Feature 73 [Rerun] – Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys (2004)

or “Toys in Babeland”

Featuring: Corey “The Lost Boys” Feldman , Vanessa “Kingpin” Angel , Danielle “Darkening Skies” Keaton

Director: Ted “Subspecies” Nicolaou

Writer: Courtney “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge” Joyner

Origin: USA

Review_____

“We’re finished playing now. Time to put our toys away.”

[Note from Anubis: This review was originally planned for posting on December 25th. Unfortunately, due to technical problems (I couldn’t find my DVD and the only person on the entire internet who still seeded the torrent was offline for a few days) I was not able to make said deadline. Boo-fucking-hoo. The opinions presented here aren’t olive loaf – they’re just as good (or bad) post-expiration! Now, please to enjoy our episode. Won’t you?]

Intro: So The Force Awakens opened last week to staggering box office numbers, bringing love and empathy to all mankind and blah blah blah. The Evil Dead Bride and yours truly have yet to partake in the hoopla just yet, because we’re waiting for the crowds to die down a little first. We both hate people as a general statement, so being surrounded by the squirming masses in cramped seating arrangements always brings with it the very real threat that said crowds will just have to die, period. Besides, there will never be a scene from a galaxy far far away better than when we got to watch Hayden Christensen burned alive, so what’s the rush? Oh, and Merry Cthulhumas!

I needed a bit of yuletide “inspiration” to get my “creative juices” flowing for this one, so I’ve been drinking nothing but eggnog spiked with Captain Morgan for the last 24 hours. It’s how we do a “cleanse” in my family. I better be careful or I’ll burn through my allotted “air quotes” for the review before we even get this donkey show out of the opening act!

For the first time in almost 40 years, there was a Full Moon on Cthulhumas (or “Cthuyule” if you’re a traditionalist). It’s the last such holiday lunar alignment for another 20 years. Since I imagine myself joining the choir invisible before that happens, what more reason did I need to do a review for a seasonally thematic Full Moon movie!?… except that this isn’t a Full Moon release.

In the “unspoken of times” where Full Moon was inactive and Charles Band was operating under his “Shadow Entertainment” banner (probably while he was dodging extradition to Romania to answer for unpaid castle rental contracts), and when SyFy was still known as The Sci-Fi Channel, someone had the bright idea to lease the rights to the Puppets and the Toys for the crossover that bad movie lovers had been clamoring for since the ’90s. Band was given an honorary “Executive Producer” credit, but he makes it a point to tell anyone who will listen that he had zero to do with the movie itself. Having watched it again for the first time in years, I don’t blame him! He’s subjected us to some truly heinous b-movie anus in his extensive time as a cinesadist, but when even Charles Band won’t take any credit offered him for a flick, you know that’s not a worm in the bottom of the proverbial tequila bottle, it’s a fucking Ceti eel. Khhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannn!


(Uh-oh. That’s not good.)

Without further ado, take it away, Ghost of Anubis Past!

Original Review: Man, I’ve been waiting for this moment for… hmmm… let me think… carry the two… adjust for leap years… uhm… shit, it’s been at least 7 or 8 years! Moreover, the concept for this beast has been around since it was originally going to be Puppet Master IV, which was released in 1993!… you know, before it became yet another “not really the last movie of the series, but we’ll call it the ‘Final Chapter’ anyway” flicks and turned into, in the words of John Cleese, “something completely different”.


(Oh what could have been…)

In fact, it took so much effort to get this bitch into heat that the birth father of both floundering franchises (i.e. Full Moon Pictures) wasn’t even responsible for the movie’s release! Nope, those ever-lovin’ bad movie bastards at the Sci-Fi Channel and Anchor Bay released it instead after its debut as a “Saturday Night Sci-Fi Channel Originals” movie, whose victims already include Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Combs and the Return of the Living Dead flicks. So, though this stands as an evil omen from the darkest depths of the Cinemasochist Inferno, at least the Puppet Master and Demonic Toys titles have both been promoted to a level apart from stuff like Gingerdead ManThough I’m sure it’s going to be more of a horizontal relocation rather than some kind of glorious, money-out-the-butt-in-the-religious-sense ascension for Andre Toulon and his brood of handmade killers.

But let’s not drown too deep in the fret just yet, friends. The flick is directed by Ted “Subspecies” Nicolaou (what, was David DeCoteau too busy making more shitty vampire frat movies?!), so let us instead embrace the potential and see what kind of epic shit-eating tortures these last 13 years have wasted time and resources creating!

The sad part is that I’m actually so excited for this moment that I’m watching this at 2 a.m. on my laptop, which tends to emit a loud and terrible hum when I play DVDs on it. I had a long and painful day of failures and physical labor and up until an hour ago I was welcoming sleep like Tom Hanks welcoming an AIDS infected pecker in his pooper a la Philadelphia. But now I’m all eyes, ears and fingers for this nightmarish little play-by-play. Come on people, it’s a brand new DVD and it only cost me $8!? I haven’t been this excited since I found out there was a sequel to Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare!

Andre Toulon is no longer an elderly puppeteer with designs of vengeance toward the servants of Adolf “Captain Moustache” Hitler and the Third Reich. Gone are the days when Guy Rolfe would send wooden toys imbued with the essence of his dead friends to hack, slash, mutilate and smash those whose turn-ons include goose-stepping, long marches on the beach and the smell of freshly baked Hasidics. No longer does a young prodigy set his miniature do-gooder toys to do battle with foot tall totem demons and giant muppets with scrotum for mouths. No, instead we now have Robert Toulon, great grand-nephew of Andre, who’s bitter because the capitalist swine at Sharpe Toys have rejected him and his screwball ideas for “living” toys.

Well, that or he’s just pissy because he’s Corey Feldman, who is therefore a complete and utter joke in the footnotes of b-Hollywood to whom very few people would tag the prefix of “great” or “grand” with any level of serious admiration.

Bob’s your typical kooky inventor type: harmless for the most part, with little more than some smoke and bad smells to show for his work. If he didn’t hiss and grimace so much, you’d half expect him to shrink down some neighborhood kids and spend 2 hours trying to fix ’em while many a wacky hijink ensued. Then he’d come back for a couple of fuck-awful sequels and endanger the lives of several more kids before being burned alive in a boiler by the unhappy members of the PTA. Speaking of kids, this guy Robert somehow has custody of his daughter Alexandra (Danielle Keaton), with whom he re-enacts the life giving experiments of Great Uncle Andre thanks to a journal (that was no doubt illustrated by an eight-year-old…missing several fingers…that probably resulted in him/her drawing some fucked up looking turkeys at Thanksgiving) and several familiar looking tiny killers discovered in a flea market.

Speaking of the father-daughter relationship, it’s kinda creepy the whole time I’m watching this because Corey Feldman, no matter how many gray streaks he puts in his hair or how much beard scruff he tries to grow, will always look like he’s 16. The idea of him having a teenage daughter just looks unsettling. Let’s just hope “The Feld” is lucky enough to look this young when he’s pissing in a bag and eating food in a primordial ooze state.

Meanwhile, Sharpe Toys presidente Erica Sharpe (Vanessa Angel, who’s showing every day of age since Kingpin last played a multiplex, made all the worse since her lips look like an inflamed anus now) spies on Bobbie’s work via hidden ladybug spy camera while she sips sparkling cider with her “is she fucking that guy, or is he gay?” assistant Julian. Who may or may not be played by one of those hitmen with the ear-raping accents from Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave. (Note: after checking IMDB it turns out I was wrong on that assumption, though he has had small parts in shit like Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, and other non-shark related crap Sci-Fi Channel projects).

Sure enough, not only do Bob and Al do in five minutes what the Nazis and Kandarian demons couldn’t do over the course of 8 movies, but they get it right on the first try, as the puppets are resurrected on a diet of Kool-Aid™ infused with Toulon blood. :::Anubis proceeds to smash through a wall, wielding a pitcher of dyed sugar water laced with LSD::: OH YEAH!

No sooner are Jester, Pinhead, Blade and Six-Shooter back to working order than my Kool-Aid™ smile takes a NesTea™ plunge down the proverbial shit pipe…only in this case it’s literal. The puppet models being used here are by far the worst to date. Much like the rationale used on Pamela Vorhees’ baby (freak monkey murderer) boy for Freddy Vs. Jason, you can tell the diseased minds behind PMvDT wanted to make the Puppets the heroes of the flick, so they changed their appearances to try and invoke a better comfort level with the audience (or lack thereof). The result? Jester and Six-Shooter no longer look like a child molesting clown and drunken rapist cowboy respectively, but instead like “empathetic harlequin” and “child friendly old west kids show host” types that make me ill. Additionally, Pinhead looks like he’s been sucked into the Hollywood scene since his last movie appearance, slimming down immensely to a sickly, heroined out, Olsen Twins-esque look! He’s the fucking Kate Moss of the animated death toy crowd and it’s pathetic! He doesn’t even have that squinty-eyes Popeye quality to his face anymore. Instead, he looks like an anorexic old queen in a shitty brown sweater he knitted for himself! Seriously, I think Feldman would’ve been better complimented if he was acting opposite 90 minutes of badly edited stock footage than what these half-assed action figures are going to give us.

Anyway, it’s Christmas time and Sharpe Toys needs that one thing to put their manufactured plastic crap above everyone else’s manufactured plastic crap, so Erica sends her henchman and some hired goons to Bob’s “Puppet Hospital” (I shit you not) to do a little corporate raiding and acquire her some hot, wet puppet action. In standard fashion, the puppets defend themselves, a ruckus breaks out, Bob gets socked in the shnoz by an FDA approved goober with a fucking dollar sign tattooed on the back of his hand (see now, if Gene Simmons had achieved his lifelong dream of trademarking the dollar sign, he would’ve made $0.03 off of this purchase!), Six-Shooter accidentally sets the place on fire and he and his compadres get their stupid new plastic faces melted off. To which the puppets react as if there was somebody holding them by the leg and simply flailing them around…wonder why that is.

And with that, it’s time to introduce the other half of the titular equation as, back at the Sharpe offices, Ms. Sharpe introduces (i.e. sacrifices the cleavage of) her virginal Christian Youth receptionist (I swear this chick waited on me at Uno’s last night) to her “Board of Directors”, better known to followers of the Church of Chuck (Band) as Baby Oopsy Daisy, Grizzly Teddy, and Jack Attack (a.k.a. Jack-Out-of-the-Box. Which is a “pulling out” innuendo if I’ve ever heard one). Once again, I have to state-the-hate on these new character models. For the most part Teddy doesn’t seem all that different, and well, I think I actually like this new Baby Oopsy better. But as far as Jack goes, he looks like shit! I don’t know if they were aiming for some kind of Pennywise take on the fanged box occupier, but whatever the reason it’s COMPLETELY WRONG. The original Jack’s design was the star of the Demonic Toys movies and unless the Killer Klowns people were threatening legal action, there was NO reason not to have stuck with it. Blegh.

Back to our story (I guess that’s what you’d call it, right?), it looks like Erica has made a pact with the demon Bael (who forgot to take off his “orc mercenary” costume following his earlier Everquest™ cos-play meeting) to bring Hell to Earth by distributing 9 million Sharpe toys to homes around the world, all of which are to be brought to murderous life on Christmas Day following the shedding of the final drops of Toulon blood. It’s almost Christmas Eve and ‘Ric’s done her part, spreading the viral Cabbage Patch Creatures™ across the country. Will the greed demon be able to put the little beasts into blood-letting action, or will Bob and Al save the day with their new line of “burn unit victim” Puppet Master action figures? It’s a rhetorical question kids, we all know how this is going to end. And yes, I know that’s not what rhetorical means, I was just waiting to see if you caught on or not.

