Eugene Hughes) – a girthy bald man who likely spent the majority of his adult life selling used trucks off of a car lot before choking to death on a plate of Jimmy Dean’s “Hung Like a Horse” Sausage Links. According to this so-called journalist for CANN News (I guess because “can” is a euphamism for the butt?), the clowns’ rampage of terror has been discovered by the local constabulary with the remains of over 40 victims found in their rundown farmhouse lair… So, hold on a sec. If their death shack has been unfurled already, does that mean this story is being beamed back to us from the movie’s future? Somebody call Dr. Who so he can fix this reTardised timeline! Whatever the chrono-illogical chicanery at play here, Buck graphically editorializes the hell out of the story, going on a tirade about how the once jovial practioners of the buffooning arts no longer caper for the amusement of others, but instead “man-rape ya, toss your salad, hack you to bits, then EAT your ass”. Well, at least they’re considerate enough to toss your salad after “man raping” you! Most places you’re likely to get a slap in the face or a punt between your uprights for asking someone to apply a gentle propulsionary mixing to your combined vegetative elements! Bucky ends his special report calling for the genocide of all clowns, whatever their ethical/moral alignment. Something of an Alex Jones of his day, minus the marketing genius of hawking his personal brand of taint wipes to his butt hurt viewers.
(If this guy has never once sat astride a horse while shouting into a TV camera about how mentally unfit he is to price used cars and/or home appliances, I will exhume Rue McClanahan and tongue wash her expired clam pocket.)
The next station on this train ride through scenic Non-Sequitur County sees another random victim (Anthony Bailey) secured to a wall of iron bars and awakened by the group of fools’ only female (Dementia Armand), whose attire of choice leans heavily in the direction of “podunk mall goth”. Rather than demanding to know where he is, how he got there, or who put him there (as that would require a backstory of some fashion), the captive’s first instinct is to try and flirt his way into a blowjob, rapidly securing him the award for Most Deserving Casualty. Trailer park Harley Quinn takes the disgruntled UPS driver approach instead and violently mishandles his package. She may not have intended to hurt him though. She may have just really suck at giving hand jobs! Like the girl who gave me my first… I’m lucky I didn’t get PTSD from that.
When she-clown asks him (in her oddly British accent) if he’s ever done meth before, he declares his proclivity for crack instead (because he’s black after all… uggh), but ends up forcibly spoon fed some homemade clown amphetamines anyway, dying from an overdose. Declaring her one-pot artificial sweetener part of a bad batch, she then wanders off to chew on the disembodied bits of a caucasian no-one-in-particular just left sitting around the house. I guess when you’re a gussied up Barnum & Bailey reject by way of Hot Topic whacked out on smack, you don’t really sweat small stuff like refrigerating your leftovers.
The narrator doesn’t chime in on this segment, possibly because he was taking a meth break or sleeping off the previous night’s hangover in the back of his windowless van. Let this be a lesson to anyone out there who intends to hire their uncle to do a voice-over for their movie – you never give him the full case of beer before the recording session is over! Give him one or two to wet his whistle and keep him motivated, but make sure he earns his round trip ticket through the mountains of Busch!
Following this is yet another “how many of the fucking things are there?!” scene of random clown degeneracy. This time, the group’s answer to “What would happen if Jame Gumb and Baby Firefly reproduced?” goes all transvestite Mr. Blonde on still more random captives. Like too many of these scenes, this too is a cacophany of clips thrown into a digital blender and played over a backing track that… actually isn’t that bad. It’s got that amateur stripper, spookshow dancer, “just hip-hoppy enough to have a bit of a hook to it” vibe that’s better than this crapapalooza deserves. Wouldn’t you know it? I guess if you dig through piles of dogshit long enough, you’re bound to come across a shiny
quarter nickle sooner or later!
