Featuring: Patrick “Wristcutters: a Love Story” Fugit , Wrenn “Boardwalk Empire” Schmidt , Philip “Life on Mars” Glenister
Director: Adam “Autoerotic” Wingard
Writer: Robert “’The Walking Dead‘”Kirkman
For years the debate has raged over the state of acclaimed gangster rap performer Tupac Shakur. Most people accept his violent demise in a gang related drive-by shooting. Some opt for the conspiracy theorist route and insist that the man is in hiding somewhere, asexually budding new brain rhyme babies in a self-sustaining shelter deep below the Andes mountain range until his enemies have all been destroyed and he can safely return to the public eye to retake his throne in the second coming of rap Jesus. But few know the truth I’m going to share with you now: Tupac Shakur is being held in isolation at Area 51, examined and experimented on following a run-in with a mythical creature that left him… changed. No longer the Str8 Ballin’ perpetrator of the Ghetto Gospel and purveyor of California Love, he is now the nocturnal menacer of the innocent known as The Tupacabra!
Now that that Unsolved Mystery can be dragged and dropped into the “Solved Shit” folder, let’s all move on with our lives together, hand-in-hand, into the Great Unknown. First on the docket for the undocumented? “Outcast”.
Not to be confused with hip-hop duo Outkast (who gave us Alpha level earworms like “Hey Ya!” and “Ms. Jackson”), today’s topic of interest has a lot in common with “Preacher” (see last week’s review). They’re both cable TV shows based on mature reader comic books that center around Christian religious horror themes and they both premiered on the same weekend. Is it enough common ground that the two would hit it off during a round of speed dating and litter a motel room floor with their vestments mere hours after first contact? Fuck if I know. I don’t speed date. When I’m on the lookout for an inkwell in which to dip my dick-shaped quill, I just hit up DeitiesBone.com for theological trim. Use the code word “ANUBIS69” when you sign up and get a 3% discount on your Platinum or higher membership fee!
Whereas preacher Jesse Custer’s tale is more about over-the-top violence and what-the-fuck moments while accompanied by his oddball associates, “Outcast” keeps its themes more grounded in traditional religious horror. Namely demonic possession and the resultant evictions of said Satanic squatters. Our eponymous outcast is thirty-something Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), who we first meet inhabiting his childhood home in self-exile. Living as a hermitous hoarder, Kyle’s living off of his savings account, munching milkless bowls of dry cereal and presumably just hoping the place will burn down eventually and take him with it. His sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt), however, refuses to let her brother rot in peace and forces him go out into public with her, baiting him with the promise of groceries and basically cuckolding her own sibling into eating less like a college freshman and more like a human being.
With the exception of the embarrassment that comes with being a grown ass man whose sister has just taken control of your basic life decisions, this isn’t exactly coming off like much of a supernatural horror show, is it? Well, I was just about to get to that part ya paranoid android, so just hold your hard drive!
When he was a young lad, Kyle was the target of some pretty savage Babadookian domestic abuse by his mom. Everybody in the neighborhood knew about it, but chalked it up to her being bipolar, or “single parent stressed” as people called it before brain science gave us the term that always makes you think about a bi-sexual polar bear every time you hear it. Don’t pretend like you don’t. Denial ain’t just the river Isis and Osiris used to take us anthropomorphic ankle biters on holiday.
So, much like other rampant instances of abuse in those days (the ’80s?), nobody said anything and everybody just pretended it wasn’t their responsibility. If this were the final episode of “Seinfeld”, the entire town would’ve gone to jail. But, said abuse actually wasn’t the fault of Kyle’s mom (who I hear is a super King Kamehameha bitch on Sundays), nor was it even the fault of her broken brain. Mrs. Barnes was possessed. Like Linda Blair, only with less head-twisting and “LET JESUS FUCK YOU!” stuff. Eventually she ended up catatonic in a long term care facility (I won’t spoil how), Kyle and Meg got married (not to each other, ya weirdo), and due to some complicated complications Kyle was forced to leave his wife and daughter, hence why he now lives alone in the seclusion of his inherited homestead.
While out resupplying with sis, our hero overhears some ladies gossiping about a local boy who seems to be suffering an unwanted Satanic tenant of his own. After some soul searching, Kyle inevitably decides to offer up his help to Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), the priest assigned to execute the evil spirit’s eviction notice. I won’t go any further with how the amateur exorcism plays out, but I will give you this much: it gives us our first explanation as to the title of the series and we learn from Anderson that said kid’s soul isn’t the only popular spot for demonic tourism in the area.
Unlike “Preacher”, I went into “Outcast” with my geek blinders on. Though I have the first 5 issues of the series locked away somewhere in my vault of four-color horrors, I’ve yet to read them. Much like the 2,000 or so movies I intend to review eventually but will likely never get through before my inevitable death at the hands of an enraged Charles Band. As such, I can’t verify or deny whether the show sticks to its source material or is veering from the creative path. Creator Robert Kirkman is not only along as an Executive Producer (much like he is with “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead”), but he’s also the show’s writer, so that’s hopefully a good sign for things to come as far as keeping the fans of the funnybooks happy.
The gore and violence are graphic enough to induce a few “what the fuck?!”s. The acting is fine. I haven’t seen anything amazing yet, but everyone plays their parts well enough. Fugit and Schmidt work well together as brother and sister, as do Fugit and Glenister as exorcist and sidekick. Fugit also does well in his portrayal as a shut-in. He’s proven that if he put a pillow under his shirt and grew out a huge beard and mullhawk (party down the middle and business on-the-sides!) he could play me in the adaptation of my award winning autobiography, Anubis: Browwed and Proud.
Oddly enough, my favorite part of the show was pint-sized actor Gabriel Bateman. “Oddly” due to my life mantra that child actors are the worst thing to happen to movies other than Uwe Boll. Young Master Bateman's (wakka wakka!) turn as the possessed little boy Joshua was great. Not so much for his vocal work (I was expecting something more demonic, to be honest), but because when we see him first possessed, the small things in his physical performance are very impressive. The subtle way he touches objects as someone experiencing them for the first time are perfect given that he's been taken over by a demonic presence that more than likely has never been subjected to our material world before. Kudos, kiddo.
Even though I gripe about how overplayed the possession/haunting theme is in current spookshow productions, I have to admit that I’m intrigued on the subject being shown in show form. You know, besides the two or three-hundred “ghost chasers” programs broadcast on cable channels that no one would watch otherwise, and whatever series that “Medium” or “Ghost Whisperer” may have beget, of which I have zero knowledge or interest. Season 2 was already confirmed before the premiere even aired, so there will be more adventures for our Outsider, Kyle Barnes (and whoever else survives these first 10 episodes). Speaking of, I’m curious enough to keep up with the show if for no other reason than to see if my theory about the origin of our hero’s eponymous moniker is what I think it is.
Coming from someone whose weekly television viewing habits are limited to watching 6 hours of professional wrestling, Comedy Central’s weeknightly 11pm to 12:30am block, and waiting for everything else to come to NetFlix/Hulu/Amazon in season-long chunks, it’s an interesting time for TV. Check out “A Darkness Surrounds Him” if you’re down with tortured characters battling inner demons and outer demons played straight and see if you like it. At worst, you lose an hour of your life you’ll never get back. At least it’s less time than you would’ve lost watching an Adam Sandler movie! You’re welcome.
Looks like Kayako got her hair stuck in a door. Again. Seriously, ghost girl, this happens every week! Just get the damn haircut already! You could donate it to Warlocks of Love! *rimshot*
“You’re my conscience? Like Jiminy Cricket?! Where’s your top hat and suit?”
“Look kid, could you stop worrying about my wardrobe and just kill your parents like I told you to?!”
I wonder if it took longer than a day to build that town.
Hey! Good to see Reg Cathey was able to still find work after FANT4STIC! Let’s hope Miles Teller isn’t so lucky.
Greyskull was here. (Google “Kilroy” if that one went over your head)
He kinda looks like Norman Reedus after an allergic reaction to shellfish.
Dear mothers of the world: please stop walking around pantsless in the presence of your sons. It can make for very confusing phases in their sexual development. It’s true. Do you wanna be responsible for the next Jeffrey Dahmer or Timothy McVeigh? I didn’t think so.
“That was my last cough drop! I need that soothing relief for my sore throat! Give it back you little monster!”
“You need not a brush, child! The power of Christ combs you! The power of Christ combs you!”
Well, at least somebody enjoys “Saturday Night Live” enough to advertise it through graffiti. Not the best spot though. And I have no clue as to which cast member that’s supposed to be. Maybe Bill Hader? But he left years ago.
I’m guessing that the real estate agent left out the part where Kyle would be neighbors with Jason Voorhees.
I know how you feel, kid. I react the same way when my Evil Dead Bride opens the blinds after my 3 day marathons every time a new Elder Scrolls game comes out.
When you said you had a problem with “a little mold”, I wasn’t expecting The
Spanish Inquisition Shunned House! My advice? Burn the whole place down, have holy men from several religions perform exorcisms on the remains, then put up a temporary residence like a trailer to see if it comes back before making any long term plans. Or, you know, just move.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Little Merc Made”
Featuring: Stephen “Shoot ‘Em Up” McHattie , Lisa “Ejecta” Houle , Georgina “Eddie: the Sleepwalking Cannibal” Reilly
Director: Bruce “Roadkill” McDonald
Writer: Tony “Septic Man” Burgess
Welcome to the first installment of my 25 part (give or take) series, “World Tour de Farce 2015”! Every episode will basically involve my ignorant American self (Egyptian godhood aside) traversing international bad cinema in an effort to make myself a more cultured Death God… and maybe expand my brand on a global scale into heretofore untapped markets, exploiting my core competencies with an eye towards productivity and connectivity. Sorry, I hired a business consultant to try and turn the Tomb into a profit and he just kept barfing stuff like that into my ears until I had to staple his tongue to the roof of his mouth. Anyway, stop #1 on this round trip is the maple syrup dripping, lumberjack spawning, hockey rocking, very polite Great White North known as Canada! And the landmark shown in our “Where in the World is Anubis Von Mojo?” teaser image? That’s the UFO Landing Pad in the town of St. Paul, Alberta! Yep, Canada’s got its own UFO landing site. Apparently Mars Attacks was never released in the land of the Doug & Bob McKenzie. You can read more about Alberta’s extraterrestrial airport at this link. Arm yourself with knowledge, kiddos!
I know I just reviewed a Canadian film a few weeks ago (Santa’s Slay) and a zombie movie last episode (Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies), but I’ve been itching to give Pontypool a viewing for a couple of years now, so fuck it. Here comes what’s guaranteed to be some of the most accommodating living dead (except they’re not) this side of Mormon Heaven! And if you don’t like it? Soory, hosers. I’ve got a thing for girls who say “aboot”. Let’s split a sixer of Moosehead, fry up some back bacon, enjoy the free health care and take in some Canucksploitation until we leave for our next destination!
People (well, 2 of them) have been preaching the benefits of Ponty to me since its release. The best I could offer them was the promise that it would have a place on my “I’ll get to it when I get to it” list. Well, I got to it. And sweet succulent jalapeno poppers dropped from the Virgin Mary’s hair pie do I feel like a better human being having done so. Let’s run the recap and afterward I’ll take a cue from Ben Murphy if you’ll “Permit me to explain wah.”
For starters, this is NOT to be mistaken for the documentary Pontius Pool, which followed Jackass member Chris Pontius through the summer of 2013 as he attempted to fill a swimming pool with his friends’ bodily fluids, while living within said gathering of secretions. It lead him on a downward spiral of madness and near-fatal body toxicity that won him 3 Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe, and 4 CableACE Awards… despite the CableACEs having been discontinued in 1997. No, this is Pontypool, based on the novel “Pontypool Changes Everything”, as written by Tony Burgess. Why does that name sound familiar? Oh yeah, it’s because his name’s up above in the “Writer” credit! Yep, he’s the same Tony Burgess who adapted the screenplay. I’ve never read the book because, as I told my high school English teachers, I’m illiterate. That said, given that the author of the book was also the author of the movie, I really hope this turned out to be a faithful adaptation. Especially since I’m actually going to break my illiteracy rule and READ the damn book now!
