Episode 100 – The Fall of the Louse of Usher (2002)

or “Love. Love Will Tear Us Apart Again”

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

Origin: UK

Review_____

“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.


Hellooooooo Nurse!

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!



Checkpoint Telstar summons The Devils

Cinemasochist Apocalypse goes all Gothic

Micro-Brewed Reviews experiments with Altered States

The Terrible Claw Reviews excavates The Lair of the White Worm

Web of the Big Damn Spider courts The Boy Friend

Screenshots_____


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.

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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!

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.

Episode 33 – Death Racers (2008)

or “The Faygo 500”

Featuring: Violent “Big Money Hustlas” J , Shaggy “Big Money Rustlas” 2 Dope , Scott “Sleeper” Levy

Director: Roy “Demons at the Door” Knyrim

Writers: Andrew “A Halloween Puppy” Helm , Patrick “Demons at the Door” Tantalo , Roy “Matthew Blackheart: Monster Smasher” Knyrim

Origin: USA

Review_____

Part of

“That’s the problem with Cali, man: can’t nobody drive.”

When Ragnarok proposed the idea of a Rip-Offs Roundtable, the only word that filled my brain was “ASYLUM”. It was printed in the biggest fucking typeface you could imagine, to the point that it was just a massive wall of Vantablack letters absorbing any and all mental light around it, thus snuffing out all other possibilities. I didn’t want to review another Asylum defecation. For one, it just feels too “easy” to use for the theme of purloined property, since EVERYTHING they stamp their name on is a rip-off. For another, I’ve already reviewed THREE Asylum movies this year and it’s only July, for the love of Antoine Q. Fuck! They’re like farmed tuna: the FDA suggests not having too many servings in too short a period of time for risk of Mercury poisoning. They’re like car exhaust: you’re better without it, a little of it won’t kill you, but too much and you turn into China – eating cigarette butts for sustenance and giving birth to six-eyed Lovecraftian lung horrors. Speaking of which, that makes me think of digging out The Abomination for a viewing. And that is the true definition of how shit awful Asylum productions are: just considering the possibility of watching one sets off a mental safety default in your brain telling you to watch The Abomination! Hell, here it is if you’d rather spare yourself the rest of the review!

So here we are. Death Racers. I came across this speed bump in the autobahn of my self-preservation some months past while researching the list of “bordering on plagiarism so as to confuse ignorant DVD consumers” titles/hate crimes the Asylum’s amassed since its inception. By simply adding “rs”, they somehow managed to Gymkata dodge any legal action by Universal and the creators of Death Race, which itself was just a “re-imagining” of Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000. In other words, today’s roundtable trial by fire (the flames of which are just lit meth farts from a ring of drunken Juggalos) isn’t just a rip-off: it’s a rip-off of a remake of a Roger Corman movie starring the Insane Clown Posse and a professional wrestler who once went by the moniker of Johnny Polo.


To quote a character from the movie, “When, in a million fucking rim job years, was that thought to be a good idea?!”.

Now, the involvement of ICP isn’t an automatic garbage indicator for me. They don’t overload my Detectron (MST3K: The Incredible Melting Man” joke). I’d rather fill my ear holes with flesh eating Star Trek parasites (“KAHHHHHHHN!”) than listen to any of their music. I’d like to slap them in the face with a grade school science textbook for not knowing how fucking magnets work. But when it comes to their own cinematic side projects, I find them entertaining. Starting with their StrangleMania wrestling tapes in the ’90s and up through their stupid joke movies Big Money Hustlas/Rustlas, if they’d just drop their “nails on chalkboard” horror-rap, or whatever the fuck you wanna call it, I’d have little problem with them! But those are their own productions. For the next 90 minutes, they’re in an Asylum movie. My penis is in love with ’80s Barbara Crampton, but if she was submerged for an hour and a half in a pool full of piss culled from the men’s room troth in the No Holds Barred redneck bar, Lil’ Anubis would turn into Quentin Tarantino’s dick in Planet Terror. Her touch would be like getting a blowjob from the Arc of the Covenant. And I don’t even like ICP, let alone have Crampton love for ’em.

