Feature 92 – Killjoy (2000)

or “Homey Don’t Play That”

Featuring: Ángel “Street Knight” Vargas , Vera “Stigmata” Yell , Lee “Once played an uncredited drug dealer on an episode of ‘The Young and the Restless‘” Marks

Director: Craig “Dead South” Ross Jr.

Writers: Carl “Urban Massacre” Washington

Origin: USA

Followed by: Killjoy 2: Deliverance From Evil ; Killjoy 3 ; Killjoy Goes to Hell ; Killjoy’s Psycho Circus

Review_____

“Damn, this motherfucker got some big ass feet!”

A glorious day to you, my heathens and sheathens! It’s me, it’s me, your A-N-U-B… I-S. Always rousing suspicions and arousing suspicious women! From Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man to House of Frankenstein to Frankenstein Vs. Baragon, everybody loves a crossover. Tapping into that vein for so much of its delicious delicious blood, I bring you the “Turkey Day Month Casually Mingles with the Year of the Painted Horrors” pairing you never knew you wanted (because you probably won’t) – Killjoy!



And boy does it fucking ever. I haven't seen a movie so forthcoming with its titular content since New York City Lesbian Gangbang.

Fun fact: I once couch crashed for a week in the Brooklyn apartment of Maria DaMaris, one of the titular participants of said location specific “no Y chromosomes allowed” flesh exchange. It’s true! Also, despite my emphasis of the “tit” in “titular”, Maria’s major physical asset is her posterior, even after her breasticular supplementation procedure. Also also, I was there as a regular guest, not as a sexy guest. Also also also, I may or may not have masturbated repeatedly in her shower…

Remember back at the turn of the century, when Charles Band tried to re-ignite the Blaxploitation subgenre in the late-90s/early-00s with his Alchemy Entertainment/Big City Pictures “urban horror” label? Whether it was a note of romantic intent to the ’70s milestone of cinematic screwiness or just a cheap marketing attempt to convince black and “pale skinned appropriators of urban African-American culture” (you know, “whiggers”) audiences to buy into his bullshit, it happened either way. The tent poles of this inner-city circus were The Horrible Doctor Bones, Ragdoll, and the face-painted farce of fear from today’s feature. Given that we never got Ragdoll Vs. Dollman or the much hoped for prequel Doctor Bones: the College Years, while Killjoy would see the light of DVD again and again in no less than a trio of sequels, the Dollar Embargo Pennywise knock-off was the sole survivor of the label’s purge. His adventures culminated with 2012’s Killjoy Goes to Hell, but unlike a certain masked menace who did the same 15 years prior, this monstrous mischief maker has yet to find his way back.

Oh wait, scratch that. It looks like Chuck Band has summoned his jugular juggling jester back from the lake of fire for the recently released Killjoy’s Psycho Circus. Fuck me.

Speaking of getting fucked, I’m reviewing my physical copy of this movie, which is included on a single disc with both the second and third such flicks that were available at the time. The main menu of the trilogy has no extras or options, simply offering the ability to select each movie individually, or to “Play All”… Who THE FUCK marathons the first three Killjoy movies?! This isn’t the original Star Wars or Indiana Jones trilogies! Fuck’s sake, my juice is dried up by the finish of the first film, let alone would I ever have enough left over to even attempt another 3 hours of half-baked harlequin horrors after the fact! Speaking of juices, let’s squeeze this rancid orange (I’m sorry, president rancid orange) for all its worth and hope we don’t get any in our eyes. Sally forth!

In case you weren’t aware that Killjoy was shot almost 20 years ago, it’s made very apparent from the start as our two allegedly high school age female leads, Monique (Dee Dee Austin) and Jada (Vera Yell), exchange dialogue likes extras out of “Martin”. The Martin Lawrence comedy, not the George Romero “vampire who’s not a vampire” movie, in case I needed to be clear. Their deep conversation on the ethical quandary of “using a boy for his phat ride because you’re tired of walking home from school” is interrupted by nice guy Michael (Jamal Grimes), who’s got a heart-on for Jada, despite Monique’s clear disgust of him and, well, pretty much any guy who doesn’t offer to drive her around in their Mustang convertible. Much as Jada opts to treat the lad like a human being, and may even have a little appreciation for his blatant affections for her, it’s made very clear that Mikey’s immediate future will be in a body bag if Jada’s boyfriend Lorenzo (the oil guy?) discovers the pair have been conversing. Despite all this, Mike still feels compelled to spit into the wind and asks Jada to their school homecoming dance. If you think this is the perfect place for this poor man’s Dulé Hill to get his Jansport kicked in and the Puma logo imprinted on his pancreas, you’d be a way better predictor than Nate Silver right now!

And if you don’t know who Dulé Hill is, I’ll do you a favor: he was the black guy on “Psyche”. Yeah, the one who looks kinda like he played Kenny/Bud on “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s, but didn’t. That’s Deon Richmond, who was in the 2011 Kevin Sorbo, Danny Trejo movie Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury… Sorry, just trying to avoid talking about Killjoy. I’ll get back to swallowing this capsule of broken glass now.

Featuring all of the cinematic professionalism of an after-school special, our movie actually starts like one too! In true movie fashion, this is the scene that “hood thug stereotype that red states think all black people look and act like” Lorenzo (William Johnson) and his cronies T-Bone (Corey Hampton) and Baby Boy (Rani Goulant) roll up upon. Mikey receives the beating alluded to previously, courtesy of the “even more of a hood thug stereotype than his boss” T-Bone, as Jada screams in protest. Though seemingly vicious in execution, NY Strip’s assault doesn’t draw an ounce of blood (probably no room in the budget), while the most vicious blow is made instead by ‘Zo, who steps on Piggy’s specs and tells him not to be caught “slippin”. Getting up with relative ease despite his back being the stage for Porterhouse’s stomp dancing (maybe the bully was wearing Pumps, so it was like being stomped with little hemorrhoid donuts?), Michael shoots some pretty harsh stink-eye at a nearby homeless man who offered no help during the incident. Our hero (by default, I guess) then goes home and does what any victim of a tragic love triangle would do – attempt to summon a vengeful spirit named Killjoy by sitting in the center of a circle of his mom’s votive candles and angrily manhandling a clown doll!

No fucking attempt at explaining Mikey’s ritual is made, let alone where he learned such a practice, but the homemade voodoo ceremony is cut short when Tiny Male lures Mike out into the streets under the guise of regretting the earlier fracas and wanting to be friends. Anyone who falls for something that stupid deserves to be beaten up by a guy named after a cut of meat, Mikey, so you’ve only got yourself to blame when the goons kidnap your naive ass. They drive him out to a vacant lot (by way of a car rocking back and forth in front of a blank black back drop!), and getting a lead pacemaker “accidentally” shot into his chest. Well, a bit of a downer ending, but at least the movie’s over now, right? Let’s go home and have a piping hot mug of triple Swiss Miss with brandy!

Awww shit. I knew it was too good to be true. Instead we’re thrown a year into the future, where Jada has long since broken up with Lorenzo and is instead now being courted by another classmate, Jamal (Lee Marks). She still has unresolved feelings for ‘Enz (“What am I supposed to do? He took my virginity when I was with him!”), but Jamal tells her she needs to forget about him and start thinking about Michael… Wait, what?! Why should she be thinking about the would-be boyfriend her ex killed? Shouldn’t she be thinking about herself? Just ’cause you’re black doesn’t make you Montel Williams, man. Stick to the Easy Cheese pick-up lines and lookin’ pretty, leave the self-help shit to the professionals.

Elsewhere from all this woo pitching, Lorenzo, Newborn Male and Sirloin are still in their west coast ménage à trois, trying to freestyle about weed and passing blunts between their shifts at wherever the hell it is they make their money. Let’s say Good Burger. Anyway, as soon as Lorie kisses his homies goodbye so he can engage in a little bump and grind with whatever girl he’s currently staining sheets with, Infant and Rib Eye are lured out of their domicile by the siren song of a passing ice cream truck. Looking to indulge their munchies, the lads engage the truck’s owner, who proclaims himself an undercover drug dealer selling his product under the disguise of an ice cream shilling clown. Of course this painted pusher is actually the mirth spreading murderer of our title, and when he invites the pair into his parlor (well, his truck), they’re magically transported to Killjoy’s private pocket universe: a warehouse covered in shitty graffiti. Yep. No three-ring carnival of carnage, just an abandoned building. Once there, naturally the duo are done in, with Flank being “smoked” like a blunt and Kiddo being… hit by a truck? Okay, Tenderloin’s dollar store Freddy Krueger demise is expected, but dragging a guy all the way to your own little death dimension just to hit him with a truck?! That shit’s whack like Rob Ford’s crack!

Oh well. Adieu, T-Bone. You were too well marbled for this world.

Lorenz falls for the same gag sooner than later (as in the very next scene), attempts to unload 21 rounds from his magical movie REVOLVER into joy boy, then ends up holier than a Swiss cheese sex doll when Killy straight up steals Weird Al’s Rambo gimmick from UHF by making with an oral machine gun and spitting Zo’s bullets back at him, rapid fire. Well, technically there are NO holes in Lorenzo, because this minuscule effects budget couldn’t cover squibs, so instead he just has little bursts of red digital splatter flash over his torso for a few seconds, leaving behind NO holes and NO blood! You can see why it’s one of my “Top 25 Hemorrhage Inducing Movie Moments of All Time”… a list that doesn’t actually exist, but probably should.

Though infuriating, this scene brings with it the movie's solitary redeeming moment (aside from its 65 minute running time) – watching Lorenzo's new girlfriend Kahara (Napiera Groves) engage in a gratuitous shower scene. I know it's an all too common device that I've complained about in the past, but in such a white dominated genre, you just don't get to see a whole lot of brown-skinned beauties in that classic exploitation position so, well, I really appreciate it when it happens. Reminds me of my high school days when porn wasn’t available at the clit click of a touchscreen. Pardon me while I get “nostalgic” for a minute or two…

Ahhhh. I feel two quarts lighter! Back to business (or “biznaas”), Jada gets a midnight call from Monique of much urgency. In fact, it’s of such urgency that Foreigner would proclaim it an urgent urgent emergency. So urgent, so urgent, just wait and see. Remember that ineffective hobo (Arthur Burghardt) that sat idly by and watched a certain refugee from a butcher block scuff test his new kicks on Mike’s torso the year prior? Well, on the anniversary of the love-lorned loser’s loss of life that same nameless squatter, possibly while hopped up on Viper (+25 movie nerd points to anyone who knows that reference without Googling it!), has sought out the girls to recap everything from the first act to burn off another 5 minutes. For reasons he never explains, the “not nearly filthy enough to be a believable homeless guy” knows that Killjoy operates on CPT (Clown People Time) and has just now answered Michael’s call for revenge, 365 days late. Having offed Lorie and the Hoods though, shit should be all peaches and plums, right? Well, no. Turns out that Killjoy wants to ply his namesake to Monique and Jada too, while Jamal’s just a bonus, I guess. What did the girls do to deserve such treatment? Never underestimate the blind anger of a nerd scorned.

Pro-tip, ladies and gents: just because someone isn’t romantically interested in you doesn’t mean they’re evil. In fact, you’re the more than likely the only one who’s an a-hole, for holding it against them when they reject you. Trust me. Don’t set yourself up for the same regrets I did. Movies and TV and books and songs lie to you – there’s no such thing as someone you were “destined” to be with, and it sure as shit isn’t their fault or yours if they don’t have the same feelings for you that you have for them. Forget about ’em and keep looking elsewhere. Hell, stop looking for love and that little prick Cupid’s arrow might just pop you in the back when you’re not expecting it! Worked for me and EDB, just might work for you too. Now enough of the touchy-feely tripe! I’m not Dr. Drew and this sure as shit ain’t “Loveline”!

So, the old man disappears in a puff of smoke (maybe he has a stick of chronic burning in his jacket pocket?) and our trio of young African-Americans pretending to be even younger African-Americans opt to take the initiative and confront Clown Boy head-on (“Apply directly to the forehead!”), climbing into the back of his seemingly abandoned truck, parked conveniently right out front where the old man said it would be. Wow, so these kids are ready to attack welfare Pennywise (who’s yet to approach either of them and may not even have beef to resolve), all on the word of a random vagrant whose validity is due solely to his knowing their names and disappearing in a cloud of smoke like David Copperfield or Batman? These guys would probably follow David Blaine across an ocean of molten magma!

As soon as the three materialize in Killie’s murder warehouse (why everyone who goes to this place does so by landing on the floor in some kind of Power Rangers pose, I couldn’t tell you to save my fucking life), Jamal starts up with some Scooby-Doo “We need to split up!” nonsense that the girls aren’t having. Jammy-Jams even flubs one of his lines, but director Ross keeps it in anyway! Bravo, sir. John Singleton you’re not.

With repeated utterances of “We got to!”, Jamal pushes his insistence that splitting up is the only option and wanders off alone, leaving the ladies to their paired fate. In reality, I'm guessing this has to do at least partially, with the fact that there are three of them and only two doorways on the set for Bozo von Chucklefuck’s Haunted World of Spooky Black-on-Black Crimes. This lasts every second of about 2 minutes before the three are reunited, scared back together by Killjoy who…doesn’t really do much to bother them beyond his bad laugh, worse lines and some Tim Burton Joker-ish gag where he offers Jamal a literal hand. You know, cuz it’s a hand…and he offered him a hand…because it’s a severed hand…and Jamal thought he was just offering him a figurative hand…but it was literal… because…it’s…a…hand… Anybody wanna go in halfsies on a gun rental and a pair of bullets? I’m really not feeling much for this whole “not being dead” gimmick lately.

Our heroic trio are then forced to fight off illusory dopplegangers of ‘Zo +2, not because Jada needed to evolve as a character by physically exorcising her residual emotional attachment to her ex (she squares off with Steak ‘Ems instead), but because her new boyfriend just needed to kick her old boyfriend’s phantom ass to prove he’s better than a ghost. And he does, thanks to a ninja sword that he recovers from a tipped over box, because I guess Killjoy’s warehouse services those Chinatown outlet stores that sell decorative weapons to wanna-be Bruce Lees for less than a tenner. Right next to the polyester kimonos and the plaster dragons painted to look like they’re made of jade. Speaking of jade, Jada also benefits from said stock as Mo’ passes her a comically theatrical battle ax to fend off Ghost Beef. Because Charles Band’s props department is made up mostly of day-after-Halloween purchases he made from Big Lots. I had to fight him over a battery-operated wolf skeleton this year! It was weird too, cuz the damn thing still had ears somehow despite being a skeleton. I let him keep it. I’ll have to think of something else to get my sister for Cthulhumas this year.

Pastrami is shown that, despite his claims, being dead doesn’t mean he can’t be killed (or in this case, decapitated by Jada), while Jamal struggles with undead Toddler, attempting to gouge out the vato’s oculars only to miss completely and gently massage his eyebrows instead. Fortunately for our hero, it seems the brow ridge is just the weakpoint the exorcist ordered, as said light caress causes the baddie to leak green smoke from his eyes, cry out in pain, dissolve into a cloud of eyesore particle effects, and make that weird zapping sound you always heard from the Tesla Coils in a b-movie mad scientist’s lab.

‘Joy reappears, dispatching Jam and Monique with ease, then corners Jada and asks for a kiss. She complies, but only if he leaves their world forever. The capering antagonist could’ve easily pulled the lawyer card and instead forced her to stay in his world forever, citing unclear wording, but instead just does the dickhead thing and refuses to honor their agreement, just because. He then reveals himself to be Michael, who delivers a monologue about how unfair it was to be bullied by everyone when he just wanted some friends. Jada offers to be his friend, but he wants her to be his girlfriend, not his friend that’s a girl. She clearly wants to tell him she doesn’t like him “that way”, but hesitantly says yes instead, only to knife him in the guts a few dozen times when he gets aggressively huggy. Nothing to do with her station in life or where she comes from, but I’m guessing Jada did a stretch up the river at some point because she shivs that boy like a woman who’s seen some shit (or done some shit) in a prison lunch line before! This Dorothy’s been to Oz, and I’m not talking ruby slippers and flying monkey bellboys!

If you thought everything sounded stupid up to this point, you’ve only dipped a toe in the stupidity quicksand. Now, after murdered Mikey fades away, Jada collects Jamal and Monique and the three stroll out of the warehouse like everything’s hunky-dory. It’s not, of course, because we’re only 55 minutes into this little-over-an-hour mire. As I was saying, they walk out of the warehouse (which is just a warehouse now and not a parallel dimension?) and find the Killjoy Mobile parked across the street. You-dread-who pops up AGAIN with his three lackeys still in tow and proclaims that he can’t be killed in his world. You mean exactly like Freddy Krueger had to be brought into our reality to be killed? Right. But, I’m presuming that they’re all in our reality right now, right? Or are they still in his world?! I’m shit out of theories on this one, and hold your ponies lads and lasses cuz it only makes less fucking sense in a minute!

The good guys hear the homeless guy Obi-Waning in their heads and telling them they need to “kill the doll” (rather than “use the Force”), which they make it a point to vocalize out loud, cuing Kony the Clown in on their plan. He gets pissed and tries to chase them down, but they escape into the back of his ice cream truck, because it looks like all you need to do to get out of his trap dimension really is just walk out of its front door! And this time, rather than being thrown back into the warehouse-between-worlds, the magic fool bus instead transports them to…Michael’s old apartment?! How the fuck does this work!? What the FUCK was going on in your head when you wrote this, Mr. Washington?! I feel my brain being spaghettified right through my eyeballs by the black hole this movie’s collapsed reality is creating! ARRRRRGH!