From the opening, I get a hint that there’s something interesting in store for my next 90 minutes as we’re greeted with an oscillator scope illustrating our opening narration from talk radio host Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie). Despite being played by a native Canadian, I’m presuming that Grant’s a transplant from the U.S. of A. given his unfamiliarity with the surrounding area and very American “cowboy” manner of wardrobe selection. “Presuming” rather than “assuming”, as I make it a point never to leave myself verbally vulnerable for the same “assuming makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘Ming’” retort that I prefer to inflict on others. And you never want to make an ass out of Ming. He’ll put his bejeweled boot a Mongo mile up your Flash Gordon.
The Mazzster’s a Don Imus-y type of “Fuck politically correct, I don’t care if people think I’m a racist asshole, you’re gonna listen to my opinion!” personality who takes his morning coffee 50/50 with whiskey. His radio perfect voice carries the morning show on CLSY Radio 660 (“the Beacon!”) in the small town of Pontypool in the province of Ontario. On the way into his shift one dark and snowy Valentine’s Day morning (it is Canada, after all), and after firing his agent over his cell, Grant’s stopped in the parking lot by an oddly acting woman who bangs on his car window while uttering something incoherent over and over again, only to slowly back away into the darkness when Grant addresses her. He calls out to her, only to be answered by his own echoes…though I’m not entirely sure they’re all his (he said, knowingly).
Joined by his no-nonsense producer Sydney (Lisa Houle) and starry-eyed tech engineer Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly, pulling off that “girl next door/looking good while not looking like she’s trying to look good” appeal so well), Grant goes about his morning business battling back his winter blues to give the hosers something to listen to on their way to cut down trees and wrestle beavers and play hockey and whatever else it is Canucks do for work. They’re your typical talk radio trio: Grant causes trouble, Syd tries to rein him in, and LA sides with the old man because she admires him and may or may not want to fuck him. That’s not just me being an old man saying that young girls are attracted to we fossils, through “daddy issues” or some misguided sense of “age = maturity = sexy”, either. My Evil Dead Bride actually said it as soon as we see their first morning exchange, so if that sounded sexist, blame her!
Editor’s Note: She was TOTALLY eye-fucking Mazzy. This is NOT UP FOR DEBATE.
After a morning of what I’m presuming to be their typical “office family” squabbles, news of a hostage situation comes in over the radio band with a pair of gunmen holding a van of people against their will… you know, hence the term “hostage situation”. Thanks to LA “accidentally” feeding it into the booth to him against Syd’s wishes, Mazzola (the Indians call him “Maize”) reports on it prior to any police approval, while also implying that everybody involved is probably drunk, including the alcoholic local constabulary. Following, the station is called to drop the story as it’s officially been “resolved”, leading to a nice little exchange between Mazz and Syd where she politely tells him that their listeners are small time folk who prefer their shared small town ignorance, as the cops are actually alcoholics and, while we’re peeking behind the curtain, CLSY’s reporter/weatherman/traffic guy Ken Loney’s “chopper” is just a Dodge Dart he parks on top of the tallest hill. Everybody knows it, but they just like to pretend his sound effects are the real thing. A town just oozing blissful ignorance. Mazz in turn opens up to Syd, confessing that he’s got serious depression issues and every winter wonders if he’ll be able to hold out long enough to see the Spring again. Cue the canned audience noise where everybody goes “Awwwwwww”, but in an awkward way where they’re all worried that Grant will lose it and hang himself from the only bridge in town.
Immediately following their little moment, another newsflash comes in about a big mob of people swarming around the office of John Mendez: a local doctor who’s had recent controversy with writing questionable prescriptions. “Chopper” man Ken (voiced by Rick Roberts) calls in with a play-by-play of the pure chaos on the scene, including “an explosion of people”, bodies all over the place, and military trucks and helicopters (real ones) coming in from out of nowhere. Mazztermind wants to cover the story, but Syd would rather keep the airwaves free of potential public panicking turmoil while she tries to dig up something official that they can report. Mazzter Blaster is forced to go ahead with the planned show, including a performance by their special guests: local a cappella group Lawrence and the Arabians! Fun fact: the guy playing the group’s titular leader is none other than writer Tony Burgess. Hold onto that one next time you and your friends are playing DIY horror movie Trivial Pursuit.
As you can imagine, this performance doesn’t sit well with our self-professed bastion of truthy journalism…until shit gets interesting when Maureen/Farraj, one of the “Arabians” (I see Canadians don’t have the hang-ups with wearing black face that we do down here in North America’s ever-expanding waistband), starts speaking gibberish and eventually just breaks down into repeatedly shouting “PRA!”. Hannah Fleming, who plays the girl, actually does pretty well with her brief smattering of dialogue and that’s saying something coming from the guy who’d rather watch the child actors of the world thrown onto one massive tire fire than have to watch them “act”. Good for you, Hannah. Maybe when you’re older I’ll get to see you in a role with a few more lines and a lot less racial insensitive minstrel show shit smeared on your face!
As more reports make their way into the station, we learn that the people from the Mendez incident have formed into a “herd” of maniacs, swarming like bugs over people trapped in their cars, and collectively making weird sounds (like windshield wipers) or speaking utterances and phrases in unison as if they’re all connected with a hive mind. While trying to sift through the deluge of updates, suddenly the BBC is contacting CLSY in an effort to verify reports that the rest of the world is getting – news about military quarantining of the entire town and a possible terrorist insurgency/mass political uprising in progress! Not much later, an emergency message broadcast breaks into the station’s signal, relaying in French about how everyone within earshot should avoid loved ones, using terms of endearment, and speaking English…and how they also shouldn’t translate this message into English… which Mazzy and friends do…over the air…oops. Keep fucking that chicken, Grant.
Ken escapes the mob, holds up in a grain silo somewhere in town, and calls in to report further. We listen to a man whose face we’ll never even see as he sobs on the brink of total collapse about things he’s seen today “that are going to ruin the rest of his natural life”. Don’t worry Ken, I’m pretty sure your natural life won’t be haunting you much longer. Over the air, Ken relates how everyone is acting less than human and more like wild-eyed like dogs, cannibalizing anyone in their path, and tearing people apart with their bare teeth. Listening to Ken narrate everything to us is somehow far more intense than if we were watching it ourselves. Seeing the three in the studio hanging on each panicked word just as desperately only adds to it. When he records the twisted baby-like screams escaping an infected victim’s throat before it dies, followed by Grant descending into his own auditory hallucinations inside the sound booth? Fuck. That’s some stomach churning Silent Hill levels of terror tension. The games, not those dumbass movies.
When the horror movie paranoia and isolation kick into full swing, Mazzter & Commander and Syd argue right out the front door and into the awaiting blizzard (like I said, Canada)…where a horde of mindless psychos nearby catch wind of their exchange and start screaming “DON’T YOU WALK OUT ON ME, GRANT!” together, mimicking Sydney. Director Bruce McDonald refers to the infected as “conversationalists” rather than zombies, given that they’re not dead and they’re continuously listening while repeating words in a twisted form of symptomatic conversation with their victims. A great concept, but a twist in the vas deferens for someone like myself who doesn’t want to type “conversationalists” twenty or thirty times over the course of a few dozen paragraphs. As such, since they’re all basically brain dead on a conscious level, I’m sticking with “zombies”. If you don’t like it, then in the words of the epic poet Homer (Simpson), go to Russia!…like I will be in a future World Tour installment! Hope they’ve got enough vodka stocked away. Not for me, for them. I’m a whiskey kinda guy.
Barricading themselves in the studio and attempting to maintain their sanity by going on with the show (starting with a surreal obituaries segment), Laurel-Ann joins the ranks of the zombies almost immediately after, standing in place and mimicking the whistle of a tea kettle as she stares off into nothing. This is when Doc Mendez (and his German accent?), the guy whose practice went up in an explosion of bodies and flames earlier, crawls in through a window! He hurries Syd into the sound booth with Snazzy Mazzy and starts telling us what he’s learned by studying the outbreak’s victims. Meanwhile, LA spirals into her own zombiehood as her co-workers watch in saddened horror. To make matters worse, Ken calls back in finally…only to start losing his own mind as we listen to him jibber-jabber away the closing incoherent lines of his life story. Mister T would not like this virus.
Syd drops a shocking little revelation about Ken after his “passing” that fits in with her previous theme of small town not-so-secrets secrets that folks would rather ignore than confront. The twisted look of surprise and disgust on Grant’s face during this is priceless and mirrors what the audience is probably feeling at hearing the same news. Anyway, according to Mendez (whose accent I can’t hear without picturing Dr. Scott in Rocky Horror), the victims of the virus degrade into little more than a “crude radio signal” that’s just seeking something to bounce off of. His theory is that the it’s some kind of “god bug” that spontaneously came into being and is spreading, unpredictably and possibly boundless, infecting people at random and reproducing at epidemic proportions. And how is this bug being passed? Through the blood? Through the air? No. It’s being spread through the mind. Specifically, through the English language. Somehow words are becoming “infected”, and when these infected words reach into a victim’s brain and are understood, it turns the victim into a mindless animal. It then forces them to “hunt” for more words. And when they find someone speaking said words? They rip out their victim’s throat. And if they can’t find a victim? They die. Violently. And Vomity. The only motivator for one animal to murder the fuck out of another animal: self preservation.
In an effort to stem the virus from infecting them too, Syd and Grant stick to communicating in French and through written notes, while Mendez rambles in what may or may not be unsubtitled German. Sooner than later, the mob make their way into the building, but are lured away by a recording of All That Mazz saying “Sydney Briar is alive” played over the outside loudspeaker. Because things can’t be that easy (remember, we’re in an outbreak movie!), a random blip in the power causes everything to reset, defaulting to a playing of the Canadian National Anthem inside the building that lures the mob back in, all shouting “OH CANADA!”. Mendez runs off into the blizzard shouting “Sydney Briar is alive!”, presumably to perish as he leads the maniacs away to give Mazz and Syd a chance for safety. So much for my theory that Mendez was part of some Nazi think tank whose experiment to destroy the world through a 70 year old genocide project got away from them, what with the zombos’ rambling about Hitler and U-Boats. Oh well.
Trapped together in a supply room, Syd works on drinking herself into a numb oblivion and writing stuff on the walls in Sharpie like a teenager, while Grant tries to figure out how to cure the virus. His theory? The reason people are repeating the words over and over again is to say them so much that the words lose meaning, thus losing their contaminating power. It’s a defense mechanism by their immune systems attempting to purge the invading taint. The Mazzter Baiter’s idea for a cure? Don’t just repeat the words until they’re meaningless, but reteach the infected a new meaning to the words. Example? When Syd starts to lose it, her trigger word is “kill”. Instead, Grant keeps repeating “kill is kiss” to her until her brain replaces the meaning of the word “kill” with the meaning of “kiss”, thus curing the trigger! It’s weird, it’s a bit heady for a movie most people will probably expect to be a basic zombie schmoz coming into it, but it’s different. It works though, with Syd whispering “kill me” after, leading to the resolution of that “just fuck already!” workplace sexual tension between the two as they trade spit. It’s like some kind of emo romance thing.
Grant makes one last broadcast in an effort to fix the problem, but it’s like putting a band-aid on a severed leg. Too little, too late. The only people who know the cure take it to their bomb obliterated graves with them as Pontypool becomes a victim of the Return of the Living Dead Protocol. But, to his credit, Grant Mazzy’s last words are spent shitting all over the heavy handed government who responds to something they don’t understand by murdering an entire town of people in fire and thunder. It’s a brilliant tirade, and I don’t use that word casually either, because this diatribe is fucking brilliant to behold. Stick around after the credits though, because there’s a fun, entirely nonsensical stinger at the end that gives our heroes a fucking insane Tarantino-ish happy (I think?!) ending send-off. I hope to see you on the other side, Johnny Deadeyes and Lisa the Killer!
