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
Sequel to: The Condemned
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*
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!
Anubis will return next time in
“Life of Pi(e)”
Featuring: Roddy “Hell Comes to Frogtown” Piper , Shane “Divided Loyalties” Douglas , Kurt “Sharknado 2: The Second One” Angle
Director & Writer: Cody “Lucifer’s Unholy Desire” Knotts
“While I wish you would have enjoyed it…I loved reading your review…I laughed and laughed. You have a talent for writing funny reviews (though I would focus less on references to feces..you have a real talent for whit).
Anyways, thanks for the review, even though it wasn’t good.”
Did you know that gods have gods? Yep. You know that old adage “Respect your elders”? Same applies to us, hence the term “Elder Gods”. The elderest of gods, Cthulhu, recently blessed me for my Cthulhumas sacrifices by gifting me with the second highest item on my tribute want list: Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies. The highest? Same as it always is: 1985 Barbara Crampton. But, like the little girl who asks for a pony every year (looking at you, Demeter), I’m destined to never get the one gift I really want. Oh well, time to get the disappointment out of my system by kicking the tar out of my silver medal!
By the way, as a lifelong pro wrestling geek, I had a few dozen wrestling related jokes to make through this episode. However, I didn’t want to alienate 90% of my audience, so I’ll be making an effort to stick to the general garbage movie defecation commentary you normally get out of me. Consider it your New Years endowment from moi.
Battling Billy (Michael H. Richmond, whose missing credit I actually had to submit to the IMDB cast listing!) is a professional wrestler. Well, given that performing in high school gymnasiums in front of 15-20 people at a time can’t possibly provided him enough money to survive on, “professional” probably isn’t the right word. Let’s just say Billy’s a wrestler. Period. Semantics aside (not to be confused with “semen ticks inside”, which makes my ebony fur stand on end just typing the words), Billy’s ring name is a big fat blumpkin in the realm of grappler monikers. Given that this was written by an obvious wrestling fan, “Bruiser Billy” would’ve been a much better alias. Not just because “Battling Billy” sounds like some kid’s submission to a Masters of the Universe create-a-character contest, but because “Bruiser Billy” would’ve been a decent call back to Bruiser Brody, whose murder is one of wrestling’s most infamous instances. It’s serious “Diagnosis Murder” type shit. Check out the following link to get the story from wrestling industry mainstay “Dirty” Dutch Mantell, who currently goes by the Tea Party conservative parody persona Zeb Colter in WWE.
Brody’s murder aside, wrestlers like to claim that they’re a brotherhood in the locker room, but they’re really just like any other boys’ club: at each other’s throats the minute money or pussy comes into the picture. Such is the case when Billy crosses washed up (actual) professional wrestler Shane “the Franchise” Douglas (playing himself) by dipping his pen in Dougie’s ink…by which I mean Mr. Battling is tossing his hot dog down Shane’s hallway. Well, not his hallway. I mean the upstart’s fucking the old man’s girlfriend, Taya (playing herself)!
Anyway, catching Tay wrapped around the younger man’s waist like a cheap replica championship belt, Shane doesn’t take too well to the scene. Rather than breaking up with her like an adult though, he instead breaks Billy’s neck during their match with a “botched” tombstone piledriver move. Yep, he kills him with a move called a “tombstone”. No room in the budget for subtlety, I’m afraid.
An indeterminate amount of time later (I guess screen subtitling ended up next to subtlety on the budgetary kill floor), Billy’s brother Angus (Ashton Amhurst) hires promoter Cody Knotts (yep, it’s the director playing himself) and his Extreme Rising wrestling promotion to set up an indie show at an abandoned penitentiary. Anus, errr Angus, insists that Douglas and Taya headline the event, then lets Dog Knotts fill in (yeah, as a man-dog I hear dog knots are pretty filling…) the rest of the card with other has-been grapplers like Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, still active (just barely) guys like Matt Hardy and Kurt Angle, and some never-weres like what’s-his-name, who’s-it, and you know, that guy. Always wore a shirt? Yeah, him. All of which are self-players as well.
Quick time out. Angus’s ear raping Scottish accent would make Scrooge McDuck and Haggis McHaggis weep with disgust. Someone named Scott Miller gets credit for doing said voice, so Amherst didn’t even do his own lines?! What is this, Horror of Party Beach!? Scratch that. Party Beach‘s monsters were more realistic than the zombies we end up with here. They look like they were made up by a buncha brats during “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” at the Savini School. Blart. Anyway, as we were.
Shane’s given a scene with his extended family shortly after, where he indoctrinates his nephew to be a total Franchise mark. It’s supposed to somehow humanize a bloated sack of shit who we already know is responsible for MURDERING another man just because they became Eskimo brothers (look it up). All this interlude managed to do was make me want to slap the Fruit Loops out of the kid’s mouth, but the urge to backhand kids in movies is normal for me. Annoying turds. Once this is over, Shane and Roddy Piper have a scene where we learn that the two are apparently long term buddies, which is fine. My problem with the scene is the mob of children crowded around Piper begging for autographs. It’s not the kids themselves where my problem lies, it’s that nobody under the age of 25 even knows who the fuck Roddy Piper is! Maybe they mistook him for one of the creatures on “Yo Gabba Gabba!”? Sure, slap a kilt on him and replace his head with a bagpipe with huge googly eyes glued to it and I could see this being a thing.
Reunited for the show, Dougie Fresh and Skanky Not-So-Fresh hook up just like old times…which may very well have been anywhere from a few days ago to a few years. Again, it’s not clear how long it’s been since Billy got broke. Meanwhile, Piper makes friendly with a woman named Sarah (Adrienne Fischer), who’s just been hired as the new Extreme Rising head of marketing. Her whole hook for getting hired is that she promises Snotts (who spends their entire meeting feeling her up like he was that creepy uncle that isn’t invited to family gatherings) that she can make their little wrestling organization the biggest in the world…no. In a movie about zombies fighting men in tights, THAT statement is the most unrealistic thing in these entire 90 minutes. Suspending disbelief is one thing, but that’s the kind of crap that requires utter expulsion of your disbelief into the vacuum of deep space. I’ll let the Iron Sheik express my thoughts further on this one:
In a weird bit of idiocy, when the wrestlers’ bus arrives at the prison (nobody can afford their own cars, it seems), they’re randomly offered a chance to “challenge the gods” and “achieve their destiny” by doing combat “in the arena”. Are they performing in an abandoned prison or at Medieval Times?! Before they’re allowed off the bus though, they’re ordered to hand over their cell phones. Horror movie much? Well, that addresses why no one will be able to call for help later when they’re chin deep in living dead. Stupidly addresses, but addresses none the less. No sooner do our faces (wrestling terminology for good guys) get inside, then they’re confronted by Angus’s personal horde of necromanced undead heels (wrestling’s bad guys) and the movie finally lives up to its title. Well, it only took half an hour to get there, so my “finally” may have been a tad unnecessary. Wait a sec. Now that the zombie rampage has already started, what the fuck are they gonna spend the next hour on?! Uh-oh…
Yep, that’s it. The final 2/3 of the movie is really just a series of sequences wherein hordes of zombified extras chase the wrestlers and other cast members, killing them one-by-one, then moving onto the next. Do I look like a shitter? Because I shit you not. The script has to be about 10 pages long. Well, at least they give what they advertise, so that’s something, right? It’s like going into a place called “Ruptured Balls” and not expecting to get your testicles destroyed. They never said it was going to be enjoyable, they just advertised ruptured balls. Just like nobody advertised an enjoyable movie, just one where pro wrestlers go up against zombies. Hey, at least I can admit when my suffering is my own fault!
Sure, at one point Tying Knotts tries to write in that touching zombie movie staple where one of the survivors has to kill his best friend-turned-living dead a la Pete and Rog in Dawn of the Dead. The Romero one, you animals! But given how little time the movie actually dedicates to trying to make us give a shit about any of the cast on a personal level, NO time was spent showing us ANY connection between the two characters in question! Come on, guys. You invite us over to your place for a party, tell us it was a ruse to get us to help you move out of your 5th floor walk-up when we get there, then expect us to do all of the heavy lifting?! Fuck your couch. This is me throwing it through your big stupid picture window. Good luck getting your security deposit back!…and explaining to the cops how your couch ended up smashing your neighbor’s Lexus. I’m out!
Okay, I’m not out. I’ve still got pissing to piss, moaning to moan and bitching to bitch. While I’m on the topic of failed attempts to connect with the audience on a deeper level, there are a few more that shit the bed just as bad. Think Spud’s big brown breakfast in Trainspotting. These emotional moments resonate about as well as farts muffled by a pillow. Even the “will they die or won’t they?” scenes of manufactured tension end up as botched spots (wrestling lingo for failed moves). You know who’s gonna see the end credits and who’s just gonna wind up as the “meat” in an Arby’s pulled pork. Best example? At one point, Sarah’s overcome by a mob of grabby handed ghouls and struggles on the ground for several minutes as they paw at her. She eventually manages to escape without a scratch though because, surprise surprise, she’s scripted to have a future that doesn’t involve being fast food. Oh yeah, spoiler. Oops. Meh, you’ll get over it.
Speaking of pulled pork, whatever the effects guys spent on their “severed legs and torso” prop, they definitely got their money’s worth. Not based on the quality, mind you, just the number of scenes they use the stupid thing in. Remember that amazing scene where the asshole militant guy in Day of the Dead is torn in half while screaming “CHOKE ON IT!”? It was one of the movie’s greatest moments between his defiant death screams, the graphic realistic violence of the effects work and the fact that PEOPLE WEREN’T BEING TORN IN HALF EVERY 10 MINUTES. Sadly, the blood and gore is what you’d expect from a movie whose budget went to hiring out-of-work ex-wrestlers as its stars. It’s a whole bunch of red kero syrup and the occasional prop internal organs. Real effects zombie makeup and gore are an art. As stated prior, here it’s a shart. Multiple sharts, actually. Unrelenting, left and right, up and down, sharts. If it were to be named after a wrestling company, it’d be TNA: Total Nonstop Assblasters. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhharts!
Speaking of pulled pork…I mean, speaking of sharts, how about that soundtrack?! The music is generic half-assed metal that brings to mind a garage band trying to emulate Monster Magnet. Then there’s the ear bleeding bagpipe thrash shit. Holy Lucky Charms in a Guinness, Dropkick Murphys it ain’t. On top of that, of all the covers I’ve heard of “Amazing Grace” in my eons, this movie’s end credits easily has the worst. Worse even than when Mike Tyson did it on that clip from the Arsenio Hall Show that never aired. While my ears are still bleeding, let me call out the audio mixing here too, because it’s TERRIBLE! A lot of the lines sound like they were re-dubbed in post, while the music just explodes in your ears at random at a few decibels higher than the dialog. I shouldn’t have to have my stereo remote within talon’s reach when I’m watching a movie to keep the old lady in the tomb downstairs from banging on the ceiling with her broom.
Despite the few exceptions, there’s a general rule in the wrestling business that actors shouldn’t cut wrestling promos and wrestlers shouldn’t act. PWVZ reminds us why that is. Even if this dialogue weren’t…damn it. It’s hard to come up with a dozen different synonyms for feces. It’s just bad, okay? I don’t know how much of it is written and how much, if any, is ad-libbed by the performers, but it’s awful. Anyway, the acting. Mercifully, at least most of the wrestlers only have a few short lines before they’re killed off. The majority of the work comes from Piper and Douglas. At least Douglas lives up to his infamously self-serving real-life personality by fucking everybody else over left and right, letting other people take the fall for his bullshit, and trying to set himself up as the big hero. Not sure if the guy was acting or just being followed with a camera. Very convincing. Fuck you “Dean”.
