Featuring: Kurt “Escape From New York” Russell , Rosario “Clerks II” Dawson , Zoë “Game of Death (2011)” Bell
Director & Writer: Quentin “Inglourious Basterds” Tarantino
Also Known As:Death Proof
“I’m afraid you’re gonna have to start gettin’ scared immediately.”
Intro: As mentioned in my Planet Terror rerun review, Grindhouse hits the big 1-0 this year, so what better time to exhume the remains of a pair of my old pontifications from the rubble of the old site (I should really get around to having that cleaned up) and see whether or not this double-feature retained its luster after the last decade? The answer: there is no better time…unless we’re talking about last month on the anniversary of Grindhouse‘s actual release date. But, what has been done cannot be undone, and what was not done is being done now. Got it? Me neither. Anyway, heeeeere’s Death Poof!
I mean, “proof”… here’s Death Proof…
Quentin Tarantino comes in with the second feature of Grindhouse and, unlike Planet Terror‘s demolition derby of start-to-finish action and gore, Death Proof makes you earn that privilege by sitting through a lot of characterization and dialogue first. In other words, it’s a Tarantino movie. I’ve never had a problem with Quentin’s movies, I just hate the man himself because he’s a spazzy little pissant that should never be allowed to do interviews or step foot in the general public. But, if I was going to be slowly driven insane by listening to actors spew lines of vulgarity and pop culture references at each other until it pulled a Chinese Water Torture on my frontal lobe, I’d want it to be written by QT…or Kevin Smith.
Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is, well, a former stuntman, in case you didn’t catch that part of his name. Mike used to do a lot of “falling off horses” stand-in work in the old days of TV westerns before falling back on car crash stunts when he ran out of actors to look like. But, in this modern day of Hollywood penny pinching bullshit like computer graphics imaging, jobs are scarce for guys like Mike. With all this free time on his hands, Mike’s got plenty of opportunities to find new ways to keep himself entertained. Whereas most normal guys would simply work on their porn collection or take up a hobby like pyrography, Mike instead discovered his new fetish: killing women!
Mike’s technique of choice isn’t anything as simple as stabbing, shooting or strangulation, though. Instead, he likes to involve them in violent car wrecks the likes of which no one could ever possibly walk away from. This way, said meticulously plotted slaughters can never really be seen as anything more than one guy’s unfortunate string of car wrecks. Would-be accusations of stuff like “premeditated murder” are immediately followed by stuff like “no concrete evidence”, so Mike gets away with little more than a brief stint in a hospital room for a broken bone or two, which is all in a day’s work for a stuntman anyway. But how does SM pull off such a thing without getting himself an early ride to the grave in the process? Turns out that stuntmen can super reinforce a car in a way that guarantees the driver will not be killed should the car be otherwise destroyed. This method is called…wait for it… “death proofing”.
That’s right kids, we have ourselves a title.
So, we have our antagonist. Now, where will we find him some victims? Enter Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Kim (Tracie Thoms), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Zoe (real life stuntwoman Zoe Bell as herself!) – four friends looking for fun. Ab, Kim and Lee are all on break from their current jobs on the set of the latest Lindsey Lohan tripe, which gives them time to hang out with their pal Zoe who’s in town visiting from New Zealand. Seems that while she’s here, Zoe plans to live out a longtime goal of riding on the hood of a car (a game she calls “ship’s mast”) that’s the exact make and model of her panty-peeler fantasy ride from the cult classic carsploitation movie Vanishing Point – a white 1970 Dodge Challenger.
As luck would have it, such a car is being offered for sale by one of the yokels in the Tennessee area where the ladies are residing! After Ab sweet talks the car’s slack-jawed stereotype into letting the gals take a test drive (which includes a terrifying allusion to leaving Lee, cheerleader costume and all, behind so Billy-Bob can “get to know her”), the remaining trio of ladies take the Challenger out for a spin. Too bad for the babes that what starts off as a dream come true for Zoe turns into a car chase nightmare when who else but our homicidal hombre Mike, out of the hospital and behind the wheel of his newly proofed Chevy Nova, is back on the prowl to grind more fresh lady flesh under his Goodyears. What follows is one of the greatest car chase finales since The Road Warrior.
As mentioned before, the movie’s a bit talky. Since Grindhouse is over 3 hours long, people are going to be begging for any opportunity to hit the restroom and empty their Pampers. My best recommendation would be to drain the reservoirs during the first 20 minutes of so of Death Proof. If you love Tarantino’s writing you might want to ignore what I just said, but if you’re not the type who absolutely must see half an hour or so of characters being established only to have all of that effort flushed in the long run, heed my words. I could live with seeing everything before the first car accident scene trimmed down considerably, then leaving the last half of the movie as is, to be honest. But, like everything else on this website, that’s just my opinion. Despite the innately inessential opening act, the latter half of the flick makes sitting through the first half so worth the effort.
Kurt Russell looks like he had as much fun playing the weathered Stuntman Mike as Tarantino probably had directing the whole movie (despite its lack of his infamous inclusion of n-word carpet bombing the script). The man-who-was-Snake runs the range from funny to creepy to charming to pathetic and he does it all with a wink and a smile. His performance is nothing if not a blast to watch… sorry, “blast” was the best word I could come up with when typing this.
The cast of gals are all having a lot of fun here too and it shows. Zoe Bell should definitely mix in more actual acting roles with her stunt work (FYI: she was Uma Thurman’s double for the Kill Bill movies) and she looks like she’s genuinely having a pisser of a time riding that hood. Tracie Thoms is the definition of “crazy bitch” as she hoots, hollers and curses her way through the last 30 minutes of the movie and makes me wish I was cool enough to hang out with her. And Rosario Dawson? I’ve fallen in love with her all over again since the first time she made me do so in Clerks II. She’s cool, she’s sweet, she’s hot, she’s adorable, she’s a FUCKING COMIC GEEK and, when it gets down to it, she’s a hellacious bruiser! Her best moment? Wait till about two seconds after “The End” pops up on the screen and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
As with Planet Terror, everybody else on the credits scroll did their job and that’s about all I can say about that. Eli Roth (who directed the Thanksgiving trailer I’ll be mentioning later) and Tarantino himself have small roles too – Quentin as a friendly bartender and Roth as a patron at said bar trying to get his ovarian target for the night drunk enough to go home with her. Can’t say I blame him though, as I can only imagine the looks he gets when he tells chicks, “Yeah, I’m the guy who made Hostel! Wanna go back to my place and shit on my chest?”.
Aside from the two or three hundred movie references Tarantino drops throughout the dialogue (you’d think he was making a commission on DVD sales from these things…), I’m sorry to say that I’m not a follower of car chase flicks, so many of the tribute pieces were probably lost on me. For instance, if my mother-in-law hadn’t pointed out that the chrome duck hood ornament on Mike’s car was an homage to one used in the movie Convoy, I would’ve just seen a stupid chrome rubber duck. The one thing that I did pick up on (at least I think so…) was a scene where Stuntman Mike plows through a roadside movie marquee advertising a double feature for Scary Movie 4 and a Wolf Creek sequel. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m gonna say that this is a little tribute to Wes Craven’s now classic use of a torn Jaws poster in the original The Hills Have Eyes as a way to say that the latter was a superior scare flick in comparison to the former. Did Tarantino use this to say that the double feature in Grindhouse is superior to an imaginary double feature of these other non-existent movies, or am I just reading too much into it? More importantly, do you care? Me neither.
As far as the Grindhouse gimmick goes, Tarantino shies away from the liberal use of film scratches and superficial burns that Rodriguez leaned on for Planet Terror, opting instead for other loving faux faults like audio hiccups and a couple of frames missing from the reel that cause cars to suddenly disappear, small pieces of conversation to be left out and people to magically teleport from one place to another. He also does a great bit with the opening credits, in which the title card for the movie’s original fake original title of “Quentin Tarantino’s Thunder Bolt” is clipped out for a generic looking still of the alternate title (that of course being “Death Proof”) printed in white on a base black background. That was a definite favorite moment for me. This movie’s “Missing Reel” moment is a lap dance scene that I couldn’t care less about missing to be honest, so if this was never shot and doesn’t make it into the DVD, I won’t mind.
For you trivia hounds out there, Stuntman Mike got into the stuntman biz through his brother, Stuntman Bob. If that helps you win ‘Jeopardy’ someday, you owe me 20%!
All in all, I meant what I said and I said what I meant: I recommend Grindhouse 100%. And now, for the “coming attractions”…
I’m going to talk about two of Grindhouse’s fake trailers here and the other two in my review for Planet Terror, so if you haven’t checked that out yet, do so when you’re done here.
The first trailer (which is actually the third trailer shown throughout the length of the double feature) is Don’t. In a hilarious lampooning of the infamous “Don’t [Action to be Disparaged Goes Here]” movie titles US release companies gave European releases in the States during the sleazy ‘70s, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright previews a fake movie for us about people trapped in a haunted house, including the director’s frequent collaborators Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Pushing the joke all the way, the trailer is entirely narration (by Will Arnett) with none of the actors getting off any actual lines, a trick used by said US releasing companies 30 years ago when they didn’t want potential audience members to know that the European movies being released under these new pseudonyms were cast with actors of heavy accents, worried it would turn people off. Much like Shaun of the Dead, this trailer’s literally brilliant and uses the underlying humor of its source material to full comedy effect. If I were the kind of guy who rated trailers, this would be a five star all the way!
Our final trailer is from Cabin Fever horror wunderkind Eli Roth, who brings us a parody of ‘70s and ‘80s holiday gimmick slasher movies called Thanksgiving that seems to be equal parts Halloween and My Bloody Valentine homage humor. The trailer goes for total shock factor, dick slapping everybody with graphically implied sex scenes and over-the-top gore. To put it in terms of audience reaction, everybody in the theater was laughing for Don’t, then groaning and gasping as loud and painfully as possible for Thanksgiving. Severed heads aplenty here, along with Cinemax level softcore scenes of chicks giving out blow jobs like they were Christian propaganda fliers, a disturbing scene of a topless cheerleader on a trampoline getting a very sharp alternative to a Tampax shoved up her birth canal, and a baffling final scene of someone cooked and stuff like a giant turkey before a very brief glimpse of what looks like Roth himself being sodomized at a dinner table…what the fuck?! Roth has shown he likes shock value over “artistic vision” and I’d definitely watch Thanksgiving as a feature, just to say I sat through it without blinking…because I’m a desensitized sociopath. Though I can appreciate some fairly done graphic violence and sex, the actual urge to see something like this isn’t as inspiring as I think the man was trying to do. 3 out of 5.
Xtro: Okay, for starters allow me to redact my pissing and moaning about Tarantino being a spaz, as it’s hypothesized that the mad genius of genre tropes and snappy dialogue may well have Asperger’s or at least fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum. I’m not saying he needs to be pitied as a result, I’m just over being annoyed by his manic mannerisms and “too much cocaine in his coffee” personality. Considering the mental demolition derby I’ve been involved in in recent years myself, that would also make me a bit of a hypocrite. And remember kids, it’s not hip to be a hypocrite… just ignore the difference in spelling there. My PSA is still viable, G.I. Jerkoff.
Unlike Planet Terror, Death Proof‘s special effects skew more traditional to the grindhouse theme, opting for what at least looks like 100% practical magic (housewife witchery not included) rather than dicking with digital deceptions. This ain’t no Fast and Furious fuckery, fanboys! This is a straight up traditional car-on-car bump n’ grind! And what did R. Kelly teach us before he was trapped in his closet and pissing on teenage girls? There ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little bump n’ grind. Or, if you too were raised on Mad Max movies (like moi) or those classic off-the-radar car flicks of the ’70s, the old way is the only way. It’s an art form that, depressingly, has fallen victim to technology and breaks my heart…well, except for Mad Max: Fury Road, because I pray George Miller my soul to keep.
