Feature 72 – A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

or “Tales From the Cryptsmas”

Featuring: William “Star Trek” Shatner , George “The Case for Christmas” Buza , Zoe “Orphan Black” De Grand Maison

Directors: Grant “Ginger Snaps Back: the Beginning” Harvey , Brett “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed” Sullivan & Steve Hoban

Writers: Doug “Splice” Taylor , Pascal “Hellions” Trottier , James “Roxy Hunter and the Secret of the Shaman” Kee & Sarah Larsen

Origin: Canada

Also Known As: A Holiday Horror Story (name changed for the DVD sleeve only, so the movie could be sold in some Wal-Mart stores. No diggity.)

Review_____

“Look at this place. It’s like Paul Bunyan and Count Dracula gayed up and built a dream home.”

‘Twas the night before Cthulhumas and, alone in The Tomb,
Anubis was reviewing, despite having other shit to do.

I hate buying presents for people. Ra is being a real dickhead this year. Every time I ask him what he wants for Cthulhumas, the fuckstick just keeps telling me he wants a life-sized butter sculpture of Lou Ferrigno from the Golan-Globus Hercules movie. Do you know how hard it is to find a sculptor that works in the dairy medium this time of year!? If my situation were the line from a theoretical Weird Al Yankovic parody of a Pearl Jam song, I’d say I “can’t find a butter man”… and yes, I made all of this up just so I could say that. Lick me.

Go ahead! I used peppermint body wash this morning!

I mentioned in the last episode that Krampus is the 2015 holiday season’s monster-of-the-moment. As I may have also mentioned (the last week has been a whiskey nog haze), go see Legendary Pictures’ Krampus, in theaters now! Hurry before it gets bumped for the next “found footage” ghost movie in the “garbage I wouldn’t piss on were it aflame” queue. Speaking of Krampus, guess who’s featured in today’s anthological episode? If you said Krampus, you win! Get yourself a Gingerdead cookie and a shot of Milk Plus from Uncle Anubis’ padlocked mini-fridge (the key is behind the goat skull in the kitchen), then get back here, sit your ass in front of the fireplace (or in the fireplace, if you like), and let’s engage in another round of Yuletide tales.

As a disclaimer, despite what possibilities the title of this movie may invoke, it is neither an “American Horror Story” Christmas special, nor the blood & gore sequel to A Christmas Story directed by John Carl Buechler where Ralphie, dressed in his pink bunny pajamas, hunts down every adult who told him he’d shoot his eye out, then proceeds to gouge out their eyes with an ice cream scoop. I asked Annual Gift Giving Man for it last Non-Denominational Gift Exchange Day, and no dice. Not the first time I’ve been fucked by the big rubber dick of disappointment (also known as “the Festivus Pole” in some circles), and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

What is A Christmas Horror Story aboot? Well, hosers, this gift from our neighbors to the North stars noted starship Captain and Hollywood Hebrew, Billy “Rock-et MAN!” Shatner, as radio disc jockey Dangerous Dan. Not to be confused with ’80s WWF personality Dangerous Danny Davis, whose gimmick was that of a crooked referee who also wrestled. You know he was dangerous because he had the word “Dangerous” printed on the ass of his tights, and you can’t print something across the ass of your pants if it’s not true! Like those “Juicy” pants big ass girls wear. Much like juice, they’re best when freshly squeezed too. *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*


(Squeeze at your own risk.)

Double D does a Pontypool and spends his time on camera in the broadcaster’s booth for the extent of the feature. While he’s dead set on spreading holiday cheer amid the citizens of his town of Bailey Downs (his listeners and coworkers of which don’t seem all that receptive to his efforts), we the viewers are taken on a quartet of intermingling tales in the interim. Not “intermingling” by means of plot, though, but rather in that we fumble in and out of each story at the editor’s tyrannical whim. We are merely puppets and A Christmas Horror Story is the string by which he makes his marionettes dance. “PULL DA STRINK! PULL DA STRINK!”

Our first yarn follows a trio of high school kids: Dylan (Shannon Kook), Molly (Zoé De Grand Maison, whose name literally means “Zoe of the Big House” and who looks like a poor man’s Emma Stone), and Ben (Alex Ozerov). Attempting to catch the receding “found footage” wave before it goes back out to sea for another 5 or 6 year hiatus, the trio sneak into Bailey Downs High to do some hard boiled “Action News for Kids” investigating into a mysterious double homicide that took place in the building’s labyrinthine basement the year before. Having reviewed the leaked footage from the police investigation (because they don’t accidentally erase their evidence, CHICAGO PD!), they know something more than a simple dual murder took place in the darkened halls beneath their teenage prison, and they aim to find out what. As is the way in scare flicks they get locked in (possibly by the killer, returning to the scene?), discover the school’s morbid history, are confronted with the awful truth about the ritualistic murders, yadda yadda yadda. If you want to find out said awful truth yourself, feel free to watch the movie or “Read the Bantam book!”

Do they still novelize/bookify movies anymore? Given there are more platforms to watch stuff on nowadays than there are heads on a Hydra after you put it through an industrial blender, I can’t really see the rationalization behind sustaining such a market. It’s not like the old days when you had to wait two years for Dawn of the Dead to come out on Betamax, so you re-read your St. Martin’s copy cover-to-cover a few dozen times while you waited! By Rudolph’s radioactive nasal beacon, I had a screener copy of The Green Inferno a week before it left the local multiplex, and I ain’t talkin’ Transformers! Besides, that was Metroplex. Though I would enjoy the irony of Michael Bay making a Decepticon character that’s just a huge cinemaplex who crushes all of the moviegoers inside of it whenever it transforms. Then again, subtlety got a restraining order placed on Michael Bay years ago, so never mind. He’d just fuck it up like everything else and forcibly remove the joy from a few thousand more people. He’s Hollywood’s metaphorical on-par for Nazi stormtroopers dragging Jewish children away from their parents’ arms so their tiny hands could be put to use working in Hugo Boss’s sweatshops.

Story numero dos involves another trio: Scott (Adrian Holmes, who’s a dead ringer for Mike Yard and Taye Diggs’ love child), Kim (Oluniké Adeliyi), and Will (Orion John). Unlike our last amitié à trois, this trio keeps it in the family – Scott and Kim are Will’s parents. Despite being a cop, Scott takes his mini-brood Christmas tree hunting on private property,which reminds me fondly of my own illustrious annual “trail of tears” death march to commit our own act of ornamental herbicide. Will wanders off and goes missing, bur he’s found safe and sound one short and panicked search later. The family then heads home with their purloined pine, a little unsettled but none the worse for wear… except for Will, who starts acting really weird and creepy and shit. Scott gets sick of this crap quick, but his old-fashioned approach of parenting with his pants holder-upper doesn’t quite do the trick. “Big Earl” (Allen Peterson), the owner of the property from which the family misappropriated their O Tannenbaum may have an idea of what’s up with the lad, but Will could just be getting a head start on being a rebellious teenage dickhead. But that’s more a case for an episode of “Degrassi Junior High” than a horror movie, eh? As such, I wouldn’t bet my roasting chestnuts on it.

The third chapter in our movie’s table of contents finally gets things Kramp-ing! Upping the ante by a head, this story follows a quartet of characters: Caprice (Amy Forsyth, Kirsten Dunst’s non-union Canadian equivalent), Duncan (Percy Hynes-White), Diane (Michelle Noldan), and Taylor (Jeff Clarke). Diane and Taylor are the parents here, Caprice is their teenage daughter, and Duncan is just as much a junior a-hole as you’d expect a kid named “Duncan” to be. The four visit Taylor’s Aunt Edda (Corrine Conley) for some mandatory holiday tidings of comfort and joy (mostly to suck up to the wealthy old crone), and meet her grinchy German caretaker Gerhardt (perpetual “background weirdo #2”, Julian Richings). Krampus gets name dropped like he’s going out-of-style and Gerhardt warns them to be good, lest the bastard child of Lucifer and a Likitung come get them. Naturally, this is the perfect time for Dunc to intentionally break a decorative figurine of said yuletide disciplinarian because, again, kids named Duncan are ornery little shit bags.

