Featuring: Kelli Jensen ; Nathaniel Ketcham ; Chris “Surviving the Rush” Peters
Director: Tommy “They Must Eat” Brunswick
Writer: Todd “The Remake” Brunswick
Sequel: Jingles the Clown
In the greatest piece of fast food news since they brought back cheesy tots, for Valentine’s Day Israeli Burger Kings offered “adult” meals that came with free sex toys, upgrading from happy meals to happy ending meals!… yes, I know that’s McDonald’s, but suspend your disbelief for the sake of the joke, okay? Though I don’t expect this to be a thing at BKs in our neck of the planet anytime soon (despite the rapist-in-chief being in office), it wouldn’t surprise me if Carl’s Jr. took their dirt-bag exploitation business model in a similar direction by offering a free bottle of their famous Budweiser cheese-flavored lube and a mini-fleshlight/pocket vibrator with every purchase of a Double Bacon 3-Way Burger value meal.
Get it? “3-Way Burger”? Cuz it’s sex. Get it? Yeah. Softcore commercials of Hustler rejects jamming garbage-even-by-fast-food-standards burgers in their mouths while stuffing bacon cheese fries up their o-rings (and that ‘o’ doesn’t stand for “onion”). Of course, that last part is always cut from the ads, as they’re only meant for Andy “Jerks off in the special sauce” Puzder’s private collection.
With that out of the way, it’s time to put on your rainbow wig, refill your squirting flower and lace-up your over-sized novelty footwear!
Before we delve too deeply into today’s quicksand cinema, I’m sad to report that The Tomb’s beloved feline elder, Merlin “Don’t call me Murray” Cow, has written the final page of his life story. Living to the ripe old age of 16, he was too good and pure (and stupid) for this world, and will take his place in the pet pantheon of the great beyond. However, as Mrs. Forrester once historically proclaimed, the only balm that truly soothes an aching blood pump is a skin-peelingly bad movie! If that’s true, then boy howdy is Mr. Jingles just the hypodermic full of morphine I need right now.
Today’s Zodiacal feature is probably the no-est no-budget backyard bad movie I’ve seen since Addicted to Murder or pretty much any movie released by Brimstone Productions in the ’90s. Don’t feel bad if your crap movie education doesn’t include a course in Brimstone, because not only are they obscure as fuck (and for good reason), but you’re better off not losing anymore hours of your life than you’re already losing reading these reviews. Maybe I’ll break out my old VHS tapes and write an e-book.
Back to the Jingling (which is what the sequel should’ve been called), the length is a merciful 74 minutes, 7 of which could’ve been further shaved from the opening and closing credits. You know what’s not a great way to start your movie? Almost 4 minutes of big orange names fading in and out of a black background while some slow, generic rock song plays over it. No doubt performed by the director’s cousin’s Stryper cover band, probably recorded the morning after they were yet again eliminated in the first round of another “Battle of the Bands” competition at The Chug & Piss & Chug Again Pub.
When we find our way to the other side of this debilitating limbo of an intro, it feels like we walked into the theater a few minutes late. A twenty-something actress (Kelli Jensen, whose only other IMDB credit is an episode of ‘Nash Bridges’) trying to convince the audience that she’s a 12 year old girl (by putting her hair in pigtails and wearing little girl pajamas) named Angie Randall hides in her bedroom closet while a murderous maniac in clown makeup named Mr. Jingles (Dr. Rudolph Hatfield, because he didn’t go to evil clown medical school to not be addressed by his honorific) kills her parents with a pair of hatchets. Dad (David Cunningham) has already been dealt with by the time we walk in on the situation and, if Mr. J’s taunting of Angie minutes later is to be believed, the greasepainted spiller of gore put a fatal hatchet wound in daddy’s ass! Icky. Jingles is NOT to be believed, however, as when Pops pops back up later in a last breath effort to protect his daughter, the seat of his acid wash jeans remains fully intact and without so much as a Chipotle stain, let alone the promised superfluous additional ass crack.