Before Jada can destroy the doll it turns into Michael, begging her (while she straddles him in Cowgirl position…awkward) not to kill him because everything he did was out of love for her. She hesitates, which is odd considering how savagely she pig stuck the guy not 10 minutes ago! Ultimately her killer instinct wins out again and she gets the chance to murder her admirer a second time. Mikey cries out in pain, reverts back into a toy, and some mystical earthquake sends the villains back through a vortex to whatever homeboy purgatory they’re stuck in now. Jamal warns the girls not to break the circle of votive candles (which aren’t lit anyway…) and they huddle together to hold hands, transported back to Monique’s place with no explanation as to why. Jedi Fred Sanford awaits them there too, only to dissolve sans any further dialogue. Without batting an eye, Jamal suggests that the three go out for a bite to eat and everybody learns to feel good about laughing again. No, seriously, they get all dressed up, sit in a nightclub, and talk about how great it is to laugh… Somebody actually got paid to write these lines!

To keep up with the knock-off A Nightmare On Martin Luther King Blvd bullshit, it turns out this ending is just a nightmare Jada’s having that ends with Killjoy showing up. She awakens screaming in bed next to a horny Jamal who figures the best way to cure his girl’s bad dreams is with a mouthful of beaver, and with a Vera Yell, she cried “MORE! MORE! MORE!”. See what I did there? But when he comes back up from spelunking the meat curtains beneath the sheets, care to guess who he’s turned into? Yep.

And they made three four more of these fucking things?! There is no god.

I mean, there’s a lot of us, clearly, but there’s no god specifically for shitty movie prevention. I put in a dozen requests with H.R. (Human Resources, not Pufnstuf) and they just keep telling me that jars full of internal organs with “DO WHAT I SAY!” etched into them aren’t acceptable requisition forms. Friggin’ office politics.

And so goes the story of Killjoy, Carl Washington’s double rip-off of A Nightmare on Elm Street and It. A movie that can’t even follow the rules it makes up for itself as it goes along. A movie whose plot has more holes than Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur combined. A movie whose dialogue sounds like it was written by a mentally impaired 10 year old who just learned the term “good pussy”. A movie whose villain’s quips couldn’t even make a hyena hopped up on Nitrous Oxide and Red Bull crack a giggle. It’s sad too, because for the most part the cast isn’t horrible, they’re just playing one-dimensional characters and are bogged down further by the shit Washington filled their mouths with. Sick bastard.

Out of this cast of extras from a season of “The Wayans Bros.”, the only one who can’t blame the script for their piss poor performance is Lee Marks. Sure, he’s given some especially harsh lines, but his readings are wooden enough for Nick Offerman to carve a canoe out of. Either Marks didn’t get a chance to practice his lines and this flick was shot in the Roger Corman “one and done” style (which is very likely given some of the flubbed lines and bumbled camera work that were left in) or the guy was hired straight off the casting couch based on his looks, his lacking of acting be damned. Maybe he’s the ugly girl the others keep around to make themselves look hotter by comparison. Only… you know…the thespian version.

Batting 0-2, Killjoy‘s third strike comes at the hands of director Craig Ross, who is just as bad at his job as everyone else is at theirs. Wretched shot composition, miserable efforts to be creative by shooting from a low “pendulum” angle that even first semester film school students wouldn’t waste their time on. The gratingly stupid Superman landing that he has everybody do when they “jump” into Laughing Boy’s urban squalor Purgatory! It all flies as well as Thoth after a 40 oz. of Olde Egyptian 800 BC. That is one man-bird that cannot hold his liquor, malted or otherwise.

To finish out the bingo card, Killjoy‘s soundtrack, cinematography and editing are also dumpster refuse. Specifically that dumpster Willennium Smith kicks open in Men in Black that vomits cockroaches all over the ground. The only thing it’s consistent at is being terrible. Reminds me of the first time a girl went down on me, only with less teeth. If I were to best sum up my feelings for this incompetently cobbled together “Frankenstein’s monster if he were assembled from large pieces of putrid deli meat” via the medium of referential humor to a scene from a culturally relevant comedy movie released in the last 15 years (oddly specific criteria, sure, but just go with it), it would be the Sex Panther fallout scene from Anchorman where an office full of Paul Rudd’s co-workers are driven to odorous agony by his bio-hazardous, nostril napalm cologne. Remember “SMELLS LIKE BIGFOOT’S DICK!”? That was me by the time the end credits hit.

In the spirit of the season, Killjoy is such a gobbler that Turkey Volume Guessing Man gives it 3000 turkeys!

And if you don't get that joke, go back and watch the Riding with Death episode of “MST3K”. It’s magic. How magic? Remember that time Merlin turned his penis into a rainbow spewing dragon to have 6 month long tantric sex with Grendel’s mother so they could give birth to Electric Light Orchestra and raise them to write and perform “Oh Oh Oh It’s Magic”? That episode is MORE magical. 2 Legit.

With that, I leave you to your dinners of mass consumption, my friends and fiends. You know, if USA Thanksgiving is your thing. I’ll be back after the Great Binge for at least one more course of Turkey Day Month before the upcoming glut of end-of-the-year holiday themed nonsense waiting to come crashing down my chimney. No peeking, you pricks, or Anubis Claus will have to hollow out your eye sockets with a hot fire poker!

Moral of the Story: When you’re unarmed and fighting someone swinging a 3′ long Ginsu, maybe don’t defiantly proclaim “Yo ass is MINE!”. Unless you always wondered what it would feel like to have your internal organs shish kabobbed, in which case I recommend eating a big bowl of cherry tomatoes and cocktail onions beforehand. It’s always good to have a balanced, healthy kabob.

And ladies, here’s one for you: don’t ask your man job interview questions post-coitus. He doesn’t wanna hear any of that “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” crap after getting his kumquats juiced.

Screenshots_____


Big City Pictures”? Maybe in about as much as Provo, Utah is technically a big city too, sure.


“You paid how much for this fencing, girl!? I told you, my cousin Shaun is the chain link KING! Tell him we’re friends and he’ll hook you UP!”


“I believe I can FLYYYYYYY! I believe I can touch the SKYYYYYY!”


Hey geniuses, you forget to turn on the rear projector for the driving scene! I’d call you the modern day Notorious B.I.G. (Burt I. Gordon), but you couldn’t even get that right!


“You’re right Lorenzo, there is something blocking your barrel. It looks like a… bullet? … Oh shit.”


His stage name should be Rhythm Method Man, cuz just looking at him is birth control. *rimshot*


Movie immersion breaker #262: Who the hell has sex with the bedspread around their waists like that?!


“Come on B, you gotta help me find my contacts! The insurance company’s gonna raise my rates if I tell ’em I lost another pair of lenses, son!”


I’d make fun of her for picking that robe up at Phyllis Diller’s yard sale, but she looks better in it than the guest star of Boneyard ever did.


“Ugggh. I gotta stop eating out of the dumpster behind that vegan place. Those vegetables and shit give me gas out both ends!”


Note to our readers: Just because you memorized the lyrics to every track on “36 Chambers” and own every VHS in the Wu-Tang Collection reissue set doesn’t mean you’re qualified to swing the hardware!


“Hey kids! Remember krumping? Of course you don’t! No one does! Nor should they! We’re all better off without it!”


Looks like somebody didn’t learn their lesson from Richard Pryor’s example.


“There is a great disturbance in the Circus. We have a new enemy. The young rebel who destroyed our clown car. This boy is the offspring of PT Barnum. Search your feelings. You’ll know it to be true.”


Damn McDonald, your teeth are disgusting and your gums look infected! Time to lay off the Kools and Colt 45s, or the suits upstairs are gonna make McCheese the new face of the franchise!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Napoleon’s Waterloo”

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 91 – Phantasm: RaVager (2016)

or “Balls of Fury”

Featuring: Reggie “Phantasm” Bannister , A. Michael “Phantasm” Baldwin , Bill “Phantasm” Thornbury & Angus “Phantasm” Scrimm in his final role

Director: David “Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too” Hartman

Writers: Don “Phantasm” Coscarelli & David “Channel 101” Hartman

Origin: USA

Sequel to: Phantasm ; Phantasm II ; Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead ; Phantasm: OblIVion

Review_____

“My use for you is at an end. You’re not even real. You’re my bad dream.”

You know those moments when you get your hype up so high that you’re oozing pre-hype, only to have the source of your oozing not just deny you said hype, but hit you in your hype zone with a hammer? Well, join the club. Uggh. Ra5ager is another one of those “I wanted to post this for Halloween, but had to hold off until November (I’m sorry, “NoVember”) because it’s too big a turkey to pardon” movies, like the Rocky Horror re-branding. Unlike the aforementioned botched effort to appeal to Willennials (what with their “gettin’ jiggy” and “big Willie” style), this irredeemable tank of cinematic septic sludge doesn’t even get the excuse of being a network exec’s cash-in fantasy.

Phantasm. Wow. In 1979, writer-director Don Coscarelli unleashed a new flavor in the field of fear when he introduced us to an old man and his balls. Now, in an Adam Sandler movie, that last bit would ravage the mind with horrifying images of a grandpa getting his testicles caught in his zipper, but in the world of Phantasm it’s horrifying for a whole different reason. When Angus Scrimm debuted as the now iconic Tall Man, a generation of horror fans pissed their collective pants. Five years before Freddy was giving teens fear-for-their-lives insomnia, this mammoth mortician was stalking his victims’ nightmares when he wasn’t prowling his mortuary workshop. Unlike other fear mongers, who would inject their terror through masks, He of Above Average Height relied on his everyday “twisted old man” visage, piercing stare and growling, bowel loosening voice to paralyze his enemies. And once they were paralyzed? That’s when he’d whip out his balls.

Said bloodthirsty spheres of steel became some of the most recognized death dealing utensils in horror. Flying through the air, they would chase down their victims, cutting them with their blades, boring into their skulls with power drill extensions, exploding through them at terminal velocities and even scorching them with death rays in later instances. So cool were these airborne murder toys that Anchor Bay release a Region 2 special edition DVD set of the first four flicks, contained in a big plastic replica ball case. My Evil Dead Bride begifted this little pocket universe of fantastic to me. Not only does this make me better than you, but it makes Her better than your significant other. Weep.

In addition to his vile volley of chrome cohorts, this tall glass of terror water (or “Flynt refreshment” as such libation would be known now) had under his wingspan a small army of small monsters. This cadre of diminutive demons were basically zombies that had been shrunken down in a giant food dehydrator then dressed up in robes. Basically Jerky Jawas. Despite the obvious opportunity for endless dwarf tossing jokes, the little beasties were always a source of hideous scares.

Over the course of the previous quartet of movies, Tally antagonized brothers Mike (Baldwin) and Jody (Thornbury) along with their guitar playing ice cream man amigo Reggie (Bannister) until 1998’s OblIVion, which ended on… a weird, Möbius strip type of endless looping…thing.

Though putting the series to bed on that note could’ve been acceptable (though confusing), after 37 years since its initial release we’re finally given the finale to the Phantasm legacy.

If you want a more detailed rundown of the individual movies and the labyrinth that is their cumulative narratives, don't look at me. I'm not Edward James Olmos and this isn't Stand and Deliver. Get your ass to Mars Google! When you get back, we’ll talk about RaVager, which lives up to its nomenclature by doing just that to its lineage. See ya in 2 and 2, Chuck Woolery!

…[Pause for station identification]…

Groovy? Groovy. Let’s get this over with.

Originally conceived in 2008 as a web-only gaiden (aka an internet side-series) that would follow the further adventures of hair-curtain hero Reggie, this concept (and footage) was integrated into Coscarelli’s pre-existing RaVager plot plans circa the turn of the millennium regarding a final battle between our heroes and their nemesis amid the post-Apocalyptic ruins of a disease ravaged (*nudge*nudge*) Earth in which The Tall Man reigned over the crumbling remnants of humanity. I remember Bruce Campbell being included in these original plans, and was sad to eventually learn that he was no longer connected with the project. He would go on to make some magic with Mr. C in Bubba-Ho-Tep, but that’s another tale for another episode.

I’m not 100% on the extent of Dadtasm’s involvement during the final countdown to his brain child’s demise, but I do know that he passed the creative torch on to David Hartman to finish what he himself had started. Why? Well, my hypothesis is thus: Coscarelli was unwinding one day, watching Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too , when the radiation from a passing meteor bestowed temporary sentience and telekinesis upon a frying pan in his kitchen, providing the cookware with the momentary ability to throw itself at the back of his head, exacting revenge upon its owner for the many times he washed the poor thing with unforgiving Brill-O pads rather then letting it soak in soapy water first, then applying a soft sponge to remove the now loosened debris. Following said cortex rattling collision, Coscarelli returned to consciousness to see Hartman’s name on his TV screen. Feeling this to be a sign, he immediately got in touch with the man, ceding the reins to his purebred metaphorical horse and carrying out the prophecy laid before him.

But I’ve always had an “active imagination”. My parole officer’s been saying that ever since I was 15!

Whatever the case, RaVager returns the washed-up vendor of frozen treats Reggie to us after his altercation with Tally (pronounced like “Tall-E”) at the finale of OblIVion. Emerging in the middle of a desert wasteland with his vaunted double-double barrel shotgun, he discovers his beloved phallic compensater (and series mainstay), the jet black Plymouth Barracuda, not where he left it. Beginning his long self-narrated march down a barren highway in search of the nearest civilization (preferably prior to his death by dehydration), what should he come across, but that very same hot rod, now driven by its new owner (as per the “Finders Keepers” law), an even dumpier and less attractive loser than himself! There’s no explanation as to why the humanoid lung oyster would return to the scene of the crime, how he managed to find the ‘Cuda in the first place, or why he’d stop to pick up a thumb jockey in the middle of nowhere (clearly he’s never seen The Hitcher or heard ANY urban legend EVER), but whatever the reasons, the exchange ends with Reggie recovering his beloved whip and fat boy ending up in the middle of nowhere with nothing but his European-cut man briefs and a big silver sphere drilling into his face. Yep, as the poster for Phantasm II so joyfully declared “The Ball is Back!”

I love that movie. Oh Phantasm V, why can’t you be more like Phantasm II? D’oh.

Where the movie goes from here is, well, the very definition of a clusterfuck. Reggie jumps back and forth between scenarios where he’s driving across country in the “Ooooooo, Barra-Barracuuuuuda!” and being pursued by the occasional ball attack, suffering from dementia in a nursing home where he shares a room with a certain white-haired old man while being visited by Mike and Jody, or battling TM and his army of re-animated soldiers in a bloody red tinted “post-Skynet” world where he joins a group of revolutionaries that includes Mike, a woman named Jane (Dawn Cody) that Reg knows as “Dawn” in one of the other planes, and a pint-sized action hero named Chunk (Stephen Jutras) who’s your typical “I may not be tall enough to get on most carnival rides, but I can single-handed murder a dozen people with a knife!” breed of elite fighting dwarf that movies give us to up their action figure sales.

Though some viewers determined that these reality jumps are just Reggie having bizarre nightmares, in one of their nursing home scenes Mike tells Reggie about Membrane Theory (a.k.a. “M-theory”). Or at least boils it down into a small enough serving to make it edible for both Reg and we laymen in the audience. It’s basically a unifying concept that melds variances of superstring theory together to put out the possibility that our universe is just one of potentially thousands, and these other realities/dimensions are all bundled on top of each other in such a way that energy can pass between the weakened spots where their borders intersect. How does this apply to the movie? It’s never spelled out in big letters for us, but the presumption is that Reggie’s mind or “soul” (or whatever you want to refer to his consciousness as) plays illegal alien and passes between several of these dimensions, inhabiting alternate reality versions of himself (NONE of which have hair and ALL of which saw their careers apex behind the wheel of an ice cream truck) that spend their time fighting the Tall Man, running from him, or just rotting away in a hospital bed.

That’s about the extent to which I’m going to get into the story. Rather than settle on a single plot and map out the trip from point A to point B, we got this multi-reality excuse shoehorned in so Hartman didn’t need to settle on a single story. Even with said safety net setup below him, Hartman still churns out one majorly confused and overly complicated rigmarole of a fable. It’s the proverbial octopus trying to fingerbang a wood block – too many scenarios and nowhere to put ’em. What do you mean you’ve never heard of that proverb? There will be no free rides, no excuses. You already have two strikes against you: your name and your complexion. Because of those two strikes, there are some people in this world who will assume that you know less than you do. “The octopus trying to fingerbang a wood block” is the great equalizer!

Best of luck figuring that one out. Here’s a hint: it’s a callback to earlier in the review. 😉

I’d tell writer Hartman not to quit his day job, but since director Hartman is his day job, I’m going to request he quit both and do something for the betterment of humanity. Like drownee in a charity carnival dunk tank or jizz mopper at the local glory hole.

