Featuring: Aaron “The Storm Riders” Kwok , Qi “Journey to the West” Shu, Collin “The Matrix Reloaded” Chou
Director: Benny “Gen X Cops” Chan
Writers: Benny “Gen X Cops” Chan & Chi-Man “Invisible Target” Ling
Origin: Hong Kong
All my life I’ve been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope…
The Tomb’s 3rd anniversary is October 1st. Three is the “novelty sneakers” anniversary. If someone doesn’t get me some of that groovy be-chinned footwear, all love is a lie and life is a pointless endeavor that goes on forever. Just so you know.
On to other matters, because of my many months away from The Tomb (let’s say due to a journey through alternate realities where I had to stop an evil version of myself from destroying all of existence by killing our other selves and absorbing their power to supplement his own) I’m taking a further break from the Tour de Farce so I can give higher priority to other movies that have crossed my desk since. And yes, it’s a literal desk, made of the finest polished femurs, spines, and rib bones of Rupert Murdock’s ancestors. Totally worth the hauntings.
To that end, I thought it prudent to finish this review (started in January) before putting the T de F back into its cryogenic freeze tube for a while longer. Today’s episode features the Hong Kong sing-a-long ring ding dong we call City Under Siege.
Expected a Dr. Dre reference? Nope. He’s banned from The Tomb for selling $300 headphones to stupid children with stupider parents. Anyway, before we get started, let’s mine the ancient secrets of the mystical island of Hong Kong!
On second thought, never mind. This review’s already 4 months late and my laptop is starting to give me third degree dick burns. I don’t have time to play tour guide. If you wanna know any esoteric facts about HK, its economy, its culture, its people, its impact on the rest of the world, or its dark history of horrendous crimes in the fields of drug trade and human trafficking (I’m presuming), pay your preferred search engine a visit. Let’s just get to the movie and cut to the chase…oh, I forgot to mention that a hefty portion of today’s movie revolves on an axis of knife throwing. That might have been pertinent info before making a pun like “cut”. My apologies.
Not to be confused with the Police Academy sequel (#6!) of the same name, City Under Siege is the tale of Li Fei (Aaron Kwok), whose peers call him Sunny… not really sure why, but let’s say it’s because of his sunny disposition. Or that time he stabbed a waitress to death with a fork for rupturing the yolks on his sunny-side-up eggs. Whatever pulls your lever. Anyway, when Sunshine’s parents died in a car accident (and sadly not during an armed mugging which always makes for a better origin), his uncle Tak (Wah Yuen) took him in and gave him a job as a clown in his traveling performance troupe, The Thunderbolt Circus. Though grateful not to have been cast off like the orphan he was, Sun was never happy as a colorful fool and instead wanted to live up to his dear departed daddy’s legacy as the knife throwing “King of Flying Daggers”, 26th descendant of the legendary marksman, Thousand Flying Daggers. Unfortunately for Sunny he’s more like the Prince of Flying Daggers, and even then the “Prince” part would be more an honorary family title than an earned one. This guy sucks more than a hospital custodian’s ShopVac in the middle of an ebola outbreak when it comes to the family cutlery slinging business. I wouldn’t trust him to butter my biscuits let alone let him hurl sharp lengths of steel at me while I’m strapped to a spinning wheel o’ death!
Despite his insistence that the talent in his genes will bear fruit if Uncle Tak (no word on an “Aunt Tik”) would just give him a chance to put innocent paying customers’ lives in danger, his cousin Zhang Chu (Collin Chou) refuses to give up his place in the spotlight as the show’s marquee marksman. In fact, he threatens to gut Suns if he doesn’t stop trying to horn in on his job, so don’t expect to see our hero headlining shows anytime soon. Unless maybe Chu gets a bout of the flu or leaves the circus to go on a crime spree as a psychotic hulking brute…
It feels like we’re supposed to pity our protagonist in this scenario, but when we’re introduced to him, Sunny literally (as said in Rob Lowe’s Chris Traeger inflection) goes off script during a show in Malaysia and comes within seconds of committing manslaughter on an unknowing audience dupe before cool guy Chu has to step in and put “The Prince” back in his place! Sure, as with the majority of movie bad guys, ChuChu comes off as a douche knocker. BUT, he very likely saved a woman from PTSD at best and straight up VIOLENT DEATH at worst at the hands of selfish man-child Sunny, who was willing to endanger those around him for the sake of his own fucking ego! This guy is our hero!? Holy shit. Overcoming poor self-esteem and a limited natural skill set is fine for a budding hero-to-be like Spider-Man or Kick-Ass, but they only put themselves at risk with their amateur tomfoolery. Sunny is a fucking sociopath! No matter how far this flick may go in its efforts to redeem its do-gooder over the remainder of its runtime, it’s now going to be dragging The Stone of Shame for the extent of said stigmatic excursion. For shame!
As is cinematic law, Chu and the other “too cool for school” members of their little big top clique single Sunny out as the weakest member of the social herd, and as such exercise their dominance by treating him like a red-nosed reindeer. Whilst in Malaysia engaging in their post-show chicanery, the crew catch Sunny tagging along and opt to include him as their point man (i.e. stooge) whom they can just ditch/scapegoat/murder later as the situation requires. Their scheme? The bullies are investigating a local cave rumored to be home to a cache of buried treasure! BUT (yes, there’s always a but there… much like the case of my lap), as we the audience were presented in the picture’s prologue, this cave was the site of war crime experimentation by the Japanese military in the waning days of WW2: Axis Boogaloo. Check out the Men Behind the Sun movies for more on that kinda shit. In an effort to bring an end to their protracted campaign to extend the shadow of their empire over the entire East, these army scientists were dabbling in an immoral aerosol that would induce monsterism in their P.O.W.s, turning the captives into rampaging abominations! Basically Nature’s Goodness minus the pleasing taste.
Before the mutagenic mist could be perfected, the raiders from the Rising Sun’s workspace was bombed all to shit (in a scene I’ll antagonistically analyze later) by the Red Stars, leaving any remaining stashes of the unfinished super-beast spray buried. Can you see where this is going? If not, you might need to make an appointment with the figurative optometrist to get your foresight checked. Benny Chan isn’t just leading us with a trail of bread crumbs, he’s dropping full-on baguettes shaped like arrows! For those with mental glaucoma, here’s the malnourished rendition – the gang open the containers expecting precious metal (to be fair, the first one does have a stash of the shiny stuff) and get a chemical sauna instead a la Return of the Living Dead‘s Frank and Freddy. Our hero ends up passing out on a conveniently placed fishing boat nearby, one of the gang lays dead by broken neck when his attempt to kill Sun goes fatally wrong, and the remaining quartet of super steroid saturated nogoodniks are left vomiting vanilla pudding, no doubt destined to become evil Hong Kong off-brand Ninja Turtles. Not to be confused with Michael Bay’s actual bastardized half-shell bohemoths.
Anubis Note: In case you haven’t seen Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, “bohemoth” is how we spell that shit here. And yes, it’s pronounced “bo-he-muth” in case you were wondering.
It turns out the vessel our bumbler stumbled upon is a smuggling ship, and when his hosts find him unresponsive on board, they toss his sorry ass into the South China Sea! Lucky for him it seems the naturally occurring tides are coincidentally heading back to his homeland of Hong Kong, where he’s washed ashore after a few days afloat. Finally freed from his one-man coma cruise, Sunny awakens to find his body doing its best impression of Spongebob’s stage act: The Amazing Mr. Absorbancy! Sporting an XXXXL waistline and the incessant sensation of walking in wet sneakers, he tries to find his way back to the Thunderbolt Circus home office, discovering how hard it is to hitch a ride in the middle of the night when you look like a cast off from a Ju-On movie set on a cruise ship. Fortunately for him, a lovely lady named Angel Chang (played by Qi Shu, who we recently saw in Journey to the West!) stops, requesting help with her bamboozled back tire then offering her impromptu AAA lifeline a ride home in thanks. Along the way, Sunny recognizes Angel from the local newscast and marks out, declaring his fandom for her. Of all the people in HK who could’ve happened along looking for help, it just so happens that the minor celebrity our hero’s got the awkward stalker hots for is the one. Even for a movie that’s not just stretching it, that’s hyper-extending said “it” like the arm/leg of a generic bad guy in a Steve Seagal movie. Backwards elbows and knees, people. Cringe.
Returned home, Sun bids adieu to his love interest-to-be and plops into bed like the garbage bag full of tapioca he has become. Overnight, he secretes more liquid refreshment than the entirety of the background dancers did across all four volumes of Sweatin’ to the Oldies. While he’s soaking his sleeping space harder than a gang of 3rd grade bed-wetters at a sleepover, his fellow Thunderbolt performers make their turn to a life of crime official as they rob an armored truck to the tune of 5 million dollars! I’m guessing they’re Hong Kong dollars though, so it’s more like 20k American, give or take? Meh. That’ll barely afford them one of Gwyneth Paltry, errrr Paltrow‘s vibrators and a gallon jug of Japanese whale oil lubricant. Peasants.
Fuck sake. For $15k that thing better be a piece of StarkTech that turns into a suit of portable Iron Man armor!
The armored car is just one stop on the quartet’s crime spree tour though, as they’ve been busy knocking over jewelry stores and the like too. Enhanced with telekinetic powers, super strength, and bulletproof skin, it’s been the proverbial cakewalk for the villains. Unable to stop them with mere guns and police brutality, the Mu Shu porkies call in superhuman specialist agents Suen Ho (Jing Wu) and Ching Shau Wah (Jingchu Zhang). Partners in career and in life, the pair are accused of being an adorably low key professional law enforcement couple and could be sentenced to live happily ever after if convicted. I can say, with no certain certainty, that I’m certain these two are my favorite Asian movie couple since Wild Zero‘s Ace and Tobio.
The movie (or at least the English subtitle track I had to hunt down) tells us that Ho and Wah have arrested supernatural criminals before, but doesn’t give us any further allusions to just who these enhanced do-badders were. No idea if the pairing have appeared in prior Benny Chan productions, but in all honesty I really don’t care to look any further than I have already. My dick burns are getting burns on top of them! Just to be safe, I’m going to say that CUS takes place in a cinematic Hong Kong akin to Spider-Man 3 NYC – metahumans aren’t littering the place like Captain America: Civil War, but they’re also clearly not undiscovered yet like Meteor Man.
Speaking of, Meteor Man is part of the Marvel Universe continuity. I shit you not. It’s only a matter (or meteor) of time until we see Robert Townsend’s name show up on a cast listing for Avengers: Infinity War!… maybe “NetFlix’s The Defenders”?… maybe not?… probably not. Blart.
The duo are due to exchange nuptials (or “swap nups” if you’re me, which you’re not, for which you should be praising Ra) in 30 days, so Hao vows to take the Frightful Four down in 20. Really? So he’s going to let them run roughshod on the Kowloon precious gems market for 3 weeks before he decides it’s time to put an end to their shenanigans?! Prick. Speaking of, Angel’s boss/boyfriend KK (Slider?) informers her that the higher ups at the news station are kicking her down the corporate ladder a few rungs so they can give her spot to a younger, hotter replacement named Yoyo. Yoyo? Yep yep. Not only is our lady losing her seat at the anchor desk, but it turns out she’s lost her seat in her boyfriend’s lap too, also replaced by her Duncanian rival. We learn that Angel herself got where she was by traveling the exact same path as Yoyo, but that’s different! Right? Cuz she’s a hero? Meh. Moving on. In an effort to save a shred of what remaining pride our heroine has left, Angel dumps a glass of water over K’s cranium, declares their relationship null and void, and officially hands in her verbal resignation. Whatever makes you feel less like a stepped-on piece of dog shit in the middle of the sidewalk, lady. Keep your head up and move on. Godspeed.