I had to swallow a hand towel before typing that piss pool scenario just to roadblock the column of vomit that I knew would be born from imagining it. Review…saved? Fuck biscuits. I just used my last wish on the monkey’s paw for immortality and get a life sentence in an Arizona prison.

From the opening narration, things literally dosn’t add up. The movie tells us that “3 years from now” (which would’ve been 2011 based on the 2008 release year), a big ol’ war breaks out. Not the usual global conflict between nations, but a war in the US between social and/or fiscal classes. The president declares martial law to bring an end to the chaos and designates a chunk of the western US to serve as a mass penal (huh huh) colony known as The Red Zone (Cuba?), which becomes active in 2033. I can deal with the ambiguity of the “3 years from now” opening. As far back as Mad Max (at least from my own decaying memories), dystopic cinema has made use of the “some imprecise point years from the time you’re watching this” pretense to keep the movie from being badly dated. Many sci-fi movies from the black & white days of low low budgets made bold claims of daily commuter rocket ships to the moon and personal jet packs by the year 1999 that just left most people laughing and others crushingly disappointed on their death beds because b-movies from the ’50s gave them impossible dreams. What cuts massive holes in your “unclear future setting” safety net is when you date a specific event in the same opening narrative as taking place in 2033! Even worse is when you later have a character drop, during a moment of dialogue, the year 2017 being the beginning of said massive conflict! Hey Sisyphus, let’s try rolling this mathelogical boulder up that hill with the 80 degree incline!

Ironically enough, watching this movie in 2014 would make the whole 2017 class war chronology line up perfectly. What botches my brain functions is that this class war supposedly went on for SIXTEEN YEARS before the president declared martial law. Given that martial law wasn’t declared until much later, that would mean that FOUR presidential elections would have taken place amidst the anarchy, since a president can’t stay in office past their term limit unless a state of martial law is indeed in effect. Weird how any president would allow a civil war to take place in the US for such a long period of time without enacting military intervention, or how the opposing factions wouldn’t just overthrow the government altogether in that period of time. Even if we ignore all of that timeline retardation, I’ve got another one for you that we’ll cover a little later. This tangent’s already gone on long enough and I don’t wanna risk losing everybody’s interest before I get to complain about the other few hundred jellyfish stingers, broken glass bottles, and discarded hypodermic needles awaiting us during this walk on the beach.

Let’s take a tour of the vacation hot spot of 2033 vagrant population: the Red Zone. It’s home to a million or so convicted criminals, bloodthirsty maniacs, and the kind of people who would listen fondly to the ICP soundtrack the rest of us are saddled with for the next hour and a half. Being the “stars” of this feature, did you really expect your ears not to be insulted/assaulted by the duo for the extent of your “viewing pleasure”? Your naivete is cute, but it won’t spare you the barbs of reality. Amidst the booming (often literally) population of ne’er-do-wells, the most nefarious is Dinsdale Piranha. At least he was, until Spiny Norman came through looking for him. Dinsdale hasn’t been heard from since. In his place, a super terrorist known only as “The Reaper” (Scott Levy, a.k.a. Raven, a.k.a. Johnny Polo) has ascended the Iron Throne of this evil kingdom. Feared by all in the RZ (though entirely unknown by some residents, as we’ll learn later), Reaps has learned that whoever mapped out the prison completely ignored that there’s a water treatment plant inside that had access to a water shelf through which he can poison the entire country’s H2O supply! Good thing he doesn’t have mass quantities of poisonous chemicals with which to do such a thing…oh, he has a vast and inexplicable supply of Sarin with which to achieve his goal? Well, shit. The government probably should’ve made sure there weren’t barrels and barrels of lethal Sarin in the area too, especially not within such close range to A FUCKING WATER TREATMENT PLANT. Oh government! What are you gonna do, huh? Am I right?! *Blart*