Before I get into the technicals, I’d just like to make mention that the term “OPP” dances through the dialogue time and again. OPP stands for “Ontario Provincial Police”, hence its frequent usage in a Canadian quarantine flick. All I could think of every time I heard “OPP” though, is that Naughty By Nature’s message of what they were “down with” had a whole different meaning up North. In Canada, they must’ve come off as the most law abiding, Kilted Yaksmen supporting rappers ever!
Pontypool. Holy. Shit. Holiest of shits. My faith in movies as a means to grab me by the nose hairs and make me feel things has been restored. Freddie Mercury meme goes here. I have not felt this sense of dread and suspense licking my neck with its barbed tongue since [REC]. While that movie managed it by utilizing the “found footage” method to perfection, Pontypool does it on pure pacing. Oh, and Stephen McHattie (who looks a LOT like Lance Henriksen from the right angle). Stephen McHattie’s like…fuck. His performance is uncannily good here! It’s almost inhuman. Like my Evil Dead Bride said, he was like Dennis Hopper levels of grand with his perfect transition of casual into intensity into stoic into in-fucking-sanity and back into “fuck you” stoic. Mazzy keeps his shit together, but not without faltering here and there so we can be impressed with how quickly he regains his shit just when you think he’s gonna lose it down his pant leg. McHattie acts his ass raw. Down to the bone. I hear he had to sit on a hemorrhoid doughnut for a month after they wrapped filming before they could find a compatible donor for seat meat implants. So much more than I expected from the evil NRA guy from Shoot ‘Em Up. Odd coincidence how he’s the connecting element between the Tomb’s first two 5 star features… and weird as John Merrick’s balls how McHattie looks like Jon Astin on the DVD cover art.
The minimal approach is just so fucking potent! It’s full-on tension. I said it before, but it bears repeating: it’s a thousand times more effective than anything they could actually show us. There’s very little in the way of graphic violence (really, there’s just zom Laurel-Ann bashing her face off of a window and hyper barfing all over the place), but it’s the way that we’re relayed the violence verbally that haunts us. The voice acting by Rick Roberts as Ken as he tells us all of the horrors he’s seeing is fantastic. It’s intense, borderline heartbreaking stuff to hear. The characterization of our tiny group is excellent. Pardon me for finding myself unable to stop sucking it’s metaphorical dick, but this has to be one of the best slow builds I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for a fast paced splatter-palooza, this is not the movie you want. They’re great in their own right (one of my favorite sub-sub-genres, really), but Pontypool is all about the drama and gradual slide into deep horror. To keep you on your toes, there are also these weird, brain poking moments where reality seems to hiccup. As if the movie is a nightmare coming apart in places as the threads unravel. They’re not as blatant as the “PANCAKES!” scene in Cabin Fever, but they’ll get your attention.
Beyond that, there’s not really a whole lot left for me to say on why I love the maple syrup out of this motherfucker! Let’s bathe in a bit of the afterglow before we go.
There are/were two sequels to Pontypool that were actually planned before this initial installment. They’re supposed to provide more exposition, according to Burgess and McDonald, but given the nature of most sequels, this knowledge fills me with more apprehension than anticipation. When something unique really works for a movie like this (i.e. the isolation and the very slow-but-satisfying expositional foreplay), it doesn’t usually carry over to the follow-up. Remember how The Blair Witch Project and Quarantine both went from “found footage” benchmarks directly into paint-by-numbers horror movie sequels? I have this stabbing dread in my liver that Ponty 2: Electric Booga-Pool Harder would just try to be a low budget World War Z… or that could just be a serious infection from that uncooked meat I ate yesterday. Hey, I just can’t say no to ChiChi’s Baby Tartare Enchiladas! And yes, ChiChi’s does still exist, but only in China, Belgium, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Indonesia and here in the Underworld.
Given that it’s been 7 years since the first sequel was announced at the 2009 Cannes, and director McDonald and writer Burgess have had a dozen or so other movie and TV projects between their respective schedules since with NO sign of any actual progress on the proposed Pontypool Changes (not as good as my title, to be honest), I’m going to officially call it a Natalie Wood – dead in the water. Natalie Wood: the only kind of wood that doesn’t float! Or, if you’re going for a more “upturned proboscis” approach, you can call it a Virginia Woolf. Pinkies up, fuckers!
Oh well. As douche-snob shithead as this might sound, I prefer my PP pure… call me a hipster and I’ll feed you your mother’s insides colon end first. Just focus on the part where I “peepee” and let’s move on.
Pontypool was also done as an hour long radio play that was broadcast on the BBC’s website, which I was legit excited to hear of, considering the H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds” vibe I was feeling throughout the length of the feature. Sadly, all attempts on my part to find a playable version of it met with dead ends. The best I could drudge up was a YouTube video someone put together of Mazzy’s radio material as taken from the flick. Speaking of the spoken word, if IMDB is to be believed, Burgess’s original concept for the movie was going to be the “The Outer Limits” style oscillator image (seen in the movie’s opening) as the singular visual, bouncing along to Burgess’s voice as he simply read the script for an hour and a half… Might’ve been okay as some kind of performance piece, but as a movie you’re asking people to pay money to see? Outta your fucking mind. Besides, we would’ve been robbed of McHattie’s brilliant visual performance that came along with the verbal. A performance that probably gave Sir Alec Guinness’s ghost an erect lightsaber as he watched from Jedi Heaven. What does that even mean? I don’t know! I may have just become infected… TIME TO GO! GO! GO! GO? GO! GO! GO!
Seriously mine peeples, why wouldst thou be breeders of sinners? Get thee to a Netflixery and submerge thy selves in the Pontypool, lest I pity thee as fools, eh?
With the finale of our episode, so ends our time in France’s North American piece-on-the-side. The Canadian Chuck Norris, Zap Rowsdower, welcomes you to get the fuck out. See you next time in [REDACTED]! To the airport!
Typoo – what it’s called when your spelling and grammar mistakes are so far from correct, they’re just straight up unrepentant shit.
That’s a few too many man rings there, Grant. Just buy a pair of brass knuckles and be done with it.
The only movie where you can watch Joey Ramone sexually propositioning a fish. In real life he was more a marsupial type of guy.
This reminds me of Monkey Shines… but Pontypool is still a great movie in spite of that. Fuck you, Monkey Shines.
“Wait till she finds out that I replaced the morning weather report with a track of nothing but fart sounds! And that I replaced her coffee creamer with Ex-Lax! And that I replaced her birth control pills with rat poison! … What the fuck is wrong with me!?”
“‘Best part of waking up’ my ass. This stuff tastes like it was poured out of a ranch hand’s boot at the end of a long day.”
Ever since Laurel-Ann made the joke about how microphones are robot penises, Grant doesn’t like having his nearly as close to his face as before.
Ladies and gentlemen, the look of an actress who just realized her current role should probably be left off of any future audition reels.
“Why so serious?!”
That moment when you’re in the middle of introducing your morning interview guest and regret having a breakfast of nothing but coffee and bran muffins.
Grant gets a little too wrapped up in his latest promo read for Crazy Larry’s Discount Used Cars. “WE’RE NOT JUST CRAZY AT CRAZY LARRY’S! WE’RE FUCKING INSAAAAAAANE!”
“All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work…”
Anubis will return next time in
Featuring: Scout “The Runaways” Taylor-Compton , Malcolm “A Clockwork Orange” McDowall , Sherri “The Devil’s Rejects” Moon Zombie , and Tyler “X-Men” Mane as Michael Myers
Director: Rob “The Devil’s Rejects” Zombie
Writer: Rob “The Devil’s Rejects” Zombie
Let me get this little statement out of the way before we get underway: I’m not Hindu, so no cow is sacred to me. I just clogged my arteries with the greasy seared flesh and blood of a big double-cheeseburger before I started typing this up. As such, I don’t care what topic it is or how many people love it; if you put anything in front of me I’ll be perfectly happy to dissect it, roll it through breading, fry it up and eat that sucker for dinner. Some people aren’t so quick to agree with this lifestyle though. A number of those people see John Carpenter’s original Halloween, then immediately drop to their knees and start tossing flowers in front of its path in prayer for its safe journey. Fuck that. However, at the same time, don’t confuse me as being anti-Halloween ’78 because I think it’s “cool” to piss on popular movies. I’d rather shiv a hipster and jump rope with his entrails than deride something just because it’s popularly bandied around as a classic. Don’t jump to conclusions. If there’s one thing I hate (of the few thousand things I would rather see awash in napalm than have to accept the existence of) it’s dickheads and she-dickheads that jump to conclusions. I am anti-Halloween ’78, but because I just don’t like it as a movie.
Just because his initials are J.C. doesn’t mean John Carpenter should be getting his ego stroked like he’s the bastard spawn of Jehovah. If Carpenter himself had came up to me with his movie about a random masked killer stabbing teens and lugging around headstones for no apparent reason while tacking 200+lb men up to rickety little pantry doors with nothing more than a butcher knife, I’d just look at him and ask why I should bother. “But it’s just oozing with suspense, sir! It’s an amazing assault on the senses and my very minimalist piano-synthesizer score is icing on the cake!” No, dick brain (may I call you “dick brain”?), it’s really not. Who keeps telling you this is a good thing? It seems more to me like lazy storytelling and a simplistic slasher flick that people are just trying to sell as this astonishing allegory of cinematic greatness packed with more edge-of-your-seat suspense than the best of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”. I’d like to say it’s just because slasher movies were a new thing back then (and yes, I acknowledge Black Christmas, so shut it) and people were easier to impress, but I’ve been dumbstruck by people younger than I (usually jerking each other off in the back of Hot Topic) that think, for whatever reason, Halloween is something special. That it’s better than every gimmick slasher movie franchise that’s come since its release, despite its string of dick cheese (dick string cheese?) sequels. Though Season of the Witch is a fantastic movie (again, shut it). In the 20 years (and dozen or so other Carpenter movies) since I first watched it, I still don’t understand the nerd lust. If I were a more egocentric death deity, I’d say the people on Carpenter’s dick are all stupid and useless. But, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. Keep that in mind while you’re thinking of how to word the hate mail some of you send me when I your babies to the dingos like this.
Anyway, here’s what it comes down to: I like my killers with a background. I like understanding my monsters instead of just being satisfied watching them gut people for no apparent reason. It’s a weirdly acceptable trope for most generic ’80s slasher movies about the nerd/janitor/retard/hobo who gets burned with fire/acid by a group of teens/campers/bullies and comes back horribly scarred for a murder revenge tour of dollar store blood and butcher shop entrails. But it’s acceptable because most of those movies are never seen by casual viewers’ eyes, or completely forgotten by most of those who have. When your slasher is hailed as a high water/slaughter mark for the genre, I expect a bit more than “he was an evil boy and now he’s an evil man”. This is where Rob Zombie’s remake takes a different fork in the proverbial road and makes itself something more than just a copy and paste work up with a high-def coat of paint and modernized boob jobs.
Speaking of modernized shit, Zombie isn’t exactly clear about the time period this flick takes place in. When we first set our feet into the writer-director’s rendition of Haddonfield, Illinois, everything feels very ’70s. The music, the clothing, the hair, the cars. Everything. But that’s apparently just because Rob Zombie’s entire life exists in a ’70s sleaze culture aesthetic dimension, because this is actually October 31st, 1992. Anyway, let’s meet the Myers family! Haddonfield citizens that are so white trash, they could only have been born from a team-up of Tennessee Williams, John Waters, and a gallon of Wild Turkey. Matriarch Debbie (Sheri Zombie) works the strip club stage at night while trying her best to be a good mom during the day. Stepfather Ronnie White (William Forsythe, Daniel Day Lewis-ing the shit out of the “scumbag stepparent” role! ) is a crippled drunk who treats his step kids pretty much like every stepfather did in the ’70s. Eldest child Judy dresses like jailbait and has a rep at school as a receptacle for her male classmates’ surplus protein supplies. Baby Boo (played by more babies than Michelle freakin’ Tanner) is…a baby. And lastly, we have middle child Michael (Daeg Faerch, whose family apparently named him after a random handful of tiles drawn from a Scrabble bag). Mikey’s the kind of kid who’s always getting into trouble at school, has an unhealthy interest in dissecting animals (while they’re still alive) and likes to casually wear a cheap plastic clown mask in his spare time, because kids are weird no matter what decade they’re from.