While Bob and Al prepare for their miniature war with the unholy playthings, a female cop gets involved because Corey Feldman needs someone to stumble over and sweat in front of. The puppets get “cyber upgrades” that include a plastic knife and hook for Blade, pillow biting smashing thunder ball fists for Queenie Pinhead, a can crushing mace arm for Jester, and an array of plastic gun arms for Six-Shooter that somehow shoot lasers, because plastics are apparently well known for their abilities to generate intense beams of light and heat.

The good guys get caught “unawares” (to be more specific, while Bob’s christening the S.S. Porcelain Bowl), leaving them and the puppets at the mercy of the upstanding staff at Sharpe Corporation. Vanessa Angel puts on an outfit that would’ve looked a lot better on those legs when she had legs to speak of, and Al’s to be used as the blood sacrifice for Bael’s big global conquest thing. Finally, after over an hour of waiting for it, the title bout (literally) goes into effect and the heroes break free. As the norms around them shoot at each other (and Bael cavorts around in a Santa outfit while the countdown to Judgment Day continues), the puppets and toys trade blows. Blade (along with his very obvious plastic knife and hook) hacks the stuffing out of Teddy and liberates his huggable head, Pinhead squishes Oopsy’s head into a geyser of goo (following one-too-many Oopsy ass blaster joke attacks), while Jester and Six-Shooter make short work of Jack. This all happens in less time than it takes to cook minute rice. The goodies save the day, no Toulon blood is spilled, the great Christmas Holocaust is prevented, Bael takes Erica back to Hell with him as part of their agreement, and Al and Bob have holiday feastings with Bob’s new would-be cop girlfriend.

Whoop-di-shit. I waited over a decade for that?! Fuck! I didn’t have a whole lot of faith that this was going to go anywhere, but I didn’t think these guys would forget the whole point of the movie! You take a movie called Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys and you spend 80 minutes pitting the two sides against disposable human fodder while the two C and D-list actors you get for the lead roles hog the screen time, only to climax with a limp-dicked, one-sided conflict of Custer’s Last Stand proportions?! Maybe if I were into anal intrusions I’d love this movie, but as it stands I’m against getting dicked around, especially in a 90 minute marathon of it! At least Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys lived up to its name. And even then managed to fit in all it had to in just a little over an hour! Unlike this fucking waste of time.

As far as the acting I concerned, was Corey Feldman intentionally performing so over-the-top as a sign that he wasn’t taking the role seriously, or is he really so misguided in the thespian arts as to think he wasn’t making a total ass-hat out of himself? I’m sure it’s the latter, but I’m hoping it’s the former for the Feld’s sake. Vanessa Angel’s never been a good actress and the fact that she’s lost 70% of her sex appeal only throws this fact into our movie watching faces all the harder. Everyone else was pretty much by the books (those of course being the “How to Act But Not Get Noticed for Doing So” series) with the glaring exception of Sylvia Suvadova. Sylvia played the part of the Feld’s law enforcing would-be girlfriend, with the major difference being that of ALL OF HER LINES WERE RE-DUBBED. Does she have a horrible, ear drum grinder of an accent that the producers felt needed to be “redacted” from the film? Or, could it be that her actual acting is so bad that it couldn’t even work with the rest of this bowel obstruction? Inquiring minds want to know! Well, my slightly interested minor curiosity is kinda interested in a short and simple answer.

As you can tell from the numerous bitches and complaints dropped elsewhere as my recipe for hate called for them, the special effects ingredients involved were a good use for a dollar store budget, but otherwise a slap in the face to the series, especially following the otherwise groovy efforts of the first three films. Granted, they didn’t go for the cheap fuck like other recent entries by relying on the same stop-action stock footage born of Toulon’s Revenge, but I’m starting to think I’d rather watch those for a 12th time as opposed to the high school jerk around we got instead.

While I’m ‘picking here, the title graphic is terrible too. Look at it! Why has the classic Puppet Master logo been replaced by toy alphabet blocks?! Though I understand the use of the flaming logo for the latter half of this “Rumble in the Toy Box” title, I always liked the alphabet blocks look for the original Demonic Toys logo design (Note from 2015 Anubis: that wasn’t Demonic Toys, it was Dolly Dearest you dipshit), considering they’re toys and alphabet blocks are toys and… fuck it, nobody’s even listening at this point. The movie’s shite and every fiber of my being is nagging at me to go get my eight bucks back. Guess I should go do that now before all this talking to myself gets me another run at Arkham…

Disengaging Complaint Drive Warp Engine™… now!

Xtro: Uggh. That hurt. Like 50 lashes with a wet string of icicle lights. I forgot how genuinely wretched this movie is. For my original review, I gave PMvDT (huh huh, “VD”) 2 ½ stars. Not out of 10, but out of 5. FIVE! What the fucking fuck was I on!? This is a 90 minute shave with a razor made of broken glass covered in salt and ghost pepper sauce! I feel my anger and disgust have been blunted over the years too, so I must’ve been suffering some kind of horrendous personal agony in my life at the time to have crawled through this level of effluvial grime with a “meh” numeric attitude rather than the revulsion I got from watching it this week. Hey, Past Self? Don’t worry. Whatever Hel you were being dragged through by your armpit hairs back then, you get beyond it and realize just how incompetently assembled this Chinese unicycle truly is.

To add some extra torque to this self-inflicted yuletide titty-twister, it turns out that the only copy of the movie I was able to acquire on such notice also happens to be dubbed over in Russian…as spoken by a single, monotone guy. Yep, all of the lines, including those by female actors, are read by a bland-as-non-fermented potato water dude who may or may not have been very tired while doing so. I listened as well as I could for any instances of yawning, but found none. Anyway, the original English track was just audible enough that I could still follow along with the movie, but in all honesty, the cast’s performances are so “just paying my electric bill” quality that they’re barely worth the effort anyway. Watching Feldman run from Oopsy in one scene is hilarious though. His little jog is silly and not at all a pace I’d be comfortable at limiting myself to were I trying to outrun a homicidal doll that really wets itself! Feld’s raspy “fake old man voice” isn’t funny though, it’s distracting. And not in a good way that it would actually distract us from the thrift store production values of this moving picture calamity.

Everything is cheap in this movie. Everything. Even compared to the lesser Puppet Master movies. Even by TV movie standards. The sets are small and populated with props that even Ed Wood would look at and say “I think we can do better”. Roger Corman, Hal Needham, and Burt I. Gordon would watch this withered little pickle of a flick to boost their confidence in their own productions. Seriously, where did the reported $2.5million budget go for this fucking movie? To cover some Sci-Fi Channel exec’s mob debts!? The cheap plastic and foam rubber used to make these WOODEN puppets are an ipecac for my eyeballs. Pinhead looks like he Face/Off‘ed with Bea Arthur at some point, then was stricken with savagely aggressive puppet cancer! Blade’s supposedly deadly sharp appendages look about as metal as the toy army knives you get from Dollar Embargo, and only about half as dangerous too. Same goes for Jester’s “spiked mace hand” and Six-Shooter’s laser gun arms and “cyber” facial appliance (all of which I’m almost positive were made using salvaged pieces from an off-market Transformers lot picked up on eBay). The Demonic Toys aren’t as cheap and ugly, put I’m still put off by Jack’s facial redesign, and I don’t know what Past Anubis was thinking, but I definitely prefer Baby Oopsy’s original cold black shark eyes to what his peepers appear like here. Oh well, at least none of the Toys had goofy Terminator shit glued to ’em, so they’re automatically the better looking of the titular playthings by a Mongo mile.

But even the lowest of budgets can be overcome by a talented cast and a gripping story, right?! Since we already established that the “talented cast” part isn’t happening, how about that gripping story? Drop one of those ‘p’s, because there’s a piss and moan storm on the horizon. Since Courtney Joyner brought us Puppet Master III, the pinnacle of the PM legacy (not to be confused with the literal Puppet Master Legacy, which roams the sewers of the series like a C.H.U.D. with a crayon lodged in its frontal lobe), I had some hope for this movie. Not a lot, but enough that it wouldn’t give my Full Moon fanboyism anal leakage. Clearly, I should’ve downed a brick of cheddar with an Imodium chaser before watching. I guess I’ll never learn.

This is the kind of story that makes me want to swat Mr. Joyner with my ring hand and practice my acupuncture on the backs of his knees with splintered chopsticks. Andre Toulon’s great-grandnephew couldn’t have received his family’s infamous legacy via some kind of inheritance? Instead he finds them by chance through a flea market. A fucking flea market?! Fuck your flea market. And why does Erica Sharpe’s modern toy factory have a medieval dungeon in its basement?! Does demonic summoning magic (as done with a high-tech modernized version of an iron maiden) require stone block walls and big rusty chains around to perform? Was the factory built over the remains of a castle and they optioned to just use the original basement for the foundation?! Fuck your foundation. While we’re on it, Sharpe’s cadre of minions have a big evil sigil to identify each other by. Erica and her sidekick wear theirs in the form of pendants adorning their necks, which is fine, but her hired muscle bear theirs as big ol’ tattoos prominently displayed across the back of their hands! Shouldn’t you keep the calling sign of your secret cult, I don’t know, somewhere more secret?! Fuck your tatoos.

I’ve got a few dozen chunks of fruitcake fighting their way through my digestive tract like space marines through a nest of Xenomorphs, so just a couple more points of contention to contend before I (s)hit the bricks. Near the end of the movie, as Alex is trapped in Erica’s needlessly elaborate iron maiden (whose only purpose is to puncture victims and collect their blood in a plodding, gore hiding fashion), she does that doofy thing where a character narrates what’s happening to them, since shooting it would seemingly flatline this already anemic budget. Her half-hearted screams of “Dad! The spikes are starting to move!”, “Dad, the spikes are getting closer! You have to save me!”, and “Ow! Dad! The spikes are poking me!” are equal portions unintentional hilarity and teeth-gritting aggravation.

My last (and by no means least) gripe comes down to the eponymous exchange itself. The offensively cheap DVD box art promises us a “rumble”, and what we get instead is toenails in our chili that are most assuredly not hard-shelled peppercorns (http://www.videodetective.com/movies/texas-chainsaw-massacre-2-scene-family-recipe/472419)! On one side, we’ve got four killer puppets with silly albeit dangerous weapon upgrades, including one who wields six functional LASER GUN ARMS. Meanwhile, on the opposing side we’ve got a teddy bear with sharp teeth, a screaming jack-in-the-box also with sharp teeth, and a baby whose sole offensive abilities are propulsive farts and a douchey demeanor. The Toys are trying to ride a seesaw with the McGuire Twins on the other end, and their short-lived losing effort proves it. As if this weren’t already some of the most disappointing metaphorical build-up sex I’ve ever had with a movie I was looking forward to, the 80 minutes of clumsy foreplay leads to 4 minutes of uncomfortable intercourse, premature ejaculation, and 5 minutes of post-coital crying and apologizing before the viewer takes the walk of shame and wonders why they have such little self-esteem that they keep hooking up with such obvious losers. Happy fuckin’ New Year.

Speaking of embarrassing myself, before I go I’d like to take a moment to apologize to everyone for Past Anubis’ unacceptable mistreatment of Vanessa Angel over her looks during my original review. Reading that was like watching The Monster Squad and seeing kids throw around the term “faggot”. It’s not right. I’d call myself a fuck-o to my face if I had a time slide right now, but I’m no Time Angel, so that’s not an option. (Editor’s Note: Anubis is a fuck-o sometimes. I’ve informed him of this, now we can all move on. Bully to him for admitting his fuck-o-ness, apologizing for it and trying to be better moving forward.)