When California governor Reagan Black learns of Reaper’s evil scheme, the best option he can come up with is to hold a Savage Run! No, wait, Savage Runs carry the negative social stigmas of being brutal and barbaric. Instead, he announces the carnival of carnage as “Death Race”! Actually, I’m sorry. In keeping with the movie’s theme, every instance of the term “death race” for the remainder of this episode (with the exception of referring to the title itself) will have to be stated in all caps and accompanied by no less than three exclamation points, like so – DEATH RACE!!! That’s better. The rules of this DEATH RACE!!! are as follows: four groups of two (driver and navigator) are tasked with going to the water treatment plant and dealing with Reaper. If they “deal” with him in the permanent sense, the team will be rewarded 200 points. If he’s “dealt with” in the “bring him back alive” sense, they’ll score a whopping 400 points! But, between the starting line and their target stand hundreds of Reaper’s ravenous Red Zone reprobates. For each of them that these duos deadifies, they’ll rack up 10 points. The team with the most points at the end of the DEATH RACE!!! wins…can you guess? That’s right, their freedom. I see you’ve watched at least one of the 700 other similarly themed “fight for your freedom” movies made in the 80+ years since The Most Dangerous Game. Good for you. You’ll find an extra cookie in your Oreo pie tonight.

To prevent the competitors from killing each other before Reaper can be reaped, there are no points for offing the other teams. But, at the same time, there’s no penalty for doing so, so why not just kill each other anyway? Oh yeah, the explosive planted in each of their necks might be a good motivation to play nice. Indeed, just like contestants in EVERY murder game movie, they’ve been Plisskened. Or rather, Plissken’d. Well played, Governor Black…though there’s never an explanation as to HOW these explosives end up in our racers’ neck meat, of course! Then again, the devil’s in the details and this is obviously a wholesome Christian made movie full of family values and praise for (y)our Lord, and thus there is no room for such infernal information. I CAST THEE OUT, SPECIFICS! Speaking of casts, let’s meet ours:

  • Danny Satanico (Koco Limbevski) and Fred the Hammer (Jason Ellefson) – members of the infamous Mexican cartel SHG (Severed Head Gang… cuz they drive around with a fake severed head impaled on the front of their car… cuz they’re scary.). Stereotypical southern Cali latino street thugs played by goofy white guys. Danny ends up domeless when he’s used as Black’s example for what happens when you don’t play by the rules. Fred spends the movie trying to hook up with a lesbian, killing guys with a big scythe that he keeps in his trunk, drinking a fat guy’s piss and then getting beaten to death by the lesbian’s girlfriend.
  • Colonel Bob Casonetti (Paolo Carascon) and Rudy Jackson (Rick Benedetto) – team Homeland Security. They get “blown up” with an IED (not to be confused by an IUD) planted by Reaper’s goons shortly into the DEATH RACE!!!, but come back later to reveal that they’ve been working for Black all along. Which really only serves as a poorly managed story twist, considering ALL of the teams are technically working for Black, thus making the whole “faked death” bullshit more useless than a human appendix. Both are blown up in the finale showdown (along with everybody else for 50 miles around them), but for reals this time.
  • Queen B (Therese Corcoran) and Double Dee Destruction (Jennifer Keith) – team Vaginamyte!… the exclamation point being part of the team’s name and not meant to denote any actual excitement from yours truly. The name is meant as either an allusion to their explosive lady parts or a callback to Jimmie Walker’s “Dyno-mite!” catchphrase from “Good Times” (or maybe both), but all it makes me think of is a food paste from the makers of Vegemite aimed at horny cannibals. Being the only women in the DEATH RACE!!!, they’re exactly what you’d expect from these writers – lesbian man-eaters who shake their t&a to distract horny men before castrating them with a machete. I call this a “Eunuch’s Surprise” or the “Lagash Handshake”. Depends on the region, really. B gets shot in the back by Fred (before he dies from the merciless beating she lays on him), while Dee gets a hatchet in her neck, only to pop up right before the end credits, sole survivor of the massive explosion.
  • Violent J (himself) and Shaggy 2 Dope (himself) – the Insane Clown Posse as…the Insane Clown Posse. Playing themselves, for once, rather than just playing with themselves. Which brings up that other baffle-math problem I eluded to prior. Being 2033, ICP would have to be in their 60s at this point…riiiiiiight. The biggest problem with playing YOURSELVES in a movie set in the FAR FUTURE. Oy. Anyway, 2 and J are billed as “the Charles Mansons of their time” and have been sent to the RZ for their shitty music and for being the cult-like leaders of the global bastion of debauchery known as the Juggalos. Especially poignant today, since the duo just recently told a Court of Law that their Juggers aren’t a gang despite the FBI labeling them as such. No, they’re a family…like the Mansons. I would like to see the FBI classify Parrotheads and Beliebers as gangs now too though. It’s only fair, and being a fan of Jimmy Buffet or Justin Bieber should be considered a crime. Punishable by death, if I had any say. Anyway, despite being the protagonists of the shebang, both boys end up bleedin’ demised by the end credits roll, heads popped like pimples pumped full of Red Bull by those neck bombs THAT ARE NEVER EXPLAINED.
  • I ruined everything during the team intros to save time, as I’ll be rapping the entirety of the movie’s remainder in the following two paragraphs. Before you ponder, yes, there is a LOT of pink slime filler in this ground beef, boys and girls. And probably more than the Health Department’s acceptable levels of carcinogens and rat/insect feces. We’re going to be diving headfirst into the Shatlantic Ocean (or the Poocific depending on which coastest you’re closest) from the moment the race starts, so just bite the pillow and accept it and it’ll be over before you know it.