The school principal (Richard Lynch in all his evil old man glory) calls in mommy to tell her about the uncovered evidence of little Mikey’s butchering of the poor, innocent, furry things and suggests that she hand him over to hot shot psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), who’s got that groovy “Donald Sutherland in Animal House” liberal college professor vibe going on. When he overhears the conversation, our boy Mikey storms off and eats a whole bowl of Life cereal. Not really. He actually runs off and beats the school bully to death with a tree branch that must’ve been partially petrified given the number of times he lays into the jerk off. The scene’s equal parts, “Yeah! Fuck that shithead up!” for those of us who were ever picked on growing up, and “Okay, that’s a little uncomfortable…” when the beating goes on for a while and the kid’s left with a bloody face crying and begging for mercy. I mean, I wouldn’t have stopped smashing his face in either, but having been a victim twice (and only twice…*menacing pause*) I’m all for bludgeoning bullies to death. Anyway, this is the point of no return for Mikey. Once you’ve graduated from killing four-legged furry critters to killing bipedal hairless (mostly) ones, the law kinda steps in and school counseling isn’t really an option anymore. So, before the cops discover his victim’s body (and have to identify him with dental records), our hero(?) heads home, goes out trick-or-treating, eats some candy, then goes about killing everybody in the house. Ronnie’s respiratory proficiency is greatly increased by the second mouth carved into his throat with a butcher knife, Judy’s boyfriend’s brains paint the kitchen floor courtesy of an aluminum bat (this is why you never call a kid “squirt”), and Judy herself gets a creepy incesty post-coitus leg tickle (barf) from her little brother (now wearing the series traditional William Shatner mask, introduced earlier by the aforementioned boyfriend) before Mikey installs a buncha new blood spigots in her with his stabbing utensil. Afterward, the junior psycho gathers up his baby sis and heads out to the front stoop to await Momma’s return from work. Nothing tops off a night of being leered at by perverts like coming home to find that your son has just violently murdered three people, leaving you the one that constantly needs their diaper changed and spends most of their time screaming and clawing at your tits… no, not Ronnie. I meant the baby.
The media shitstorm that follows would call the middle schooler’s killing spree “Manson-like in its viciousness”. When all was said and done with the most expensive trial in Haddonfield’s judicial history, young Michael would end up at the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium (a word that you can’t not hear in James Hetfield’s voice) some 100 or so miles away, under the care of… yep, Sammy Loomis. During their earliest session, Mikey tells Fruit of the Loomis that he doesn’t remember anything about murdering half his family, then claims he had nothing to do with the carnage. He even goes so far as to ask his mom if everyone at home’s okay, meaning the kid’s either be a huge liar or a brain fried maniac. Aside from Samwise Loomgee, the closest person Mike could call a friend at The Grove is kindly old Mexican janitor Ismael (Danny Trejo). Having spent some time behind concrete walls (and bars) himself, Ish recommends that Mikey lose himself in his imagination rather than let his surroundings drive him further down the tracks to Crazyville Junction. This advice only feeds the kid’s already unhealthy interest in masks (to hide his “ugly face”, which I have to admit, isn’t exactly Flinstone Kids spokeschild material), and his “room” (i.e. cell) eventually becomes a goddamn arts & crafts fair of handmade masks. Hell, if he keeps it up another 20 years Etsy will become a thing and he could make a fortune!
Despite mom making weekly visits and Loomis acting almost as much the compassionate father figure as he does the kid’s therapist, Mike sinks further into the quagmire (giggidy) of his own insanity. When he’s not brooding in silence behind his false faces, he’s having screaming rage fits. Loomis deems him “A ghost. A mere shape of a human being.” While this downward spiral continues, the good doctor documents his progress (or lack thereof) in a series of clinically sterile films that give an entirely opposite impression of the more nurturing facade he shows the lad in their sessions. Makes you wonder if Samuel Illoomisnati is more concerned with actually trying to understand Michael to help him, or just so he can be a big dick amidst his peers in the head shrinking community.
After one of mom’s visits, the little wide awake nightmare’s left alone with a nurse (Cybil Danning!) in the cafeteria while Sammy walks Deb to her car. Seeing a picture of Mikey holding Boo, the nurse makes the moviedom kiss of death by remarking that Boo is too cute to be his sister and turning her back to him. If you’re stupid enough to call a pint-sized multi-murderer “ugly” and turn your back to him while he’s within arms reach of a fork, you deserve the repeated stabbings to the neck that you’re guaranteed to receive. And she does. And that’s the straw that break’s Debbie’s brain. She goes home, watches family movies of happier times, cries the tears of a mother whose little boy turned out to be a serial killer, then gives her old friend Smith N. Wesson a Cobain Blowjob (also know as “Sucking Off the Saturday Night Special”).
15 years later, Micheal (who’s become Tyler Mane) has spent the majority of his life in lock-up and taken a straight up vow of silence since mom’s suicide. He’s also grown large and wide somehow, but it’s never explained whether he took up weightlifting as a secondary hobby in between mask crafting sessions, if he’s just a freak-of-nature man colossus, or if the local water supply is in the direct path of the waste run-off from the local bovine growth hormone factory. As for Loomis, he retires from the hospital so he can publish a book (and go on a national speaking tour) based around his time studying Myers that labels the mute galoot the purest definition of a psychopath ever to walk his bloody footprints across the face of the Earth. While mister big shot psychoanalyst’s off signing autographs and sleeping with a new psych school groupie every night, things go all to shit back at Smith’s Grove. In a drunken rape stupor, one of the scum suck late night janitors calls in his equally scum suck cousin so they can “break in” one of the new female incarcerees like Ned Beatty in Deliverance. Here’s where the dingleberries earn themselves a Darwin Award – they decide to do the deed in Micheal’s room, on Micheal’s bed, while wearing some of Micheal’s masks, as Micheal is sitting within arm’s reach, all while yelling at Michael and calling him a faggot. In the history of stupid fucking redneck ideas, this one ranks right up there with putting toxic waste in your moonshine and “Larry the Cable Guy’s Christmas Spectacular”.
To say these good ol’ boys get what they deserve (both from a moral standpoint and an evolutionary one) would be an understatement, as Michael kills the duo with his bare hands. No longer confined to his quarters, Myers makes the term “graveyard shift” a literal reality (or “litereality”) and murders the sanitarium’s entire late night skeleton crew (another term he makes truth). To prove to the audience that Loomis is correct in diagnosing Micheal a remorseless killing machine (maybe a lawnmower with a chainsaw bolted to the top of it with a face drawn on the front?), Zombie makes us watch as the homicidal goon even kills poor ol’ Ishmael in a drawn out segment of assault and water-boarding, topped off with crushing his skull under a tv set. Yes, Robby Zombo, we get the point: he’s a murder tank with a mustang engine when it comes to taking lives. Even those who have only ever tried to help him. Just leave Danny Trejo alone!
Finally, after 45 minutes of fleshing out our killer’s background, the beefy behemoth (or “bohemoth” as he’d be referred to later, in the sequel) is set loose on the unsuspecting public. His next victim is knife-wielding truck jiver Joe Grizzly (Ken Foree in full force ’70s throwback mutton chops), whom Myers gets the drop on in the middle of Joe butt wrestling a taco supreme in the men’s room of a truck wash on the way to Haddonfield. Our blaxploitation heavy puts up a struggle, but ultimately loses his life (and raggedy overalls that probably stink like the darkest recesses of Ammut’s colon) to the Shape of kills to come. The following day (which just happens to be Halloween!), after presumably walking the 100 miles between Smith’s Grove and his hometown, Miguel returns to the rundown remnants of the Myers digs and tears up the floorboards of Judy’s old room to recover the only-minorly-decayed Shatner death mask from where we’re guessing he stashed it that fateful night a decade-and-a-half prior before giving himself up. Now, we can’t have a slasher movie where the killer is our solo focal point, so let’s go meet the tender young flesh of our heroine, Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-”Straight Outta”-Compton)!
Hey. Remember the original Halloween II? Yeah, the movie where Jamie Lee Curtis dragged herself around a poorly lit and understaffed hospital trying not to get killed (again) for the entire thing, while Donald Pleasance fleshed out Myers Gen1’s backstory? Remember how Laurie turned out to be Micheal’s little sister? Well, same goes here. They won’t get to the big reveal for a long time yet, but I’m getting it out of the way now so we don’t need to sit on our thumbs waiting for the voice of Chucky to get around to the whole “I dropped the Myers baby off at a hospital two towns over after their mom redecorated the family room with her head guts” revelation. Besides, everybody in the audience knew from the moment the waifish teenager comes on screen and starts clutching her own tits and speaking dirty whorish teenager things to her own mother that she had to be the genetic spillage of some white trash titty bar dancer. Nature vs. nurture, folks.
So, Baby Boo Myers. Raised as “Laurie” by Cynthia (Dee Wallace!) and Mason (Pat [GilliganVoice] “Skipperrrrr!” [/GilliganVoice]) Strode. She’s a high school girl with high school girl friends doing all the high school girl things that reinforce my hatred of high school girls. At least it steels my resolve to stay out of jail by assuring I won’t be one of those chodes Wooderson-ing the jailbait at local cheerleader tryouts or field hockey practice. No, if anything, I’m more likely going to be the only masked slasher who interrupts the underage coitus before it gets started and demands the girl put a sweater on before I yank her lungs out through her gullet. Speaking of graphic purveyors of violent acts, Mikey finds little sister almost immediately upon getting back into town, as if she has a big electromagnet in her head tuned especially for butcher knives and other cleaving implements.
One of the less revolting high school girl stereotypes Laurie fills out is the “babysitting the neighbor kid on the weekends” role. Her particular source of income is young Tommy Doyle (Skyler Gisondo), who hangs on the young lady like a smart mouth barnacle while simultaneously decrying her gross girl cooties. Laurie will be spending her All Hallows Eve tending to Tommy and his would-be girlfriend Lindsey Wallace (Jenny Gregg Stewart), the second barnacle of whom Laurie picks up so her friend and fellow sitter Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) can plump her boyfriend’s Oscar Mayer wiener in her cooter oven. I have to say, Micheal Myer’s little niece grew up nicely since Halloween 5…and it’s okay for me to say that, because she was THIRTY while pretending to be an 18 year old here, so fuck you.
We’re gonna break out the Cliff’s Notes for the rest of the feature, because none of it’s really that important. Loomis comes to town, shouldering the personal guilt that he couldn’t fix Myers and adds a tool to his psychiatric repertoire that may just do the trick: a .357 Magnum. Brains are like TV sets – if they’re broken and you have no luck rewiring them, take a page from Elvis Presley’s book, pretend they’ve got Robert Goulet’s face, and put a big fat bullet through ’em! Local constabulary Sheriff Brackett (Brad Douriff), thinks Dr. L’s threats of a holiday holocaust are unfounded, so Sammy spends much of the remainder of the flick trying to convince the pig otherwise. Meanwhile, Myers just goes about killing Laurie’s family and friends. If you were a fan of the original’s unnecessary “headstone” death mock-up, or that infuriatingly stupid scene where Myers pins a 200+ pound man to a pantry door with the tip of a butcher knife, then congratulations because Zombie redoes them here. If you hated both of those scenes as I did, then wear a mouth guard so you don’t bite off your lip or tongue while trying to hold back your rage. It’s been 7 years and I still can’t pronounce my ‘s’es properly.