So, not only is our eponymous antagonist a murderer, but worse he’s also a liar. Well that’s just great. Given such a poor role model it’s no wonder the youth today are such a mess what with their underwear on the outside and their “emorgies” (emoji orgies) and the Twix-ing. Just thinking about it makes my lumbago act up! Somebody get me my Dr. Johnny Walker’s Patented Magical Miracle Tonic!
Though we missed Mr. Randall’s initial injuring, we do show up just in time to see his wife (Karen Turner) get her own innards eviscerated! Well, not really. Technically her sweater gets sliced open and we watch as the pile of butcher shop pig guts she was storing in there for some reason spill out onto the floor.
(Weird. I always thought the large intestines were attached to things. Human biology be damned!)
While hidden deeper in the closet than the dad on ‘The Brady Bunch’, Angie soaks her unmentionables like they were one of those diapers they pour the blue liquid into in the commercials. I’m guessing she had a lot of asparagus that day too, as Mr. J can smell it from across the room, declaring her a bad girl for pissing her panties. Now I just wish I were watching the original Last House on the Left, because as much as watching Krug and friends torment the girls makes my soul want to vomit all over the entirety of existence, at least I wouldn’t be watching Mr. Jingles. Existential dilemma…
(Strange how neither her pajama bottoms nor underwear absorbed that. Maybe they were made of that water repellent fabric that only looks like cotton.)
As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted by myself, the now cornered Angie opts for flight over fight and makes a break for freedom, easily slipping by her pursuer only to trip over mom’s corpse. Her resultant screaming alerts a pair of plain clothes detectives sitting outside in their car (stakeouting because, as we find out, Jinglypuff has been busy on this particular street as of late), which I find odd since J’s louder shouting as he taunted Angie throughout the house wasn’t enough to catch their attention. The cries of distress prompt the pair to spring into action (good thing Coily the Spring Sprite wasn’t there to fuck things up) and fire a few new breathing holes into Jingles with their prop guns that don’t have muzzle flash when fired, and whose shots were just blatantly made with dollar store pop guns. Angie is saved, preceded by the odd random sound of sleigh bells as circus boy attempts to tell her something that will no doubt result in a major pseudo twist/reveal before the finale. Whoopee. And I don’t mean cushions.
Lucky Number Sleven years later (or “seven” if you just want to sandbag my terrible joke), Angie’s lack of pigtails and shapeless bedtime attire denote that she’s all grown up now. And just in time to be discharged from the mental health facility (which is clearly just someone’s living room) she’s been kept in since the death of her parents.
She’s released to the care of her Aunt Helen (Nicole Majdali) with whom she moves in, along with our heroine’s clear lack of significant possessions. Also living with her are her cousins Heidi (Jessica Hall) and Dylan (Nathaniel Ketcham). Heidi’s your typical unremarkable “business casual” girl who is in her early-twenties, while Dylan is your stereotypical Hot Topic high schooler (despite looking to be hovering around 25) and looks like he’d be better suited to play Renton in a musical version of Trainspotting. At least he wears a Goblin shirt for the entirety of his screen time, so that’s one thing not to be disgusted by. It turns out that he’s also enamored with the Mr. Jingles legend and keeps a binder of his collection of newspaper clippings (I’m assuming, since they never show what’s in the damn binder!). He leaves it out in the open too, where Angie immediately discovers it not even five minutes after moving in. Intentional or idiotic? You decide!
Dyl Pickle’s girlfriend and fellow mall goth emo stoner punkish is Melanie (Heather Doba), who decks herself out as a wanna-be member of The Craft. She’s so dark and brooding that when we first meet her she’s smoking weed and giggling profusely about being “The Pretzel Queen”. With the help of their doobie buddies, Chris (Doug Kolbicz) and Curtis (Brian Zoner… which can’t be his real name), the couple plan to ruin Angie’s big welcome home birthday party later by attempting a convoluted Mr. Jingles themed knock-off of the already convoluted sequence from Halloween where Myers, for no other reason than adding some extra theatrical zing to his murder spree, dug up and dragged a quarter-ton headstone around with him… I hate that movie sometimes.