Reminding us that there’s still much more canine caca in question to get lodged under our fingernails before we can sleep, the next excerpt illustrates that the antagonists are equal opportunity sexual assailants and don’t just ply their perversions on “French” men. Three of the cavortous cornholers forceably strip, grope, manhandle and manacle a wayward redheaded lass (Rose Shannon), during which one of them repeatedly proclaims that he’s going to play with her because “she’s my doll”. Oddly enough, his repetition of the term “my doll” is at such an excess that it comes off like a superliminal advert for Midol. This scene is likely just to showcase Miss Shannon’s willingness to be filmed engaging in moderately rough rape play though, as the clowns exit stage left afterward to leave her mildly struggling against her bondage as things fade to black. I should’ve just called this episode “Twenty Two Short Films About Clown Ghouls”.
Our gravely voiced narrator finally returns (having eaten his daily regiment of broken glass) to introduce the next segment, which will take up the whole second half of today’s movie, making it the most movie part of the whole fucking movie! The (anti-)hero for this final leg of our slog through circus sewage is a prison escapee (Nathaniel Holt) who goes by the nom de bitch of “Zed the Loser”. As our story (45 minutes in and we finally have one!) would have it, Zed had an unfortunate run-in with a clown once that consisted of being suckered into pulling said joker’s finger. The result? No clue. I’m presuming that the clown then farted (possibly under the false pretense of a whoopie cushion), but again, it’s left incredibly vague. After liberating himself, Zed also breaks his fellow clown despiser and grrrlfriend Sally (Julie Fontenot) out of her padded room at the local mental care facility. Her loathing for the Painted Ones stems back to an experience she had as a child during a birthday party wherein a clown did “something” with a balloon animal that she didn’t like. What that “something” was is also left incredibly vague, forcing us to fill in the blanks for ourselves. My guess? That my “fill in the blanks” comment just unintentionally summed it up. Blart.
Because three heads are presumably better than two (unless you’re Ghidorah and lose no matter how many you have) when it comes to combating the menace of imitation juggalos, Sally’s friend-in-fiending Shorty (Kim Mason) tags along for their trolley ride into the three-ring nightmare. They arm themselves with military hardware stolen from a local gun store whose owner they’ve freshly murdered. Given that we were introduced to said owner while he was storytelling his security guy about the time he raped a goat in Iraq, I’m sure you’ll join me in not mourning his passing as any kind of “loss”. Watching this movie, I get the sense that Hughes and Howard have some serious sexual issues that a few years in therapy might be able to start scratching the surface of.
Hopped up on dope they stole from some “about as Mexican as Taco Bell” dealers (in a segment I couldn’t be bothered to relay) and well stocked with absolutely not plastic, I repeat, ABSOLUTELY NOT PLASTIC guns, the raid on the clown college dropouts (awesome name for a band, by the way) is a go. They split up so the girls can start thinning the figurative herd as Zed takes the tactical route of “looking for weaknesses in the clowns’ defense system”. Shouldn’t be too hard given that they’re methed-up hillbillies whose entire success rate as serial killers depends on exponentially stupider people (most further impaired on narcotics) wandering within the perimeter of their secluded shanty, and perhaps the odd blind hiker or “person with their head stuck in the upright position” that trips over one of their in-no-way-conceled booby traps. Given that Zed managed to kill 7 or 8 gangbangers on his own with just a knife (again, previous scene), you’d have to think he can handle 5 rape happy honkeys in Halloween makeup while paired with his new life partner, Mr. Shotgun.
After taking way too long playing out a weak cheese Vaudeville act where the clowns’ mentally retarded member swats at her targeting laser dot like a fly he can’t brush off, Sally aces one of the goobers with ease. She immediately regrets her excessive pre-raid drug consumption though, when it sucks her down the super happy fun slide to Bad Trip Boulevard. She somehow manages an escape, but gets a cloud of clown dope up her nasal hatch courtesy of one of their traps. The narrator says the drug will destroy her mind forever, but it DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER since she’s just grabbed my her prey-turned-predators later on anyway!
Shorty is the trio’s first fatality, as she’s stalked all too slowly around the compound by the gang until being unexceptionally headlocked to death. I was going to call it the clownpound but, by the maligned suggestiveness of Yog-Sothoth, that name just conjures up an all-clown gangbang porn the likes of which my ebbing sanity can never again fathom! I’m by no means a caulrophobic, but even I have my limits. Speaking of pornographic imagery, the previously imprisoned Duracell (because she’s a copper top…. and bottom, in case you were curious just how much) gets additional screen time when she’s spanked crimson with a rubber chicken, then slips her bonds to attempt an escape, but is ultimately stabbed to death before she could get far. I’m actually glad there was never an effort to establish who the Hel she was, because even my naming her after a battery was more effort put into establishing her character than the writers bothered with.