    All scenes of “racing” consist of slowly driven cars in sped up footage killing seemingly dozens of extras who run directly in the path of/throw themselves again said crawling automobiles, despite driving barely within range of said extras. These nameless goons wear bandanas bandit style so as to hide their faces in the hopes that you won’t realize they’re re-killed again and again throughout later scenes. An Asylum method that would be unironically recycled years later for the waves of nameless thug fodder murderized in Android Cop. Computer generated rockets and cheap muzzle fire animations lead to Karo Syrup gore splatter. You basically get more realistic scenes of automotive brutality in a round of Mario Kart than you’ll take away from this smorgasbord of so-damn-bad that we’re served here. When they’re not puttering along behind the wheel at 6mph, our combatants leave their cars to engage in extensive scenes of hand-to-(severed)hand and gun-to-head combat with more of the same masked goons. You’d think they wouldn’t want to leave their cars considering it’s a race and they need to get to Reaper by sundown (forgot to mention that part), but as I warned, we’re talking a LOT of time killing in this movie. Someone call the fuzz, cuz’s it’s a full-on chronocide up in here. Wee-woo. Wee-woo.

    And, here’s how the last hour of the movie goes – extras get run over; everybody drives; everybody stops to kill the extras again; everybody fixes their cars; everybody drives; love triangle; more killing of extras; the mystery of Governor Black having “insides guys” is introduced; still more driving; “Hey! Let’s go check out that giant circus tent full of (three) whores that wanna castrate us!”; fight Reaper’s killer rape cyborg (we’ll call him RoboCock); back to driving; finally catch up to Reaper and…does it really matter? Spoiler: nope. I pretty much told you everything before. Everybody dies, the west coast is engulfed in flames, the motherfuckin’ END.

    It somehow took THREE people to write that…and they already ripped off the entire premise from another movie!

    And now, on to the gripes. There’s a lot of ’em people, so you might want to go grab a cup of coffee and a slice of pie before we get started. Hit the bathroom too. I don’t want anybody getting up in the middle of this thing and interrupting me. Ready? Good.