What’s a working gal to do in this modern age of HD media, where genetics are prized over journalistic ethics? Where looks trump integrity? Well, it just so happens that the same day old maid Angel finds herself destined for the unemployment line (or the glue factory… I’m not sure how they tackle this shit in China), her biggest fan awakens with abilities beyond those of mortal men. Indeed, just like Chu and, uhm, the other three circus performers (I’m not good with names or having to look them up), Sunny’s received his membership card to the Superhumans Society! On his way to the police station to explain his situation (and distance himself from his crime spreeing co-workers), his pathway is impeded by a hostage negotiation. Angel, having the Lois Lane-like super power to be in the right place at the right time, witnesses Sunny make the save, freeing the captive policewoman from her assailant with a combination of telescopic slow-mo “precision vision” and inhuman strength, accuracy and reflexes, with which he throws a single stick, shattering the abductor’s gun and piercing his arm from across the street! While everyone around him stares agape in awe and the press presence swarms him for a statement like ants on a Twinkie, ‘Gel whisks him away to a cab (I guess she’s just leaving her own car abandoned in the middle of traffic?!) for a “private interview”… which, despite the probable perversion with which you may have read that (ya gutter creeper), doesn’t mean they went home and swapped sweet and sour sauces. Amazing the places a pair of quotation marks can take the human mind.
With little imaginary hearts floating around his head (might wanna check your scalp for parasites, Flapjack), Sunny’s more than happy to give the newly freelance reporter her exclusive one-on-one with the Hong Kong Kal-El. Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Doom (in this instance, a lovely house in the middle of nowhere with an in-ground pool!), Chu and the others have kidnapped several biological engineers in hopes of reversing the grotesque monster mash side-effects of their genetic mutation. Despite being told there is no way of turning them from Fangoria cover models back into a Silver Ash cover band, they find hope when they see their old punchline Sunny on the evening news looking none the worse for toxic wear. A testament to the ancient healing powers of the South China Sea? Or just another use of the old science fiction deus ex machina of “some people are just genetically different and are immune to stuff!”? Either way, Chu and chums aim to find out.
Arriving at the Thunderbolt Circus locale faster than Bruce Wayne going back to Gotham after conquering The Pit (fucking Dark Knight Rises), the bad guys try to nab their errant clown mid-interview. Chu should change his name to SPF 69, cuz Angel just got Sun blocked! *rimshot* Awkwardly introducing himself to the minor celebrity while his hairline recedes and his increasingly lumpy face is painted up with Luna Vachon veins (see below), Chu confesses that he’s her number one die-hard fan and makes rapey face at her. How… flattering? You can practically hear Miss Chang’s ovaries shriveling on the vine the longer he talks to her. The expected altercation is instigated and the movie’s first real exchange of wire-fu is initiated!
No brawl-for-all by any stretch of the term, Sunny and Angel spend the time running and ducking their pursuers as best they can before finally being subdued. Chu threatens to bleed our hero in the search for the secret of his success, but his knife is halted by the timely intervention of the mutant hunting dynamic duo, Hao and Wah, sporting mirrored shades and martial arts! The battle ends when Sunny, seemingly turning into a cartoon character with his comically red “pressure cooker” face (that you expect to send steam shooting out of both ears), freaks the fuck out and throws two fistfuls of flying daggers at his prior impeder of career promotion. Chu responds in kind, deflecting the swarm of steel shards with a flurry of his own, sending razor sharp metal ricocheting all over the fucking place! Small appliances explode, glass shatters, structures collapse, one of the villains takes an errant dagger to the chest, and the rest of the antagonists beat feet while the heroes collect the unconscious Sunny and rush him to a hospital.
In intensive care, Sunny’s examined by scientists and it’s indeed determined that he bears the mythical movie MacGuffin of antibodies unique to his DNA. Yep, out of the billions of people who would have otherwise been malformed by exposure to the experimental discharge (like the other four people that were), one of the tiny group of FIVE just happened to be uniquely resistant. Not even to the formula in its entirety, mind you, but only the dangerous uglifying parts of it. Don’t think I enjoy telling movie logic to get off my lawn like this. My nitpickery is tantamount to acupuncture needles being slowly pushed between my vertebrae, or filling my codpiece (what, you don’t wear a codpiece?!) with hungry scarabs. It is my curse. Damn Tiki Gods. You put termites in their pillows one time and you spend the rest of eternity wanting to chew your fingers off at bullshit times like this!
While the white coats would rather keep Super Sun under indefinite lock and key for more in-depth observation (and likely dissection for sale to some Chinese super soldier program), the police don’t think the public would be too pleased with the smiling new face of mutant moderating being held in constabulary custody. Instead, Hao and Wah are assigned to be his bodyguards while Miss Chan picks up the role of talent agent to the city’s new cynosure for his upcoming avalanche of inevitable media overexposure. It happened when the Simpsons found that monkey’s paw, and it’ll happen to you too! Angel’s also fallen in love with the little goof already, because of course she has. Some would say she’s got hearts in her eyes, some would say they’re just dollar signs. I say it’s both. I may just be a foreigner, but fill my eyes with that double vision. No disguise, for that double vision.
The glamorous life of hocking Diarrhea Killer and prancing like a grinning idiot for publicity appearances goes straight to the hero’s head, ironically swelling it figuratively while his enemies’ domes are swelling literally. As for Hao, his plan to use the unwitting Sunny as bait to draw out the baddies has put a cramp into his marriage plans, postponing the date and drawing out Wah’s ire instead. She proposes that instead of the two of them tackling the remaining trio of mutants themselves, they train Sun to actually be a superhero rather than just play one, evening up the odds. Hao’s ego won’t let him risk someone else completing his job and taking his glory though, so sad to say, this is the exact moment you can start the countdown clock for Wah’s impending inclusion in the movie’s “in memorium” reel.
Cue the next fight, as Chu and the others make their next move, striking while Sunny D’s doing yet another photo shoot. The in-name-only slayer of sinners gets bodied hard by his nemesis, while Hao uses his uncanny acupuncturist prowess to beat Chu’s girlfriend with ease, promising to have her locked up and experimented on for the rest of whatever life she has left. She opts for what’s behind Door #2 instead, and self-immolates amid the pool of gasoline she was carelessly left incapacitated in. Back inside, Chu shows us his ignorance on human biology (specifically how antibodies work) by Dracula-ing off some of Sun’s vein V8, only to be massively disappointed when it doesn’t remedy away his uggo-itis. Before he can stomp the envy of his eye six feet under, the Heroic Duo drop in from off-screen to save the day. Rather than retreat, Hao’s determined to make good on his promise to marry his wifey-to-be on time, so he trades blows with the biggest baddie and leaves it up to Wah to keep their bait from being snatched off the hook by the last remaining member of the Chu Crew, uhm, mohawk guy.
Ill-prepared for the mutants’ continued evolution, Hao’s pride is his downfall, as his ambition to close the case distracts him from preventing his lady getting her internal organs pulverized by Mohawk. When he finally notices, it’s time for a late retreat as he escapes with Wah and Sunny in tow. But it’s too late. With tear streaked cheeks and a mouthful of blood, Wah tells her incredibly sweaty man to take care of himself, never lose himself, and never be afraid because she’ll always be watching over him. Then she dies…in the passenger seat of a stolen station wagon. Just like Han Solo… in my 2003 fan film re-visioning of Return of the Jedi.
As if this loss wasn’t enough of a shake up, the movie’s timeline gets a bit weird here. Hao sets up Sunny on a cot in a shack along a nearby river and sticks him full of needles to nurse the defeated hero back to health. When said hero comes to, he finds his savior nearby, torching his dearly departed in the flames of his makeshift pyre (i.e. he set the station wagon on fire)…in the same area she died…so…this all has to be taking place not too long after our previous scene…so whose house did they break into for their acupuncture session?! And since when can acupuncture fix broken organs and blood loss in what can’t have been more than a few hours!? OUCH! There goes another two scoops of scarabs.
And so, with both of our brotagonists having fallen hard from the height of hubris, now they must pick each other up like a pair of crane game claws. You know how much of a bitch those things can be. Forged by Loki himself, they are! Anyway, Hao vows to teach Sunny how to control his powers in his scorched fiancee’s honor, so let’s cue the montage!
With her boyfriend/client engaged in secret training for what could be weeks (or might just be a few days? The movie’s not 100% clear on it.), Angel’s left alone to mourn his perceived passing. As alone as you can get when you’re under 24 hour police protection, at least. The star-crossed lovers flashback to black & white renditions of their prior scenes together, denoting loss and longing as such scenes do. Having put the entire city under siege (we have a title!) alongside his last remaining cohort since Sunny’s disappearance, Chu (who stole Weird Al’s plastic Rambo muscle suit from UHF) uses his enemy’s pilfered cell phone to call Angel and tell her how he desperately needs her to deliver him from his personal Hell of emo teen sadness. Note to readers: listening to The Cure and other depressing music when you’re sad doesn’t make you less sad, it just reminds you why you’re sad in the first place, then piles on MORE SAD! Despite the saying, fighting fire with more fire only makes a BIGGER FIRE!
Feeling like she has nothing left to live for now (or maybe she’s just tired of needing a security detail every time she has to dump ass), Angel strikes a plan with the pigs to use her as a lure to entice Chu into a trap. She could just call him back and allow the military to triangulate his locale via the phone, but that wouldn’t put her life in immediate danger, so why bother?! Remember how well things went the last time an Asian movie in The Tomb tried to lure a monster into a trap? No? Go read my Garuda review. I’ll wait.
See? Yeah. Same thing happens here. Shit goes south faster than a racist Yankee after the Emancipation Proclamation. Just as Angel is about to see if her namesake(s) are real, guess who appears from nowhere to save her from being turned into street pizza? If you guessed anyone other than Sunny, you’re either too preoccupied to be reading this episode right now, or you’re just really really really shitty with names. Before the two heavies finally finish their feud in furious combat, Hao takes out both Mohawk and himself, using an urn filled with his beloved’s ashes to smash a light fixture and ignite a broken fuel line. An all too short-lived (no pun intended) exchange whose ultimate finale is predictable, sure, but I like Hao’s use of the urn…which probably contained more than a few leftovers from the station wagon’s ashtray mixed in with whatever he was able to salvage from Wah’s herself if you think about it.
Now for the big climax. Our final showdown is a fair mix of flashy martial arts punches and kicks, superhuman feats of tossed transportation (cars and trucks and such), both guys saving Angel from certain doom, a noble sacrifice or two, an effort to apply some last minute pathos to the villain, and a mandatory bit of the throwing knife dueling that started this whole rivalry, though not as much as you’d expect given all the hours/days/weeks of training Sunny pulled in the previous sequence. Speaking of, here’s a PSA for any fellow mutants out there: Don’t be like Chu. Take absolute care when it comes to protecting your lower back in any combat situation, as any perforation of the area has a high likelihood of causing your internal organs to violently detonate. I recommend investing in one of Lumpy Leroy’s Cast Iron Cummerbunds! Tell ’em Anubis sent you to get free shipping and $5 off your first order!
Good triumphs over evil, and just to make sure Benny Chan gets to tick off the final line of his “superhero movie tropes” checklist, Angel throws herself in front of one of Chu’s daggers to protect Sunny while he’s busy being a paragon of human decency and saving a family trapped in a flaming car. She survives though, and Sunny kills Chu, so the audience gets to go home on a high note. Such ends the ballad of Johnny Two Blades, errr, Twin-Dagger Sunny. Marge, is this a happy ending or a sad ending?
I opted to review CUS based entirely on the promise of “a circus clown gains super powers and has to fight his co-workers who have become super villains”. Little did I know that Sunny’s screen time in greasepaint would be relegated to his 5 minute introduction, thus abandoning the novelty almost immediately. Boooo. Points lost out of the gate for the misleading synopsis. Things don’t get much better from then on either. It’s not that this is a bad superhero movie. The problem is that Benny Chan tries so hard bending over backwards to emulate the Hollywood blockbuster comic book flick formula that he falls on his head and knackers himself, leaving us with one of the most generic by-the-numbers super movies I’ve ever seen.