Here’s to wishing you all the best (of the Best) in these final days of 2015. Mine clearly ended face down in a puddle of pig vomit, but here’s to hoping that 2016 (and the continuation of the World Tour de Farce) brings us all something worth smiling about and a little less worth hanging ourselves naked in a sleazy motel closet about. Peace on Earth and Boyz II Men.

¡Arriba!

Moral of the Story: High frequency sonic blasts will make your eyeballs pop out of your head. You’d think it would burst your eardrums instead, but nope, it’s all eyeball popping. Oh, and if you try to hack someone’s computer network, beware: their firewall can apparently blow up your computer. I’m not talking a simple bricking, I mean full-on sparks and ignition. You’ve been warned.

Screenshots_____

“You have been convicted of high crimes against our glorious magistrate! For that, you shall all be crucified until dead! Pray to your plastic gods now, for they will be the last words you ever speak!”


“Damn it mom, stop swindling the neighbors! Damn it Rose, stop being such a stupid bumpkin! Damn it Blanche, stop being such a slut! DOROTHY SMASH!”


“But how do I know this is the actual syringe Barry Bonds juiced with before his record breaking homerun? Do you have a certificate of authenticity or a picture of him using it?”


Free advice: if you’re in an elevator with two people wearing the same type of evil looking pendant and one/both of them are clutching theirs while grinning sinisterly, you’re about 10 minutes away from being the subject of a secret society’s human sacrifice.


That’s why no one ever tried to come between Corey Haim and his nose candy.


“And who’s she supposed to be?! Between that dress pattern and the weird collar she looks like some kinda fairy queen of Christmas presents! I’ll be here all week! Remember to tip your waiter!”


We have top men working on Corey Feldman right now. Top… men.


This summer, he’s back in the slammer and back undercover! Marlon Wayans brings us the long-awaited mash-up sequel to two of his greatest film epics in Little White Chick Man!


“We told you SyFy bastards what would happen if we caught you shooting another one of your shitty movies down here!”


“I’m telling you you’ve got the wrong guy! I’m not Charlie Sheen!”


Though it never made it past pre-production, a handful of prototype action figures were made for the ill-fated Blazing Saddles 2099 reboot.


“Well… I guess I’ll just have to learn to masturbate with my left hand now.”


Well, I wanted Joanna Angel for Xmas, but I’ll settle for Vanessa Angel. Don’t wanna seem ungrateful, right?


This is why you never have your office Christmas parties anywhere within walking distance of a tattoo parlor. You don’t wanna see where their assistant manager got his.


“LIKE A RAINBOW IN THE DAAAAAAAAAAAAARK!”


He died doing what he loved: attending King Diamond concerts in a business suit and corpse paint. God speed, executive metalhead.


“NO! I don’t care what the contract says! You can’t make me do another Lost Boys sequel! IT’S INHUMAN!”


That’s an oddly specific time stamp for a movie…


Damn it, Bael! If you’re not gonna wear the Santa beard properly, don’t wear it at all! Fucking hack!


Pinhead is disturbingly serious about taking his Kanchō game to the next level. I didn’t realize he was made in Japan.


Johnson & Johnson had to scrap their proposed new No More Tears Green Apple Baby Shampoo dispenser when several mothers in the focus group fainted and one had to be institutionalized.


“Don’t think I didn’t know it was you stealing the crunchy boxers out of my underwear hamper, Jester! We all know the weird shit you’re into! Give ’em back!”

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Anubis will return next time in
“Monkey Shines”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

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

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Feature 71 – Krampus: the Reckoning (2015)

or “Santa’s Claws”

Featuring: Monica “The Encounter” Engesser , Amelia “The Toy Soldiers” Haberman , James “Match.Dead” Ray

Director: Robert “Exit to Hell” Conway

Writers: Robert “Exit to Hell” Conway & Owen “brother(?) to Robert” Conway

Origin: USA

Review_____

“So much for a simple suicide, huh?”

Before we start, here’s my statement on the death of Stone Temple Pilots front man Scott Weiland, as posted via my private facebook account – “The shock isn’t that Scott Weiland died at 48. The shock is that he didn’t die at 38. Or 28. He outlived most rock tragedies though. Meanwhile, that painting Keith Richards keeps of himself in his attic has to be nothing but a skeleton and a pile of cocaine by now… “

Take THAT, Keith Richards! Now, back to our regularly scheduled cinemockery.

So Saint Nick’s demonic hench-beast of Germanic folklore has been gentrified by mainstream Hollywood with last week’s theatrical deliverance of Krampus. The Wicked Warden and I saw it during Phase III of our Sweet 16 Hype-aversary Weekend, and despite my mild reservations to the contrary, Legendary once again disproved my paranoia and delivered a new holiday classic. It’s like something that was started by Charles Band, but was finished by professional moviemakers with a decent budget who knew what the fuck they were doing. Anyway, the thing I personally hate most about the monster-of-the-month mentality is the guff I get from people calling me a hipster because I knew about Krampus years before they did. Fucking shitsters have made it impossible to declare that you were a fan of something prior to its popularizing without getting mislabeled like a Sikh in Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim “Days of Future Past” America. It’s gonna happen all over again when Tinseltown (pun intended) finally gets their Cthulhu movie all sorted. Just you wait.

As with any notable wide release (especially one based around a mythological character immune to the laws of copyright), we all recognized the inevitability of at least one jerry-built knockoff coming to a RedBox kiosk near you. Well, whether you’re picking up off-brand cheese curls and Old Milwaukee at the supermarket or just getting your Valtrex refilled at the drug store, the omens were true – Krampus: the Reckoning lives. For those seeking The Asylum’s cursed brand upon this imperfect clone though, you’ll be disappointed/relieved to find your search fruitless. Could they not find a few days between Sharktopus and Sharknado sequels to throw something together? Especially for the all important “holiday horror fiends” sub-sub-(sub)-market? Whatever the case, nature has some longstanding personal vendetta against vacuums (no doubt due to one of those puberty specific “Bissell mishaps” we all had), so somebody had to fill the void. Enter FunHouse Features and the Conway Brothers. Well, don’t “enter” them. I’m neither attracted to men nor am I into putting my pecker in strange holes (no matter the moisture) as a general rule, so that’s just out of the question.

I have zero experience with the Conways or their presumed production company (they don’t even have their own webpage!), which means I’ve got nadda to say about them or their movies, anecdotal or opinional. I considered coming up with an outlandish origin opus for the siblings a la the Adam Minarovich tirade from my Ankle Biters review, but I ran out of powdered caffeine for my Kool-Aid, so that’s not happening today. I’m guessing they’re barely functional mouth-breathers given what they’ve shown me here, so let’s leave it at that.

For those still in the dark about who the Big K is, here’s a flashlight: Krampus is the Satanic satyr of Saturnalia, with the legs of a goat, the face of a demon, and a tongue that gives Gene Simmons envy boners. He is Santa’s red right hand. The vessel through which Saint Nick exacts his punishment upon wicked children (hence the alternate title for today’s episode). He’s the Eastern European embodiment of coal in your stocking, if coal were to kidnap you in the middle of the night, lock you in a cage, and whip you mercilessly before baptizing you in frothy goat piss and sending you home with no shoes. If you’re lucky.

With that said, let’s see what this “Reckoning” thing is all about, shall we? No? Well, suck my sugar plums, because I’m doing this fucking review!

Zoe (Amelia Haberman) is one of those smarter-than-average, cynical girls that everybody thinks is weird. She reminds me of a friend of mine at that age, both in look and attitude. If I weren’t allergic to children, I’d want a daughter like her. Speaking of parents, Zoe’s a foster kid. In horror movies, foster relationships work out less than 0.45% of the time. Either the kids are Satan’s bastard offspring or the parents are the shittiest castoffs of the human race imaginable. Nobody wins. In this case, the Weavers are drunken coke heads who lock her in her bedroom at night, and Zoe has the couple burned alive by her skull-faced subservient fire demon (who, nicking a cue from Marvel’s Man-Thing *snicker*, burns them with his touch), so it looks like Krampus: the Reckoning is having a Buy One Get One sale.

Granted, the duo were selfish assholes who no doubt took advantage of the foster care system to feed their cravings for sinus snow, but there weren’t any signs of physical or sexual abuse at work here. Zoe was reprimanded for changing the channel during mom’s soaps and later locked in her room after she was caught peeping on the pair while they were summoning the beast with two backs (“You mean fucking?”). Not exactly the kind of reprehensible parenting that deserves to be punished by flame-broiling the two like Whoppers at Burger King. Then again, most kids lack empathy and the ability to comprehend the long term scope of their actions, so good luck getting them to understand why setting people on fire just for annoying you is rarely the best course to take. Believe me, my mother used to work at a daycare. If any of those mini-jerkoffs had turned Firestarter, that place would’ve looked like one of Hitler’s Easy-Bake Ovens by afternoon nap time.

Having blackened her fos’rents like Cajun catfish, Zoe is sent to a children’s hospital while the police investigate. Child psychologist Dr. Rachel Stewart (Monica Engesser) is assigned to her in the hope that she’ll be able to talk some info out of the little girl that the police couldn’t. Zoe-Zo-Zo agrees to answer Dr. S’s queries, but only if she brings the pint-sized terrorist her box of yarn and dolls from the house first. The doc does just that, violating the crime scene with the approval of her friend-on-the-force, Detective Miles O’Connor (James Ray). What’s so important about these dolls? Well, it turns out the brothers Conway have a 3rd grader understanding of voodoo, because Zoe has a doll that resembles Krampus (actual Krampus, not ghetto Ghost Rider here), whose tiny adorable slave shackles she removes when she wants her computer generated ghoul to enact her little kid hissy fit vengeance upon evil adults (represented by little yarn dolls she makes) who don’t let her interrupt their TV viewing and won’t let her underage eyes gawk with voyeuristic intention at them while they’re doing the ol’ pump ‘n grunt mambo. Trust me kids, there are some curiosities you shouldn’t be allowed to pursue outside of PornHub and awkward experimentation with your friend that one summer that you both promised never to tell anyone about.

During their back-and-forth, Z-Dawg asks R-Dogg about a gnarly burn scar on her arm that the lady’s clearly not comfortable talking about. She redirects the conversation faster than Marky Mark when someone brings up The Happening or the whereabouts of the Funky Bunch. Dr. Rachel tries to connect to Zoe over their shared history as foster kids and her own adoption, Lamar (Sean Anderson), while Zoe tells her that impostor Krampus was responsible for leaving the Weavers on the stove too long. Rachel looks into the mythological kiddie disciplinarian while also delving into Zoe’s own inconsistent background, balancing being a good mom to Lamar, and exploring a budding, complicated, “more than business” relationship with Detective O’Connor. Or, as Lamar refers to him, “Some drunk cop at the door”. Meanwhile, having reacquired her not in any way magical voodoo yarn, Zoe sends her Purgatory Pet (from the company that brought you Tickle Me Mephistopheles and Cabbage Patch Creeps!) out to flambe a few more ancillary sinners, including a beardo that bears a striking resemblance to a guy I used to work with. I should’ve liked him more (my co-worker, not this character) given our common interests, but he was way too faux-cheerful for me not to push out that window…I mean, not to want to push out of a window.

During the final act, this pooch contracts a surprise case of Shyamalaphobia (“twist-ending rabies” for my fellow laymen and laywomen) and just bashes its skull against a wall until its swollen, feverish brain turns to figgy pudding and oozes all over its own cloven hooves. It has to be one of the most fuck awful “ignores the entire movie up to that point!” finishes I’ve ever made the mistake of irradiating my corneas with. The whole thing throws itself down the metaphorical staircase, crashing battered and broken at the bottom, where we finally get the merciful abortion finale and our end credits eulogy. In short, it stinks. Amen.