Tarantino also made Death Proof with what you’d imagine to be an anorexic budget, as its 2 hour run time takes place in fewer locations than an agoraphobic’s weekly routine. So much of it happens in a honky-tonk bar or a diner or on back roads or just in the cars themselves that it has to be Quentin’s most minimalist shoot outside of Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight. This doesn’t keep the man from shooting it all beautifully with his usual “100 different angles” style though, and even for someone who hasn’t spent so much as 5 minutes in a film class, it brings a tear to my eye and a jealousy to my heart. Speaking of jealousy, I imagine that most of the obscure movie posters and paraphernalia that decorates the sets belong to Tarantino himself, which no doubt saved a fair amount of pressure on the prop budget…unless he was smart and used said budget to buy a bunch of cool shit he himself didn’t already have, then just pocketed everything when the job was done.
The cast is fantastic, the direction and cinematography are beautiful (moreso if you’re a foot fetishist like QT, far less so if you’re a podophobic like my mother-in-law), if you’re a fan of Tarantino’s usual heavily scripted free-flowing dialogue by characters who would all kick your ass at Trivial Pursuit you’ll be happy to know it’s all there, the soundtrack is pitch perfect (because it’s gods damned Quentin Tarantino, so of fucking course it is), and the stunts are so eye blisteringly stellar that the team deserves a friggin’ constellation named after them! It’s almost a perfect movie. But…
The biggest problem I first had with DP (huh huh huh) was watching it directly after having sat through the 100+ minutes of Planet Terror. Even if I weren’t a lightweight when it comes to theatrical marathons (I’ve only watched two movies back-to-back in a theater twice), following up a zombie slaughtering action-comedy with a “talkie” that takes the better part of an hour before it sheds any blood? It’s a rough transition. I wouldn’t blame anyone who walked out, fell asleep in their seat, or passed on paying for a ticket altogether. Even as its own entity, I still have a major issue with the movie’s structure: it sandblasts my ass to introduce and flesh out a cast of characters just to kill them off halfway through the movie and introduce a second cast of would-be victims after. Why? Because the only person we follow throughout the flick is Stuntman Mike, but he’s less a main character than a catalyst! He’s the antagonist, fine, but we get no inclination of his motivation beyond that he’s a former fall guy who really hates women for… some… reason. Want to excuse this as part of the bad movie gimmick? No. If you’re giving us snappy dialogue delivered by talented actors but leaving out important background details about the only constant character in the movie, that’s flying like a lead zeppelin full of mud sharks.
My other gripe is the inconsistency of the grindhouse mimicry. The gimmick shit comes on heavy in the first few minutes with intentionally awkward cuts, audio skips, and that great title card change paving the way (pun intended). The grimy grainy motif carries on throughout the first half, but then the second half starts on an incredibly clean black & white scene (of which QT is keen) for reasons unseen. The colors come back on after the new apples of Mike’s evil eye are introduced, but the crisp look continues on until the finale. It’s an absolute orgasm for the oculars, especially now being able to see the grand 20 minute vroom vroom chase in 1080p, but why drop the titular shtick?! Punch my ticket and tickle my pickle.
And if you’re wondering if Tarantino’s penchant for excessively over-salting his scripts with a Lt. Col. Killgore level carpet-bombing of the n-word (and no, that’s not short for “napalm”), then yes. Not Samuel L. Jackson levels, granted, but Tracie Thoms does utter enough “niggas” to give Jeff Sessions a semi. So, if hearing said term churns your aural sensibilities, your ears will not be spared here.
While my reunion with Planet Terror reminded me just how much fun it is to watch, seeing Death Proof again bore me an all new respect for it. Despite my criticisms, I do appreciate the ass off of it! It’s not Quentin Tarantino’s best (in fact, he’s called it his worst), but it’s only one shelf below top shelf, and that makes it money in my book.
With that, kiddies, it’s time to say goodbye. Join us next episode when we get a visit from a certain team of super powered people who “guard” humanity from evil…
Moral of the Story: Bars offer all manner of pleasantries outside of booze. Alcohol is simply the lubricant for social interaction… unless you’re me, in which case alcohol is the legal anesthetic through which my body pisses off my brain by becoming completely unresponsive to any and all commands.
“I’m so glad I cut an emergency hole in all of my pants so I can plug up any unexpected leakage issues! Why doesn’t everybody do this?!”
“And then the monster was all like, ‘FIRE BAD!’ and shit. Hahahaha.”
“Bitch, does this look like an Appletini? If I wanted a margarita, I would’ve asked you to get me a margarita!”
Eli Roth wasn’t quite prepared for the vitriolic text he received from Keanu Reeves following the critical response to Knock Knock.
Cousin It spends yet another Saturday night dressed in drag and picking up strange men in bars, despite promising the rest of the Addams that it would never happen again after that weekend he spent locked up in Roman Polanski’s basement.
Special cameo by Eddie Izzard!
I wonder if he got that scar from eating pussy… or “pineapple” if we’re being censored.
In case you forgot you were watching a Quentin Tarantino movie. Oh well, it could be worse. At least his fetish isn’t school girls showing live eels up their butts or octogenarians shitting on Precious Moments Figurines!
If this were made in Japan, that would just be an indicator that she’s incredibly horny.
Beauford misread Jake’s comment and leaned in for a kiss that, sadly, would never come to pass. He and his broken heart resigned from the department shortly after to avoid the uncomfortable awkwardness between them that resulted, and spent the rest of his years married to Martha, dreaming of what could have been.
“Damn it, guys, I told you not to let Jenny have second and third helpings of chili for breakfast! I’m stuck back here with her for the next hour and it already smells like the ladies room at White Castle!”
A rare still from the long lost Michael Myers parody porn, “Hallowiener: Is That a Butcher Knife in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?”. The producers were advised not to distribute it as a Betamax exclusive, but they insisted it was the wave of the future. But, as this ad proves, sometimes it takes more than sex to sell.
We’ve all been the odd one out when it came to 3 people riding in a 2 seater and you weren’t fast enough to call “shotgun”.
Despite his wealth and fame, Kurt Russell refuses to pay drive-in prices, opting instead to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from his neighbor’s roof.
“Well, it looks like Boss Hogg didn’t take too kindly to those Duke Boys leaving an upper decker in his private moonshine still, so it was up to Roscoe to put Bo and Luke on ice. And all this just hours before the annual Hazzard County ‘Wings & Wangs’ barbecue and penis measuring festival!”
Hey ladies, are your pants registered with Airbnb by any chance? Because I’d like to live in ’em for a few days while I’m in town! *rimshot*
“And THIS is for Overboard! You ruined my trust in men for years with what you did to Goldie Hawn, you sick freak!”
Anubis will return next time in “In Soviet Russia, Copyright Laws Infringe You!”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
Featuring: James “Black Milk” Johnston , Eliza “Boudica Bites Back” Russell , Marie Findley
Writer & Director: Ken “Tommy” Russell
Also Known As:The Fall of the Louse of Usher: a Gothic Tale for the 21st Century ; Ken Russell’s The Fall of the Louse of Usher
“Even if you come in here sane, no way you’re gonna get out of here anything but crazy!”
Guten tag, schmutz-kinder! Today marks the annual event known to wrestling fans as Wrestlemania. On a larf, I thought it would be fun to do a roundtable of reviews for Ken Russell movies. What does Ken Russell have to do with professional wrestling? Nothing. At least not that I know of. No, the theme for this gathering exists for no other reason than because it lends itself to the ‘table’s puntacular title!
Yep. That's the kinda shit I do. And thanks to my fellow cinemasochists for taking this journey with me! Though never a big Ken Russell fan, I have seen a few of his better known flicks. I thought Altered States was a fun acid trip through pseudo scientific madness, Tommy was an enjoyably dark and unique musical experience, and Lair of the White Worm is still one of my favorite flicks to come out of the UK and the definite catalyst for my bizarre attraction to serpentine women who want to eat me alive. Despite the creep-ass little goblin from the cover of the Gothic VHS being burned into my memory from childhood, I never got around to renting it. From what Ragnarok has to say in his review, it sounds like I didn’t miss much. Too bad that copy of The Devils I sent him was rerouted back to me via USPS, otherwise he could’ve reviewed that instead. Stupid lack of proper postage!
Before I get started, I’m throwing out the disclaimer that this review is going to be a rush job, so apologies if it lacks the polish (or Polish) of other episodes. I’ve been entangled on the battlefield of the mind in a war with the Overfiend for possession of my soul and just recently managed to lock the beast away in the Crystal of Zoloft, putting me at odds with my own predetermined due date. As such, I’ve filled my gut tank with several cans of Tear Ass energy drink from Dollar Embargo to give me the fuel I need and, as an odd side effect, the ability to taste color! I can confirm that, yes, purple is indeed a fruit. The only flavor they had on-shelf was the nebulous “Citrus X”. Unlike Chemical X, which turns inanimate objects into Powerpuffs, the only thing Citrus X transforms is the odor of your urine. My piss bucket smells like it’s full of orange peels swimming in battery acid. I’m not 100% sure my kidneys aren’t going to explode by the time we get to the moral of this story. Oh well. Sallying forthwith!
In the twilight of his career, Kenny Russell wasn’t much for movie making. He stuck with weird short subject shit for the most part, while my pick for this Celluloid Zeroes collaboration is the final feature length flick the freaky fiend filmed before punching his ticket to the Underworld in 2011. And when I say “filmed”, I don’t mean it literally, because The Fall of the Louse of Usher was shot entirely via camcorder!
Yes indeed my flowers and weeds, the technology your parents used to have to rely on when they wanted to make their own sex tapes (back when they were actual tapes) is the medium through which Uncle Ken chose to tell this backyard gothic rock opera of his. And I gotta say, upon discovering this, my immediate concerns were that I had been bamboozled and this wasn’t the same Ken Russell I was looking for. Learning that its legitimacy is legitimate however, I felt like I was watching home movies of someone’s grandpa in the final days of a fatal cancer diagnosis. Without mincing words, you just can’t shake that awful feeling of pity for seeing someone brought so low. Even if just done as a simple pet project to have fun with his friends and neighbors (which it was), it still feels so beneath what the man had done with his prestigious (or at least semi-prestigious) career that it’s… well… pathetic. If they’d kept it as a private joke to share with each other and bring out for summer barbecue viewings, that’d be one thing. But to put it out on a DVD and demand people pay to see it? By Roger Daltrey’s tasseled togs, are you fucking yankin’ my crank?! Clearly not, otherwise I’d have nothing to rag on here! Well, aside from the extension cord I use for a belt.
Roger Daltrey – Innovator of the “glue huge strands of cooked spaghetti to your sleeves” look.
Okay, enough puttin' off the lovin'. Let's rinse off our genitals, put on my Lou Bega mixtape of bone medleys, and bang this bitch out like Sean Michaels (the porn actor, not the wrestler)! Let's just hope we don't let loose any two-cheek squeaks (or squeakquels) while we're at it.
The setting for our story in simply “Orange County, USA” according to our opening. Okay, so is it the Orange County with the arguing family of motorcycle builders, the one with Mischa Barton, or one of the half-dozen other fucking Orange Counties in the damn country!? Though it’s later revealed that our setting is the West Coast edition, that tiny tidbit of info would’ve been nice to know beforehand. As Baphomet would say, “Bah”.
Roderick Usher (James Johnston, who doubles as the movie’s composer) is a goth rock musician 20 years behind the curve. Lead guitarist and singer/whiner (and occasional whisper rapper) of a heretofore unnamed band (might I suggest “The Poegues”?), he’s arrested for the suspected murder of his wife/maracas player, Annabelle Lee (Emma Millions), to whom everyone likes to attach the preface descriptor of “Sweet”. Not so sweet when she’s found walled up in the Usher house with half her face missing and her pet mini-pincher chewing through her guts! Since her rocker widower is clearly off his rocker at the time of his capture, barely coherent and ranting about his innocence, rather than going to prison Roddy’s instead carted off to the local loony bin. Here he’s put under the care of the demented Dr. Calahari (Ken Russell) and his sex bomb assistant, Nurse ABC Smith (Marie Findley).
Not a good sign of things to come… pun intended.
Not just another bimbo in a medical fetish costume, ABC (Already Been Chewed?) is one of those wonderfully empowered ladies who uses her sexuality to manipulate others into getting what she wants, the endgame of which is often something fatal for those seduced by her charms. Also, as everyone is keen to point out, “She’s a great piece of ass”. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Russell girl.
They’re similar to “Bond girls”, only way more likely to be emotionally damaged and way more likely to have some manner of underlying disfigurement that will make you paranoid of any woman who hits on you during last call. Not unlike how Basket Case taught women to never talk up any guy at a bar carrying a picnic basket.