Then there’s Piper. It’s so depressing to think that Roddy went from They Live to this. Or hell, from Hell Comes to Frogtown to this! The cantankerous Canadian who made his career pretending to be a scandalous Scot (didja enjoy the mind blowing I just put on your brain?) has been through a lot in recent years, beating cancer (as did Hacksaw!) and making appearances on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, but the guy’s lost a few steps. It’s a little too hard to believe someone who can barely walk (damn hip surgery…and age) fending off waves of the ravenous dead just because he’s the best actor on the call sheet. Then again, he does have the uncanny and possibly mystical ability to pull a crowbar out of thin air to plant into a ghoul’s head when the need arrives for one scene, so maybe that’s reason enough he would be able to survive. Wish I could pull that trick right now and put it through my computer screen!
Before I finish off this episode and wipe its residual remnants off of me with a moist towelette, I wanted to point out that Piper calls Angus a “red-headed stepchild Danny Bonaduche fuckin’ throwback red-headed Carrot Top fuck him reason for legal fuckin’ abortions”. It might be amazing, it might be awful, but whatever it is, there it is. He also declares that Angus is just an “All-American bully”, then proclaims his intentions to thrash him for being as such, despite Piper establishing his entire career on being a bully bad guy character who kicked Cyndi Lauper across a wrestling ring and smashed a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s face before whipping him with a belt. Such is the inherent hypocrisy of the face turn (what it’s called when a bad guy becomes a good guy).
So Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies, a movie I anticipated for the better part of a year. It sucked on toes worse than even I had feared it would. Yet Troma still picked it up for distribution, when it couldn’t hang with Troma originals on their worst days. Hell, Troma’s trailer is better than the movie just by tacking Toxie’s face onto it and making a title card that DOESN’T feel like the Great Muta spewed green mist into my eyes while looking at it. For your perusal:
In closing, I’d like to play a round of The Dozens, strictly for my fellow industry nerds on the wrestling memes boards. The rest of you can skip ahead to the screen cap-caps (captures and captions).
And…go! This movie’s so bad, Kevin Nash tore his quad while watching it! It’s so bad, if it had double d titties, even Dean Ambrose wouldn’t wanna master ’em! It’s so bad, it made Rob Van Dam stop smoking weed and made CM Punk start! It’s so bad, it made Shawn Michaels an atheist! It’s so bad, it doesn’t even need Triple H to bury it, cuz it buries ITSELF! It’s so bad, it must’ve been written by Vince Russo and directed by Eric Bischoff! It’s so bad, it botches more in 90 minutes than Sin Cara did in all of 2013! It’s so bad, it made Terry Funk retire FOR GOOD! It’s so bad, it made Jake Roberts AND Scott (Scotch) Hall relapse! It’s so bad, even Dolph Ziggler won’t sell for it! It’s so bad, it makes The Dead Hate the Living look strong!.. but does nothing for Roman Reigns. Fuck you, Reigns. Your new outfit looks like some shitty Tron cosplay that you couldn’t get to light up. Your “Superman Punch” is a twat move.
Unless you’re a celebrity, a politician, or just rich. Then you can kill people wherever you want.
Looks like somebody just discovered Photoshop’s font options.
Grown men (well, adult men) dangerously throwing each other around for the entertainment of a dozen or so strangers in a gymnasium. Living the dream.
Tea bagging an unconscious guy while flipping everybody in the audience the bird? I see Sammy Hagar’s finished “quality testing” his latest batch of Cabo Wabo.
Your writer-director, ladies and gentlemen of the audience. Just as shabbily thrown together as his movie.
“Taz Jaguar”? Is that your father’s name, or did you take your mother’s maiden name after the divorce?
Black Mass Ceremonial Parkas (white only): just $4.99 this week, only at KMart!
“Forget it, kid. You might as well call me Hulk Hogan because I don’t put ANYBODY over!”
Extreme Rising corporate headquarters. Except on weekends, when it’s the gift shop for the historical reenactment village they rent the space from.
“Come on, Roddy. This guy says he wants to Kickstart a Frogtown reboot and he wants us to star! This could be my big break! I mean, OUR big break!”
To hell with expensive CGI effects. Just paint him green and Kurt Angle could star in the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie!
Bet Dennis Rodman wishes he would’ve stay in North Korea.
Apparently these zombies don’t crave brains. They just want to sink their teeth into man asses packed into shiny gold trunks like big ol’ Hershey Kisses.
“Stronger Than Death”? Fuck you, Matt Hardy. We’ll see who’s stronger this Sunday in our steel cage showdown!
“With a name like Smuckers, our zombies HAVE to be good!”
“God damn it, Shane! You are NOT going to die owning me fifty bucks! Gimme my damn money, you asshole!”
Roddy Piper reflects on his movie career decisions and wonders if maybe he’s finally fallen to the point that he should’ve just let the cancer take him.
“You don’t need to spend ten grand on a facelift, baby. I’ll just pull back your face like this, slap on a little rubber cement, and you’ll look ten years younger!”
“Shhhh! Don’t let any of the other guys here you say wrestling’s fake or they’ll piledrive your head into your lungs! It’s a very sensitive subject!”
Looks like somebody wandered away from the Nightmare City set.
And this guy used to be the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Bet Roddy REALLY wishes he’d left the house in his kilt today, rather than suffer the undead wedgie of doom!
Anubis will return next time in
“Radio Ga Ga, Eh?”
Featuring: Bill “Half Past Dead 2” Goldberg , Douglas “Stage Fright (2014)” Smith , Emilie “The Hills Have Eyes (2007)” de Ravin
Director & Writer: David Steiman
Also Known As: Very Bad Santa
Merciful Cthulhumas to you, my fellow cinemasochists! May Our Dark Lord from the hoary nether realm spare you and your loved ones for another year! Today (well, 3 days ago) is the day of the Gregorian calender we set aside to honor our eternally dark Lord Cthulhu by paying tribute to the important persons of our lives: generally through thoughtfully chosen presents, sacrifices of personal wealth, oaths of fealty…or gift cards to Red Lobster. This year, I continue my vow to sacrifice my sanity in the name of your entertainment by shutting myself into the iron maiden that is today’s holiday themed episode. You owe me.
David Steiman’s IMDB profile credits him with four production assistant jobs from 1999-2000, before becoming personal assistant to director Bret Ratner for three consecutive movies: starting with 2000’s The Family Man (I’ll have to excerebrate my gray matter with a nasal hook just to literally get Hall & Oates out of my head now), continuing through Rush Hour 2 and ending with Red Dragon in 2002. Three years later, Ratner himself would end up with a mysterious producer’s credit on this celebration of yuletide retardation: Santa’s Slay. Not only would SS (yep, that’s how I’m referring to it!) be the first-and-only writer-director credit for Mr. Steiman, but it’s also the last industry credit the guy can lay claim to of any kind for the decade since…
So, Bret Ratner produces his ex-assistant’s solo-project? Looks to me like Mr. Steiman really put the “ass” into “assistant” during his time working under The Rat, blackmailed Bret into lending his name and credibility (I use the term loosely… possibly sarcastically) to SS, then exiled himself into oblivion after being confronted with the product of his manipulations, having lost any future he may have held for himself after giving up said blackmail material to BR as part of their arrangement. Oh well, sometimes you gotta swallow a few loads to make your dreams cum true…Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, you, you, you, you! Fuck…the H&O earworm only grows fatter. Somebody get me 666 cc of “Super Charger Heaven”, stat!
Our movie cold opens on a Christmas gathering of the Mason family (no, not the Manson family) as they gather for dinner, bickering and implied adultery. They’re your typical horribly WASPy family of well-off shitholes to whom the concept of love died long ago, like a starving polio-ridden Great Depression-era orphan child in a snowstorm. They’re thankful to their god for not making them “poor or Samoan”. Just when the dad (James Caan) is about to stab the son-in-law (Chris Kattan) for fingering the mom (Fran Drescher) under the dinner table, a pissed off mountain of a man dressed like Santa (Bill Goldberg) explodes from their chimney and proceeds to brutally slaughter the whole useless clan till they’re Feliz NaviDEAD! Bludgeoning, immolation, impalement, drowning in egg nog, and finally, James Caan getting a turkey leg jammed down his throat pipe. (Death) God bless them, every one.
Who is this Herculean icon of holiday cheer-turned-brain smashing behemoth (this line to be spoken like the narrator from the Adam West “Batman”)? I’ll spare you the wait and express pass your ass to the head of the class. It’s almost a decade old at this point, so the grace period for plot spoiling is long gone! You know how Jesus Christ was supposedly the result of immaculate conception between an angel and his “virgin” mother Mary? Turns out there was another such birth some time ago, as Satan himself spawned his own offspring from another mortal woman (named Erica)’s baby maker. That child’s name? Santa. What, you though it was a coincidence their names are so similar? The SNL Church Lady knew the score!
Anyway, every year on his birthday Santa would go out and slaughter random people. These annual bouts of unsolved murders were dubbed “The Day of Slayings” (YesVirginia, we have a title), also known as Kerry King’s birthday. As Christianity spread like a plague over the Nordic lands, the people would gather every year for a Christ mass, where they’d beg their new god to save them from Santa’s traditional birthday bash(ing of their skulls). Sometime around the year 1000, Big G finally answered their whining by sending down an archangel to do a BTO job (i.e. take care of business). Disguising himself as just another jobber, the angel challenged the big bully to a winner-take-all round of curling. Curling?! Yep, this movie is definitely a product of Canada. Blart.
If Santa won his challenger would be condemned to an eternity in Hell, while a loss would result in Santa becoming a harbinger of charity and good cheer for the extent of the following millennium. The winged deceiver triumphed and the rest is history…until now: exactly 1000 years later (to the day, since this is a movie), when Santa’s personality inversion has expired! Now he and his reindeerish beast the Helldeer (it’s just a white buffalo…someone call Charles Bronson!) are on the hunt for the heavenly body that pulled the holy wool over his soulless black eyes and permanently scratching a few names off of his Naughty List along the way. Where’s this angel now? He resides in a little middle-of-nowhere hamlet in the wilds of Canada known as…Hell.
And yes, the township’s moniker is abused to full pun effect throughout the next 75 minutes, so gird your laughter loins (or your groan groin), lest ye suffer a pulled muscle from all of the agonizing efforts of fifth grade humor you’re in store for.
Also residing in Hell is a disgustingly mild mannered teen by the moniker of Nicholas Yuleson (Douglas Smith looking like the son of Bud Bundy), whose possession of the Christmasiest sounding name since Santa’s Little Helper (or “Santos L. Halper” if you work in customer service) is guaranteed to get him involved in the coming blizzard of bloody battery. In fact, if I just outright told you now that the elusive angel is his grandpa (Robert Culp) and young Nick was oblivious of the fact until now as Santa Claus is comin’ to town, your shock level would register somewhere around a “minor static shock from touching a doorknob after crossing a carpet in socks” level, right? I thought as much.
Nick works at a Jewish owned deli (is there any other kind?) along with his friend/co-worker/scripted love interest Mary “Mac” MacKenzie (Emilie de Ravin). Mary’s obviously got a girl boner for the gawky weirdo, and if she has her way, she won’t be going the way of the Biblical Mary…by which I mean she’s looking to get her factory seal ruptured for Christmas…by which I mean she wants the Nick dick. As for deli owner Mr. Green (Saul Rubinek), I don’t know his intentions for “the Nick dick”, but I will say that he looks like the bastard love child of Elliott Gould and Adam Carolla. He winds up pinned to the back wall of his establishment by a menorah jammed through his windpipe later on, courtesy of Claus. Does this count as a hate crime? Shouldn’t Santa be down with the Chosen People given their mutual hatred of Jesus anyway? Also, if you say “hatred of Jesus” using the Spanish pronunciation, it rolls off the proverbial tongue nicely. Very lyrical.