    Okay, let’s start with the eyeball burning visual “music video effects” bullshit. Holy creeping terror does this shit get old after the first time we have to watch the movie “rewind” then play the same moment sped up! This is the fucking garbage that a fifteen year-old puts on YouTube when they downloads a pirated copy of Movie Maker for the first time! Crap like this is why MTV doesn’t show music videos anymore! In the sage-like words of the bard Kim Pines, if these shit tier visual “tricks” had a face, I would punch it. Not just punch it, I would punch THROUGH it, with the fist of an angry god. I would punch it so hard that every fragment of solid matter above their neck would simply become a red mist raining upon their shoulders like a crimson version of those dandruff snowstorms you see in the Head & Shoulders commercials. And the Red Zone? For a wasteland of remorseless psychos with no regard for property, much of the place seems to be rather well kept and even peaceful! Honestly, it looks not unlike a small, quiet neighborhood that would be very cheap to film a movie in… The rest of the RZ is just horribly put together images of digitally matte painted industrial shitholes with poorly crafted pixel flames randomly placed to “heighten” the illusion. BLART AGAIN!

    Speaking of poorly crafted, Reaper makes for a not great villain. He’s pretty damn one-dimensional, mainly because he’s not really given anything to do but bully and threaten his hench-nerd with varying degrees of bodily harm and death, while simultaneously diminishing the guy’s timetable on getting the whole “poison the water basin” scheme complete. I’d like to blame the writers for Reaper’s faults, but at least half of the problem comes from Levy, who just reinforces the old Tinseltown stereotype of “wrestlers can’t act and actors can’t cut wrestling promos”. Roddy Piper, Jesse Ventura and The Rock notwithstanding. Also, the DVD cover heralds Scott Levy as “WWE’s Raven”, even though Levy had had NOTHING TO DO WITH WWE SINCE 2003! Actually no, that’s not true. At the time Death Racers was made, he was involved with World Wrestling Entertainment…IN A LAWSUIT! Yep, Levy and several other ex-WWE performers were suing their former employer for medical bills and other shit they figured they deserved. In case you were wondering (and I doubt you were), the case was dropped due to some statute of limitations issue. Plus, one of the other wrestlers killed himself. Wrestle In Peace, Kris Canyon. Anway, the Asylum’s entire business model is movies that rip-off the titles of big budget movies in the hopes of getting sales based on name confusion alone, so I think I would’ve been more shocked if they hadn’t name dropped the world’s biggest wrestling company right across the top of their box art. Knobs.

    Before we move on from the characters, everybody else is just kinda “kill and get killed” throwaway casting, so they’re no big deal. I DO have a Faygo Jazzin’ Blues Berry 3 Liter sized problem with ICP as characters though. They’re supposed to be fighting for their freedom, but they know NOTHING about the Red Zone! They don’t know that people don’t get to see movies there, they don’t know anything about where they’re going, and despite being a terrifying tyrant who’s supposed to rule the entire Zone and all of its captives, ICP have NO idea who Reaper is! And I’m supposed to believe these two are trying to escape a place that they’ve seemingly never spent any time in?! If I weren’t down to my last keyboard, I’d be smashing my head into mine right now. FUUUUUUUCK!

    The movie’s a tribulation of aggravations to be sure. And, as one of the announcers says, it goes “from zero to suck-my-dick in 4.1 seconds”. However, Death Racers is a few curly short hairs shy of being suffocation by a mouthful of pubes. It’s saved from the eternal damnation of Ammut’s digestive tract by the following –