Russell's oddball headshrinker has a penchant for wearing a variety of headpieces, which may or may not be the writer/director/producer/editor/cinematographer/actor's unsubtle pun to the audience that he himself is a “man of many hats”. Or, it could just be a sign that he had a bunch of goofy hats lying around in his home prop box that he thought would make for a running gag funny only to him. Either or. Said fetishizer of up top props also puts on a “hard to pinpoint but I'm pretty confident it's meant to be German because ABC keeps referring to him as 'Herr doktor'” accent that sounds exactly like the frantic urine lab doctor from the English dub of Dominion: Tank Police. And if you don’t know what that is, your life is a little less happy than it should be. Fix that. Soon. Or be forever denied existence as a complete person. Tank Police. Feel the power that we’ve got. We’ll give it our best shot.
No sooner is Rod tossed into his new cell then he starts in on the standard issue sexually deviant hallucinations that every lead of a Ken Russell movie suffers from. In this case, our hero envisions an orgy of blow up dolls that includes an inflatable dinosaur for added “Da fuq?!” factor. As he writhes, physically in his straight jacket and emotionally in his madness, ABC looks on intrigued. Speaking of our Nightingale on Elm Street, her role at the hospital is seemingly as Calahari’s personal caretaker more so than as his assistant. Much of their screen time together is spent with ABC feeding him, cleaning out his ears, and constantly checking the old fart’s vitals while they discuss the Usher case. Mayhaps the demented doc is a hypochondriac and needs frequent reassurance that he’s in stable health? Could it be that he’s due for a mandatory physical by the Department of Health? Then again, it may just be a thinly-veiled metaphor about how nurses tend to do all the work as doctors sit around getting fat off their fancy college degrees and trying their best to distinguish between a patient’s sphincter and a hole in the ground… which should probably raise some concerns from everyone given that doctors’ offices generally don’t include holes in their floors.
While DC and ABC try to unravel the mystery of Annabelle’s death (and whether it has anything to do with Roderick’s sister/violinist Madeline Usher [Ken’s wife Eliza Russell]) With a bona fide celebrity in their midst, Cal wants ‘Rick to perform for the institution’s patients-and-staff mixer, leaving it up to ABC to do the convincing. When her lusty demeanor isn’t enough to persuade the disturbed music maker, she confines him to a makeshift torture bed (that looks to be a beach chair with a blanket tossed over it) as a swinging pendulum butcher knife gradually descends back and forth above his pelvis. Though the protag laughs off her threat, citing an erectile deficiency, he’s not so sure of himself when XYZ reveals that she gave him Viagra. At the mere mention of her boner juice roofie job, Lil’ Rod (sounds like a personal problem) springs to life and Mr. Usher gives in to his caretaker’s demands. Good thing my doc’s accompanying CRN isn’t that hardcore. Being the world’s worst diabetic, she’d have had me paying dues to the Eunuchs Union Local 37 before you could say “THIS IS A MEDICAL EXAMINATION! STOP EATING THAT CHEESECAKE!”.
During the crazy people social soiree, Roderick is encouraged by Dr. C to get every available appendage he can up Nurse Smith’s very short uniform skirt. Hey, getting turned down by trim doesn’t mean you can’t encourage your fellow phallus holder to have a try! Bro code… or some horseshit. Anyway, Mr. Usher is then accosted by a pair of his fellow inmates that are heavy on a hippie astrology kick, asking him if he’s into “Ass-trology”, which I assure you that I certainly am. They allude to Miss ABC’s past interactions with a group called “The West Side Boys” which, from their intonations, presumably refers to some fucked up tribulations. More specifically, the ones spelled G-A-N-G-R-A-P-E.
No, not “gan grape” you nards! I meant “gang rape”. She had her flower forcibly plucked by a vulgar group of ne’er-do-wells with more testosterone than social grace. At least as far as I can infer. The later reveal that her entire erotic demeanor is made up of literal artificial bits and pieces (including that “great piece of ass!”) to disguise whatever shapeless horror she really is, postulates clearly that her outer self is a deceptive shell to hide the fragile truth beneath. Some obvious symbolism for Uncle Ken to waterboard us with. It’s an interesting visual representation, but is smashed so hard into our faces that it’s like being talked down to by a tech support rep that makes you wanna reach through the phone and elbow them in the throat.
I don’t do great with “message movies”. Unless they involve people getting run over en masse.
While Nursey Poo and The Rod explore their blossoming relationship, Dr. C uses the astrologist gals (one of whom is your typical old gypsy lady, while the other is a minstrel mummy… let that sink in) in an effort to Ouija up the soul of the slain Annabelle Lee and get the story of her demise straight from the victim’s protoplasmic mouth. Unable to establish a direct connection to the lass, they do manage to summon OSIRIS(!!!) instead, who speaks to them through the sacred vessel of… a Big Mouth Billy Bass.
Okay. This part got me. A surprise kidney punch of happiness I wasn't prepared for that left me on the floor with upturned lips ever so slightly trembling. This leads to a riddle that leads to a vibrating slinky version of those “weasel chasing a ball” toys that finally leads to the gypsy character divining that the question to the answer “The reveal of Annabelle Lee's true killer” is “What's the secret of her bones?”. Man, trying to force gags into a ‘Jeopardy!’ shaped mold requires mental gymnastics that my caffeine fueled cortex can’t fucking handle right now. This leads to Calahari sending his masked henchman Igor to retrieve Ann’s pearlies from her gravesite.
Taking a break from all story progress, Dr. Cal takes a scenic route scene to gloat to Roderick about his prized experiment – having hypnotized (via several props acquired from a Spencer’s Gifts clearance sale) a previous patient/guinea pig named Ernest Valdemar (Peter Mastin) in the midst of the man’s death throes, allowing Ernie’s mind to continue living indefinitely and communicating through a voice amplification box despite the death of the rest of his body… except for the part about how his jaw and eyes are still functional, and the other part about how THE BRAIN CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT BLOOD FLOW OR OXYGEN. Unfortunately, despite Mr. V’s predicament being an interesting piece about a person buried alive in the grave of his own corpse for 7 months, this bit of sidetrack has zilch to do with Rod’s tale and only serves as a *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* to EAP readers that reeks of time filler.
Sick Destro cosplay, bro!
Speaking of filler, the next segment takes the same theme, makes like a looter with a new TV and runs with it. Calahari has a therapy session with a woman hidden behind a mask who has some weird psycho-sexual fear of garden gnomes. Through his mania-delving analysis, the doc helps her realize she's actually famed femme fatale female wrestler, Beulah Von Birmingham (Sandra Scott)! Her revelation is interrupted when a masked prostitute named Mary (Mrs. Russell again) inserts herself into the scenario, declaring herself a birthday present to Roderick from his big sister… while ironically being played by the same woman who plays his big sister. Beulah recognizes her as one of her wrestling rivals though, and the pair have a no holds barred hardcore brawl for supremacy! It degrades into the two just dry humping each other before the silliness subsides prematurely with the pair escaping over a wall via convenient step ladder, to the chagrin of Calahari who planned to imprison the pair in his crazy house. Again, fun random bit of wackiness, but also again, entirely disconnected from having anything to do with advancing the damn story!
Wait a sec… Whoa. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it? I establish this review on the basis of its creator’s surname being a pun on the word “wrestle”, and ultimately there’s a scene of female wrestlers doing just that. The hypothesis of my subconscious being an astral projected time traveler while I sleep gains more and more traction. Nanoo fucking nannoo.
When Igor returns with the disinterred dentures of a dozen or so Ushers buried in the same boneyard (or, purchased from a gumball machine outside the corner deli as the case more likely is), Annabelle’s rise from the collection and hint at Poe’s short story ‘The Murders at the Rue Morgue’ as being the key to unlocking what really happened to her. Cal deciphers this as meaning Rod’s wife was actually murdered by a gorilla, but before he can question this logic further he’s called away to Valdemar’s room, where his pet zombie finally gives up the ghost. As if that weren’t enough to upset the bloated old goat, the institute’s previous staff, which the doctor had apparently imprisoned in the asylum’s basement for challenging his “revolutionary methods”, have somehow escaped (or at least the two members we’re ever privy to) and are wilding throughout the building in pursuit of revenge! Less the “pee in the communal coffee pot at work” type and more the “Carrie White on prom night” version.
Roddy, herr doktor, the old gypsy (now wearing a tea cozy on her head) and the blackface mummy lady escape the hospital with all limbs intact, returning to the Usher Estate. Once there, ‘Ricky discovers beloved sister Madeline dead at her own hand on what looks to be a teenage girl’s bed, amid some topless statues in the yard. Seems the “fake news” media reported that her brother had died in the sanitarium riot and the resultant grief with which she was overtaken pushed her to Romeo & Juliet herself, leaving behind a recorded confession (played for them by a crimson faced gorilla) that she was the one who prematurely punched Sweet Annabelle Lee’s mortality ticket! In the thralls of his own heartbreak, little brother Usher demands Death take him too, to which Dr. C relinquishes with an injection of something lethal. The duo are laid in state in their yard, surrounded by potted flowers probably taken from the dumpster behind the WalMart Garden Center.
With 15 minutes left in the movie, the aforementioned gorilla gather the remaining trio of guests in the siblings’ old childhood playhouse to view a VHS tape (played in a microwave for laughs). The vid is a further confession by Mad Maddie, telling of how she used Gory (the gorilla) to kill Annabelle with an obedience chip that the family had planted in the hulking simian’s brain after the poor brute was rescued from an abusive trainer. Thanks to an off-brand Playstation 2 controller, Mads maliciously manipulated the monkey into murdering her only rival for her dear brother’s dingus. From here it’s all about wrapping shit up, as Calahari is captured and returned to the asylum to undergo treatment, Nurse ABC is fine (except for an unexplained hand crushing incident in the end), Roderick and Madeline’s souls descend to hell on a righteous deflating bouncy castle, and their son and daughter prepare to move back into their family home with Gory now that everyone else has been driven away… I’m not going to explain anything from that last sentence, as I’ll leave it up to your own minds to fill in the blanks that, well, we’re never given anyway.
Unless Russell’s next of kin have some 2-4-5 Trioxin laying around, I’m pretty sure this is the end.
And there it is: Ken Russell’s final feature, The Fall of the Louse of Usher. Though greatly hampered by its poor choice of medium and “let’s just use what we’ve got lying around our houses!” budget, there’s actually a lot of entertainment to be had. The sound quality isn’t great, sometimes even bordering on horrible as it makes certain scenes almost completely auditorially illegible, with the worst being a stair well exchange that’s nothing but shouty echoes. Speaking of noise, one of my least liked parts of this cacophony of crazy are the awful little music videos that Rod and Mad made for their band, not the least bothersome of which involves the siblings being all “anguished high school goth kids” (well into their thirties/forties) with each other in a cemetery, dragging numerous visual aids about their incest relationship across our faces where, like the scrotum intimation I’m trying to make here, none were needed.
The cast is actually pretty solid for a buncha no-names. Not everyone, mind you, but our top-of-the-credits trio – Johnston, Findley & Mr. Russell – all make this a much more pleasant pill to swallow. Their characters are entertaining if not always interesting and their performances are appropriately campy without going overboard. Broken heart throb Roderick is well lost in the forest of confusion and desperate to find his way out; Nurse ABC carries a sensuality, charm and foreboding smile reminiscent of Cassandra Peterson’s beloved Elvira or a mash-up of Rocky Horror’s Columbia & Magenta; and Doc Calahari is a kooky crackpot who’s really a lot of fun to watch when you warm up to him, even in spite of Russell’s absurd German-ish accent, which grows on you if your ears don’t revolt against you first.
If you’re a Poe nerd, or have a Poe nerd in your life, you’ll enjoy picking out Louse‘s varied variety of references to the godfather of goth’s library of extensive materials. Some are obvious, some are a bit more obscure, and still others I’m sure I missed entirely because I’m barely acquainted with the chronically depressed fiveheaded oddball’s greatest hits, let alone his deep cut ditties. If what I’ve heard was true, Louse of Usher is a much better homage to Eddie Allan’s efforts than 2012’s The Raven, so again, consider it for the Poephile in your presence. And don’t you worry John Cusack, I’ll be kicking down your door sooner or later with crackling criticisms to burn your nose hair by!