And what of our cast? Well, Reggie’s still the star of the show. Though his action hero stuff will never be believable, he’s still the best actor of the group. It makes sense why he became the series’s everyman comic relief focal point. Meanwhile, Baldwin and Thornbury seem to have become blander as their parts have become smaller. As for Scrimm? Oh man. Poor Angus. The dearly deceased inter-dimensional undertaker was on his last legs during shooting of his scenes, and it’s impossible not to notice. His face is heavily caked in makeup, his scenes are all smeared with digital haze to try and obscure his raVaged visage, his eyes look tired and the demon of time had long since withered away the Tall Man’s soul searing gaze. He has a handful of scenes with Reggie, where he cryptically refers to their roles in this grand scheme of things, but the poor guy couldn’t muster even an ounce of the terror he gave us in ’98, let alone in ’79. This isn’t how I wanted to remember Angus Scrimm, just like RaVager isn’t how I wanted to remember Phantasm. Uggh. Life is an unending march through the avenues and alleyways of suffering. Such is what happens when you let Pinhead plan your parade route. That guy’s such a prick. *rimshot*

Now, how about the visual effects? Unlike those car wrecks that people are always saying they can’t look away from (morbid fucks), RaVager is a car wreck you should look away from. Not just because doing so is insensitive to the victims, but because one of the drivers is Medusa and the other is Cthulhu, and if you make eye contact with either one, you’re fucked. By that convoluted metaphor, I mean to say that this movie is a visual mess. The digital format it was shot in makes it look like a crap-ass direct-to-video flick you’d find on the “New Releases” wall at Blockbuster 15 years ago. Back before NetFlix and RedBox ruined the video store experience and made the 13 membership cards in my wallet into useless plastic rectangles. You know what else looks like it’s a relic from the ’90s? The CG effects! Holy Helheim. As if I wasn’t having a hard enough time getting through this unadulterated gauntlet of shin-high spanking machines, I finally came across the point where my mind splintered. Not in the way that it physically broke into shards, but more in the way that Mrs. Menard’s eyeball was splintered in Zombie.

The CG is so hard to look at, I’d rather watch a baby put through a punch press. I understand budgetary constraints, but the stuff we get shafted with here was ugly 10 years ago, let alone by 2016 standards. The awkward attempts to splice these outdated digital effects with stock footage of riots and helicopters and skyscraper demolitions are heartbreaking. And it doesn’t stop there. Driving the splinter further into my cerebral cortex? During the climactic final conflict between our heroes and The Tall Man in his hellish home dimension, (a battle so poorly executed that I wish I could go on a three page tirade about it, spoilers be damned!) Mr. Scrimm is replaced by spliced footage of his younger self, awkwardly mugging his eyebrows up for the camera while not moving his lips at all (old test footage, perhaps?), excusing the piss poor paste job by having Tally speak to his opponents WITH HIS MIND… Really?! As if that wasn’t cheesy enough, said footage makes the man monster look flat, while everyone else in the scene clearly has that all important third dimension the bad guy lacks. I’m not a whore for high-grade graphics, I get that nothing will ever look as flawless as Jurassic Park did, but this garbage came close to shoving me into the malicious arms of an anxiety attack.

For Fenris’ sake, you know what RaVager reminds me of, now that I think about it? The way everything is so amateurish? The pitiably developed story? The lazy camera work? The cheap gore? It looks and feels like a fucking FAN FILM! It should’ve been titled Fantasm and sold as bootleg-only DVDs at dirt mall comic stores and hotel horror conventions! It would’ve been the perfect way to excuse Coscarelli not directing it, and it would’ve given the movie a Tower of Pisa level of leniency! I might have actually enjoyed it somewhat if that were how it had been presented! Son of a three-headed bitch! Leave it to me to pan some sliver of gold from a gurgling septic tank.

Why, why, WHY couldn’t David Hartman have been the Hartman killed by his crazy wife in 1998 (the year I’d swear these in-no-way-special effects came from) instead of Phil Hartman!? Phil Hartman brought us all so much joy and inspiration! “Newsradio” was one of my favorite sitcoms! David Hartman brings me nothing but disappointment. A disappointment that I’m sure extends to his family. There’s a Phil Hartman shaped hole in my soul that can never be filled, but there’s a David Hartman shaped hole in a New Jersey landfill that should be!

Okay, that’s a bit much. I shouldn’t be calling for someone’s head just because they exhumed a series better left dead, pissed all over it, then buried it upside down out of disrespect and built a pet shop on top of it. Maybe we should just have Rawhead Rex baptize D-Hart and let that be it. Truth be told, I’m not even a major mark for the Phantasm series. My dad was always a way bigger follower of it than I was. But even as a slightly-more-than-casual observer of the Misadventures of Bomb Pop Reggie and the Brothers Pearson, RaVager is the worst instance of someone disgracing a franchise beloved by others since that video I sent my ex-girlfriend, in which I gave her The Lord of the Rings trilogy DVDs a Cleveland Steamer. That’s what happens when you kidnap one of my Re-Animator t-shirts, EDNA!

I’m just kidding!…partly. Which part? Only the court documents know for sure.

I didn’t cry when I’d heard Angus Scrimm had died, but I cried after RaVager. Wait, did I say I “cried”? I meant I “fell face first down a twenty-story spiral staircase of cinemasochism that left me questioning if there was anything good or decent left in the world”. This abomination should never have happened. I was overcome by the urge to induce vomiting in an effort to evacuate this poison from my system. Sadly, there is no such thing as mental ipecac, so can somebody PLEASE do me a solid and Eternal Sunshine the shit out of me on this one? It can be my Cthulhumas gift for the year!

And there you have it, Phan-boys and Phan-girls. Gobble gobble in agony, because you’re Glenn/Abraham, David Hartman is Negan, and RaVager is Lucille. *SPLAT* I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I think we would’ve received a better movie if Syfy had bought the rights to it and tossed it in The Asylum’s food dish. Uggh, despite standing behind my statement, I feel so dirty for having made it. Look what you made me do, David fucking Hartman!

I’m gonna buck my usual credo and give you a spoiler as far as how one of the alternate realities ends – Reggie dies of some manner of degenerative disease. It’s appropriate too, since this movie doesn’t allow the series to go out with a bang or even peacefully in its sleep. Instead, it rots away with franchise cancer. R.I.P.

And Hartman? As Jon Stewart (the comedian, not the Green Lantern) once said, “You will always be judged by your worst elements”. Consider this your judgment. Welcome to the enemies list.

Moral of the Story: When the only thing standing between you and a pair of Gatling guns is two bad guys, have no fear! As long as you’re the hero(es), you might as well have skin like Luke Cage, because you’re not taking a scratch! Oh, and if your movie calls for digital effects and has a climax that requires extensive green screen work, don’t hire some chumpsteak(s) off of Craigslist to do the job.

Screenshots_____


After-school rush hours get real nasty real quick. That’s why I had to get out of the mobile frozen treats business!


Hey, it’s 1990s Tall Man! And he brought Member Berries with him! Member the old Phantasm movies? Yeah, I member.


“There’s only room for one lovable loser on this cast, and it’s the one holding the gun! Hit the bricks!”


Yeah, this is a pretty accurate representation of how fans feel once RaVager is over.


“So… why the FUCK are we doing this stupid movie again?! Oh, right, the paychecks. Got it.”


“Sorry, old man, but I’m the only female character in this series who doesn’t have some repressed urge to want to bang her grandpa, so keep it your pants.”


Geraldo Rivera reveals to the world, “The Secrets of Charlton Heston’s Trunk”!
(It’s pretty much exactly what you expected)


Hold on a minute! In a previous movie we were shown that the balls are each powered by a human brain. What the fuck is in THAT thing?! Are there several thousand brains all working as a colony, or did Tall Man harvest GODZILLA’s brain!? Stupid stupid movie!


“Good news Reggie! I pulled a few strings and, despite that whole sorted “killed a hooker” thing, I got you into Heaven! Welcome aboard!”


Wow! That little boy’s Negan costume is AMAZING! Way to go, kiddo.


Tally tried to make his global takeover more marketable with limited edition Christmas themed murder balls. ‘Tis the season!


Wow, it finally happened. There’s finally a movie that makes me wish I was watching The Matrix Revolutions. You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to Hell!


See kids, this is why Uncle Anubis always tells you to never look directly at a masturbating T-1000. “Save your eyes; don’t look between its thighs!”


Phantasm finally turned into that Vigilante 8 movie adaptation I always wanted!


“Hey folks. Remember me? I was Rocky in Phantasm III. I have no clue why I was brought back to shoot a single scene for this movie, but here I am. Well… bye!”


“Made in America”, eh? You know what else shares that distinction? The KKK, nuclear weapons, and 3 Doors Down! But congrats, RaVager, for proving to us that America is capable of creating something even WORSE than the 2016 election.

———————————————————
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Anubis will return next time in
“Homey Don’t Play That”

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 76 – City Under Siege (2010)

or “Big Top Beatdown”

Featuring: Aaron “The Storm Riders” Kwok , Qi “Journey to the West” Shu, Collin “The Matrix Reloaded” Chou

Director: Benny “Gen X Cops” Chan

Writers: Benny “Gen X Cops” Chan & Chi-Man “Invisible Target” Ling

Origin: Hong Kong

Review_____

“Life is like a flying dagger. As the flying dagger goes, it must hit the target.”

All my life I’ve been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope…

The Tomb’s 3rd anniversary is October 1st. Three is the “novelty sneakers” anniversary. If someone doesn’t get me some of that groovy be-chinned footwear, all love is a lie and life is a pointless endeavor that goes on forever. Just so you know.

On to other matters, because of my many months away from The Tomb (let’s say due to a journey through alternate realities where I had to stop an evil version of myself from destroying all of existence by killing our other selves and absorbing their power to supplement his own) I’m taking a further break from the Tour de Farce so I can give higher priority to other movies that have crossed my desk since. And yes, it’s a literal desk, made of the finest polished femurs, spines, and rib bones of Rupert Murdock’s ancestors. Totally worth the hauntings.

To that end, I thought it prudent to finish this review (started in January) before putting the T de F back into its cryogenic freeze tube for a while longer. Today’s episode features the Hong Kong sing-a-long ring ding dong we call City Under Siege.

Expected a Dr. Dre reference? Nope. He’s banned from The Tomb for selling $300 headphones to stupid children with stupider parents. Anyway, before we get started, let’s mine the ancient secrets of the mystical island of Hong Kong!

On second thought, never mind. This review’s already 4 months late and my laptop is starting to give me third degree dick burns. I don’t have time to play tour guide. If you wanna know any esoteric facts about HK, its economy, its culture, its people, its impact on the rest of the world, or its dark history of horrendous crimes in the fields of drug trade and human trafficking (I’m presuming), pay your preferred search engine a visit. Let’s just get to the movie and cut to the chase…oh, I forgot to mention that a hefty portion of today’s movie revolves on an axis of knife throwing. That might have been pertinent info before making a pun like “cut”. My apologies.

Not to be confused with the Police Academy sequel (#6!) of the same name, City Under Siege is the tale of Li Fei (Aaron Kwok), whose peers call him Sunny… not really sure why, but let’s say it’s because of his sunny disposition. Or that time he stabbed a waitress to death with a fork for rupturing the yolks on his sunny-side-up eggs. Whatever pulls your lever. Anyway, when Sunshine’s parents died in a car accident (and sadly not during an armed mugging which always makes for a better origin), his uncle Tak (Wah Yuen) took him in and gave him a job as a clown in his traveling performance troupe, The Thunderbolt Circus. Though grateful not to have been cast off like the orphan he was, Sun was never happy as a colorful fool and instead wanted to live up to his dear departed daddy’s legacy as the knife throwing “King of Flying Daggers”, 26th descendant of the legendary marksman, Thousand Flying Daggers. Unfortunately for Sunny he’s more like the Prince of Flying Daggers, and even then the “Prince” part would be more an honorary family title than an earned one. This guy sucks more than a hospital custodian’s ShopVac in the middle of an ebola outbreak when it comes to the family cutlery slinging business. I wouldn’t trust him to butter my biscuits let alone let him hurl sharp lengths of steel at me while I’m strapped to a spinning wheel o’ death!

Despite his insistence that the talent in his genes will bear fruit if Uncle Tak (no word on an “Aunt Tik”) would just give him a chance to put innocent paying customers’ lives in danger, his cousin Zhang Chu (Collin Chou) refuses to give up his place in the spotlight as the show’s marquee marksman. In fact, he threatens to gut Suns if he doesn’t stop trying to horn in on his job, so don’t expect to see our hero headlining shows anytime soon. Unless maybe Chu gets a bout of the flu or leaves the circus to go on a crime spree as a psychotic hulking brute…

It feels like we’re supposed to pity our protagonist in this scenario, but when we’re introduced to him, Sunny literally (as said in Rob Lowe’s Chris Traeger inflection) goes off script during a show in Malaysia and comes within seconds of committing manslaughter on an unknowing audience dupe before cool guy Chu has to step in and put “The Prince” back in his place! Sure, as with the majority of movie bad guys, ChuChu comes off as a douche knocker. BUT, he very likely saved a woman from PTSD at best and straight up VIOLENT DEATH at worst at the hands of selfish man-child Sunny, who was willing to endanger those around him for the sake of his own fucking ego! This guy is our hero!? Holy shit. Overcoming poor self-esteem and a limited natural skill set is fine for a budding hero-to-be like Spider-Man or Kick-Ass, but they only put themselves at risk with their amateur tomfoolery. Sunny is a fucking sociopath! No matter how far this flick may go in its efforts to redeem its do-gooder over the remainder of its runtime, it’s now going to be dragging The Stone of Shame for the extent of said stigmatic excursion. For shame!

As is cinematic law, Chu and the other “too cool for school” members of their little big top clique single Sunny out as the weakest member of the social herd, and as such exercise their dominance by treating him like a red-nosed reindeer. Whilst in Malaysia engaging in their post-show chicanery, the crew catch Sunny tagging along and opt to include him as their point man (i.e. stooge) whom they can just ditch/scapegoat/murder later as the situation requires. Their scheme? The bullies are investigating a local cave rumored to be home to a cache of buried treasure! BUT (yes, there’s always a but there… much like the case of my lap), as we the audience were presented in the picture’s prologue, this cave was the site of war crime experimentation by the Japanese military in the waning days of WW2: Axis Boogaloo. Check out the Men Behind the Sun movies for more on that kinda shit. In an effort to bring an end to their protracted campaign to extend the shadow of their empire over the entire East, these army scientists were dabbling in an immoral aerosol that would induce monsterism in their P.O.W.s, turning the captives into rampaging abominations! Basically Nature’s Goodness minus the pleasing taste.

Before the mutagenic mist could be perfected, the raiders from the Rising Sun’s workspace was bombed all to shit (in a scene I’ll antagonistically analyze later) by the Red Stars, leaving any remaining stashes of the unfinished super-beast spray buried. Can you see where this is going? If not, you might need to make an appointment with the figurative optometrist to get your foresight checked. Benny Chan isn’t just leading us with a trail of bread crumbs, he’s dropping full-on baguettes shaped like arrows! For those with mental glaucoma, here’s the malnourished rendition – the gang open the containers expecting precious metal (to be fair, the first one does have a stash of the shiny stuff) and get a chemical sauna instead a la Return of the Living Dead‘s Frank and Freddy. Our hero ends up passing out on a conveniently placed fishing boat nearby, one of the gang lays dead by broken neck when his attempt to kill Sun goes fatally wrong, and the remaining quartet of super steroid saturated nogoodniks are left vomiting vanilla pudding, no doubt destined to become evil Hong Kong off-brand Ninja Turtles. Not to be confused with Michael Bay’s actual bastardized half-shell bohemoths.

Anubis Note: In case you haven’t seen Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, “bohemoth” is how we spell that shit here. And yes, it’s pronounced “bo-he-muth” in case you were wondering.

It turns out the vessel our bumbler stumbled upon is a smuggling ship, and when his hosts find him unresponsive on board, they toss his sorry ass into the South China Sea! Lucky for him it seems the naturally occurring tides are coincidentally heading back to his homeland of Hong Kong, where he’s washed ashore after a few days afloat. Finally freed from his one-man coma cruise, Sunny awakens to find his body doing its best impression of Spongebob’s stage act: The Amazing Mr. Absorbancy! Sporting an XXXXL waistline and the incessant sensation of walking in wet sneakers, he tries to find his way back to the Thunderbolt Circus home office, discovering how hard it is to hitch a ride in the middle of the night when you look like a cast off from a Ju-On movie set on a cruise ship. Fortunately for him, a lovely lady named Angel Chang (played by Qi Shu, who we recently saw in Journey to the West!) stops, requesting help with her bamboozled back tire then offering her impromptu AAA lifeline a ride home in thanks. Along the way, Sunny recognizes Angel from the local newscast and marks out, declaring his fandom for her. Of all the people in HK who could’ve happened along looking for help, it just so happens that the minor celebrity our hero’s got the awkward stalker hots for is the one. Even for a movie that’s not just stretching it, that’s hyper-extending said “it” like the arm/leg of a generic bad guy in a Steve Seagal movie. Backwards elbows and knees, people. Cringe.

Returned home, Sun bids adieu to his love interest-to-be and plops into bed like the garbage bag full of tapioca he has become. Overnight, he secretes more liquid refreshment than the entirety of the background dancers did across all four volumes of Sweatin’ to the Oldies. While he’s soaking his sleeping space harder than a gang of 3rd grade bed-wetters at a sleepover, his fellow Thunderbolt performers make their turn to a life of crime official as they rob an armored truck to the tune of 5 million dollars! I’m guessing they’re Hong Kong dollars though, so it’s more like 20k American, give or take? Meh. That’ll barely afford them one of Gwyneth Paltry, errrr Paltrow‘s vibrators and a gallon jug of Japanese whale oil lubricant. Peasants.

Fuck sake. For $15k that thing better be a piece of StarkTech that turns into a suit of portable Iron Man armor!

The armored car is just one stop on the quartet’s crime spree tour though, as they’ve been busy knocking over jewelry stores and the like too. Enhanced with telekinetic powers, super strength, and bulletproof skin, it’s been the proverbial cakewalk for the villains. Unable to stop them with mere guns and police brutality, the Mu Shu porkies call in superhuman specialist agents Suen Ho (Jing Wu) and Ching Shau Wah (Jingchu Zhang). Partners in career and in life, the pair are accused of being an adorably low key professional law enforcement couple and could be sentenced to live happily ever after if convicted. I can say, with no certain certainty, that I’m certain these two are my favorite Asian movie couple since Wild Zero‘s Ace and Tobio.