Back to Sally, she winds up the Marilyn Burns guest of honor at the clowns’ homage to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre supper scene. Much like that Sally, this Sally too escapes her cannibal captors (where did these fuckheads learn to tie knots?!), only to be rundown and killed by her rotund pursuer because there’s no convenient passing pick-up truck to carry her cackling ass to safety. And what about Zed? Not that it matters, but “The Loser” lives up to his nickname when he’s unceremoniously exploded by one of those tripwire traps he was supposedly looking out for. Anti-climactic? Absolutely. But at least it’s over now! Praise Professor Bobo’s tick ridden backside for that!
This could very well be one of those “It’s amazing if you watch it while drunk or fucked out of your lobe on brown sauce!” instances, but where does that leave those of us not allowed to indulge in mind altering substances because we’re on permanent probation for burning a busload of school children alive? I’ll tell you where it leaves me, I mean “us” – losing unrecoverable time from our lives that could’ve been spent productively, including but not limited to plowing mouth-first into a 6ft hoagie, bleach-washing the blood out of the trunk out of our car, or masturbating ourselves to sleep, content in the knowledge that we didn’t watch a bunch of bumblefucks in clown outfits splice together a series of lazy, incoherent, otherwise unrelated skits under the false pretense that they were trying to cobble nonsense into a feature.
And for anyone who read that last indictment of this micro-budget, shot-on-video, rectal recital of an anthology and immediately condemned me for being an unfun movie snob (which is likely the nicest possible term I could imagine any motherfucker reading this would use), remember that it all came from someone who has a long standing love affair with Redneck Zombies and has no issue shouting as such from the metaphorical rooftops while dancing along to the musical accompaniment of an unnamed, fiddle-playing, Hasidic gentleman. No, Cannibal Killer Clowns on Dope is a muddled, wanna-be shocker, chicken with its head cut off, so bad it’s bad, blender full of dog shit set to puree. Fuck. This. Movie.
For the sake of the ladies who bared their all for this fart locked in a plain black DVD case, I really really REALLY hope they were either paid moderately well to do so, or are residents of a local nudist colony and got naked on camera “for the cause”. The thought of them doing so under the false pretense of becoming the next Demi Moore, Jennifer Anniston, Charlize Theron, or Renee Zellweger (all of whom started in low budget horror roles) would rupture my oil and tar belching heart, undoubtedly ruining the carpet in my den.
Before I go, I’d like to bookend this review with the announcement that my new band, Gore & Greasepaint, will be holding a release party this Thursday night at The Pumpkin Patch to celebrate the release of our first demo tape: Ruined By Clowns. It’s going to be a cash bar event and clown attire is mandatory. The dress code will be strictly enforced, so don’t show up without your polka dots and comically oversized shoes unless you want to leave your family emotionally distraught for the rest of their lives while they try to solve the mystery of your disappearance. Anyone unable to make the show is welcome to donate to our possible future endeavors through PayPal via email@example.com or can buy our t-shirt (or any of a hundred other things) at The Tomb’s CafePress and/or TeePublic stores.
Until next time, fight the power, don’t fear the reaper, party hard, burn down the KKK, have a drink on me, and say hi to your mother for me!
Ever the Rip Van Winkle of popular culture, Jay Leno’s attempt at revitalizing his comedy career via YouTube starts (and ends) with his first video, “Baby Planking”. One look at the comments section an hour later and Leno deleted his account.
Sandra Bernhard researches Uwe Boll’s filmography to mine material for her upcoming NetFlix “original” series, ‘Reel Wild Cinema: the Return’. The streaming service’s deepest dive into nostalgia niche necromancy to date, until they figure out who owns the rights to ‘Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys’.
Oh no. These commercials from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Balloon Animals (ASPCBA) always break my heart. The Puddles Pity Party cover of that Sarah McLachlan song is the last nail in the coffin.