If you and your riffmates are looking for a feature to play Genre Bingo with, CUS fills all the boxes in its category. Hapless hero? Check. Hero’s parents dead? Check. The villain is an associate from the hero’s personal life? Check. The hero’s crush falls in love with him shortly after getting to know him? Check. Said romantic interest is injured/killed during the final battle? Check. The villain’s given moments of sympathy so we’re supposed to regret his forthcoming death? Check. The hero wins his first fight, loses his second, then comes back to win in the end? Check. Pride and/or ego lead to the hero’s momentary downfall? Check. The hero overcomes his fall from grace by embracing the wise words of a mentor/father figure? Check. Training montage?! BINGO! BINGO! BINGOOOOO!
Yep. That’s my biggest beef with this movie: I’ve seen it all before. Chan tries something a little atypical of the Asian fantasy epics, but over does it on the Americanization stuff. I’m all for tweaking with the General Tso recipe, but not with heaps of ketchup. The computer generated shit’s not the best, but I don’t expect it to be from any movie born of an outside-of-Tinseltown budget. Consider my expectations tempered in that regard. Also, despite my general dislike for Sunny’s goofball demeanor (and those stupid hand motions he makes every time he refers to himself as “Twin-Daggers”), finally seeing him buckle down and become the mature good guy in the final act, despite being hackneyed, made me hate him a bit less. He’s still a heaping tub of chodeslaw though for putting that audience member’s life at risk in the beginning. Psycho. Angel’s only a smidgen further north on the moral compass, because she didn’t almost kill somebody with her fuckery. She did start her relationship with Sunny under the animus of hitching herself to his rising star though, looking out for her own best interests while also getting to stick it to her former employer for letting her go. Because again, she was being replaced by a younger, more attractive woman, the same way she herself ascended to the position in the first place!
As noted prior, Hao and Wah are my favorite part of this titular besieged metropolis. They’re cute without being overly saccharine. They’re equal parts business and pleasure without going too far to either end. Hao’s conceit leads to his greatest loss, but he earns his redemption by becoming the hero’s teacher, then gets his peace in the end, fulfilling his duty and joining his beloved in oblivion. Aces. Sadly, when your supporting cast is more endearing than your main characters, you’re doing something wrong, Benny. Write better.
I’m going to end this episode on the movie’s groaniest groan-inducer before I take off. Remember when I said I’d get back to my ire over the destruction of the Japanese army’s Malaysian Frankenstein lab? Yep. Although the attack on the lab comes from outside, a series of precisely laid out explosions erupt inside of the cave in a designated order. I’m not the type to think that anything is impossible. Highly improbable, of course, but not necessarily impossible…except this. Could the Chinese forces have infiltrated the lair the night before, laid out a bunch of C4, and simply been waiting for the right time to blow their load of shock & awe all over the faces of their enemies? Sure. Maybe. No. Never. Stop. I’ve included a little visual aid to illustrate this particular blister on my butt.
Our next two episodes will be features in name but not in length, so they shouldn’t take four months to finish. Keep your eyes peeled like the delicious delicious grapes they are for the first such installment in the next few days, with the other coming out Sunday-ish. Until then, this is the end. The only end, my friend. Always live your life like a flying dagger!
But… if it’s “Universal”, how can it be “Limited”?
“GAH! I’VE HAD THAT FUCKING ‘CALL ME MAYBE’ SONG BURIED IN MY BRAIN FOR FOUR YEARS! FOR THE LOVE OF CRONENBERG, SOMEONE HIT ME WITH A SHOVEL AND DISLODGE IT!”
“Gacy Good Times International – introducing underage boys to crawlspaces the world over!” (Coulrophobics? I’m sorry. Coulrophiliacs? You’re welcome.)
So other countries have their own Criss Angel to suffer through? Kinda nice to know we in the US aren’t alone in suffering madoucheians.
“Your milk money or your life!”
“I know you’re hungry, but we can stop and get you some fresh clam strips. Those have been sitting under my seat for at least a week.”
“This is James Chang. James came out of a 10 year coma last week and has never seen ‘2 Girls 1 Cup’. We’re going to broadcast his reaction live, tonight on ‘60 Minutes‘.”
Looks like the next Wolverine movie will be based entirely on a version of the character found in those Chinese dollar store action figure sets. Maybe this will be the first step toward finally getting that Super Man Big Alliance team-up movie we’ve been begging Marble and CD Comiks for!
Up next in the Chinatown Burt Reynolds Look-a-like Pageant: Charlie “The Gator” Zhang!
If Beavis and Butthead taught us nothing else, it’s that nothing stops a nosebleed better than a tampon.
“I want to thank you for electing me your King Dingus for the season! I will do my best to uphold the honor of the position at the sacrifice of what little dignity I have left!”
Nice shades. If they look into each others’ eyes, will it create some kind of reality collapsing infinity loop?!
Hey! He stole Meg Griffin’s power to grow her fingernails long! Plagiarist!
“Well, you know we’re gonna end up in this 3-way eventually, so we might as well get it over with so we can make our car payment on time. Paper, Rock, Scissors for position?”
“I killed my stylist for dressing me in this stupid hat. Then I formed his face skin into my corsage!”
As much as I love Elizabeth Banks, this is what the new Rita Repulsa should look like!
Excedrin headache number 245 – You’ve been exposed to an experimental toxin and turned into a raging mutant. Your brain feels like its going to explode out of your skull, and simple aspirin won’t do the trick. You need Excedrin!… or a hole drilled in your head to release the evil spirits that are haunting you. Either one works, really.
Ever cried so hard that tears came out of your whole face? If not, you’ve never known real love. Congratulations.
This is why you never try to cuddle your pet porcupine.
“So you decided to turn the car we stole into your fiancee’s funeral pyre?”
“Okay. Did you happen to look it over first to make sure there wasn’t anything else in there? I only ask because I can’t find my wallet…”
Hao’s DIY car crematorium was such a success that he decided to really up his game and turn it into a career! He’s in such demand now that he’s burning entire skyscrapers full of bodies every day!
Yes! Someone finally answered the Craigslist contract I put out on Justin Beiber! Guess I better get that $120 together. Time to turn in my bottles and cans.
I told Nosferatu not to feed on those professional bodybuilders, but at least he’s seeing some sick gains! What vampire needs the use of their testicles anyway?
The ages old geek query of “What if Venus De Milo (from the live-action Ninja Turtles show) fucked Killer Croc?” is finally answered.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Three People You Meet in Texas”
Featuring: Iko “Merantau” Uwais , Arifin “Macabre” Putra , Alex “Rokkap” Abbad
Writer & Director: Gareth “The Raid” Evans
Also Known As: The Raid: Retaliation , The Raid 2: Berandal
Sequel to: The Raid: Redemption
Yep, I decided to stick around Indonesia for an extra week and knock out The Raid 2 while I’m here. I will neither confirm nor deny the rumors that I’m still here because a giant shark leapt from the ocean and ate my private helicopter, as that’s a matter for my insurance company to decide. Instead, let’s talk about Raid Harder and get this undercover boogaloo underway!
Oh. Uhm, before we get started, despite my best efforts to keep the twists and results of the first movie unspoiled, the simple act of reviewing this sequel is going to require that I undo my own efforts. So, if you don’t want me to pull the thread and unravel the poorly stitched monstrosity that was my Raid: Redemption episode, I suggest you take Lord Humungus’ advice and “Just walk away.” At least until you get a chance to watch the first one.
Are they gone? Cool. Now, everyone reading beyond this point has either seen the first flick or doesn’t give a dry hump about seeing a cheat sheet for it, right? Cuz even though I’m still restricted from typing word one about anything that could prematurely hasten the sequel’s “Sell By” date, I will be turning some MAJOR events of the original into a mold maligned mess in a matter of moments, starting……..now: – Jakartan SWAT team rookie Rama (played by real life Silat martial arts champion Iko Uwais) survived the eponymous raid upon the apartment complex from Hell. Crimelord-turned-slumlord Tama’s fortress of operations made him seemingly untouchable, but Rama’s Jenga™ game (and the help of his brother Andi) was just too legendary to withstand, and Tama’s Tower was toppled.
Well, supercop Ramadan is back. Picking up almost immediately where the previous film left off, our hero has uncovered the terminal cancer of corruption in the Jakartan justice system that allowed Tama to operate unabated. Upon Andi’s advice, he gets in touch with a man named Bunawar (Cok Simbara), who is one of the last corruption-free cops left on the police force. With a few of his trusted men, BunWarmer has the injured Bowo (yeah, he survived too) taken to a safe hospital, feng shuis captured traitor Lieutenant Wahyu’s brains outside of his skull, and recruits Rammy into their small operation of on-the-level officers. He promises to protect Rama’s wife and son-to-be but wants to send the Raid-er of the last arc (har har) undercover. The plan is to get him deep enough into cahoots with the syndicate that he can get the names of all the pigs on the bad guys’ payroll and flush ’em out fiercer than the trans-dimensional warp toilet that took Mario and Luigi to the Mushroom Kingdom in “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show” intro.
While Ram considers whether he wants to get this dedicated to his work or not, brother Andi (Donny Alamsyah) gets wasted by underworld figure Bejo (Alex Abbad), who plans on overtaking Jakarta as its new kingpin once current head bad guy Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) is removed from power…or gets his face blown off. Whichever happens first. According to Bejo, Andi apparently pulled an Icarus and let his ambitions carry his ass too close to the sun when he succeeded his previous employer Tama, following his death in the prior flick. Unlike Tama, Andi didn’t know well enough to know his role, shut his mouth, and smell what The Rock was cookin’. He dipped his finger in the brownie batter and ends up on the receiving end of a Nicky Santoro Special as a result. Don’t get it? No, it’s not a sandwich. Or a sex act. Go watch Casino. Joe Bob Briggs has a cameo! I’ll wait.
Before we get back to progressing with our protagonist, here’s the quick-and-dirty on the Jakartan underbelly. As mentioned, Bangun (which is presumably more powerful than a ban hammer) runs half of the city, while the other 50%’s governing faction is a family of ne’er-do-well Yakuza from Japan known as the Goto. If you need bad things done and laws broken, you might say they’re your “go to guys”… After which you’ll likely be stabbed in the stomach for making the same gut groaningly bad pun they’ve no doubt heard more times than Connor MacLeod’s katana was folded. The two sides have been at peace for the last decade, staying out of each other’s business. Crime and let crime. They each have their own bribery deals with the police, headed by the evil Commisioner Reza (Roy Martin), who’s the big fish BunBun is hoping to land with Rama’s help, provided that he agrees. Which I’ll bet he does, otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a movie.
And what is Bun’s means to his end? Ram Man’s going to prison under the alias of Yuda: a nobody from nowhere that nobody knows about. Yep, our big man’s going to the big house. Once there, it’s his job to get in good with ‘Gun’s sole son, Uco (Arifin Putra), which may or may not be short for “Yucko”. It’s never really addressed. To make sure Rammstein catches the bad guy’s eye right out of the gate, the crime he gets arrested for is beating the shit out of the son of the politician who got Ucky put there in the first place. Like any good actor, what’s Rama’s motivation for beating said offspring’s ass? He works with Bejo. Yeah, after seeing what this guy did to all those machete assholes a la Redemption, I wouldn’t want to be in the British Knights© of anybody under the employ of the guy who shotgunned Andi’s face straight into a shallow grave.
Ramrod goes through with the plan, kicking the shit out of the senator’s son (not such a “fortunate one” now, eh?) and getting himself incarcerated. When trying to get the attention of the major players in the clink, it doesn’t hurt to single-handedly take on fifteen guys in a toilet at once (in a fight, not a gangbang, ya perverts), which Rama does to moderate success. Punching out the biggest guy in the place? Not good enough when you’re doing time in the Eastern Hemisphere! You don’t cripple at least 5 guys in the first hour, you may as well get “fuck hole” tattooed around your mouth. Peacocking his titanium beach balls makes our hero the number one draft on wanna-be-Greaser haired Uco’s recruiting drive, especially given that he needs all the protection he can get what with his high profile status.