The movie (or at least the English subtitle track I had to hunt down) tells us that Ho and Wah have arrested supernatural criminals before, but doesn’t give us any further allusions to just who these enhanced do-badders were. No idea if the pairing have appeared in prior Benny Chan productions, but in all honesty I really don’t care to look any further than I have already. My dick burns are getting burns on top of them! Just to be safe, I’m going to say that CUS takes place in a cinematic Hong Kong akin to Spider-Man 3 NYC – metahumans aren’t littering the place like Captain America: Civil War, but they’re also clearly not undiscovered yet like Meteor Man.

Speaking of, Meteor Man is part of the Marvel Universe continuity. I shit you not. It’s only a matter (or meteor) of time until we see Robert Townsend’s name show up on a cast listing for Avengers: Infinity War!… maybe “NetFlix’s The Defenders”?… maybe not?… probably not. Blart.


Exhibit A

The duo are due to exchange nuptials (or “swap nups” if you’re me, which you’re not, for which you should be praising Ra) in 30 days, so Hao vows to take the Frightful Four down in 20. Really? So he’s going to let them run roughshod on the Kowloon precious gems market for 3 weeks before he decides it’s time to put an end to their shenanigans?! Prick. Speaking of, Angel’s boss/boyfriend KK (Slider?) informers her that the higher ups at the news station are kicking her down the corporate ladder a few rungs so they can give her spot to a younger, hotter replacement named Yoyo. Yoyo? Yep yep. Not only is our lady losing her seat at the anchor desk, but it turns out she’s lost her seat in her boyfriend’s lap too, also replaced by her Duncanian rival. We learn that Angel herself got where she was by traveling the exact same path as Yoyo, but that’s different! Right? Cuz she’s a hero? Meh. Moving on. In an effort to save a shred of what remaining pride our heroine has left, Angel dumps a glass of water over K’s cranium, declares their relationship null and void, and officially hands in her verbal resignation. Whatever makes you feel less like a stepped-on piece of dog shit in the middle of the sidewalk, lady. Keep your head up and move on. Godspeed.

What’s a working gal to do in this modern age of HD media, where genetics are prized over journalistic ethics? Where looks trump integrity? Well, it just so happens that the same day old maid Angel finds herself destined for the unemployment line (or the glue factory… I’m not sure how they tackle this shit in China), her biggest fan awakens with abilities beyond those of mortal men. Indeed, just like Chu and, uhm, the other three circus performers (I’m not good with names or having to look them up), Sunny’s received his membership card to the Superhumans Society! On his way to the police station to explain his situation (and distance himself from his crime spreeing co-workers), his pathway is impeded by a hostage negotiation. Angel, having the Lois Lane-like super power to be in the right place at the right time, witnesses Sunny make the save, freeing the captive policewoman from her assailant with a combination of telescopic slow-mo “precision vision” and inhuman strength, accuracy and reflexes, with which he throws a single stick, shattering the abductor’s gun and piercing his arm from across the street! While everyone around him stares agape in awe and the press presence swarms him for a statement like ants on a Twinkie, ‘Gel whisks him away to a cab (I guess she’s just leaving her own car abandoned in the middle of traffic?!) for a “private interview”… which, despite the probable perversion with which you may have read that (ya gutter creeper), doesn’t mean they went home and swapped sweet and sour sauces. Amazing the places a pair of quotation marks can take the human mind.

With little imaginary hearts floating around his head (might wanna check your scalp for parasites, Flapjack), Sunny’s more than happy to give the newly freelance reporter her exclusive one-on-one with the Hong Kong Kal-El. Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Doom (in this instance, a lovely house in the middle of nowhere with an in-ground pool!), Chu and the others have kidnapped several biological engineers in hopes of reversing the grotesque monster mash side-effects of their genetic mutation. Despite being told there is no way of turning them from Fangoria cover models back into a Silver Ash cover band, they find hope when they see their old punchline Sunny on the evening news looking none the worse for toxic wear. A testament to the ancient healing powers of the South China Sea? Or just another use of the old science fiction deus ex machina of “some people are just genetically different and are immune to stuff!”? Either way, Chu and chums aim to find out.

Arriving at the Thunderbolt Circus locale faster than Bruce Wayne going back to Gotham after conquering The Pit (fucking Dark Knight Rises), the bad guys try to nab their errant clown mid-interview. Chu should change his name to SPF 69, cuz Angel just got Sun blocked! *rimshot* Awkwardly introducing himself to the minor celebrity while his hairline recedes and his increasingly lumpy face is painted up with Luna Vachon veins (see below), Chu confesses that he’s her number one die-hard fan and makes rapey face at her. How… flattering? You can practically hear Miss Chang’s ovaries shriveling on the vine the longer he talks to her. The expected altercation is instigated and the movie’s first real exchange of wire-fu is initiated!

No brawl-for-all by any stretch of the term, Sunny and Angel spend the time running and ducking their pursuers as best they can before finally being subdued. Chu threatens to bleed our hero in the search for the secret of his success, but his knife is halted by the timely intervention of the mutant hunting dynamic duo, Hao and Wah, sporting mirrored shades and martial arts! The battle ends when Sunny, seemingly turning into a cartoon character with his comically red “pressure cooker” face (that you expect to send steam shooting out of both ears), freaks the fuck out and throws two fistfuls of flying daggers at his prior impeder of career promotion. Chu responds in kind, deflecting the swarm of steel shards with a flurry of his own, sending razor sharp metal ricocheting all over the fucking place! Small appliances explode, glass shatters, structures collapse, one of the villains takes an errant dagger to the chest, and the rest of the antagonists beat feet while the heroes collect the unconscious Sunny and rush him to a hospital.

In intensive care, Sunny’s examined by scientists and it’s indeed determined that he bears the mythical movie MacGuffin of antibodies unique to his DNA. Yep, out of the billions of people who would have otherwise been malformed by exposure to the experimental discharge (like the other four people that were), one of the tiny group of FIVE just happened to be uniquely resistant. Not even to the formula in its entirety, mind you, but only the dangerous uglifying parts of it. Don’t think I enjoy telling movie logic to get off my lawn like this. My nitpickery is tantamount to acupuncture needles being slowly pushed between my vertebrae, or filling my codpiece (what, you don’t wear a codpiece?!) with hungry scarabs. It is my curse. Damn Tiki Gods. You put termites in their pillows one time and you spend the rest of eternity wanting to chew your fingers off at bullshit times like this!

While the white coats would rather keep Super Sun under indefinite lock and key for more in-depth observation (and likely dissection for sale to some Chinese super soldier program), the police don’t think the public would be too pleased with the smiling new face of mutant moderating being held in constabulary custody. Instead, Hao and Wah are assigned to be his bodyguards while Miss Chan picks up the role of talent agent to the city’s new cynosure for his upcoming avalanche of inevitable media overexposure. It happened when the Simpsons found that monkey’s paw, and it’ll happen to you too! Angel’s also fallen in love with the little goof already, because of course she has. Some would say she’s got hearts in her eyes, some would say they’re just dollar signs. I say it’s both. I may just be a foreigner, but fill my eyes with that double vision. No disguise, for that double vision.

The glamorous life of hocking Diarrhea Killer and prancing like a grinning idiot for publicity appearances goes straight to the hero’s head, ironically swelling it figuratively while his enemies’ domes are swelling literally. As for Hao, his plan to use the unwitting Sunny as bait to draw out the baddies has put a cramp into his marriage plans, postponing the date and drawing out Wah’s ire instead. She proposes that instead of the two of them tackling the remaining trio of mutants themselves, they train Sun to actually be a superhero rather than just play one, evening up the odds. Hao’s ego won’t let him risk someone else completing his job and taking his glory though, so sad to say, this is the exact moment you can start the countdown clock for Wah’s impending inclusion in the movie’s “in memorium” reel.

Cue the next fight, as Chu and the others make their next move, striking while Sunny D’s doing yet another photo shoot. The in-name-only slayer of sinners gets bodied hard by his nemesis, while Hao uses his uncanny acupuncturist prowess to beat Chu’s girlfriend with ease, promising to have her locked up and experimented on for the rest of whatever life she has left. She opts for what’s behind Door #2 instead, and self-immolates amid the pool of gasoline she was carelessly left incapacitated in. Back inside, Chu shows us his ignorance on human biology (specifically how antibodies work) by Dracula-ing off some of Sun’s vein V8, only to be massively disappointed when it doesn’t remedy away his uggo-itis. Before he can stomp the envy of his eye six feet under, the Heroic Duo drop in from off-screen to save the day. Rather than retreat, Hao’s determined to make good on his promise to marry his wifey-to-be on time, so he trades blows with the biggest baddie and leaves it up to Wah to keep their bait from being snatched off the hook by the last remaining member of the Chu Crew, uhm, mohawk guy.

Ill-prepared for the mutants’ continued evolution, Hao’s pride is his downfall, as his ambition to close the case distracts him from preventing his lady getting her internal organs pulverized by Mohawk. When he finally notices, it’s time for a late retreat as he escapes with Wah and Sunny in tow. But it’s too late. With tear streaked cheeks and a mouthful of blood, Wah tells her incredibly sweaty man to take care of himself, never lose himself, and never be afraid because she’ll always be watching over him. Then she dies…in the passenger seat of a stolen station wagon. Just like Han Solo… in my 2003 fan film re-visioning of Return of the Jedi.

As if this loss wasn’t enough of a shake up, the movie’s timeline gets a bit weird here. Hao sets up Sunny on a cot in a shack along a nearby river and sticks him full of needles to nurse the defeated hero back to health. When said hero comes to, he finds his savior nearby, torching his dearly departed in the flames of his makeshift pyre (i.e. he set the station wagon on fire)…in the same area she died…so…this all has to be taking place not too long after our previous scene…so whose house did they break into for their acupuncture session?! And since when can acupuncture fix broken organs and blood loss in what can’t have been more than a few hours!? OUCH! There goes another two scoops of scarabs.

And so, with both of our brotagonists having fallen hard from the height of hubris, now they must pick each other up like a pair of crane game claws. You know how much of a bitch those things can be. Forged by Loki himself, they are! Anyway, Hao vows to teach Sunny how to control his powers in his scorched fiancee’s honor, so let’s cue the montage!

With her boyfriend/client engaged in secret training for what could be weeks (or might just be a few days? The movie’s not 100% clear on it.), Angel’s left alone to mourn his perceived passing. As alone as you can get when you’re under 24 hour police protection, at least. The star-crossed lovers flashback to black & white renditions of their prior scenes together, denoting loss and longing as such scenes do. Having put the entire city under siege (we have a title!) alongside his last remaining cohort since Sunny’s disappearance, Chu (who stole Weird Al’s plastic Rambo muscle suit from UHF) uses his enemy’s pilfered cell phone to call Angel and tell her how he desperately needs her to deliver him from his personal Hell of emo teen sadness. Note to readers: listening to The Cure and other depressing music when you’re sad doesn’t make you less sad, it just reminds you why you’re sad in the first place, then piles on MORE SAD! Despite the saying, fighting fire with more fire only makes a BIGGER FIRE!

Feeling like she has nothing left to live for now (or maybe she’s just tired of needing a security detail every time she has to dump ass), Angel strikes a plan with the pigs to use her as a lure to entice Chu into a trap. She could just call him back and allow the military to triangulate his locale via the phone, but that wouldn’t put her life in immediate danger, so why bother?! Remember how well things went the last time an Asian movie in The Tomb tried to lure a monster into a trap? No? Go read my Garuda review. I’ll wait.

See? Yeah. Same thing happens here. Shit goes south faster than a racist Yankee after the Emancipation Proclamation. Just as Angel is about to see if her namesake(s) are real, guess who appears from nowhere to save her from being turned into street pizza? If you guessed anyone other than Sunny, you’re either too preoccupied to be reading this episode right now, or you’re just really really really shitty with names. Before the two heavies finally finish their feud in furious combat, Hao takes out both Mohawk and himself, using an urn filled with his beloved’s ashes to smash a light fixture and ignite a broken fuel line. An all too short-lived (no pun intended) exchange whose ultimate finale is predictable, sure, but I like Hao’s use of the urn…which probably contained more than a few leftovers from the station wagon’s ashtray mixed in with whatever he was able to salvage from Wah’s herself if you think about it.

Now for the big climax. Our final showdown is a fair mix of flashy martial arts punches and kicks, superhuman feats of tossed transportation (cars and trucks and such), both guys saving Angel from certain doom, a noble sacrifice or two, an effort to apply some last minute pathos to the villain, and a mandatory bit of the throwing knife dueling that started this whole rivalry, though not as much as you’d expect given all the hours/days/weeks of training Sunny pulled in the previous sequence. Speaking of, here’s a PSA for any fellow mutants out there: Don’t be like Chu. Take absolute care when it comes to protecting your lower back in any combat situation, as any perforation of the area has a high likelihood of causing your internal organs to violently detonate. I recommend investing in one of Lumpy Leroy’s Cast Iron Cummerbunds! Tell ’em Anubis sent you to get free shipping and $5 off your first order!

Good triumphs over evil, and just to make sure Benny Chan gets to tick off the final line of his “superhero movie tropes” checklist, Angel throws herself in front of one of Chu’s daggers to protect Sunny while he’s busy being a paragon of human decency and saving a family trapped in a flaming car. She survives though, and Sunny kills Chu, so the audience gets to go home on a high note. Such ends the ballad of Johnny Two Blades, errr, Twin-Dagger Sunny. Marge, is this a happy ending or a sad ending?

I opted to review CUS based entirely on the promise of “a circus clown gains super powers and has to fight his co-workers who have become super villains”. Little did I know that Sunny’s screen time in greasepaint would be relegated to his 5 minute introduction, thus abandoning the novelty almost immediately. Boooo. Points lost out of the gate for the misleading synopsis. Things don’t get much better from then on either. It’s not that this is a bad superhero movie. The problem is that Benny Chan tries so hard bending over backwards to emulate the Hollywood blockbuster comic book flick formula that he falls on his head and knackers himself, leaving us with one of the most generic by-the-numbers super movies I’ve ever seen.

If you and your riffmates are looking for a feature to play Genre Bingo with, CUS fills all the boxes in its category. Hapless hero? Check. Hero’s parents dead? Check. The villain is an associate from the hero’s personal life? Check. The hero’s crush falls in love with him shortly after getting to know him? Check. Said romantic interest is injured/killed during the final battle? Check. The villain’s given moments of sympathy so we’re supposed to regret his forthcoming death? Check. The hero wins his first fight, loses his second, then comes back to win in the end? Check. Pride and/or ego lead to the hero’s momentary downfall? Check. The hero overcomes his fall from grace by embracing the wise words of a mentor/father figure? Check. Training montage?! BINGO! BINGO! BINGOOOOO!

Yep. That’s my biggest beef with this movie: I’ve seen it all before. Chan tries something a little atypical of the Asian fantasy epics, but over does it on the Americanization stuff. I’m all for tweaking with the General Tso recipe, but not with heaps of ketchup. The computer generated shit’s not the best, but I don’t expect it to be from any movie born of an outside-of-Tinseltown budget. Consider my expectations tempered in that regard. Also, despite my general dislike for Sunny’s goofball demeanor (and those stupid hand motions he makes every time he refers to himself as “Twin-Daggers”), finally seeing him buckle down and become the mature good guy in the final act, despite being hackneyed, made me hate him a bit less. He’s still a heaping tub of chodeslaw though for putting that audience member’s life at risk in the beginning. Psycho. Angel’s only a smidgen further north on the moral compass, because she didn’t almost kill somebody with her fuckery. She did start her relationship with Sunny under the animus of hitching herself to his rising star though, looking out for her own best interests while also getting to stick it to her former employer for letting her go. Because again, she was being replaced by a younger, more attractive woman, the same way she herself ascended to the position in the first place!

As noted prior, Hao and Wah are my favorite part of this titular besieged metropolis. They’re cute without being overly saccharine. They’re equal parts business and pleasure without going too far to either end. Hao’s conceit leads to his greatest loss, but he earns his redemption by becoming the hero’s teacher, then gets his peace in the end, fulfilling his duty and joining his beloved in oblivion. Aces. Sadly, when your supporting cast is more endearing than your main characters, you’re doing something wrong, Benny. Write better.

I’m going to end this episode on the movie’s groaniest groan-inducer before I take off. Remember when I said I’d get back to my ire over the destruction of the Japanese army’s Malaysian Frankenstein lab? Yep. Although the attack on the lab comes from outside, a series of precisely laid out explosions erupt inside of the cave in a designated order. I’m not the type to think that anything is impossible. Highly improbable, of course, but not necessarily impossible…except this. Could the Chinese forces have infiltrated the lair the night before, laid out a bunch of C4, and simply been waiting for the right time to blow their load of shock & awe all over the faces of their enemies? Sure. Maybe. No. Never. Stop. I’ve included a little visual aid to illustrate this particular blister on my butt.

Our next two episodes will be features in name but not in length, so they shouldn’t take four months to finish. Keep your eyes peeled like the delicious delicious grapes they are for the first such installment in the next few days, with the other coming out Sunday-ish. Until then, this is the end. The only end, my friend. Always live your life like a flying dagger!

Moral of the Story: Don’t take for granted the love you have today, because you could lose it tomorrow. Also, acupuncturists are some of the most dangerous people on the planet!