In fact, the finish breaks the movie so badly that I’m actually going to contravene my vow of spoiler silence and explain why it’s such a seizure-inducing brain hemorrhage! First, though, I’ll be sticking needles in the feature’s many other shortcomings, so if you’d like to keep me from ruining the experience of letting Krampus: the Redemption floss your central sulcus with thistles itself, feel free to continue reading until you get to the big “SPOILING AHEAD!” warning below. Right now, it’s time for everybody’s favorite part of the procedure – the rundown! In which Anubis tumbles through a downward spiral of bitching, moaning, and cursing about what’s wrong with this direct-to-DVD trail of tears.

Actually, scratch that and reverse it. First, we’ll get the good news over with and let the bad news bat clean up on this one. Though a muddled and plodding mess (it’s a clusterfuck on Quaaludes), the movie’s not bottom of the barrel sludge…until that fucking ending. The direction actually isn’t terrible. It’s competently shot, so I’ll give Bobby Conway a scoop of credit on that one. To quote Dr. Stewart, I’d call it “Nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing to brag about.” The cg beastie is Krampusy in as much as he has horns, a furry body, and goat legs, but that’s the extent. The graphics work itself is acceptable for the presumably limited capitol on hand, so I can let it slide. I would’ve preferred something in the realm of a tall person in a Chinese Chewbacca costume wearing a hoodie, but given how affordable halfway decent digital imaging work is in this high-tech era, it was probably more budget friendly to do it as is. It’s better than most of the eyeball cancer The Asylum pelted us with in their early days, at least.

These less-than-agonizing elements were going to be enough for me to originally let the movie squeak by on a solitary heart rating. Then the ending happened…but that loaf of moldy monkey bread known as the story will have to wait a little longer. Before that, the under-card bitching and moaning first.

The acting. Uggh. This isn’t one of those “so bad, it’s funny” instances, either. This isn’t the campy equivalent of 12 cheese nachos. No, the performances on display here are instead bland as a Slush Puppie without the syrup. Our female lead, Monica Engesser, was blessed with all the personality of a popsicle stick. And not one of those sticks with the jokes that have the pun-punchlines so bad that even a hyena on nitrous wouldn’t waste a laugh on them. The woman’s lines dribble out of her mouth as if she was doing hits of novocaine between scenes. James Ray isn’t much better. For starters, he looks like George Eads from “C.S.I.” after a bad stretch of life choices, including shaving his head to cover up the fact that he’s going bald, but not being diligent enough about it to convincingly cover it up. He attempts to deliver his lines like Clint Eastwood, but instead sounds like he’s struggling with a sore throat and is trying not to exacerbate it. Or like he’s whispering his lines so as not to disturb director Conway, who was constantly sleeping off hangovers just off screen. As for Amelia Haberman, well, I feel bad shitting on a child this time of year (mostly because fecal transference is a gray area in the realm of sexual assault laws, all the more so in cases where kids are involved…don’t ask why I know that). The good thing is that she has plenty of time to get some coaching and improve herself, so should she choose to pursue a career, there’s still hope. Good luck, Amelia. Merry Cthulhumas

The music is basically bullshit. Ironic given that one of the tunes, “Modern Metal Theme Zombie”, is composed by someone(s) calling themselves Studio BS! Other notable tracks include the lawsuit skimming “Jingle Bells Christmas Rock”, “Hip Hop Love Beat” by someone who actually chose the moniker Happy M, and a selection by the multi-untalented Conway brother Owen titled “Kick”. The performers for these tunes? They are “Means 2 an End”, who likely didn’t opt to use the number 2 for their name in an effort to be cool, but because they couldn’t figure out which iteration of to/too/two was applicable and didn’t want to look like idiots. Congratulations, M2anE, you failed.

My final pre-spoils gripe? Christmas. Not the holiday itself, as I have no beef against Xeroxed Yule (just the assholes who claim there’s a “war” against it and the willfully ignorant who refuse to acknowledge its origins). No, my venom here is being projected at the holiday’s inclusion in this movie. Krampus: the Reckoning has nothing in it that hinges on the inclusion of the holiday nor the titular terror upon which it’s named. Christmas is only utilized through decorations, references to gift-giving, Santa, and the easy case of “explain away” for the beast’s backstory. I hated Krampus the Christmas Devil, but at least it stuck closer to the mythology of Krampus (or at least his role in Santa Claus’s bullshit) instead of warping it so much that the makers may as well have just invented their own monster and spared those of us expecting something more tangential to the toddler terrorizer’s tale. I wanted something actually Krampy, but just like Highway Patrolman Harland Williams in Dumb & Dumber, I wound up with a mouthful of piss instead.

Cum one, cum all (hope you’ve all got socks handy), cuz it’s SPOILERS time! For the benefit of those with flash photography get your cameras ready, because much like a certain Canadian duo’s vaunted “5 Second Pose” gimmick, this is a one-time event, never to be seen again! Because of the potential shitstorm such an occurrence could possibly result in, I’m going to ask YOU, the reader, to take full responsibility for your part in this. To wit: I will be posting the text of the next few paragraphs in black to camouflage it from unprepared eyes. Those wishing to peek behind the protective curtain of this gruesome Grand Guignol can do so (at their own discretion!) by highlighting said paragraphs to make them visible. Apologies to my EDB editor for the long-winded intro, but my inner-pitchman needed some air! (Editor’s Note: your apology is not accepted. In fact, back to Solitary with you!)


The wrap-up act of Reckoning sees Zoe declaring that it’s finally Rachel’s turn to suffer the vengeful touch of Krampus. But why? What could Dr. Stewart have done to deserve the broken toaster treatment? Earlier in the movie, Doc dropped the blunt foreshadowing that sufferers of childhood trauma often repress memories that may not come out for years, if ever. Though she was referring to Zoe’s experience following the death of the Weavers, when Rachel later reveals to Miles that the mysterious burns on her arm are the result of a childhood fire that claimed the lives of her parents, it’s clear that the aforementioned medical analysis was just setting us up for the rough and raw Shyamalaning we were in-store for. Sure enough, we find out that Rachel was her family’s killer, causing the fire herself by being a mean little cunt and summoning Krampus to kill them, thanks to a book that her grandmother had for some reason (a moment alluded to frequently through Rachel’s reoccurring nightmares). The demon proceeded to scorch Mr. & Mrs. Stewart and Rachel’s sister, whom Rachel had forgotten even having, due to the memory being locked in the darkest recesses of the doctor’s mind because of all that trauma…even though she conjured the demon with the full understanding (and presumed intention) that it would kill her family! I mean, she had to make the little dolls, so I don’t quite get why she’d be traumatized by a situation she willingly caused?! Fuck you, Conways!

One guess as to who Rachel’s little sister was. If you said Zoe, give yourself sixty-four silver dollars! Yep, Zoe was a ghost this whole time. That’s the testi-twister reveal. Sounds stupid, right? We haven’t even gotten to all the reasons this is bullshit. Get ready for the aneurysm part, kiddies, cuz here it comes.

Up to this point, the movie had been establishing that Zoe had been in several foster homes in her time with the first instance being 20 years ago. When Rachel visits the family’s home, she learns from the household’s shotgun wielding son that the matriarch has been a mental vegetable since Zoe’s time there, during which time she had told people that the little girl was evil. Pa went missing during said time, only to be found later, a crispy critter. What dad did to deserve his comeuppance is never explained, but I’m guess he wouldn’t buy Zoe a My Little Pony or made her go to bed without ice cream because she refused to eat her peas. The info about this case was actually in the local government’s foster kid database (hence how Rachel found out about it), but the file was mysteriously wiped from the system the next day, meaning that ghost Zoe must have some kind of supernatural “ghost in the machine” hacker powers in addition to never aging and having Krampo at her beck and call. Kids from those days these days.

Now, when Zoe finally confronts Rachel, she informs her (and us) that she did indeed perish in the fire caused by big sister’s amateur demonology (as did their grandma, who’s seen in the opening scene). Where do I begin in trying to untangle this motherfucking Gordian Knot that the Conways have put before me?! I can’t just pull a sword out of my ass like Alexander the Great, but let’s see what I can spelunk outta there. For starters, if Rachel’s the one that summoned Krampus in the first place, WHY does Zoe control him?! Did her ghost take form and redo the ceremony herself, or can ghosts just control demons through physical dolls at whim?! Speaking of ghosts, despite being one, everyone can see Zoe. So she’s a phantom that can take physical form. Fine. Whatever. If that’s true though, why would she get involved with the other families in the first place?! She was in the foster care system, so she had to have been entered into it by a social worker who paired her with the families she destroyed. Also, she interacts with several other kids in the start of the flick, so not only can she take a solid form, but she’s willing to live the life of an actual foster kid for a while and put up with other asshole kids while working out which people to murder?!

WHY EVEN GO THROUGH THE WHOLE PROCESS OF A CONTRIVED PLOT, KILLING PEOPLE AND GOING THROUGH THE SYSTEM FOR TWENTY YEARS JUST TO GET TO RACHEL?! WHY DRAW OUT THE ENTIRE FUCKING MOVIE IF SHE COULD’VE JUST TAKEN HER REVENGE ON BIG SIS AT ANYTIME IN THE 20 YEARS SINCE ACQUIRING KRAMPUS’S SERVICE ANYWAY?!!?!?!?!? IT’S THE WORST KIND OF ENDING, BECAUSE IT NEGATES EVERYTHING THAT THE MOVIE SPENT 80 MINUTES ESTABLISHING, MAKING THE WHOLE DAMN MESS RETROACTIVELY NONSENSICAL!!!! FUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU, ROBERT AND OWEN CONWAY!!!!!

This movie just slingshots spherical, disgruntled, colorful birds at the structure of my brain and laughs while it crumbles, killing the little green pigs that represent what’s left of my sanity. The first time I saw that ending, my mind had to shut down and reboot. Fortunately, my gray matter autosaved everything up to that point, so I was able to free up additional memory to handle the load the second time around. I was also properly prepared to fast forward through the sex and shower scenes featuring nude people nobody asked to see nude. Don’t worry, I just had to erase some useless files from my childhood. Of what I haven’t a clue. Like I said, they’ve been erased. Pay attention.

It’s not worth the time, money, or effort, but if the last 20 minutes were re-written, any association with Krampus altered, and the actors given some classes ahead of time, this could’ve been a not-the-worst-thing-I’ve-ever-seen monster movie. As it exists in its current state, this flick would be better suited for the moniker “Kramped-Ass: the Rectuming”. Yes, that was a horrible joke, but it’s pretty much all this movie deserves. Much like the actual Krampus (I know him, he’s a rather affable gent unless you’re an a-hole kid), The Reckoning should be used as a punishment for misbehaving children and full grown douche sacks. It’s not so much for cinemasochists to watch as it is for cinesadists to inflict.

With that, this exercise in tedium has come to its close. Despite the Conways spiking my nog with Nyquil and giving my holidaze cheer a severe case of Hepatitis X(mas), it’s nothing a trip to the local cinema for another viewing of the good Krampus can’t cure!

Our next ep will continue the seasonal scheming of the slightly-to-completely irredeeming with a very special quasi-celebrity guest to this holiday mess! Put on your red shirts and reindeer antlers and get your ass back here for homemade milk and cookies, motherfuckers! For now, I gotta go out and pick up our Cthulhumas tree, then figure out what the Hel I’m getting Set for Secret Satan this year. Oh look! Here’s a copy of Krampus: the Reckoning! Problem solved. Until next time, may your egg nog always be spiked and have a holly jolly go fuck yourself.

Moral of the Story: You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not shout. I’m telling you why – if you do, I’m Clockwork Orange-ing you through a Christmas Story style annual marathon on Krampus: the Reckoning every year for the rest of your life!

Screenshots_____

“Yes, I can see the picture just fine, dearie. Now get your hand out of my face or you’ll be pulling back a stump. Got it?!”