When the quartet head to the local boneyard to dig up Jingles’ tombstone, they find Mel’s dad Bill (Chris Peters – one of the only actors in the cast with a picture in their IMDB profile), who we’ll remember as one of the cops who saved pigtails Angie in the opening. Along with him is Bill’s then-partner-turned-mayor Baines (Tom Reeser) and the cemetery caretaker (Michael Pilson), who called them upon the discovery of a dead body on his God’s acre. The corpse in question is a nameless stranger (John Anton – another actor with an IMDB head shot!) who was dispatched earlier while drunkenly yelling at his mom or dad’s grave, bitching at them for leaving him nothing but unpaid bills and “an alcoholic gene”. His immediate massacre was heralded by a familiar sound byte of sleigh bells before his hand was hatcheted off, screaming all the while like a proverbial girl. The caretaker, who I’ll call “Carl” for the rest of the review, shouts rampant angry accusations at Baines, blaming him for inciting the initial Mr. Jingles murders and also for the new mass killings to come on this, the Sleventh anniversary of the madman’s violent ventilation. But wasn’t he turned into Swiss cheese in a rainbow wig? If he’s dead, how could he possibly be responsible for this nameless dead extra? Surely you, dear reader, underestimate the power of half-assed screenwriting!
After chewing out Baines, Carl takes Bill back to his creepy little apartment for a friendly plot drop over a cup of General Foods International Coffee. According to his story, Jingles was wrongfully accused (starring Leslie Nielsen and Kelly LeBrock!) fifteen years ago when, on her birthday, a freshly four Angie was almost abducted by a bad bad man in their neighborhood. Children’s party clown Mr. Jingles actually saved Angie from the bastard, but her family and neighbors thought her hero was actually her kidnapper and proceeded to beat the Samaritan within that inch of life people always like to refer to. How can you measure someone’s life, either by length of time or quality of physical being, using inches? Shouldn’t you say that he was “near-fatally beaten” and leave it at that? Meh. Pardon my semantics. Not to be confused with my mutant ticks that killed all those seamen.
(Semantics. Seamen ticks. Laugh.)
Though the real Freddy
Keurig Krueger copycat was later captured in the act of trying to nab another brat, Jingles was still jailed for his non-crime to cover up the fact that his gang assault was one big illegal beatdown that would’ve landed everyone involved behind bars themselves. During his time in the big house, Jing-a-ling took up the popular horror movie hobby of occult studies between sessions of being beaten and raped by the guards and his fellow inmates. After 3 years he managed to escape, leaving his little black magic handbook behind in his cell, allowing Carl (who worked at the facility at the time) to snag it for his personal collection. Over the next 4 years (at least if the movie’s muddled timeline is to be believed) Jingles exacted his revenge on the guilty families before finally being stopped that fateful night by Bill and his stupid prop pop gun. But, if Carl’s to be believed, our dollar store Pennywise, with his dying breath, uttered some manner of incantation that made his body a flophouse for residents from the lake of fire. For whatever reason (movie magic is often oddly [i.e. conveniently] loose with the details), said Satanic slumlord of his own biological apartment complex has now returned, Slevin years after his seeming demise and coincidentally coinciding with Angie’s release from the loony bin. Following his long period of unemployment he’s ready to get back to work, confusing his victims with his out-of-season sleigh bells before shoving hatchets into their faces.
Despite being the protagonista of the production, Angie’s part of the movie is the least entertaining, hence why I’ve made a zilch level effort in talking about it till now. It’s just girl talk garbage scenes of Angie, Heidi and Heidi’s friends planning the “Welcome Back to Normalcy and Happy 19th Birthday!” festivities. Oh, and Aunt Helen gets called out of town for important business reasons we’re supposed to ignore. Why? Without her around, the girls can invite boys over against their legal guardian’s instructions! Scandal!