Genre section sign purchased at the local Circus Video store’s going-out-of-business sale.
Kubota’s efforts to publish an “Easy Rider” style magazine for farmers never caught on like they’d hoped.
“I told you to stop getting your breasts in the pictures. Why are you topless anyway?! This shoot is for a Fruit Stripe Gum ad!”
Eschewing theatrical tradition, this year’s “Shakespeare In the Park” program will be replaced instead by a production of “Rocky Horror In the Trailer Park”. No refunds.
Uggh! That’s disgusting! Don’t just leave your dismembered human leftovers lying around! THAT’S HOW YOU GET ANTS!
“I don’t understand! He continues to promote class warfare, white supremacists, anti-Muslim bigotry, and nuclear war against other psychopathic dictators! When does Twitter step in and DO SOMETHING?!”
In the Mirror Universe, Amy Schumer became an ultra-conservative Republican extremist freedom fighter. Seen here moments before liberating a convenience store from its Muslim oppressors.
“Uggh. I keep waking up with centipedes in my sinuses! Maybe it’s time to stop sleeping on the ground… or start sleeping in a beekeeper helmet.”
Just your average scene from a Gathering of the Juggalos men’s room.
Just your average scene from a Gathering of the Juggalos ladies’ room.
The famed artist depicted here working on his masterpiece: the Shitstain Crappel.
Anubis will return in
“Jim Henson’s Scanner Babies”
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All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.
Featuring: Alexandra “Boy Meets Girl” Turshen , Keenan “First Person” Henson , Caitlin “‘Continuum’” Cromwell
Writer & Director: Bradley “Clearly wrote his own IMDB biography” Stryker
The Evil Dead Bride and your humble narrator were perusing the alcohol offerings at NileMart the other day when we discovered that, not long after the re-emergence (and re-disappearance) of Crystal Pepsi, fellow transparent ’90s punchline drink Zima is now also back on the market. My long standing theory that the latter is just a fermented form of the former? Confirmed.
Pop culture footnote beverage humor aside, after finally conquering the world’s Russia problem with my last review (The Guardians), it’s time to live up to my promises, play a game of ketchup (“catsup” if you’re nasty) and get the circus train back on its tracks. Well, not the whole circus. It’s more like I’m about to abandon an overbooked clown car on a railroad crossing, let the 7:06 bullet from Tarker’s Mill do the dirty work for me, then all I’ve gotta do is report on the aftermath.
In the interest of transparency, I admit that I’m taking some liberties when it comes to Land of Smiles being a killer clown flick, especially when it comes to the whole “painted horrors” technicality, but if the oozing cold sore on America’s dick can give ethics the tiny middle finger by appointing government positions to his defective offspring and filling his cabinet with the highest bidders, I can bend the rules of the Republic of Tombistan. Though the movie’s antagonists conceal their faces under the visage of sinister jesters, they do so with rubber masks, possibly purchased from the clearance bin of a Spirit Halloween pop-up store. It’s not like the world’s lacking in movies out in the nebulous “there” that center on actual grease-painted murderous mirth makers, I just thought I could use a little change of subgenre scenery. It’s not as if I signed any kind of contract (at least not one that falls under the jurisdiction of any mortal justice system) saying I can’t, so just make like a shed uterine lining and go with the flow, Joe!
The basis for Smiles is nothing new. It’s about backpacking Americans whose vacation to a beautiful country they’ve never been to before leads to the reveal of a seamy underbelly that threatens to swallow them whole in its gaping maw of stranger danger, inducing increased paranoia in any members of its audience who already didn’t need any more reasons to never take a vacation beyond pitching tents and making s’mores in their own backyard. See Wolf Creek, Turistas, A Perfect Getaway, Eli Roth’s Hostel flicks and, of course, The Hangover Part II. I would’ve included The Ruins on that list, but that’s supernatural horror and thus does not fall under the “people from other countries are the real monsters” xenophobia gimmick.
Our vulnerable young travelers begging to never be heard from again are lifelong friends and overly confident American college students Abby (Aleandra Turshen) and Penny (Krista Donargo). Having planned a trip to Thailand together for the longest time (oh, oh, oh, for the longest time), Abby earns her BFF of 19 years’ ire when she backs out of their girls only vacation to stay near her boyfriend Brad (Brandon Nagle), who more than likely didn’t like the idea of his girlfriend being half-way across the globe and possibly getting peanut sauce licked off her ass by some beefcake with jungle herpes.