The two hit it off (kinda), and before you know it we FF>> a pair of calendars to Rama finishing out his sentence. The since freed Uco greets him at the prison gates and ushers him back into the fresh air of freedom, immediately taking his new BFF to meet dear old dad. After some awkward introductions and a getting a new set of threads, Rams is tasked by Bangun (seriously, his name sounds like an Ultraman villain!) to babysit Uco, making sure his brash, youthful aspirations don’t make the lad too big for his britches and put him on the wrong side of the wrong people. Speaking of the wrong people, Bejo’s consolidated his power enough to get some attention by the bosses, and may be eyeing his own ill-fitting pair of Dockers.
Our main man falls by the wayside for the middle piece of the movie, as the focus shifts to all of the basic crime movie political stuff: factions pitting factions against one another, struggles for power, illicit activities, peace treaties, backroom scheming, assassinations and so on. Rama’s really just there to keep Uco from killing karaoke call girls for this section. He comes back adamantium hard for the final act though, breaking limbs, splitting lips, and cracking skulls like ass kicking is his business and he’s having a clearance sale! There’s even a cool (albeit it oddly music deprived) car chase sequence that’s pretty damn spiffy, along with some righteous fisticuffs between Big Hero Ram and the movie’s trio of gimmick antagonists (credited as “Hammer Girl”, “Baseball Bat Man”, and “The Assassin”). It’s some of the best action I’ve seen since Set gave that classroom full of 1st graders PCP and duct taped razorblades to their fists! Every one of them got an A+ that day, I tell you. Except little Duncan. Poor kid never learned to guard his left…
Speaking of psychotic violence for personal enjoyment, for anyone (like myself) who was a big fan of Yayan Ruhian’s “homeless man murder machine” Mad Dog from Redemption, Ruhian returns for the sequel as Prakoso: the homeless man murder machine who works as the personal assassin for Bangun and family, and has done so for so long that Uco calls him uncle. ‘Oso is far more humanized than Mad Dog was (no surprise, since his name was Mad Dog, after all. Duh.), doesn’t share his antecedent’s predilection for unassisted conflict, and manages to look even more like an unwashed hobo. I can’t wait to see him pop up in The Raid 3 dressed like Jed Clampett and wielding a bindle like some crazy-ass Boxcar Willie Chan! That’s a joke that completely shits the bed since Willie Chan was Jackie Chan’s talent agent-slash-co-producer and not a performer. Fuck. Moving on!
This was originally intended to be Evans’ sophomore feature following his debut picture, Merantau, but as a barely proven writer-director at the time, the Welshman had to put it on the backburner and come up with the much more thrifty Redemption first to prove that he was indeed worthy of his original dream’s asking price. It became an international hit and Indonesia’s highest grossing movie of all time (a statistic I just pulled out of my ass, so I wouldn’t quote it if I were you), and as such, Raid 2 was born. The only problem here is that this is only tangentially a sequel. Not a shock, as it was written first and not intended to be a follow-up, but the idea of a rookie SWAT officer thrown directly into an undercover operation grates my cheese. I guess NetFlix training by sitting through half-a-dozen similar movies is enough to get by in the Jakartan crime world.
There’s obviously more story here, so the action isn’t as nonstop as before. But, as I said in the last review, Evans’ strong point isn’t writing, so adding more story and script to the formula does him few favors. Sadly, barring a few exceptions, if you’ve seen one undercover-pig flick you’ve pretty much seen them all. As well-versed in fighting chops as the cast is, they’re not a shade on Donnie Brasco when it comes to acting chops, nor is the tale half as intriguing and well twisted as Infernal Affairs (or its ‘Merican-izing, The Departed). I’m far from being a crime fiction fanboy, but I could smell the (french) twists on this one coming like Nozone can smell Junkyard taking his morning shit in the backyard 5 minutes before he even squats.
That reference is probably gonna require a Google or two, so don’t feel bad if it sounds like I was speaking Aramaic for a minute there.
Not wanting to sacrifice what got him this far to begin with, Evans still puts plenty of bang-pow into his movie. As a result though, the runtime on R the Deuce hits a harder to swallow 2.5 hours. Blame my underdeveloped gag reflex if you like, but 150 minutes for something like this is a bit much. The original cut came in at something short of 4 hours though, which is probably the stuff they’re going to Frankenstein Raid 3 out of. As much as Mr. Evans knows how to shoot a fight scene too, there are needless bits of shaky cam during non-action scenes, as if he’s got some kinda hyperactive disorder and can’t let the camera stand still for more than a few minutes at a time. It kinda kills the drama of the moment when you’re too busy getting dizzy to stay engaged. Oh well. Still not as amateurish and off-putting as Michael Bay’s bowel movie-ments.
As a guy who cites Jackie Chan, John Woo, and Sam Peckinpah as his action objects of idolatry, it’s nice to see Evans make movies that would do them proud. He also does the classic “director who’s also a fanboy” thing and puts in a few nods to other movies while he’s at it, including a *wink*wink* to Oldboy and a *nudge*nudge* to Versus. Shit, he even drops a reference to his freshman feature Merantau, since Rama’s alias Yuda was also Uwais’ character’s name. Pretty sneaky, Sis.
On a whole, The Raid 2 is a groovy slab of movie. Though he won’t win any writing awards, Gareth Evans is still a stellar action guy. He may be one of the best fight choreographers in the world! I probably won’t watch this again without doing the Fast Forward Fandango to soak in the beautiful brutality and glorious goriness, but my complaints are limited. Bring on the finale to the trilogy!
Before I go, I’d like to give every moviemaker ever a bit of solid advice: do something incredibly memorable and parody worthy with your movie’s subtitle. Don’t do something so generic as “The Revenge” or “The Final Chapter”, but do something that will make people remember your movie years after everyone has forgotten what the fuck it was or who starred in it or even if it was good or not. Truly unforgettable subtitles like “The Legend of Curly’s Gold” or “The Destruction of Jared-Syn” or, the inspiration for today’s alternate title, “Electric Boogaloo”. Trust me, I’ve never even seen Breakin’ 2, but I’d have to be subjected to some fucking Manchurian Candidate level brain rape before I ever forget something like “Electric Boogaloo”. Hell, it’ll probably be my activation code when I become a sleeper cell agent!
No matter which continent you’re on, “douche bag” is a universal language.
“Uggh! Was that you?! Have you been eating brussel sprouts lately, or did something just crawl up your ass and die?!”
“You may not have noticed, but my hair is beginning to thin slightly. Where do you stand on the ‘keep it natural’ vs. ‘shave it’ debate?”
“You’ve failed this city.”
Looks like the Taco Bell men’s room after Fifty Cent Burrito Happy Hour.
“Can I interest you in some of my homemade ‘Jailhouse Rockin’ hair gel? I mix it in my cell toilet. Just 7 cigarettes for an all-day hold you can depend on!”
Woodstock ’99: the Morning After
Indonesian Bruce Campbell!
“Pfttt! I pay an extra dollar for the Premium Alpo© and it tastes the same as the regular stuff! Waste of money.”
“If you EVER eat the last S’Mores Pop Tart again, I will make it so you spend the rest of your life sitting down to pee. Do you hear me!?”
“No! Please! I had to save up 6 months pay to FINALLY buy this Incredible Hulk #181! It’s the last book I needed to complete my Wolverine collection! DON’T TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME!”
They’re practicing the new men-only partner yoga – Broga.
“I’m telling you, man, if you bend your fingers up like this when you’re doing it, you’ll hit the g-spot every time! It drives the women CRAZY!”
Anubis will return next time in
“What’s Eating Gilbert Chan?”
Featuring: Roddy “Hell Comes to Frogtown” Piper , Shane “Divided Loyalties” Douglas , Kurt “Sharknado 2: The Second One” Angle
Director & Writer: Cody “Lucifer’s Unholy Desire” Knotts
“While I wish you would have enjoyed it…I loved reading your review…I laughed and laughed. You have a talent for writing funny reviews (though I would focus less on references to feces..you have a real talent for whit).
Anyways, thanks for the review, even though it wasn’t good.”
Did you know that gods have gods? Yep. You know that old adage “Respect your elders”? Same applies to us, hence the term “Elder Gods”. The elderest of gods, Cthulhu, recently blessed me for my Cthulhumas sacrifices by gifting me with the second highest item on my tribute want list: Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies. The highest? Same as it always is: 1985 Barbara Crampton. But, like the little girl who asks for a pony every year (looking at you, Demeter), I’m destined to never get the one gift I really want. Oh well, time to get the disappointment out of my system by kicking the tar out of my silver medal!
By the way, as a lifelong pro wrestling geek, I had a few dozen wrestling related jokes to make through this episode. However, I didn’t want to alienate 90% of my audience, so I’ll be making an effort to stick to the general garbage movie defecation commentary you normally get out of me. Consider it your New Years endowment from moi.
Battling Billy (Michael H. Richmond, whose missing credit I actually had to submit to the IMDB cast listing!) is a professional wrestler. Well, given that performing in high school gymnasiums in front of 15-20 people at a time can’t possibly provided him enough money to survive on, “professional” probably isn’t the right word. Let’s just say Billy’s a wrestler. Period. Semantics aside (not to be confused with “semen ticks inside”, which makes my ebony fur stand on end just typing the words), Billy’s ring name is a big fat blumpkin in the realm of grappler monikers. Given that this was written by an obvious wrestling fan, “Bruiser Billy” would’ve been a much better alias. Not just because “Battling Billy” sounds like some kid’s submission to a Masters of the Universe create-a-character contest, but because “Bruiser Billy” would’ve been a decent call back to Bruiser Brody, whose murder is one of wrestling’s most infamous instances. It’s serious “Diagnosis Murder” type shit. Check out the following link to get the story from wrestling industry mainstay “Dirty” Dutch Mantell, who currently goes by the Tea Party conservative parody persona Zeb Colter in WWE.
Brody’s murder aside, wrestlers like to claim that they’re a brotherhood in the locker room, but they’re really just like any other boys’ club: at each other’s throats the minute money or pussy comes into the picture. Such is the case when Billy crosses washed up (actual) professional wrestler Shane “the Franchise” Douglas (playing himself) by dipping his pen in Dougie’s ink…by which I mean Mr. Battling is tossing his hot dog down Shane’s hallway. Well, not his hallway. I mean the upstart’s fucking the old man’s girlfriend, Taya (playing herself)!
Anyway, catching Tay wrapped around the younger man’s waist like a cheap replica championship belt, Shane doesn’t take too well to the scene. Rather than breaking up with her like an adult though, he instead breaks Billy’s neck during their match with a “botched” tombstone piledriver move. Yep, he kills him with a move called a “tombstone”. No room in the budget for subtlety, I’m afraid.
An indeterminate amount of time later (I guess screen subtitling ended up next to subtlety on the budgetary kill floor), Billy’s brother Angus (Ashton Amhurst) hires promoter Cody Knotts (yep, it’s the director playing himself) and his Extreme Rising wrestling promotion to set up an indie show at an abandoned penitentiary. Anus, errr Angus, insists that Douglas and Taya headline the event, then lets Dog Knotts fill in (yeah, as a man-dog I hear dog knots are pretty filling…) the rest of the card with other has-been grapplers like Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, still active (just barely) guys like Matt Hardy and Kurt Angle, and some never-weres like what’s-his-name, who’s-it, and you know, that guy. Always wore a shirt? Yeah, him. All of which are self-players as well.