At one point, Heidi just stands in front of the bathroom mirror eye fucking her own amateur porn chesticles for several minutes while letting the shower run (thus WASTING HOT WATER!) as Angie drifts off to sleep in the adjoining room and has a nightmare about Mr. J. Once we get past the detours, our destination leads to the “party”, where the girls and a handful of “band guys” they’re all squishy over sit around smoking weed and trying to get Angie (at her behest) a piece of Rusty (Jacob Baily), the townie Frank Booth – in that he’ll fuck anything that moves. With a name like “Rusty”, and given his infamous promiscuity, I’d bet anything that his circulatory system is swimming with more STDs than Kid Rock’s nut chum. When he walks out on Angie during foreplay (10 minutes of tongue wrestling is about 8 minutes too much) because she has the ill-timed hallucination of her stalker’s face that every PTSD female has in any horror or thriller movie, you have to figure she’s better off not spending the last few moments of her life being invade by Rusty’s penile plagues.
Back to that whole prank thing the potheads were putting together, Dyldo and Mel go back home to pretend sex and leave it up to the C-Boyz to acquire Jingles’ headstone. The fuckoes fail their task when you-know-who literally materializes from nowhere in his new demonic form (i.e. under a rubber mask and wearing demon dentures) and wrecks them both, smacking one in the face with the other’s dick… well, a dildo that we’re supposed to believe is a dick, except that it’s fully erect and has the little “for heightened realism” rubber ballsack front portion still attached…
The murderer's marker in question is hilariously fake too, as it's set aside from the rest of the cemetery stones and much smaller and cleaner than the others despite having been there under little-to-no tree coverage for the last Slevin years. Although Jingles' real name is never mentioned (he's solely referred to by his stage moniker), his stone lists his name as “David Hess”, which explains his perving predilection for Angie's soiled drawers. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't murderers' bodies cremated after they die? I mean, sure, Friday the 13th Part V could have been lying to me about that (which it clearly was, given Jason’s non-cremated body returning in Part VI), but even if Jingles’ body was left for worm food instead, wouldn’t it have been in an unmarked grave to prevent vandalism and/or body snatching? Uggh, this review is going on longer than this movie deserves and making my brain burn way more calories than it should be.
Back at Carl’s place, after spending 10 minutes of runtime convincing Bill that they need to defeat Jingles with an enchanted ceremonial blade (that was probably purchased for $19.99 on one of those 3am knife-o-mercials), the clown shows up at Carl’s door without any explanation of how he knew where to find him and jams his fist through the torso of the only enjoyable member of the entire cast, making the middle finger he flips the camera all the more painfully pertinent.
(Take that people who paid money to watch this camcorder crap pile!)
Our painted predator then proceeds to beat Bill down with the dull sides of his hatchets…thus solidifying that the former law enforcer is now guaranteed to show up again during the finale, bruised but brave, to make the save because Jingleberries forgot how his baby axes work. Maybe he should get a pair of “this side toward victim” stickers for future reference.
From here on out, it’s just a matter of upping the bodycount as much as possible before the curtain call. Mel dresses like Mr. J to scare the uppity party guests devoid of feces, only to be predictably taken out by the real thing, stabbed in the back with the dildo that’s supposed to be her dead friend’s still very erect dismembered member. This leads to Heidi and her boyfriend going into the backyard to investigate, only to be killed themselves. The rest of the group (Dylan included) are all killed off as well, leaving Angie alone to experience Jing Jong-un’s Happy Birthday to Me inspired “corpses positioned sitting around a table” set piece. The two seem poised for their final confrontation, but instead we cut to Mayor Baines and a pair of patrol piggies busting onto the scene, discovering Angie alone among the dead (great name for my next Sex Golem album) and wielding a familiar pair of hatchets. Twist ending that doesn’t make any sense because it was impossible for Angie to be in two places at the same as much as she would have to have been to be the movie’s surprise killer? Nice try, Todd, but nobody’s stupid enough to fall for it. Especially not the guy who sussed the plot twist of The Village just ten minutes into the movie!