Following the brat’s brazen act of dickery, Edda throws a fit and kicks the clan out. As they’re driving home, Dad swerves to avoid a yeti looking creature (maybe it’s a shaved Wampa) that runs across their path, and spins the car out into some deep snow. Unable to get anywhere (hence why I keep a shovel, extra floor mats, and full grown Saint Bernard in my trunk) the four are left to brave a winter wonderland in the middle of nowhere as they seek help…with a certain holiday hellraiser hot on their haunches. Much like his fellow film incarnations, don’t expect this version of the Saturnalian satyr to stop at some simple season’s beatings with a few well-deserved lashings across these douche bags’ backsides. No, he’s eyeing more permanent forms of punishment that utilize the type of excessive force that would give the ’90s LAPD envy boners. #BlackPeteLivesMatter

Our feature’s fourth fable follows the red man himself. No, not the racist mascot of Red Man chewing tobacco. I of course refer to Satan. Errr, Santa (George Buza). You know what I meant, Church Lady. Anyway, the bowl full of jelly is preparing for his solitary day of employment for the year, before having to spend the next eleven months getting shit from Mrs. Claus (Debra McCabe, playing a much younger Mrs. C than you’d expect, cuz Santa’s apparently an old perv) about how he needs to do something with his life beyond watching Mexican elf soap operas from his La-Z-Boy all day and adding to his collection of bed sores. While his vertically challenged minions go aboot their business, prepping toys for the big night, one of Klaus’s helpers, Shiny (Ken Hall) comes down with an odd and sudden illness that gives the little goober Tourette’s. “I said I don’t want a cookie, you reindeer fucking snow whore!”

Before you can say “28 Days Later at the North Pole”, the frost-bitten Oompa Loompas (who stole their uniforms from the “sandwich artists” at Subway) become infected and revolt against their portly oppressor in a mob of gnashing, gore splashed teeth. If this were traditional Santa Claus, as owned by the Coca-Cola Corporation, he’d be dead and clogging the minute cannibals’ arteries within moments. To help give He of the Merry Dimples and Twinkling Eyes an edge on the zombie mob, we get a bad-ass holiday icon who looks like he’d be more comfortable driving a Harley-Davidson than a sleigh, complete with Mrs. Claus riding the sissy bar wearing nothing but cut-off jean shorts, leather boots, and nipple rings.

When the shit starts to go down in the jolly old elf’s castle (the interior of which looks remarkably like affordable office space…), Kringle theorizes that Krampus must be responsible for whatever bad juju is turning his sweatshoppers into heart stoppers, so for those wondering whether the promised clash of Yule pugilists portrayed on the movie’s poster actually comes to fruition, the answer is – sorta. As has become a common theme in some of the other movies I’ve recently reviewed, A Christmas Horror Story (just like the Six Million Dollar man’s replacement penis, fashioned from an old soft serve ice cream dispenser) comes with a twist. Unlike some of said others, this twist doesn’t inject acidic enzymes into the movie, break it down into a sumptuous primordial ooze, and consume it whole. No, this twist actually works well enough that I didn’t hate it. In fact, there’s very little I could say that I do hate about this movie in general!

The stories all take place on Christmas Eve Day and all connect with each other through shared characters. Mary mentions that she used to babysit Will, and Scott was one of the investigators on the high school murders. He went on leave afterward to deal with the resultant PTSD. Said trauma carries over to his own story as a point of contention for his relationship with his family. Caprice is a major catalyst in getting the first story going, as she brings her trio of friends the keys with which they break into the school. Even Santa’s tale comes back to the Bailey Downs city limits, but I can’t tell you how because it would spoil the surprise! No peeking!

My only major misgiving with the movie is its story structure. Unlike the traditional anthology one-at-a-time format, we instead jump back and forth between them chronologically as the day passes, while popping in on Dan occasionally to remind us that William Shatner stopped by to pick up a paycheck. Given that someone named Bev Feldman gets a credit as “teleprompter operator”, it doesn’t look like The Shat even bothered to learn what few lines he had.

Though I get the reasoning behind this mish-mash approach, the pace gets outright ravaged as a result. Just when you’re getting invested in any of the characters or their predicaments, you get thrown awkwardly back into another ensembles quandary. It’s a complicated dance that calls for precision, like Pulp Fiction. Instead we end up getting our toes stepped on every 10 minutes or so. I feel like I’d need ADHD to fully appreciate the flick as is.

The big gripe out of the way, my only minor misgivings with ACHS are a moment or two of unfortunately poor computer generated effects (thank Savini that almost all of the effects are practical) and the opening and ending credits theme of “Carol of the Bells” (thank you, public domain usage rights) as sung by what I can only presume to be a robot child. Fucking auto tune. Oh well, it’s still better than The Snots’ rendition of “Jingle Bells” that also plays at the end. Yep. The Snots.

Beyond those niggles though, I really liked this movie! The acting is all very solid with a few nice stand out moments of drama, especially from the ladies. The makeup, costumes and viscera are serviceable-to-admirable, and despite there being three different directors on the project, I wouldn’t have known the difference if I hadn’t read it ahead of time. Saying three directors’ styles are so generic that there’s little to distinguish them from each other may not sound like a compliment, but as the viewer it’s a good thing, because it lessens the turbulence of transitioning between plots. Krampus himself looks more like something out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “make your own mutant” fan contest than his traditional self, but the albino steroid man-goat look works for him. They even made use of his Gene Simmons shaming demonic lick muscle! Definitely better than the computer generated reject from an ’80s heavy metal album cover concept art that The Reckoning gave us, that’s for sure.

All in all, A Christmas Horror Story perverts holiday traditions with a blend of dark fables and personal horrors, mixing the mythological with the relatable. Stories aren’t long enough to outlive their welcome, but are just developed enough that you won’t be forgetting them a day after watching. Maybe I’m high on holly jolly and sugar plum fairy farts, or maybe after choking down the turd brisket that was Krampus: the Reckoning last time, even John Candy’s vintage ’94 back sweat (collected on the set of Wagons East) would taste like a candy cane martini in contrast! Either way, I declare this flick a fitting addition to anyone’s holiday horror rotation. Thanks, Canada! You’ll always be the greatest white North to me. May your days be merry and bright and may all your Cthulhumases be shiny with poutine and back bacon, from sea to shining sea!

Now come back tomorrow for a very special gift from me to you! It’s the bread box sized package under your tree that’s decorated in old newspapers and bio-hazard tape that you’ve been hearing a random *thump*ing sound from every night around midnight… No peeking!

Moral of the Story: STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM BAILEY DOWNS!

Screenshots_____

What’s with all the buckles, Santa? You going for that outdated “Steampunk” look? Or is one hernia belt just not cutting it for you these days?


Captain Kirk reacts to the news of yet another green chick filing a paternity suit against him. So much for alien and human DNA not being compatible!


Luke Cage’s new “edgier” catchphrase, as adjusted for his upcoming NetFlix series following the precedent set by “Jessica Jones”.


Kids will do anything to get a few hundred thousand video hits online these days. Who would’ve thought that YouTube would be such a catalyst for “survival of the fittest” forced evolution.


“Thanks for stopping, mister! My friends told me I’d never get anyone out here and, truth be told, you’re my first customer in three weeks! So, you lookin’ for a pumper, a sucker, a humper, or a dumper?”


“Welcome to Bailey High Action News! Today’s top stories – Principal Dickers arrested for alleged inappropriate relationships with several members of the girls’ field hockey team! Also, are the cafeteria’s hash browns just yesterday’s tater tots? Find out here!”


Jack’s wife finally broke the news to him about Santa Claus’s lack of existence. Poor little guy.


“I’m no doctor, Sparkles, but I’d say this is way worse than ‘just a hangnail’…”


“Hahaha! This tree reminds me of my wife after she gave natural birth to our triplets!… god rest her soul.”


A figurine of lesser-known saint, Sister Mary “Only Prays When People Are Looking” Gallagher.


I’ve seen messy eaters before, but that kid’s spaghetti dinner looks like a school of jellyfish exploded on his plate!


“Dangerous Grandpa” being the moniker given to him by the Bailey Downs Tribune following his vehicular manslaughter of 12 people at the weekly farmers’ market.


By far the worst actor in the whole movie. Her performance was just so… wooden. (Please don’t hit me!)


Looks like we walked in on them while they were comparing sizes… awkward.


From here it looks like he’s relieving himself inside one of The Tall Man’s dimensional gateways! Well, any port in a piss storm, right?


Timmy was determined to make sure that Santa didn’t miss him this year. “I know you can see me now, you fat bastard! Get down here and make with the presents!”


Looks like Krampus just caught a whiff of himself. I tell him he needs a full body heat drying after every shower, but he always thinks he can shake off and he’ll be fine. And he wonders why none of the other anthropomorphic creatures of folklore want to date him!