“I can’t believe Male Character A would cheat on Female Character A with Female Character C! This is the most devastating season of ‘Generic High School Drama Show‘ yet!”


For all you parents with tight purse strings who can’t afford Monster High dolls for your kid this year, try the Dollar Embargo knock-off “Creature Secondary School”! Millie Mummy (pictured here) will be their new favorite affordable friend while you’re waiting for the results of your latest frivolous lawsuit against McDonald’s!


Yikes! Don’t stare at those too long or you’ll go wall-eyed! I hear that’s what happened to Marty Feldman.


Wait till you see the part where Krampus makes her sing while he drinks a glass of water. Amazing!


No matter how hard they all tried, the cast always regretted the day’s efforts when it came time to review the dailies. Ouch.


Milhouse Van Houten – age 35.


Damn it! Clearly this proves that the Conways knew what Krampus was supposed to look like! They were just fucking with us the whole time!


“Merry Christmas, sir! We’re the ho-ho-hoes you ordered from Big Poppa Claus! We brought festive, peppermint flavored condoms in case you’re out! Where should we start?”


Scott Summers’ first pair of glasses before switching to ruby quartz lenses.


It’s the Ghost of Rob Riggle Yet to Come!


“I told you not to come around here no more! We don’t wanna be in your shitty Krampus movie, and you can’t use our house or yard to shoot scenes in!”


Uggh. Some people just shouldn’t be shot in HD. He looks like he washed his face with old pizza grease!


Your Freddy Krueger cosplay’s coming along nicely, Sheryl! Keep at it, kiddo.


Huh. Well, evolution clearly didn’t plan for Krampus to procreate…


Speaking of procreation, my wife will be happy to hear that this scene just made me sterile. Next time anyone asks me if I’m positive I’m not gay, I’ll pull up this screenshot and throw up all over them.


“YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?! YOU’RE IN THE JUNGLE, BABY! YOU’RE GONNA DIIIIIIIIIIIE!”


“Roger, you know I joined the Sherman Oaks Bald Men Society because I believe in your vision. But… I don’t think anyone’s coming to our Christmas mixer. It’s been four hours… I think we should call it a night.”

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Anubis will return next time in
“Tales From the Cryptsmas”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

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

Feature 59 – Romasanta (2004)

or “Werewolves. Mayhem. Soap.”

Featuring: Julian “Warlock” Sands , Elsa “Fast Five” Pataky , John “The Machinist” Sharian

Director: Paco “[REC]” Plaza

Writers: Alberto “Extinction” Marini , Elena “Prime Time Serra , Alfredo Conde

Origin: Spain

Also Known As: Werewolf Hunter , Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta , The Werewolf Manhunt , Romasanta: the Werewolf Hunt

Review_____

“When a dog tries to bite you, you can kick it. But with a wolf…”

I’d like to thank the gents of The Celluloid Zeroes for letting me horn in on their “Adult Onset Lycanthropy” roundtable. Be sure to check out the rest of the crew’s reviews, as linked at the bottom of this one!

I told you I’d get back to the Fantastic Factory sooner or later! Romasanta was originally supposed to be the cap-off for the “Fantastic Four” reviews thing, but when the AOL ‘table was announced, I thought it better to nudge it back a couple of episodes and put Arachnid in its place (in both contexts). And so here we are! And Julian Sands is here with us! Hooray! From the first time I saw Warlock, to his voice work as the villain in ‘The Jackie Chan Adventures‘ and all the smaller pay days in-between (like Naked Lunch and Tale of a Vampire), I’m always a sucker for a good Sands job. That sounded so much dirtier than intended. Bravo. *golf clap*

What we have here (aside from a failure to communicate) is one of those “based on a true story” flicks that neglects to put the word “loosely” at the beginning of that statement. Or, in cases of stuff like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, “almost not at all”. Romasanta actually keeps it pretty close to the truth, and could even be construed as keeping it absolutely 100 if you’re going by the claims of the eponymous real-life serial killer (Spain’s first, incidentally!) upon which the story is based. Now, who wants to relive one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of Spanish history with Uncle Anubis?!

No. You can’t sit in my lap anymore. Your parents think it’s inappropriate and I’m not dealing with wild accusations and angry villagers wielding torches because you’re not comfortable sitting on the floor. You don’t like it? Bring a pillow to these things, because I’m not buying a chair. It’s bad enough I let you use my bathroom and eat my Circus Peanuts.

Our tale takes place in the village of Galicia. The year is 1851. Queen Isabella II (Electric Boogaloo) rules the land while both fending off the Carlists who want her dethroned and trying her best to make her marriage with her gay cousin Francisco work (at least that’s what Wikipedia told me). Lacking televisions, the children are babysat/entertained by poorly done puppet shows. Everyone is generally pleased with life, despite the lack of indoor plumbing and constant threat of wolf attacks. Seems Galicia’s been having a lot of the latter lately, so much so that the disappearance of a local bailiff (you know, like Bull from “Night Court”) has been blamed on lupinous ill-intentions. When his body is recovered, ravaged with tooth and claw wounds, a bounty goes into effect for every wolf carcass collected. A plan to promote both populace safety and lower the general fear factor, since nothing motivates the frightened masses better than the clinking of coinage! They go so far as to trap the poor things in cages and shoot them dead in the middle of the market square so everyone can watch. Where’s Princess Mononoke when you need her?! Oh, right. Japan. Never mind.

We’re introduced to Barbara (Elsa Pataky), a lovely young Galician gal, as she goes out to the family barn to check on their animals one night. She finds their pig with its throat ripped out (Oh god! Not Orson!) along with the culprit (an almost jackal-esque wolf) still eating its newly acquired dinner not 10 feet away. The quadrupedal menace growls at her, threatening to make her the next course on the esophageal buffet. Fortunately for Babs, her brother-in-law Manuel (Julian Sands) appears from nowhere in the nick of time to stare down the sinister pooch and send it packing with its literal proverbial tail betwixt its legs. Was it intimidated by the stance of an alpha male, or did wolfy see what happened to Cloquet’s houseboy in Naked Lunch and just think “Yeah… fuck that. Adios!”.


(I was going to post a pic of what did happen to Cloquet’s houseboy, but this completely unrelated Naked Lunch still is funnier)

Manuel is a traveling salesman and transcriber for people who can’t write their own letters. Remember, this is the 19th century. “School House Rock” hasn’t been invented yet. He’s back from the road, much to the relief of wife Maria (Maru Valdivielso), mute daughter Teresa (Luna McGill), and aforementioned s-i-l Barbara, who will feel a lot more secure in the wake of the recent wolf ransacking now that there’s a man (and apparent wolf whisperer) in the house again. His stay won’t be long though, as he’s moving everybody to Santander – a fancier township where they can get a tutor to teach Teresa sign language. Also, though they probably still have wolves there, they’re probably just not so human hungry. Kinda like how Candy Apple Island still has apes, just not as big as the apes on Ape Island.

Everybody’s up for the move, but Maria’s one of those housewives who watches too much “Maury”. She thinks little sister has the skank eye for her Man(uel), so she insists on leaving Barb behind to fend for herself “until they can find a position for her” in their new zip code. When Babs insists on going with them and tries to talk to Manny about it, Mar pulls a knife on her and threatens to gut her if she doesn’t take her exile from the family like a good girl! This went from “Maury” to “Jerry Springer” faster than you can say “Keep it in the family”! Yikes.

Not wanting to see if she can live without her spleen, Barb acquiesces and stays behind, alone in the family farmhouse. Maria wonders if she’s done the right thing, but doesn’t have long to regret her decision, since Manny KILLS HER! Yep. On the way to their new home, the trio stops in the forest to make camp for the night. While Mar’s off bathing (don’t get excited, as “bathing” in this sense involves wearing full pantaloons AND her corset), Mr. Romasanta torments little Teresa by JAMMING TWIGS INTO HER PET BIRD’S EYES (so it flies around manically “like a butterfly”), then sending her off silently screaming into the woods to get caught in a wolf trap, where he finishes her off by JAMMING STICKS INTO HER EYES TOO! I’m a heartless monster, but even I can’t get behind child abuse like that. Jesus fuck biscuits! Anyway, Maria finds her, but has her mourning cut short when the camera lunges at her horrified visage before cutting to black. You know, that multipurpose Evil Dead technique that builds suspense by not showing you who/what is attacking her, while also saving a few Pesetas by not having to pony up for a monster suit that won’t look like a pile of shit and zippers when shot in daylight.

Galicia’s District Attorney, Luciano (Gary Piquer, looking kinda like Viggo Mortensen in a beard), is determined to get to the bottom of these killings. Apparently the D.A.s back then didn’t just do court stuff, they doubled as the Sheriff. To help him sniff out the true culprit(s) behind these killings and keep this wolf hunt from becoming a witch hunt, Lucy calls for outside help in the form of Algerian man-of-science Professor Philips (David Gant). Dr. Phil provides some classic insight into 19th century criminology, like how big headed sweaty guys are always guilty because they can’t control their natural affinity toward evil. In my case, that’s very true. He also believes that through physical and mental manipulation, these people need not be executed, but can be rehabilitated. When the town’s tribunal tasks him with proving the legitimacy of his science, Phil uses said lawmaker as an example and sticks a couple of needles into his brow line, causing him to sob uncontrollably. How this proves that the Moisty McPumpkinSkull they’ve pulled in as a suspect could be a serial killer, I have no clue, but I didn’t study at 19th Century Doctor College. I earned the Leeching Bachelor’s degree on my wall by watching The Giant Leeches.

Prof Philips is also well versed in the coronery arts, not to be confused with the “culinary arts” or “coronary arts”, so don’t. Through his autopsies of the victims (preserved in coffins filled with salt), he drops the unsettling knowledge that one of the bodies, a 14 year-old girl who kinda resembles the now deceased Teresa, was also the recipient of a postmortem custard pumping. This means that not only is our killer a hebephiliac, but also a necrophiliac…making him some kind of necrohebephiliphiliac. Queasy.

An expensive earring was also discovered on the body, meaning that she was from a well-to-do village elsewhere. Since wolves eat their prey where they find it (too stuck up for doggy bags), obviously they wouldn’t have dragged this girl all the way here from wherever she was killed. Even if, I’m pretty sure most wolves don’t rape their dinner after they’ve killed it either. Unless of course it was a Wall Street wolf, as they’re pretty abhorrent sexual deviants if the legends are to be true. *rimshot* No, necrophilia on a teenage girl seems more like the kind of nightmarish horror nature reserves for humans…or otters. Seriously, look up the dark acts those furry little motherfuckers get up to after dark. You’ll wanna round ’em up and throw ’em all into a giant blender after you do. As Lord Byron famously put it, “I shit you not”.

Philips also finds that the bodies have wounds consistent with not only teeth and claws, but also knife incisions! Curiously enough, they’ve also been relieved of all of their body fat. Though this sounds like the result of some radical fucking medieval liposuction, everybody who saw/read Fight Club gun jumped to the immediate conclusion I did: somebody’s making soap. Given that soap is still a luxury item at this time, who do we know that sells luxury items? That’s a bingo. Our killer has a name-o. And it’s the title of the movie. Which we already know by this point because we just got done watching Manuel Romasanta kill his wife and daughter. Such is the problem when we’re watching a murder mystery that already shows us who the killer is: there’s nothing for us to figure out and we just sit back and wait for Manny to start killing people like it’s just another slasher movie. Blart.