In a moment that can only be scripted (and poorly at that), Ab’s sacrifice of Pen’s friendship blows up in her face almost instantaneously when her attempt to surprise Brad with a candlelit cupcake (birthday/anniversary?) leads to her walking in on Brad in the middle of a Skinemax bump n’ hump session with Lacy (Charisse Bellante) – a random blonde who comes off just as “trashy party girl who’s upset she never got to be in a Girls Gone Wild DVD” in her sex making as her name would suggest. To any Lacys out there who take offense to that, I’m sorry, but maybe your parents shouldn’t have named you after a style of lingerie trim.
Blinded by confusion and rage, Abby unleashes a few shots of Cowboy Mike’s Extra Bold Red Hot Ricochet Pepper Spray upon the ocular orbs of the indignant fornicators, apologizing at first before revoking said formality and storming out in justified rage. If you think pepper spray’s a little intense, these two are just lucky Abby’s probably too young to remember the whole Lorena Bobbitt episode. However, as is all too common the case, the cupcake is the true victim of the break up. Poor thing’s probably going to be swallowed up by the foster system like so many little lost souls before it. If you would, say a little prayer for the cupcake’s well being tonight while you’re taking your pre-bedtime dump, won’t you?
Of course Abby couldn't have made this discovery before Penny’s departure, so now she’ll play some ketchup of her own and do the first leg of their itinerary solo. No idea why she couldn’t have just traveled ahead and met Nickel immediately, but then we wouldn’t have a movie. Why? Because Dime gets kidnapped. Not ready to cancel your plane tickets to Thailand yet? Well, the people who take her are dressed in those aforementioned clown masks. Calling the airline now to see if you can get a refund? I thought so. Besides, why travel when you can spend summer break crashed on your couch in your underthings (or, if you’re like myself, au natural) with the AC cranked to “Absolute Zero” as you eat can after can of overstuffed ravioli and play your favorite video games? I’m currently working through Saint’s Row IV right now. Did you know you can dress up your character in a MechaGodzilla costume?! It’s true taint-tingling terrificness!
Anyway, Abby isn’t aware of her sister-from-another-mister’s peril, so she simply does the tourist thing for a bit as intended. Her only communications from Quarter involve random pics without any accompanying messages to explain them, which our heroine chalks up to her still having rump rash about the whole “I’d rather spend summer break with the boyfriend that you’ve repeatedly informed me is a heaping piece of pooper pie than go to on a tropical dream vacation with my oldest, dearest friend” drama. Along her travels, she meets a pair of fellow out-of-towners in Ben (Keenan Henson) and Jewel (Caitlyn Cromwell/Stryker, the writer-director’s wife), who approach her under the most suspicious of methods when Ben steals her backpack. He returns it to her right after though, calking it up to a lesson that she should keep on her toes lest she be destitute (given that she’s already Pennyless *rimshot*) and giving bareback Around the Worlds to American businessmen by Tuesday.
A bit douchey, but in that “big brother tough love” sorta way, Abby accepts the advice as well as the offer to tag along with the couple. Their reason for being in Thailand is so Brad can traverse the whole of Southern Asia, shooting a wanna-be VICE style vid about the things backpackers experience while trekking through third world countries. I think. I don’t really know what his point is, because it all just looks like a tourism video to sell Thai travel packages to college kids back in the states. They also fraternize with a fellow outsider named Dale (writer-director Brad Stryker), an Aussie guy there for the nightlife, the pretty scenery, and to bang as many random prostitutes dressed in “sexy (career here)” Halloween costumes as his down under can afford. I’d advise him to make sure the females he’s bedding are actual females, given that it’s Thailand and all, but somehow Dale seems like the type of guy that wouldn’t really care either way once his Foster’s and Cialis cocktail kicked in.
And for anyone protesting that Foster’s isn’t what actual Australians drink, it’s okay. Stryker was born in fucking Oregon, so he’s about as not an actual Australian as a white person can get. His put-on accent (as in “put-on like Kris Kross’ pants – incorrectly”) will support me on that.