He looks like the type of Santa that would have “If you can read this, the bitch fell off!” stitched onto the back of his leather vest.

———————————————————
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Anubis will return next time in
“Toys In Babeland”

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!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

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Feature 54 – Faust: Love of the Damned (2000)

or “Son of Satan”

Featuring: Mark “‘Doctors’” Frost , Andrew “Wishmaster” Divoff , Jeffrey “Re-Animator” Combs

Director: Brian “Beyond Re-Animator” Yuzna

Writer: David Quinn

Origin: Spain

Review_____

“There’s no grand design, just an outbreak of chaos. Like a pimple on the face of God.”

Fox’s Fant4stic came out a few weeks ago and bombed harder than Fat Man and Little Boy. In “honor” of the flick’s release from the Hollywood poop shoot, I could have reviewed the studio’s two prior attempts at bringing Marvel’s first family to feature length glory. But, that would’ve been too easy. For those of you who know me, you know I always do things the Max Power way (look it up). For those of you who don’t know me, uhm, I’m Anubis Von Mojo – the proprietor of the shitty movie review site you’re currently reading. Nice to meet you?

Fuck it. Anyway, rather than go with the obvious, I thought I’d obscure it up a bit and insert a stiff finger-blasting of wordplay into the mix. As such, this “reviews thing” will highlight four movies from Brian Yuzna’s no-longer-breathing horror production company, Fantastic Factory. I even opted to slip a a second wordplay finger into the backdoor by using Marvel horror comic book references as the alternate titles for these episodes! Now, if I’m done geeking myself off, let’s turn this factory’s lights back on and start making some fantastic. What better place to start this so-called event off than with FF’s premiere production!

[Writer’s Note: despite being from Spain, the Fantastic Factory movies are NOT considered part of “World Tour de Farce 2015”. That would be cheating. I have something else in mind for Spain, which you’ll find out about once I get around to that neck of the woods…which will be sometime around 2017 at this rate. Blart.]

Faust: Love of the Damned” originally started as a 1987 comic book series of the same name plucked from the demented minds and talented hands of independent creators Tim Vigil and David Quinn. It took 25 years and two different publishers (from Rebel Studios to Avatar Press) before the pair finally finished the tale’s 15 issue run. And you Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones) nerds thought George R.R. Martin took his sweet time? Fuckin’ artists and their “process”.

As you’ll notice, Quinn was also brought on as the writer for this live-action adaptation, which is a good thing if you want your movie to feel more like a comic book. In this case, it definitely does. Not to the audience taxing extents of Ang Lee’s Hulk with all the gimmicky comic panel shots and such, but more through dialogue, story structure and scene progression. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s still a thing, whatever your tastes may be.

Aaaaaaanyway, let’s make like BTO and get to takin’ care of the proverbial business!

Though the movie is presented in a very “broken and out of order” story sequence, I’m just going to work through it chronologically to make it more cohesive.

Aside from having a very old skool Marvel Comics-esque alliteration heavy moniker that’s confusingly close to Jasper Johns’ name, and a self-indulgent status as an “artist”, John Jaspers (Mark Frost–not to be confused with Jack Frost or Mister Frost) also has a beautiful girlfriend. The exotic Blue (Jennifer Rope) is JJ’s muse, his beloved, his everything. Too bad for him that she’s also an illegal immigrant who was brought into the country by less-than-legal means, courtesy of a gang of ne’er-do-wells. When the goons (are they hired goons, perchance?) come looking to punish Blue for not repaying her tariff, wimpy little Jaspers tries to intervene. Instead of being the roundhouse kicking Dalton that his chromatically monikered madam needs though, Double J’s just her dime store Eric Draven, held impotent and agonizing while the woman he loves is tortured before his soggy eyeballs. He’s cold cocked and left to sleep it off while presumably unspeakable acts are performed on the lovely lady with the painful accent.

When he comes to from his ass kicking, a disheveled Jaspers (who should wipe that smear of ketchup off of his mouth before his mother comes at him in a public place with a spat upon napkin) discovers his corpsed-up soul mate/mail order bride inversely crucified upon one of his easels. It’s actually a cool visual that I’d never considered before seeing it here, and given my tendency to daydream about the different things I could crucify people to, I’m surprised. Anyway, with his beloved now be-deaded, JJ declares life a crushing boulder of searing agony squatting on his chest and no longer worth living. He’s the personification of every Morrisey song: boo-hoo poor me emo tripe all day and all night.

And now, courtesy of the Meat Council, this free tripe!

On the verge of taking his own life via bridge bungee jump (sans bungee), our protagonist’s approached by a touchy-feely harlot named Claire (Mónica Van Campen) and her ominous looking white-haired boyfriend referred to only as “M”. “Why so ominous?” Because, Joker, M’s played by Andrew Divoff. When Wishmaster‘s demonic djinn is in your movie, 95% of the time he’s got evil intentions a-brewin’. Sure enough, the mono-consonantly titled stranger offers John Boy immortality and the power to take revenge on those who have wronged him, but makes no bones about warning him that his payment for such power will be his eternal soul now, and a future thing that Jaspers holds closest to his heart, to be named later. Ready to end his existence anyway and having no belief in a “soul” to begin with, JJ figures “Fuck it! I’ll take the demonic revenge powers!”.

From suicidal pessimist to optimist who thinks he can get one over on the Prince of Lies in a matter of moments. Now me? I hate optimists. They’re just in denial of how the world is nothing but a barb wire wrapped dildo trying to butt fuck us every chance it gets. The kind of people who think that the massive potholes in their lives are part of some “god’s plan”. The kind of people who try to put a positive spin on being shat upon by avian airstrikes, calling it “good luck”. NO! YOU WERE SHIT ON BY A FUCKING BIRD! YOU’RE NOT DUE GOOD LUCK, YOU’RE TARGET PRACTICE! YOU’RE A LOWER LIFEFORM’S TOILET! And if everything’s part of “god’s plan”, then why the fuck are you praying to him to make changes in your life?! Aren’t you supposed to just sit back and let the guy in the sky do his thing? Do you think you know better than “god”?! Monkeys.

No sooner does John start smearing his gory signature on Mephistopheles’ contract, you can practically hear Hugo Weaving proclaiming “the sound of inevitability” in your ear, because you know deals with Ol’ Scratch generally don’t end well. Until the fine print bites him in the ass though, John at least gets himself a slick pair of forearm mounted, retractable stabby talons with which to perforate his adversaries’ innards! He wastes no time surprising the gang in their warehouse hideout (how he knew where said hideout was is never explained) and relieving the three members he finds there of the massive tumors they call their heads. Returning to M, JJ’s told that his job isn’t done yet because he’s now Satan’s assassin. He tries to put his new boss in His place, only to discover that, surprise, the claws won’t come out against their bestower. The Great Deceiver’s not new to this game, dummy. I am curious as to why the Lord of Darkness would enroll a simpering little art school dropout as his hired gun though, since you’d imagine a soldier or an MMA fighter or even Uwe Boll would be a better option physically. Maybe M just didn’t want to have to travel far from his home office and JJ was the closest suicidal person he could find on such short notice.

Being M’s loaded gun isn’t all bad, though. The benefits plan includes shower sex with Claire, after all. As Satan’s fuck toy, she’s probably immune to STDs…or flooded with them. Maybe it’s not such a benefit after all.

JJ is sent by his new boss to a Chinese (maybe?) embassy to turn the place into an international house of pancakes carnage. He carves up 19 people, but rather than go for a nice round 20, stops short of killing police Lieutenant Dan “Hound Dog” Margolis (Jeffrey Combs!). Instead of rending Dan into itty-bitty pieces fit for an itty-bitty-ditty bag, the wild-eyed Jaspers sheaths his claws, utters “No” to a nearby Claire (concealed behind a veil), then mutters “The Hand.” to the Lieutenant, then slips into a completely unresponsive state of total mental meltdown. Before the rest of the fuzz can gun down JJ like an unarmed black teen in the park, Margolis interjects and takes the mentally disturbed human lawnmower into custody. This to the chagrin of the Lieutenant’s “oh you KNOW that dick bag is a bad guy!” boss Commissioner Marino (Fermi Reixach), who tries to have Jaspers filled with more lead than a Chinese toy factory, only to be disappointed because now Jaspers the Friendly Ghost will likely get off on a plea of insanity.