Screenshots_____


But… if it’s “Universal”, how can it be “Limited”?


“GAH! I’VE HAD THAT FUCKING ‘CALL ME MAYBE’ SONG BURIED IN MY BRAIN FOR FOUR YEARS! FOR THE LOVE OF CRONENBERG, SOMEONE HIT ME WITH A SHOVEL AND DISLODGE IT!”


“Gacy Good Times International – introducing underage boys to crawlspaces the world over!” (Coulrophobics? I’m sorry. Coulrophiliacs? You’re welcome.)


So other countries have their own Criss Angel to suffer through? Kinda nice to know we in the US aren’t alone in suffering madoucheians.


“Your milk money or your life!”


“I know you’re hungry, but we can stop and get you some fresh clam strips. Those have been sitting under my seat for at least a week.”


“This is James Chang. James came out of a 10 year coma last week and has never seen ‘2 Girls 1 Cup’. We’re going to broadcast his reaction live, tonight on ‘60 Minutes‘.”


Looks like the next Wolverine movie will be based entirely on a version of the character found in those Chinese dollar store action figure sets. Maybe this will be the first step toward finally getting that Super Man Big Alliance team-up movie we’ve been begging Marble and CD Comiks for!


Up next in the Chinatown Burt Reynolds Look-a-like Pageant: Charlie “The Gator” Zhang!


If Beavis and Butthead taught us nothing else, it’s that nothing stops a nosebleed better than a tampon.


“I want to thank you for electing me your King Dingus for the season! I will do my best to uphold the honor of the position at the sacrifice of what little dignity I have left!”


Nice shades. If they look into each others’ eyes, will it create some kind of reality collapsing infinity loop?!


Hey! He stole Meg Griffin’s power to grow her fingernails long! Plagiarist!


“Well, you know we’re gonna end up in this 3-way eventually, so we might as well get it over with so we can make our car payment on time. Paper, Rock, Scissors for position?”


“I killed my stylist for dressing me in this stupid hat. Then I formed his face skin into my corsage!”


As much as I love Elizabeth Banks, this is what the new Rita Repulsa should look like!


Excedrin headache number 245 – You’ve been exposed to an experimental toxin and turned into a raging mutant. Your brain feels like its going to explode out of your skull, and simple aspirin won’t do the trick. You need Excedrin!… or a hole drilled in your head to release the evil spirits that are haunting you. Either one works, really.


Ever cried so hard that tears came out of your whole face? If not, you’ve never known real love. Congratulations.


This is why you never try to cuddle your pet porcupine.


“So you decided to turn the car we stole into your fiancee’s funeral pyre?”
“Yes…”
“Okay. Did you happen to look it over first to make sure there wasn’t anything else in there? I only ask because I can’t find my wallet…”


Hao’s DIY car crematorium was such a success that he decided to really up his game and turn it into a career! He’s in such demand now that he’s burning entire skyscrapers full of bodies every day!


Yes! Someone finally answered the Craigslist contract I put out on Justin Beiber! Guess I better get that $120 together. Time to turn in my bottles and cans.


I told Nosferatu not to feed on those professional bodybuilders, but at least he’s seeing some sick gains! What vampire needs the use of their testicles anyway?


The ages old geek query of “What if Venus De Milo (from the live-action Ninja Turtles show) fucked Killer Croc?” is finally answered.

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Anubis will return next time in
“The Three People You Meet in Texas”

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 67 – The Condemned 2 (2015)

or “Snake’s On a Game (of Death)”

Featuring: Randy “12 Rounds 2” Orton , Eric “The Pope of Greenwich Village” Roberts , Steven Michael “Breaking Bad” Quezada

Director: Roel “The Man with the Iron Fists 2” Reiné

Writer: Alan “Halloween 4: the Return of Michael Myers” McElroy

Origin: USA

Sequel to: The Condemned

Review_____

“One man’s pain is another man’s profit. And the only way to ensure profit, is to be the one bringin’ the pain!”

Surprise! You thought you were going to get some more international flavor this week with a new “World Tour de Farce” review, but instead you’re getting yet another “professional wrestler thinks he’s an action movie leading man” flick in The Condemned 2! Again, we see there is nothing you possess that I cannot take away. Especially when I’m the one giving you said thing, and the actual transferal of possession has not yet been enacted! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha *cough*cough*cough* HAAAA! *cough*

World Wrestling Entertainment gave us the original Condemned in 2007. It was like a grown-up, paramilitary, pirate internet version of Battle Royale. Or, a Running Man minus all the neon lights, gimmicked killers, and Richard Dawson. Being a WWE Films production, they cast one of their own as its star – former wrestling icon “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, not to be confused with “The Six-Million Dollar Man” Steve Austin (who, in turn, isn’t to be mistaken for “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase). Though it was a massive financial boondoggle to the company (their biggest cinematic money pit to date), most wrestling fans consider it to be one of, if not the best of the company’s movie offerings, so it makes sense that they’d eventually sequelize it.

Now, having made The Marine 4, Behind Enemy Lines 3, 12 Rounds 3, and See No Evil 2, The Condemned was the last guy in the power plant not to receive “Employee of the Month”. As WWE doesn’t employ inanimate carbon rods (they’re very careful about their hiring practices these days, since you never know when Linda McMahon might run for Senate again), it’s The Condemned‘s time to shine!…with Randy Orton as the lead. By the racist fucking skullet of Hulk Hogan, what did I do to deserve this?!

Randy Orton. Randy “STUPID!” Orton. Randy “Just do enough to get by” Orton. Randy “Shitbag who shits in bags” Orton. As he’s known in our household, Blandy Bore-ton. As the chaps at Old School Wrestling Review once described him, “oozing with banality”. In the wrestling world, he is the alpha and omega of douchebags. He’s a legacy (his grandpa and dad were both wrestlers), he’s a crony (he’s best friends with Paul “Triple H” Levesque, one of the heads of the company), he has a history of drug abuse (cocaine [Randy Snortin’], steroids and painkillers), had a dishonorable discharge from the US Marines for going AWOL (a fact that came up when veterans protested his casting as the title hero in The Marine 3) and he’s an outright asshole (including defecating in female wrestlers’ luggage and breaking character just to berate other wrestlers during matches). He also goes by the nickname of “The Viper” (hence this episode’s alternate title) and has a stupid tribal tattoo on his arm that he tried to cover up with another of a pile of skulls, but is fooling no one as the original is still prominent. What a fuckin’ knob. Enough of the miserable reality, let’s get to the miserable fantasy.

Will Tanner (Orton) is a bounty hunter. He leads a posse of similarly minded individuals in the pursuit of wayward criminals for fun and profit. The latest target of these roughneck rednecks is one sinister son of a cunt named Cyrus (Wes Studi – a.k.a. Sagat in the Street Fighter live-action movie!) who runs an underground gambling operation where sick fucks bet on disturbing shit like which homeless guy hooked up to a Kevorkian Express will shed their unwashed mortal coil first. In a fit of movie irony, Will tells his boys to keep it non-lethal (this a “Wanted: Dead or Alive minus the ‘Dead’ part” contract), only to manslaughter the crap outta Cyrus when the villain is impaled on one of his own death machines. Hmmmm, a double scoop of irony? I really shouldn’t. I’m on a diet.

This fight shows us right off the bat that our protagonist probably only won the leadership role because he picked the longest straw, as it clearly wasn’t for his intelligence or tactical wits. When he has Cy dead-to-rights and lined up in his sights, Willie makes the incredibly stupid move of getting within the bad man’s reach. From there it’s elementary for Cyrus to disarm the doofus and prompt the ensuing struggle. Guns are made to kill and/or maim from a distance. From. A. DISTANCE. Why in the names of Horace Fucking Smith and Daniel Fucking Wesson (weird how they both had the middle name “Fucking”) would you flush the entire advantage of having a firearm down the metaphorical shitter by getting so close to your still very upright target that you can smell whether or not he had onions on his Whopper for lunch?! And Tanner’s supposed to be a trained bounty hunter!? If anyone reading this happens to know Alan McElroy or Roel Reiné, would you please punch them in the dick for me? Hell, even if you know neither but still know someone else cursed with either of those names, kindly do the same. But don’t mention my name. I’ve got enough “conspiracy to commit bodily harm” charges pending as it is.

Due to his epic botch, six months later Tanner ends up on trial for manslaughter. Though the judge presiding over the case makes her disdain for bounty hunters known (if ya wanna chase bad guys, become a cop), she gives him a suspended sentence and probation. Remorseful for his actions (though you wouldn’t know it by Orton’s expressionless “acting”), Billy goes home to his dad Frank (Eric Roberts) to tell him that he’s quitting the family business. Ah, so Will only got the manager position for the posse through nepotism. That makes sense. Having spent the last 30 years building the Tanner brand as the number one name in independent ne’er-do-well nabbing contractors in ALL of lower mid-western New Mexico, Frank’s not happy about the fruit of his loin turning his back on the bond jumper biz over one little unintentional murder.

Their resulting argument is almost like that scene in Varsity Blues where James Van Der Beek shouts “I DON’T WANT YOUR LIFE!” at his dad, except the actors are twice as old and all of the passion and defiance is instead replaced with lazy, even toned sarcasm while a mood of “When do we get our paychecks, again?” hangs heavy in the atmosphere. Riveting stuff to watch…in that I’d rather have rivets fired directly into the sides of my skull than have to wade through another minute of this cinematic landfill.

By the way, for anyone wondering why I’d use such a classy arrangement of letters as “cinematic” in this review, it’s in no way because I find anything professional or artistic about The Condemned 2. I’m using it in the “having qualities characteristic of motion pictures” manner. Inasmuch as this movie has moving images and is thus, technically, a “motion picture”. Carry on.

Without the big bucks of the manhunting industry to keep him in Wrangler jeans and Ford trucks, Billy Bob takes on a new job as a tow truck driver to make ends meet. One of his first calls is a pair of young women in Daisy Dukes and crop tops (likely local models, friends of the cast/crew, or just hopefuls fresh off the casting couch) who giggle and whisper things to each other while he changes their tire. There’s no real implication of what it is they’re saying to each other, but I entertain myself on the possibility that they’re talking about how the guy changing their tire looks like he doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together, and they’re formulating a plan where in he’ll give them all of his money before he leaves or straight up Knock Knock him. Oh but to dream my dreamy dreams, with their creamy dreamy filling. Mmmmm, filling.

Our hero’s next service call changes his life forever, as it’s from his old bounty hunting pal…uhm… honestly, I didn’t bother to write down any of their names. They’re mas macho types who call each other by their last names (being on a first name basis is apparently too intimate for tough guys), and as such I remember the sniper’s (Dylan Kenin) name is Travis [like singer Randy] and another (Morse Bicknell) goes by “Michaels” [like Shawn]…uhm, the retired pro-wrestler, not the one-man Mandingo party porn actor. That’s Sean Michaels. In case you were wondering. Okay then.

Anyway, when Willie fixes said former co-hunter’s car (his battery connector just came undone…hint hint), the guy awkwardly invites him out for a beer in thanks. Unless this was just this dude’s way of trying to get Will out on a man-date with him to lube his inhibitions up with a few brews before confessing his long held secret romantic intentions for our leading man (only if he’s “leading” us straight to Nap Town), his nervous demeanor betrays that there’s some ulterior motive to this social exchange. Given that there’s also a camera equipped drone following the pair around, this is clearly our entry point (front door or back?) into the figurative Thunderdome that is to be The Condemned 2: the Search for Randy’s Personality.

Each member of the Tanner bounty party has been assigned to assassinate their erstwhile chieftain Will, lest their failure to comply be taken out in the form of ultra-violence against them and/or their loved ones. Meanwhile, a speakeasy of high rollers have gathered to watch the spectacle as they gamble on which of the contestants will be the one to finally finish off their deadpan prey. The troublemaker organizing this Laff-A-Lympics of death is Cyrus’s surviving sidekick-turned-avenger Raul (Steven Michael Quezada), who’s vowed a blood vendetta against his ex-boss’s bored looking butcher-by-circumstance. The rest of the movie is pretty much what you’d expect: Tanner runs around shooting guns at people, trying to save his neck while getting to the bottom of Raul’s game and doing his best to keep collateral fatalities to a minimum, as a good guy does. That’s pretty much it. Now you don’t need to see it for yourself, unless your medicine cabinet is pulling a “Mother Hubbard’s cupboard” and is barren of the sleep aid of your choice, in which case 20 minutes of The Condemned 2 will put you out in a pinch!

That wasn’t a joke. I’m serious. This movie put me to sleep during my first attempted viewthrough. Granted, that may have been my fault for starting it at 1AM after a long day of soul reaping and Underworld political crap (we had to fight management hard to get that break room back!) without any type of artificial ambition boosting my brain, but even sitting through the last twenty minutes the next morning were like going 5 rounds of bare-knuckle with Morpheus! For fuck’s sake, just writing this review right now is tantamount to drinking a tall glass of warm milk prepared by Bill Cosby. I have to keep deleting the *yawns* I’m unconsciously typing out in every paragraph!

Randy Orton speaks with such an eyelid burdening monotone. Terminators have more emotional resonance than this guy! As a former drug addict, maybe he’s on mood stabilizers or something and his complete charisma coma is medically induced? Wherever the true blame lies, the reality is still right there, dropping steaming dumplings in our figurative luggage: this man should NOT be starring in even the directest of direct-to-video action flicks. He’d be more relatable as the leading role in his own autopsy video than what he’s giving us here, and I’m not exaggerating. Was he contractually obligated to be in this movie by WWE and just did his best impression of a cardboard cutout so they’d never bother him about being in any more movies!? Z’Dar’s CHIN (my version of “Zeus’s BEARD!”), the man is the Typhoid Mary of digitally transmitted Narcolepsy! I have never, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVER (thank you, Chris Jericho) watched a movie with Eric Roberts in a supporting role and thought, “Wow, if he were the star, this movie would be so much better!”. If nothing else, The Condemned 2 has proven to me that anything is possible.

I’ve never seen any of Orton’s other movies, so I have no clue if this is how he tackles all of his roles. I do know that Quezada was never one to chew the scenery in “Breaking Bad” though, so maybe all of the blame should go on Mr. Reiné’s back? It could be another The Dark Knight situation where Chris Nolan made Chris Bale do the gravelly voice until all of Batman’s scenes were just a big joke and almost completely unwatchable. Either way, Orton should stay away from all future movie sets and just keep his shtick in the squared circle. Be happy with your athletic prowess and leave the acting to the actors. Or Eric Roberts.

The rest of the movie is just as sterile as its star’s performance. The camera work is fumbly (I think it’s supposed to be shaky cam, but as directed by a 10 year old), the overall direction feels like a slog through plain oatmeal from Point A to Point B with zero spices or fruit thrown in. The rest of the cast’s acting ranges from “good enough” to “please just shut up already”, the fight choreography is slow and sloppy (great for a blowjob, not for a fight scene) despite the attempts to cover it up by jostling the camera around while they’re happening. The music has to be some of the most generic background crap I’ve ever heard. This entire feature was just a poorly planned shit show from opening credits to end credits. It’s not even bad from a fun-to-mock standpoint. The moderate production values keep it from being a full blown skid mark, but that’s as good as it gets. Forgettable and regrettable.

There’s one unintentional running joke I’d like to end this on though, to make the writing of this review and your reading of it at least somewhat worthwhile. As mentioned prior, like any copy-and-paste paramilitary group, Tanner’s team-turned-tormentors has one member who’s a skilled sniper. In case you forgot already (and I don’t blame you), his name is Travis. Well, Travis is supposed to be a skilled sniper, but he’s not. The credo of the sniper is “one shot, one kill”, denoting that their job is to kill with surgical precision, needing only one bullet to put down their intended target. Throughout his time stalking Tanner, Travis fires 30+ rounds from his rifle (not including the 60 or more fired from his uzi) and manages to kill…well, let’s just say the spoiler free version of his murder math is something far far FAR (like “a galaxy far far away” far!) less accurate than the gold standard. If I gave my 80 year old grandmother a single-shot rifle with 30 rounds of ammunition, put her inside Dorothy Gale’s house while it was caught in the twister that carried it to Oz, took away her glasses and tasked her with shooting half a dozen Munchkins also thrown into the cyclone, I guarantee you her fatalities-to-rounds fired ratio would put this Travis guy into a shame spiral so deep that he’d need a grappling hook and half a mile of rope to pull himself out of it!

Whew! I’m winded just reading that last sentence. I need to lay down and catch my breath after this. By the beers of Billy Carter, I’m too Murtaugh for this shit.

Even when he’s pulling a “spray and pray” with his uzi, Travis still manages to miss his targets! He has no problem perfectly strafing his shots in an almost impossibly narrow line along the top of a fruit and veggie stand (sending fragments of splattered produce into the air), but hitting the trio of full grown adults scuttling in an orderly fashion directly behind said stand is just impossible for this fucking career marksman to hit. My rage over this, combined with my need to count the amount of ammo this guy burned through to such minimal effect, are pretty much all I had to keep me from giving out on my second viewing. When you’re on the Titanic, the best you can do is grab whatever flotation device you can and hope you get back to shore before the bitter death grip of Mother Nature can drag you down into her frigid black oblivion. I think my metaphor got a little out of hand there, but the initial message is still in there somewhere. I’ll leave it up to you to exhume it.

Okay, that’s enough of that. Bottom line: the truly condemned in The Condemned 2 are the people who pay for this movie. As for me? I’m going to see if I can discover a way to distill its essence and market it as a cure for insomnia! Provided I can withstand extended exposure to its background radiation….long enough…to……….stay…awake………… *zzzzzzzzzzzzzz*

Moral of the Story: *YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWN* Huh? What are you still doing here? There’s cab fare on the nightstand and $20 for breakfast. You can keep the change if you go away right now. Don’t call me. Goodbye.