The “gothic tale for the 21st century” has great potential that peeks out from behind its discounted Halloween seasonal mall shop props and modified tool shed sets, and with a little bit of script tampering and an injection of capital, I think, sans hyperbole, that TFotLoU could have easily been another Rocky Horror! Hell, with a Kickstarter campaign and some talented hands, it could still be. It’s as likely as Hulk Hogan playing the dad in a(nother) remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but it’s fun to think of what could have been. Speaking of what could have been…
Hey! I finally made it to episode 100! It only took me… gimme a sec here…
Three and a half years. Shit. That’s an average of 2-3 reviews per month. Double shit. Billy Bass Osiris damn me and whatever wacky fantasy scenario I’m using today to stunt double for my real life personal hindrances. Oh well. I’ve got a pot of chili and a copy of Cannibal Killer Clowns on Dope calling my name with their siren song, so let’s hurry this up and just say it’s a case of quality over quantity.
Moral of the Story: If you ever want to get out of a mental institute alive, never question the sanity of the staff.
On the topic of superior quality, go treat yourself to some more RussellMania from our fellow Zeroes!
I envision a lawsuit by the Estate of Edgar Allan Poe against the Estate of Ken Russell as presided over by the Estate of Judge Wopner here, in ‘The Dead Peoples’ Court’.
See, shit like that is why you’ll never get me within a mile of a LASIK office!
“I have to say, when my wife said she’d gotten me that reverse-gangbang I’d always wanted for my birthday, I wasn’t expecting… well… this. Oh well, let’s make the best of it, girls!”
Yes, kids, Ken Russell as a literal dick nose.
Scary Movie prop mask purchased from Marlon Wayans’ “Fund the next A Haunted House sequel” yard sale.
The New Slash Co. Mark 12 collection of knives! They’ll cut through shoe leather, a soda can and a full-sized rhinoceros, and STILL sever a human head like it were a ripe tomato without a single sharpening! I’d buy that for a dollar!
What? You’ve never been to a white trash Eyes Wide Shut party before?
My sex shed is way nicer than theirs!
“With the Psychic Readers Network, you can get in touch with the Egyptian gods for advice on life, love, and lucky lottery numbers for just $2.99 per minute! Call me NOW!”
Saint Polident – the Patron Saint of Denture Cleansers and veteran of the 100 Years Crusade against the kingdom of the Cavity Creeps.
And this is why I never trust elderly women in lingerie who ask me if I want to “smell their flower”.
A scene from Annie Sprinkle’s long-since-banned educational video for elementary school children on how bees pollinate flowers.
My attempts at bringing my own Frankensteinian meatloaf man to life didn’t go as I had hoped… at least he made for some delicious leftovers!
The only surviving still from a proposed 1992 reboot of Planet of the Apes that, I think we can all agree, would have probably been too awesomely reprehensible for this world anyway.
Alright! The Better Homes and Gardens annual “DIY Funerary Displays on a Budget” issue is out! They printed my article in this one!
In 1997, Nintendo introduced the first “rumble” function for video game controllers, causing them to vibrate as a form of sensory feedback for players to help increase their immersion in the games. 20 years after the introduction of vibrating controllers, females now make up nearly 50% of video gamers. Coincidence? My eye.
Anubis will return next time in “Guess Who’s Dying at Dinner”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
Featuring: Manu “Arrow” Bennett , Marci “Days of Our Lives” Miller , Malcolm “A Clockwork Orange” McDowell
Director: GJ “Virtually Heroes” Echternkamp
Writers: GJ “Frank and Cindy” Echternkamp & Matt “Virtually Heroes” Yamashita
Remake of:Death Race 2000
Also Known As:Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050
This Episode Personally Approved By: GJ Echternkamp (Director/Writer)!
“Your review of Death Race 2050 was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read… thanks for making my night!”
“It’s like having sex with 500 men at once – awesome.”
So,we’re only two weeks into the new year and already David Blaine has shot himself in the mouth and Martin “Shcrotin” Shkreli has gotten a face full of doggy dung. Don’t do it, 2017. Don’t tease me like this. After all the bullshit that 2016 pulled, you’re gonna have to give me a LOT more than this to wash off the stink of your predecessor’s legacy! Now, if you were to have Blaine and Criss Angel kill each other off in some form of magician blood feud a la The Prestige and have Shkreli choke to death on a log of piping hot canine crap straight from the pooch’s poop chute, you’d score a fair bucket of cred with both myself and many others. But you’re on super double secret probation until at least mid-April, so keep your nose clean.
Speaking of 2016, despite the murder spree we all witnessed over the length of the last calendar, you know who survived the celebrity serial killer year-that-was? Roger Corman! The spiritual successor of Ed Wood hasn’t directed a flick in over 25 years, but that sure as shit hasn’t stopped the master of the minuscule budget from keeping the bad movie spawning beds bubbling atop his “Producer” chair throne. Much as my opinion of the man’s work ebbs and flows with the shifting of the sands, I will not deny that Cor-Man is the friggin’ Jack LaLanne of schlock. My all time favorite of his features? Without hesitation – Death Race 2000.
If you don’t know that which DR2K is about, it better be because you’re younger than the carton of cottage cheese long thought lost in the dark recesses of my fridge. Why haven’t I thrown it out yet? By the time I found it, I was too afraid to open it, let alone lay my hands upon it. Know what’s in there? Me neither. Let’s keep it that way. Back on topic, DR2K is a 1975 flick that plays like a live-action “Speed Racer” cartoon if it came with an ‘R’ rating and revolved around turning pedestrians into street meat. It was Cannonball Run meets Rollerball. So it was Rollerball Run, I guess. Also, it was already remade in 2008 as just Death Race, as some kind of edgy gay prison sex action-drama art house film starring Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson also executive produced by Roger Corman. It had two sequels, with a third currently in production as of this review. Samuel L. Jackson that’s a lot of spin-offs for a movie that’s never had an actual sequel! Good on Mr. HardCorman for beating every last cent out of that dead horse. At least it’s his own and he’s not just Michael Bay-ing off of someone else’s work. Speaking of deceased equines, let’s saddle up this thoroughbred and see if it’s riding majestically into the sunset or shuffling off to the Elmer’s plant.
Oh yeah, so (not my) president Pissler and his turd reich are on their way into the White House soon, and though I had another movie in mind to mark the end of civilization as we know it, DR2050 dropped itself face first into my lap instead, and the timing was just too perfect not to unzip. As such, if you were shivering with antici………..pation for this as much as I was, well, urine luck!
For those who have already seen Death Race 2000, you can pretty much Choose Your Own Adventure the next few paragraphs and turn to “Page 32”. For those new to the game, continue on to “Page 7”.
30 or so years in the future, the USA is a much different landscape. Well, it’ll probably be like looking in a mirror 4 or so years in the future from where we are now, but let’s all try to escape reality for a few minutes together and focus on the flick. Corporations have hijacked the land of milk and honey and turned it into Occupy Wall Street’s worst night terror, going so overboard as to rename the nation The United Corporations of America. This “re-branding” includes the replacement of the stars on the flag with dollar signs. Like the most constipated man in history would say, I shit you not. The states have been divided among the most elite of the 1% and also re-branded with new monikers to reflect their new owners, and in some cases strip mined of every available resource straight into hellholes that only extras from a Mad Max movie would be fit to survive in. Sitting atop this smoldering shit heap is the Chairman (Malcolm McDowell), whose goofy haircut, bold faced lies and constant disregard for the welfare of his citizens in favor of bilking every last cent out of their pockets make him an obvious parody of a certain baby-handed megalomaniac obsessed with swimming in gold, and I don’t mean the way Scrooge McDuck does.
With the advancement of medical technology, mankind has managed to eliminate life-threatening diseases like cancer, while also giving the people an Extended Play in the game of life, with most living into the triple digits like it’s no big deal. The resultant unexpected population explosion (remember, guys like the Chairman don’t listen to any science that doesn’t bump up their profit margin) left the nation with an immediate need to relocate their excess citizenry. But, since the UCA grabbed the other nations of the world by their pussies with nuclear rape hands, the remainder of the planet’s kinda unlivable. Hence, violent competitions were established where the participants murder the peasantry en masse for the entertainment of said peasantry smart enough to stay home and watch instead. On that note, cue the theme music as we present you with Death Race: a cross-country rally style automotive conflict whose drivers (and their navigators/co-pilots) do their damnedest to turn every person along the path into meat bag versions of the Incredible Crash Dummies. You know, the characters from that weird ’90s cartoon/toy line, not that weird ’90s band/reason I uncontrollably punch people who hum as hard as I can in the face… with a knife.
Not everybody in the UCA is down with an entertainment industry based on a “re-envisioning” of the Roman Colosseum days. Said like-minded individuals have become a like-minded institution of rebels working toward the common goal of “waking up the sheeple” (I hate young people) and uniting the common folk against their corporate oppressors. How? By stopping the Death Race! How? By killing the drivers! These inept understudies from an off-Broadway musical version of Beyond Thunderdome are lead by an ex government Head of Programming-turned-revolutionary hard-ass named Alexis, who’s played by the former starlet of TNT’s ”Witchblade” TV series – Yancy Butler! Oh, nobody remembers ”Witchblade”? Well, fist my ass.
NOT WITH THAT!
And now, your Death Race racer roster!
Frankenstein (Manu Bennett) – Dressed up like a leather daddy wearing a lava golem mask that may or may not be made from re-purposed tire rubber, this four time winner of Death Races past is a manly man budget version of Tom Hardy and the franchise hero of the coast-to-coast abattoir. Bearing the title of Mary Shelley’s most memorable monster (Victor, not his patchwork zombie “son”), he’s survived his fair share of fender benders thanks to the advanced cyber-prosthesis that have left him a mechanical man. Query: though this explains the Frankenstein name, was his name always Frankenstein, even before he became a walking quilt of flesh and circuitry? Enquiring minds are mildly curious! His co-pilot Annie (Marci Miller) is our main man’s mandatory love interest, so try not to be surprised when their elementary school playground name calling and verbal sparring turns into a begrudging union of souls. Finally, am I the only one who looks at Frankie’s car and can’t stop seeing the TMNT Footski toy?
Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead) – The self-proclaimed apex of manliness and a nonstop testosterone factory, Perfectus is the test tube baby byproduct of a genetic engineering experiment tasked with making the ultimate male. He’s determined to defeat Frankenstein (to the point of obsession) and prove himself the new hero that the Death Race fans deserve. A blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan asshole, this personification of the Übermensch would have Hitler creaming his pants so hard you’d think he’d just poured bottles of Coffee-Mate down both pockets. All that aggressive man juice pumping through his brain makes Jed a bit of a psycho though, so when he strips down to his golden Rocky Horror skivvies and his mole-covered pecs get to flexing, prepare for some of the old ultra-violence. Though the gay jokes are frequent and expected, in spite of them, Jed’s fractured mental state is actually an interesting study in the dangers of toxic masculinity. Unlike the prior picture’s antagonist, Machine Gun Joe, Jed opts for a spear gun over a Tommy Gun. Given the whole “insecure man” angle, I’m sure that’s not just a Freudian slip on the peel of a Freudian banana. Wakka wakka!
Tammy (Anessa Ramsey) – Also known by the nom de carnage of “Tammy the Terrorist”, I’m pretty sure this mid-western religious nut heralded by the stink of brimstone and burnt rubber is named after the infamous Tammy Faye-Bakker. Then again, her lack of comically heavy makeup could indicate otherwise. Whatever the case, Tammy here bears no small resemblance to an out-of-work Jaime Pressly. She’s dressed to the nines in her eye-blisteringly “’MERICA!” outfit that approximates a grown-up version of something you’d see at one of those creepy Dallas prostitot beauty pageants that I’m pretty sure are just massive bait traps for pedophiles. Her white trash Barbarella fashion senselessness aside, Tammy’s defining trait is that she’s the leader of a religious extremist group (i.e. suicide bombers) who worship dead celebrities from the past, so expect numerous name drops along the lines of James Dean, David Bowie, Elvis Presley and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. In case it wasn’t blatant enough for you (or you just weren’t paying attention), she represents the ridiculous forms that celebrity worship can take and the dangers that faith can lead to in the wrong hands.