Immediately dropping its false finish, as Angie is being led away for the suspected slaughter of her peers and dickhead Baines postulates she’ll spend the rest of her life in the dangerous criminals wing of the mental ward, Bill (toldja so) appears from the darkness and cold cocks the attending female officer (Hitchcocked by directress Tommy Brunswick). He makes off with Angie so the pair can seek to end the menace of The Jingler in the sequel while said unholy roller gives himself two last victims in Baines and the male officer. They made a sequel to this bowel obstruction?! Yep. When your first movie is made for the cost of a rented camcorder, a boom mic, some blank VHS tapes, and enough Red Vines and Mountain Dew to keep your cast happy, you just knew the Brunswicks would be back to make a follow-up as soon as their income taxes cleared!
Oh, and about that big reveal of the thing Jingles tried to tell pigtails Angie before he was shot? Well, according to the nightmare she has before things go to shit, he said “I’ll see you later”…yep, that’s it. A meta joke about the trite cliches of mass produced movie scripts, or just another lead zeppelin attempt at unironically engaging in said cliches? I’ll leave you to figure that out for yourself, as I now need to grab a nap thanks to the narcolepsy that watching Mr. Jingles has struck me with.
…Or, as the imp in the red pajamas keeps telling me as it pokes my ribs with its pitchfork, I need to finish this review. In the name of Dan Kester’s stained man girdle, sometimes I really regret signing my name to that ominous looking scroll in my own blood. Uggh.
Maybe it’s the chronic depression talking, but this movie wasn’t even “so bad it’s funny” fare. It was just pathetic. Bland. Boring. Incapable of eliciting any emotional response from its audience beyond a lot of yawns and watch checking. Funny must have had an order of protection placed against Jingles’ jokes, because there wasn’t a chuckle to be had from any of them. Even Killjoy had a better gag writer than Mr. J, and I harbor a non-racially motivated HATRED for Killjoy!
Mr. Jingles is so stagnantly written and acted and just made that it’s not even worth doing a proper breakdown of. How it found any kind of distribution, even with one of those generically made “look at the evil painting of the monster on the cover!” DVD covers that were so big in the early 2000s, is less stupefying and more sad. Sad that some shithead at Lions Gate agreed to put it out, and I hope whomever it was that signed the contract in question has since exiled themselves to a tiny underground cell to live out whatever remains of their shameful existence, wallowing in their own filth.
There are no actors in this movie. It was not written by someone who deserves to call himself a writer, nor directed by someone who deserves to pretend she’s a director. This is not a movie. What we have here are just…lies. Fucking lies.
It’s probably gonna take me Slevin years to forget this friggin’ dick wrinkle excuse for a feature even exists, and that’s provided I never fall so far down the stairway of my own self worth that I opt to review its sequel first. But then, such is the suffering of the cinemasochist. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. I’m already dead…
Too dramatic? I should’ve been an actor. Speaking of, there is one worthwhile piece of this movie I can get behind besides Dylan’s Goblin t-shirt – Michael Pilson. Mike is the only person in the cast who actually made an effort to act, and boy does he go over the fucking moon. His aggressively angry, shouty style of thespianism made me wish he was the center of the flick, because he was the only star shining in this otherwise pitch black sky. So at least there’s that. Thank you Mr. Pilson.
On that note, cue the end credits. You can call me Doug, cuz I’m outta heeeeeeeeeere.
I call bullshit! That should say “A Tommy Brunswick VIDEO”, because there’s no way this movie was shot on film!
First, “Station Wagons” is two words. Also, the other name sounds like an obtuse way of saying “palm full of jizz”.
A 20 year-old blond wearing pigtails and pretending she’s much younger? That’s usually something you only find in those movies that are preceded by an “All models appearing in this video are 18 years or older” disclaimer.
How the rest of the world sees our new Cheeto-in-Chief.
I never knew Juggalo scrapbookers existed until now.
“Hello? Nintendo Power Line? I was wondering if you had any tips to help me with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Throw it in my toilet, then burn the house down? Got it!”
“Come on, guys. I found out where the neighborhood boys hide their stash of Playboys! We’ll steal ’em all and replace them with my mom’s old Playgirls!”
Every hetero guy’s worst nightmare: when your girlfriend/wife gets her hair done and asks you how it looks.
Set props provided by whatever was left over after the Brunswicks’ last garage sale.