Screenshots_____

That thing should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning.


Elderly people hooked up to suicide machines against their will while non-white criminals gamble on which dies first? I’m not sure if this was taken from the movie or a 2013 Faux News report about ObamaCare.


This profile leaves out the “Zach Galifianakis impersonator available for private parties on weekends” part of Mr. Cooper’s resume.


This photo was taken of Mr. Merrick after the sandwich shop regretfully informed him that they were all out of jalapeno cream cheese for his cheddar bagel. Sorry Cyrus, early bird gets the jalapenos!


“I have you, a man armed with a knife, at a great disadvantage due to my possession of a firearm! Though I should be forcing you to the ground so one of my partners can restrain you, allow me to approach you until I’m well within range of your knife, giving you ample opportunity to disarm me and put my life in immediate danger!”


Don’t get your hopes up, like I did. This isn’t the moment where the whole movie turns into a surprise sequel to Maximum Overdrive and we see Randy Orton run over by a pissed off truck. “When you wish upon a star” my hairy ebon ass!


“You just sit back and watch how a real actor carries a low budget action movie, Junior.”


“You think if we flirt with the tow truck driver he won’t charge us?”
“Duh! Why else would we dress like this!?”


This is what happens when people don’t respect the “my quarter on the table means I get next game” rule!


“I was a supporting character in one of the most critically acclaimed television shows of all time! Don’t you dare mock me for chewing scenery in one crappy movie! I’ve earned a pass on this one!”


Ever since “Breaking Bad”, wanna-be meth cooks have caused staggering rate increases in the “mobile home explosion” insurance industry over the last few years.


Awww, it’s so cute when rednecks watch car movies and try to emulate them. I see somebody finally rented Fury Road from the Red Box kiosk at their nearest WalMart!


Hanukkah casino parties are becoming a popular trend for the kids at the synagogues these days. Let that gelt ride, bubbale!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Life of Pi(e)”

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 50 – Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)

or “Ghouls ‘n GearHeads”

Featuring: Jay Gallagher , Bianca “Wrath” Bradey , Leon “Stoned Bros.” Burchill

Director: Kiah Roche-Turner

Writers: Kiah Roche-Turner & Tristan Roche-Turner

Origin: Australia

Review_____

“Never get out of the truck!”

Hey kids! Mad Max: Fury Road came out this weekend! I haven’t seen it yet (I’m not allowed within 200 feet of opening weekend crowds), but I’ve got something that taps the same vein… and has zombies!

Yes, for my big 50th episode I’ve chosen a movie that fills a veritable ass load of personal criteria for why I watch these mother truckers in the first place: low budget ingenuity, creative twists to traditional formulas, humor amidst the horrors, blood & guts splatter fun, the living dead, mad science antics and some high-octane road ragery for dessert. In the wrong hands, all of these ingredients could result in an irredeemable abomination of a clusterfuck. But put in the hands of brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner (along with an Outback Steakhouse gift card for $160,000), it borders on being an almost life changing experience…almost.

Anyway, it’s time to put on your anti-drop bear helmet, reload your nail gun, grab a beer and a Bloomin’ Onion and give a big middle finger to safety belts, because here comes Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead!

As if the setting of today’s feature wasn’t miserable and depressing enough (Australia was founded as a fucking PRISON COLONY after all!), the Outback is in for a whole new stage of hell when a fallen meteor brings with it an Ozploitation Zompocalypse (“Ozzompocalypticapalooza”!?). Whether it be an airborne extraterrestrial spore, a contagious cosmic radioactive fallout, or a supernatural plague of Biblical proportions, the majority of the Aussies start turning into flesh eating cannibal ghouls when they breathe the polluted air of their beloved homeland. As opposed to the usual pollution of wallaby farts and XXXX Gold belch fumes (if you say Foster’s, Australians will kick you in the balls with their giant punishment boot) that they’ve all worked up a strong tolerance to. Kinda like how China’s genetically engineered its people to breathe smog and respire alcohol mist. Where did you think that Vaportini bullshit came from?

As with any such living dead end-of-the-world, a small group of otherwise normal people share an abnormal trait that makes them immune to the mystery condition. In this case it’s something as simple as their A- blood type. This immunity is fine as far as exposure to the tainted troposphere goes, but once some horror show that used to be their mate sinks their teeth into a survivor as if they were a kangaroo burger, said bitee will join the undead party faster than a college girl suddenly joins the pink mafia after drunkenly making out with another girl at a frat party. So, normal outbreak infection protocol applies: don’t get bit on, bled on, spit on, or splat on. It’s your window to success!

The first survivor we see surviving is Brooke (Bianca Bradey). She’s one of those “splatter chic” artist types that likes to photograph her friends dressed up like zombie versions of an Ed Hardy ad. During their latest shoot in her tool shed “studio”, her model randomly flips her switch from “just another hot girl” to “ravenous infectoid brain starved psycho”, and tears out their mutual friend’s throat, dragging her into the new zombie trend too! Brooke evades the hungry fangs of her infected conformist friends, shovel decapitating one Ash Williams style and chaining the other up before calling her big brother Barry (Jay Gallagher) for help. Barry’s a normal blue collar schlub who also looks like the kinda guy who could just snap one day and rip out his loved ones’ eyeballs with his teeth, just because a koala shit on his neck or his boomerang didn’t come back to him.

No sooner do the siblings end their conversation, the cliched shit hits the fan. Like, a year’s worth of excrement cleaned from the Elephant cages at the San Diego Zoo, then tossed into one of the intakes on the Helicarrier. Big bro’s fam is immediately inundated with a midnight moblette of their own, so Bare, his wife She-Barry (I didn’t catch her actual name) and their young daughter Barry Jr. (once again, not a genuine moniker) narrowly escape town in their economy car with their faces buried in life-saving respirators. Respirators – not just for wanna-be Hot Topic models’ amateur “cyberpunk” photo shoots in their friend’s basement anymore!

Meanwhile, Auntie Brooke is “rescued” from her own predicament by a seemingly military-in-origin contingent of blokes in riot gear and gas masks. After testing her for signs of the mysterious infection and finding her clean, they knock her out and take her away to a mysterious lab, where a delightfully demented practitioner of maniacal medicine known only as The Doc (Berynn Schwerdt) dances to KC and the Sunshine Band while injecting his lovely young guinea pig with borrowed zombie squeezings. The Doc is the kind of insane character that I love and should be included in pretty much all movies. He’s like a cross between Doc Brown from Back to the Future, Jebediah from Beyond Thunderdome, and Dr. Heiter from Human Centipede. If I were ever going to be in a production of Wyrmwood: the Musical Based on the Movie Based on the Meteor, I’d want to be The Doc…not that I can sing for shit after that tragic karaoke accident some years back. But, yeah, Doc or Benny. Who’s Benny? Read on, friend. Read on.

Things don’t end so well for Barry’s beloveds, and our hero is left alone with an empty nail gun and a mountain of survivor’s guilt that even Killdozer couldn’t move. While everybody else who evaded infection is probably trying desperately to escape the island (the same goal of your average tourist in Australia after the first 6 hours), Barry takes to the back roads in search of little sister Brooke. Along the way he meets several colorful fellow carriers of the A- vein juice, the best of which are wise old gear head Frankie (Keith Agius) and jersey clad, sawed-off shotgun wielding, what’s-his-race (just kidding, he’s an Aborigine) pig hunter Benny (Leon Burchill). Frankie provides exposition, tying the events in with the Book of Revelation (though calling it “Revelations”, like everybody else who misquotes it, not unlike people who think Hendrix said “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy”), citing Wyrmwood – the star that falls to Earth following the third angel’s trumpet tooting and kills a “fuck load” of people. Yes, we have our title. His reasoning that they’re not among the dead (“Among the dead we will riiiiise” – http://youtu.be/-HDdFRGkOJU -) is because this is their final casting call to see if they’re worthy of getting past the pearly gates…or it could just have something to do with the whole blood type thing I mentioned earlier. These guys just haven’t read that far into the script yet.

Back to Benny, he’s the other role I’d play in the Wyrmwood musical. He provides the comedy relief. He’s the loveable sidekick to our hard-ass no-nonsense hero, Barry, who’s going through his mandatory Max Rockatansky transformation into a former family guy turned remorseless man-shaped murder machine. And there’s plenty of reanimated cadavers to take his poor mood out on and crush under some off-road tires. If only he could get his hands on a working vehicle…

Speaking of, Frankie’s other big contributions to the road trip are an A-Team’ed pick-up truck and a means by which to power it. See, the weirdest part about the Wyrmwood effect isn’t the walking dead, it’s the way it somehow made all combustible liquids completely inert. And when gassy gassy don’t go burny burny? All those combustion engines ain’t combustin’ SHIT! You know what does burn, though? Apparently zombie blood! Yep, slice off a limb and you’re talking undead napalm. Even better? They’ve got ferocious halitosis that also lights up when exposed to a spark. So, the answer to how to make Frankie’s truck go vroom vroom? Cage up a zombie or two in the truck bed, strap a breathing tube to their suck hole, and burn some rubber, Mother Hubbard!

And so, armored up like agents of Lord Humungus’ color guard (sans the leather thongs), our boys are on the road again, continuing the search for Spock, errrr, Brooke. Speaking of, it turns out that Doc pumping her full of zombie blood has had the entirely unexpected side effect of giving her…zombie mind control powers?! What the fuuuuuuuuuck?! Yep. Little Sister’s gained mental control over whatever gray matter any ghouls near her may have left. This is either very cool or too stupid to handle, and I honestly have no inclination on which side of that line I plant my flag.

You know our heroes are eventually going to cross paths with Brooke’s captors, but are said ‘nappers really government goons like they claim, or is this some Resident Evil Umbrella Corporation type shenanigans transpirin’? What awaits our gang at the ass end of their road trip down the Hoober Bloob Highway of Horrors? Who will survive and what will be left of them? You’ll have to nab yourself a copy of Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead and see for yourself!

I have got a big, rude, unapologetic boner for this movie. I was raised on the Mad Max trilogy and though a lot of people have had their fill of the zombie sub-genre, I still get sloppy from my slurp portal for undead flicks like Tar Man looking over The Dean’s List/Menu of an Ivy League school… “MORE BRAINS!” With that, I think I’ve exhausted my allotment of metaphors and similes for the month on this single review. Sheesh.

But the movie’s not all rainbows and ribbon candy. There are a few questions I’d like to address about the zombies, for starters. The ghouls squeal like pigs. Not like Ned Beatty did, I mean they literally sound as if there are pigs trapped in their throats squealing to get out! Intended as a primal scream sorta thing, or just a bizarro trait to make their monsters stand out? As if the part about oozing petroleum byproduct wasn’t stand outish enough. Also, some of the reanimated randomly emerge from the ground in one scene. Did this mysterious event also have a Lazarus effect, where it raised the dead along with turning almost everybody into plague beasts? If so, why were these particular terrors buried in unmarked graves in the middle of nowhere?! The more likely answer is that they’re just normal dead heads who chose to hide in the ground and spring forth like trap door spiders and snatch their prey unawares. This causes a whole new set of issues though, namely that the fucking idea of living dead guerilla fighters crosses the county line a little too far into Stupid Town for my tastes. I mean, it’s the type of tripe you’d expect from one of Godfrey Ho’s stitched together stinkers! Unless that’s the joke? I’m gonna need a bottle of Windex to clear this one up.

Okay, enough with the nitpicking! We know how this baby handles, but does she look good while doing it? The practical gore and effects are nice, but make the digital ones all the worse to have to look at. The CG muzzle flashes and bullet ricochets and gunshot splatters are especially shit. But, the zombie makeup is good enough that I’ll gladly take the hit. At times the movies has an overexposed look that washes it out and gives you that lovely faux Grindhouse visual. It’s moderately well done and comes off as a nice homage rather than an overdone gimmick. Unfortunately, something that is overdone is the liberal application of the shaky-cam shooting method. There’s a LOTTA shaky-cam going on here, and you all know how I feel about shaky-cam. You don’t know how I feel about shaky-cam? Oh. Well, I shaky-can’t stand it. I don’t believe the lies that it’s meant to “put the audience in the action”. It’s an amateur way of covering up that you don’t know how to frame a fucking shot! You can’t deceive a deceiver!

As a budget movie, there’s only so many extras they can afford to pay, and only so much horror makeup they can afford to dress them up in. As such, the monsters tend to be seen in small groups, which subtracts from the fear of our heroes being overrun by a mob that barely outnumbers them, especially when the good guys are armored up and well armed. The focus is on a lotta action (again, much like a Mad Max movie) and the story gets shoved down the stairs as a result because they didn’t wanna linger on too much exposition. But, for a zombie movie, at least there are some creative concepts tossed around to set it apart from the average undead tale. Finally, if you’re low on testosterone, ask your doctor about using Wyrmwood as a alternative treatment for your Androgel. If the DIY death machines, high octane car chasery (complete with brief “Ship’s Mast” moment from Brooke!), gun fights, and zombie slaughtering aren’t enough queso con jalapenos to top off your bucket of Macho Nachos, our end scene plays out in the most he-manly of fashions! Trust me, it’ll put the proverbial hair on your chest. Pregnant ladies may want to close their eyes during this sequence, as its detonation of machismo has been known to cause premature bearding in fetuses. While not as severe as a miscarriage or “flipper baby syndrome”, premature bearding can lead to uncomfortable internal rug burns on the birth canal upon natality.

…Now all I can picture is Sub-Zero in a delivery room, wearing a white doctor’s coat and parabolic mirror while pulling a baby out of a pregnant woman’s ham purse, then holding it up by the ankle while one of the attending nurses growls “NATALITY!”

Wyrmwood 2 is already in the works, so whether you like the movie or not is irrelevant, as it seems to be a guaranteed production. Me? I liked it. Obviously. I thought it was a stellar first effort from a pair of Bruces like the brothers Roche-Turner. Not perfect, but definitely commendable and a recommendation for all within the sound of my voice. I’d call it more of a 3.5 than a full-on 4, but in a case like this it’s pertinent to round up rather than down. I’m curious to see where things go with the sequel.

As for where I’m going next? Nowhere, really. I’m gonna stick around Kangaroo Country for another episode. Wyrmwood wasn’t on my original itinerary for the Tour de Farce, and only came up as a nice little tourist trap on my walkabout to my original destination. Said destination? Find out NEXT TIME! Oh, and that dingo that ate your baby? Yeah, it was me. Crikey. Sorry, mate.

Moral of the Story: If someone’s trying to kidnap you, never kick chloroform out of your captor’s hand. The alternative method of knocking you out hurts a whole lot worse.

Screenshots_____

“Oi oi oi” is what my stomach says after my 4th slice of fried cheesecake.


It’s the illegitimate daughter of Ronald McDonald and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas!


Our hero – arming himself for the Apocalypse, or just prepping to paint his house?


The old “pull my finger” gag isn’t the best of ideas when you’re in a hermetically sealed quarantine suit…


Is Frank wearing a shirt spattered with paint (at least I hope it’s paint), or did he just wrap himself in a star chart before leaving the house this morning?


Hey! They have vikings in Australia!


Jason Voorhees has competition for this year’s “World’s Scariest Goalie” award.


“It’s astounding.
Time is fleeting.
Madness takes its toll.”


Wow! That must be some high tech operation to have monitors and keyboards mounted to the wall like that!… and yes, I’m the type of person who notices the cheap keyboard tacked to the wall first, rather than the young woman in bondage right next to it. Shut it.


Pimp Your Ride: Down Under!” just didn’t have the pinache of its American inspiration.


He comes from down under a land down under. *rimshot*


“That’s not a knife! THIS is a knife!… No, wait. This is a boomerang. Never mind.”

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Anubis will return next time in
“Scary Stories to Tell in the Outback”

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 23 – Cthulhu (2007)

or “Even Death May Die”

Featuring: Jason “Act of Valor” Cottle , Scott “Milk” Green , Tori “Beverly Hills 90210” Spelling

Director:  Dan Gildark

Writers: Dan Gildark , Grant Cogswell , Douglas Light , Jason Cottle

Origin:  USA

Review_____

“Don’t let those salty bitches get their hands on it!”

I like H.P. Lovecraft. I can’t say I “love” him, not just because it’d be a cheese-ass pun even for me, but also because I’m not much of a book person and have only read a handful of the man’s work. Hey, my cup already overfloweth with movies and comics and video games, with a side helping of pro-wrestling and cartoons and TV shows. Don’t judge me. Anyway, as with all great writers, Lovey turned his personal demons into memorable stories for people cool enough to seek them out to enjoy long after his passing. When I was in high school, I got clued in to his coolness after discovering Re-Animator… which I discovered after unearthing an issue of the 1991 comic adaptation in a bargain bin. Hunting down a collection of the original “Herbert West – Reanimator” short stories, I realized that I wasn’t the type of 15 year-old who could appreciate deep tales of extremely descriptive horror that took 3 pages to explain the terror a character felt from ascending a dark staircase. As you can probably guess, Poe didn’t exactly instill me with fear boners either, giving me more fear yawns instead. Meh.