Minerva Jefferson (Folake Olowofoyeku) – The obvious foil for Miss Tammy, Minerva is a hard-nosed hip hop harlot draped in bad girl bling who’s made a career out of calling for the killing of white people. Not “Whitey” or “The Man” in particular, mind you, but Caucasians as a whole. And no, not Caucasian ass-a-holes specifically, hyuk hyuk. Though I’m a member of the “rap is crap” mentality, as a self-hating honky I probably relate more to Minerva’s motivations than any of the other drivers’. Her car (the Whitey Whacker) has a pair of external speakers that are supposedly so loud they can make peoples’ heads explode, but I’m not sure that’s how sound waves work. Minerva’s latest hit single is in honor of her enrollment in the competition and it’s no surprise that it’s just her chanting “Drive! Drive! Kill! Kill!” to a generic backing track. It’s all a flagrant rip-off of a Homer Is B.I.G. track, anyway.
ABE (voiced by D.C. Douglas) – The fifth and final perforator of pedestrian entrails in this endeavor is even less human than Jed! That’s because this driver is actually the K.I.T.T. of the movie, minus Mr. Feeny’s voice or Mitch Buchannon’s ass in its face. The AI’s creator/co-pilot/girlfriend is Dr. Von
Creamer (Helen Loris)… wait… “girlfriend”? Yep. Though we’re given no background on the self-driving murder machine’s origins, going by Creamy’s frequent usage of its passenger pleasure functions, I’m gonna go with the safe bet that the doctor’s obsession with creating the ultimate vibrator got so out-of-hand that she couldn’t keep it a secret from whoever supplied her research grant, so she just said it was a Death Race car and ended up here. Interestingly enough, ABE (the meaning of whose acronym is also ignored) presents us with the ages old “What’s the meaning of life?” query as applied to an AI. Curiouser and curiouser.
And that’s as deep as I’m gonna delve into this gumball rally of gore. For returning audiences wondering where the flick’s endgame lies, it’s both familiar and new. Not soul crushingly new like New Coke, but more “better than we feared” new like the New Mutants. Also, no, that certain beloved pun-based explosive device (you know the one) does not make a return, despite it fitting this flicks goofy-as-fuck tone. A tad sad, but that’s just the way it is. At least we got this guy, so it’s not like we’re left empty handed!
Find someone who loves you the way this guy loves his giant fiberglass wiener.
So there you have it – Death Race 2050. I’m not gonna lie to you (or am I?), but upon my first viewing of it, I was the kid on Cthulhumas morning who was anticipating a severed head awaiting me under the burning tree of madness, only to find a basket of graphically soiled hobo underwear instead. I was hoping for a movie more akin to Death Race 2000 – a lower budget think piece disguised as a campy celebration of the normalization of violence. What I got was a slightly higher budgeted version of Death Racers with much the same eye violatingly miserable digital effects, written by people to whom the word “subtlety” seems to have a “that which shall not be named” air to it. An embodiment of every vulgarity Echternkamp and Yamashita recoiled at during their formative years, and have since become straight phobias. An offense equal to shitting into their respective grandmothers’ mouths.
Upon my second viewing though, I had one of those RARE changes of heart. Having suffered the shit tier special effects once and watching it with my expectational loins properly girded, I was able to ignore the visual garbage fire and really enjoy the extreme lengths to which Brand Echt and Holy ‘Shita didn’t just put their plans out there for us to see, but fired them into our faces via figurative bazooka. Their revulsion of subtlety works in their favor! It gives the whole movie a boost of Idiocracy style absurdity with a hot beef injection of Troma type energy, blatant sociopolitical subject matter, and tongues so firmly in-cheek that they’re seeing daylight. And in today’s climate? Being released mere days before Pissler’s inauguration? You couldn’t have picked a better time to release a movie like this if you had a DeLorean with a souped-up Mr. Coffee strapped to it. It’s one of those movies whose dialogue is endlessly quotable too, so if you hate flicks that focus on snappy-like-a-mousetrap exchanges and one-liners over more realistic speak, take your bland ass elsewhere.
Speaking of great lines, they’re nothing without proper delivery, which is where our cast comes in. And what a cast they are! All of the racers feel fleshed out, with their own defining moments and personal conflicts. The political participants and co-pilots (except Annie of course) have less dimensions than the characters in Megan Fox’s filmography, but the main cast tow the film fine on their own. The lines feel so natural coming out of their mouths that you almost feel like the characters themselves were tailored for the actors. It’s not high drama Oscar stuff. We’re not seeing the next generation of Streeps and DiCaprios here, but for what the roles required, I don’t think we could’ve gotten better than this batch of relative nobodies. That might sound like faint praise, but coming from someone who’d rather cuddle David Carradine’s bloated corpse in a closet for a night than watch The Departed again, consider it my official approval. Officially.
No matter how much I can indulge in everything else though, none of this helps wipe away the stain of DR2050‘s hideous coat of shit colored digital paint. It hangs heavy over the whole thing like a big brown cloud blotting out the sun. I hate the person who invented computer generated cars. And computer generated explosions. And computer generated gore. Fuck he/she/them with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and soaked in ghost pepper sauce. I blame The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, but then I tend to blame Tokyo Drift for most of the problems in my life. Every time I stub my toe or get a paper cut, you can usually hear me shouting “TOKYO DRIFT!” at the top of my lungs. ‘Struth.
In case It wasn’t obvious, I’m recommending this movie for those readers looking to have a laugh with a VERY liberal lean. Just go in expecting Syfy Original “quality” computer effects and you’re less likely to be as mortified as I was at first. If you’re looking for more serious car combat, watch Death Race instead (or again), or just let Fury Road blow your mind for the 20th time. Either way, I’ve had my say, so here’s to hoping it made your day. Later, taters!
Moral of the Story: God is a woman, and she is black as fuck.
“What’s new, pussycat? Whoooooa oh oooooooh!”
“Prop Corn”? What, they couldn’t afford the real stuff? I’m not saying it had to be a case of that fancy Redenbacher bastard’s stuff, but nobody could just pony up for a few bags of generic store brand popcorn?!
In the future, people will be able to splice their genes with other species, Moreau style. Amanda here has just started her transition into a Lepus-American, and we at The Tomb wish her all the best!
Sadly, it’s not whether the black and Asian characters will be killed off, but which one will die first. Sorry, minorities.
“Oh no, darling. This isn’t an oral exam camera. Turn around and think warm thoughts!”
Our hero looks like the gimp from an intergalactic Ilsa movie.
Frankenstein and his car pose for their action figure box art.
From an alternate reality in which Michael Jackson lived well into his 80s and became not just the king of pop, but the king of the world.
NOT the type of face you want to wake up to! Or step out of the shower to! Or… come home to… or… you know what, no one should ever have to see that face… ever.
“How’s our repeal of The Constitution coming along? What do you mean ‘What are we going to replace it with’? No we don’t have anything to replace it with! That didn’t stop us from repealing Obamacare or Social Services, why should it stop us now?!”
“They actually think the audience is going to believe these painted dollar store swimming goggles are VR glasses! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Presenting Mister & Missus Carl’s Jr. 2017!
“You see these sunglasses? They cost more than your car! Why? What’s so great about them? I DON’T FUCKING KNOW! IT DOESN’T MATTER! They cost more than any other pair of sunglasses, so that makes them (and by proxy ME) better!”
When your shadowcast’s Riff Raff calls in sick and Rocky has to pull double duty.
Gah! I’m being haunted by the ghost of Liberace!
I once ate a rancid can of alphabet soup on a dare, and the resultant game of gastric Scrabble I played in the toilet afterward spelled out something like that.
Anubis will return next time in “How Gurdy Got His Groove Back”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
Featuring: Hiroki “Attack on Titan” Hasegawa , Satomi “Attack on Titan” Ishihara , Yutaka “Oba: the Last Samurai” Takenouchi
Directors: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno & Shinji “Attack on Titan” Higuchi
Writer: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno
Also Known As:Shin Godzilla
“Nothing in the first response manual applies here.”
(Author’s note: This review was intended for post in December 2015, so rewind your brains a few weeks to experience the proper mindset.)
Last year, for the International Congress of United Pantheons (I.C.U.P.)’s Non-Denominational Gift Exchange Caucus, I requested of my Mystery Mandatory Present Provider “an enigma box containing the forbidden knowledge of The Inferno”. What I got was a tin full of “Friends” trivia cards… I could solve a dozen Lament Configurations before I could tell you the name of Chandler’s fucking MONKEY! As per the ancient edicts of the ceremony, it’s sacrilege to reveal whose MMPP is whose, but I’d bet my life-size die cast replica of Stuntman Mike’s Charger that it was one of those smart ass trickster god pricks. Probably Loki or Coyote or, speaking of monkeys, Sun Wukong. Flea-bitten chimp. Every year he does that stupid gag where he ties a set of jingle bells around his tail, sticks it between his legs, and dances around singing his dirty version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” like he hasn’t done it every year for the last six centuries. Fucking headache. Could somebody grab me a fistful of Anacin? My thanks.
Regardless of the culprit, I’m already prepared for the first season of “Fuller House” on Blu-ray (You can’t have a “Fuller” house! It’s already FULL, for James K. Fuck’s sake!) or some such shit to be my surprise this year, so I opted to indulge my sweet tooth and treated myself. After pulling a few strings, sacrificing a few Charles Band DVDs during the last full moon (*PUN!*) and calling in a “favor” from my import guy (your family will be returned to you unharmed in time for Hanukkah, Ishmael-san), I wrangled a bootleg of today’s feature! Pa rum pum pum pum, motherfuckers.
For you number nerds out there in the worldwide wasteland, you’ll notice that today’s episode is 95 rather than 93. Well, the movie I was writing up for the finale of Turkey Day Month 2016 was so mind scaldingly terrible that it gave me mental food poisoning. A bout of existential agony from which I’m still recovering. But, rather than let it get away unscathed, I’ve put it up on a meat hook TCM style to writhe a bit until I can get around to finishing it. And 94? The December entry for my year long celebration of evil clowns. I’ll be playing absent minded Dr. Frankenstein and going back to finish both installments in the immediate future, but for now they’ll remain “lost episodes” while I move on to (much) bigger and (MUCH) better things. Speaking of…
When Toho has taken to “rebooting” their main monster moneymaker’s movies in the past (Godzilla 1985 and Godzilla 2000), they did so by building off of the legacy of the original 1954 black & white unnatural disasterpiece. Hel, every installment of Big G’s Millennium series of flicks (with the exception of Tokyo S.O.S., which sequalized Against MechaGodzilla) were each, in themselves, separate sequels to King of the Monsters! Finally, half a century after God (Tomoyuki Tanaka) graced Earth with the grandest of grand Atomic Age monstrosities, Toho has gone back to the nuclear nightmare drawing board to not just start a new chapter, but a whole new book.
Unlike many Godzilla movies before, directors Anno and Higuchi waste no time jumping into the action. A mysterious undersea disturbance has suddenly activated offshore and made its way without delay straight into Tokyo Bay. And that’s not okay! The entire government goes into panic mode, half wanting to know what the threat is, half wanting to blow the fuck out of whatever it is, and half wondering if it can be contained or just driven back into the sea. If that doesn’t add up, don’t blame me. I haven’t taken a math class in 15 years and technology has made me stupid and dependent and… and… and unable to think of a third adjective. Poopie.
Anyway, as we watch elected officials scramble for data like Pizza Rat scurrying for a fresh slice, we the audience have a pretty solid hypothesis of just what it is that’s about to emerge from beneath the surf. Rather than stomping upon the shores of the rising sun though, this new kaiju instead swims its big finned backside from the bay straight into the Tama River, taking a tidal wave of upturned schooners and other sea crafts with it. The scene kinda reminds you of news footage from marinas hit by hurricanes. Like a boat warehouse came to life and the trauma of this ungodly abomination developing a fully functional digestive tract caused it to barf its overstock all over the place. Not unlike how I ended up last Labor Day when Boozerville Bottles & Kegs had a 3-for-1 sale on Tenafly Viper.