Due to said regression into an unresponsive vegetable (his brains have turned into figurative cauliflower), John is given accommodations in a padded room rather than a jail cell. Here he soon meets his appointed psychoanalyst, Dr. Jade de Camp (Isabel Brook), who has experience with bringing patients out of traumatically induced consciousness crashes through “unusual methods”.

At first blush I thought this meant she was going to be one of those therapists you see in 2 a.m. Showtime softcore flicks who fix all of their patients by having hilarious, poorly choreographed sex scenes with them, but Jade’s atypical tactics of treatment basically just consist of trying to trigger a cognitive reaction by playing music. So you can make me cry uncontrollably by playing “The Humpty Dance”. Big deal. It proves NOTHING!

While Jade is trying to finger our hero’s trigger, Lt. Dan (“Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?”) flexes his Netscape-Fu and scours the worldwide wasteland for information on an occult sect known as “The Hand”, as per Johnny’s utterance of the words at the embassy slaughter. He finds the information faster than you can look up “Thundercats hentai” or “dump cake recipes”, as the group appears to have their own Angelfire page! Not very clandestine of them. Hell, I can’t even get my page near the top of search engine results when you type in “The Tomb of Anubis”, so they must put a LOT of their marketing budget into their internet advertising if they’re showing up in the top 10 for something as commonplace as “the hand”! Movies. What’re you gonna do? Blart, that’s what.

While silently drawing seemingly Satanic symbols on the walls of his cell (at first with his own blood, then with a Sharpie provided by Dr. J), John has a reaction when he sees a certain CD in Dr. de Camp’s pile of mood music. Desperate to get her patient to say anything, she puts the disc (presumably a choice track from the Faust soundtrack, available NOW 15 years ago from Roadrunner Records!) on and gets just the manic lashing out that she’d hoped for! He breaks down in a bit of acting that can’t help but recall Jeff Daniels’ award-winning performance in Dumb and Dumber as he tells Jade his story (which I already covered previously, so you and I can fast forward through this next part). You’re welcome.

During story time, JJ gets all “artist speak” on us and shows us the “depth” of his “tortured soul” by yammering on about the shallowness of art in comparison to love and how evil is a thing despite the existence of science and technology (Duh! Ever hear of Decepticons?!) and blah blah blah. The line between pseudo intellectual and actual intellectual isn’t a thin line: it’s a gaping chasm and this guy’s sitting at the bottom of it, standing on his head and jerking off into his own mouth. Guys, never get high on your own stash. It’s like meth: Not Even Once.

Having bucked M’s control and thus avoided an LAPD style “excessive force” demise, JJ is now wanted by the bad guys. He’s snatched from his padded room after hours by Dr. Yamamoto (the head doctor in charge of him who also happens to be M’s personal physician), and two of the goons responsible for Blue’s death. Now, is this all a big coincidence that M’s both the cause of Jaspers’ misery, as well as the provider of his power? Or, was it part of an overarching scheme? Whatever the case, Jpeg’s drugged and dragged to a cemetery, where M gloats over him a bit before burying the blonde blood-letter alive and sending him to eternal damnation in Hell. In the fiery beyond, Jaspers is strangled by a skeleton until he uses his talons (stupid of M to bury him with the damn things like some kind of Bond villain) to crack-a-lack its cranium and return to life. Amidst the dirt (and an inordinate number of worms), he claws his way from the earthen womb of his resurrection! And Yuzna ruins any awesome factor the scene once had by having a headstone to Jaspers’ makeshift grave with “AUS” and three conveniently placed scratches upon it spell out “FAUST” when JJ’s claws cast a shadow across it.

See? I literally face palmed at this and had to walk away for a breather. If I’d known things were going to get this corny I would’ve brought some butter and salt. Fuck.

Making good on his promise to take away something important to JJ (despite having just buried the guy alive with the intention of sending him to Hell), M sends his henches to snatch Jade. As they surround her in an ominous alley that’s on loan from a Death Wish movie, a caped figure descends upon the fiends from above. Looking like concept art for a Clive Barker Batman movie (and with the red light-up eyes of a drug store Halloween mask), Jaspers proceeds to eviscerate the villains as his new, blood crazed, eponymous persona Faust. He’s dressed like the Dark Knight, cracks demented one-liners a la The Joker, and murders with the savagery and bladed protrusions of Wolverine. All things that should be amazing, but the rubber muscle suit is distractingly silly and the line delivery boils just a little too far over the top of the pot. It needs to be more Jack Nicholson Joker and less Frank Gorshin Riddler. Hell, even a bit more toward Jim Carrey Riddler might not have been so bad.

No, wait. I’d rather swallow a nest of vipers than praise anything related to a Joel Schumacher Batman movie. Carrey on.

Dan and Jade combine their powers to form a Captain Planet of an investigation (he is our hero, after all), against the orders of the so-obvious-that-he’s-in-on-it Commissioner Marino. Who’s your favorite Marino? Dan Marino seems like a nice enough guy, but I have to stand by Ken Marino. Guy’s amazing. And no amount of touchdown passes or Isatoner commercials will ever top repeated declarations of “I WANNA DIP MY BALLS IN IT!”. Where was I? Oh yeah, Marino’s clearly under M’s employ and if they’re not going to be upfront with it from the start, Yuzna probably shouldn’t have had the guy’s voice dubbed by someone so blatantly sinister sounding. That motherfucker is up to no good. Up to no good. Like a spark on a wire. Or a splinter of a wood. I gotta stop listening to Rancid while I write these things.

Back at the baddies’ den o’ sin, succubus nympho Claire conspires against her sugar devil, but Big Daddy Mammon lets her know that he’s aware of her plans and puts her in her place by turning her into a big slimy pile of boobs and butt flesh with a face and tiny stick arms. You know, pretty much what you’d expect to see out of a Screaming Mad George concoction. Unless you’re a narcissist who fears this happening to you, the whole sequence is much funnier than it is terrifying. The silly music doesn’t help, and my respect for Yuzna as a horror guy dwindles as a I realize, intentionally or not, the guy’s trying too hard to emulate Charles Band’s ’90s stuff and it’s not to his (or our) benefit. My hopes for the other three movies on this “reviews thing” is dipping to dangerous levels. My hope for my hope chest (i.e. my DVD collection) is dissipating like a fart from a dead body’s voided bowels.

JJ visits a towel clad, post-bath Jade at her apartment, vowing to protect her from M’s machinations and the threat of whatever “worse than death” plans he has in store for her. When the officers assigned to watch her intervene, he transforms into Faust (through the magic of late ’90s low budget computerized morphing technology – a trauma we’d all like to overcome), tells them to take a message to their boss, then proceeds to lick one of them (he’s got an odd, homo-erotic sadism fetish where he keeps making mouth time with decapitated mens’ faces) before gutting them both. So, I guess the delivery of that message was purely symbolic then? As Jade runs off scared out of her mind (but not too scared to have grabbed her trench coat), Faust goes to a window and shouts the best line of the movie at her: “I’m the pornography that gets you HOT!” It’s one of the brief moments that Frost’s exaggerated delivery works and it’s amazing.

One of the porcine peacekeepers survives his sticking long enough to call in backup, leading to a chase scene as the 5-0 show up to “help” Miss de Camp. But, when she sees Yamamoto there, her guts tell her something’s not right, confirmed when he tries to poke her with some sleepy juice (now known as a “Cosby Non-Consent Cocktail”). She runs onto a conveniently waiting subway train that Margolis manages to miss, but Faust does not. In fact, he does a little comically needless/needlessly comical hop into the car! Faust adds a few more notches to his one-eight-seven bodycount and wins the award for Most Subway Passengers Traumatized since Predator 2 took the prize a decade earlier. Given the choice between the sleazy Commissioner and the blood-soaked one-man killing streak, our heroine opts for the latter. These days, when given the same choice, I think most people would do just that.

Back at Johnny’s place, the two debate over tea and scones whether he’s retained any of his humanity, whether evil is a curable mental condition or an incurable primordial state of being and what the hero’s intentions are for her lady parts. Actually, they just yell at each other about said subjects until ultimately banging like hamsters on Viagra. Here’s a tip, folks – when someone asks you if you want to rape them, there’s a good chance that means they’re floating a role play fantasy out there and are waiting for your reaction without straight up asking you if you’d do it. Never do anything to someone without their consent, but definitely evaluate whether you want to continue this relationship or not, because things can get REALLY tricky. Not necessarily bad, but tricky. Always establish parameters for consent and even then be prepared, because your partner is probably going to get freaky in your ear. Personal experience, that’s all I’m saying.