With the prelims out of the way, Michael spends the final 20 minutes of the movie chasing little sis around. He drags her kicking and screaming (until she… faints?) across town to their ancestral abode while the doctor and the sheriff (coming to The Hallmark Channel this Fall!) pursue one step behind. In the basement of the house, our speechless specter tries to make his sibling understand their connection, going so far as to remove his mask and drop to his knees to show her he’s no threat to her. Their bonding doesn’t go like he’d hoped though, as Laurie jams his own knife into his neck/chestal area before fleeing outside. Having no luck with getting this family reunion to work, Mike re-dons his Captain Kirk warpaint and heads out to carve little sister out of the Myers will. Just as he’s cornered Laurie and you think there’s no way she can escape, in comes the AARP cavalry with guns a-blazin’ as Loomis fills his former patient full of lead in the empty pool in the backyard. Whoa, hold your shit for one second. So the the poor white trash family struggling desperately to make ends meet had a fucking in-ground pool!? What the Night of the Living Fuck?! I call bullshit. Immersion ruined. Up yours, Robert Zomberson. Movie over.
Refusing to fall victim to the Second Amendment, Michael rises and drags Laurie from the supposed safety of the Loomis Mobile while the good doctor gives the greatest delivery of “WHAT THE HELL!?” I’ve seen in any medium. Don’t know how Malcolm McDowell was robbed of the Oscar for that one, but it’s a crime against good taste whatever the case. King Drama Club follows Michael back into the house and offers himself as a sacrifice to Myers’ wrath in apology for failing to cure him of his mania. The big guy grabs Sam’s skull and crushes/massages his…sinuses? It’s not clear. Looms looks dead, but manages to grab Mike’s ankle later to no real effect (except to establish that he’s still alive for the impending sequel?), to which our killer responds by…walking away from him. Huh. Not a very good killer, is he? Laurie grabs the doc’s hand canon, gets chased around the remnants of the house in a needlessly long chase sequence that could’ve been twice as effective at half the length. Something my penis and I know plenty about. Wakka wakka!
Their merry chase concludes with big brother shoulder tackling the petite teen through a second story window. When they awaken on the front lawn, Laurie’s face is all busted up, but that doesn’t stop her from grabbing the Magnum, straddling her sibling (ewww) and playing one-way Russian Roulette with his dumb rubber face until he finally grabs her hand (to steady her aim, methinks) and she unloads a big lead slug of “thicker than water” justice through his face. She spends her final moments on screen in a fit of Marilyn Burnsian “I BROKE MY BRAIN!” screams before we head into the end credits, interlaced with Myers family films of little Michael smashing a plastic bouncy horse with a stick in a chilling precursor of destroyed playthings to come. FIN.
Coming in at a beefy two hour run time, Halloween is a bit overstuffed. Rob Zombie’s that “get your money’s worth” cook who isn’t happy just serving up a burger at the barbecue. He slaps two ½ lb patties on a bun, then tops ’em off with lettuce and fried onions and tomatoes and pickles and hot peppers and chipotle ketchup and mayo. When you take that first bite, everything just falls out the back and sides and you get a mouthwatering avalanche all over your favorite fucking Blood Feast t-shirt. The movie’s just too long for its own good. Perfect example: too much time is spent hitting us over the head with how Myers is an irredeemable murder maven. Loomis gives us the skinny during a cut from his speaking tour and that does the job. We don’t need to watch the doc explain it to other characters again and again later. We got it the first time!
Speaking of time, I’m split on whether the way Zombie dedicates the first half of the movie to Michael and the second half to Laurie is a good thing or not. I know the movie is about Myers and not so much Laurie this time, but inherently this comes with another slippery slope to climb: centering your movie on a character that forfeits all vocal abilities and hides his face for the majority of the last half of the flick. This shift from making Michael the main character over to putting all the attention on Laurie (who spent her first half of the flick in a high chair and drooling all over her sippy cup) hurts the cohesiveness of the movie for me. How could this have been fixed? Maybe some of the time spent on chronicling Mikey’s stint in the loony bin could’ve been spent showing us exactly what’s been happening to Laurie all this time, so we could start to give a shit about her too instead of just dropping her in our lap later (and making most of us hate her from Scout Taylor-Compton’s first few lines). But no, Laurie’s history is all covered in some dialogue later between Loomis and Sheriff Brackett. Thus, the mild sense of audience vertigo remains. On the one hand, I’m glad that we get a slasher where the killer gets the spotlight and we see what made him the evil bastard he would become. But on the other hand, a true slasher is only as good as his victims, so you can’t NOT give your lead protagonist their time to make us give a fuck about whether they live or die. From a necessity point-of-view it works to fit both roles, but it still feels off to spend the first half of the movie getting to know one guy, then sticking him into the background as the boogeyman while we have to watch obnoxious girls being obnoxious. So, yeah. Time management and editing. Zombie could use a little more practice on both.
As far as the “tribute scenes”? If they were done in legit tribute of how “great they were”, then fuck it. I hated them. Could they have been done in a *wink*wink* or mockery? If so, they were played a little too straightforward for it to be believable. All the bullshit with the tombstone, the “guy stuck to a wall with a butcher knife” crap and the “Myers dressed like a ghost wearing glasses” scene are all accounted for. They all still put groans into my guts and my hand smacked squarely against my forehead.
Zombie knows what he’s doing with the violence though, ya gotta give him that. Rather than go full tilt with dismemberment and insides-on-the-outside, he has a knack for the simple-yet-brutal effect of a bloodied face. Whether it’s the school bully getting his karmaic comeuppance or Laurie after being used as a tackle dummy by big brother, both horror faces made me pay attention and gave me mildly nauseated squirms in that visceral oh-so-good way that few things do. Seemingly simplistic, but so effective when done right. As for the rest of his direction, Zombie puts more of an action flair into his stuff. If you’re the type who oozed your shorts over Carpenter’s thriller atmosphere in the original, this more energetic aesthetic isn’t likely what you were looking for in a remake. Then again, the damn thing’s been out for so long that if you haven’t seen it already, this review probably isn’t going to put this on your “must see” list.
In regards to the cameos: I don’t care if it was just Zombie giving his friends and horror movie idols a paycheck, or if he was trying to appeal to the horror movie geeks who like to point at the screen and name as many of the actors as possible. Either way, I still get that little kick out of being able to do the latter while everyone else around me is generally clueless. Granted, their lives are probably filled with more endearing and humanity benefiting pastimes than what I do on my days off, but being able to say, “Oh shit! That’s Clint Howard!” puts a smile on these lips in the morning.
As far the acting goes: meh. Everybody seemed to be into it, but there weren’t a lot of tour de force performances going on here. Possibly the fault of the dialogue on that one, though. I think Daeg Faerch was the surprising stand-out of the group, as his portrayal of young Michael gave me the legitimate creeps. He manages to play a disturbed-but-still-sympathetic lunatic child without tripping over the “obnoxious little shithead you just wanna smack upside the head” pitfall that other child actors in horror flicks seem inclined to do. William Forsythe was probably one of the best assholes I’ve seen in years outside of a Tarantino movie, but his role was short-lived as it was. Though I could’ve cared less if Laurie lived or died (preferably the latter, if we’re being honest), Miss Compton does one HELL of a scream queen act in her final moments that made for forget just how little I cared for the her up until then! She puts out such believable insanity in that moment that you’d think she just looked into the gaping maw of Cthulhu and saw a dimension of nothing but Carrot Top movies. As for Sherri, she makes a believable “broken down mom just trying to keep her family together”, but just because her last name is “Zombie” doesn’t mean she should let herself decay to the point of looking like a reanimated corpse. Her emaciated body nauseates me as her ribs try to poke out my eyes during her “worn out stripper” routine. Somebody order that woman a corned-beef on rye before she slips into a coma! Is she under the impression that trying to look like Keira Knightley will get her those fat Disney paychecks like Miss Pirates of the Caribbean? Not so, my dear. Please put something into your body other than cocaine and Scotch, okay?
Final judgment? The Halloween remake is a lot like the original with enough new material tacked on to set it apart from its source, and justify its existence. I liked it. I’m good with Michael Myers being an actual guy with a solid history. It’s far from perfect, but I wasn’t demanding my money back at the end. I think the movie actually improves on the life and times of one of horror’s flagship mask-wearers, unlike the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake that threw in Leatherface’s new origin as an abused child as little more than an afterthought. Or the Friday the 13th and Elm Street remakes that just straight up recycled the tales of their originals. Oh wait, that’s because Michael Bay was rubbing his grimy sweaty swampy balls all over all three of those. I almost forgot. Well, I tried to forget.
In closing, though I always welcome frank discussion and debate with our readers, if you’re a biased member of the Loyal Order of John Carpenter Fellatio Enthusiasts and you’re just going to write unintelligible rhetoric to me about how much of an ignorant “traitor” I am to the horror genre because I’ll take Zombie’s movie over Old Man Carpenter’s movie if given the option, keep two things in mind: (1) Carpenter gave Zombie the okay to do whatever he wanted with the movie (so it’s his inbox you should be packing) and (2) please at least do me the favor of spell checking your shit first. If your email looks like the transcript from an episode of “Maury“, you won’t get a response. I let somebody borrow my copy of “How to Communicate with Grammarless Dickweeds” and would have no idea how to respond…
Moral of the Story: Just because someone’s crippled doesn’t mean they can’t still crawl over there and skull fuck the shit out of you.
Little Johnny Gacey’s parents used to wake up to THAT every morning.
“Ahhhh, still smells like Mother.”
“Okay, which one of you jazzy hepcats called for a Groove-meister? Cuz he is here!”
Shit. And I thought my allergies were bad!
You know what happens to the first one to fall asleep at a party. He’ll wake up with penises drawn all over his face, no eyebrows, a Hitler mustache, his underwear in the freezer, both hands in bowls of warm water, and sitting in a very big wet spot.
Alright, who recorded over my horror movie with a Korn video?
Coming directly to video cassette (in 1992): Ted Danson is Dracula.
…still a better Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake than Michael Bay’s.
I’m a deranged pervert and even I wouldn’t take a date back to that bedroom.
The end to Robert Rodriguez’s epic faux-sploitation series: Machete Killed.
A tip to black men in slasher movies: stay off the toilet. Remember Miguel Nunez in Friday the 13th Part V? Exactly.
Nothing tugs the heart strings like the look on a girl’s face when she audibly farts on a first date. Memories.
I don’t mean to tell a professional how to do his business, Mike, but successful stalkers don’t usually just stand around in the open in broad daylight. I can see you. You’re RIGHT THERE. Just trying to help.
Dr. Frankenstein or the Ice Cream Man: which would you rather trust your hysterectomy to, ladies?
It only took him 20 years, but Charlie Brown’s second happiest moment came one Halloween when he finally got his ghost costume (mostly) right! His happiest? When he strangled Lucy later that same night.
They must be enrolled at Horror High.
“You can’t kill me! PLEASE! I had NOTHING to do with Holwing II: Your Sister is a Werewolf! I hated it too! Ahhhhhh!”
That awkward moment when you discover the parents of the kid you’re babysitting left their homemade porno tape in the VCR.
Michael Myers takes the series back to its roots as he stars in Walking Tall 4: the Resurrection of Buford Pusser. Meh. At least he’s not Kevin Sorbo.
Sure, they’ll turn away homosexuals, but I see eHarmony didn’t hesitate to approve Chris Brown’s membership.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Faygo 500”
Featuring: Jessica “The Illusionist” Beil , Jonathan “The Ruins Tucker , R. Lee “Full Metal Jacket” Ermey , and Andrew “Street Fighter Bryniarski as Leatherface
Director: Marcus “Pathfinder” Nispel
Writer: Scott “The Machinist” Kosar
Given how you’re one of those “SPORTS ARE ALL WE LIVE FOR!” states, you might wanna get some first aid cream for that sick burn, Texas. No, that’s A-1…actually, you know what, stick with the A-1. It fits the theme of tonight’s movie!