Quick time out. Angus’s ear raping Scottish accent would make Scrooge McDuck and Haggis McHaggis weep with disgust. Someone named Scott Miller gets credit for doing said voice, so Amherst didn’t even do his own lines?! What is this, Horror of Party Beach!? Scratch that. Party Beach‘s monsters were more realistic than the zombies we end up with here. They look like they were made up by a buncha brats during “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” at the Savini School. Blart. Anyway, as we were.
Shane’s given a scene with his extended family shortly after, where he indoctrinates his nephew to be a total Franchise mark. It’s supposed to somehow humanize a bloated sack of shit who we already know is responsible for MURDERING another man just because they became Eskimo brothers (look it up). All this interlude managed to do was make me want to slap the Fruit Loops out of the kid’s mouth, but the urge to backhand kids in movies is normal for me. Annoying turds. Once this is over, Shane and Roddy Piper have a scene where we learn that the two are apparently long term buddies, which is fine. My problem with the scene is the mob of children crowded around Piper begging for autographs. It’s not the kids themselves where my problem lies, it’s that nobody under the age of 25 even knows who the fuck Roddy Piper is! Maybe they mistook him for one of the creatures on “Yo Gabba Gabba!”? Sure, slap a kilt on him and replace his head with a bagpipe with huge googly eyes glued to it and I could see this being a thing.
Reunited for the show, Dougie Fresh and Skanky Not-So-Fresh hook up just like old times…which may very well have been anywhere from a few days ago to a few years. Again, it’s not clear how long it’s been since Billy got broke. Meanwhile, Piper makes friendly with a woman named Sarah (Adrienne Fischer), who’s just been hired as the new Extreme Rising head of marketing. Her whole hook for getting hired is that she promises Snotts (who spends their entire meeting feeling her up like he was that creepy uncle that isn’t invited to family gatherings) that she can make their little wrestling organization the biggest in the world…no. In a movie about zombies fighting men in tights, THAT statement is the most unrealistic thing in these entire 90 minutes. Suspending disbelief is one thing, but that’s the kind of crap that requires utter expulsion of your disbelief into the vacuum of deep space. I’ll let the Iron Sheik express my thoughts further on this one:
In a weird bit of idiocy, when the wrestlers’ bus arrives at the prison (nobody can afford their own cars, it seems), they’re randomly offered a chance to “challenge the gods” and “achieve their destiny” by doing combat “in the arena”. Are they performing in an abandoned prison or at Medieval Times?! Before they’re allowed off the bus though, they’re ordered to hand over their cell phones. Horror movie much? Well, that addresses why no one will be able to call for help later when they’re chin deep in living dead. Stupidly addresses, but addresses none the less. No sooner do our faces (wrestling terminology for good guys) get inside, then they’re confronted by Angus’s personal horde of necromanced undead heels (wrestling’s bad guys) and the movie finally lives up to its title. Well, it only took half an hour to get there, so my “finally” may have been a tad unnecessary. Wait a sec. Now that the zombie rampage has already started, what the fuck are they gonna spend the next hour on?! Uh-oh…
Yep, that’s it. The final 2/3 of the movie is really just a series of sequences wherein hordes of zombified extras chase the wrestlers and other cast members, killing them one-by-one, then moving onto the next. Do I look like a shitter? Because I shit you not. The script has to be about 10 pages long. Well, at least they give what they advertise, so that’s something, right? It’s like going into a place called “Ruptured Balls” and not expecting to get your testicles destroyed. They never said it was going to be enjoyable, they just advertised ruptured balls. Just like nobody advertised an enjoyable movie, just one where pro wrestlers go up against zombies. Hey, at least I can admit when my suffering is my own fault!
Sure, at one point Tying Knotts tries to write in that touching zombie movie staple where one of the survivors has to kill his best friend-turned-living dead a la Pete and Rog in Dawn of the Dead. The Romero one, you animals! But given how little time the movie actually dedicates to trying to make us give a shit about any of the cast on a personal level, NO time was spent showing us ANY connection between the two characters in question! Come on, guys. You invite us over to your place for a party, tell us it was a ruse to get us to help you move out of your 5th floor walk-up when we get there, then expect us to do all of the heavy lifting?! Fuck your couch. This is me throwing it through your big stupid picture window. Good luck getting your security deposit back!…and explaining to the cops how your couch ended up smashing your neighbor’s Lexus. I’m out!
Okay, I’m not out. I’ve still got pissing to piss, moaning to moan and bitching to bitch. While I’m on the topic of failed attempts to connect with the audience on a deeper level, there are a few more that shit the bed just as bad. Think Spud’s big brown breakfast in Trainspotting. These emotional moments resonate about as well as farts muffled by a pillow. Even the “will they die or won’t they?” scenes of manufactured tension end up as botched spots (wrestling lingo for failed moves). You know who’s gonna see the end credits and who’s just gonna wind up as the “meat” in an Arby’s pulled pork. Best example? At one point, Sarah’s overcome by a mob of grabby handed ghouls and struggles on the ground for several minutes as they paw at her. She eventually manages to escape without a scratch though because, surprise surprise, she’s scripted to have a future that doesn’t involve being fast food. Oh yeah, spoiler. Oops. Meh, you’ll get over it.
Speaking of pulled pork, whatever the effects guys spent on their “severed legs and torso” prop, they definitely got their money’s worth. Not based on the quality, mind you, just the number of scenes they use the stupid thing in. Remember that amazing scene where the asshole militant guy in Day of the Dead is torn in half while screaming “CHOKE ON IT!”? It was one of the movie’s greatest moments between his defiant death screams, the graphic realistic violence of the effects work and the fact that PEOPLE WEREN’T BEING TORN IN HALF EVERY 10 MINUTES. Sadly, the blood and gore is what you’d expect from a movie whose budget went to hiring out-of-work ex-wrestlers as its stars. It’s a whole bunch of red kero syrup and the occasional prop internal organs. Real effects zombie makeup and gore are an art. As stated prior, here it’s a shart. Multiple sharts, actually. Unrelenting, left and right, up and down, sharts. If it were to be named after a wrestling company, it’d be TNA: Total Nonstop Assblasters. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhharts!
Speaking of pulled pork…I mean, speaking of sharts, how about that soundtrack?! The music is generic half-assed metal that brings to mind a garage band trying to emulate Monster Magnet. Then there’s the ear bleeding bagpipe thrash shit. Holy Lucky Charms in a Guinness, Dropkick Murphys it ain’t. On top of that, of all the covers I’ve heard of “Amazing Grace” in my eons, this movie’s end credits easily has the worst. Worse even than when Mike Tyson did it on that clip from the Arsenio Hall Show that never aired. While my ears are still bleeding, let me call out the audio mixing here too, because it’s TERRIBLE! A lot of the lines sound like they were re-dubbed in post, while the music just explodes in your ears at random at a few decibels higher than the dialog. I shouldn’t have to have my stereo remote within talon’s reach when I’m watching a movie to keep the old lady in the tomb downstairs from banging on the ceiling with her broom.
Despite the few exceptions, there’s a general rule in the wrestling business that actors shouldn’t cut wrestling promos and wrestlers shouldn’t act. PWVZ reminds us why that is. Even if this dialogue weren’t…damn it. It’s hard to come up with a dozen different synonyms for feces. It’s just bad, okay? I don’t know how much of it is written and how much, if any, is ad-libbed by the performers, but it’s awful. Anyway, the acting. Mercifully, at least most of the wrestlers only have a few short lines before they’re killed off. The majority of the work comes from Piper and Douglas. At least Douglas lives up to his infamously self-serving real-life personality by fucking everybody else over left and right, letting other people take the fall for his bullshit, and trying to set himself up as the big hero. Not sure if the guy was acting or just being followed with a camera. Very convincing. Fuck you “Dean”.
Then there’s Piper. It’s so depressing to think that Roddy went from They Live to this. Or hell, from Hell Comes to Frogtown to this! The cantankerous Canadian who made his career pretending to be a scandalous Scot (didja enjoy the mind blowing I just put on your brain?) has been through a lot in recent years, beating cancer (as did Hacksaw!) and making appearances on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, but the guy’s lost a few steps. It’s a little too hard to believe someone who can barely walk (damn hip surgery…and age) fending off waves of the ravenous dead just because he’s the best actor on the call sheet. Then again, he does have the uncanny and possibly mystical ability to pull a crowbar out of thin air to plant into a ghoul’s head when the need arrives for one scene, so maybe that’s reason enough he would be able to survive. Wish I could pull that trick right now and put it through my computer screen!
Before I finish off this episode and wipe its residual remnants off of me with a moist towelette, I wanted to point out that Piper calls Angus a “red-headed stepchild Danny Bonaduche fuckin’ throwback red-headed Carrot Top fuck him reason for legal fuckin’ abortions”. It might be amazing, it might be awful, but whatever it is, there it is. He also declares that Angus is just an “All-American bully”, then proclaims his intentions to thrash him for being as such, despite Piper establishing his entire career on being a bully bad guy character who kicked Cyndi Lauper across a wrestling ring and smashed a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s face before whipping him with a belt. Such is the inherent hypocrisy of the face turn (what it’s called when a bad guy becomes a good guy).
So Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies, a movie I anticipated for the better part of a year. It sucked on toes worse than even I had feared it would. Yet Troma still picked it up for distribution, when it couldn’t hang with Troma originals on their worst days. Hell, Troma’s trailer is better than the movie just by tacking Toxie’s face onto it and making a title card that DOESN’T feel like the Great Muta spewed green mist into my eyes while looking at it. For your perusal:
In closing, I’d like to play a round of The Dozens, strictly for my fellow industry nerds on the wrestling memes boards. The rest of you can skip ahead to the screen cap-caps (captures and captions).
And…go! This movie’s so bad, Kevin Nash tore his quad while watching it! It’s so bad, if it had double d titties, even Dean Ambrose wouldn’t wanna master ’em! It’s so bad, it made Rob Van Dam stop smoking weed and made CM Punk start! It’s so bad, it made Shawn Michaels an atheist! It’s so bad, it doesn’t even need Triple H to bury it, cuz it buries ITSELF! It’s so bad, it must’ve been written by Vince Russo and directed by Eric Bischoff! It’s so bad, it botches more in 90 minutes than Sin Cara did in all of 2013! It’s so bad, it made Terry Funk retire FOR GOOD! It’s so bad, it made Jake Roberts AND Scott (Scotch) Hall relapse! It’s so bad, even Dolph Ziggler won’t sell for it! It’s so bad, it makes The Dead Hate the Living look strong!.. but does nothing for Roman Reigns. Fuck you, Reigns. Your new outfit looks like some shitty Tron cosplay that you couldn’t get to light up. Your “Superman Punch” is a twat move.
Unless you’re a celebrity, a politician, or just rich. Then you can kill people wherever you want.
Looks like somebody just discovered Photoshop’s font options.
Grown men (well, adult men) dangerously throwing each other around for the entertainment of a dozen or so strangers in a gymnasium. Living the dream.
Tea bagging an unconscious guy while flipping everybody in the audience the bird? I see Sammy Hagar’s finished “quality testing” his latest batch of Cabo Wabo.
Your writer-director, ladies and gentlemen of the audience. Just as shabbily thrown together as his movie.
“Taz Jaguar”? Is that your father’s name, or did you take your mother’s maiden name after the divorce?
Black Mass Ceremonial Parkas (white only): just $4.99 this week, only at KMart!
“Forget it, kid. You might as well call me Hulk Hogan because I don’t put ANYBODY over!”
Extreme Rising corporate headquarters. Except on weekends, when it’s the gift shop for the historical reenactment village they rent the space from.
“Come on, Roddy. This guy says he wants to Kickstart a Frogtown reboot and he wants us to star! This could be my big break! I mean, OUR big break!”
To hell with expensive CGI effects. Just paint him green and Kurt Angle could star in the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie!
Bet Dennis Rodman wishes he would’ve stay in North Korea.