In the throes of their humpening, Jade tells John that she’s wanted to jump his bones from the moment she saw him (therapists love damaged people they can “save”, it’s an ego driven Jesus complex thingy), then declares that “this is forever”. Yikes! I’ve been known to bring out the ‘L’ word (“Lesbians?”) a little too soon with a couple of gals, but “this is forever” is something better saved for wedding vows and contracts with your internet provider, not first time flings! Making the scene all the more awkward (aside from the bits of demonic residue/cop blood still sticking to nekkid John) is the “love making” track that plays over it, dominated by a woman humming sensuously as if she were sipping on a chocolate shake and getting her feet rubbed while recording it. What makes it even more awkward is when Jade’s own trauma kicks in and her mind is flooded with the horrors of a hideous faceless creature she refers to only as “Smooth Man”. Not Barry White smooth, but “fat guy post Brazilian wax drizzled in baby oil” smooth. Gross. Evidently, when she was a little girl Jade was molested by the Incredible Melting Man. He’s incredi-meltable!…and on the Public Sex Offender List.

The mood for their first time officially killed, Jaspers does the right thing and just cuddles with Jade while she opens up about her PTSD, then promises to protect her after. Good man. Meanwhile, The Hand are on the verge of seeing their centuries old plan to fruition, as tonight is the night their dark god Homunculus will finally be summoned and the Earth will be transformed into Hell…except that there’s another day’s worth of scenes, so I guess they meant tomorrow night. Margolis tails Marino to a roundtable meeting at M’s mansion and watches as the Commish rakes M over the coals for not being able to control his own human Cuisinart. The rest of their cabal also show faltering faith, so the Morning Star makes an example out of the rabble-rouser and absorbs him into his stomach using these big abdominal demon arms a la that crazy shit at the end of The Evil Dead. With his minions back in their proper place of fear-based reverence, our main antagonist needs to have a sit and get juiced by Yamamoto, as his human form is getting weak. Not weak enough to overlook Margolis though, whom he sees from the other side of a two-way mirror and puts some evil whammy on.

Margolis calls Jade and tells her that he’s uncovered the truth about what The Hand have planned. He also says he’s found JJ’s contract and has a plan for how they can void it, but tells her to meet him at M’s estate before he’ll go into any details. Oh, and he wants her to come alone…riiiiiiiiiight. Danny Boy’s heel turn might not have been so obvious had they not just ended the previous scene the way they did! Damn it, Yuzna.

Jade finds nothing strange about how she’s able to just waltz through M’s unlocked front door untouched, and follows Dan further in the bad guys’ inner sanctum. She finds the contract and deletes any empathy I had for her when it turns out she’s one of those obnoxious people who moves her fucking lips and mutters when she reads something to herself too. She’s approached by M, who offers to trade her JJ’s freedom for full power of attorney over her body. Dan reveals his official switching of teams as well, jealous that Jade chose doing the bed spread rumba with Jaspers over him, finally giving Combs a chance to sink his teeth into some scenery like he does so well. Elsewhere, Claire conspires with Dr. ‘To to poison the big boss and steal his wealth of knowledge and powers for their own, seemingly unfazed by the whole “Dali Meets Picasso” pile-of-tits-and-ass flesh fiasco she went through before. Claire even tells ‘Moto to his face that he can’t trust her, but the threatening seeds she plants in the doctor’s ear of his loss of usefulness once M gains his full power are enough to convince the portly physician to go into business for himself. Elsewhere still, John wakes up in bed, discovers Jade has left and freaks out. For all he knows she went out to get them coffee and crullers and he’s throwing a spaz like a codependent child over nothing. Lighten up!

The conspiracy against M seems to go off well, as Yam’s lethal injection leaves his now former boss dead in a heap of gross on his fancy Oriental rug. Too bad for the doc though that M managed to kill him too before giving up the ghost. Oh well, he would’ve ended up dead either way. But, if given the choice, I’d probably rather my throat slit by a sadistic succubus in mid-climax than having my face chewed off by an old man with coke junkie nails. Claire doubly confirms her newly widowed status by turning what’s left of her hubby’s head into a 12 gauge smear. Upon taking charge, the black widow goes full Domme on Jade, locking her in a stockade and whipping her ass with a cat-o-nine tails, then dressing her in a belly dancer bikini and putting her in an electrified cage while she turns her sexual nightmares about Smooth Man into fantasy, transforming her into a horny sex kitten almost as fast as Japanese schoolgirls learn to lust after monster tentacles. So the fastest way to cure severe emotional damage in someone is to inflict severe physical damage on them instead? Gotcha.

Turns out it’s not as easy to kill the Prince of Darkness as Claire thought, as M then pops up to take back his baby momma-to-be. Yep, M’s going to pull a Demonic Toys and impregnate a human woman with his new form. Though why someone would want to relive childhood, even in an instance like this, is beyond my comprehension. The ritual sees M pull a huge yellow anaconda out of a bound, mud caked Claire’s stomach then feed the snake to a mud caked Dan while Claire’s body is engulfed in flames. Dan falls over dead (what the fuck was the point of the snake!?), Jade does interpretive dance on an altar and random minions stab chanting extras to death all around them. Faust bursts through a window to interrupt Beelzebub’s bacchanal, killing several goons wearing red KKK hoods (on laundry day, you’d think racists would know not to mix coloreds in with whites *rimshot*) before reverting to his emotionally crippled human form upon seeing that Jade’s willingly turned into Satan’s breeding slut. He watches in horror as two-pump chump M gets his rocks off in his girlfriend while she has the ill-timed breakthrough that Smooth Man was actually her father. Disturbing as this is, I was worried they were going to reveal that it was M who’d raped 11 year old Jade as part of his long term plot to eventually manipulate her into being a Hell whore. Though less nauseating that the incest thing, it would’ve been hokey as fuckin’ pokey.

Upon M’s climax, the Homunculus is summoned. Wait. That’s their Homunculus!? No. By definition a homunculus is a small, artificially made human being. I saw Verne Troyer at a comic convention last weekend. HE is a homunculus. The thing M is summoning resembles something out of the nightmare a lesbian has right before she realizes that dicks aren’t her forte. It looks like Ultraman monster villain Bogun by way of a Ken Russell fever dream after he’s downed too much absinthe and LSD. It’s Satan’s wedding tackle. We can thank Screaming Mad for this, as the monster’s design is his own. The comic book form of the Homunculus was more in line with a werewolf…which STILL ISN’T A HOMUNCULUS!

M sends Jade to commit her final act of devotion by killing the now bound John, but she does the hero thing instead and cuts the straps, thus freeing him to become Faust again. The Non-munculus proceeds to turn the entire ceremony into a mass funeral pyre, burning all of its followers while Faust does this embarrassing “hop and flail” thing, attempting to slash the monster as it sits just out of his reach. You know what he needs? Judge Doom’s spring shoes. Cartoony, yes, but they’d actually be less goofy than just watching him hopping up and down like a little kid whose big brother is holding his favorite toy out of reach. Silly little demonic superhero guy. Maybe if you keep drinking your milk you’ll be big enough one day to not be the object of harassment and ridicule for some cock beast from the Lake of Fire.

The frightening phallic fiend (sounds like a Scooby-Doo monster) grabs Faust in its tractor beam, but before it can eat him, Jade stabs M in the neck, causing the creature to flinch due to its apparent link with the villain. It drops our hero, allowing him to do another of his silly little hops, this time close enough to plant his talons in its soft, fleshy head. I told you it’s a mutant penis! It’s like the dickasaurus from Tromeo & Juliet! Defeated, the not-a-homunculus is sucked back into the portal from whence it came…swirling around in circles like it’s being flushed down a toilet. Fetal’s fraggin’ gizz.

John still can’t lay a claw on M though, so the bad guy hovers semi-triumphantly over the gateway, mocking the hero and vowing to send him to Hell…which didn’t work the last time! Still, Jade strikes a deal with El Diablo for John’s freedom, giving him the soul of the baby that M just planted in her nurture purse. The baddy negates JJ’s contract, only to have Jade tell him she put one over on the Great Deceiver, because her prepubescent assault didn’t just mess up her brain, it also fucked up her womb (poor choice of words?) and left her barren. M seems pretty nonplussed by this though, saying that he always puts his money on long shots. He must’ve read the unmade part of the script where we were supposed to discover (in a post-credits sequence) that Jade does wind up with a miracle spawn despite her condition. Anyway, M takes away John’s Faust powers (why didn’t he just do that in the first place?!) and declares him dead, but through sheer will and a bit of encouragement from the woman he loves, JJ finds the strength to jam his claws (the second time M should’ve just taken the fucking things away from him!) into his former boss’s digestive tract and sends him back to Hell in a wash of computer generated flames like something out of Diablo II. Maybe if M had actually tried to evade the attack rather than floating in place and just yelling “YOU’RE DEAD! I BURIED YOU!”, he could have avoided his demise. Oh well. “Hindsight’s 20/20” and all that.