Speaking of Manfred, he returns to Galicia the following morning, bearing gifts for his dear s-i-l. Barbara wakes up to the tune of an ornate music box and the sight of an extravagant gold dress. After she puts the dress on and starts eyeball fucking herself in her mirror, Manny creeps up on her and gets all squeezey and strokey on her neck and clavicle, telling her how beautiful she is. In a classier way than when I woo a woman by whispering stuff like “You’re curing my ED.” or “I wish you weren’t married right now” into her ear on the subway. Barb asks the smooth talker just how many women he’s knocked the boots off of, to which he offers up the usual verbal evasive maneuvering every double-dipping Don Juan pulls out in times of interrogation, all the while seeing the faces of his presumed victims in the mirror. Barb catches sight of her sibling’s guilt-inducing visage in the looking glass though, and talks herself out of engaging in any of Manuel’s infidelity. If I had a dollar for every time some spook cockblocked me, I’d have enough to buy one of those PornHub twerking Terminator butts. I know what’s going on my Cthulhumas wish list!

Manny tells Barb that her sister and niece are fine and dandy in Santander, and that Maria’s even procured her a job! See, if we didn’t know that he’d already killed his wife and daughter, this would’ve worked much better. Instead of getting the big reveal at the end though, now we just watch him perv on the young object of his affections while wondering how far it goes before Barb insists on seeing her loved ones. Though milady’s hormones are haunted by the disapproving, cunt-punting, sister specter (no doubt just an embodiment of her guilty groin), it takes all of an hour or two for her to exorcise that loin phantom. During her morning bath, Manny creeps up on her again, this time giving her an erotic washing in the tub that leads to some submarinal stimulation of the clitoral variety. Even when he gives her the moral out and pulls his hand away, she gives him the “Oh, you are NOT fucking done yet, mister!” look and pulls his hand back between her thighs, putting the “sensual” in “consensual”. Manny must be a helluva marksman, cuz his fingerbang game hits the bullseye! Fingerbang! Bang bang bang!

Though the identity of our serial murderer is never in doubt, the exact origins of his situation are brought into question during a flashback sequence. We see Manny pick up an injured farmer along the road (back then they only had one road and it went to every town and it was uphill both ways in 6 feet of snow) and offer to take him to the next town to get treated for the sickle wound he’s suffered. Determined that the guy won’t make it, Romy (sans Michelle) offers to write up a goodbye letter for him and deliver it to his soon-to-be widow. Farmer Fred gives up the ghost mid-sentence, so our suavely sinister lead fills it in with some really schmaltzy shite about how her butt won’t quit and $5 chewy pretzels or something. He delivers the message and worms his way into filling the now gaping hole in her life…and any other holes that could use a good stiff tending to (said with a perverse “heh heh heh” and a liberal “humpin’ thrust” motion).

This brings to question exactly how it is that Manuel got involved with Maria. Was Teresa his biological daughter or his stepdaughter? The movie stays pretty obtuse on the topic, thought I’d like to think that it’s intentional. Whatever his true relation to Barb’s family, while Romasanta continues his seduction of his s-i-l, a goon with a scarred face trespasses on their property and attempts to shoot him in the back! No surprise, as said goon has a massive dome and looks like the type of person who’s constantly wiping his sweaty palms on his pants. Seeing the (hilariously computer generated) glint off the rifle first, Barb throws herself into the line of fire and takes one for her man. The mystery mongoloid slips away while Manuel takes her inside and extracts the slug of silver from her back, saving her life. He picks this as the most appropriate time to declare that his life belongs to her, but the most inappropriate time to gift her a lovely little necklace in thanks. A necklace that he lifted from Teresa’s neck right before he murdered her! Giving your new girlfriend a prized trinket stolen from her beloved relative is the only thing worse than giving her an engagement ring with your ex’s name still etched in the band, and this guy fucking does it! That’s a whole new level of dick move, and that’s coming from one of the King Dongs of dicks! For shame on you, Mr. ‘Santa. Hell, FIVE shame on you, you bastard.

Naturally Bar recognizes the bauble (taken from her only freaking niece!) so that night, while her new fuck buddy is copping some z’s, she goes snooping through his caravan. Under a loose floorboard, Nancy Drew finds a small chest of misappropriated valuables, along with some not exactly clear but very official looking documentation with Teresa and Maria’s names on them. I thought they were death certificates at first, but my Evil Dead Bride suggests that they may be the gals’ wills. But, would a child even have a will? Whatever the case, no sooner does Bar put everything back, then someone cartjacks her! Wait…so Manuel leaves his horses tied to the cart at night? What the fuck?! That’s the 19th century version of leaving the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked! His insurance company won’t be paying a dime on this claim…

During the kerfuffle, Babs is tossed around worse than someone trying to get to the toilet on a Greyhound. No diggity. Indiana Jones has an easier time crossing rope bridges. And trying to piss standing up while it’s doing 65 on the highway without getting it all over your shoes? It should be part of the initiation process to get into fucking Skull & Bones! Anyway, a dropped lantern turns the whole thing into a mobile inferno, with our de facto heroine (who’s not exactly a bastion of morality since she’s having an affair with her dead sister’s husband) managing a literal leap of faith that would make Zoe Bell pop a thumbs up. She’s immediately accosted by Lumpy Scarface, who rips off a piece of her dress, rubs it on his face saying “they’ll follow me”, and runs off into the woods to play decoy, shouting to attract the attention of the baying wolves echoing in the night.

The next morning, she wakes up to find the galoot has since returned, and he enlightens her as to his origin story. His name is Antonio, and he used to be a common thief. One day, while burgling a church, he was confronted by a wolf (I still say the wolves around here look more like jackals) that shrugged off a point-blank gunshot like it was the world’s mildest beer belch. In retaliation, it attacked this clearance rack Randy Couture and brought him into the brotherhood of the wolf (different movie). After engaging in a few co-murders with his new barking bro, Tony became so overwhelmed with guilt that he now hunts Romasanta to bring an end to the monster and maybe get his own curse lifted by scoring a few redemption points from Jehovah while he’s at it.

When Barb goes with him to the constables to corroborate his story about the WolfManuel (see what I did there?), they declare Tony as clearly insane and have him locked up. No doubt his big fat head and damp mitts gave him away. They practically caught him red wet handed, wakka-wakka! Despite Antonio’s detaining, D.A. Lucy believes Babs enough to put out the 1850s equivalent of an APB on Romasanta before sending her home. While there, she finds a stash of Manny’s stuff, including letters he had transcribed for his many girlfriends to their families, but never delivered. It’s not explained whether he intended to deliver these later, was keeping them as mementos of his conquests (serial killers are weird like that), or just hadn’t gotten around to burning them yet, but they serve as the perfect plot twist excuse to turn Babs vigilante and put her on his trail. She takes off across the countryside, returning the letters to their original senders and asking around about any recent Romy sightings. As you can guess, it turns out this traveling salesman has a different alias in every town, and now that his new squeeze is ratting him out, it’s time to start cutting ties with all of these other girlfriends. Along with their throats, abdomens and whatever else he feels like severing.

Ladies, when a man is willing to murder all of his other girlfriends to be with you, it means you’re his Jet Li/Neo. You’re the One.

Back at the nuthouse, the doctors tell Tony that he’s not now, nor has he ever been a werewolf. He’s simply a delusional psychopath who was manipulated by Manuel into being his murder amigo. The Ottis Toole to his Henry Lee Lucas. The Tex Watson to his Charles Manson. The Ringo to his rest-of-The Beatles! With the second banana’s help, the man(uel)hunt gets a lead on where the killing spree could be heading next: a middle of nowhere town wherein the killer is cornered while doing day laborer work, reaping in a wheat field. For a scene where so many people are wielding scythes and sickles, there’s a disappointing lack of dismemberment to be had. Despite managing to evade the 5-0, Santa doesn’t run off like a smart fugitive would. Instead he takes the opportunity to confront his lady love (she fell behind the rest of the posse when her gunshot wound re-opened), who holds him at arm’s length with the tip of a sickle planted firmly in his neck. Whether her restraint is because she still loves him somewhere in her head, she wants to let the judicial system deal with him, or she just wants to know how her body rates next to the 30 or so other baked potatoes he was slinging his sour cream with (I’m presuming from experience, not sexist stereotypes), she keeps him there until the constabulary circle back around and take him into custody. The tension of this scene makes it a real “shut up and take notice!” moment. The intensity on Barb’s face sold me on Pataky as not just a likeable and lovely lady actor, but as someone who can act the living Hel out of such a scene with just her face. Between that and Plaza’s direction, it’s insta-boner stuff that puts movies with five times its production values to shame.

Manny’s taken back to Galicia and put on trial while a ravenous gang of villagers screams for his head outside the courthouse. They sadly lack the torches, pitchforks, and nooses you come to expect from angry Victorian Era mobs. Besides, why would there be multiple nooses? Did Steve, Randy and Carl ALL think it was their turn as “noose guy” in the rotation? Or is Randy known for using cheap rope when it’s his turn, so Steve and Carl just thought it prudent to bring back ups so as not to let Randy’s thrifty tendencies ruin another perfectly good lynching? “Damn it, Randy! You do this EVERY time!”

At trial, “the Werewolf of Allariz”’s defense is that he’s innocent and it’s Mother Nature who’s responsible for his crimes. Typical self-entitled cunt, always blaming his parents for his choice to be an asshole. Where he comes from (Allariz), it’s well known that the 9th born son of any family is touched by the Devil, and being his father’s 9th son that makes him inherently (or inheritedly in this case) evil. His transformation into the wolf is his malediction, and since a wolf’s natural instinct is to kill, it’s not his fault that he kills people when he’s furry and four-legged. He says he can be saved, and that his love for Barbara is the cure to the curse. Their relationship is the only thing that’s ever given him regret for his crimes and he didn’t feel the urge to kill a single person for the few days he spent romancing/fingerbanging her. To test this claim, the Professor (and Mary Ann?) puts him under hypnosis and he’s taken to the forest so the tribunal can witness his transformation into a bloodthirsty fleabag…or just watch a grown man play make believe. Santa recreates his actions during the murder of Maria and Teresa and guess what? No transformation. Not a physical one anyway. Sands’ portrayal of said recreation is either grand drama or pure scenery munchery. I’m not entirely sure which, but it’s definitely something worth watching!

Phillips diagnoses Romasanta with Adult Onset Lycanthropy (take a shot!), in that a strong emotional trigger turns him into a ravenous maniac. So, he becomes a metaphorical “wolf man”, rather than a literal one like more superstitious (i.e., dumb) people would believe. Thus, Phillips believes Manuel’s not only not responsible for the crimes he committed but can be rehabbed, thus Dr. P recommends to the judges that Romy be given over to the custody of the sanitarium. As with any cop, this puts Luciano on the express strain to FUCK YOU! Town, as his moral code of black & white (insert joke about racist cops here) says there’s no excuse for criminal acts and Roms needs to be imprisoned, followed by a nice public execution so justice can be served! I’m waiting for him to pull a Dirty Harry or a Frank Castle and just put a bullet between Manuel’s pretty blue eyes before this is over.

The court’s verdict? Manuel is to be remanded to the asylum’s custody pending further investigation. While there, he starts to pen his memoirs until he’s interrupted by Babs (wow, way to go security) who brings a silver knife to a love fight. She falters when Manny declares she can’t kill him because her heart won’t let her, but hopeless romantics tend to underestimate the overpowering lust for revenge. His lady love sheathes her pig sticker into her boyfriend’s pancreas, albeit with tears in her eyes. He falls to the floor, uttering his last words to her as some poetic b.s. about love and death before he says hello to Oblivion (“Hello, Oblivion!”) and fades to black. I’m as wrapped up in the words of wooing (not to be confused with Ric Flair’s words of “WOO!”ing) as the next tragic love story lead, but I’m pretty sure my final line to my girlfriend-turned-executioner would’ve been some variation of “AHHHH! FUCK! YOU FUCKING KILLED ME, YOU CUNT! I HOPE YOU DIE UGLY AND ALONE, YOU SELFISH BITCH!”. I can be a real prick when it comes to girlfriends gutting me though, literally and figuratively.