Leading biologists are called in for their expertise, but with such limited information available, none are willing to risk their reputations by make any guesses on just what to expect from the leviathan. The wankers are about as helpful as an atlas to a blind hitchhiker. Instead, a low ranking member of the Environmental Ministry (who happens to be an old college buddy of of our main protagonist, Shimura) chimes in with her observations, declaring the creature to be some manner of marine serpent, but one that’s grown flipper-like legs similar to a lung fish that would be crushed under the weirdo’s own weight were it ever to attempt going ashore. No sooner does the Prime Minister deliver such assurances to the citizenry via press conference, then with almost “F Troop” levels of pinpoint comedic timing, the monster sets its very large feet on land! And by the hoary holes of Yog-Sothoth is this beastie an all-over butterface.
Appearing nothing like the Godzilla teased to us in the movie’s promotional materials, I thought this abhorrent chicken of the sea was instead going to be the harbinger for the new king of the monsters, similar to the way 1985 prefaced the big guy’s eventual appearance with the massive radioactive parasite insect opening scene. That was one of the most pants pissingly terrifying movie moments of my childhood by the way, for anyone out there putting together a tin of trivia cards based on my exploits.
Anyway, this nightmarish amalgamation of Michael Crichton fiction and Jacques Cousteau fact turns out to be our titular Tokyo terrorizer! Resembling what would happen if a giant Moray eel and an Allosaurus had unprotected sex on top of a toxic waste dump, only to throw their resultant spawn into a dumpster fire following birth, this completely computer generated Jurassic juggernaut thankfully evolves like a friggin’ Pokemon with a Fire Stone up its butt! Climbing Darwin’s ladder with a quickness that would make Usain Bolt in Acme Rocket Shoes™ look like Droopy Dog doped up on Slo-Mo in comparison, the bug-eyed goliath becomes an upright walking, four limbed, air breathing horror show in a matter of hours, taking a shape more akin to the one-monster demolition team promised us… though still sporting a pair of googly-eyes that straddle the line between goofy and unnerving. He quickly retreats back into the Bay upon being confronted by the nation’s Self-Defense Force, though, allowing his human antagonists time to slap together a counterattack for his inevitable return. Like those friggin’ Salvation Army bell ringers that hang outside of the supermarkets every December, only less irritating and more dangerous.
Post rampage info shows that the monster powers itself with its own biological nuclear reactor, which means this Chernobyl on two legs (and with a hell of a lot of teeth) poses more of a threat to the citizenry of Japan than just collateral infrastructure damage. Good thing their weird pop culture obsession with virtually dating animals and marrying their pillows already has their birthing rates down, or they’d be in for a generation of flipper babies and tentacled toddlers! In a joint fact finding effort with the US Department of Energy, the creature’s likely origin comes from unregulated offshore disposal of radioactive waste materials some 60 years earlier. A Japanese biologist named Dr. Maki (who has since gone missing, leaving his private research materials behind for whomever found them) theorized that the superbeast was an ancient form of Lovecraftian deep sea horror that was altered by its exposure to the material way down in the ocean trenches. As the Americans call it (for no given reason), this “Godzilla” fed on the nuclear smorgasbord, growing and transforming into the mountainous menace it is today.
So, even after removing the marketing divisive material about the nuclear nightmare America inflicted upon their shores with Fat Man and Little Boy, Godzilla is still birthed from nature pointing up the folly of men? Okay. Well, as one born under “the red, white and blue”, I’m a little disappointed to see the consequential guilt trip of my government’s disgustingly short-sighted and irresponsible acts of wars past no longer used as the catalyst for further devastation. Then again, I suppose we got our fair share of penance when we shot ourselves in the foot with Zilla Takes Manhattan, so you can only expect a nation to endure so much. You’re the bigger man, Japan. Bigger than even Big Man Japan. Thank you.
When the demonic colossus reappears from the sea that spawned it, ‘Zills has once again transitioned, this time into the horror show that the advertising materials promised us. Now twice his previous size, his big dead salmon eyes have been replaced with beady little death gazers and the scads of random beastly fangs jutting from his mouth hole have, well, been joined by more of the same. He’s also rocking the newest iteration of his classic theme music, which should give fellow longtime fans a spine shiver as this ghastly goliath does right by his mantle and gets started turning the cityscape into an ’80s post-apocalyptic movie set designer’s wettest wet dream. Making His way to Tokyo, presumably to the nuclear power facility housed there, the government initiates a show of military force (partially so as not to appear dickless in the global political locker room) to stop Godzilla, or at least slow His progress while they work on a contingency plan to shut Him down. If you’ve ever seen any such show of “force” in a Toho flick past, you know how this is going to end.
The Defense Force’s hardware is even more ineffective now as it was in past movies, with current regeneration G not even acknowledging the machine gun fire and missiles exploding in his face. A lovely little testament about how you can’t destroy the embodiment of national PTSD with physical force. Artillery fusillades are as effective as roman candles and Red Ryder BB guns, while bomber payloads don’t even make him blink… well, he doesn’t have eyelids, so blinking is impossible anyway (kinda shitty evolution you’ve got there, boy-o), but you get the gist of my cliche.
With the nation’s neutered attack force (that’s what you get for aligning with Hitler!) seeing their best efforts barely even diverting the demon’s gaze, the US stick their military industrial complex shaped dick into the action on their allies’ behalf. What kind of “Mission Accomplished” banner moment will this cowboy cavalry carpet-bombing bring about? I won’t spoil it, but I’ll tell you this much for free – things go from “national tragedy” to “all seven levels of Hell on Earth at once” in less time than it takes an episode of “Shin Chan” to expose a child’s penis!
The USA thinks its strong-arm siege tactics are a fix-all, but said “problem solver” just leads to generational levels of devastation instead? Well played, Anno-san. I knew you wouldn’t let the nation of John Wayne escape the barbs of your lampoon harpoon. There shall never be forgiveness for The Conqueror from any Asian power, you racist bastards!
In light of the epic failure of the attempted efforts of the USAF bombing on Godzilla, the UN proposes that the nuclear option is the only means remaining if the rest of the world want to safeguard themselves against their own visits of retaliation from the 400ft tall atomic Krampus. Can Godzilla be put down without the Land of the Rising Sun being turned into the Land of the World’s 24 Hour Nightlight? Will our heroes be able to stand up to the Beast of Tokyo Bay before the Hell’s Highway paving good intentions of the rest of the planet leave the entire island bombed back to the Stone Age? Well, if the Stone Age were known for being an irradiated wasteland unable to support life of any kind. That’s such a stupid statement when you think about it. How does carpet-bombing the fuck out of a place denote that its surviving citizenry will be devolved back into stone tool using cave dwellers somehow? I’m pretty sure that said survivors would retain their knowledge of modern education and technology, keeping them well above the status of even a Flinstonian existence, let alone the actual Stone Age.
The big point of all this is that NONE OF IT MATTERS, because whether or not we hairless apes are actually able to cease or desist Godzilla, the radioactive fallout from his size 98,000 foot falls and blockbuster breath would leave the entire city (and likely much of the rest of the nation) UNFUCKING INHABITABLE FOR CENTURIES. Just ask this science-tician!
Kinda ruins the whole point of trying to stop Him, doesn’t it? I’d say our best option is to fast track those moon bases that Newt Gingrich promised us. Or hitch a ride to Metaluna with Exeter! You get used to the smell of mutants after a while. They’re just like our insects…just, you know, larger of course.
When you put aside all of the time periods and variances of the individual movies, when you boil the Godzilla filmography down in one of those Texas Chainsaw Massacre III oozing flesh pits, each movie is ultimately divided into one of two core categories: “Godzilla vs. Man” and “Godzilla vs. Monsters”. The kid inside me (don’t be gross, you sicko) can never get enough of the latter, but my adult self learned to appreciate the former once I figured out shit like symbolism. As such, as much as it would’ve been great to see what kind of charbroiled abomination the mind behind Evangelion could have turned Rodan or Anguirus into, I really enjoy the solo-kaijued Resurgence. Its treatment of Godzilla as an avatar for the real life Jigoku that Japan suffered through during the March 2011 tsunami and resultant Fukushima nuclear disaster is extremely effective. Emotional scenes of crews in radiation suits standing bravely in the face of the towering atomic inferno given form’s fatal exposure levels is a powerful tribute to the real life safety crews who made the same sacrifices to save their fellow countrymen from being engulfed in Fukushima’s fallout. I’m very curious to see if the long term effects of this new Godzilla’s first walking tour of Tokyo are felt in the sequel(s), much like people have feared the same long reaching damage of the Fuku.
On that note, like any Godzilla episode from either distinction, Resurgence‘s titular hellbeast is little more than a huge, grotesque, rampaging plot device as the movie is much more so about the drama of its human cast. Unlike most previous tales, which focused on lovably wacky protagonists and their supporting casts, this reboot takes its cues from the very first Godzapalooza. Everything is played VERY straight, with its cast of specialists and political figures engaged in nonstop research, devising panic suppression and resource management, and trying their best not to shit their pants while doing all of it in the heat of the moment… subconscious Asia joke not intended. While we’re on the subject though, does anyone else think it’s just some long standing typo that that song’s titled “Heart of the Moment”? Fucking progressive rock supergroups named after continents they weren’t even from! A POX ON THEE!
The characters aren’t really given much characterization (to the point that right now I couldn’t attach a name to a single one of them if my afterlife depended on it), as we only see them in “business mode” for the majority of the movie. It’s fine though, thanks to the deathly serious tone. In fact, the few moments of personality we do see from them are all the more impactful and by the end we’re not just giving a crap about some of these paper pushers and hand shakers, but giving a crap about where their paths continue on from here.
While their leaders try to keep their heads cooler than Mr. Freeze behind closed doors, we’re sporadically given the general public’s take on the tragedy too. Though lacking in any leading or supporting cast representation, the teeming masses are instead shown via scattered bits of found camera phone footage. These moments give us the man-on-the-street perspective just enough to help us relate to our brothers and sisters of the East without overstaying their welcome. Definitely a better use of the gimmick than making it the entire axis around which your production rotates… I’m looking (with seething derision) in your direction, Cloverfield!
Despite my “I wouldn’t piss on ’em if they were on fire” stance on found footage gimmicks, it’d be cool if Toho had put together some shorts based on these moments for the DVD release. Much in the way Marvel was doing their “One Shots” shorts, but introducing us to some normal people that could become characters in later movies. Or just as cheap shots to our feels boxes by getting us to connect with said people just to watch them die horribly. Those work too.
My favorite instance of the peasants’ part in the picture is seeing mobs of them gathered in the streets, protesting the government’s proposed destruction of Godzilla because they’ve instead chosen to hail the kaiju king as a living deity! Great for me, since this was exactly the foundation for my proposed sequel to Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla, in which the nuclear halitosis vomiting bohemoth and his own legion of worshipers would clash with the cultist followers of Cthulhu! Patience, Anubis. One day you’ll save up enough Marlboro Miles for that Cosmic Cube, then *BOOM!* Godzilla Vs. Cthulhu on every IMAX screen in the world!
Given my imperfect rating up above, I was going to have to start picking nits sooner or later. Now’s as good a time as any. Nit the First: size matters. Remember in my Godzilla 2000 review when I bitched about the hideous green screen effects that made Godzilla’s size unintentionally fluctuate frequently throughout? Well, as much as you’d think that wouldn’t be such a problem in Resurgence, what with every inch of the city smasher’s DNA being born of computers for the first time in a Toho flick, you’d be wrong. Once again Zillie’s proportions vary depending on the angle from which he’s portrayed. I ‘m sure the majority of viewers won’t mind, nor should they. But, if you’re like me and such inconsistencies drag over your brain like high gradient sandpaper, be prepared. Most of these moments come about as the result of some pretty spiffy shots too, so I’d rather sit through them and tell the shrill voice nagging me about it to join the voice that keeps telling me to run over teenagers in the streets and shut up for a few hours. It doesn’t change the fact that the issue still exists, but ignorance is bliss. Just ask climate change deniers!