To end the picture, John falls to the floor and utters another stupid artist epitaph as Jade lays on top of him and mourns his passing. To confuse matters, this is interspersed with cuts of a different scene where John’s saying the same things to Jade before he jumps from the bridge he was originally going to kill himself on following Blue’s death…so… this might’ve all been a figment of John’s delusional mind after all!? Huh. Interesting twist, I suppose. You know, in that “Newhart” kinda way…now I wish I had enough ambition to draw Bob Newhart as Faust…

Okay, wrap up time. Where to begin? I think I made it clear that I wasn’t a fan of Yuzna’s directorial decisions. I think the levity, both intentional and un, were out of place. Normally I’m okay with Yuzna’s stuff, but this just rubbed me the wrong way on this material. Stuart Gordon was supposedly pegged to direct Faust back in the ’90s when it was being shopped around. Back to Batman terms, I think we deserved something more Tim Burton-y and less Joel Schumacher-y, and Gordon probably would’ve provided that. Yet another one for the “Oh, what could have been” pile.

The acting is all horrible. Well, not all of it, just most of it. It doesn’t help that half the characters are being dubbed to cover up their no doubt heavy Spanish accents (or lack of English), but even the people using their own voices are painful to listen to. Frost is trapped somewhere between Jeremy Irons in Dungeons & Dragons and Tommy Wiseau in The Room. His scenery chewery never quite hits either extreme of “so bad, it’s good”, so it just sits meandering at “bad” for the entire movie beyond his delivery of that one sweet aforementioned line. Combs is serviceable for the most part except when watching Margolis try his awkward best to hit on Jade. It’s painful and reminds me why I only pick up victims women online during the one week a year that Geek2Geek offers me a free trial membership. Combs definitely gets higher marks once his character falls from grace and goes full evil though. I’ve been saying since From Beyond that I want to see the man play Renfield in a Dracula flick, but his brief work as evil Dan further solidifies that opinion like a cockroach in concrete.

Much like my review for Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation however, Divoff outshines my hero JC and is the real linchpin keeping this movie from disintegrating into Werewolf territory…or is it pronounced “warr-wilf”? Unlike Combs, Divoff’s role is perfect for him to be on top of his game out of the gate. The guy exhales sinister like it was smoke. He reminds me of Christopher Lee in his legendary Hammer Dracula run. High praise, I know, but I believe what I say. The man plays his roles so well that it comes off as effortless and he deserves so much more than he’s been given. It pains me that my own review limiters forbid me from doing episodes for the first two Wishmasters or either of Full Moon’s Oblivion movies, because they’re pure showcase material for this guy.

The practical and makeup effects by frequent Yuzna co-conspirator Screaming Mad George work. Everything’s got that slimy gloss to it, which works as a gross out thing, but risks portraying them as the rubbery creations they really are. The digital stuff isn’t great, but we can chalk that up to technical and/or budgetary limitations at the time. The metal music soundtrack features names I’ve heard of like Type O Negative, Sepultura, Coal Chamber, Fear Factory, Machine Head, and a Soulfly song that lauds the inclusion of Fred Durst for some fucking reason. Even in 2000 that wasn’t something to be proud of. It all sounds generic to mine non-metal detector ears, so to me it all leans less bad-ass and more cheese-ass, metaphorically stinking of Velveeta and farts. Incidentally, you can pick it up used at this Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Faust-Various-Artists/dp/B000055YAH for the same price as your 10th spatula at the Spatula City https://youtu.be/4BUDwj_mXKE clearance sale!

Speaking of metal, today’s episode is sponsored by Pantera Bread™ – Re! Spect! Bread! WE BAKE IT FOR YOU!

As I finish this up, for those who think this entire premise sounds too much like The Crow for your tastes, stick a pinch of this factoid between your cheek and gum: Faust was published in 1987, while The Crow wasn’t published until 1989’s Caliber Presents #1. So, even if you discounted the fact that today’s feature takes its name and influence from a Medieval German legend, the vengeful anti-hero himself still predates his better known peer by a couple of years.

And for the jerk-offs who think Faust is just ripping off Spawn, Todd McFarlane didn’t drop that deuce until 1992, so sit your ass down and stop pretending you’re the fanboy you think you are, skid mark.

Speaking of the four color funnies, in 2003 DC Comics decided to cash-in on the Tokyo Drifting craze (that wouldn’t actually happen until 2006) and put out a 6 issue mini-series called “The Demon: Driven Out”, that centered around their demonic character Etrigan getting involved with the activities of a female street racer and her conflict with the Yakuza. The painted cover of the first issue (courtesy of Jo Chen) is one of my favorites.

It’s enough to make you wet , right? If there were any justice in the world, Brian Yuzna would give us a sequel to Faust that borrows heavily from that mini-series, rather than any of the other comics in Faust’s actual exploits. The resultant production could be known by no other name than The Faust and the Furious

Yes, I just spent two paragraphs of your time to shoehorn a “Faust and the Furious” pun into this review. Dropping bombs like President O-bomb-a with a fleet of drones. Baracka Barolla!

And on that note, I’ve stolen enough of your precious precious time for today. Tune in for our next episode as we partake in part two of this “Fantastic Four” reviews thing. Until then, my friend, this is the end. This is the end, my only friend. The end. Praise the Noodle Gods. Ra-men. *click*

Moral of the Story: Never dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight. Or the bright sunlight. Or any light for that matter. Unless you’re REALLY good with a fiddle. If John Jaspers had been a musician instead of a painter, he’d still be alive today.

Screenshots_____

“You remember me from my role in Cyclone? Nobody watched Cyclone! I’m pretty sure I remember the director wearing a blindfold the whole time so he didn’t need to watch it while we were making it!”


That moment when you’re trapped in a straight jacket, the inside of your nose starts itching like a motherfucker, and you realize you’re about to lose whatever sanity you have left.


Did somebody delete their icons folder by accident, or did Yuzna not wanna pay the rights fee to use the search button graphic?


You know their dark lord’s serious business when they spell out his name in all caps.


Shit! TimeWarner is really strict about their penalties for early contract terminations!


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your bad-ass demonic hero… prematurely ejaculating, apparently.


That awkward moment when your parents walk in on you practicing your kissing on a mannequin head… while dressed like a comic book character… At least you’ll be ready for the Comic Con key party next year!


Janice Dickinson finally has too much plastic surgery.


Sure, being the star of a bukkake party sounds like fun when you’re rollin’ on a Molly high, but eventually you come down and just end up with another entry for your Regrets Journal.


Speaking of bukkake party regrets…


Hey! That cop’s got a tail light out! Somebody give him a ticket!


“I’ve been spending a lot of time at the gym blasting my abs. Can you tell?”


Excedrin headache #666


“The only way to be rid of severe emotional trauma is to replace it with different severe emotional trauma. As such, you will now watch 27 uninterrupted hours of Carrot Top stand up! It will make you a stronger person… if you survive.”

Check it out: it’s what Rush Limbaugh thinks a lesbian wedding ceremony looks like.


Next in our freak show: the most normal guy at Burning Man.


“But I made sure to order the three pronged claws! My Wolverine cosplay is ruined! Now I’ll never get laid at the Comic Con key party!”


Oh good! Nice to see Satan’s been getting some use out of that BowFlex™ I got him for Antichristmas. Another few months of that and my dude won’t have a single sleeve in his entire wardrobe!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Spirit of Vengeance”

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!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

Feature 17 [Rerun] – The Condemned (2007)

or “Stone Cold Killers”

Featuring:  Steve “The Expendables” Austin , Vinnie “Snatch” Jones , Robert “Man-Thing” Mammone

Director:  Scott “The Marine 3: Homefront” Wiper

Writers:  Scott “The Marine 3: Homefront” Wiper , Rob “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan” Hedden , Andy “Simon & Simon: In Trouble Again” Hedden

Origin: USA

Review_____

This is not war Breck, this is television. It’s much more complicated!”