When the pork people discover him DOA, Lucy sees no need to investigate, likely chalking it up to a Willy Loman (*wink*wink*), but possibly going with the old “self defense” excuse after they put a gun in his hand and a bag of angel dust in his pocket. Like Bruce Hornsby put, that’s just the way it is, some things will never change. Funny how people who clamor for by-the-books justice are always the first to go rogue when said “justice” doesn’t fit their personal definition. I mean, this wasn’t even a case of a crooked judge or a slimy lawyer getting a serial rapist off the hook because the arresting officer wouldn’t let him wash his hands before cuffing them! The criminologist that he himself brought in to help with the investigation says that Romasanta’s insanity plea is legit, so Deputy Dog’s all “Fuck your science! Let’s get this guy dead as soon as possible!” and lets a vengeful citizen do the wet work for him while he covers for her! Justice? More like “just us”… best of luck explaining that one to yourself, because I’m foggier than The Fog on it, myself. Just random words!

The movie wraps with Barbara attending Manuel’s burial in the pouring rain (and wearing all black, so she’s clearly mourning her admissible retaliation), with the aftertext telling us that the real life Romasanta story played out much the same as what we just saw. The few exceptions being that his alleged accomplice Antonio was never found and Manuel was originally given a death sentence until Dr. Phillips petitioned the Queen to convert it to life in prison instead, due to his suffering from Lycanthropy. While he was awaiting a full pardon, though, Romasanta died in prison of “unknown causes”. The admirable dedication to the reality of the tale is no surprise, since script writer Alfredo Conde also wrote the fictional novel, The Uncertain Memoirs of a Galician Wolfman: Romasanta. Oh yeah, Conde’s also a descendant of one of the doctors involved in the original “Werewolf of Allariz” court case that took place in 1853/54 in Galicia, Spain! That’s some seriously cool pedigree to have for your “based on a true story” horror movie.

Before Romasanta, I thought Dagon was the only greatness to wade from the tar pit of bad-to-mediocre known as Fantastic Factory. But now? Holy shit. We’ve got a new #1 contender. As such, Dagon and Romasanta will be battling it out in a steel cage surrounded by jackals inside of a flaming steel cage surrounded by crocodiles for the Fantastic Factory Undisputed Championship Title! Or they can just share the awesome and serve as co-ambassadors for the non-existent campaign to bring the Factory back. Hell, Brian Yuzna’s been up to pretty much nothing since their doors closed, so we know he’s free! Now, where can we dig up a few millions dollars?

Aside from a plot hole here and there, an unanswered question or two, the story is good. I would’ve preferred more of a mystery with the whole thing, but the tale of Manuel and Barbara is a good one. It technically counts as a romance too, so next time your marital relations partner(s) want to watch something romantic, try and slip this into the rotation. It’s like a finger in the ass – you won’t know for sure until you try! However, if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t try it again. You might not get your finger (or DVD) back.

Paco Plaza’s direction is appropriately fantastic, no pun intended. As stated prior, PP (huh huh) makes this under the radar period piece look like something double its budget. There’s a single transformation scene (a flashback as told by Antonio) where we watch wolf Manuel turn back into his human form and it’s an excellent sequence. All practical effects, decidedly slimy “shedding your second skin” moment, cool “paws become hands” stuff, and a simple but effective beginning where the canine’s fur just washes off in chunks in the rain. My compliments to the chef(s)!

As far as the casting goes, I have no complaints about anyone involved, and nothing but praise for Miss Pataky. I was expecting Julian Sands to be the only standout in a cast of people I’d never heard of, but she was so likeable and intense and dramatic and DAMN was she good! To paraphrase Roger in Dawn of the Dead, she got this by the ASS! One of the review blurbs I read after watching referred to it as a “performance making role”, and I’m inclined to throw my thumbs up in agreement. She’s since become a reoccurring character in the last three Fast & Furious movies, so though I’ll never watch them, I’m happy to know that she’s making big fat Hollywood franchise money for her talents. Julian Sands definitely fits the title role because he’s handsome enough to be a ladykiller, but also has a nose that helps you believe this dude’s face elongates into a muzzle from time to time. He still pulls off the seductive thing in his advanced age too, so all the more reason he lives up to the part. His performance is pretty non-assuming for the most, but when it comes time for him to really get into the crazy, he definitely makes it a spectacle! Everyone else earns their paychecks and I had nothing to complain about. A backhanded praise to some, but believe me, a perfectly serviceable cast is a rare thing considering how bad some of the ensembles in prior Factory flicks turned out.

I’m REALLY happy I didn’t wait to do an episode on this one. It’s a slasher movie disguised as a werewolf flick done as a character study. Really well made, well acted, and if it weren’t for the disjointed story moments and sometimes inconsistent pacing, I’d say it was due for a golden feather. As is though, I’ll gladly give it a well-deserved 4 out of 5!

Next time I’ll be getting back on track with the World Tour de Farce. Where will I go and what will I see? The surprise is part of the fun! Until then, be sure to check out the other Adult Onset Lycanthropy reviews that the Celluloid Zeroes have in store for you! Keep those silver bullets warm and always carry some Wolfsbane in your socks, trucker fuckers! Don’t wanna get caught solajwf (shit outta luck and jolly well fucked). Ciao!


3B Theater: Micro-Brewed Reviews – Curse of the Black Widow
Checkpoint Telstar – The Bat People
Cinemasochist Apocalypse – Kibakichi
Las Peliculas de Terror – The Evil Within
Psychoplasmics – An American Werewolf in London
The Terrible Claw Reviews – Sssssss
Web of the Big Damn Spider – Summer School

Moral of the Story: In the 1850s, hypnosis and acupuncture were all the “psychiatric treatment” that the mentally ill needed. Meanwhile, “DNA evidence” was based on a suspect’s hat size and hand perspiration. Still, it’s slightly more scientific than the method of the modern day American justice system: basing a culprit’s guilt on their skin color and/or religious beliefs.

Screenshots_____

“Please don’t tell me you’re the Publisher’s Clearing House people! I am NOT TV ready! Can you come back in an hour!?”


Surgeon General’s Warning: NEVER eat an entire box of Gushers Fruit Snacks on your own. There’s just too much fruit juicy flavor for one person.


Oh great, now that my cousin Scratch has had a cameo in a movie we’ll never hear the end of it at Cthulhumas. No surprise though, he always was the “looker” of the pack.


Looks like the local Chinese buffet is stocking up on “beef” for the weekend rush.


“Ladies! Ladies! Please stop fighting! There’s enough Mr. Ed for the both of you!”


“ARGH! DAMN IT, TERESA! I TOLD YOU NOT TO LEAVE YOUR LEGOS LAYING AROUND ON THE FLOOR ANYMORE!”


“…and so, gentlemen of this tribunal, in the case of “Who Smelt It v. Who Dealt It”, I give you your smeller AND dealer!”


“Your neck is so beautiful, so long, so… uggh! What is that, a skin tag?! Gross. You should have that burned off. It looks infected!”


“Why?! Why would you think I’d want to see nude photos of Carrot Top bathing in tapioca pudding?! I have a child here for God’s sake!”


He looks exactly how I feel after I’ve been touching raw chicken skin. Like one of King Kong’s loogies, or the guest of honor at a kaiju bukkake party. Uggh!


Ah, the all too familiar morning after moment of “What did I do last night?!” mixed with “I am NEVER doing Jägerbombs again!”.


“Look, I’m sorry I jumped to the conclusion that you’re only angry because you’re on your period, but… I mean… well… aren’t you on your period?!”


I know that look well. That’s the look my Evil Dead Bride gives me when we’ve had a fight, I make a really dumb joke, and she tries her best to stifle the laugh so she doesn’t lose the “angry upperhand”. She always laughs though… except that one time… I really miss my left testicle.


“With my new invention, the cranium re-sizerator, men and women need never worry about their hats being too small or too large again! Their skull will always be the perfect size!”

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Anubis will return next time in
“Complex Problems”

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

Feature 05 – The Lords of Salem (2012)

or “Jim Henson’s Rob Zombie’s Rosemary’s Baby’s Babies”

Featuring: Sheri “The Devil’s Rejects” Moon-Zombie , Bruce “Willard” Davison , Meg “Masters of the Universe” Foster

Written & Directed By: Rob “House of 1,000 Corpses” Zombie

Origin: USA

Review_____

“BLEED US A KING!”

Well, it’s Halloween. Tomorrow it’ll be time to take down the 5 life-sized cutouts of the Cannibal Holocaust girl (you know the one) sitting on our balcony, send the night’s fun size lumps of artificially colored sugary treats off into the toilet sea, then it’s off to the local merchants to acquire 90% off leftover Halloween decorations! But today, it’s time for tricks and treats and torments and transvestites (Rocky Horror!). You know who probably used to put on awesome Halloween displays? Rob Zombie. Well, before he became a candidate for Grumpy Old Men 3 – The Artificial Hip of Braxis.

Yep, if news stories are any indication, Rob Zombie’s become a curmudgeonly old fart. Apparently he and Shari filed complaints with their local representatives about a skate park that was constructed near their home in Connecticut due to excessive noise… yes, the man responsible for Super Charger Heaven, Superbeast, and many many other songs without “Super” in the title that would make the average housewife’s eardrums rupture and bleed melted brain soup all over their copies of Twilight, was complaining about too much noise… It sounds like something you’d read on a fake newspaper headline in a Mel Brooks movie! As a result, various noise dampening modifications were made to the place, and its hours were cut, including closing the place entirely on Sundays. Originally, Mister and Missus Zombie wanted the place removed entirely and shipped off to some other part of town far away from them where it could be some other neighborhood’s problem. Jeezus. I almost punched down my shithead downstairs neighbor’s front door and made veiled threats of dismemberment if he didn’t stop playing his bass thumping retard baby club music all hours of the day and night, but I’ve also never been one of said assholes who rattles every window in the apartment building by cranking The Transplants to fucking eleven! A noise complaint from Rob Zombie is tantamount to the NRA calling for more federal gun control laws, or the KKK initiating affirmative action for their membership drives! Did I hit my head on a box of Superman back issues and wake up in fucking Bizarro World?!


(Any excuse to post some Eric Powell art)

Well, even if the Hellraiser of Horror Rock one day fully transmogrifies into a shotgun wielding Clint Eastwood telling kids to get off his lawn, if he continues making movies like today’s subject material, he’ll always have my support. The man’s movie maker resume is a polarizing one. House of 1000 Corpses was a rocky start, but an expected first effort from a horror film devotee and alternative metal legend known for his epic stage shows. The Devil’s Rejects was a face smashing white trash odyssey that made anti-heroes out of sociopath serial killers, turning away anyone with a stomach too weak to handle the onslaught of viscera and moral filth. His Halloween reboot infuriated a legion of horror geeks who’d spent most of their lives following the exploits of their Michael Myers, and would rather watch another washed up rapper make fun of the Shape’s William Shatner mask than accept a pretender to the mute murder-meister’s throne. When Halloween II came along… well… half the people thought Zombie was going full-on existential and playing puppet master with the audience’s gray matter, while the other half pegged the sequel as a contractual obligation that Zombie couldn’t care less about and just dicked around with as a way of sticking it to the production company, thus guaranteeing a box office failure that could never, in ANY way, warrant another installment. And The Haunted World of El Superbeasto? As one of the dozen or so people who saw it, if you ever wanted to see Rob Zombie characters in a John Kricfalusi (the Ren & Stimpy guy) cartoon, then you got your wish. Anyway, heeeeeeere’s The Lords of Salem!