Nit Picks Part Deux – From the visual spectrum, let us now give the ears a chance to air their grievances. Though much of the movie races along sans soundtrack (apropos for all the dramatic tension the actors are swimming in), there’s a jarring moment where something that sounds like a Japanese professional wrestler’s theme music kicks in… Seriously. Legit. I shit you not. This bizarre track comes complete with rocking guitar riffs that gave me aural flashbacks to the similarly misplaced six-string screeches that heralded Michael Myers’ moments of menace in Halloween 6! These would’ve been forgivable for a less serious showing, say in one of the Great One’s ’90s era monster mash mosh pit throwdowns. But here? Why!? Why would you ruin a New York Philharmonic concert by bringing a sick cow dressed like a member of Twisted Sister onto the stage to fart violently at the audience!? The rest of the music is the typical symphonic brilliance you’d expect from a Toho Godzilla outing, which makes this Bizarro World birthed harmonic rupturing all the worse. Such ear abuse I cannot excuse.
Nits III: Nits Go to College – Japan should really invest in some manner of sonar or seismic equipment. I mean, I know you can’t have a Godzilla flick without scenes of the panicked public in terrified mob mode, but how were the government NOT tracking His movements underwater?! Toho broke out the BIGGEST Godzilla ever (all because of some overcompensational pissing contest to one-up Legendary’s then biggest incarnation, which also happened to be the moniker’s biggest moneymaker), meaning this Mothrafucker’s gotta cause a LOT of earth shaking and tidal waving when his gigantic carcass comes a rumblin’ back outta Tokyo Bay! Also, shouldn’t the entire nation have been in a state of emergency after the skyscraping super mutant’s previous path of destruction!? We see kids in school uniforms and salarymen in business suits running for safety when they should’ve been home huddled around their TVs and ready to evacuate at the first sign of ANY undersea disturbance! For Fucker Von Fuckington’s sake, even if you take the seismic and oceanic shit out of the equation altogether (because you’re just being a contradictory asshole), the moment that they would’ve made visual contact with that giant ravaged lizard head poking up out of the water, the air raid sirens should’ve been turned to eleven! Instead, you’d think everyone in Tokyo were all looking away from the sea for about 20 minutes, then turned around to see Big G suddenly making fucking landfall!
I had a couple of other minor moments of misgiving with Resurgence I would have been happy to quantify, but they deal too much with certain perishable materials I’d rather not risk spoiling, so I’ll leave those to drift off into the ether as I wrap this up like I would Lil’ Anubis in a reverse gangbang. Not that I’ll ever be able to afford enough prostitutes to make that happen with my credit rating.
I really dig the direction Toho took with the G-Man’s new incarnation. The serious atmosphere, the return to Godzilla as a source of horror rather than heroics, His burnt and heavily scarred appearance, His hyper-evolving ability that opens the door for all manner of creative choices, and top shelf CG that warrants its hefty budget by putting the “special” into “special effects”. It all works so well, that this may trump my personal nostalgia bias and put Resurgence atop my list as my new favorite “Godzilla vs. Man” movie. I’m absolutely excited to see how Toho follows up, which is only swollen to painfully girthy levels having seen the little end credits tease. Yes, for any and all who hate the trend of end credit pop-up scenes, too fucking bad because they’re everywhere and will continue to be so. They’re the Bebe’s kids of movie gimmicks – they don’t die, they multiply.
And so it goes. Whether you call it Godzilla Resurgence or Shin Godzilla, it’s the second fantastic flick to bare the mantle of the King of Monsters in a three year period. If I weren’t an Atheist Death God, I’d think I’d died and gone to Heaven. Give me a bottomless A&W root beer float and a self-regenerating stuffed crust pizza and you may just have a convert on your hands! Between Legendary and Toho, it’s a damn good time to be a Godzilla fanboy/fangirl/fantrans/fansans. Our long time significant other and our side piece not only know about each other, but they’re both doing their best to appeal to us rather than trying to bump each other out of the picture! Could this lead to, dare I say it, a three-way?! Not just a three way, but a three way where we just sit back and they work together to give us the best 2 hours of our life!? I can’t help but feel selfish even thinking about it, but damn! Mirth! Joy! Celebration!
We’re damn sure as shit going to need the imaginary nuclear nightmare of Godzilla(s) to keep our minds off the impending real nuclear nightmare we’re all staring down. Hopefully they can prevent us from going insane from paranoia induced terror and eating each others’ faces as if they were fried in the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs & spices.
Damn… now I’m hungry.
Oh, and if you’re at all curious as to why Toho switched the title of the movie from Resurgence to Shin for the US release, it’s because they didn’t want anyone to mistake their movie having anything to do with Independence Day Resurgence. From the hushed whispers of the damned who have seen IDR, I think Toho made the right decision.
Moral of the Story: Learn the ancient paper folding art of Origami. Not only will it give you a leg up the next time you apply for a job at a hibachi restaurant, but you might just prevent your own atomic annihilation!
The Japanese Prime Minister’s proposal of a heavy tax increase on used-panty vending machines was a dark day for many, and the ripples were felt both by the common folk and the halls of government alike.
“Oshiro’s trying to pass of ‘turducken’ as a legitimate word! Somebody get the newest edition of ‘The Official Scrabble Dictionary’ and snuff out the flame of this dishonorable old cur’s rebellion against Emperor Triple Word Score!”
Looks like Venice during a rush hour gondola accident.
I told Barney to get the abortion, but he refused to be a “murderer”. Well, good luck singing “I Love You” to that thing every night for the next 18 years!
To your left you’ll see Sanrio’s Hello Kitty Farm, the Gigantor testing facility and the famous Cosplay Garment District. On the right is the legendary studio where the first tentacle rape cartoon ever was produced in 1947!
So the government’s elite anti-Godzilla intelligence detail operates out of the backroom of a Kinko’s?
An entire staff of interns are assembled to clear Representative Hentai’s browser history before news of his affair with the star of Fart Woman 7 becomes public.
You don’t want to be anywhere near a living nuclear reactor when its IBS starts acting up! Everybody RUN!
The world’s hardest game of Minesweeper!
That’s exactly how my roasts turn out any time I try to cook with my broiler.
Those clashing colors and patterns are a mess! The Japanese government really needs to a take a cue from their Nazi allies and get Hugo Boss to design their uniforms.
“I’m starting to worry that we went a little overboard with the architectural design for the new Jewish Community Center. Think we could get away with Trump’s ‘Microsoft Shapes’ excuse on this one?”
If Freddy Krueger fucked Denver the Last Dinosaur and their baby was passed through an x-ray machine a few hundred times before abandoning it at the bottom of an active volcano, you’d get that.
THIS is why you shouldn’t hold in your farts all day. ESPECIALLY if you get your breakfast from Taco Bell!
Anubis will return next time in “Faster, Frankenstein! Kill! Kill!”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
Featuring: Reggie “Phantasm” Bannister , A. Michael “Phantasm” Baldwin , Bill “Phantasm” Thornbury & Angus “Phantasm” Scrimm in his final role
Director: David “Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too” Hartman
Writers: Don “Phantasm” Coscarelli & David “Channel 101” Hartman
Sequel to:Phantasm ; Phantasm II ; Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead ; Phantasm: OblIVion
“My use for you is at an end. You’re not even real. You’re my bad dream.”
You know those moments when you get your hype up so high that you’re oozing pre-hype, only to have the source of your oozing not just deny you said hype, but hit you in your hype zone with a hammer? Well, join the club. Uggh. Ra5ager is another one of those “I wanted to post this for Halloween, but had to hold off until November (I’m sorry, “NoVember”) because it’s too big a turkey to pardon” movies, like the Rocky Horror re-branding. Unlike the aforementioned botched effort to appeal to Willennials (what with their “gettin’ jiggy” and “big Willie” style), this irredeemable tank of cinematic septic sludge doesn’t even get the excuse of being a network exec’s cash-in fantasy.
Phantasm. Wow. In 1979, writer-director Don Coscarelli unleashed a new flavor in the field of fear when he introduced us to an old man and his balls. Now, in an Adam Sandler movie, that last bit would ravage the mind with horrifying images of a grandpa getting his testicles caught in his zipper, but in the world of Phantasm it’s horrifying for a whole different reason. When Angus Scrimm debuted as the now iconic Tall Man, a generation of horror fans pissed their collective pants. Five years before Freddy was giving teens fear-for-their-lives insomnia, this mammoth mortician was stalking his victims’ nightmares when he wasn’t prowling his mortuary workshop. Unlike other fear mongers, who would inject their terror through masks, He of Above Average Height relied on his everyday “twisted old man” visage, piercing stare and growling, bowel loosening voice to paralyze his enemies. And once they were paralyzed? That’s when he’d whip out his balls.
Said bloodthirsty spheres of steel became some of the most recognized death dealing utensils in horror. Flying through the air, they would chase down their victims, cutting them with their blades, boring into their skulls with power drill extensions, exploding through them at terminal velocities and even scorching them with death rays in later instances. So cool were these airborne murder toys that Anchor Bay release a Region 2 special edition DVD set of the first four flicks, contained in a big plastic replica ball case. My Evil Dead Bride begifted this little pocket universe of fantastic to me. Not only does this make me better than you, but it makes Her better than your significant other. Weep.
In addition to his vile volley of chrome cohorts, this tall glass of terror water (or “Flynt refreshment” as such libation would be known now) had under his wingspan a small army of small monsters. This cadre of diminutive demons were basically zombies that had been shrunken down in a giant food dehydrator then dressed up in robes. Basically Jerky Jawas. Despite the obvious opportunity for endless dwarf tossing jokes, the little beasties were always a source of hideous scares.
Over the course of the previous quartet of movies, Tally antagonized brothers Mike (Baldwin) and Jody (Thornbury) along with their guitar playing ice cream man amigo Reggie (Bannister) until 1998’s OblIVion, which ended on… a weird, Möbius strip type of endless looping…thing.
Though putting the series to bed on that note could’ve been acceptable (though confusing), after 37 years since its initial release we’re finally given the finale to the Phantasm legacy.
If you want a more detailed rundown of the individual movies and the labyrinth that is their cumulative narratives, don't look at me. I'm not Edward James Olmos and this isn't Stand and Deliver. Get your ass to Mars Google! When you get back, we’ll talk about RaVager, which lives up to its nomenclature by doing just that to its lineage. See ya in 2 and 2, Chuck Woolery!
…[Pause for station identification]…
Groovy? Groovy. Let’s get this over with.
Originally conceived in 2008 as a web-only gaiden (aka an internet side-series) that would follow the further adventures of hair-curtain hero Reggie, this concept (and footage) was integrated into Coscarelli’s pre-existing RaVager plot plans circa the turn of the millennium regarding a final battle between our heroes and their nemesis amid the post-Apocalyptic ruins of a disease ravaged (*nudge*nudge*) Earth in which The Tall Man reigned over the crumbling remnants of humanity. I remember Bruce Campbell being included in these original plans, and was sad to eventually learn that he was no longer connected with the project. He would go on to make some magic with Mr. C in Bubba-Ho-Tep, but that’s another tale for another episode.
I’m not 100% on the extent of Dadtasm’s involvement during the final countdown to his brain child’s demise, but I do know that he passed the creative torch on to David Hartman to finish what he himself had started. Why? Well, my hypothesis is thus: Coscarelli was unwinding one day, watching Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too , when the radiation from a passing meteor bestowed temporary sentience and telekinesis upon a frying pan in his kitchen, providing the cookware with the momentary ability to throw itself at the back of his head, exacting revenge upon its owner for the many times he washed the poor thing with unforgiving Brill-O pads rather then letting it soak in soapy water first, then applying a soft sponge to remove the now loosened debris. Following said cortex rattling collision, Coscarelli returned to consciousness to see Hartman’s name on his TV screen. Feeling this to be a sign, he immediately got in touch with the man, ceding the reins to his purebred metaphorical horse and carrying out the prophecy laid before him.
But I’ve always had an “active imagination”. My parole officer’s been saying that ever since I was 15!