“Shake, Bake, & Remake” continues tonight with episode 3: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre…yet ANOTHER production of the living intellectual black hole Michael Bay. Originally a cosmic entity who came to Earth to steal the collective intelligence of the world’s inhabitants, with which he would power the dreaded doomsday device he planned to destroy his home planet, Bay discovered the perverse joys of bilking we humans of our hard-earned wages using big budget Hollywood productions that corrupted the creations of others to serve his purposes. His evil is eternal, and as long as his victims continue to murder their minds at his hands, his reign will remain unchallenged and continue to spread its corrupting influence until the childhoods of ALL people have been irreversibly eradicated.
Bay’s actually the perfect knob to produce a movie like this, because much like Texas his stuff’s all loud noises and bluster without any actual substance. Hell, even the way his company Platinum Dunes has made its name bastardizing other peoples’ work fits because Texas’s greatest boogeyman, Leatherface, is just a “remake” of infamous ol’ Ed Gein, a native of Wisconsin! Ah, Wisconsin…whose virtues can all be found in the MST3K episode for The Giant Spider Invasion, as seen at >>THIS LINK<<. PUDDING!
Okay, I’ve been shitting on Texas and Michael Bay long enough (at least for this episode), so let us tarry (Gilliam?) no longer. Let’s sink our teeth deep into the steak sauce soaked heart of the Lone Star State and have a family reunion with the Sawyers. Wait, they’re the Hewitts now? Damn it. Well, at least they’re not the “Slaughter” family anymore. Stupid fucking “Next Generation” Zellweger/ McConaughey bullshit. Damn it Kim Henkel, if you hadn’t contributed to the original Hooper movie I’d gas up my time machine, go back to 1944, and burst your dad’s testicles with an air hammer.
Much like he did 30 years earlier, John Larroquette narrates us into the proceedings, starting almost word-for-word with his original TCM intro (which was so great I used to have it as a track on one of my mix cds) before going into further detail about the post-incident police investigation and spoiling the ending of the movie right away by telling us that the mystery was never solved. What seems like the setup for a sequel instead rewinds us back to 1973 and a Scooby-Doo style group of 5 twenty-somethings in their Scooby-Doo style ’70s VW van. The gang are on their way back from a trip to Mexico, smuggling 2lbs of Tijuana Mary Jane, as they make their way across the Texas outback to a Lynard Skynard concert in Dallas. For our younger readers, Lynard Skynard are those guys that Kid Rock wishes he was when’s not pretending he lives in a trailer park in Compton.
Gone are Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother Franklin, replaced instead by our heroine Erin (Jessica Bile errrrr Biel), her boyfriend Kemper (Eric Balfour), and their friends Pepper (Erica Leershen), Andy (Mike Vogel), and Morgan (Jonathan Tucker). Because chainsawing an obnoxious gimp in a wheelchair only brings bad press in this day and age (11 years ago), all of our cast are able-bodied victims-to-be. And because audiences don’t like innocent victims, they’re smuggling the weed to make them morally impure and thus acceptable saw fodder. Of course Erin is the exception though, since she needs to survive the whole ordeal, so she was unaware of the illicit substance transferal, proclaims herself against it when she does find out, and subsequently turns down a toke of the communal joint when it’s passed her way because she’s “nauseous”. If Vegas was taking bets on the mortality rates for this group, “Erin is the only one who makes it out alive” would be 1:10 odds – in other words, for every $10 you bet, you’d only get $1 back when, not “if” but “when”, you win. Doesn’t make sense? Let it sink in for a minute, then go call whatever member of your family has a gambling problem and ask them to explain it to you. Every family has at least one. And if you don’t know who it is? Spoiler: it’s you.
While motoring down a deserted country road (i.e. every road in Texas not found in a major city), our meddling kids almost run down a young woman walking aimlessly on the pavement. In an apparent state of shock (an obvious victim of some manner of brutal torment), they offer the dazed female a ride back to civilization, only to have her whimper something about how she “won’t go back there” and condemn everyone in the van to their doom. She then pulls a revolver from between her blood caked inner-thighs (I used to know a girl who did photo shoots like that…minus the blood, of course), puts it into her mouth like it were Ryan Gosling, and sends her brains on the next bullet train to Fort Worth! With a massive hole blown through their rear window and their interior now painted crimson with accents of “Skull Fragment” White and “Gray Matter” Gray, the gang pull over to have their individual freak outs and try to remember the Drivers’ Ed protocol for “What to do when a hitchhiker kills his or herself in your back seat”.
Since they’re a few thousand miles too far from the San Fernando Valley to drop by The Wolf’s place (and trapped in a far worse feature), they opt to take their new friend (or what’s left of her) with them to the nearest semblance of civilization so they can report the freak suicide to the authorities. But, because they’re snarky tourists who do nothing but bitch about the stupid podunk no-horse town they’re in, they wind up getting the runaround (starring Stiffler and The Rock!) and eventually take a vote to decide whether to keep trying to hunt down the local constabulary or just dump Suicidey and get the fuck outta Dodge before they miss opening act Molly Hatchet and their sweet live extended rendition of “Flirtin’ With Disaster”. The gents vote for the hasty retreat, but the girls invoke the Veto Right of Cock Block, so once again, everyone’s going to be disemboweled because the ladies have misplaced sentimentality for some stranger who opted to ventilate the back of her brain pan in their Mystery Machine. Oh, the dangers of estrogen.
The search for the Sheriff leads our crew to an old Scooby-Doo style abandoned mill, where they run into a little deformed boy named Jedidiah (David Dorfman), who looks like he wandered away from the set of a Deliverance remake three sound stages down. He directs Erin and Kemp to the Sheriff’s home nearby, which is an old Scooby-Doo style rundown plantation house. Though there’s STILL no Sheriff to be had, they meet a stump legged, molest-y handed geezer in a wheelchair named Monty (Terrence Evans) who offers to let Erin use his phone to call the Sheriff’s office, while Kemper is elsewhere being introduced to big Scooby-Doo style goon Thomas Hewitt (Andrew Bryniarski) wearing a very non Scooby-Doo style mask that’s less “rubber werewolf face” and more “patchwork human flesh”. Kemp gets a splitting headache via sledgehammer (and I don’t mean David Rasche) and dragged off to become tonight’s main course while Erin is told her boyfriend went back to the van, so she heads back herself. Speaking of the van, Sheriff Hoyt (Lee “please save this movie” Ermey!) finally arrives, takes the gun the dead girl shot herself with and pops it into his empty ankle holster (that’s not good…), then has the guys help him mummify her in Saran Wrap and dump her into the trunk of his cruiser before leaving. When Erin comes back to no Kemper, the gang does the Scooby-Doo style “let’s split up (so we’ll be easier to kill)” thing with Pep and Morgan staying with the vehicle while Erin and Andy go back to the shithole mansion to search for their errant amigo. Rut-roh, this can’t end well, Raggy…
Grandpa Gimp (“Gimpa”?) catches the snooping kids meddling around the house and summons up his juggernaut kin to dispose of them in the most violent manner possible, which includes bringing the titular power tool out for its big screen debut. Erin escapes, but while being chased through the world’s largest labyrinthine collection of clothesline dried sheets Andy gets his leg bisected by the hungry teeth of Bubba’s, I’m sorry, “Thomas’s” flesh-rending, gas-powered, death dealing chainsaw. If you had to use a chainsaw to cut open a pregnant woman and remove her child, would the baby be…………… “STIHL-born”?! Wakka-wakka!
No sooner does Erin-on-the-safe-side (BLART!) get back to the van and declare her intentions to hit the road harder than Ike hit Tina (Don’t boo me! Dig out your Ouija Board and boo Ike Turner!), then Hoyt returns, this time acting even less like genuine law enforcement and just straight up starts torturing the remaining trio: threatening them, interrogating them, and ultimately dragging Morgan off in the back of his squad car. The girls are left to deal with Leatherface (a name that’s never actually used, but I insist on using for the rest of the review), who runs into the scene showing off his newest acquisition: a mask made of Kemper’s face, which is actually pretty damn creepy! Pepper dies when she tries to ward off ‘Face’s spinning death blade with her bare hands, and the gruesome stuff is left off-screen, likely because Suicidey’s self brain blowing probably burned up all of the MPAA’s allotment for graphic violence portrayed against women within a 90min run time.
Erin escapes to a nearby trailer, but as you can imagine, EVERYBODY within a 3 mile radius of the place is a member of this family. Such is the case with the two creepy ladies our protagonista encounters. Before she realizes it though, they exposition us on ‘Face’s backstory (he was born with a weird skin disease so HE HAS NO NOSE…shock…horror) and drug her with Celestial Seasons’ new Sleepytime EXTREME!!!!® herbal tea. She wakes up back at the house and gets dumped into the Hewitts’ confusingly HUGE basement, which is flooded with water for no other reason than to get Jessica Biel into a wet white t-shirt with no bra. She finds Andy clinging to his last morsels of life while suspended on a meathook, and tries against his wishes to lift him off of it, only to get it jammed in even deeper. Ouch. Finally giving up, Erin plunges a filet knife between her buddy’s ribs as his one last behest (all I can think of is Glen Danzig singing those last three words in his Elvis horror voice) before moving on and finding what’s left of Morgan, pummeled to shit and handcuffed with a gunshot in his back, doing what I can only assume to be basting in a bathtub full of filthy water. Practically carrying his busted ass on her own, they manage to escape the reappearing Leatherface thanks to help from the little deformed boy, who I’m starting to think may be ‘Face’s son…or nephew…maybe brother? Whatever. He could be his grandpa for all I know! Keeping track of an incest family tree is harder than figuring out the Pullman-Paxton Principle.
The duo escape to a nearby cabin/barn (all these dilapidated buildings look the same to me), but the struggle to save Morgan is fundamentally for jack naught, as he just ends up another sacrifice on the altar of the saw gods…and as a cautionary tale reminding you to only have your vasectomies performed by trained professionals! Now, having failed to save any of her friends, and the only remaining ham yet to be hocked, Erin takes flight once more. This time their Scooby-Doo style chase sequence (sans Monkees music) takes them to a nearby abattoir, partially because her shirt has now dried and needs to be drenched again in the animal shower. Ironically enough, I feel this is the ONLY place within running (and screaming) distance of that house that isn’t under Hewitt control. Not because it’s full of cows rather than humans, but because it’s just so damn clean and well maintained compared to EVERY other structure this movie’s taken place in up till now. For the first time in the entire movie (except maybe for the earlier scenes where she hot wires the van and picks a padlock with the tip of a pocket knife) Erin proves herself a potently bad-ass female lead when she lures ‘Face into a small locker room too narrow for him to maneuver his huge overcompensating chainsaw, then hacks off his fucking arm at the elbow with a meat cleaver! You GO, grrrrrrl!
Someone please hit me with a brick now. *THUNK* Thank you.
All awesomeness from the preceding scene is immediately flushed out to sea like so much improperly disposed of toxic waste though, because Leatherface’s arm does NOT spray geysers of gore everywhere, despite having MAJOR ARTERIES HACKED THROUGH! None at all! He flails around screaming his animal noises and recoups his still running saw without dumping so much as a pint of blood, let alone the gallons of ichor that losing half your damn arm would result in! I thought we had a moment there, TCM. We looked into each other’s eyes, stood on the verge of a deep, nigh-kismetic exchange of our very souls…and you threw up on my ceremonial reviewing robes. Expect my dry cleaning bill. And please don’t attempt calling me for another date. I won’t be kind. In fact, I may burn down your house.
Finally, Erin makes her way back to the family (long story about a truck driver I prefer to truncate for the sake of not wanting to type anymore about this movie) amidst a pouring rainstorm (can’t let that t-shirt get dry or the little boys in the audience will stop watching!), kidnaps a baby (again, not interested in explaining), steals Sheriff Hoyt’s car, and ends the movie on a high note by running the twisted bastard over THREE times (if you’re gonna do a job, do it right!) before escaping into the night… and narrowly running over ‘Face, who’s not only barely phased by LOSING HIS ARM, but somehow acquired the Jason Voorhees teleportation engine to get that far ahead of her in the time since she left him back at the plant.