After adulthood set in, I gave the ghoulish tales of Herbie West another go-round and, despite still suffering from fear impotency, I REALLY appreciated the man’s knack for setting a mood. Though never a ‘Craft nerd myself, I did take a shine to the man’s eldritch nightmare Cthulhu well before he was co-opted by anti-pop culture. The idea of a giant eternal humanoid dragon star god with the head of an octopus was just the kinda crazy shit I horrified my art teachers with while growing up. You can imagine my intrigue when Cthulhu came onto my radar…and the immediate black hole that imploded my guts when I also read the name “Tori Spelling” attached to it. But, lucky for you, black holes in our guts is little more than a bad bag of Taco Bell waffle tacos to we Death Gods. So, I crapped that reality-collapser into the Bowl of Eternal Torment, underwent several hours of hypnotherapy to repress my gag reflex enough that seeing Tori Spelling wouldn’t invoke violent upheaval in my nervous system, sat down with my notebook bound in human flesh, an ink well filled with the blood of a mermaid, a quill made from a cockatrice feather and set about my dark task.

…oh, and don’t get too impressed about the cockatrice. I kinda pulled a Corman and just glued a bunch of emu feathers to a taxidermied iguana. It’s actually pretty sad to look at and I don’t know why I brought it up. Sorry.

Despite its title, the movie’s actually based on the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, which has little to do with the Elder God Cthulhu beyond a passing mention or two. The original narration is really about introducing readers to another section of the Lovecraftian pantheon of abominations – Dagon, and his order of man-fish followers/offspring known as the Deep Ones. In that respect, Cthulhu sticks to its source material fairly well, keeping the name-dropping of He Whose Face Makes Japanese Schoolgirls Squirm minimal, even then not until much later on. I’m assuming the titular adjustment is to cash in on the recognition of the Cthulhu name. Nightmare nomenclature notwithstanding, the hero of our tale is Russell Marsh (Jason Cottle), a gay (in the literal sense) Seattle based English professor who we meet as he’s woken from his slumber by an unfortunate phone call – his mother has passed away. The best comfort his club conquest from the night before can muster from Russ’s bed is a half-hearted “That sucks.” before hitting our milksop protagonist up for an Andrew Jackson… by which I mean $20 and not some kinky sexual maneuver…though there could very well be something called an “Andrew Jackson” and I’m just not up to par on my perversion lingo…not to be confused with Perversion Bingo, which is a fun game you can play with your friends where you go to ExtremeTube.com and watch random clips while marking off a Bingo card filled with various sexual acts until someone wins…or until everyone has to go to separate rooms to whack their wank meats. Where was I? Oh yeah, I’m guessing this thing between Russell and Club Kid (literally what the guy’s credited as) isn’t one of those relationships that will lead to these two not being allowed to file their taxes jointly.

Like most gay men in movies, Russell grew up in a small town of “traditional moral values”, so when he was outed as being a fancier of phalli, his final years at home basically consisted of being the object of homophobic ridicule from everybody. Has the sleepy coastal Oregon burg of Rivermouth socially evolved in the years since Russ’ retreat? The eerie exchange our hero has with a pair of skinheads in a pickup truck on his way there may prove otherwise…or, it could signal something FAR more unsettling than repressed hate mongers. Either way, I was starting to get PTSD flashbacks of Birdemic before the pickup conflict, what with the camera riding along in Russell’s back seat and the conveyance of seemingly innocuous radio news programming during a scene I feared would go on well beyond its welcome. So, thank you pickup truck. You may have saved me from an anxiety attack that could have ended with a lot of dead orphans.

Speaking of traumatic flashbacks, Russell immediately starts having some of his own upon his arrival. Nothing straightforward though, just flashes of enough to keep the audience guessing. I understand it from a movie standpoint, but really, who only thinks back to quick cuts of their past?! If I think back to the time I saw my dog hit by a car when I was 8, or my heartbreakingly awkward first time (or seven) getting laid, I don’t just remember brief nigh-hallucinatory glimpses, I relive ALL the horror and shame! Anyway, momentary lapses of sanity aside, Russell’s homecoming isn’t improved by strange nightmares of becoming his father or waking up in a cold sweat to bizarre onyx totems covered in runic carvings clenched in his fist. THIS is why I stopped drinking. The problem with becoming his father, you ask? Unlike most sons who would rather not become a chartered accountant or championship arm wrestling truck driver like their own dear papas, Russell’s dad (Dennis Kleinsmith) is some kinda new aged “reverend” (*cough*cult leader*cough) who dresses in purple robes (at least they’re gay pride friendly) and wants Russell to give him a grandchild. Sorry old man, I don’t know what sex ed film they showed you back in 1950s high school (actually, thanks to RiffTrax and “MST3K” shorts, we do), but gay people don’t work that way. They can’t just reproduce by budding. They’re not sponges!

Russet Potato’s visit isn’t all bad, though. His sister Dannie (Cara Buono) clearly misses him, and despite also wanting her brother to spawn a niece/nephew for her, she obviously still loves him. He also reconnects with his boyhood friend Mike (Scott Green), who’s grown into a tow truck driving divorcee since last they frolicked along the cliff sides and capered in the ocean’s salty froth. Speaking of salty froth…uhm, never mind. We’ll wait till the kids go to bed before discussing private matters. While in town, Russell also makes time to visit his aunt, who’s been relegated to a nut house for alleged dementia. Their sit down doesn’t last long, but includes curious portents of Russell’s mom dying of less-than-natural causes, and something of huge importance she left behind for him at the house. It’d be too easy for the movie gods to just let her spill ALL the beans, so Auntie has what could be a mini-stroke and starts mumbling some gibberish that sounds like ancient Aramaic as written by a college linguistics drop out on Quaaludes and Jim Beam. ALSO why I stopped drinking…and taking Quaaludes…and sniffing glue.

Like any horror movie worth its salty froth (not yet…), Cthulhu has a crazy old town drunk to drop some necessary background for our protagonist. His name is Zadok (best He-Man villain name for a non He-Man villain character ever) and he’s an alcoholic old sailor who approaches Russell in a bar about the small onyx (“SLAM! SLAM!”) obelisk/butt plug our hero woke up next to in his hotel room, linking it to the whispered local legends of the human sacrificing fish-men cult of Dagon. Zadok’s tutoring in Lovecraftian horrors isn’t free though: he requires Russell to buy him a bottle of Wild Turkey and a sixer of Miller High Life before meeting him later to discuss the itinerary further. Shit, this movie’s turning into a fetch quest from an RPG. So, while at the liquor store acquiring their special Zadok’s Friday Night Combo, Russ Meyers is slipped a note by Julia (Amy Minderhout) the register girl (who doesn’t look old enough to drink, let alone work in a liquor store) telling him not to talk with ‘Dok. He does anyway, but comes back to girlie girl later demanding to know what the fuck she knows about what’s going on in this town. She just ends up cluing him in on her little brother Kellan, who went missing several years earlier and telling Russell he’s the only one who can save him.

Now, you might think this glass bottom boat tour is getting a little overbooked in the plot department, and reading it out as I type this, I’d be with you on the concerns of all the extra weight sinking the ship straight down to Davy Jones’ locker (or any of the Monkees, really). Hell, we haven’t even gotten to Tori Spelling using her homosexuality neutralizing Dagon roofies to rape Russell (which I just did, so now I don’t need to mention it anymore) or the whole “waking Dagon to end the world of men” plot! The funny thing is that none of this felt as cumbersome to watch as it does writing it out. It says a lot about Dan Gildark that he can stuff this much story into the movie while making it all move along as smoothly as it does within its 100 minute running time. It’s the hallmark of a guy who knows what he wants to put into what could be his only chance to make a movie, and has figured out how to make ALL of it edible. He took the elements of a four course meal, and rather than risk over serving his dinner guests to the point of making them sick (*cough*TheHobbitTrilogy*cough*), he ran everything through a grinder and fit everything into one well packed sausage. NOT a gay euphemism, by the way, though I appreciate anyone who knows me well enough to think that’s what I was going for.

As I’ve noted before, my moratorium on spoilers is 5 years, which makes Cthulhu ripe for ruining. If you’d rather avoid further plot putrefaction, I would suggest skipping down a few paragraphs to the one that starts with “WAY back in 2001”. Otherwise, I will be skinning this fish monster and baring its guts for all, so you’re welcome to stay and watch if that’s the type of thing that salts your froth!

Russell’s talk with Zadok results in drunken rantings of an island off the Rivermouth coast that housed the ruins of an ancient city. The townspeople would gather together in the mansions along the hillside (one of which Russell’s family home) to perform rituals, while making human sacrifices of their children in the boathouses to the horrors that lived on the island so that their nets would always be filled to the gills. Heh, fish humor. Zads name- drops Shoggoths (big monster Lovecraftian amoeba introduced in “In the Mountains of Madness”) and talks about how they came in droves from the sea and dragged the children of Rivermouth back into the brine. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what the old boozehound said. He spews a lot of incoherent drunken nonsense, but that’s what I could piece together. When half your family is made up of lifelong alcoholics, you get a lot of practice deciphering drunk-speak.

Dannie introduces Russ to her buddy Susan (Tori Spelling) who starts hitting on him from the word “homo”, inviting him back to her place under the premise that her hubby Ralph has a book about artifacts that has info on Russ’s mysterious stone trinket. Once there, Susan wastes no time in trying to seduce Russ into putting a baby in her belly, citing Ralph’s jizz factory no longer being in service thanks to a work site accident involving an exposed rebar. I just threw up a little. When Ralph’s pleading of “Susan needs your swimmers” falls on deaf/gay ears, the couple instead drug Mr. Marsh, allowing Susan to strip him down and milk the reproduction juice out of him with her ham wallet. Pretty sure that’s how Ms. Spelling ended up getting pregnant in real life too. Not to worry though folks, this is so low budget a production they couldn’t afford to pay the woman to go topless. That’s a horror that will, praise Isis, remain unknown…unless you saw that creepy pic her real-life husband “accidentally” posted to Twitter with her swollen mom boobs flopped out behind her son’s head. In which case get in touch with me and I’ll forward you the meeting times for our support group. The awfulness I come across when researching for these reviews. Blart.

With the book thing a bust, Russell just kinda ignores the whole “I was raped by the ugliest girl from 90210” plot and hits up the local library archives to do some sleuthing. He doesn’t find a lot about the stone, but he does come across a lot of old newspaper articles covering people gone missing around Rivermouth. I guess the American Library Association is immune to the corrupting influence of the Deep Ones? Anyway, Russ enlists Mike’s help in investigating the cult’s sacrificial boathouses, where he runs into some weird supernatural shit and old guys in robes before escaping to a random nearby house. Here he finds Kellan, conveniently enough, as he stares at a snowy TV screen like a latter day Carol Anne Freeling. When asked why he’s there, the boy tells Russell that he lives in the basement of the house with others while they await the coming of Cthulhu (finally, our movie has a title…an HOUR in!). The kid then leads our man into said basement, where he finds a network of tunnels that are inhabited by weird humanoid fish mutant babies! Running in terror like most anyone would (except maybe a hungry weird humanoid walrus), Russ escapes to the surface, emerging from a hole covered by a manhole with an elaborate carving of Cthulhu on it, the likes of which you can find on any number of cheap arts & crafts jewelry, as sold in any number of stores on Etsy.

Russell retreats back to Mike’s apartment, where they have a heated exchange about Mike ditching him (thanks to a nosy sheriff) that escalates into a full-on spat about Mike’s lack of jelly for the PB&J Russ is making, ending in our hero calling him “a very bad host” before storming off. I know it doesn’t sound like much an in insult, but a gay man telling you you’re a bad host is like someone calling you a limp dick piece of shit who should save your family years of shame by just slitting your throat right now! All in all though, I gotta say that this scene is a brilliant piece of inspired madness that leaves you wondering what the fuck it was you just watched. Speaking of, I suggest you watch it at THIS LINK, post haste! You know, when I get around to posting it on YouTube…

The next morning, our gents intend to go look for Kellan, referring to him as “the blind boy” for no apparent reason (also what he’s referred to by in the credits). They don’t have to look far though, because upon exiting Mike’s apartment they find the lad waiting for them. Yay! That was easy! Except that he’s tied to Mike’s porch with a huge exit wound in his forehead. Boo. This isn’t gonna be easy to explain to the small town law enforcement. Small town law enforcement in movies don’t have a very good track record when it comes to gays and/or liberals “finding” dead bodies. See, to them a gay man “finding” a dead child translates to “raping and murdering”. And to add to the sting, Russell gets taken away in front of a whole group of townsfolk at his mother’s estate auction, immediately after losing a bid-off for her house to some unspeaking guy dressed like a government spook who just drives away without saying a word after. After getting the “small town hospitality” treatment from the Sheriff, Russell wakes up in a jail cell straight out of the Inquisition to the sounds of rioting outside. We don’t actually see the rioting, but the first rules of low budget horror and Lovecraft adaptations are both the same – less is more.

Russ makes his way out of confinement only to be drugged in an alley by Ralph and Susan (whom he NEVER confronted after being raped of his baby seeds), who seem to make some effort to drag him into a nearby doorway, only for our hero to regain his druthers and run away. For anyone still confused with what’s happening here, Russ heads to his mother’s home and finds a videotape she left him in which she pretty much explains everything about the fish people and his family’s connection to the cult directly…and proves that his dad doesn’t know shit about camcorders and how to record over VHS tapes when a message of his own is included right after Mom’s, then cuts off mid message. Oh old people, so casually racist and ignorant of modern technology no matter what their species. Equal parts cute and pathetic, really.

Oh yeah, remember that riot I mentioned before? Turns out it’s time for the spawn of Dagon to return to the sea, which includes murdering as many norms as possible in the process…for some reason? It’s not entirely clear what’s happening here. There’s a bunch of naked people setting fires and people with sub-machine guns interlaced with public domain footage of actual riots. All that really matters is Russell and Mike are making an exodus out of town on the next train to Get The Fuck Outta Dodge. By “train”, I mean Mike’s tow truck. They stop by dear old Daddy Marsh’s place to pick up Dannie, still oblivious to the fact that she’s PART OF THE CULT, and end up captured. Russell’s introduced to the “children” Susan turned his swimmers into (which we don’t actually see, under the aforementioned “less is more” rule), before he’s pegged by the gathering of sushi sapiens to ascend and replace Papa as the new Leader Bean (“Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah LEADER!”). The price for his promotion? The sacrifice of the man he loves. One of the most important things that can make or break a movie is its ending, and this is the proverbial nail that Cthulhu hits squarely on the head for me. While his dad restrains Mike, Russell hauls back with the jagged onyx totem, screams and…hello end credits. Does he kill Mike? Does he kill his father? Does he kill himself? Does he get a monster leg cramp and just roll around on the ground screaming in pain for 5 minutes? Nobody knows because it’s left up to us. Speaking of the end credits, they run over a song called “White Daisy Passing” by some guy named Rocky Votolato. Not the kinda music I listen to normally: it’s a simple twangy, folk-songy ballad about sleeping on the bottom of the ocean that really fits the tone of the movie. I won’t link to a vid, cuz you really need to see the end of Cthulhu to put it into the right context. That said, go watch Cthulhu!

Before I go any further, I gotta make one stupid joke that only people who watched that Kanye West episode of South Park a few years ago will get – so, now that it’s revealed Russell’s a gay merman, you could say he really loves fish sticks! I know it’s violently shoehorned in there (that’s what SHE said!), but there was no humanly way possible to review this movie without making that reference somewhere.

WAY back in 2001, the undisputed (and if you dispute it I will pinch a Greenland shaped bruise into your neck) grandmaster of Lovecraft adaptations, Stuart Gordon, teamed up with his frequent collaborator in Lovecraft crafting (and the 1979 TV adaptation of “Bleacher Bums”), Dennis Paoli, to make Dagon – their adaptation of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” (which you can read at this link if you feel so inclined). I’ll get around to reviewing it here eventually, but for those of you who have already supped upon its chalice of greatness, if Dagon and The Cake Eater had a gay son who went to film school and mortgaged his house to fund a movie for Sundance (i.e. no money for monster makeup), it’d be Cthulhu>.

As with any no-budgeter, you’ve gotta temper your expectations going into it. If you can pull off a good story, some halfway decent camera work, and some talented storytelling, you don’t need high-grade effects and big names to hook your audience…fish pun not intended. The story of a gay man returning to his bigoted hometown is perfect for the paranoid anxiety of a Lovecraft tale. You don’t have to be gay to sympathize with Russell’s plight, and if gay men make you uncomfortable, well just consider that adding to the discomfort of the atmosphere! The minimal-to-non-existent gore and effects are fine because, I’ll say it again, less is more here. A few brief flashes of mutant fish-babies and the rest can be taken care of with the horrified reactions of the characters. Speaking of, the acting’s not great, with the exceptions of Cara Buono and Jason Cottle. Buono (whose actually done a lot of TV work on more than a few respectable dramas) makes Dannie a loving sister figure who manages to be a cultist without resorting to the too obvious “Join us! Join us!” tropes. Cottle’s well cast as our lead, since he’s the best actor of the bunch. He’s nothing fantastic when Russell’s being laid back or scared, but the guy knows how to crank the intensity when Russell’s got his angry face on. Somebody call Dick Wolf and get this guy a guest spot on whatever one of those “Law & Order” shows is still on the air! That being said, we still have to deal with some pretty limp fish performances from much of the rest of the cast, which includes Scott Green. I understand Mike’s supposed to be that “simple small town guy” persona, but listening to Green’s line delivery hurts. And I know “love conquers all”, but a college English professor falling for an inbred tow truck driver who constantly mumbles like a goober 9 cans deeps into a case of Labatt’s feels irritatingly sitcomish.