Here’s the rundown on Nick’s grandpa (simply credited as “Grandpa”): in his current form, he’s considered the town nutso. He’s a bit of a recluse who refuses to celebrate Christmas, spends his time in his basement bunker watching his oddly extensive surveillance equipment and making weird inventions like a weaponized nutcracker that shoots exploding chesnuts out of its hideous grinning maw. Before all of this, back when he tricked Santa into a thousand years of slavery in the shackles of holiday cheer, the angel gave up his halo and wings to start a life with a mortal Norse woman (little to nothing of which is covered beyond “I fell in love with a human woman”) who we’re presumed to believe became Nick’s grandma. I guess giving up your angelic status doesn’t make you “mortal” though, because the old man’s still spry after ten centuries. That’s just the tip of the WTF iceberg, because there’s no mention of what happened to Nick’s parents, or just how shallow the roots are on his family tree. Did Gramps fall in love, spend a lifetime with the woman, then just kinda live and love for the next 900 years or so until he met Nick’s actual grandma before settling down and raising a family? Did he sire another family, or possibly multiple other families, before spawning the bloodline that would lead to young master Yuleson? It’s never addressed, let alone made clear, and just leaves gaping-like-a-size-queen plot holes big enough to fly a team of reindeer through. Thought I’d stuff your stockings with a little holiday twist to an old reviewer’s cliché.
While all of this is going on, we’re introduced to Hell’s resident representative of the Christian faith, Pastor Timmons (Dave Thomas!). PT is your standard issue “Don’t be a sinner – give money to me! Errr, the church!” man of the cloth, and regularly holds mass…by which I mean the mass of the big fake titties hanging off of the pole jockettes sluttin’ it up at the town gentlemen’s club. Yep, the contents of the collection plate are destined for the g-strings of Hell’s single mothers and “working girls”. In no way surprising, but makes the Pastor’s statement in a prior scene telling his congregation to not donate loose change and keep it to bills incrimentally funnier in retrospect.
Juggernaut Claus runs (unstoppably so, “bitch”!) through the club and murders a handful of denizens while casually sexually harassing and/or assaulting several of the employees before just burning the STD hole to the ground via a flaming hot coal grenade that leaves the place looking like a Vietnamese orphanage after one of Uncle Sam’s anti-communism napalm showers. Timmons eludes paying the proverbial piper (only to be corpsed up while dressed as Santa later on, in the moments before the closing credits roll), but professional wrestling nerds should take note – infamous pro-wrestling writer cum onscreen character Vince “Vic Venom” Russo cameos as one of the victims of Santa’s rampage! Funny from a geek standpoint since many fans blame Russo for the murdering of former “sports entertainment” titan and builders of Bill Goldberg’s career World Championship Wrestling. The only true WCW, by the way, for all the those “woman crush Wednesdays” social media she-wankers. 😛
Eventually Santa gets around to hunting Nick and Grandpa so as to wipe their lineage from the face of the Earth in revenge for being reduced to “a bowl full of jelly” with “dimples so merry” for most of his existence. He managed to locate the duo thanks to a letter Nick sent to him years ago (where did you think those letters to Santa wound up?!), asking for an Easy Bake Oven. Mary tags along for the adventure (gotta have those “Don’t you realize yet that I want the Nick dick!?” moments) and Nick somehow comes to the conclusion that they’ll be okay so long as they can survive until 7PM their time, because that would make it midnight at the North Pole, thus Christmas would officially be over. I hate it when the protagonists just make up their own rules to shit like this! Not since Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives!, when Tommy randomly decides that the only way to stop super zombie Jason Vorhees is to chain a boulder around his neck and trap him in Crystal Lake amid a ring of fire just BECAUSE, have I screamed “Who gave you creative control of the script?!” at my TV screen. Horse. Shit.
Almost as annoying is Nick’s insistence on putting his dick in the fourth wall glory hole by reminding everybody several times about how absurd the whole scenario is. Christ’s nipple clamps! If you’re gonna have a character riff on how stupid your own movie is, just go all out with it. He comes within inches of just saying “It’s like we’re in some bad horror movie!” before looking straight into the camera and winking anyway, so take a fucking cue from Nike and JUST DO IT!
Santa follows Nick back to Grandpa’s, but while our teen heroes try to escape the brutal bearded beefcake, Grandpa gets run over by the Helldeer…and yes, they make the obvious joke, in case you were wondering. The rest of the movie is basically the Degrassi dropouts running away from Santa until they wind up at the local high school, where Santa pulls out a glowing green candy cane (like one of those throwaway glow sticks spelunkers use) to light up his face for dramatic effect…then immediately throws it down…because he only needed it for that one second…oy. He chases them onto the school hockey rink, but just as the homicidal holiday icon is about to run down the soory pair under a hungry Zamboni, he’s stopped by a glowing golden curling stone…
Yes, apparently when an angel gives up their angelic status to become a seemingly un-aging human (is this where Highlanders come from?), once they’re killed they’re allowed to get their old jobs back. If that’s the case, then why don’t ALL angels do this?! Shit, it’d be worth it just to experience the blowjobs and cheeseburger pizza alone! You get to just become an angel again when you die anyway!
Grandpa tries to trick the sadistic behemoth into another curling match, this time demanding Claus becomes a good guy forever (why wasn’t that the stipulation for the original face-off?!) if the golden geezer triumphs once more, once again offering himself up to eternal damnation in Hell if he loses… except that angels aren’t human and thus do not have souls to damn, so the bet’s already bullshit to begin with! Anyway, Santa agrees to the wager, but this time demands that Gramps shoots first. Star Wars geeks, please save your Han-Greedo arguments (and slash fiction) for the appropriate message boards and Facebook groups. Thank you.
Santa pulls a shitlord move (he is Beelzebub Jr. after all), and rather than taking his turn at slide ‘n sweep, just grabs Gramps and tosses him into a literal hell hole! Nick’s completely meritless deadline finally expires, to which Claus pleasingly tells Nick to go fuck himself with that bullshit. He’s Santa Claus. HE decides when Christmas is over! He then tries to blow up Nick and (There’s Something About) Mary with a Megalon napalm loogie (why did he even need the coal bomb at the strip club?!), but it’s deflected by Nick who uses the nutcracker weapon from earlier in one of the most gob smackingly dumb-fuck moments in a movie infested with dumb-fuck moments. Santa takes a chestful of chestnut shrapnel (yeah, they make THAT pun too) in the exchange and escapes into the night on his Zamboni while the kids help Grandpa, who’s been hanging onto the edge of the Hell portal for longer than an old man should be able to hold his own body weight. Grandpa can’t leave the boundaries of the hockey rink (huh?!), so Nick and Mary set off to finish the job on Santa on their own. Rather than find him and defeat him, they opt instead to get Mary’s family of Canadian rednecks to shoot down the Helldeer (with a rocket launcher, because Canada’s seemingly littered with live military armaments), blowing it into scattered meat and guts…until it’s shown again two minutes later as a complete carcass tied to the top of someone’s truck! I can only wish that I regenerate the brain cells killed from watching SS as fast.
The movie ends threatening us with the possibility of a sequel as Nick takes up Grandpa’s Santa grimoire (which I’ll call the Navidadicon) and bukkakes the screen with Velveeta as he declares “my saga’s just beginning”. BLAAAAART! Meanwhile, Santa winds up at an airport with a plane ticket to the North Pole…and that’s it. It’s over. Roll the really shitty end credits theme “Bye Bye Santa”, as done by a sad excuse for a Ramones cover band called Jim Diamond’s Pop Monsoon, a half-hearted hardcore version Deck the Halls, and some more JDPM shit called Christmas In Detroit…for this movie that was filmed entirely in Canada. May that threat of a sequel be an empty one, and let us thank Cthulhu that Dave Steiman’s resume has since been trapped in magical Christmas ice, from which we can only pray it is never thawed and is freezer burned beyond recognition.
I’ve been shitting on the writing enough by this point, so you already know how I feel about that. What I’d like to do now, is drop a few Cleveland Steamers on the friggin’ editing hack job. It wasn’t horrible for the most part, but during the last chunk of this hour and fifteen it read like a clusterfuck. It came off like someone with a meat cleaver and high on airplane glue was told to chop off 20 minutes or so of footage and this is what was left. Ever seen Evil Ed? That. The entire non-ending was awful, and any movie that sets itself up for a sequel doesn’t deserve one. Every movie should be made under the idea of “THIS IS OUR ONLY CHANCE TO MAKE SOMETHING, SO LET’S NOT DO IT HALF-ASSED! WE USE OUR WHOLE ASS, DAMN IT!” because you don’t wanna be a one-termer asshole like Carter or Bush Sr. who didn’t get to live up to their first term promises.
Creative now properly crucified, how about this cast? Douglas Smith? Simply put, he sucks. Remember how I said he had this next-gen David Faustino/Bud Bundy thing going on? I would’ve preferred a time traveling David Faustino circa 1992 playing Nick. Robert Culp’s okay, but his Nordic accent sometimes dips into “I didn’t know the Nords were from Ireland” territory. Emilie de Ravin is passable, but delivers lines at times that give me the impression she’d just put her retainer in between scenes. Take this how you will, but she also looks like a barely legal Patricia Arquette. If I were 10 years younger…I’d still feel like a dirty old man for wanting to see what she looks like with my balls on her chin and my pubes making time with her nose hairs. Shit. Onto a less damning statement, Dave Thomas (the Strange Brew guy, not the dead guy from the Wendy’s commercials) is… well…there. He showed up for work and read his lines. He wasn’t very funny, but the material wasn’t exactly Mel Brooks. Tommy “Tiny (but I’ll always know him as Zeus)” Lister gets a paycheck for a short cameo as a gas station attendant (AKA the only black guy in rural Canada) who’s moved to Hell to get away from all the violence in “the hood”…Canada has a “hood”?! I was really hoping Lister would reveal himself to be some kind of opposing force for Santa, but once Grandpa came back into the picture as a member of the haloed crowd, I knew my hopes were for naught and his appearance was just a nod to old school wrestling geeks like yours truly. Go watch No Holds Barred and weep at the smell of dookie.
The only worthwhile stand out from this movie is Goldberg, and that’s because Santa plays to his strengths: look like a big psychotic colossus, snarl and grin like a maniac a lot, and speak English clear enough that you can recite bad holiday themed one-liners. The one-liners themselves are crap, but Bill delivers them with enough aplomb to show that he was at least having some laughs behind his gigantic fake facial mane.
Everything started out great, with Santa handing out comically graphic violence to the jerk-off brood, followed by running a bitchy old lady off the road to her great reward (that’s what happens when you berate Jews for saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”!), but once the story started to form, the foundations for this gingerbread house immediately dried out and began crumbling. The whole thing starts to feel like a slapdash Hallmark Channel Christmas Original, only littered with foul language, crude humor, big naked fake-o boobs, and cartoony (albeit bloody) levels of murder. You could slap “Hallmark After Dark Presents” on the title card and I wouldn’t be surprised. On the plus side, if you’ve ever wanted to the see The Nanny’s head set ablaze, here’s your chance!
I say watch Santa’s Slay for the bloodshed and fast forward through the rest of this mire. And this is coming from someone who likes Jack Frost…no, not the Michael Keaton movie…and not the Russian one they watched on the Satellite of Love. All in all, I’ll use a quote from Nicholas and sum Santa’s Slay up as “File that next to brown colored toilet paper as a bad idea”. I thought SS would be gold, but it was bronze. Sorry, I wanted to get this movie out of my system so I marathoned “Snuff Box” last night and now I can’t get that damn theme song out of my skull.
Fun fact: Goldberg’s not the first professional meathead to don the red, white and beard! In 1996, man-shaped Ziploc bag full of gravy Hulk Hogan starred in Santa with Muscles, where he played a guy who did things, presumably dressed as Santa, that likely included performing wrestling moves on some less-than-noble types. It’s so shit streaked that it makes it almost impossible for me to masturbate to Mila Kunis, knowing that she was in it. Sadly, it’s outside of my realm of influence, as the be-hair curtained Real American’s entry into the pantheon of holiday “Why hasn’t this been done by RiffTrax yet?” cin-enemas was left behind in the wake of the last millenium with the rest of the Hulkster’s floppy dicked attempt at a movie career. If I could have my way though, I would Charles Band the crap out of these two bicep blasted incarnations of Ol’ Saint Nick and make them do Yuletide combat in Santas with Muscles: 2 Holly 2 Jolly 2 Slay.