 Intro: I may not have made it clear enough in my Tag Team review, but I’m a huge nerd when it comes to wrestling. None of that legit shit though, I’m talking the really stupid stuff with grown men in tights with gimmicks who pretend to fight each other amidst bizarre pageantry that shames those creepy mini-prostitution contests that mutated the ‘L’ in TLC from “Learning” to “Lascivious”. And not in the good way! As much as I thought WWE Studios (they changed the name from WWE Films shortly after this “film” underwhelmed both monetarily and critically) would’ve gone the way of the XFL years ago, there must be some solid home movie market keeping it alive, because their theatrical saturation is badly dehydrated… heh, moisture humor. Even the screens they do end up shown on make shit for box office. They did wise up as far as not making their wrestlers the front and center of every movie, relegating most of them to much deeper territory on the movie credits totem poles and casting legit actors for the starring roles. They had an oddly successful production last year with their Halle Berry vehicle The Call, which debuted at #2 in the country and pulled in about as much domestic dollah dollah as the studio’s 10 prior poopers combined!

Anyway, here’s my rerun for The Condemned. It’s basically The Hunger Games for adults… so it’s basically Battle Royale with convicted criminals instead of high school students… so it’s basically a “serious” modernization of The Running Man. It’s not unlike the way Death Race 2000 beget Death Race, only without having to pay Stephen King for the “Running Man” name. Have at it, kids.

Original Review:

“They shot my fucking Arab?!”

Tired of everybody else making money off of their trained monkeys, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the World Wrestling Federation until the World Wildlife Fund decided to throw a judicial fit over the use of the initials “WWF”) started up their own movie division in the hopes of getting a big chunk of the paycheck from the next wrestler to make the successful crossover from squared circle to action movie notoriety, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Of course Lionsgate picked up the distribution for all of WWE Films productions because, well, Lionsgate are whores looking for the next underdog success story, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, only with less fellatio… I hope.

WWE Films’s (and I hope they’re using the term “films” in an ironic sense…) first release was the slasher flick See No Evil, which was a combination knock-off of Friday the 13th Part 2-D, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Embarassment Generation, and Four Rooms, only the killer didn’t wear a mask… because you can’t try to whore out your employees to Hollywood if nobody can see their face. See No Evil bombed like Al-Queda at an Easter Egg Hunt. Their second flick was the generic action hero revenge movie The Marine, which saw Robert Patrick sink to a new low when he kidnaps the girlfriend of, you guessed it, an ex-Marine. The titular protagonist was played by John Cena, the so-called star WWE has been trying to force down our throats outside of the ring as hard as they’ve been forcing him down our throats inside of the ring for the last 10 or so years. Explosions and adrenaline fueled hijinks ensued to mild financial success. Yay. For this third effort, WWE expanded their plagiarism sights to the far east, ripping off Japan’s Battle Royale franchise. To make it more palatable to American consumers though, the bizarre twist of desperate school kids dragged out of the comfort of their safe little lives is replaced with the basic stand-by of convicted criminals with nothing to lose fighting for their freedom (*cough*TheRunningMan*cough*) in an effort to appeal to the US audience’s taste for testosterone… which probably tastes like chicken… or armpit sweat… or chicken wingpit sweat… Obviously this falling back on traditional tropes wasn’t enough to convince people to crack open their wallets at the box office, cuz I seem to remember The Condemned doing the lowest box office numbers of the three WWE celluloid bricks pinched to this point.

Defamed Hollywood producer and raving racist ratings rapist (say that ten times fast, I dare ya!) Ian “Breck” Breckel (Robert Mammone), along with his semi-likeable a-hole technician Goldman (Rick Hoffman as a cross between Jeremy Piven, Joe Rogan, and a dozen donuts), is ready to make a fortune on the project that will put him atop the world: a globally broadcast internet Pay-Per-View event that will pit 10 death row killers from all corners of the planet (a term no doubt coined when people didn’t realize that Earth is a sphere and HAS no corners) against each other to the death on an otherwise deserted island for a 30 hour murder marathon with the winner getting freedom! Some call it a live snuff film, some call it extreme sports combat at it’s finest, some call it a rip-off of Battle Royale, but either way it should be an interesting train wreck to watch. Each of the ten “competitors” is fixed with a high-tech tracking ankle bracelet that, you guessed it, will detonate if its pull tab is yanked. It’s the deadliest game of flag football you’ll ever play! Also, if they’re still sporting the weaponized jewelry when the 30 hour time limit expires, well, so do they!

As for who these guys and gals trying to kill each other are, here’s what we’ve got:

  • Jack Conrad (former WWE figurehead turned action movie maven “Stone Cold” Steve Austin) – the American hero with the mysterious past who’s just so darned tough that he won’t even accept the keys to his manacles when he’s dropped on the island!… but mostly stands around and does pretty much nothing until properly “motivated” into defending himself. Obviously his jail term was one of those “miscarriages of justice”, likely due to killing someone in defense of himself or a loved one. Jack’s picked from an El Salvador prison when he shit beats an Islamic fundamentalist behemoth Breck (not to confused with “Brak”) is scouting. Though this denies him his Arab contestant he was hoping to use to appeal to Middle Eastern audiences, Jack will bring in the Anti-American crowds! He hails from FuckYourMomma, Alaska (I hear the fishing there is amazing) but Breck bills him as a redneck Good Ol’ Boy extremist from the South to help sell the image.
  • Ewan McStarly (bad ass soccer hooligan turned cinematic cockney thug Vinnie Jones) – the downright evil and remorseless misogynist bastard Brit with special ops military training who gets “condemned” to having the stupidest name of the cast. The sinister heavy of the flick and Jack’s inevitable antagonist.
  • Petr (failed former WWE wrestler turned generic action movie shaved gorilla Nathan Jones… no relation to Vinnie) – the Herculean Man-Sasquatch (or “Mansquatch”) of the group, who we’re introduced to while killing three men in some unnamed zoo of a prison. He’s also mute because, well, Nathan Jones shouldn’t be allowed to speak. Trust me. He makes Schwarzenegger’s early work look like Brando.
  • Saiga – the prerequisite crazy little Japanese guy who prerequisitely knows martial arts and has a weird thing for sunglasses.
  • Kreston Mackie – the angry black American… or, if you’d ask a Republican to describe him (without using a slur), the black American.
  • Yasantwa – the angry black African who might get it on with the angry black American… oh, and she’s a woman. Sorry to anyone who was coming into a testosterone dripper and hoping for sword fights of the fleshy kind. The homo-eroticism is only implied here.
  • Paco (Manu “30 Days of Night” Bennett) and Rosa Pacheco – modern day Mexican Bonny & Clyde. So, I guess they’d be Boné y… Clyde? I don’t know. I took Spanish for 3 years in high school and didn’t retain mierda.
  • Helmut – the grumpy old German guy who’s just there so the Germans have some representation. He’s not a Nazi war criminal, nor does he go into battle dressed in the traditional Lederhosen combat garb of his people, so there’s really not a lot to care about in Helmut.
  • Dominic – the Italian guy whose sole purpose is to talk a lot of shit, threaten to gut everybody, and then get dropped onto a wooden spike by accident for comedy relief before the show even starts. In the wrestling biz, he’s what’s known as a “jobber”.

No offense to the cast members whose real names I didn’t list, but when you do something worth talking about, I’ll gladly make a note of it… Is it just me, or do I come off as King Asshole sometimes? Or am I thinking of King Vitamin? Either or.

In a lame effort to try and make this more of a “legit” movie with some actual plot and less of a simple down and dirty bloodsport flick, there’s all manner of side shit going on involving the FBI trying to track down the secret secluded island locale of Breckel’s broadcast, dramatic morality conflicts between Breck’s production crew, and an uncovering of Jack’s background that includes following his waitress ex-girlfriend around and some government cover-up conspiracy that got our hero El Salvadored in the first place. That’s not what we’re here for though, so anyone interested in the counts for this Super Bowl of carnage, here we go: 1 spike impalement; 1 neck stabbing (via wood splint) followed up by numerous “testi exploder” kicks to the jimmies; one guy beaten mercilessly for several minutes with multiple bones broken before he’s shot through the stomach with an arrow and SET ON FIRE!; 1 arrow in the back; 2 knives in the guts; 2 slashed throats; 9 people gunned down; 1 very harsh scene of McStarly beating and slashing one of the female contestants with an implied extended rape afterward; and 7 folks turned to fine particulates by ankle bombs! Add to all of that the inmate who gets his neck broken by Petr before the show even starts and you get a bodycount of 23! Overall, a pretty fair bit of bodies and bloodshed for a movie that makes no illusions about not being Shakespeare… though, much like Hamlet, pretty much everybody’s dead by the end credits, so maybe it is trying to be Shakespeare?