Overall, I gotta hand it to Dan Gildark and Grant Cogswell for cobbling together a great piece of movie that’s not without its warts, but shines despite them. It’s sad to see that neither has added any further film credits to their resume in the years since Cthulhu was spawned. Maybe they felt their story was told. Maybe their dream had been realized. Maybe they walked off into the sunset. Or maybe they got some negative feedback they couldn’t handle. Maybe they bankrupted themselves into a financial quagmire from which there was no rescue. Whatever their epilogues, I hope they’re happy with their final product, because I’m definitely a fan.

On a final note, I’m pretty sure my TV’s haunted by a homophobic ghost, cuz the audio went all schizo on me during BOTH viewings of the movie when the inevitable sex scene (there’s your salty froth!) between Russell and Mike came up (salty froth!). By the way, if you thought that was a spoiler (a salty, frothy spoiler!), you obviously know nothing about indie movies – it’s all gay cowboys and pudding. And that’s my quota for “South Park” references today, kids! I am outta here! Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!

Moral of the Story: Don’t ask Tori Spelling where all the sea lions are. Better yet, don’t talk to Tori Spelling at all. She just wants your swimmers, and that fishy smell isn’t poor hygiene. At least she’s well cast. I mean, she already looks like something out of an H.P. Lovecraft fever dream!

 

Screenshots_____

“Just look at it out there. Fish of all shapes and sizes are having sex and shitting everywhere. It’s like a huge orgy in a giant unflushed toilet. My GOD the ocean is a horrible, disgusting place! Magnificent.”


Justin Bieber from 5 years in the future has come back to our time to convince his current self to kill himself now and spare them both the years of heartbreak after Usher ends their relationship.


“Hey faggot! You got any Grey Poupon… your dick?! Cuz, you know, it sounds like I’m saying ‘grey poop on your dick’, referring to your homosexuality while also referencing a popular mustard commercial from the ’80s!… But seriously, do you?!”


“Shaun, you’ve got red on you.”


The Rivermouth High School football team, sponsored entirely by an “educational grant” from Gorton’s Frozen Seafood.


No joke to be made here (unless you wanna come up with your own reference to The Accused). I just wanted to point out that I fucking LOVE that the Attack From Mars pinball machine is making a cameo! I used to play the shit out of that machine! YEAH!


“I love you too Aunt Ruth, but can you please let me go? You smell like pea soup, soiled diapers, and cheap vitamins. I may throw up on you if you don’t stop right now.”


“Hey guys. This is my friend Tori Spelling. She’d really appreciate it if one of you would have sex with her. She can pay.”


“So, my dad was really rich and famous… but he’s dead now… which means I inherited a lot of money… I mean a LOT of money! That being said… ya wanna go fuck in the mens’ room?”
“I keep telling you, no! I know you’re my sister’s friend, but if you don’t leave me alone, I’m going to call the police!”


And finally, this is where EVERY man ends his night after a conversation with Tori Spelling.


What?! She had to work a children’s party today and didn’t realize she was out of white greasepaint. What was she supposed to do, skip out on a paying job? Give Bonko the Clown a break. She did the best she could.


I find it hard to believe there’s such a thing as a “beloved” garbageman. I mean, the closest I’ve ever seen was Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, and he still wasn’t even close to being “beloved”.


“I don’t care if you don’t know what ‘Memorex’ is, Billy. Just do what I tell you. This recreation is gonna skyrocket my YouTube page to a million views!”


Well, it’s still better than the official It’s Alive remake. You gotta give it that.


“Finally, my own bridge! And that guy sold it to me for such a bargain! Once I put up the toll booths, I’ll make double my investment back in no time! Things are finally coming up Russell!”


And this is a New York City subway train simulator. It gives people in small towns a taste of the big city life. At the top of every hour a pair of women have a very shrill conversation in Chinese while a homeless guy stands on top begging for change and pisses all over everybody. It’s VERY realistic!


I’d ask what’s going on in that toilet or what the big oily stain on the bed is from, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t like the answer to either.


If I’m ever involved with a movie production of some kind, I insist that I be credited for “Asskicking”!

Anubis will return next time in
“Criminalize It”

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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 18 – Black Dynamite (2009)

or “African American Explosive Device!”


Featuring:
  Michael Jai “Spawn” White , Salli “I Am Legend” Richardson-Whitfield , Tommy “In Living Color” Davidson

Director:  Scott “Thick as Thieves” Sanders

Writers:  Michael Jai “Three Bullets” White , Scott “Thick as Thieves” Sanders , Byron “BULLHORN!” Minns

Origin: USA

Review_____

How many times have I told you not to call me here and interrupt my KUNG-FU?!”

*The Tomb of Anubis is typed in front of a prerecord studio audience laugh track*

DISCLAIMER: The following review contains uses of racial slurs that are in no way used in a racist fashion. I am not a racist, as I hate people based on their choices and alignments in life. I do not discriminate based on how someone was born, either in their sex, sexuality, skin color, or other genetic factors. These slurs are used not in a hateful format, but in ways to match both the tone of the movie being reviewed and also to address the racist tendencies of others. In other words, if certain words make you uncomfortable, try to mentally censor them as “the ‘n’ word” or whatever makes you feel better rather than sending me hate mail that will be ignored anyway. Thank you.

Black History Month is very divisive. On the one hand, you’ve got racists and equalists who question why black people should get their own dedicated month while white people go unrecognized… hey, dipshits, white history doesn’t get its own month because white history is already celebrated YEAR ROUND – it’s called “History” and it’s taught in 100% of American schools. Maybe you should’ve stayed in yours if you had such a hard-on for honky historia. Twats.

On the other end of the argument, you have those who take offense to February being chosen for Black History Month, because it’s the shortest month of the year, and somehow being denied 2 days (1 on leap years) minimizes the importance of the event… yes, there are people who ACTUALLY take issue on this topic. “Not only does Hispanic History Month get a full 30 days, but it spans September AND October!? What the fuck is that shit about! White people just trying to keep ’em happy so their landscaping costs don’t go up!”. That was an actual quote from a black guy I knew once. Don’t ask who he is, you don’t know him. Stop thinking all black people know each other. That’s racist.

Speaking of divisive black subjects, today’s episode is an homage to/parody of Blaxploitation. For those not in the know of what you should be, Blaxploitation is a style of exploitation movie made popular in the ’70s where the heroes were all strong, cool, bad-ass African-American men and women who fought to save themselves and their communities from the oppression and corruption of rich old white guys and their Uncle Tom lackeys… often with incredibly low production values and actors so green that I’m pretty sure they hired actual hookers, pimps, and hustlers to fill many of the roles. Though many applauded these less-than-fine films for putting those of color front and center while demonizing Whitey as the source of all evil in the world (which he tends to be), there were still plenty of detractors from the black population who didn’t appreciate these movies being made BY old white guys who were only in it for the cash-in, not to give their colored brothers and sisters a fair voice in Tinseltown. A lot of these same detractors REALLY didn’t appreciate that Hollywood was basically just replacing their long time caricatures of fat lipped, nappy-haired, watermelon munching niggers with new afro sporting, pimp coated, whore slapping, malt liquor chugging coon stereotypes. Same old racism, just with a new coat of fried chicken paint to try and appeal to black markets. In capitalism, the only color that matters is green… and sometimes the search for it brings out how truly ignorant the people in charge are.

You can learn more about Blaxploitation movies at your local library! Just go up the librarian, put out your pimp hand, demand that he/she “Lay down some TRUTH!”, and if they don’t immediately put What it Is… What it Was! in your hand, slap that motherfucker silly until they get the message!

Whether you love ’em (like Shaft) or hate ’em (like Jive Turkey), for better or worse Blaxploitation is a benchmark in black history. In honor of that (and since the new site’s reviews only span movies of the current millennium), I considered reviewing Baadasssss! – Mario Van Peebles’ bio-pic/dedication to the genre and the movie that started it, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, starring his poppa Melvin. But, Black Dynamite‘s got Miguel Nunez in it. Miguel Nunez was Spider in Return of the Living Dead. Return of the Living Dead is my favorite zombie movie and Spider was the fucking coolest guy in said movie. Ergo, this complicated math equation’s result = Black Dynamite gets the spot. Maybe next year, Mario. And yes, I’m aware Miguel also starred in Juwana Man, but that’s just a testament to how fantastic he was as Spider. Ergo, shut up.

Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) isn’t just our title, it’s also our hero’s name. BD (because it’ll save my fingers from having to type “Black” or “Dynamite” for the rest of this review) is harder than a petrified redwood and smoother than one of your momma’s milkshakes. He’s all four heroes of One Down, Two to Go rolled into one with a pinch of Dolemite on top. He’s a veteran of ‘Nam (“and all the dead Chinamen we left in our tracks”), a former agent for the CIA, and a lover of ladies all sizes and colors. Hell, the first time we meet him he’s running a reverse gangbang on a veritable Benaton ad’s worth of cumly coital cuddlers all shades of the racial rainbow! And, as was the style of his cinematic brothers of the time, BD is a practitioner of the deadly martial arts of Ghetto-Fu, crackin’ cracker skulls with his nunchucks of class warfaring black rage! He takes no shit, whether from pimps, pushers, hustlers, punks, thugs, government goons, ninjas, or the oldest of old ladies! He’s blacker than the ace of spades (yeah, that just put Lemmy into my head too), and more militant than your WHOLE damn army!… of course, it’s a lot easier to beat up the bad guys when they stick to the movie trope of only attacking the hero one-at-a-time rather than swarming him with their overwhelming numbers… Anyway, BD is basically the extreme amalgamation of Blaxploitation protagonists you’d expect from a ramped up slapstick parody such as this.

When BD’s little bro Jimmy, a former heroin addict, ends up dead in a drug deal gone further south than Br’er Rabbit, their aunt makes it none too subtle a point to remind BD that he promised their momma on her death bed that he’d take care of diminutive sibling James. Looks like getting Jimmy clean and off of la cheval wasn’t enough though, cuz now that he (and his weird snobbish English accent) have been murdered, it’s BD’s job to put the smack down on the smack dealers responsible. First on his list? Local drug kingpin Rafelli (played by perpetual movie goomba Mike Starr, the “gas man” from Dumb & Dumber), whom our hero gets to by shaking down local info sources with names like Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson) and Chicago Wind (Mykelti Williamson). Though Raf’s comeuppance montage is disappointingly short compared to the time spent finding him, his end is just the beginning of our hero’s journey. With the big man in town taken down, Black Dynamite and his collected crew of good guys uncover a 7 layer bean dip of craziness, with each layer crazier than the last! All I’ll say is that a global conspiracy is unmasked meant to take down the pride of every black man, and it touches on BD’s time in both ‘Nam and the CIA… oh, and it involves a shitload of fucking complicated Greek mythology and astrology, and the Great Emancipator himself! DY-NO-MITE! DY-NO-MITE!

There is a LOT going on in Black Dynamite, but since it comes in just under my 5 year moratorium on spoilers, I won’t say anymore than I already have. Suffice it to say that I’ve barely scratched the surface of what turns out to be a VERY thick watermelon… that wasn’t racist, it was a joke made within the tone of the movie! Shut up. Anyway, there’s SO much material on display here, it’s almost too much. Movies need rest periods to give the audience a chance to catch a breather, lest they suffocate. Though these cool down scenes do happen, the first 35-45 minutes lay it on a bit heavy with everything that gets stuffed into them. The whole thing is a great joke, but the joke needs to be a little better paced in the first half. I felt like I needed an intravenous Red Bull feed and a Speedball or two to keep up before finally turning the movie off entirely and coming back to it later. Maybe I’m just too old, or maybe I’m just not the best target for the “keep the joke running so long that it stops being funny, then push it even longer until it just becomes funny again” method of mirth.

Either way, Black Dynamite is still incredibly funny and incredibly well produced. Unlike the Grindhouse homages from the recent past (Death Proof, Planet Terror, Machete, etc.) Dynamite doesn’t embrace just the motif, but also keeps its setting planted firmly in the era of the movies it mimics. So, rather than be a modern movie shot through a crap filter for camp value, it feels more like a legit Blaxploitation flick. That legitimacy is faked with sepia filters, audio skips, boom mics, actors looking into the camera or at off-screen distractions, fight bloopers, out-of-focus shots, over-explained plot points, gibberish jive talk, excessive use of racial slurs (well, that’s pretty common in today’s actual movies, to be honest), a soundtrack of songs that narrate what you’re watching, and even poorly read lines kept from their first takes because film was too expensive to waste. It’s a production by people who obviously love the genre it spoofs and made sure to cover all the bases.

The cast is also great. Michael Jai White flexes his funny bone and gives me something to remember him by other than playing Spawn as he spews a near endless barrage of quotable lines in the guise of Black Dynamite, while co-writer Byron Minns shines diamond-like as BD’s boisterous rhyming sidekick Bullhorn! Although BD is the star and thus gets all the best dialogue and action, Bull gets an awesome slew of great moments of his own, mostly for flubbing lines that go nowhere, but get delivered with this ridiculous energy and enthusiasm that leave you no choice but to love the guy! I love you, Bullhorn! YEAH! Even the movie’s cameos are great! I mean, I’m not a big fan of Tommy Davidson or Arsenio Hall, but Cedric Yarborough (Reno 911!), Irwin Keyes (Charles Band’s Oblivion duology), and Phil Morris are always fun to see. And as mentioned before, I can’t not like a Miguel Nunez appearance. And when his character’s a pimp named Mo Bitches who makes prostitution jokes? Sold.

In a world where I’m Gonna Git You Sucka exists, is Black Dynamite really necessary? Yes. Yes it is. In fact, it more than earns a slot on a double bill with the Keenan Ivory Wayans classic. Despite the collective professional inexperience of its writers, Black Dyanmite deserves a place amidst the best movies of guys like Mel Brooks and Jim Abrahms and the Zuckers. But not Pat Proft, because he wrote The Star Wars Holiday Special and that’s punishable by being drawn and quartered in some countries. Will we ever see a Black Dynamite 2: the Blackening/Electric Jiggaboogaloo/the Legend of Jheri Curly’s Gold? I don’t know. Given that the movie did manage to spawn (no Michael Jai White pun intended) a cartoon series, and given the lengths of hilarious overkill said series took our titular hero to, I think BD has gone as far as he can go, really. And that’s fine. After all, look at what happened with Austin Powers. After three of those Mike Myers lost his mind and made The Love Guru just to make people hate him so they’d stop begging him to do more Austin Powers sequels! No, let’s not go overboard. Let’s leave the Black Dynamite legacy as it stands and just enjoy it this way: in its purest, blackest form. It’ll give you a zest for some kung-fu treachery!

Happy Black History month, everybody! Now, I’ve gotta go solicit a miner for our next episode, so you go watch Amistad or Glory or Roots or Ghost Dad or something. But no Tyler Perry movies! That’s racist.

Moral(s) of the Story: Black Dynamite is a bevy of educational content. Here are just a few of the valuable lessons to be learned by ALL races from this movie:

  • You haven’t reached the apex of societal status until you’ve got an 8 Track player in EVERY ROOM.
  • Donuts don’t wear alligator shoes. If you see one as such, shoot it without question.

  • Waffles are like Xanax for irate black men… thus I now suspect Leslie Knope is a secret black man.

  • Black dudes LOVE Greek & Romanc mythology. They know that shit like the lyrics to the Commodores catalog!

  • Abraham Lincoln was so hardcore about watching the black man’s back, that he’s still doing it from beyond the grave!

  • When you pop the top, the panties drop!… unless you’re popping Top Pop Blue Pop, in which case I will break your fingers if you don’t hand it over. That stuff’s my crack. I’ve been dry for 15 years, but I will turn like a lycanthrope in the light of a full moon if I ever see it again.

Screenshots_____

You know those times where you’re REALLY hoping that the people around you don’t realize you’re the one who farted? They know.
If Tom Atkins and Kurtwood Smith had a baby.


An old woman somewhere is going cold this winter… a very tall old woman.


Those scrolls? They all say “Made in China. May contain dangerous levels of lead.”


“Who? Okay, hold on. Let me check. ‘AMANDA HUGGENKISS’? ‘AMANDA HUGGENKISS’?! Awwww, why can’t I find Amanda Huggenkiss?!”


And number one on this week’s Threatdown? BEARS! AND THEY’RE ALIGNING WITH BLACK MILITANTS! All white people and salmon, run for the hills! Wait! Not the hills! There are BEARS there! Ahhhhh!


Normally I have to say NO to ascots. But, damn it, I love you Bullhorn!


You may be afraid of his fist, but you SHOULD be afraid of the other fist he’s got hidden in his mustache. Hits WAY harder than the one in Chuck Norris’ beard.


“Sorry my brothers, but ever since Disney bought Marvel, they’ve been threatening to sue us if we don’t change our name. Now, we can fight the Man, but we can’t go to war with Disney. If we publicly announce that we’re the African-American Panthers now, they’ll call off their lawyers.”


She’s a liberated, modern woman. She doesn’t carry feminine trappings like a purse. She keeps her keys and other necessities in her hair.


After taking in a down-on-his-luck Bullhorn, Black Dynamite comes home to discover a very angry looking dump left on his favorite area rug. Looks like somebody’s going back to the shelter!


Poor kid just got a whiff or Dynamite’s mustache.


David Hyde Pierce’s post-“Frasier” career just isn’t working out like he’d hoped.


“Citizens need not fear though, as Mayor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has vowed to ‘Layeth more smack down’ in coming weeks.”


Looks like this guy also got a whiff of BD’s mustache.


The “worst nightmare” scenario for any member of the Republican party.


Don’t worry Dynamite, EVERY guy makes that face when he watches a live birth. We don’t think you any less of a man.

Anubis will return next time in
“Miner Indiscretions”

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