In more positive news, this week marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Street Fighter – the world’s first movie adaptation of a video game, that also had a video game adaptation of itself…dividing by zero before dividing by zero was a thing. It killed Raul Julia. To celebrate, here’s movie Blanka! Despite the rest of his body being violently deformed through experimental mutation, at least his dentist will be happy to see that it didn’t effect his teeth. Merciful Cthulhumas, everyone!
Nothing much changed, we’re just older
But if I see you again back in detox
Put my remains in my snuff box
“Got any roles I can audition for? I’ll do anything for a part! I sucked off and swallowed 14 studio execs in a sauna once for Corky Romano, and I knew that movie was going to be shit from first glance!”
James Caan’s just gone straight senile. Every time we invite him to our Tuesday night Knifey-Spoony games, he always shows up with a fucking fork…
It’s Kool-Aid Claus! “Ho-ho-hoooooh Yeah!”
“Where’s the (roast) beef!… oh wait. There it is.”
“Every time you come in here Mrs. Smith, I tell you I’m NOT Paul Reiser. Please stop asking for my autograph and telling me I should give Helen Hunt a call to see how she’s doing.”
That has to be the most name brand stocked fridge I’ve seen in a long time!
“And don’t ever try putting your dick in that thing, kid. There’s a reason they’re called NUTcrackers!”
Despite what this may look like, that guy’s just trying to give Santa a complimentary shave. The beard’s just getting too big to manage.
She’s either doing her impression of Frankenstein’s monster, trying to keep her “silent but deadly” silent, or showing us her “o face”.
Billy Baldwin, tired of waiting for the call to come, goes ahead and starts up his own homemade sequel to Sliver.
“Ho-ho-HOLY SHIT! Who slipped acid into my milk and cookies?! I am freakin’ out!”
“Today’s passing of the collection plate is to raise the funds needed to replace our tissue paper windows with actual stained glass. Please give what you can, then add $10 on top of that.”
“What are you punk-asses looking at?! Tell Hanukkah Harry I’ll be waiting for him at the Nativity Scene downtown whenever he’s ready to man up and settle this once and for all!”
“Look, after Ice Cube sold out and stopped making Friday sequels, I had to make money somehow! Not like No Holds Barred 2 is every gonna be a thing! Now, you gonna buy these Cheetos or what?!”
He was only supposed to bleed from the throat for a few hours, but he somehow bled for 8 nights. It was a new Hanukkah miracle!
Having taken a bunch of Ecstasy and eaten several snowballs packed with Viagra, Santa is ready to rave straight on into the New Year!
A still from the Canadian remake of Heaven Can Wait. This is what angels look like North of the border.
President of the Canadian expansion of the NRA. Not sure how rocket launchers classify as “Rifles”, but if you ask them why they’ll just threaten to murder your family for “trampling their rights”.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Wrestling Dead”
Featuring: Glenn “WWE’s Kane” Jacobs , Christina “Welcome to the Dollhouse” Vidal , Steven “Salem’s Lot (2004)” Vidler
Director: Gregory “Dead Man Walking (no, not that one)” Dark
Writer: Dan “SmackDown!” Madigan
Sequel: See No Evil 2
I was watching Dollman the other day for the first time in what had to have been at least a decade. You know who plays the villain in that movie? Jackie Earle Haley. Yep. Fucking Rorschache. Also known as the unfunny, sinister retard version of Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot I skidmarked all over a few months ago on this very site. And thus, I have scrounged up a tiny thread of reasoning for including this completely random information in this review! Progress! You know what’s NOT progress? Candy Corn Skittles. Uggh. Quick marketing research survey: would a better name for those little abominations be “Shittles” or “Skattles”? Please leave your answer in the comments section located at the bottom of this review. You will not be compensated for your time.
What was I doing again? Oh yeah, the review. Every once in a while a movie comes along that surprises the crap out of you with just how unassuming, yet spleen jarringly awesome it turns out to be! See No Evil is not one of these, but let’s just say that lowered expectations make for a much smoother ride down the bumpy back roads of writing opinion pieces on bad movies.
The time was 2006: World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the WWF for those of you who missed out on the whole World Wildlife Fund lawsuit many, many moons ago) had decided to get into making their own movies. With former company carrying beefcake charisma machine Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson making a sizable name for himself as the new go-to “action hunk with perfect teeth” for Hollywood, WWE head honcho Vince McMahon decided it was time to take preventive measures, lest any more of his potential bank makers jumped ship for the high glamour, big pay-off, easy living life of the Tinsel Town set. Wanting to get as much company exposure as possible without risking the loss of his contractual work horses, Vinnie Mac started a movie production division of World Wrestling Entertainment that would solely feature WWE contracted performers in the top billing. Not only was the hope to get the logo out there into the mainstream again (something the company’s been struggling to do since the booming days of “Austin 3:16”), but to possibly placate the locker room prima donnas’ egos. Or just drive their so-called “good names” deep into the Hollywood sewage so as to make them box office poison, killing their sad little dreams of starring in summer blockbusters. Either way, WWE Films is still manufacturing crap like a Play-Doh Fun Factory full of feces these many years later. But today we harken back to its original dipping of toes into the modestly budgeted movie hot tub. Embracing the “horror movies can be made for cheap and are guaranteed to turn a profit” commandment of the movie industry, it’s a simple little slasher called See No Evil. Not to be confused with the 1971 movie where a blind Mia Farrow is stalked by a maniac, though they do share both the visual impairment and deranged murderer themes.
Instead of going with a big name wrestler who already had some mainstream exposure (say “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or Paul “Triple H” Levesque who had slightly-more-than-minor roles in Adam Sandler’s The Longest Yard remake and Wesley Snipes threequel Blade: Trinity respectively), the WWE decided to play it safe and push ahead with a lesser known (by the mainstream) performer by the name of Glenn Jacobs. The staunchly libertarian Jacobs is better known by most as his in-ring alter ego “Kane”. For the uninitiated, Special K’s origin goes a little something like this: he’s a former full-body burn victim (amazing the advancements medical science has made with skin-grafting over the last 20 years) and the not-so-little brother to fellow WWE horror show phenom character The Undertaker; who himself played the role of an intergalactic bounty hunter with the voice of a small child in the Hulk Hogan vehicle Suburban Commando. I will never get the sound of “You’re a dead man Ramsey!” out of my brain for the extent of my deitic existence… Anyway, Kane came to the then-WWF to take revenge on his older brother, who he blamed for the fire that both scarred him for life and took the lives of their parents. As “South Park” so succinctly put it years ago (long after my Evil Dead Bride had been saying the same forever), this is the male soap opera.
Jacobs aside, the rest of the movie’s players aren’t household names, but neither are they unknowns fresh off of squeegeeing the casting couch. No, this cast is pretty much made up of “Hey, wasn’t she in the Freaky Friday remake?”, “Wasn’t he that guy in Stella Got Her Groove Back?” and “Is she Jesse Ventura’s daughter?!” types. By the way, for those keeping score at home, the answers to the previous queries are “yes”, “yes”, and “no”.
So, we’ve got a gang of never-weres headed by a guy who throws around half-naked men for a living. Not exactly a good start on the road to financial success for the hitchhiking WWE Films’ first feature. Will they have better luck using their thumb to flag down a ride to success? Well, when your other thumb consists of a writer whose sole experience is penning stories for televised professional wrestling programs and a director whose resume lays in the realms of music videos and spank-your-crank skinema (including such wank classics as Between the Cheeks , The Devil In Miss Jones 3 and a personal favorite from my barely pubescent days: Deep Inside Vanessa Del Rio), you’re setting yourself up for critical and box office suicide. Or maybe not.
Yes, it’s taken me an inordinate amount of time and space to get to the actual movie itself, but now let’s shed the formalities, do like they do on Mud Wrestling Night at Big Earl’s Drunk Hole, and get straight to the down ‘n’ dirty! One sunny afternoon, a pair of cops investigating a house upon reports from neighbors of screaming heard inside, discover a borderline Texas Chainsaw residence. If Leatherface had become a Born Again and gotten his interior decorating certification through ICS’s “At Home” program, this place would’ve been his first paying job. Thank you, Sally Struthers!
Inside the disturbing domicile, the fuzz find a young woman whose peepers have been jeepered right outta their head holes. One of the blue boys gets his face suddenly bisected via ax courtesy of a hulking, inbred looking sort of man, while his partner (Steven Vidler, who resembles the poor man’s Aaron Eckhart in this scene) is relegated to a life of having no need for left handed gloves. Despite losing a good 35% of his other arm though, the pig keeps his cool and pops a cap through the creep’s eyeball with his good arm, sending the mongoloid packing. Impressive. He must’ve studied at the same sharpshooter program Laurie Strode did that allowed her similar perfectly placed shots on both of her big bro’s visual receptors at the end of Halloween II. Our hero (who we come to know as Sgt. Frank Williams) manages to call in the emergency and keep from bleeding to death long enough for help to arrive…several hours later apparently, given that it’s well into the night by the time he and the man mountain’s victim are carried away from the scene.
Said man mountain is Jacob Goodnight (Glenn Jacobs), a name that’s never uttered in the movie, because some dipshit edited out the scene where Williams tell us this necessary tidbit! Like most movie slashers built like brick shithouses, Jake had a rough childhood. As if having a name that sounds like it belongs to an Amish vampire hunter weren’t bad enough, his crazy conservative religious fanatic of a mother had a thing for punishing his young male masturbatory efforts by locking him up in an animal cage, beating him repeatedly, and constantly demeaning him in an effort to make him a good little Christian soldier for the Falwell militia. Momma Goodnight was the type of matriarch that makes Norma Bates a strong contender for Mother of the Year… well, a strong contender for one of those “Best Mom Ever” coffee mugs… well, one of those “Not the Worst Mom Ever” shot glasses… maybe.
There was a heavy emphasis on the visually alluring form that Satan’s influence likes to take (in other words, “attractive women are evil!”) coupled with the message that the eyes themselves are the ground zero for sinful acts (I guess?), hence why Jake grew up to be a demented serial killer whose calling card was leaving his victims sans soul windows. Also, being forced to listen to “Jesus Loves the Little Children” on an infinite loop would turn anyone into a serial killer. Naturally, following his run-in with Sgt. Williams, Goodnight’s body was never found. Somewhere out there is a demented goliath with a bullet in his head and revenge in his belly, so you can bet a new bevy of blinded victims will be littering some poor community sooner or later. In fact…
“4 Years Later…” Sgt. Frank has been reduced to a plastic handed corrections officer, babysitting society’s teenage no-goodniks at the local juvenile confinement facility. Insert the generic hip-hop “heartbeat of the mean streets” music here. One such group has been deemed worthy of a shaving of their juvie sentences by a month if they do a weekend of community service under the supervision of our handicapable hero. In this case, the youngsters are tasked with cleaning up the burned out remnants of a luxurious old hotel so the local Historical Society can turn it into a homeless shelter. Juvenile delinquents are nothing if not an exploitable source of free labor! And because nothing promotes good behavior between young hoodlum males exploding with angst and hormones like grouping them into a social engineering sleepover with some equally non-law abiding female ne’er-do-wells, let’s make it a co-ed outing! Besides, sausage parties aren’t good for a slasher movie’s bottom line. There needs to at least be the potential for 24 year old boobs pretending to be 17 year old boobs to be shown on screen to keep the horn dogs wagging their tails.