When Abby does finally get the confirmation video that Half-Dollar has been Taken-ed, the young lady’s clown cloaked absconders have two simple demands – (1) Do NOT tell anyone about the crime and (2) continue on with the plans to rock n’ roll all night and party every day. If Abs can ignore the anxiety of her best friend’s peril and embrace the drunken American party girl stereotype inside her that she came to Thailand to rediscover in the first place, then they’ll release their abductee and the girls can be reunited. That’s…weird. Have I been lied to my entire life and the point of kidnappings isn’t to demand ransoms, but rather force people to live the Miller High Life?! Because as much as I love some of the people in my life, I wouldn’t be willing to drink excessively of such bottled piss swill for the return of some of them.
Fortunately, it turns out that this isn’t so much the case. When Absinthe breaks the first rule of fight club and talks about fight club with B&J, Ben (last name “Dover”?) introduces her to the world of Southern Asia’s newest craze – staged abductions! Seems that there’s a whole subgenre of today’s Generation Meme culture dedicated to setting up false kidnappings for the sake of “reminding people how to have fun”, then posting the reaction videos online when the victim is told it was all for funsies. Just psychologically scarring, emotionally terrorizing, friendship shattering funsies. Fucking people and their fucking reaction videos. It was funny for about 5 minutes in the wake of the “2 Girls 1 Cup” epidemic, but I never wanna see another one of those stupid things again. Unless it involves the kind of reaction George Clooney had when he found Brad Pitt hiding in his closet. Now THAT’s a multi-million views moment!
(Today’s lesson: don’t come out of the closet to Worst Batman)
Additionally, what the frosted fucks does that ambiguous “reminding people how to have fun” description mean? In this case, “people” refers to adults and “have fun” refers to intoxicating ones self to the point of long term brain damage because your friends apparently only like you when you're making as asshole out of yourself in public, throwing up $60 in margaritas, and blacking out so you can put yourself at risk of being sexually assaulted by any horny festering pustule excuse for a human being that happens to be passing by. Given the length of that explanation, you can see the need for the “TL;DR” version provided.
And so we’re left with the mystery of whether this is a legitimate criminal situation by a Thai maniac clowning with their prey, or if it’s all just a really shitty scheme by Hay Penny to make Abby abandon the maturity of adulthood and “loosen up”. Which is just a dickhead way of Sixpence (who’s none the richer… *rimshot*) saying that she fundamentally intends to drag her friend down so she herself doesn’t need to be alone in her terror of growing up and assuming responsibilities that she’s not ready for. Could she have opted for a less vindictive, “Reverse Jigsaw” method? Maybe. But that would kill Stryker’s entire effort to make something he likely mistook as being “visionary”.
Not only does what could have been a decent little flick foil itself in the finish with a fumbled finale, but Stryker opted to be the seventy-thousandth indie movie director to think they’re the one who’s going to breathe unasked for life into the fetid, deflated lungs of the “found footage” movie, completely ignoring the Do Not Resuscitate notice the subgenre has hanging around its neck. And it’s not even some semi-reasonable bullshit like the Paranormal Activity security cam footage concept, it’s just yet another instance of the characters shooting their own videos of the proceedings, likely until they all die, never putting the camera down no matter how much immediate peril they’re put in. Once they’re dead, all of this “found footage” then gets spliced (I guess “merged” would be the modern digital version?) by some unknown editor who cobbles together a single project whose final cut just happens to be very movie-like, both in structure and length, and includes numerous clearly not found helicopter shots and professionally framed footage of the landscapes. Sounds like mister first-time feature couldn’t play it casual and stick with his own theme. I guess you can’t “make the environment a character” without pricey aerial establishing shots, eh?