In an epilogue (that actually continues our opening narration), we learn that ‘Face is STILL ALIVE SOMEHOW, thus threatening a sequel (that would be dropped in favor of a prequel before Lionsgate bought the rights from New Line) where I was hoping we’d see our villainous psychopath pull an Ash and run around with his chainsaw now strapped to his stump. Denied. Oh well. The weirdest part is that this epilogue is delivered through footage of a police walk through of the Hewitt house after the events of the movie proper. ‘Face attacks and (presumably) kills the cops in question while the camera is rolling, but John Laroquette never says anything about how or when the footage was recovered… or how the cops got their asses handed to them by a big galoot with only one arm. Whatever. Fuck it. The END!
If nothing else, Texas Chainsaw Massacre continues/started the general disdain of horror movie fans for weak cheese, needless remakes. I tried to go into it with no expectations so I could keep my disinterest pure, but when I found out that the writer of The Machinist was in charge of the screenplay, it came with the hopeful implication that this might not be the slog through sewage that I feared it would be deep in the cosmic vortex where my heart should be. In the end? Well, it was still a slog, but the shit sludge was more chest deep than eyeballs, so at least I didn’t get any in my mouth. In addition to the half-competent writer, I was happy to at least see director Nispel knew to remake Hooper’s classic shots of the wide open Texas sky. And he does a solid knock-off “homage” to Hooper’s eerie tracking shots of the family’s rundown abode, made all the more effective by the Hewitts’ decrepit plantation home. Speaking of creative, Hooper and Henkel were on as co-producers, but as far as how much of a hand they actually had in this shit show is unknown. I want to say very little, but neither are exactly well known for being infallible bastions of cinematic greatness. I refer you to my previous statement regarding a time traveling air hammer and exploded balls.
Now, we know why TCM is slightly better than our previous two half-baked remakes, but let’s really tackle why it’s still a steaming Texas Chili Bowl of a movie…and yes, before you ask, a “Texas Chili Bowl” is a poop-sex thing. The biggest offense? It’s boring. I checked my watch several times wondering how much more I had to sit through, and that’s REALLY not good when your movie is only about an hour and a half long. I had no real problems with Leatherface himself…except that he’s not ONCE called Leatherface…and the mystery is ruined when we’re very clearly shown his face…and they try to make him sympathetic by turning him into a ridiculed man-child with a skin condition…and this skin condition assumingly made the blood in his arms stop flowing…and they took away the whole transvestite thing because it was probably too “sissy” for a “scary” horror movie villain…and I couldn’t get over the fact that he was played by the same dude who was Zangief in that Street Fighter movie that was so campy it could’ve been a Meatballs sequel. So, yeah, I guess I had plenty of problems with “Thomas Hewitt” after all.
The victims were pretty much all useless skin sacks, starting the trend of Platinum Dunes characters that we couldn’t care less about when they’re being hacked to bits, and that’s NOT just because I’m a sociopath. When Alfred E. Neuman images get more of a reaction out of me than any member of your actual cast, you’re doing something terribly wrong. Speaking of the cast, whose idea was it to expand the family to include so many ancillary members?! When it was Cook, Hitchhiker, and Leatherface, or Drayton, Chop Top, and Leatherface, the family was at its strongest because we only had three members to keep track of and they each had their chances to stand out! Not only do the Hewitts have five or six (or seven) members, but out of the only three whose names I remembered, Thomas was one of the least dimensional, Jedidiah was only around for two scenes, and despite being the clear focus of the group, Hoyt feels like he wasn’t taken far enough. He came off less like the sadistic animal that Chop Top and Hitchhiker were, and more like just another Texas asshole with a badge.
Final judgment? If the saw truly is family, then this family member deserves to be driven out into the desert and left to the coyotes. Though not the strike that Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street were, this installment of “Shake, Bake, & Remake” was definitely a hard foul and has made no case that remakes shouldn’t be allowed by penalty of death via air hammer between the legs, for males and females. Avoid this Scooby-Doo mystery if you can, ignore if you can’t, and kick it in the gonads while shouting “NO MEANS NO!” if it persists. Say no to cash-ins, kids. Zoinks. Good night, patriots!
Moral of the Story: Brains look kinda like lasagna…so John Arbuckle is the first/most fucked if a zombie outbreak hits the Sunday Comics.
When asked if his cameo in Texas Chainsaw Massacre caused him any concern for his safety, Mr. Neuman replied, “What? Me wo… you know what, *expletive* this. Interview over.” before giving his interviewer a crass gesture and walking away.
An alternate time line’s Courtney Love in a dimension where Nirvana went on to have a long and illustrious career.
“Hey, I never agreed to have my likeness appear in a Michael Bay production! Someone get my agent on the phone! RIGHT MOO!”
Hey Jessica, don’t look it as a filthy toilet bowl. Look at it as a crystal ball showing you the future of your career!
It’s the rare San Diego ComicCon exclusive “White Trash Legolas” collectible variant figure! Buy one to resell and another to pose on your shelf making out with the mail away “Rodeo Clown Aragorn” figure you got for sending in 300 Lucky Charms box tops!
“Does anyone else hear banjo music and the sound of a middle-aged man squealing like a pig?”
Keep feeling around old man. You could be back there all day and you still won’t find anything. You’ll have better luck finding a hymen in a strip club than you will an ass in those pants.
What a mansion! It’s like redneck Xanadu! It’s Texas’s Tarra!
Lee Ermey tried to turn this role into a Reynold’s Wrap spokesperson gig with limited (i.e. no) success.
I was gonna make a joke about how good it was to see somebody finally shut Harry Knowles up, but then I realized this is actually him and I just feel completely ripped off.
Did you know that the best way to preserve old photographs is inside of a mason jar full of urine? It’s true! Don’t ask me how I came to that conclusion.
Special cameo by Michael Jackson! If he doesn’t have a nose, how does he smell? Awful. *rim shot*
Sweet mother Isis! That’s the most nightmarish thing I’ve seen since the unreleased Hulk Hogan/Bubba the Love Sponge sex tape! GAH!
Leatherface put a lot of effort into the mask for his Tony Stark Halloween costume, but everybody thought he was supposed to be James Franco and avoided him.
That reminds me, whatever happened to Calista Flockhart?
I think I’ll order a pizza tonight. I don’t know why, but I’m in the mood for sliced pepperoni.
Ahhhh, somebody saw Field of Dreams and thought it’d be a good idea to build a baseball field behind their house too.
“Blair Meat Co.”? A subtle hint that Platinum Dunes also plan on running The Blair Witch Project through the meat packing remake factory too? Probably not. They only ruin good movies.
“Now let’s get you home, little lady. Momma’s had a long night and she’s got a hankerin’ for veal!”
Anubis will return next time in
“The Shape of Things to Come (Looks Kinda Like William Shatner)”
or “Business Is My Business and Business Is Good… BUSINESS!”
Starring: Ed “The Pianist” Stoppard , Leelee “Joy Ride” Sobieksi
& Jeffrey “Saturday the 14th” Tambor
Directors & Writers: Jamie Bradshaw & Aleksander Duleryan
“It used to be the brands were formed from peoples’ desires. Now it’s the people who are being formed according to the desires of the brands!”
Did you know that, when played backwards at ¼ speed and amplified through a paper towel tube, the popular music song “Band On the Run” contains a repeated line of seeming gibberish? When that gibberish is run through Google’s translation program, first from “German to Icelandic” then “Icelandic to French” then “French to Portuguese” then given to a linguistics professor hallucinating on Absinthe to translate into Colonial American English, the rough result is “Beware Paul McCartney’s army of darkness”. Though most think this to be a warning heralding the End of Days by Sir Paul and an endless horde of unholy supernatural forces, it’s a common misinterpretation. The true translation is “Buy Paul McCartney’s armoires of dark woods”. That’s right, “Band On the Run” is, in actuality, a subliminal advertisement for Paul McCartney’s line of handcrafted cherry wood furniture. They’re beautifully made, sturdy enough to survive an F4 tornado, and heavy enough to crush any masked lunatic who might force their way into your home or office! And this marketing method? Brilliant. Speaking of marketing, let’s review Branded!
As much as I make it my policy not to spoil movies under the 5 year moratorium, I may have to spoil a bit more of Branded than some would like. It’s a fairly complex movie, and taking you from part to part without telling you how exactly we make the progression might just lead to more confusion than entertainment. And in the end, that’s really why I’m here: to entertain you. I’m certainly not here to entertain myself by talking about the movie because, in the words of Columbia (Rocky Horror), “Ha! I’ve seen it!”. I’m also not writing “SPOILER ALERT!” before every key plot point I divulge, so either gird your loins or go watch the movie before you read this. Made your decision? Good. Let’s proceed. Keep your hands in the car at all times. Do not stand up once the ride has gone into motion. Spit out any gum, chewing tobacco, or other potential choking hazards now, as we are not responsible for any fatalities that may occur as a result of rider negligence. Children, pregnant women, people with heart conditions, and the elderly should not be on this ride, so if you’re already here, well, tough shit cuz we’re not stopping it now!
Oh, and don’t misunderstand the title. I thought it sounded like some kind of cowboy version of Hostel too. It’s not that kind of “branded”. It’s a business movie about the powers of marketing.
Wait! I promise it’s not boring!
As a young British immigrant boy in Communist Russia (where Lenin created the idea of marketing via the very branding of Communism), our hero Misha fell asleep one night while waiting in a bread line. During his slumber he was visited in a dream by some strange deity resembling a cow-shaped star constellation. Upon waking from the dream, he was immediately struck down by lightning… FUCKING LIGHTNING! Being the most metal kid in the world, Misha wakes up from Mother Nature’s mighty sucker punch to find the rest of the line jockeys looking on in a combination of shock and not wanting to lose their respective places in said line. An old woman finally comes to his aid though, and portends that little Mish-Mash is gonna have a very “interesting” life. No shit! If he can keep from going into frequent epileptic seizures and wearing his underwear outside of his pants, do you know how much ass a guy who survived being hit by lightning will get in his lifetime?! MAD ASS! Mad. In math terms, that’s at least in the high 30s.
Anyway, to paraphrase that old lady, so begins one of the more “interesting” movies I’ve seen in recent years. Misha grows up (and is now Ed Stoppard) to discover he has a talent for manipulation, or as the white collar class calls it, “marketing”. Upon graduating from college with an all but useless degree in history, and with Communism proving to be a failed experiment amidst the previously united soviets, Misha decided to use his born skill for appealing to the masses by founding his own one man marketing firm. Desperate enough to take mob money to do so, he finds himself in the “uncomfortable position” that everybody who borrows from money handlers of ill repute find themselves in sooner or later. There’s a reason they’re called “loan sharks” and not “cash guppies”. On the verge of getting a lead pipe enema, Mish lucks out when a rep of the US government named Bob (Jeffrey “George Bluth Sr.” Tambor) comes to him seeking someone to advertise for major US companies as they slip their lubed up corporate tentacles into the eager consumer holes of a populace ready to buy blue jeans, Springsteen cassettes, and Star Trek commemorative plates for something more affordable than black market mark-ups. There’s just one thing that Bob asks in return for this exclusive big money contract – a little espionage. Yep, Bob’s bosses in the CIA want Mish to unearth dirt on his countrymen like a proverbial Killdozer-for-hire. In other words, Misha trades one deal with a devil for a contract with another.
As an aside (cuz random tirades are my thing), I know a little something about marketing, myself. You know who the greatest marketing geniuses in history were? The Egyptians. By using a written language that was nothing but pictorials, Egyptians were able to create an advertising method that would maintain throughout the ages, long after their society was consumed by the sands. Seriously! What’s the one advertising method that spans all cultures and breaks the language barrier no matter where you are? Yep, visual medium. Early man tried the same thing with cave wall paintings, but we Egyptians truly mass marketed the idea, to the point that’s it’s one of the most prevalent themes even the most average of average joes think of when you ask them about Egypt. Tell me you don’t look at Egyptian hieroglyphs and get a strange urge to buy laundry detergent or frozen chicken wings. See? Toldja.