If you’re still not 100% sure of the types of teen fodder we’re looking at here, think of one of those movies where the hard life city kids turn their lives around thanks to a loveable yet bumbling, camp counselor/youth league football couch who never gives up them. Only the Jim Varney/Rob Schneider/Cuba Gooding Jr. character’s replaced with a reject from The Hills Have Eyes. In other words, we’ve got your standard Rainbow Coalition of shoplifters, purse snatchers, pot heads, car thieves, wearers of miss-matched socks, “political activists”, and kids who stabbed their stepfathers to death after years of bad touches. They’re cookie cutter in the litany of slasher movie stereotype fodder. You’ve seen their types a million times, and nobody’s even bothering to try giving these characters depth anymore because we all know they have no real value beyond being turned into hamburger through graphic forms of violence. Speaking of cliches, to further the movie stereotype of people in charge making nothing but bad decisions, one of the boys named Mike (Luke Pegler), happens to be the racist, violent, drug dealing, ex-domestic abuser/pimp of one of the girls: Kira (Samantha Noble). I see no risk of conflict here. Smooth sailing for days… until that big inbred iceberg inevitably sinks this Titanic-in-the-making.
Meanwhile, Frank shows us he’s not a huge dick about protocol when he flirts it up with the girls’ handler (who may or may not be engaged) and lets the young ladies suck on stolen cancer sticks when they’re on break without doing the skeez thing and trying to make them tug on his Slim Jim for the privilege. SNAP INTO IT! To try and shoehorn another dimension into this deli-sliced thin tale, while everybody else is trying to hook up and avoid/engage in other uncomfortable social interactions, two of the boys go in search of a safe packed with money lost somewhere in the burnt out structure. The story goes that the safe is the legacy of the hotel’s creator and previous owner, Mr. Blackwell, who left it behind upon his death in the 1971 fire that claimed the building. Blackwell was said to be an eccentric Howard Hughes type to boot, so naturally the hotel is rumored to be littered with secret passageways and two- way mirrors and all that haunted funhouse bullshit. Perfect place for a homicidal maniac that was supposedly killed 4 years prior to hang his hat, right? And by “hat”, I mean the severed heads of his victims, whose eyes he removes to turn them into an affordable way of dodging the potential embarrassment of ordering a Fleshlight™ from Amazon…
Oh yeah. I took it there, Pvt Pyle. Now wipe that stupid grin off your face, stop sucking on that garden hose, and sound off like you’ve got a pair!
After our 30 minutes of mandatory “meet the victims” establishing scenes, the slaughterhouse goes live and the bodies begin to pile. From here on out it’s pretty standard murder music: the monstrous amateur eye surgeon plies his hobby on the sinners, adding a good half-dozen notches to the handle of his meathook. Well, more like five and a half notches, since he can only get an assist credit on one gal. A pack of stray dogs did the bulk of the work on her. And since the only cell phone in the place was stolen by one of the last two people to find out there’s a bloodthirsty colossus on the loose, nobody can call the proper authorities to rescue their asses. No one is safe from Jake’s wrath, as young and old alike are taken out with lumpy’s meathook-on-a-chain (that’s pushed as his signature kill utensil) and numerous painful looking eye gouges/pluckings. Makes me wonder if writer Dan Madigan didn’t take at least one happy memory away from his assumed viewing of Gigli.
Back to the cell phone thing for a side note, it’s too bad Jake-Off couldn’t have gotten a job as a theater usher. Given what he does to said victim with her phone, I’d love to see him enforcing the “please turn off your cell” suggestion before the features play. It’s one request that SHOULD be turned into a law punishable by a cruel and unusual death sentence!
Margaret, the elderly lady who organized this whole clean-up project, eventually reveals herself to be Jake’s mom (one of those spoilers that’s barely a spoiler because it’s practically rubbing against your face the entire time), and she’s really got her granny panties full of fiberglass over the way her baby boy has kept Kira as a pet (due to his reverence for her big dumb Christianity themed back tats). To teach her goon spawn a lesson, Marge threatens to pop the gal with Williams’ recovered revolver. After 30 or so years of being cockblocked by Momma, though, Jake’s ready to throw off the shackles keeping his testicles cobalt tinted, and impales the old broad’s face on a spike! Good thing he never actually gets his dick wet though, because according to director Dark, Vince McMahon (who was an executive producer) reportedly wanted the towering meathead to be swinging one disturbingly huge tailsplitter (a full yard long, to be exact!) between his grimy thighs. I’ll let that horse cock sized image of depravity spit-roast your psyche for a money shot moment. Move on to the next paragraph once the little red light *dings* and your mind has been properly fried.
Oddly enough, Mike, the least redeeming of the cast of miscreants is the hero of the ordeal, as the racist, drug dealing, white trash pimp returns to save Kira and her girlfriend Christine (Christina Vidal) from the lumpy lumbering lout. Jake is beaten with a lead pipe like Mikey Myers getting wailed on by Paul Rudd at the end of Halloween 6 until the brute’s sent careening out of a 7th story window to his comical and ironical demise. Think Homer Simpson falling down Springfield Gorge, only with a length of plumbing in his face. And when he hits the bottom? A mangy stray dog uses his eye socket as a puppy urinal. It’s pretty much the highest high note you could hope for a movie like this to end on. Fuck, it’s a better ending than any of those big budget studio slasher re-hashers ever gave us!
See No Evil tries to be at least a little creative, even if just in regards to its antagonist. For instance, ever wonder how those celluloid slashers seem to have no problem finding their victims, even in a big place like, say, a 12-story hotel? In this case, Lumpy McEye-stab has tied lengths of wire to various items throughout the hotel (things dirty sinners would use, like beds) that all connect back to an old-fashioned service bell set-up. As such, every time someone sets off one of these bells, it’s labeled for whichever part of the hotel the victim-to-be is in. Hey, it’s pretty friggin’ clever in lieu of a Sliver Special (i.e. security cameras) if you ask me, so this works as a big pointy check mark in the “Positives” column. Hell, it’s a similar tact that was used by Re-Jason in the Friday the 13th remake 3 years later to help him patrol his Crystal Lake stomping grounds, so somebody else obviously agreed with me.
The gore is graphic, squishy, and passable for the most part, with many of the killings inducing the occasional cringe or wince of pity pain from yours truly. The final resting place for the cell phone is particularly satisfying. It’s painful, justified, left me with a warm glow in the pit of my torso, and put a soft smile across my chapped lips. Though this is a nice little change of pace from the plucking of peepers, there is a slight problem with the cell phone death scene, as it doesn’t involve the destruction of the victim’s oculars in any way. We already established that Jakey-Pooh’s got OCD for mutilating eyeballs, so why does he choose to break character for this one death? Could it be that he hates loud cell phone users enough to break his murderous mantra momentarily in the name of semi-ironic violent retribution, or am I just being a nitpicking shithead? To paraphrase an old adage: shitty is in the eye of the beholder.
Commenting on the caliber of acting in a slasher flick is like criticizing the thespians in a third grade Christmas play, so let’s just get to the man behind the camera. Though I can’t speak for Dark’s prior work, his aesthetics make it obvious that he came from music videos. Everything looks dirty and dreary and swimming in amber while the camera jumps around frantically and things tremor violently from time to time like the whole thing was filmed on top of a fault line for a Nine Inch Nails vid. Though many will thumb their big critical noses at this type of generic “frantic” movie making, I hold no such grudge. I wouldn’t call Darky or his final product “genius” in any definition of the word (especially since two of those definitions are for a Roman guardian spirit and a Muslim genie), but I do call it a half way entertaining way to butcher off a couple of hours from your day while waiting for something better to happen. All in all, there are a hundred-thousand worse ways I could think of to spend your time and money and a few hundred of them are sitting on the shelves of my DVD collection right now.
I took 8 years for a See No Evil sequel to happen (review incoming… like, next episode… HINT HINT), and that’s not really a surprise, given how pretty much no one saw/remembers the original. SNE managed to double its budget at the box office though, so even without setting the target audience on fire, it was a success for WWE Films’ maiden voyage. Glenn Jacobs didn’t become the next Dwayne Johnson (or even Kane Hodder), nor did Dark become the next David Fincher, but I stand firm (well, firm enough) behind my belief that See No Evil deserves better than to be lost in the bowels of slasher obscurity the way it has been. It’s a simple-yet-solid stab at an original “slash & scare” that deserves a rental/download by any appreciator of brutal bloodletting bad men the likes of Misters Myers and Voorhees.
One last happy thing to say about Glenn: before he became Kane, he had a far more hilarious other-self by the name of Isaac Yankem D.D.S. whose whole gimmick was that of a large and menacing dentist with a taste for pain and inflicting the kind of dental work that would make Dr. Alan Feinstone (a.k.a. The Dentist) take notes. Check out the following video for a taste of what Dr. Yankenstein had in store for his opponents, then come back here next time for some more visually challenged antics in The Tomb of Anubis! Keep fucking that chicken, kids!
Lionsgate and WWE Films? The hallmarks of quality. Truly a match made in Hell… not to be confused with the main event of Summerslam 1991… wrestling nerd humor.
Thank you, Thing. You’re always there when we need a hand. *rimshot*
Photo taken during JCPenney Portrait Studio’s 2003 Labor Day Sale. They were such a cute couple.
Production still from the new prequel movie, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Pups. [Disclaimer: in no way associated with Quentin Tarantino].
Are you sure TL Hopper wasn’t supposed to play the villain of this movie?… more wrestling nerd humor.
AH! HE’S A VAMPIRE! HE’S ONE OF THOSE DREAMY VAMPIRES!
For those who want to ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but can’t afford a day at Disney’s California Adventure, just head down to Big Zeke’s Discount Amusements in downtown Stockton! Get the real deal feel of what it’s like to be trapped in a falling elevator as Big Zeke himself gives you the (possibly final) thrill ride of your life! Cash only.
Actress Rachel Taylor proves, with this single screenshot, that she has all the range of higher paid “actress” Megan Fox. Possibly more. Probably more.
Do all women shower like this? I mean, do they only buy shower curtains so they have something to hide the unsightly soap scum when company comes over?!
On the back of Samantha Noble’s 8×10 headshots, it says “For when you can’t afford to pay Hillary Swank to do a nude scene”.
“I know having a giant meat hook stabbed into my trapezius should hurt like hell, but DAMN is it loosening up some deep stress tension! Don’t stop!”
“Nothing personal, kids. But, as a white man in a uniform, I’m afraid I have to place you under arrest for suspicion of having brown skin. I will also have to assault and possibly shoot you a few times whether you resist or not. Sorry, but it’s protocol.”
In that brief moment, Craig T. Nelson regretted every fishing trip he’d taken in his life… which was flashing before his eyes.
The truth behind what really happened to Katie Vick… sorry, last wrestling nerd humor. I promise.
I know this looks bad, but clearly he’s just helping adjust her jaw due to an obvious case of TMJ Syndrome.
Teenage Vinnie Jones’ mom tries to get him to eat some traditionally horrifying British cuisine. No doubt while saying something about not having pudding if he won’t eat his meat.
Not all that shocking, really. My grandma has to pull her piece anytime some jag-off cuts in front of her at the pharmacy.
What Republicans think Obamacare does to your grandma when she turns 70.
Okay, I know you want your shot to count, and I know you didn’t take lessons at the Laurie Strode Sharpshooting School, but I don’t think you need to get that close to somebody to score a headshot.
Kids? This is why, when your parent/teacher/doctor/dominatrix tells you “don’t pick at it”, you DON’T FUCKING PICK AT IT!
Anubis will return next time in
Featuring: Violent “Big Money Hustlas” J , Shaggy “Big Money Rustlas” 2 Dope , Scott “Sleeper” Levy
Director: Roy “Demons at the Door” Knyrim
Writers: Andrew “A Halloween Puppy” Helm , Patrick “Demons at the Door” Tantalo , Roy “Matthew Blackheart: Monster Smasher” Knyrim
So here we are. Death Racers. I came across this speed bump in the autobahn of my self-preservation some months past while researching the list of “bordering on plagiarism so as to confuse ignorant DVD consumers” titles/hate crimes the Asylum’s amassed since its inception. By simply adding “rs”, they somehow managed to Gymkata dodge any legal action by Universal and the creators of Death Race, which itself was just a “re-imagining” of Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000. In other words, today’s roundtable trial by fire (the flames of which are just lit meth farts from a ring of drunken Juggalos) isn’t just a rip-off: it’s a rip-off of a remake of a Roger Corman movie starring the Insane Clown Posse and a professional wrestler who once went by the moniker of Johnny Polo.