Apparently these zombies don’t crave brains. They just want to sink their teeth into man asses packed into shiny gold trunks like big ol’ Hershey Kisses.
“Stronger Than Death”? Fuck you, Matt Hardy. We’ll see who’s stronger this Sunday in our steel cage showdown!
“With a name like Smuckers, our zombies HAVE to be good!”
“God damn it, Shane! You are NOT going to die owning me fifty bucks! Gimme my damn money, you asshole!”
Roddy Piper reflects on his movie career decisions and wonders if maybe he’s finally fallen to the point that he should’ve just let the cancer take him.
“You don’t need to spend ten grand on a facelift, baby. I’ll just pull back your face like this, slap on a little rubber cement, and you’ll look ten years younger!”
“Shhhh! Don’t let any of the other guys here you say wrestling’s fake or they’ll piledrive your head into your lungs! It’s a very sensitive subject!”
Looks like somebody wandered away from the Nightmare City set.
And this guy used to be the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Bet Roddy REALLY wishes he’d left the house in his kilt today, rather than suffer the undead wedgie of doom!
Anubis will return next time in
“Radio Ga Ga, Eh?”
Featuring: Glenn “See No Evil” Jacobs , Danielle “Halloween 4” Harris , Katharine “Ginger Snaps” Isabelle
Directors: Jen & Sylvia “American Mary” Soska
Writers: Nathan “Lockdown” Brookes , Bobby Lee “Lockdown” Darby
Sequel to: See No Evil (duh)
Oh look, 8 years after their maiden voyage WWE Films is still insistent upon making movies. And after sequelizing their generic action series The Marine 3 times too many, they finally got back around to that See No Evil 2 I’ve been writing half-hearted fan emails to them about this since 2006. Neither director Greg Dark nor writer Dan Madigan were allowed back to continue their tale though, as WWE instead opted to give the writer’s pen/keyboard over to a new pair (whose only other viable credit is another upcoming WWE Films release) filling the director’s chair with indie horror darlings “The Soska Sisters” (Jen and Sylvia). Their feature debut American Mary has been the subject of much praise around the underworld water cooler in recent years. Despite my feral lust for Katharine Isabelle, I have not seen said movie yet, much to the chagrin of my gore whore lady friends. But I promise it’s on my “to do” list…with about 70 or 80 other “must see” recommendations. A term that NBC made completely invalid with their Thursday night lineups over the last decade.
Last time on “The Tomb of Anubis”, we met big, filthy, sweaty, no doubt stanky (thank Osiris that Smell-O-Vision never caught on), The Hills Have Eyes reject (and possible bassist from a ’70s funk ensemble with a name like this) Jacob Goodnight. Which those who didn’t watch the closing credits never would’ve realized, because the sole utterance of his moniker within the movie proper was cut out by an editor who probably spent most of their childhood eating lead paint chips while standing in front of an active microwave directly under high tension wires!
Goodnight was (and still is) played by WWE professional wrestler Kane, as he was also credited previously. This time he’s not just “Kane” though, he’s Glenn “Kane” Jacobs. This break in kayfabe (wrestling industry term for the false reality in which their characters and stories exist) is probably due to some kinda snag, likely with the Screen Actors Guild. So, a “SAG snag”, if you please. Or if you don’t please. We are Siamese either way, chunder thunder. Anyway, in our previous “getting to know you” installment, we learned that Jake had a Norman Bates-ian upbringing at the hands of his tyrannical matriarch, who kept her baby boy locked in a cage and frequently abused him as punishment for having perfectly natural teenage hormonal urges. Almost as bad as the time my own mother got drunk at a party and outed me to a group of strangers over my masturbatory practices to the Marvel Comics Swimsuit Special. Forensics are still uncovering victims (or at least parts of them) to this day.
As with any movie slasher, Mr. Goodnight was disposed of by his would-be victims, and suffered one of the funniest ends in the history of the pantheon of lowest-common-denominator cinematic slaughterers. Though one of the most repugnant slasher film protagonists walked away from the ordeal in one piece (said piece being very much shit-shaped, as the guy was the epitome of asshole chowder), overall I thought the movie did its job better than most of its ilk and deserved a sequel. Well, here we are, 80% of a decade after-the-fact, and check out the latest aphoristic black cat to cross my metaphorical path under the proverbial ladder: See No Evil 2. Was it worth the wait? Find out now as we continue the surprising adventures of ME, Sir Digby Chicken Caesar!
Sorry, a recent friend of mine (was she?) turned me onto “Peep Show”, which led me to a Hulu marathoning of “That Mitchell and Webb Look” from which my brain refuses to rewire.
Following his head holing at the finale of the prior feature, Jake Goodnight’s been recovered by paramedics and rushed to the hospital in a desperate attempt to save yet another life not worth saving. He saves the taxpayers a bunch of loose change by flatlining on the way, and he’s instead dropped off at the loading entrance for the morgue. So already we’re starting off in that awkward spot as the audience where we know there was an 8 year gap between the movies, but we’re supposed to accept that the events of both are happening one after the other. Oh well. Still not nearly as awkward as those movies where scenes are shot out-of-sequence and over the span of several years, so characters’ facial features inexplicably do the time warp back and forth for the length of the run time…I’m looking at you, Equinox.
Working in the morgue are the “requisite cute girl that you know was an emo/goth kid in high school” Amy (Danielle Harris), her “opposite gender co-worker who’s in love with the protagonist but can’t bring it upon themselves to ask so-and-so on a date” Seth, and their “guy in a wheelchair who you just know is gonna end up being a Franklin Hardesty homage” boss Holden. Uggh. “Holden”. That’s the kind of name you give your character/child when you want people to cheer their graphic murder at the business end of something from the Black Friday Sale at Home Depot. “Holden”. It would be beholden of you to give yourself a real name, you fucking toerag!
It’s the night before Amy’s birthday, so she’s got plans to go out and party it up with her buddies at a bar. Adult birthdays really are shit, aren’t they? No bigger deal than any other Friday night, except for some party favors and another excuse to get blackout drunk because it’s a “special occasion”. Knobs. Amy has to cancel her plans though, because Jake and his 9 victims (sounds like a kids’ story about a serial killer) kinda take priority. Enter Seth and Holden (ARGH!), who call her friends and invite them to bring their party to the her!…in the basement full of dangerous chemicals and corpses. Okay. Probably the worst idea you’ve okay-ed since whatever it was that crippled your legs, Holden. The birthday girl’s big brother Will (Greyson Holt) comes along for the festivities and to play actual Big Brother (the police state, not the tv show) by supplementing Seth’s own self-cockblockery. Billy takes him aside and tells him not to get too attached to little sis, because she’s too good for him and doesn’t deserve to be stuck in a dead end (pun intended) job poking necrophiles’ dream dates for the rest of her life. In the words of the doctor who gave me my last physical, “What a dick!”.
Amidst the socializing and festivities, Amy’s freako fetishist friend Tamara (Katherine Isabelle) sneaks off with her hipster boy toy Carter (Lee Majdoub) to do some exploring. They’re the type of horror flick couple to which the term “exploring” implies “going in search of new locales and/or surfaces to do sex on”. Tamara’s squishy over the news that the body of the latest flavor-of-the-month serial killer happens to be in that very morgue and, being the sex maniac of the movie, seeks out the big galoot, as she’s very warm for his very cold form. Well, that explains Amy’s earlier comment about how she’s living TamTam’s “dream job”! The girl rubs her leather skirted, thigh-high socked self over Goodnight like a second coat of paint, until Carter gets grossed out enough to stop her and bang her himself. Note: if your partner spends their time eye-fucking a dead body while you’re inside them, it’s not a good sign. Then again, there shouldn’t be a dead body in the same room that you’re committing the meat market mambo in to begin with, so I guess you’ve got worse things to worry about than what name your hump buddy’s gonna mistakenly call you upon climax anyway. Carry on.
Through some manner of coital necromancy that’s hereto unexplained for the entirety of our tale, the slapping of the duo’s greased genitalia awakens our antagonist like the ancient utterances of some sort of sexy witch doctor. Maybe J’s got that Voorhees premarital sex murder slasher aura? Maybe it’s to such a degree that, when he’s in close enough proximity to people doin’ the ol’ pump ‘n grunt, even Death cannot stay his blood soaked hand from enforcing the only truly 100% effective form of birth control! Whatever the source of his resurrection, it’s apparently given Goodnight super speed too, because me manages to get off his examination table and slip out of sight during a brief moment that Tammy looks away from his body.
Given that his hook chain is no doubt sitting in an evidence locker elsewhere in the city, Goodnight has to make due with a veritable armory’s worth of bladed and/or gougey medical instruments. But first, he fashions a shiny new surgical grade hook chain. Because how else is he supposed to drag victims down a hallway in that “elevated horror of slowly being pulled to your inescapable doom” that audiences eat up? He only uses it the one time though. I guess he doesn’t wanna get typecast as “that hook chain guy”. Nobody else at Local Slashers’ Union 187 would take him seriously! But, at the same time, Jake’s given up his whole eyeball-plucking angle! That was his whole gimmick! Taking out Goodnight’s ocular dismemberment is like someone making a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel where Leatherface doesn’t wear masks he made out of human flesh. Or, for wrestling fans, it’s like Kane giving up his masked, deranged, pyromaniacal burn victim persona and just putting on something from Men’s Wearhouse and walking around like some white collar shit heel! Which WWE totally did. They call him “Korporate Kane” and he looks…well… Remember how weird it was when the middle school gym teacher became the new high school principal and started combing his hair and shaving and wearing a suit? That.
Obviously wanting to be taken seriously amidst his peers in the slasher crowd, Jacob knows you need a signature look. Knowing this, Jake dons a black apron (very American Mary-ish… at least from the one poster I’ve seen) and one of those protective mask appliances for people who get their faces burned off in comical barbecuing mishaps or pissed off squirrel attacks. Properly geared, he marches on to maraud this new posse of gudgeons (thanks, thesaurus.com!) while he flashbacks to the previous movie AND the previous movie’s flashbacks (flashback within a flashback… flashbackception!). No worries though, kiddies: the Soskas don’t sacrifice half the runtime to recycled footage of the first movie. Did enough of you even see Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 for me to make a tribute joke here? I didn’t think so.
From here you can pretty much guess how the rest of the movie pans out. Dead person, running, screaming, dead person, dead person, running, screaming, hiding, running, dead person, screaming, dead person, running. That’s it. There’s an interesting little surprise about 15 minutes before the finish, albeit one that comes about through entirely illogical circumstances. But hey, it’s a slsher flick, not a Shyamalan movie! There’s also this lovely little gruesome scene at the end that gives me fuzzy memories of the Tall Man’s “death” in Phantasm II. However, the mandatory threequel threat ending comes off like the kid behind the counter at KFC sneezing into your bucket of Extra Crispy before handing it to you and telling you to have a nice day. And that’s the best way to sum this whole experience up.
Even keeping my hopes at a minimum, I was still disappointed. Now, when I say “minimum”, I don’t mean the bare minimum. I wasn’t going into SNE2 with the sense of “If it’s better than Rise of the Zombies, it’ll be worthwhile.” No, I came at it like you should any sequel: if it’s isn’t better or at the least on par with its predecessor, then you’ve wasted your time. I’m not a fan of having my time wasted. I may have such a surplus of free time that I could use it for toilet paper every time I shit and still be bored for the rest of my life, but that’s MY time to wipe MY ass with, not yours. See No Evil 2 just takes the opening sequence of Friday the 13th The Final Chapter, then stretches it out into an entire movie to save on the cost of shooting in two locations. Sure, it looks okay while it does it, but that only takes you so far. You could be the hottest piece of flesh on the planet, but if you don’t know how to work your partner’s pieces, you’re spending your nights alone. Which is a complete lie, as there are people out there shallow enough to get off having sex with someone just because they’re physically attractive, even if they just lay there like a corpse. Be careful they don’t get up and kill you after, though.