Back to our flick-of-the-day, Mish-Mash enjoys a few years of the high life, becoming a big wig in the advertising industry until he makes the cardinal mistake of dipping his pen in the company ink. And by “pen” I mean his ding dong, and by “company ink” I mean Bob’s niece Abby (Leelee So-barf-eski)’s poon pod. Abby’s producing one of those shitty “female beauty is determined by clothing and cosmetics manufacturers” reality shows (i.e. “The Swan”) wherein they convince an “overweight” woman to undergo an extensive series of surgical procedures to unearth the “attractive” person supposedly trapped and writhing for release from underneath her current meat suit of a body. While helping his new girlfriend choose the perfect candidate for said excuse for entertainment, Misha’s plugging of Abby’s baby hole is quickly discovered by Bob in a sitcomian moment or overly coincidental mishappery.thanks to one of those constant Moscow traffic jams. It’s like the LA of the steel curtain. What a country!
In my best attempt to avoid some significant spoilage here, let me just say that a bunch of shit goes horribly horribly wrong for the young, oddly faced, lovers. When I say shit, I mean “Ammut after she ate those laxative brownies I was saving for Seth’s birthday” levels of shit. Said fecal avalanche comes about thanks to a sinister ”marketing guru” named Joseph Pascal (Max von Sydow!), who’s hired by a collective of fast food barons to bring their profits way up by whatever means necessary… WHATEVER means… When the smoke clears from the ensuing debacle Abby winds up forced back to return to the States, Mish abuses his marketing super powers and goes into self-imposed exile over the guilt, and Bob… well… damn it, just watch the movie!
“Six Years Later”, ScAbby returns to the land of (yak) milk and honey (vodka), hunts down Mish-Mash, and finds him tending cows in the middle of nowhere. Being a modern girl, she’s not down on the idea of living with Mish 400 miles away from the nearest wifi source and taking her midnight dumps in a filthy outhouse, so love-of-her-life or no, she’s out of there. After her departure (you’re better off without her, dude), our hero has another weird-ass vision like he did as a lad. In this dream-within-a-dream, he’s told to build a sacrificial altar, find the cow in his herd whose fur glows red in the setting sun, slaughter it on said altar, then BURN the altar, before finally washing himself in the resultant ashes, then wandering off into a field to almost freeze to death. So, basically, he has his own Inception-alized Field of Dreams Screams moment. Shit’s getting’ complicated…
Mishy awakens from his vision quest in the backseat of CrAbby’s car. She went back to try and convince him to return to society one last time, but just kidnapped his unconscious body back to Moscow instead. What if he’d died in her car? Was she planning on having him stuffed so she could keep him forever? Now THAT would’ve been an interesting ending! Instead, we continue on and finally get to the crux of the flick when Misha sees freaky little creatures squirming out of BlAbby’s back. Not just pink elephants and plaid donkeys, but floating parasitic aliens from a circus clown’s fever dreams. Shaking off these living nightmares, we go on to discover Abb’s become a mommy and spawned a brat named Robert since parting ways with Misha… HIS brat… his FAT brat… cuz, you know, StAbby is one of those single moms who’d rather give their kid all the junk food and stupid shiny toys they want rather than have to argue with them and raise ‘em like a real parent. I’ve known a few single moms (and moms who might as well have been single), and at least when it comes to sons, they fold faster than an origami master on a cocaine binge.
While trying to deal with his status as an instant father (and how much the kid’s already been warped by his milksop mommy), mister protagonist sees more of those freaky beasties all around him. Thinking that his noodle’s been overcooked and he’s due for a straight jacket fitting, Mish soon realizes that these otherwise invisible monsters are actually influencing their hosts to indulge in consumerism. Know why little Fatty’s so fat? The deformed sock puppet stuck to his back makes him eat nothing but fast food, and causes him great discomfort if he doesn’t get it. And if you trace these Capitalist parasites back to their source? They’re spawned from GIANT versions of themselves that nest at the stores and eateries that birthed them! Burn down Wall Street! Occupy the strip malls! Kill Ronald McDonald! Insert additional rhetoric to get into hippie girls’ hemp undergarments here!
ShAbby isn’t down with her baby daddy’s insistence on perpetuating his psychosis (or pushing her to the ground in a moment of random hilarity), so she fucks off back to the US of A for a vacation with her butterball in tow, telling Misha not to be there when they get back. Left to his own devices, Mish-Mash decides that the only way to rid the world of these evil creatures and cure himself of these visions is to crush the scourge of Capitalism (that HE helped infest Russia with in the first place) by turning its strongest weapon against it: marketing. Good thing these crazy visions weren’t bestowed upon somebody who sucks at marketing, otherwise this movie would’ve been a lost cause real quick! Unless the hero was Pauly Shore, in which case he’d stumble upon some kind of lucky break, show us all that we should maintain faith is seemingly useless, dysfunctional stoners, and make the world a better place for people to talk like surfer dudes who wiped out on one too many coral reefs… is Pauly Shore still alive? He is. Okay… WHY?!
Despite being out of the game for a few years, Misha’s infamy as an advertising Great White still garners him a client eager to hire our marketing mercenary to make their vegetarian Chinese food restaurant a success in Moscow. Through an elaborate system of maneuvering and manipulation that would leave Gordon Gecko with jizz stains in his $5000 pants, Mish makes the restaurant chain the new czars of Russian fast food. By doing so, he also births them a corporate colossus of their own (a big green dragon), which immediately targets the iconic gargantua of their closest competitor, murderizing it like a Monster Island Curb Stomp. Of course, when you’re a big penis-shaped sock puppet clown balloon, you don’t have much of a chance against the talons and snapping jaws of a fucking DRAGON. Like Mecha-King Ghidorah overpowered on a dozen atomic bombs then descending on Varan… while his back is turned… and after a massive kaiju stroke took away the use of his arms and legs and tail… and he’s forced to spend the rest of his life in a huge wheelchair. Not a Mecha Wheelchair, mind you. Nor a wheelchair that transforms into Jet Jaguar, double mind you. Just a HUGE old wheelchair he found in a dumpster behind the Monster Island Retirement Home. Yeah.
Anyway. successful in his first step of ridding Mother Russia of the Western Scourge, our monster slaying beastmaster of the business world sets his sights on seeing his crusade to the end!
If the movie had just stopped here and set us up for a sequel, I would’ve given it a full grade point higher. I thought this was a perfect place to pump the brakes. Whether we actually got a sequel or not, THIS moment, of Misha standing triumphant over his first foe while a list of his remaining targets stands before him (and with BlandBland Snore-bieski out of the picture), made me want more! It really feels like that’s what it was meant to be made as! Instead, we actually get more, and the movie goes on for 15 more minutes. It works its way to an Occupy wet dream of an ending that just feels so damn “sell out” for such a supposedly “fight the power” flick. Almost like Branded fell victim to the infamous meddlings of the dreaded FOCUS GROUP. Bastards. But, you can’t sell your cause to would-be martyrs if they don’t think there’s a happy ending to the struggle, right? It’s like convincing suicide bombers that there’s some bullshit post-life reward, otherwise they wouldn’t be so eager to kill themselves if there weren’t pearly gates and fields of sex hungry bitches on the other side. Blart.
The Stuff. Now THERE was a brilliant little lampooning on the dangers of commercialism. Great movie. Michael Moriarty. Garrett Morris’s head melt-splodes. Fantastic. Branded has a similar message (in case you haven’t been paying attention), but it gets REALLY heavy-handed with that message. Like, Hellboy’s right hand heavy… cuz it’s made of stone… what the fuck do you mean you don’t know who Hellboy is?! Onto the shame bus with you. As for the rest of you, in addition to Bradshaw and Duleryan dropping their anti-business message on us with the subtlety of an Acme brand anvil (“If it’s Acme, it’s a gasser!”), that message kinda gets confused at the same time. It feels like one big “FUCK YOU!” to the brain washing manipulations of Capitalism, but then it makes sure to remind us repeatedly that branding and advertising was created by one of Communism’s biggest proponents, Vlad Lenin! So… is it pro-Communism and just anti-Lenin? Is it cool with Capitalism business, just anti-advertising? Is it okay with advertising, just anti-OVER advertising!? I don’t fucking get it.
As a message movie, it manages to be both blatant AND confused. As a movie movie, it draws a little long-in-the-tooth for the first 90 minutes, then packs way too much fudge into the final 15. Most critics complained about the low budget computerized mascot monsters. I don’t care. Their cheap-ass look lends them an oddly appropriate, distorted cartoonish look. I’m cool with it. Like I said, circus clown fever dreams. I’m also cool with Ed Stoppard. He’s oddly likeable. I should hate him because he has that doofy pretty boy look, but I don’t. He’s an affable chap. I hate Leelee Sobieski though. Hate her like the coffee table you’re always stubbing your toe on. She’s an imperfect clone of Helen Hunt, and I’m not a big fan of Double H to begin with. I’m not mad about her… not that anyone under 20 knows what the fuck that joke means. Either way, Leelee is Crapcrap and I wouldn’t miss her if she Dieddied. Jeffrey Tambor’s okay. If it’s not “Arrested Development’ or another Saturday the 14th sequel though, I’m not really paying attention. I gotta say, I did like the color composition of the movie. Some people are over the color saturation thing, but it kept my eyes happy. Thanks guys. Tighten your writing style a little and don’t let Mini-Hunt into anymore of your movies and I’ll gladly watch your next feature!
Then again, as Misha says, “We have been trained to love shit. We want shit and shit shit.” Maybe Branded is the 100+ minute wet fart that the critics say it is and I only like it because I’ve conditioned myself to expect the absolute shit of the shit to grace my TV screen. Maybe Branded is garbage and the only reason I like it is because it’s not Ice Spiders or Killjoy or Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula. Or, maybe fuck everybody else and Branded does something different and totally deserves acknowledgment of that. I say that it’s almost guaranteed to become a cult classic, either because the right people will gradually discover it (and each other) over time, or because enough of the wrong people will vocalize their dislike for it that the “I only like what regular people don’t” types (i.e. hipsters) will pick up on it and claim it for their own. I’m really hoping it’s the former rather than the latter, because the only people I hate more than those who dislike movies they’ve never even seen before, are those who like movies just because someone else doesn’t… and Nazis. In the words of Hellboy, “I hate Nazis!”. Two Hellboy references in a single review. Points for me!
One last thing before I go. Another musical secret. Do you know what happens when you play ANY Rob Zombie song at double speed? He sounds like one of the Chipmunks. Try it. It’s adorable. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go order some new furniture… OF DARKNESS!
That’s gotta be the most haphazard opening credits card I’ve ever seen… stellar cast though.
Bob’s face looks like Misha’s practicing his ventriloquist act on him… his hand’s in the guy’s butt is what I’m trying to say.
“I’m sorry you don’t like my face, but I have to keep up with my Helen Hunting in case they finally greenlight a ‘Mad About You’ prequel series!”
“I’m sorry ma’am, but as I’ve told you, I’m NOT an exorcist in real life! There’s nothing I can do for your daughter beyond an autographed Judge Dredd DVD!”
“I’m telling you, I never called the Yakov Smirnoff Hotline! I certainly didn’t spend 47 hours and $390 on it at that!”
High Plains Hipster
That’s easily the laziest attempt at a Wicker Man recreation I’ve ever seen.
Somebody finally found the perfect lighting to shoot Leelee Sobieski in!
Abby finds out why Misha’s nickname is “Snowball”…
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said that to a woman, I could retire from this whole reviewing thing.
Yeah, I don’t think Japan has anything to fear from Russia when it comes to the giant movie monster market.
Don’t stare at this picture too long before bed. Trust me. More night terrors than Tobe Hooper’s Night Terrors.
Protestors stormed McDonald’s corporate offices today, demanding that the fast food giant finally make the McRib a regular menu item. Ronald McDonald was violently dismembered. Hamburglar was lynched and subsequently burned alive. The Grimace is still missing…
Anubis will return next time in
“Super Robot Adjective Excitement Perversion Display!”