To quote a character from the movie, “When, in a million fucking rim job years, was that thought to be a good idea?!”.
Now, the involvement of ICP isn’t an automatic garbage indicator for me. They don’t overload my Detectron (“MST3K: The Incredible Melting Man” joke). I’d rather fill my ear holes with flesh eating Star Trek parasites (“KAHHHHHHHN!”) than listen to any of their music. I’d like to slap them in the face with a grade school science textbook for not knowing how fucking magnets work. But when it comes to their own cinematic side projects, I find them entertaining. Starting with their StrangleMania wrestling tapes in the ’90s and up through their stupid joke movies Big Money Hustlas/Rustlas, if they’d just drop their “nails on chalkboard” horror-rap, or whatever the fuck you wanna call it, I’d have little problem with them! But those are their own productions. For the next 90 minutes, they’re in an Asylum movie. My penis is in love with ’80s Barbara Crampton, but if she was submerged for an hour and a half in a pool full of piss culled from the men’s room troth in the No Holds Barred redneck bar, Lil’ Anubis would turn into Quentin Tarantino’s dick in Planet Terror. Her touch would be like getting a blowjob from the Arc of the Covenant. And I don’t even like ICP, let alone have Crampton love for ’em.
I had to swallow a hand towel before typing that piss pool scenario just to roadblock the column of vomit that I knew would be born from imagining it. Review…saved? Fuck biscuits. I just used my last wish on the monkey’s paw for immortality and get a life sentence in an Arizona prison.
From the opening narration, things literally dosn’t add up. The movie tells us that “3 years from now” (which would’ve been 2011 based on the 2008 release year), a big ol’ war breaks out. Not the usual global conflict between nations, but a war in the US between social and/or fiscal classes. The president declares martial law to bring an end to the chaos and designates a chunk of the western US to serve as a mass penal (huh huh) colony known as The Red Zone (Cuba?), which becomes active in 2033. I can deal with the ambiguity of the “3 years from now” opening. As far back as Mad Max (at least from my own decaying memories), dystopic cinema has made use of the “some imprecise point years from the time you’re watching this” pretense to keep the movie from being badly dated. Many sci-fi movies from the black & white days of low low budgets made bold claims of daily commuter rocket ships to the moon and personal jet packs by the year 1999 that just left most people laughing and others crushingly disappointed on their death beds because b-movies from the ’50s gave them impossible dreams. What cuts massive holes in your “unclear future setting” safety net is when you date a specific event in the same opening narrative as taking place in 2033! Even worse is when you later have a character drop, during a moment of dialogue, the year 2017 being the beginning of said massive conflict! Hey Sisyphus, let’s try rolling this mathelogical boulder up that hill with the 80 degree incline!
Ironically enough, watching this movie in 2014 would make the whole 2017 class war chronology line up perfectly. What botches my brain functions is that this class war supposedly went on for SIXTEEN YEARS before the president declared martial law. Given that martial law wasn’t declared until much later, that would mean that FOUR presidential elections would have taken place amidst the anarchy, since a president can’t stay in office past their term limit unless a state of martial law is indeed in effect. Weird how any president would allow a civil war to take place in the US for such a long period of time without enacting military intervention, or how the opposing factions wouldn’t just overthrow the government altogether in that period of time. Even if we ignore all of that timeline retardation, I’ve got another one for you that we’ll cover a little later. This tangent’s already gone on long enough and I don’t wanna risk losing everybody’s interest before I get to complain about the other few hundred jellyfish stingers, broken glass bottles, and discarded hypodermic needles awaiting us during this walk on the beach.
Let’s take a tour of the vacation hot spot of 2033 vagrant population: the Red Zone. It’s home to a million or so convicted criminals, bloodthirsty maniacs, and the kind of people who would listen fondly to the ICP soundtrack the rest of us are saddled with for the next hour and a half. Being the “stars” of this feature, did you really expect your ears not to be insulted/assaulted by the duo for the extent of your “viewing pleasure”? Your naivete is cute, but it won’t spare you the barbs of reality. Amidst the booming (often literally) population of ne’er-do-wells, the most nefarious is Dinsdale Piranha. At least he was, until Spiny Norman came through looking for him. Dinsdale hasn’t been heard from since. In his place, a super terrorist known only as “The Reaper” (Scott Levy, a.k.a. Raven, a.k.a. Johnny Polo) has ascended the Iron Throne of this evil kingdom. Feared by all in the RZ (though entirely unknown by some residents, as we’ll learn later), Reaps has learned that whoever mapped out the prison completely ignored that there’s a water treatment plant inside that had access to a water shelf through which he can poison the entire country’s H2O supply! Good thing he doesn’t have mass quantities of poisonous chemicals with which to do such a thing…oh, he has a vast and inexplicable supply of Sarin with which to achieve his goal? Well, shit. The government probably should’ve made sure there weren’t barrels and barrels of lethal Sarin in the area too, especially not within such close range to A FUCKING WATER TREATMENT PLANT. Oh government! What are you gonna do, huh? Am I right?! *Blart*
When California governor Reagan Black learns of Reaper’s evil scheme, the best option he can come up with is to hold a Savage Run! No, wait, Savage Runs carry the negative social stigmas of being brutal and barbaric. Instead, he announces the carnival of carnage as “Death Race”! Actually, I’m sorry. In keeping with the movie’s theme, every instance of the term “death race” for the remainder of this episode (with the exception of referring to the title itself) will have to be stated in all caps and accompanied by no less than three exclamation points, like so – DEATH RACE!!! That’s better. The rules of this DEATH RACE!!! are as follows: four groups of two (driver and navigator) are tasked with going to the water treatment plant and dealing with Reaper. If they “deal” with him in the permanent sense, the team will be rewarded 200 points. If he’s “dealt with” in the “bring him back alive” sense, they’ll score a whopping 400 points! But, between the starting line and their target stand hundreds of Reaper’s ravenous Red Zone reprobates. For each of them that these duos deadifies, they’ll rack up 10 points. The team with the most points at the end of the DEATH RACE!!! wins…can you guess? That’s right, their freedom. I see you’ve watched at least one of the 700 other similarly themed “fight for your freedom” movies made in the 80+ years since The Most Dangerous Game. Good for you. You’ll find an extra cookie in your Oreo pie tonight.
To prevent the competitors from killing each other before Reaper can be reaped, there are no points for offing the other teams. But, at the same time, there’s no penalty for doing so, so why not just kill each other anyway? Oh yeah, the explosive planted in each of their necks might be a good motivation to play nice. Indeed, just like contestants in EVERY murder game movie, they’ve been Plisskened. Or rather, Plissken’d. Well played, Governor Black…though there’s never an explanation as to HOW these explosives end up in our racers’ neck meat, of course! Then again, the devil’s in the details and this is obviously a wholesome Christian made movie full of family values and praise for (y)our Lord, and thus there is no room for such infernal information. I CAST THEE OUT, SPECIFICS! Speaking of casts, let’s meet ours:
I ruined everything during the team intros to save time, as I’ll be rapping the entirety of the movie’s remainder in the following two paragraphs. Before you ponder, yes, there is a LOT of pink slime filler in this ground beef, boys and girls. And probably more than the Health Department’s acceptable levels of carcinogens and rat/insect feces. We’re going to be diving headfirst into the Shatlantic Ocean (or the Poocific depending on which coastest you’re closest) from the moment the race starts, so just bite the pillow and accept it and it’ll be over before you know it.
All scenes of “racing” consist of slowly driven cars in sped up footage killing seemingly dozens of extras who run directly in the path of/throw themselves again said crawling automobiles, despite driving barely within range of said extras. These nameless goons wear bandanas bandit style so as to hide their faces in the hopes that you won’t realize they’re re-killed again and again throughout later scenes. An Asylum method that would be unironically recycled years later for the waves of nameless thug fodder murderized in Android Cop. Computer generated rockets and cheap muzzle fire animations lead to Karo Syrup gore splatter. You basically get more realistic scenes of automotive brutality in a round of Mario Kart than you’ll take away from this smorgasbord of so-damn-bad that we’re served here. When they’re not puttering along behind the wheel at 6mph, our combatants leave their cars to engage in extensive scenes of hand-to-(severed)hand and gun-to-head combat with more of the same masked goons. You’d think they wouldn’t want to leave their cars considering it’s a race and they need to get to Reaper by sundown (forgot to mention that part), but as I warned, we’re talking a LOT of time killing in this movie. Someone call the fuzz, cuz’s it’s a full-on chronocide up in here. Wee-woo. Wee-woo.
And, here’s how the last hour of the movie goes – extras get run over; everybody drives; everybody stops to kill the extras again; everybody fixes their cars; everybody drives; love triangle; more killing of extras; the mystery of Governor Black having “insides guys” is introduced; still more driving; “Hey! Let’s go check out that giant circus tent full of (three) whores that wanna castrate us!”; fight Reaper’s killer rape cyborg (we’ll call him RoboCock); back to driving; finally catch up to Reaper and…does it really matter? Spoiler: nope. I pretty much told you everything before. Everybody dies, the west coast is engulfed in flames, the motherfuckin’ END.
It somehow took THREE people to write that…and they already ripped off the entire premise from another movie!
And now, on to the gripes. There’s a lot of ’em people, so you might want to go grab a cup of coffee and a slice of pie before we get started. Hit the bathroom too. I don’t want anybody getting up in the middle of this thing and interrupting me. Ready? Good.
Okay, let’s start with the eyeball burning visual “music video effects” bullshit. Holy creeping terror does this shit get old after the first time we have to watch the movie “rewind” then play the same moment sped up! This is the fucking garbage that a fifteen year-old puts on YouTube when they downloads a pirated copy of Movie Maker for the first time! Crap like this is why MTV doesn’t show music videos anymore! In the sage-like words of the bard Kim Pines, if these shit tier visual “tricks” had a face, I would punch it. Not just punch it, I would punch THROUGH it, with the fist of an angry god. I would punch it so hard that every fragment of solid matter above their neck would simply become a red mist raining upon their shoulders like a crimson version of those dandruff snowstorms you see in the Head & Shoulders commercials. And the Red Zone? For a wasteland of remorseless psychos with no regard for property, much of the place seems to be rather well kept and even peaceful! Honestly, it looks not unlike a small, quiet neighborhood that would be very cheap to film a movie in… The rest of the RZ is just horribly put together images of digitally matte painted industrial shitholes with poorly crafted pixel flames randomly placed to “heighten” the illusion. BLART AGAIN!
Speaking of poorly crafted, Reaper makes for a not great villain. He’s pretty damn one-dimensional, mainly because he’s not really given anything to do but bully and threaten his hench-nerd with varying degrees of bodily harm and death, while simultaneously diminishing the guy’s timetable on getting the whole “poison the water basin” scheme complete. I’d like to blame the writers for Reaper’s faults, but at least half of the problem comes from Levy, who just reinforces the old Tinseltown stereotype of “wrestlers can’t act and actors can’t cut wrestling promos”. Roddy Piper, Jesse Ventura and The Rock notwithstanding. Also, the DVD cover heralds Scott Levy as “WWE’s Raven”, even though Levy had had NOTHING TO DO WITH WWE SINCE 2003! Actually no, that’s not true. At the time Death Racers was made, he was involved with World Wrestling Entertainment…IN A LAWSUIT! Yep, Levy and several other ex-WWE performers were suing their former employer for medical bills and other shit they figured they deserved. In case you were wondering (and I doubt you were), the case was dropped due to some statute of limitations issue. Plus, one of the other wrestlers killed himself. Wrestle In Peace, Kris Canyon. Anway, the Asylum’s entire business model is movies that rip-off the titles of big budget movies in the hopes of getting sales based on name confusion alone, so I think I would’ve been more shocked if they hadn’t name dropped the world’s biggest wrestling company right across the top of their box art. Knobs.