Land of Smiles makes some attempt at explaining itself in the finish, but does about as well as a stoner trying to explain to their probation officer that their eyes are red because they “just have bad hay fever”. It even comes with a lazy, forced Shyamalanian pseudo-twist hanging off of its ass, metaphorically wrapping the whole thing up in a way that’s equivalent to actually wrapping a broken toaster with soiled newspapers, not unlike those I put around Bastet’s litter box so she won’t track her shit grit into my bed during one of her 2am “u up?” booty calls. I haven’t been this aggravated about such a fucking stupid, pointless, shoved-in-dry, “for the sake of getting one over on the audience” Chubby Checker conclusion since The Bone Collector (aka “That there Bone Crusher” to quote a private joke). It’s not even the whole ending, either! If you circumcised Styrker’s failed attempt at being cutesy with his end credits sequence, it would’ve been a perfectly fine ending to a mediocre thriller. As is, though, you may audibly boo it the same way I did. Try not to wake up your downstairs neighbor when you do so the same way I did, otherwise you too will have very awkward mailbox interactions for the next few days also…
All of that nonsense aside (if you can put the last minute alteration of the entirety of the movie’s story “aside”), Stryker’s other major effort goes into the “ugly behind the beauty” theme he seems to believe he himself created. In case the fact that you’re watching a HORROR movie titled Land of Smiles is too subtle for you, the guy includes numerous shots of beautiful locales populated by beautiful people having beautiful good times with beautiful beautiful party party yadda yadda blah blah inter-cut with moments of our protagonists freaking out (again and again and again) and vids of Penny maybe-or-maybe not being tortured. It’s juxtaposition overload! It’s the hallmark of a film school student who doesn’t respect their audience’s intelligence/awareness, so they spend too much time hitting us over the head with it to make sure we get the point. Though, as we all know, no one will ever truly get the deep introspective point of Mr. Stryker’s art because, well, he’s a creator while we the audience are simply refuse in his path to brilliance.
Except for those who leave 8+ star reviews on IMDB. Clearly they “get it”…
In case you require more evidence of my claim (like the police insisted on that time I accused my aforementioned downstairs neighbor of shitting on my doormat), observe the name of Stryker's self-production company as Exhibit D –
That’s not a ‘shop job, kids. He actually calls it “Stryke-Force Films”. A guy who wants us to take his very serious horror movie very seriously sticks a name like that onto the opening. For Francis Ford Fuckula’s sake, this is not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary tale. This is for real. He’s Tommy Wiseau without the charming Ed Wood-ian naivete. I can only hope that whichever family members he conned into putting up the money for this vacation-turned-movie are the “more money than brains” type, otherwise I fell sorry for them.
But, despite all of this fresh personal contempt I’ve discovered for one Bradley Stryker, Land of Smiles isn’t a terrible movie. It’s better-than-bad without quite reaching the lofty levels of “good” as established by Log (*from BLAMMO!™). It at least makes an effort to do something uncommon if not new (even going so far as name dropping The Game as the in-continuity inspiration for the fake kidnapping business), and the cast (excluding Stryker’s needlessly Australian Dale that is) does a well enough job conveying their fear to keep playing along while Ben urges the girls on. Whether his motivations are as altruistic for Penny as he claims them to be, or he just wants to finish his video project like the girls have growing suspicions of is never entirely clear, which works in the flick’s favor. Oh, and if you close your eyes, there are times you’d swear Keenan Henson’s lines were being delivered by a manic Vince Vaughn. It’s neither a pro nor a con, really, unless you’re Isla Fisher’s character from Wedding Crashers, in which case it’ll probably create a babbling brook down your thigh.
I have a titanium firm “no toilet sex” rule, but ever since that movie she gets an exclusive pass. Well, her and Barbara “Megan Halsey” Crampton, but she’s of an unlimited classification all her own. Don’t ask me the acts I would do for that woman, lest ye have a cast iron constitution or have long lost your soul to the dark horrors of the internet.
Oh, back on topic, as much as I hate The Blair Witch Project for its piss poor “let’s just say ‘fuck’ a lot because we can’t ad lib to save our thrice damned lives” improvised dialogue, it was at least more realistic than a lot of the supposedly “real footage” exchanges in Land of Smiles. Blame the actors for not being able to make it believable or blame Stryker for a clunky script, but either way it doesn’t help sell the lie that we’re meant to get lost in. In spite of my gripes about this, the crap ending, and a shooting style too schizo to settle on whether it’s trying to be a traditional movie or a vacation video, the movie is still oddly watchable! Weird, right?! I know! I’m as shocked to type it as you are to read it! So, yeah, there are way worse ways to wear out your eyeballs for an hour or two and if that’s enough of an endorsement for you to seek LoS out, have at it, friends.