Speaking of looks, permit me to be shallow for a minute. Only for a few sentences, I promise. Danielle Harris looks fantastic. She’s actually old enough NOT to look like a little girl now, so I don’t need to feel deep shame and tormentous self-loathing while wanting to: take her out to a nice romantic dinner, where I ask her about her hopes and dreams before she sits on my face and calls me a pathetic, disgusting pervert who isn’t even worthy of being spit on by her. Shiiiiiit. Now I need to wash my robes before they stain. On the opposite end of the dirty old man spectrum: I was so sad to discover that Katharine Isabelle is not the same weirdly hot slice of life she was when last I looked upon her with glazed eyes and pitched tent. I’m no chauvinist, and it could very well be some poor makeup work on her here or that her character is intended to be portrayed as a disheveled drunk (which she is); but Miss Isabelle looks like she’s basically Lindsey Lohan-ed herself since I last saw her. Which was Freddy Vs. Jason. I realize she’s actually had steady work in those last 11 years, which is great for her because she definitely deserves it after her mini-breakout with Ginger Snaps, so maybe my shock is solely my fault for not keeping up with her as she aged like any human being. I’m not the boner-inducing spring chicken I once was myself, but I’ve got the benefit of a massive mandibular mane to cover up my personal passage down the chronal chasm. That said, I’d still give up both of my big toes to have been in Kane’s place while Miss Isabelle was rubbing herself all over his deceptively undeceased cadaver, if for no other reason than to have “Totally got groped on by Ginger” etched in gold upon the door of my crypt after I depart. She could have half her faced burned by acid and the other half chewed off by wolverines, but she’ll always be Ginger to me.
And so it goes. A sequel I’ve spent 1/3 of my life waiting on finally lands in my lap. Not as the most enchanting stripper you’ve ever seen, but as the gangrenous, shit encrusted, vomiting homeless person that even the C.H.U.D.s want nothing to do with!
Alright, I admit that was excessive hyperbole for the sake of churning the cookies of as many of you as possible before ending this episode. Now, before those technicolor yawn bombs go active, I bid you all adieu!
Not a title card, but an endorsement that you should see No Evil 2: Evilectric Boogaloo.
Their names are Isaac and Fig.
“We’re such a cute couple. Too bad one or both of us will probably not have a functioning circulatory system by the end of the night.”
That moment you realize the only reason a hot girl’s been flirting with you for the last few hours is because she thinks you’re Seth Rogen.
The sad sad image of a middle-aged man on the phone with Hot Topic customer service because the lip ring he ordered doesn’t make him look as young as he’d hoped.
Holden REALLY wishing he still had physical sensation from the waist down… and remembering that his name is “Holden”.
“Trent, I really liked it better when I thought you were just another hipster dressing like a Turkish refugee, not an actual Turkish refugee hipster. Your balls smell like Tabbouleh and Patchouli. It’s gross.”
The awkward moment at a party when you look into a girl’s eyes and see so much crazy behind them that you fear you may not make it home tonight with your genitals intact.
Good thing I’ve already got hairy palms and limited vision, or this screenshot could cause me a lot of problems…
Cue the cries of “ZOINKS!”, turn on the Monkees music, and prepare for the chase scene through a hallway of doors that inexplicably warp space behind them in 3, 2, 1…
Sorry to be the one to break this to ya, Jake, but you’re gonna need more than a Sammy Davis Special for that!
Looks like somebody bought out everything at Dr. Giggles’ yard sale.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the worst lit hospital since Halloween II.
It’s no hockey mask, but… well… as I just said, it’s no hockey mask!
Anubis will return next time in
Featuring: Glenn “WWE’s Kane” Jacobs , Christina “Welcome to the Dollhouse” Vidal , Steven “Salem’s Lot (2004)” Vidler
Director: Gregory “Dead Man Walking (no, not that one)” Dark
Writer: Dan “SmackDown!” Madigan
Sequel: See No Evil 2
I was watching Dollman the other day for the first time in what had to have been at least a decade. You know who plays the villain in that movie? Jackie Earle Haley. Yep. Fucking Rorschache. Also known as the unfunny, sinister retard version of Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot I skidmarked all over a few months ago on this very site. And thus, I have scrounged up a tiny thread of reasoning for including this completely random information in this review! Progress! You know what’s NOT progress? Candy Corn Skittles. Uggh. Quick marketing research survey: would a better name for those little abominations be “Shittles” or “Skattles”? Please leave your answer in the comments section located at the bottom of this review. You will not be compensated for your time.
What was I doing again? Oh yeah, the review. Every once in a while a movie comes along that surprises the crap out of you with just how unassuming, yet spleen jarringly awesome it turns out to be! See No Evil is not one of these, but let’s just say that lowered expectations make for a much smoother ride down the bumpy back roads of writing opinion pieces on bad movies.
The time was 2006: World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the WWF for those of you who missed out on the whole World Wildlife Fund lawsuit many, many moons ago) had decided to get into making their own movies. With former company carrying beefcake charisma machine Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson making a sizable name for himself as the new go-to “action hunk with perfect teeth” for Hollywood, WWE head honcho Vince McMahon decided it was time to take preventive measures, lest any more of his potential bank makers jumped ship for the high glamour, big pay-off, easy living life of the Tinsel Town set. Wanting to get as much company exposure as possible without risking the loss of his contractual work horses, Vinnie Mac started a movie production division of World Wrestling Entertainment that would solely feature WWE contracted performers in the top billing. Not only was the hope to get the logo out there into the mainstream again (something the company’s been struggling to do since the booming days of “Austin 3:16”), but to possibly placate the locker room prima donnas’ egos. Or just drive their so-called “good names” deep into the Hollywood sewage so as to make them box office poison, killing their sad little dreams of starring in summer blockbusters. Either way, WWE Films is still manufacturing crap like a Play-Doh Fun Factory full of feces these many years later. But today we harken back to its original dipping of toes into the modestly budgeted movie hot tub. Embracing the “horror movies can be made for cheap and are guaranteed to turn a profit” commandment of the movie industry, it’s a simple little slasher called See No Evil. Not to be confused with the 1971 movie where a blind Mia Farrow is stalked by a maniac, though they do share both the visual impairment and deranged murderer themes.
Instead of going with a big name wrestler who already had some mainstream exposure (say “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or Paul “Triple H” Levesque who had slightly-more-than-minor roles in Adam Sandler’s The Longest Yard remake and Wesley Snipes threequel Blade: Trinity respectively), the WWE decided to play it safe and push ahead with a lesser known (by the mainstream) performer by the name of Glenn Jacobs. The staunchly libertarian Jacobs is better known by most as his in-ring alter ego “Kane”. For the uninitiated, Special K’s origin goes a little something like this: he’s a former full-body burn victim (amazing the advancements medical science has made with skin-grafting over the last 20 years) and the not-so-little brother to fellow WWE horror show phenom character The Undertaker; who himself played the role of an intergalactic bounty hunter with the voice of a small child in the Hulk Hogan vehicle Suburban Commando. I will never get the sound of “You’re a dead man Ramsey!” out of my brain for the extent of my deitic existence… Anyway, Kane came to the then-WWF to take revenge on his older brother, who he blamed for the fire that both scarred him for life and took the lives of their parents. As “South Park” so succinctly put it years ago (long after my Evil Dead Bride had been saying the same forever), this is the male soap opera.
Jacobs aside, the rest of the movie’s players aren’t household names, but neither are they unknowns fresh off of squeegeeing the casting couch. No, this cast is pretty much made up of “Hey, wasn’t she in the Freaky Friday remake?”, “Wasn’t he that guy in Stella Got Her Groove Back?” and “Is she Jesse Ventura’s daughter?!” types. By the way, for those keeping score at home, the answers to the previous queries are “yes”, “yes”, and “no”.
So, we’ve got a gang of never-weres headed by a guy who throws around half-naked men for a living. Not exactly a good start on the road to financial success for the hitchhiking WWE Films’ first feature. Will they have better luck using their thumb to flag down a ride to success? Well, when your other thumb consists of a writer whose sole experience is penning stories for televised professional wrestling programs and a director whose resume lays in the realms of music videos and spank-your-crank skinema (including such wank classics as Between the Cheeks , The Devil In Miss Jones 3 and a personal favorite from my barely pubescent days: Deep Inside Vanessa Del Rio), you’re setting yourself up for critical and box office suicide. Or maybe not.
Yes, it’s taken me an inordinate amount of time and space to get to the actual movie itself, but now let’s shed the formalities, do like they do on Mud Wrestling Night at Big Earl’s Drunk Hole, and get straight to the down ‘n’ dirty! One sunny afternoon, a pair of cops investigating a house upon reports from neighbors of screaming heard inside, discover a borderline Texas Chainsaw residence. If Leatherface had become a Born Again and gotten his interior decorating certification through ICS’s “At Home” program, this place would’ve been his first paying job. Thank you, Sally Struthers!
Inside the disturbing domicile, the fuzz find a young woman whose peepers have been jeepered right outta their head holes. One of the blue boys gets his face suddenly bisected via ax courtesy of a hulking, inbred looking sort of man, while his partner (Steven Vidler, who resembles the poor man’s Aaron Eckhart in this scene) is relegated to a life of having no need for left handed gloves. Despite losing a good 35% of his other arm though, the pig keeps his cool and pops a cap through the creep’s eyeball with his good arm, sending the mongoloid packing. Impressive. He must’ve studied at the same sharpshooter program Laurie Strode did that allowed her similar perfectly placed shots on both of her big bro’s visual receptors at the end of Halloween II. Our hero (who we come to know as Sgt. Frank Williams) manages to call in the emergency and keep from bleeding to death long enough for help to arrive…several hours later apparently, given that it’s well into the night by the time he and the man mountain’s victim are carried away from the scene.
Said man mountain is Jacob Goodnight (Glenn Jacobs), a name that’s never uttered in the movie, because some dipshit edited out the scene where Williams tell us this necessary tidbit! Like most movie slashers built like brick shithouses, Jake had a rough childhood. As if having a name that sounds like it belongs to an Amish vampire hunter weren’t bad enough, his crazy conservative religious fanatic of a mother had a thing for punishing his young male masturbatory efforts by locking him up in an animal cage, beating him repeatedly, and constantly demeaning him in an effort to make him a good little Christian soldier for the Falwell militia. Momma Goodnight was the type of matriarch that makes Norma Bates a strong contender for Mother of the Year… well, a strong contender for one of those “Best Mom Ever” coffee mugs… well, one of those “Not the Worst Mom Ever” shot glasses… maybe.
There was a heavy emphasis on the visually alluring form that Satan’s influence likes to take (in other words, “attractive women are evil!”) coupled with the message that the eyes themselves are the ground zero for sinful acts (I guess?), hence why Jake grew up to be a demented serial killer whose calling card was leaving his victims sans soul windows. Also, being forced to listen to “Jesus Loves the Little Children” on an infinite loop would turn anyone into a serial killer. Naturally, following his run-in with Sgt. Williams, Goodnight’s body was never found. Somewhere out there is a demented goliath with a bullet in his head and revenge in his belly, so you can bet a new bevy of blinded victims will be littering some poor community sooner or later. In fact…
“4 Years Later…” Sgt. Frank has been reduced to a plastic handed corrections officer, babysitting society’s teenage no-goodniks at the local juvenile confinement facility. Insert the generic hip-hop “heartbeat of the mean streets” music here. One such group has been deemed worthy of a shaving of their juvie sentences by a month if they do a weekend of community service under the supervision of our handicapable hero. In this case, the youngsters are tasked with cleaning up the burned out remnants of a luxurious old hotel so the local Historical Society can turn it into a homeless shelter. Juvenile delinquents are nothing if not an exploitable source of free labor! And because nothing promotes good behavior between young hoodlum males exploding with angst and hormones like grouping them into a social engineering sleepover with some equally non-law abiding female ne’er-do-wells, let’s make it a co-ed outing! Besides, sausage parties aren’t good for a slasher movie’s bottom line. There needs to at least be the potential for 24 year old boobs pretending to be 17 year old boobs to be shown on screen to keep the horn dogs wagging their tails.