  • Racers embraces the original Death Race 2000 structure of a rally style “Point A to Point B” competition with the “kill random civilians for points” format included. Thus, in actuality, this is a more faithful remake of the original movie than Universal’s Jason Statham vehicle (pun intended). Makes sense that I’ve seen it listed under the title Death Race 3000 in some foreign promotional materials.
  • Watching a white guy (Jason Ellefson) pretending to be a Mexican stereotype is strangely hilarious, especially when he says something so blindly stupid as “Are there any taco trucks around here?”. I generally hate dumb shit like that, but Hel, even a dollar store hotdog looks edible when it’s the only other option at a buffet that otherwise serves only week old haggis.
  • Everything, no matter what it may be, is always better when followed up with a guy shouting “DEATH RACE!”. After the Pledge of Allegiance? “DEATH RACE!”. Post-coitus declaration? “DEATH RACE!”. Swearing in at your best friend’s murder trial? “DEATH RACE!”. Make it so, mofos.
  • And that’s pretty much it. These three small things don’t excuse the movie from still being terrible in every calculable way, but I didn’t get food poisoning symptoms while watching (not fun, I don’t recommend ’em), so it could’ve been worse. Any accident you can walk away from, right? I mean, sure, it’s the kind of accident where all of the flesh on my arms was torn off…and my face was rearranged… and all of my ribs were broken…and I punctured a kidney…and my genitals are completely unrecognizable…but…at least I’m walking away, right?

    If your taste for purloined features has not been sated, belly up to the bar and down a few more helpings of things that aren’t good for you! Check our fellow contributors for this roundtable of regrets:

    3B Theater: Micro-Brew ReviewsCyberjack
    Checkpoint TelstarBattle Beyond the Stars
    Cinematic ApocalypseInseminoid
    The Terrible Claw ReviewsCarnosaur 2

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, my teleprompter has gone dead…“DEATH RACE!” *blip*

    Moral of the Story: Sometimes life licks across your anus with a sandpaper tongue. Good news for all you weirdos out there who have ever put peanut butter on your butthole and had your cat lick it off, I suppose.

    Screenshots_____

    Most kids walk in on their parents having sex and run away in horror. Then there are kids like this, who run to grab the camcorder. I think I just became impotent thinking about that one.


    This is why I don’t trust machines with my health. If I have a heart attack, keep your damn defibrillators away from me!


    They say that he who smelt it dealt it, but he who grins like an idiot had broccoli and black coffee for breakfast.


    I see somebody’s trying to bring back “Two Girls, One Cup” reaction videos.


    I see there was at least one Hot Topic inside the Red Zone when the walls were put up.


    He thinks his tats mean something prolific and deep, but they actually say “Eat at the Wanton Won Ton – Daily Lunch Specials! Mention this tattoo and get 10% off your next eat-in order!”.


    “Damn it! I can’t get ‘Hip to Be Square’ out of my head!”


    “Ahhhhhh! That’s better!”


    That’s where the part of my brain that burned with white hot rage every time I saw Jay Leno used to be before I had it removed. Sure, I lost 20% of my memories. Sure, Jay Leno’s finally off of TV (for now). I still stand by my decision, though.


    I don’t know. He looks pretty white to me.


    “I’ve got that urine sample you asked for, doc. Tell me the truth – how much blood in my urine is too much blood?”


    [insert penis innuendo here]


    “You ever wonder about how things work, sometimes? Like fucking magnets. How do they…”
    “SHUT UP ABOUT THE FUCKING MAGNETS ALREADY, YOU SHIT-FOR-BRAINS CHILDREN’S PARTY REJECT!”


    “We live in total squalor and you’re still wasting my money to dye your god damn hair?!”


    *whisper* “Keep buying this eye shadow though. I really like it. It smells like apples.” *whisper*


    Hipster farmer insists on reaping his own wheat for his whole grain organic artisanal ‘o’ shaped breakfast cereal.


    How every boy sees their mother after their circumcision.


    She just happens to have a Pagliacci fetish and in Detroit, he’s the best she can do.


    Before the creation of batteries, vibrating strap-ons had to be gas powered monsters like that. Given the user fatality rates, they were rarely worth the effort.


    “Before you ask, I don’t know how all of those Japanese fart fetish sites ended up in my browser history. Would just please get rid of all the viruses and pop-up windows? I’m watching an eBay auction for a Cheeto that looks like Larry Hagman that ends at 9!”


    Most people have the “devil & angel” personifications of morality that materialize on their shoulders. She just has two militants in white pants who tell her to shoot everyone.

    ———————————————————
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    Anubis will return next time in
    “Viva Spook Vegas”

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