Before we move on from the characters, everybody else is just kinda “kill and get killed” throwaway casting, so they’re no big deal. I DO have a Faygo Jazzin’ Blues Berry 3 Liter sized problem with ICP as characters though. They’re supposed to be fighting for their freedom, but they know NOTHING about the Red Zone! They don’t know that people don’t get to see movies there, they don’t know anything about where they’re going, and despite being a terrifying tyrant who’s supposed to rule the entire Zone and all of its captives, ICP have NO idea who Reaper is! And I’m supposed to believe these two are trying to escape a place that they’ve seemingly never spent any time in?! If I weren’t down to my last keyboard, I’d be smashing my head into mine right now. FUUUUUUUCK!
The movie’s a tribulation of aggravations to be sure. And, as one of the announcers says, it goes “from zero to suck-my-dick in 4.1 seconds”. However, Death Racers is a few curly short hairs shy of being suffocation by a mouthful of pubes. It’s saved from the eternal damnation of Ammut’s digestive tract by the following –
And that’s pretty much it. These three small things don’t excuse the movie from still being terrible in every calculable way, but I didn’t get food poisoning symptoms while watching (not fun, I don’t recommend ’em), so it could’ve been worse. Any accident you can walk away from, right? I mean, sure, it’s the kind of accident where all of the flesh on my arms was torn off…and my face was rearranged… and all of my ribs were broken…and I punctured a kidney…and my genitals are completely unrecognizable…but…at least I’m walking away, right?
3B Theater: Micro-Brew Reviews – Cyberjack
Checkpoint Telstar – Battle Beyond the Stars
Cinematic Apocalypse – Inseminoid
The Terrible Claw Reviews – Carnosaur 2
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my teleprompter has gone dead…“DEATH RACE!” *blip*
Moral of the Story: Sometimes life licks across your anus with a sandpaper tongue. Good news for all you weirdos out there who have ever put peanut butter on your butthole and had your cat lick it off, I suppose.
Most kids walk in on their parents having sex and run away in horror. Then there are kids like this, who run to grab the camcorder. I think I just became impotent thinking about that one.
This is why I don’t trust machines with my health. If I have a heart attack, keep your damn defibrillators away from me!
They say that he who smelt it dealt it, but he who grins like an idiot had broccoli and black coffee for breakfast.
I see somebody’s trying to bring back “Two Girls, One Cup” reaction videos.
I see there was at least one Hot Topic inside the Red Zone when the walls were put up.
He thinks his tats mean something prolific and deep, but they actually say “Eat at the Wanton Won Ton – Daily Lunch Specials! Mention this tattoo and get 10% off your next eat-in order!”.
“Damn it! I can’t get ‘Hip to Be Square’ out of my head!”
“Ahhhhhh! That’s better!”
That’s where the part of my brain that burned with white hot rage every time I saw Jay Leno used to be before I had it removed. Sure, I lost 20% of my memories. Sure, Jay Leno’s finally off of TV (for now). I still stand by my decision, though.
I don’t know. He looks pretty white to me.
“I’ve got that urine sample you asked for, doc. Tell me the truth – how much blood in my urine is too much blood?”
[insert penis innuendo here]
“You ever wonder about how things work, sometimes? Like fucking magnets. How do they…”
“SHUT UP ABOUT THE FUCKING MAGNETS ALREADY, YOU SHIT-FOR-BRAINS CHILDREN’S PARTY REJECT!”
“We live in total squalor and you’re still wasting my money to dye your god damn hair?!”
*whisper* “Keep buying this eye shadow though. I really like it. It smells like apples.” *whisper*
Hipster farmer insists on reaping his own wheat for his whole grain organic artisanal ‘o’ shaped breakfast cereal.
How every boy sees their mother after their circumcision.
She just happens to have a Pagliacci fetish and in Detroit, he’s the best she can do.
Before the creation of batteries, vibrating strap-ons had to be gas powered monsters like that. Given the user fatality rates, they were rarely worth the effort.
“Before you ask, I don’t know how all of those Japanese fart fetish sites ended up in my browser history. Would just please get rid of all the viruses and pop-up windows? I’m watching an eBay auction for a Cheeto that looks like Larry Hagman that ends at 9!”
Most people have the “devil & angel” personifications of morality that materialize on their shoulders. She just has two militants in white pants who tell her to shoot everyone.
Anubis will return next time in
“Viva Spook Vegas”
This has nothing to do with movies, but I’ve made note in the past that I’m a big professional wrestling nerd since childhood. Last night James Hellwig died. Better known as The Ultimate Warrior, I had some feelings on his passing that I wanted to share:
Sometimes, being a wrestling fan is hard. Wrestlers are like comic book characters – larger than life personalities in colorful costumes locked in the eternal struggle between good and evil, fighting for the entertainment of their fans. Being a comic geek, I come to expect heroes and villains to die on the printed page, then come back within the next year to boost sales. When a wrestler dies, they don’t get to be written back into existence. They don’t just leave behind their fans, they leave behind real friends and family who have to deal with their loss like the rest of us do when we lose someone we love. I’m guilty of being one of those “Oh, that guy died? That sucks. I remember when he had that feud with so-and-so. Oh well, happens to all of us eventually.” guys.
This one feels WAY more tragic though, not because of the notoriety of Ultimate Warrior, but because over the last few days he retook center stage of fans’ attention. A man we hadn’t seen on TV in YEARS was making a heartfelt (if rambling) speech to an arena full of chanting fans at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night. He appeared at Wrestlemania Sunday night in front of a stadium packed with 75,000 people cheering for him while we were all introduced to his mother, his wife, and his two young daughters. Monday night he was on Raw for the first time in almost 20 years to make another speech, thanking the fans for their support, doing his classic Warrior snarl and shaking the rings ropes like he used to, telling everybody their childhood hero would live forever in the hearts and minds of the fans. Then last night, he just dropped dead. Some people say he knew it was going to happen and this was his chance to say his final goodbyes in a 3 day tour de force befitting of his legacy as a performer, while putting his infamous behind-the-scenes conflicts to rest. That he wanted to make his peace with everyone, tell his side of the story, and show his appreciation to his supports before he left on his rocket ship and returned to his home on the dark side of the moon… that last bit was for the fans.
I’m happy if Jim Hellwig was able to die with happiness and love and peace in his heart. Most of all, after he introduced us to his beautiful family, they’re the ones I truly feel sad for. While we lost our Superman, they lost their Clark Kent – their son, their husband, their father. Thank you and goodbye, Warrior. Rest In Destrucity. One Warrior Nation.
or “Stone Cold Killers”
Featuring: Steve “The Expendables” Austin , Vinnie “Snatch” Jones , Robert “Man-Thing” Mammone
Director: Scott “The Marine 3: Homefront” Wiper
Writers: Scott “The Marine 3: Homefront” Wiper , Rob “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan” Hedden , Andy “Simon & Simon: In Trouble Again” Hedden
“This is not war Breck, this is television. It’s much more complicated!”
Intro: I may not have made it clear enough in my Tag Team review, but I’m a huge nerd when it comes to wrestling. None of that legit shit though, I’m talking the really stupid stuff with grown men in tights with gimmicks who pretend to fight each other amidst bizarre pageantry that shames those creepy mini-prostitution contests that mutated the ‘L’ in TLC from “Learning” to “Lascivious”. And not in the good way! As much as I thought WWE Studios (they changed the name from WWE Films shortly after this “film” underwhelmed both monetarily and critically) would’ve gone the way of the XFL years ago, there must be some solid home movie market keeping it alive, because their theatrical saturation is badly dehydrated… heh, moisture humor. Even the screens they do end up shown on make shit for box office. They did wise up as far as not making their wrestlers the front and center of every movie, relegating most of them to much deeper territory on the movie credits totem poles and casting legit actors for the starring roles. They had an oddly successful production last year with their Halle Berry vehicle The Call, which debuted at #2 in the country and pulled in about as much domestic dollah dollah as the studio’s 10 prior poopers combined!
Anyway, here’s my rerun for The Condemned. It’s basically The Hunger Games for adults… so it’s basically Battle Royale with convicted criminals instead of high school students… so it’s basically a “serious” modernization of The Running Man. It’s not unlike the way Death Race 2000 beget Death Race, only without having to pay Stephen King for the “Running Man” name. Have at it, kids.
“They shot my fucking Arab?!”
Tired of everybody else making money off of their trained monkeys, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the World Wrestling Federation until the World Wildlife Fund decided to throw a judicial fit over the use of the initials “WWF”) started up their own movie division in the hopes of getting a big chunk of the paycheck from the next wrestler to make the successful crossover from squared circle to action movie notoriety, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Of course Lionsgate picked up the distribution for all of WWE Films productions because, well, Lionsgate are whores looking for the next underdog success story, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, only with less fellatio… I hope.
WWE Films’s (and I hope they’re using the term “films” in an ironic sense…) first release was the slasher flick See No Evil, which was a combination knock-off of Friday the 13th Part 2-D, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Embarassment Generation, and Four Rooms, only the killer didn’t wear a mask… because you can’t try to whore out your employees to Hollywood if nobody can see their face. See No Evil bombed like Al-Queda at an Easter Egg Hunt. Their second flick was the generic action hero revenge movie The Marine, which saw Robert Patrick sink to a new low when he kidnaps the girlfriend of, you guessed it, an ex-Marine. The titular protagonist was played by John Cena, the so-called star WWE has been trying to force down our throats outside of the ring as hard as they’ve been forcing him down our throats inside of the ring for the last 10 or so years. Explosions and adrenaline fueled hijinks ensued to mild financial success. Yay. For this third effort, WWE expanded their plagiarism sights to the far east, ripping off Japan’s Battle Royale franchise. To make it more palatable to American consumers though, the bizarre twist of desperate school kids dragged out of the comfort of their safe little lives is replaced with the basic stand-by of convicted criminals with nothing to lose fighting for their freedom (*cough*TheRunningMan*cough*) in an effort to appeal to the US audience’s taste for testosterone… which probably tastes like chicken… or armpit sweat… or chicken wingpit sweat… Obviously this falling back on traditional tropes wasn’t enough to convince people to crack open their wallets at the box office, cuz I seem to remember The Condemned doing the lowest box office numbers of the three WWE celluloid bricks pinched to this point.
Defamed Hollywood producer and raving racist ratings rapist (say that ten times fast, I dare ya!) Ian “Breck” Breckel (Robert Mammone), along with his semi-likeable a-hole technician Goldman (Rick Hoffman as a cross between Jeremy Piven, Joe Rogan, and a dozen donuts), is ready to make a fortune on the project that will put him atop the world: a globally broadcast internet Pay-Per-View event that will pit 10 death row killers from all corners of the planet (a term no doubt coined when people didn’t realize that Earth is a sphere and HAS no corners) against each other to the death on an otherwise deserted island for a 30 hour murder marathon with the winner getting freedom! Some call it a live snuff film, some call it extreme sports combat at it’s finest, some call it a rip-off of Battle Royale, but either way it should be an interesting train wreck to watch. Each of the ten “competitors” is fixed with a high-tech tracking ankle bracelet that, you guessed it, will detonate if its pull tab is yanked. It’s the deadliest game of flag football you’ll ever play! Also, if they’re still sporting the weaponized jewelry when the 30 hour time limit expires, well, so do they!