Whether Brad (the director, not the cheating boyfriend…though Stryker could very well be the type who needs a woman to tell him he has a big dick to perform) can parlay his first feature into a career win in the long run or not, only time will tell. Whether the sparks of potential are enough to feed a flame of success, at least he can fall back on his extensive work as a bit part player in TV shows and direct-to-DVD movies. It may not make him a household name, but at least it pays the bills!… I presume.
My role as the grand marshal of this parade of fools continues next time (and four or so times again after that) with a movie that’s, well, less a movie than a digital version of a lost Hippolytus de Marsiliis torture method. While you look that name up, I’m gonna casually slip away via the escape hatch I had installed under my desk… CIAO!
“I never understood how these stupid horoscopes work. What does my having been born in the first week of November have to do with not being compatible with someone born in mid-June?! I call bullshit… So, what does mine say?
I understand that this guy’s probably doing the clown thing to work out some deeply depressing personal issues, but you may not want to do the “limp flower as a metaphor for my erectile dysfunction” bit around the ladies.
“Shit! That’s the fourth iPhone I’ve lost to the porcelain Sarlak pit this year! There goes the rest of my savings.”
Sarah and Elaine’s attempt to resurrect the “Girls Gone Wild” series with all of the drinking and partying minus the nudity and “lesbian stuff” proved grossly unsuccessful.
“Why do you need such a big backpack?”
“So I can sleep inside it at night while hanging it from a tree to avoid bears!”
“I keep telling ya, love, even if there were sharks this far inland, they wouldn’t come after ya! Just because you’re on your period doesn’t mean you’re ‘bikini chum’!”
“I don’t get it. I ask you what a ‘lemon party’ is and now you’re recording me watching a video? You’re so weird.”
“I hope you’re at least not being cheap and paid extra for a reach around, Greg.”
“Welcome to ‘Clowning Around’ with your host, Zippo VonLaughsalot. This week’s contestant is Janet, and she’ll be playing ‘What’s Crawling On My Leg?’ for her chance at a $25 Best Buy gift card!”
“I know it’s tradition to swallow the worm when drinking a bottle of Mezcal, but that thing last night… it had a face… a human face! I swear it looked at me and mouthed my name before… before… oh god, what have I done?!”
Oh jeez. I hooked up with her at last call a month ago and the bitch gave me crabs. Let’s just go before she… DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH HER! GAH! RUN!
It’s sad to know I will never be as happy as she is right now. Let’s not ruin it and tell her that every stray cat in the neighborhood makes that place their litter box.
Uh-oh! Looks like some tourists discovered their hotel’s hidden toilet cameras!
I’m not the most culturally educated man-jackal, but I can’t imagine it’s very sanitary of Thailand letting elephants just leave piles of number two in their human restrooms.
Laugh all you like, but lonely weirdos pay $200 a night just to watch her sleep on a webcam site!
“You know what I hate? Stupid assholes in goofy rubber clown masks that sneak up on people to try and scare them… Damn it, there’s one right behind me, isn’t there?”
“Wow! These Gushers fruit snacks really are bursting with fruit flavor!”
This is why I stopped going to the local beer garden during carnival season.
And this is why I started going to the local strip club during carnival season!
Anubis will return in
“The Inbred Clown Posse”
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 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!”
Featuring: Brittany “Pitch Perfect” Snow , Jeffrey “Re-Animator” Combs , Sasha “Swallow My Children” Grey
Director: David “A Love Affair of Sorts” Guy Levy
Writer: Steffen “Primal” Schlachtenhaufen
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!
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”
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
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.
On the topic of superior quality, go treat yourself to some more RussellMania from our fellow Zeroes!
Checkpoint Telstar summons The Devils
Cinemasochist Apocalypse goes all Gothic
Micro-Brewed Reviews experiments with Altered States
The Terrible Claw Reviews excavates The Lair of the White Worm
Web of the Big Damn Spider courts The Boy Friend
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”