For a movie whose action is all supposed to be being broadcast on stationary cameras, it’s irritating as Hell to have to sit through shaky cam during some of the fisticuffery. Thankfully the shaky doesn’t come into play too much, with the exception of the the Conrad vs. Petr fight. Then again, the five or six wrestling fans who remember Nate Jones’s short stint in the WWE probably remember he wasn’t exactly one of the better guys at making fake fights look real, so that might explain why it looks like the cameraman’s having seizures for this scene.

When it’s over, The Condemned tries to be a morality tale about America’s unsettling love for violence and depravity while simultaneously giving us the same. You can call that art or you can call it bullshit, I don’t really care. As a Direct-to-DVD feature it would be great, but as a theatrical release it’s a basic low-level action production. It’s hard watching the “making of” stuff on the DVD for The Condemned because you see the cast, the filming crew and the stunt people setting up and shooting this nightmare and physically beating the hell out of each other in hideous conditions on gruesome terrain and you almost get this Ed Wood pity for the thing. I’ve also got a personal bias as a guy who likes Vinnie Jones, Steve Austin (though he should keep his acting to a wrestling ring and cutting promos), and any version I can get of that “Old Black Betty” song, so if you want the “real” rating for this flick, you might want to drop a good point or so before you run out and rent it based on this review… not that I imagine anybody making their rental choices based on my reviews, to be honest.

Xtro: Since this was originally a Shorty (i.e. capsule review), having watched it again there’s a few things I’d like to add to my thoughts on The Condemned.

For starters, Rick Hoffman is probably the best non-killing part of the movie. I liked him when I originally reviewed the movie, but this time around I appreciate him even more. As the beset upon “Goldy” (coincidentally enough, a nickname often used for WWE wrestler Goldust), he’s the manic Jewish comedy relief. Thanks to Breck’s cost cutting measures (i.e. cheap-assiness) the laborers on the show employ nothing but local work-for-Pepsi-and-bits-of-string natives. Naturally this region doesn’t speak much English, so Goldy’s trying to put together and maintain a production that’s, as he puts it, “bigger than Farm Aid meets We Are the World and I’m supposed to do it with sign language?!” Goldy’s humor gets cut off once everything turns into a conflict of dollar signs vs. being able to sleep at night though, so his best contribution to the flick farts out about 2/3 of the way through the running time.

Funny enough, Helmut (or “The German” as he’s referred to in the credits) is played by actor Andy McPhee, who hails from Australia…Germans – so universally distrusted that Hollywood won’t even hire them to play German characters! Trivia note: McPhee went on to some notoriety as Keith McGee in “Sons of Anarchy”… possibly… I don’t know. I still haven’t watched it. What? Shut up. Continuing on with the cast, Steve Austin was bland as bleached flour here. I’ve seen him do a helluva lot better, but maybe it’s the writers’ fault. He probably wasn’t allowed to do anything other than read his lines, cuz in this case the actor has way more to offer than the role. He can be a leading man, but much like his wrestling promos, Austin needs the barest of direction so he can be allowed to direct his magic to wherever he wants to take it.

On the plus side, this is the kind of movie that relies more on a compelling villain than a hero, and we actually get two decent baddies. Like Dr. Frankenstein, Breck’s obsession with his goal pushes him beyond humanity until he’s as much a monster, if not more so, than the actual monsters he’s created. Also, just like Victor (or Victor Von if you’re going by Hammer mythology), Breck and everything he’s created are ultimately destroyed by his creations. Speaking of, Vinnie Jones is detestable as McStarly. I feel nastier in my guts from watching the impression of the shit he’s done and had done to him than anything I saw in anything the Saw or Hostel movies had to offer. It’s because the worst stuff isn’t shown for MPAA purposes, but it has a Texas Chainsaw Massacre mental brutality to it for that reason. Jones’ monstrous portrayal makes McStarly irredeemable, and even though you can’t help but want him to die, he pulls this last minute sympathy turn at the end about his hideous military past and what he suffered through for his loyalty to make him what he is. He’s a rabid dog – there’s no helping him and it’s better off for everyone with him dead, but for that brief instant you can’t believe you actually pity the creature…

Enough of this nancy pants “emotions” crap! I don’t know what the Hel I was thinking when I first wrote this review and said that the shaky cam stuff only ruined ONE fight scene. I hate shaky cam. Maybe whatever makes me able to see the pathos underneath an otherwise generic torture porn action flick also made my already heavy intolerance for shaky cam flat out toxic, because every time somebody started throwing fists, I had to pop another Dramamine!

As for writer/director Scott Wiper, he would go on to do nothing. Well, not nothing, since WWE Studios did bring him in to work his “magic” with their threequel The Marine 3: Homefront, but he did NOTHING ELSE for the 6 years in between. Being a financial flop, The Condemned didn’t exactly lead to an illustrious post-flick career for “The Wiper”, as he was pretty much wiped from the collective consciousness of audiences before even getting in there in the first place. You might say he’s condemned to languish in obscurity… good thing they don’t make those exploding anklets set to detonate when amateur movie reviewers use shitty puns based on movie titles, or I wouldn’t be here typing this follow-up line describing the idea… in which case the device wouldn’t have come into existence anyway… I think I just created a time paradox. If I just ended all reality, I apologize.

Oh, and one massive urethral parasite to finish up with – the movie ends on a Nickelback song… if that’s a good thing for you, please go slam your head in a car door until you’ve learned your lesson. And on that note, this rerun is OVER!

 Moral of the Story: When filming a gang of the world’s deadliest criminals on an island killing each other, make sure your productions facilities are on a different island. You think Jeff Probst stay on the island while they shoot “Survivor”?! No. The further away from the “talent” the better.

Screenshots_____

“Shaun? Why don’t we ever make love with the lights on anymore? Be honest.”


It’s Sweet Dee’s doppleganger!


“Jeezus. I didn’t think it was possible for someone to cultivate one zit on top of ANOTHER zit, but there it is!”


Steve Austin stars in the re-remake of Willard.


Call me old fashioned, but no prison guard should EVER have as well practiced a rape face as that EVER! Fuck! I’m gonna have nightmares about this guy now!


“I was promised prune juice and Werther’s Originals! WHERE’S MY DAMN PRUNE JUICE AND WERTHER’S ORIGINALS!?”


“Damn it Pedro, why can’t I QUIT you!?”


I know Antonio Banderas hasn’t been doing as many movies in recent years, but the man’s REALLY letting himself go!


No, Vinnie. No Maverick-ing. Stop it. Just stop it now.


“Hello? What? Uhm… I don’t know. What’s ‘Prince Albert in a can’?!”


“What do you mean what’s ‘Prince Albert in a can’?! It’s a brand of tobacco that comes in a can! What do you mean you don’t use tobacco?!”


“I’M SORRY! I DON’T SMOKE TOBACCO AND I DON’T KNOW WHO THIS PRINCE ALBERT PERSON IS! PLEASE STOP YELLING AT ME! WHAT?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, ‘IS MY REFRIGERATOR RUNNING?!’ I’M HANGING UP NOW AND I’M CALLING THE COPS!”


Swamp Thing takes his voyeurism to a new creepier and incriminating level. He’s got a tree stump full of these tapes back at his place.


Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a cigar is a cigarillo. And sometimes a guy smoking a big thick cigar is a sign that he likes other big thick things in his mouth. So, I guess smoking a cigarillo means that Vinnie Jones likes Vienna Sausages. Flawless logic wins again.


These leaked production photos prove it: the next Jurassic Park will center on a gang of motorcycle riding raptors! Called it. Clever girls indeed.


Reaction shot of Steve Austin using the toilet after the Undertaker – a mistake he never made again.


“I’ve got your bloody ‘Hunger Games’ right here, you little twats!”


“Somebody’s gonna explain why my cable bill was so high last month, and they’re gonna fix it right fucking now!”


Steve Austin battles government surveillance devices this summer in his next Direct-to-DVD epic, Drone Hunter!


“This was on the floor while I was vacuuming today. I think it goes to one of your He-Man dolls?”
“They’re not ‘dolls’, they’re ‘action figures’… and yes, that’s mine… Thank you.”

Anubis will return next time in
“African American Explosive Device!”

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