If you’re still not 100% sure of the types of teen fodder we’re looking at here, think of one of those movies where the hard life city kids turn their lives around thanks to a loveable yet bumbling, camp counselor/youth league football couch who never gives up them. Only the Jim Varney/Rob Schneider/Cuba Gooding Jr. character’s replaced with a reject from The Hills Have Eyes. In other words, we’ve got your standard Rainbow Coalition of shoplifters, purse snatchers, pot heads, car thieves, wearers of miss-matched socks, “political activists”, and kids who stabbed their stepfathers to death after years of bad touches. They’re cookie cutter in the litany of slasher movie stereotype fodder. You’ve seen their types a million times, and nobody’s even bothering to try giving these characters depth anymore because we all know they have no real value beyond being turned into hamburger through graphic forms of violence. Speaking of cliches, to further the movie stereotype of people in charge making nothing but bad decisions, one of the boys named Mike (Luke Pegler), happens to be the racist, violent, drug dealing, ex-domestic abuser/pimp of one of the girls: Kira (Samantha Noble). I see no risk of conflict here. Smooth sailing for days… until that big inbred iceberg inevitably sinks this Titanic-in-the-making.
Meanwhile, Frank shows us he’s not a huge dick about protocol when he flirts it up with the girls’ handler (who may or may not be engaged) and lets the young ladies suck on stolen cancer sticks when they’re on break without doing the skeez thing and trying to make them tug on his Slim Jim for the privilege. SNAP INTO IT! To try and shoehorn another dimension into this deli-sliced thin tale, while everybody else is trying to hook up and avoid/engage in other uncomfortable social interactions, two of the boys go in search of a safe packed with money lost somewhere in the burnt out structure. The story goes that the safe is the legacy of the hotel’s creator and previous owner, Mr. Blackwell, who left it behind upon his death in the 1971 fire that claimed the building. Blackwell was said to be an eccentric Howard Hughes type to boot, so naturally the hotel is rumored to be littered with secret passageways and two- way mirrors and all that haunted funhouse bullshit. Perfect place for a homicidal maniac that was supposedly killed 4 years prior to hang his hat, right? And by “hat”, I mean the severed heads of his victims, whose eyes he removes to turn them into an affordable way of dodging the potential embarrassment of ordering a Fleshlight™ from Amazon…
Oh yeah. I took it there, Pvt Pyle. Now wipe that stupid grin off your face, stop sucking on that garden hose, and sound off like you’ve got a pair!
After our 30 minutes of mandatory “meet the victims” establishing scenes, the slaughterhouse goes live and the bodies begin to pile. From here on out it’s pretty standard murder music: the monstrous amateur eye surgeon plies his hobby on the sinners, adding a good half-dozen notches to the handle of his meathook. Well, more like five and a half notches, since he can only get an assist credit on one gal. A pack of stray dogs did the bulk of the work on her. And since the only cell phone in the place was stolen by one of the last two people to find out there’s a bloodthirsty colossus on the loose, nobody can call the proper authorities to rescue their asses. No one is safe from Jake’s wrath, as young and old alike are taken out with lumpy’s meathook-on-a-chain (that’s pushed as his signature kill utensil) and numerous painful looking eye gouges/pluckings. Makes me wonder if writer Dan Madigan didn’t take at least one happy memory away from his assumed viewing of Gigli.
Back to the cell phone thing for a side note, it’s too bad Jake-Off couldn’t have gotten a job as a theater usher. Given what he does to said victim with her phone, I’d love to see him enforcing the “please turn off your cell” suggestion before the features play. It’s one request that SHOULD be turned into a law punishable by a cruel and unusual death sentence!
Margaret, the elderly lady who organized this whole clean-up project, eventually reveals herself to be Jake’s mom (one of those spoilers that’s barely a spoiler because it’s practically rubbing against your face the entire time), and she’s really got her granny panties full of fiberglass over the way her baby boy has kept Kira as a pet (due to his reverence for her big dumb Christianity themed back tats). To teach her goon spawn a lesson, Marge threatens to pop the gal with Williams’ recovered revolver. After 30 or so years of being cockblocked by Momma, though, Jake’s ready to throw off the shackles keeping his testicles cobalt tinted, and impales the old broad’s face on a spike! Good thing he never actually gets his dick wet though, because according to director Dark, Vince McMahon (who was an executive producer) reportedly wanted the towering meathead to be swinging one disturbingly huge tailsplitter (a full yard long, to be exact!) between his grimy thighs. I’ll let that horse cock sized image of depravity spit-roast your psyche for a money shot moment. Move on to the next paragraph once the little red light *dings* and your mind has been properly fried.
Oddly enough, Mike, the least redeeming of the cast of miscreants is the hero of the ordeal, as the racist, drug dealing, white trash pimp returns to save Kira and her girlfriend Christine (Christina Vidal) from the lumpy lumbering lout. Jake is beaten with a lead pipe like Mikey Myers getting wailed on by Paul Rudd at the end of Halloween 6 until the brute’s sent careening out of a 7th story window to his comical and ironical demise. Think Homer Simpson falling down Springfield Gorge, only with a length of plumbing in his face. And when he hits the bottom? A mangy stray dog uses his eye socket as a puppy urinal. It’s pretty much the highest high note you could hope for a movie like this to end on. Fuck, it’s a better ending than any of those big budget studio slasher re-hashers ever gave us!
See No Evil tries to be at least a little creative, even if just in regards to its antagonist. For instance, ever wonder how those celluloid slashers seem to have no problem finding their victims, even in a big place like, say, a 12-story hotel? In this case, Lumpy McEye-stab has tied lengths of wire to various items throughout the hotel (things dirty sinners would use, like beds) that all connect back to an old-fashioned service bell set-up. As such, every time someone sets off one of these bells, it’s labeled for whichever part of the hotel the victim-to-be is in. Hey, it’s pretty friggin’ clever in lieu of a Sliver Special (i.e. security cameras) if you ask me, so this works as a big pointy check mark in the “Positives” column. Hell, it’s a similar tact that was used by Re-Jason in the Friday the 13th remake 3 years later to help him patrol his Crystal Lake stomping grounds, so somebody else obviously agreed with me.
The gore is graphic, squishy, and passable for the most part, with many of the killings inducing the occasional cringe or wince of pity pain from yours truly. The final resting place for the cell phone is particularly satisfying. It’s painful, justified, left me with a warm glow in the pit of my torso, and put a soft smile across my chapped lips. Though this is a nice little change of pace from the plucking of peepers, there is a slight problem with the cell phone death scene, as it doesn’t involve the destruction of the victim’s oculars in any way. We already established that Jakey-Pooh’s got OCD for mutilating eyeballs, so why does he choose to break character for this one death? Could it be that he hates loud cell phone users enough to break his murderous mantra momentarily in the name of semi-ironic violent retribution, or am I just being a nitpicking shithead? To paraphrase an old adage: shitty is in the eye of the beholder.
Commenting on the caliber of acting in a slasher flick is like criticizing the thespians in a third grade Christmas play, so let’s just get to the man behind the camera. Though I can’t speak for Dark’s prior work, his aesthetics make it obvious that he came from music videos. Everything looks dirty and dreary and swimming in amber while the camera jumps around frantically and things tremor violently from time to time like the whole thing was filmed on top of a fault line for a Nine Inch Nails vid. Though many will thumb their big critical noses at this type of generic “frantic” movie making, I hold no such grudge. I wouldn’t call Darky or his final product “genius” in any definition of the word (especially since two of those definitions are for a Roman guardian spirit and a Muslim genie), but I do call it a half way entertaining way to butcher off a couple of hours from your day while waiting for something better to happen. All in all, there are a hundred-thousand worse ways I could think of to spend your time and money and a few hundred of them are sitting on the shelves of my DVD collection right now.
I took 8 years for a See No Evil sequel to happen (review incoming… like, next episode… HINT HINT), and that’s not really a surprise, given how pretty much no one saw/remembers the original. SNE managed to double its budget at the box office though, so even without setting the target audience on fire, it was a success for WWE Films’ maiden voyage. Glenn Jacobs didn’t become the next Dwayne Johnson (or even Kane Hodder), nor did Dark become the next David Fincher, but I stand firm (well, firm enough) behind my belief that See No Evil deserves better than to be lost in the bowels of slasher obscurity the way it has been. It’s a simple-yet-solid stab at an original “slash & scare” that deserves a rental/download by any appreciator of brutal bloodletting bad men the likes of Misters Myers and Voorhees.
One last happy thing to say about Glenn: before he became Kane, he had a far more hilarious other-self by the name of Isaac Yankem D.D.S. whose whole gimmick was that of a large and menacing dentist with a taste for pain and inflicting the kind of dental work that would make Dr. Alan Feinstone (a.k.a. The Dentist) take notes. Check out the following video for a taste of what Dr. Yankenstein had in store for his opponents, then come back here next time for some more visually challenged antics in The Tomb of Anubis! Keep fucking that chicken, kids!
Lionsgate and WWE Films? The hallmarks of quality. Truly a match made in Hell… not to be confused with the main event of Summerslam 1991… wrestling nerd humor.
Thank you, Thing. You’re always there when we need a hand. *rimshot*
Photo taken during JCPenney Portrait Studio’s 2003 Labor Day Sale. They were such a cute couple.
Production still from the new prequel movie, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Pups. [Disclaimer: in no way associated with Quentin Tarantino].
Are you sure TL Hopper wasn’t supposed to play the villain of this movie?… more wrestling nerd humor.
AH! HE’S A VAMPIRE! HE’S ONE OF THOSE DREAMY VAMPIRES!
For those who want to ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but can’t afford a day at Disney’s California Adventure, just head down to Big Zeke’s Discount Amusements in downtown Stockton! Get the real deal feel of what it’s like to be trapped in a falling elevator as Big Zeke himself gives you the (possibly final) thrill ride of your life! Cash only.
Actress Rachel Taylor proves, with this single screenshot, that she has all the range of higher paid “actress” Megan Fox. Possibly more. Probably more.
Do all women shower like this? I mean, do they only buy shower curtains so they have something to hide the unsightly soap scum when company comes over?!
On the back of Samantha Noble’s 8×10 headshots, it says “For when you can’t afford to pay Hillary Swank to do a nude scene”.
“I know having a giant meat hook stabbed into my trapezius should hurt like hell, but DAMN is it loosening up some deep stress tension! Don’t stop!”
“Nothing personal, kids. But, as a white man in a uniform, I’m afraid I have to place you under arrest for suspicion of having brown skin. I will also have to assault and possibly shoot you a few times whether you resist or not. Sorry, but it’s protocol.”
In that brief moment, Craig T. Nelson regretted every fishing trip he’d taken in his life… which was flashing before his eyes.
The truth behind what really happened to Katie Vick… sorry, last wrestling nerd humor. I promise.
I know this looks bad, but clearly he’s just helping adjust her jaw due to an obvious case of TMJ Syndrome.
Teenage Vinnie Jones’ mom tries to get him to eat some traditionally horrifying British cuisine. No doubt while saying something about not having pudding if he won’t eat his meat.
Not all that shocking, really. My grandma has to pull her piece anytime some jag-off cuts in front of her at the pharmacy.
What Republicans think Obamacare does to your grandma when she turns 70.
Okay, I know you want your shot to count, and I know you didn’t take lessons at the Laurie Strode Sharpshooting School, but I don’t think you need to get that close to somebody to score a headshot.
Kids? This is why, when your parent/teacher/doctor/dominatrix tells you “don’t pick at it”, you DON’T FUCKING PICK AT IT!
Anubis will return next time in