Heidi (Shirley Temple) is a singing, dancing, angelic little moppet of an orphan who brings happiness and good will to the inhabitants of a small mountain village while dreaming of the day she’ll be reunited with her great grandpa Adolph. She also has nothing to do with this movie. OUR Heidi (Mrs. Zombie) is a thirty-something former meth junkie-turned-late night radio deejay who keeps the up-all-night listeners of Salem, Massachusetts (who don’t have musically inclined smart phones or internet radio apps, anyway) tappin’ their toes and ticklin’ their funny bones to the tunes and antics of she and her radio prattle cohorts. Not a lot in common between the two beyond the name, but it’s hard to review a movie whose protagonista shares that name and not make some kind of Shirley Temple reference. In lieu of an actual joke though (cuz I’m drawing a big fat blank on this one), I was just gonna ‘Shop a pic of Baby Doll Firefly’s head on Shirley Temple’s body. But, I’m lazy, so since it’s Halloween, just check out this pic of another Heidi (Klum) and her fuckin’ bad-ass 2011 Halloween costume!


(Heidi Klum auditions for the lead in a remake of Pin)

Back to our Heidi, her partners in the zoo of Salem radio are the eternally funky blaxploitation movie refugee Herman Jackson (Ken Foree!) and the “looks way too much like Rob Zombie for it to be coincidental” Herman “Whitey” Salvadore (Jeff Daniels… err, Jeff Daniel Phillips). The latter Herman is that unfortunate nice guy that too many of us can identify with. Not due to his massive beard (well, that I can identify with), but because he’s the perpetual nice guy who’s spends every day with the woman he loves like a goddess, but… prepare yourself guys… here comes the real horror… are you ready?… are you REALLY ready?… okay, you asked for it… she loves him “like another”!… I’m sorry, I meant “like a brother”. Toldja it was scary. Like every scare moment from the [REC] series, combined with the hopeless depression of every suicide scene from Kairo. Speaking of, Pulse (the US version of Kairo) has gotta be one of, if not THE most miss-the-point Americanization of another country’s movie since Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights failed to catch the artistic integrity of its own source material – Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Notice that the former didn’t get a spot in The Criterion Collection.

Heidi’s personal life doesn’t extend much beyond taking her dog for a walk, attending her support group for ex-addicts, and hanging out in her oddly decorated apartment, the highlight of which has to be the giant iconic image from A Trip to the Moon over her bed or the Commando Cody chorus line graphic in her bathroom. I imagine this to be a pretty faithful recreation of what Rob Zombie’s first one-bedroom looked like, minus the psychedelic painting of Horatio J. Hoodoo I imagine mounted over his toilet. When Heidi does leave her home, she notices odd things going on with the apartment at the end of the hall. A strange figure standing in the doorway prompts her to inquire about the new resident with her landlord Lacy (Judy Geeson), but she insists that there is no tenant in that apartment. In fact, she says she can’t rent the room for the life of her… So, is Heidi having one-sided conversations with weird post-junkie hallucinations? Or, is our heroin heroine (I know it’s heroin and not meth, just let me have my pun!) being targeted for a conspiracy? I’m not saying it’s Rosemary’s Baby… but it’s Rosemary’s Baby.

Back to work, Heid and the boys receive an unmarked submission to their show by a group calling themselves “The Lords”. It’s printed on vinyl and delivered in some piss poor wooden box that looks like it came from a junior high shop class, so they’re probably some indie rock hipster douche group. The record’s delivered with no return address and no press material, just a note addressed directly to Heids under her birth name, so who they are and what they’re about is anybody’s guess. They’re so indie, they don’t want ANYBODY to know about them! Anyway, while Beard-o’s hanging out with the object of his unrequited affections back at her place, he pops the Lords’ demo onto Heidi’s needle for a listen. Though the odd, droning melody doesn’t really impress Whitey, it gives Heid a sudden case of hallucinations as her consciousness takes a flashback ride to a witch coven’s dark acts in Salem 1696. On the verge of yodeling her dinner, she excuses herself for the night, leaving ol’ Blue Balls to go home and depression stroke himself to sleep using his own tears and self-resentment as lube. You wouldn’t think self-resentment would make for good meat pole emollient, but you’d be wrong.

The next night, following an interview with local author-historian Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison) about his new book (regarding, you guessed it, Salem’s witchy-poo past), the H Crew play the Lords’ track on the air. Heidi gets another migraine, but the rest of the female demographic tuning in fall into an odd trance while listening… maybe Sarah McLaughlin in the Lords’ front-woman? Presumably local themselves, Funky Herman dubs them “the Lords of Salem”, which catches Matthias’s ear since that was the same name given the coven of witches from Heidi’s prior night’s trip out. The name was coined by then Reverend Jonathan Hawthorne, who condemned the unwashed proto-feminists (led by Meg “Evil-Lyn” Foster!) for keeping him up at night with their drum circles and goat orgies, and had them all arrested and burned to death at the stake. Something I’m sure Old Man Zombie would’ve liked to have done to those skate park kids. Rev. Hawthorne wasn’t exactly the best when it comes to naming evil covens though. Why the Lords of Salem? Aren’t “lords” generally noblemen, with emphasis on the “men”? Why not the Witches of Salem, or the Coven of Salem, or, being a man of the cloth and one for over-exaggerated religious hyperbole, how about the Whores of Salem? No comprende.

Returning home, Heidi-hole gets socially blind-sided by Lacy, who wants to introduce her visiting sisters Megan (Patricia Quinn!) and Sonny (Dee Wallace!). Sonny’s a self-help guru, while Meg’s a palm reader… Okay, being a palm reader, Meg’s obviously a witch. As a self-help guru, which means self-empowering people, and a big component of witchcraft is self-empowerment, Sonny’s a less obvious witch. And Lacy? Well, she’s a landlord… of Salem… a landLORD of Salem… Get it? Yeah, Rosemary’s Baby. Back to the awkward socializing, Meg reads Heidi’s palm and foretells that her dark and dirty lustful loins will direct her fate and are the entire purpose of her life… because ROSEMARY’S BABY! What makes Heidi in particular the perfect spawning pool for the seed of Satan? Can she shed her fated horizontal mambo with the Great Deceiver? Will Ken Foree reveal himself to be a disguise Archangel and strike down the enemies of Jesus with his holy knuckle dusters?! Probably not. But back to the topic of sinister conception, if Lucifer started off as an angel (who have no genitals) then how the fuck is he supposed to impregnate Heidi-go-seek anyway!? Did god grant him a wedding tackle as a parting gift on his banishment to the Great Beyond? Did he fashion one for himself out of the mutilated genitals of rapists and child molesters?! While we’re on the subject of penises, why do witches, who act out against the oppression of the Xyers and denounce the patriarch deity they worship, swear their service and faith to ANOTHER male figure?! Rebel he may be, Satan’s still addressed as a dude. It’d make a LOT more sense to devote your shit to Lilith, Adam’s first wife who was punished for DISOBEYING GOD!

You ever have one of those days where you feel like you’re the only one who makes any sense, and everybody else is incapable of grasping the obvious? Are there pills for this kind of thing?

The slow, satisfying burn (witch trial humor!) of the movie’s first hour or so gives way, bit by bit, to Zombie’s more manic, music video core, climaxing in the last 10 minutes in a visual array that leaves you just a little too addled by the end credits, feeling more confused than fully satisfied. It’s as if, while having dinner with Zombie, he slipped some lsd into your wine as they were serving the main course, and by the time you realized there was something wrong and you were about 10min away from losing your mind, you snapped out of it, dessert was over, and Zombie had excused himself for the night, leaving you with the bill and about 2hrs of alone time wondering what the fuck is going on… Rob Zombie broke my heart is what I’m saying.

There are some out there who want to believe that Lords is Zombie’s secret prologue to his Halloween remake, with Satan’s evil coven spawn growing up to become Michael Myers. Hearing this made my curiosity shoot straight up my spine and explode out of the top of my skull Brain Damage style. After watching it myself, whoever thought this idea up in the first place is a fucking MORON. If Lords took place in the ’70s (which I actually thought it could have by the trailer I first saw), then I’d be all over the theory. Hell, before seeing it, I immediately started making my own parallels to how Lords could totally have been Zombie’s own personal spiritual homage to Halloween III: Season of the Witch! I even managed to blow the mind of fellow horrorphile Ragnarok of Cinematic Apocalypse with my Oliver Stone-ian levels of conspiracy imaginings.

Unfortunately, Lords takes place in the modern day, so unless Satan teleported Heidi and the Hell Baby (coming to children’s bookstores this Halloween!) back through time and space almost 40 years, and Micheal’s older sister was adopted, then again, whoever thought up this imagined connection between the movies needs their ears boxed with a pair of those small military survival kit shovels. It’s really too bad Zombie didn’t have the same idea though. The whole thematic Halloween III idea would’ve been brilliant. Oh well.

As it stands, The Lords of Salem is a really good flick. When given his freedom, Rob Zombie can do great things. I may not have enjoyed much/any of his music since “The Sinister Urge”, but his movies are always interesting, and mostly in the best ways. His take on the Rosemary formula is great, and wastes no time trying to deceive the viewer as to what’s going to happen. He assumes you’ve seen the movie and know where everything’s going, so he takes the scenic route in getting there. It’s pretty great. Go into it expecting more style and suspense than energy and slaughter than Zombie’s other fare, and you shouldn’t be disappointed. Plus, you get to see Dee Wallace, the consummate “nice mom” of everything from E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial to The Skateboard Kid 2, being evil! Granted, it’s a more unsuspecting, below-the-surface evil, so she doesn’t bite the heads off of any babies, but she’s still a Satan lusting harlot!

Oh, and speaking of Satan lusting, if you think the Devil is this studly, debonaire object of crimson-skinned desire, this movie may make you reconsider your Sunday school fanfic. If he had a facebook page, he’d be the type that uses male models for his profile pic and keeps telling you he can’t take any new ones because the camera on his phone’s “broken”. He is the Prince of Thieves Lies after all!

Moral of the Story: Whether they contain explosives, anthrax, or evil migraine inducing records that get you baby raped by Satan, mysterious packages are never to be opened. Straight to the incinerator! And throw in Stephanie while you’re at it!… to anyone who didn’t get that joke, you’re forgiven.

Screenshots_____

You’re not global. Who know who’s global? Globey. Globey’s global.
Ah, the original Lilith Fair. Before it got all corporate… and clothed.


Damn Rob Zombie. Always reminding us how hot his wife is…


… and that she poops.


Back then, the only way to test for birth defects was to lick the newborns. Thank you modern medical science!


Believe me that Zombie originally wrote this part for himself, now? Shit, I bet Sherri accidentally fucked this guy at least twice during filming.


“I’m heading out, Corpsey. Don’t forget to turn off the lights when you’re done pretending to be a kitchen cabinet.”


“You’re lucky, she’s lucky, I’m lucky, WE’RE ALL LUCKY!”


Hope you like that wallpaper, because you’re gonna see this hallway from about 30 different angles by the time this movie’s over!


For anyone who wondered if Bigfoot was religious, we now know he’s a Neon Pentecostal… *rimshot*


New black licorice Gushers are just as bursting with flavor as regular Gushers!… except it’s the flavor of burnt ass hair… like regular black licorice.


Osiris damn it, white people! BLACK FACE IS NOT OKAY! Stop it.


Hey! It’s the guy from the Quiet Riot album covers! Nice to see him finding work.


I wouldn’t trust these guys to take my temperature, let alone perform surgery on me.


So, Satan lives at the Grand Prospect Hall? I don’t see him trying to make all my dreams come true…


Fuck! I imagine it’s gotta take a lot of getting used to not to wake up to that thing in the morning and just shit the bed outright.

Anubis will return next time in
Save the Patients! Burn Down the Asylum!

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