Whatever the case, RaVager returns the washed-up vendor of frozen treats Reggie to us after his altercation with Tally (pronounced like “Tall-E”) at the finale of OblIVion. Emerging in the middle of a desert wasteland with his vaunted double-double barrel shotgun, he discovers his beloved phallic compensater (and series mainstay), the jet black Plymouth Barracuda, not where he left it. Beginning his long self-narrated march down a barren highway in search of the nearest civilization (preferably prior to his death by dehydration), what should he come across, but that very same hot rod, now driven by its new owner (as per the “Finders Keepers” law), an even dumpier and less attractive loser than himself! There’s no explanation as to why the humanoid lung oyster would return to the scene of the crime, how he managed to find the ‘Cuda in the first place, or why he’d stop to pick up a thumb jockey in the middle of nowhere (clearly he’s never seen The Hitcher or heard ANY urban legend EVER), but whatever the reasons, the exchange ends with Reggie recovering his beloved whip and fat boy ending up in the middle of nowhere with nothing but his European-cut man briefs and a big silver sphere drilling into his face. Yep, as the poster for Phantasm II so joyfully declared “The Ball is Back!”
I love that movie. Oh Phantasm V, why can’t you be more like Phantasm II? D’oh.
Where the movie goes from here is, well, the very definition of a clusterfuck. Reggie jumps back and forth between scenarios where he’s driving across country in the “Ooooooo, Barra-Barracuuuuuda!” and being pursued by the occasional ball attack, suffering from dementia in a nursing home where he shares a room with a certain white-haired old man while being visited by Mike and Jody, or battling TM and his army of re-animated soldiers in a bloody red tinted “post-Skynet” world where he joins a group of revolutionaries that includes Mike, a woman named Jane (Dawn Cody) that Reg knows as “Dawn” in one of the other planes, and a pint-sized action hero named Chunk (Stephen Jutras) who’s your typical “I may not be tall enough to get on most carnival rides, but I can single-handed murder a dozen people with a knife!” breed of elite fighting dwarf that movies give us to up their action figure sales.
Though some viewers determined that these reality jumps are just Reggie having bizarre nightmares, in one of their nursing home scenes Mike tells Reggie about Membrane Theory (a.k.a. “M-theory”). Or at least boils it down into a small enough serving to make it edible for both Reg and we laymen in the audience. It’s basically a unifying concept that melds variances of superstring theory together to put out the possibility that our universe is just one of potentially thousands, and these other realities/dimensions are all bundled on top of each other in such a way that energy can pass between the weakened spots where their borders intersect. How does this apply to the movie? It’s never spelled out in big letters for us, but the presumption is that Reggie’s mind or “soul” (or whatever you want to refer to his consciousness as) plays illegal alien and passes between several of these dimensions, inhabiting alternate reality versions of himself (NONE of which have hair and ALL of which saw their careers apex behind the wheel of an ice cream truck) that spend their time fighting the Tall Man, running from him, or just rotting away in a hospital bed.
That’s about the extent to which I’m going to get into the story. Rather than settle on a single plot and map out the trip from point A to point B, we got this multi-reality excuse shoehorned in so Hartman didn’t need to settle on a single story. Even with said safety net setup below him, Hartman still churns out one majorly confused and overly complicated rigmarole of a fable. It’s the proverbial octopus trying to fingerbang a wood block – too many scenarios and nowhere to put ’em. What do you mean you’ve never heard of that proverb? There will be no free rides, no excuses. You already have two strikes against you: your name and your complexion. Because of those two strikes, there are some people in this world who will assume that you know less than you do. “The octopus trying to fingerbang a wood block” is the great equalizer!
Best of luck figuring that one out. Here’s a hint: it’s a callback to earlier in the review. 😉
I’d tell writer Hartman not to quit his day job, but since director Hartman is his day job, I’m going to request he quit both and do something for the betterment of humanity. Like drownee in a charity carnival dunk tank or jizz mopper at the local glory hole.
And what of our cast? Well, Reggie’s still the star of the show. Though his action hero stuff will never be believable, he’s still the best actor of the group. It makes sense why he became the series’s everyman comic relief focal point. Meanwhile, Baldwin and Thornbury seem to have become blander as their parts have become smaller. As for Scrimm? Oh man. Poor Angus. The dearly deceased inter-dimensional undertaker was on his last legs during shooting of his scenes, and it’s impossible not to notice. His face is heavily caked in makeup, his scenes are all smeared with digital haze to try and obscure his raVaged visage, his eyes look tired and the demon of time had long since withered away the Tall Man’s soul searing gaze. He has a handful of scenes with Reggie, where he cryptically refers to their roles in this grand scheme of things, but the poor guy couldn’t muster even an ounce of the terror he gave us in ’98, let alone in ’79. This isn’t how I wanted to remember Angus Scrimm, just like RaVager isn’t how I wanted to remember Phantasm. Uggh. Life is an unending march through the avenues and alleyways of suffering. Such is what happens when you let Pinhead plan your parade route. That guy’s such a prick. *rimshot*
Now, how about the visual effects? Unlike those car wrecks that people are always saying they can’t look away from (morbid fucks), RaVager is a car wreck you should look away from. Not just because doing so is insensitive to the victims, but because one of the drivers is Medusa and the other is Cthulhu, and if you make eye contact with either one, you’re fucked. By that convoluted metaphor, I mean to say that this movie is a visual mess. The digital format it was shot in makes it look like a crap-ass direct-to-video flick you’d find on the “New Releases” wall at Blockbuster 15 years ago. Back before NetFlix and RedBox ruined the video store experience and made the 13 membership cards in my wallet into useless plastic rectangles. You know what else looks like it’s a relic from the ’90s? The CG effects! Holy Helheim. As if I wasn’t having a hard enough time getting through this unadulterated gauntlet of shin-high spanking machines, I finally came across the point where my mind splintered. Not in the way that it physically broke into shards, but more in the way that Mrs. Menard’s eyeball was splintered in Zombie.
The CG is so hard to look at, I’d rather watch a baby put through a punch press. I understand budgetary constraints, but the stuff we get shafted with here was ugly 10 years ago, let alone by 2016 standards. The awkward attempts to splice these outdated digital effects with stock footage of riots and helicopters and skyscraper demolitions are heartbreaking. And it doesn’t stop there. Driving the splinter further into my cerebral cortex? During the climactic final conflict between our heroes and The Tall Man in his hellish home dimension, (a battle so poorly executed that I wish I could go on a three page tirade about it, spoilers be damned!) Mr. Scrimm is replaced by spliced footage of his younger self, awkwardly mugging his eyebrows up for the camera while not moving his lips at all (old test footage, perhaps?), excusing the piss poor paste job by having Tally speak to his opponents WITH HIS MIND… Really?! As if that wasn’t cheesy enough, said footage makes the man monster look flat, while everyone else in the scene clearly has that all important third dimension the bad guy lacks. I’m not a whore for high-grade graphics, I get that nothing will ever look as flawless as Jurassic Park did, but this garbage came close to shoving me into the malicious arms of an anxiety attack.
For Fenris’ sake, you know what RaVager reminds me of, now that I think about it? The way everything is so amateurish? The pitiably developed story? The lazy camera work? The cheap gore? It looks and feels like a fucking FAN FILM! It should’ve been titled Fantasm and sold as bootleg-only DVDs at dirt mall comic stores and hotel horror conventions! It would’ve been the perfect way to excuse Coscarelli not directing it, and it would’ve given the movie a Tower of Pisa level of leniency! I might have actually enjoyed it somewhat if that were how it had been presented! Son of a three-headed bitch! Leave it to me to pan some sliver of gold from a gurgling septic tank.
Why, why, WHY couldn’t David Hartman have been the Hartman killed by his crazy wife in 1998 (the year I’d swear these in-no-way-special effects came from) instead of Phil Hartman!? Phil Hartman brought us all so much joy and inspiration! “Newsradio” was one of my favorite sitcoms! David Hartman brings me nothing but disappointment. A disappointment that I’m sure extends to his family. There’s a Phil Hartman shaped hole in my soul that can never be filled, but there’s a David Hartman shaped hole in a New Jersey landfill that should be!
Okay, that’s a bit much. I shouldn’t be calling for someone’s head just because they exhumed a series better left dead, pissed all over it, then buried it upside down out of disrespect and built a pet shop on top of it. Maybe we should just have Rawhead Rex baptize D-Hart and let that be it. Truth be told, I’m not even a major mark for the Phantasm series. My dad was always a way bigger follower of it than I was. But even as a slightly-more-than-casual observer of the Misadventures of Bomb Pop Reggie and the Brothers Pearson, RaVager is the worst instance of someone disgracing a franchise beloved by others since that video I sent my ex-girlfriend, in which I gave her The Lord of the Rings trilogy DVDs a Cleveland Steamer. That’s what happens when you kidnap one of my Re-Animator t-shirts, EDNA!
I’m just kidding!…partly. Which part? Only the court documents know for sure.
I didn’t cry when I’d heard Angus Scrimm had died, but I cried after RaVager. Wait, did I say I “cried”? I meant I “fell face first down a twenty-story spiral staircase of cinemasochism that left me questioning if there was anything good or decent left in the world”. This abomination should never have happened. I was overcome by the urge to induce vomiting in an effort to evacuate this poison from my system. Sadly, there is no such thing as mental ipecac, so can somebody PLEASE do me a solid and Eternal Sunshine the shit out of me on this one? It can be my Cthulhumas gift for the year!
And there you have it, Phan-boys and Phan-girls. Gobble gobble in agony, because you’re Glenn/Abraham, David Hartman is Negan, and RaVager is Lucille. *SPLAT* I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I think we would’ve received a better movie if Syfy had bought the rights to it and tossed it in The Asylum’s food dish. Uggh, despite standing behind my statement, I feel so dirty for having made it. Look what you made me do, David fucking Hartman!
I’m gonna buck my usual credo and give you a spoiler as far as how one of the alternate realities ends – Reggie dies of some manner of degenerative disease. It’s appropriate too, since this movie doesn’t allow the series to go out with a bang or even peacefully in its sleep. Instead, it rots away with franchise cancer. R.I.P.
And Hartman? As Jon Stewart (the comedian, not the Green Lantern) once said, “You will always be judged by your worst elements”. Consider this your judgment. Welcome to the enemies list.
Moral of the Story: When the only thing standing between you and a pair of Gatling guns is two bad guys, have no fear! As long as you’re the hero(es), you might as well have skin like Luke Cage, because you’re not taking a scratch! Oh, and if your movie calls for digital effects and has a climax that requires extensive green screen work, don’t hire some chumpsteak(s) off of Craigslist to do the job.
After-school rush hours get real nasty real quick. That’s why I had to get out of the mobile frozen treats business!
Hey, it’s 1990s Tall Man! And he brought Member Berries with him! Member the old Phantasm movies? Yeah, I member.
“There’s only room for one lovable loser on this cast, and it’s the one holding the gun! Hit the bricks!”
Yeah, this is a pretty accurate representation of how fans feel once RaVager is over.
“So… why the FUCK are we doing this stupid movie again?! Oh, right, the paychecks. Got it.”
“Sorry, old man, but I’m the only female character in this series who doesn’t have some repressed urge to want to bang her grandpa, so keep it your pants.”
Geraldo Rivera reveals to the world, “The Secrets of Charlton Heston’s Trunk”!
(It’s pretty much exactly what you expected)
Hold on a minute! In a previous movie we were shown that the balls are each powered by a human brain. What the fuck is in THAT thing?! Are there several thousand brains all working as a colony, or did Tall Man harvest GODZILLA’s brain!? Stupid stupid movie!
“Good news Reggie! I pulled a few strings and, despite that whole sorted “killed a hooker” thing, I got you into Heaven! Welcome aboard!”
Wow! That little boy’s Negan costume is AMAZING! Way to go, kiddo.
Tally tried to make his global takeover more marketable with limited edition Christmas themed murder balls. ‘Tis the season!
Wow, it finally happened. There’s finally a movie that makes me wish I was watching The Matrix Revolutions. You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to Hell!
See kids, this is why Uncle Anubis always tells you to never look directly at a masturbating T-1000. “Save your eyes; don’t look between its thighs!”
Phantasm finally turned into that Vigilante 8 movie adaptation I always wanted!
“Hey folks. Remember me? I was Rocky in Phantasm III. I have no clue why I was brought back to shoot a single scene for this movie, but here I am. Well… bye!”
“Made in America”, eh? You know what else shares that distinction? The KKK, nuclear weapons, and 3 Doors Down! But congrats, RaVager, for proving to us that America is capable of creating something even WORSE than the 2016 election.
Anubis will return next time in “Homey Don’t Play That”
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