As for who these guys and gals trying to kill each other are, here’s what we’ve got:
- Jack Conrad (former WWE figurehead turned action movie maven “Stone Cold” Steve Austin) – the American hero with the mysterious past who’s just so darned tough that he won’t even accept the keys to his manacles when he’s dropped on the island!… but mostly stands around and does pretty much nothing until properly “motivated” into defending himself. Obviously his jail term was one of those “miscarriages of justice”, likely due to killing someone in defense of himself or a loved one. Jack’s picked from an El Salvador prison when he shit beats an Islamic fundamentalist behemoth Breck (not to confused with “Brak”) is scouting. Though this denies him his Arab contestant he was hoping to use to appeal to Middle Eastern audiences, Jack will bring in the Anti-American crowds! He hails from FuckYourMomma, Alaska (I hear the fishing there is amazing) but Breck bills him as a redneck Good Ol’ Boy extremist from the South to help sell the image.
- Ewan McStarly (bad ass soccer hooligan turned cinematic cockney thug Vinnie Jones) – the downright evil and remorseless misogynist bastard Brit with special ops military training who gets “condemned” to having the stupidest name of the cast. The sinister heavy of the flick and Jack’s inevitable antagonist.
- Petr (failed former WWE wrestler turned generic action movie shaved gorilla Nathan Jones… no relation to Vinnie) – the Herculean Man-Sasquatch (or “Mansquatch”) of the group, who we’re introduced to while killing three men in some unnamed zoo of a prison. He’s also mute because, well, Nathan Jones shouldn’t be allowed to speak. Trust me. He makes Schwarzenegger’s early work look like Brando.
- Saiga – the prerequisite crazy little Japanese guy who prerequisitely knows martial arts and has a weird thing for sunglasses.
- Kreston Mackie – the angry black American… or, if you’d ask a Republican to describe him (without using a slur), the black American.
- Yasantwa – the angry black African who might get it on with the angry black American… oh, and she’s a woman. Sorry to anyone who was coming into a testosterone dripper and hoping for sword fights of the fleshy kind. The homo-eroticism is only implied here.
- Paco (Manu “30 Days of Night” Bennett) and Rosa Pacheco – modern day Mexican Bonny & Clyde. So, I guess they’d be Boné y… Clyde? I don’t know. I took Spanish for 3 years in high school and didn’t retain mierda.
- Helmut – the grumpy old German guy who’s just there so the Germans have some representation. He’s not a Nazi war criminal, nor does he go into battle dressed in the traditional Lederhosen combat garb of his people, so there’s really not a lot to care about in Helmut.
Dominic – the Italian guy whose sole purpose is to talk a lot of shit, threaten to gut everybody, and then get dropped onto a wooden spike by accident for comedy relief before the show even starts. In the wrestling biz, he’s what’s known as a “jobber”.
No offense to the cast members whose real names I didn’t list, but when you do something worth talking about, I’ll gladly make a note of it… Is it just me, or do I come off as King Asshole sometimes? Or am I thinking of King Vitamin? Either or.
In a lame effort to try and make this more of a “legit” movie with some actual plot and less of a simple down and dirty bloodsport flick, there’s all manner of side shit going on involving the FBI trying to track down the secret secluded island locale of Breckel’s broadcast, dramatic morality conflicts between Breck’s production crew, and an uncovering of Jack’s background that includes following his waitress ex-girlfriend around and some government cover-up conspiracy that got our hero El Salvadored in the first place. That’s not what we’re here for though, so anyone interested in the counts for this Super Bowl of carnage, here we go: 1 spike impalement; 1 neck stabbing (via wood splint) followed up by numerous “testi exploder” kicks to the jimmies; one guy beaten mercilessly for several minutes with multiple bones broken before he’s shot through the stomach with an arrow and SET ON FIRE!; 1 arrow in the back; 2 knives in the guts; 2 slashed throats; 9 people gunned down; 1 very harsh scene of McStarly beating and slashing one of the female contestants with an implied extended rape afterward; and 7 folks turned to fine particulates by ankle bombs! Add to all of that the inmate who gets his neck broken by Petr before the show even starts and you get a bodycount of 23! Overall, a pretty fair bit of bodies and bloodshed for a movie that makes no illusions about not being Shakespeare… though, much like Hamlet, pretty much everybody’s dead by the end credits, so maybe it is trying to be Shakespeare?
For a movie whose action is all supposed to be being broadcast on stationary cameras, it’s irritating as Hell to have to sit through shaky cam during some of the fisticuffery. Thankfully the shaky doesn’t come into play too much, with the exception of the the Conrad vs. Petr fight. Then again, the five or six wrestling fans who remember Nate Jones’s short stint in the WWE probably remember he wasn’t exactly one of the better guys at making fake fights look real, so that might explain why it looks like the cameraman’s having seizures for this scene.
When it’s over, The Condemned tries to be a morality tale about America’s unsettling love for violence and depravity while simultaneously giving us the same. You can call that art or you can call it bullshit, I don’t really care. As a Direct-to-DVD feature it would be great, but as a theatrical release it’s a basic low-level action production. It’s hard watching the “making of” stuff on the DVD for The Condemned because you see the cast, the filming crew and the stunt people setting up and shooting this nightmare and physically beating the hell out of each other in hideous conditions on gruesome terrain and you almost get this Ed Wood pity for the thing. I’ve also got a personal bias as a guy who likes Vinnie Jones, Steve Austin (though he should keep his acting to a wrestling ring and cutting promos), and any version I can get of that “Old Black Betty” song, so if you want the “real” rating for this flick, you might want to drop a good point or so before you run out and rent it based on this review… not that I imagine anybody making their rental choices based on my reviews, to be honest.
Xtro: Since this was originally a Shorty (i.e. capsule review), having watched it again there’s a few things I’d like to add to my thoughts on The Condemned.
For starters, Rick Hoffman is probably the best non-killing part of the movie. I liked him when I originally reviewed the movie, but this time around I appreciate him even more. As the beset upon “Goldy” (coincidentally enough, a nickname often used for WWE wrestler Goldust), he’s the manic Jewish comedy relief. Thanks to Breck’s cost cutting measures (i.e. cheap-assiness) the laborers on the show employ nothing but local work-for-Pepsi-and-bits-of-string natives. Naturally this region doesn’t speak much English, so Goldy’s trying to put together and maintain a production that’s, as he puts it, “bigger than Farm Aid meets We Are the World and I’m supposed to do it with sign language?!” Goldy’s humor gets cut off once everything turns into a conflict of dollar signs vs. being able to sleep at night though, so his best contribution to the flick farts out about 2/3 of the way through the running time.
Funny enough, Helmut (or “The German” as he’s referred to in the credits) is played by actor Andy McPhee, who hails from Australia…Germans – so universally distrusted that Hollywood won’t even hire them to play German characters! Trivia note: McPhee went on to some notoriety as Keith McGee in “Sons of Anarchy”… possibly… I don’t know. I still haven’t watched it. What? Shut up. Continuing on with the cast, Steve Austin was bland as bleached flour here. I’ve seen him do a helluva lot better, but maybe it’s the writers’ fault. He probably wasn’t allowed to do anything other than read his lines, cuz in this case the actor has way more to offer than the role. He can be a leading man, but much like his wrestling promos, Austin needs the barest of direction so he can be allowed to direct his magic to wherever he wants to take it.
On the plus side, this is the kind of movie that relies more on a compelling villain than a hero, and we actually get two decent baddies. Like Dr. Frankenstein, Breck’s obsession with his goal pushes him beyond humanity until he’s as much a monster, if not more so, than the actual monsters he’s created. Also, just like Victor (or Victor Von if you’re going by Hammer mythology), Breck and everything he’s created are ultimately destroyed by his creations. Speaking of, Vinnie Jones is detestable as McStarly. I feel nastier in my guts from watching the impression of the shit he’s done and had done to him than anything I saw in anything the Saw or Hostel movies had to offer. It’s because the worst stuff isn’t shown for MPAA purposes, but it has a Texas Chainsaw Massacre mental brutality to it for that reason. Jones’ monstrous portrayal makes McStarly irredeemable, and even though you can’t help but want him to die, he pulls this last minute sympathy turn at the end about his hideous military past and what he suffered through for his loyalty to make him what he is. He’s a rabid dog – there’s no helping him and it’s better off for everyone with him dead, but for that brief instant you can’t believe you actually pity the creature…
Enough of this nancy pants “emotions” crap! I don’t know what the Hel I was thinking when I first wrote this review and said that the shaky cam stuff only ruined ONE fight scene. I hate shaky cam. Maybe whatever makes me able to see the pathos underneath an otherwise generic torture porn action flick also made my already heavy intolerance for shaky cam flat out toxic, because every time somebody started throwing fists, I had to pop another Dramamine!
As for writer/director Scott Wiper, he would go on to do nothing. Well, not nothing, since WWE Studios did bring him in to work his “magic” with their threequel The Marine 3: Homefront, but he did NOTHING ELSE for the 6 years in between. Being a financial flop, The Condemned didn’t exactly lead to an illustrious post-flick career for “The Wiper”, as he was pretty much wiped from the collective consciousness of audiences before even getting in there in the first place. You might say he’s condemned to languish in obscurity… good thing they don’t make those exploding anklets set to detonate when amateur movie reviewers use shitty puns based on movie titles, or I wouldn’t be here typing this follow-up line describing the idea… in which case the device wouldn’t have come into existence anyway… I think I just created a time paradox. If I just ended all reality, I apologize.
Oh, and one massive urethral parasite to finish up with – the movie ends on a Nickelback song… if that’s a good thing for you, please go slam your head in a car door until you’ve learned your lesson. And on that note, this rerun is OVER!
Moral of the Story: When filming a gang of the world’s deadliest criminals on an island killing each other, make sure your productions facilities are on a different island. You think Jeff Probst stay on the island while they shoot “Survivor”?! No. The further away from the “talent” the better.
“Shaun? Why don’t we ever make love with the lights on anymore? Be honest.”
It’s Sweet Dee’s doppleganger!
“Jeezus. I didn’t think it was possible for someone to cultivate one zit on top of ANOTHER zit, but there it is!”
Steve Austin stars in the re-remake of Willard.
Call me old fashioned, but no prison guard should EVER have as well practiced a rape face as that EVER! Fuck! I’m gonna have nightmares about this guy now!
“I was promised prune juice and Werther’s Originals! WHERE’S MY DAMN PRUNE JUICE AND WERTHER’S ORIGINALS!?”
“Damn it Pedro, why can’t I QUIT you!?”
I know Antonio Banderas hasn’t been doing as many movies in recent years, but the man’s REALLY letting himself go!
No, Vinnie. No Maverick-ing. Stop it. Just stop it now.
“Hello? What? Uhm… I don’t know. What’s ‘Prince Albert in a can’?!”
“What do you mean what’s ‘Prince Albert in a can’?! It’s a brand of tobacco that comes in a can! What do you mean you don’t use tobacco?!”
“I’M SORRY! I DON’T SMOKE TOBACCO AND I DON’T KNOW WHO THIS PRINCE ALBERT PERSON IS! PLEASE STOP YELLING AT ME! WHAT?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, ‘IS MY REFRIGERATOR RUNNING?!’ I’M HANGING UP NOW AND I’M CALLING THE COPS!”
Swamp Thing takes his voyeurism to a new creepier and incriminating level. He’s got a tree stump full of these tapes back at his place.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a cigar is a cigarillo. And sometimes a guy smoking a big thick cigar is a sign that he likes other big thick things in his mouth. So, I guess smoking a cigarillo means that Vinnie Jones likes Vienna Sausages. Flawless logic wins again.
These leaked production photos prove it: the next Jurassic Park will center on a gang of motorcycle riding raptors! Called it. Clever girls indeed.
Reaction shot of Steve Austin using the toilet after the Undertaker – a mistake he never made again.
“I’ve got your bloody ‘Hunger Games’ right here, you little twats!”
“Somebody’s gonna explain why my cable bill was so high last month, and they’re gonna fix it right fucking now!”
Steve Austin battles government surveillance devices this summer in his next Direct-to-DVD epic, Drone Hunter!
“This was on the floor while I was vacuuming today. I think it goes to one of your He-Man dolls?”
“They’re not ‘dolls’, they’re ‘action figures’… and yes, that’s mine… Thank you.”
Anubis will return next time in
“African American Explosive Device!”