Hey! It’s the movie’s only fan! (And the look on that guy’s face is probably very similar to yours having read this.)
“It’s not gay, man, it’s a prostate massager! Prostate massage is a perfectly natural and healthy way for men to enhance sexual stimulation! Don’t be such a judgmental puritan!”
Folks, never buy your girlfriend lingerie from the “Day After Valentine’s Day Discount Bin” at WalMart. It won’t work out for either of you.
And here we have a failed prototype design for unused Thundercats character Jestro. I’m not sure the story behind it, but it’s easy to see why the show’s creators passed on using him.
Anubis will return next time in
“Guess Who’s Dying at Dinner”
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All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.
Featuring: Elle “Maleficent” Fanning , Jena “Sucker Punch Malone , Keanu “The Matrix” Reeves
Director: Nicolas “Bronson” Winding Refn
Writers: Nicolas “Bronsons Winding Refn , Mary “‘Preacher’” Laws & Polly “Eleanor” Stenham
When I was a horny young pup just looking for a wet spot to stick my prick into, my criteria for what I desired in a sheet staining partner was a very simple three point plan – looks, looks, and looks. Physical attraction was all that mattered to me, as it is for most impressionable post-pubescent types looking to make an “impression” of their own into/onto someone. Much like tickets to a Don Johnson concert, my virginity was something I had an impossible time giving away. The few young ladies I shared the halls of academia with in high school that I had any interest in were either already dedicated to other lads, or had turned down my romantic advances faster than a stepdad turns down the thermostat when somebody puts it over 60. After reaching the ripe old age of legality known as 18, I would eventually find myself a finely figured female who was more than happy to commence with my deflowering (or, in my case, my weeding), and she and I are well on our way to the 17th annual celebration of our first date come the next Krampusnacht Eve. Happy pre-anniversary, dear!
As I’ve aged (and unholy Hel have I!), my taste in women has evolved well past favorite shapes of flesh and into a Twilight Zone-ian preference for dimensions not just of sight and sound, but of mind. Not strictly book smarts neither, but ladies with more esoteric tastes that match mine own. Namely, bad horror movies, sketch comedy shows, and morbid humor peppered liberally with sarcasm and contempt for humanity. Attempts at such relations haven’t always worked out for the best, but whatever doesn’t kill us gives us fun stories to tell our court appointed lawyers, right!? What does this have to do with today’s “Ladies Night!” installment, The Neon Demon? Not a shit ton. Much the opposite, in fact. Today’s feature is actually about physical beauty, and the obsession some have with not only getting it, but retaining it in the face of the unconquerable hellbeast known as Age-zilla.
Given that my looks have been known to make gargoyles cry tears of gasoline (I swear that’s how that church fire started!), I’d know nothing about that. Instead of relating to our tale, I’m just gonna let my eyeballs go gonzo over all the wonky visuals and my ears get made sweet love to by the supersexy swingin’ sounds of its synthy score!
Today’s movie is sadly not the sequel to Neon Maniacs we’ve been waiting 30 years for. It is, however, brought to us by Nicholas Winding Refn (director of Drive), Amazon Studios, and the letter ‘Q’. Despite my recent review for the Amazon Pilot Season episode of “The Tick”, I swear on Horus’ right eye that I’m not being paid to promote their productions! Those dickards won’t even give me a free trial month of Prime at this point, let alone actual capital compensation to type up piss & moan articles. Sorry to say, folks, but the mildly amusing musings of a Death God ain’t worth two farts to the mighty Reaper of Brick & Mortar Stores. Fuck it. As Chris Pratt said, “It’s important to make your big mistakes in relative obscurity” anyway. If this site were popular enough to grab anyone’s attention, it would ruin all the fun of the chase for a lot of bail bondsmen (and bail bondswomen) out there!
The Neon Demon stars Dakota Fanning’s younger sister Elle, who continues her efforts in making a name for herself with a role that’s meatier than just playing a younger version of one of Big D’s parts. Since the movie’s plot is little more than your basic tale of glamorous industries seducing innocent youth just to use them, abuse them, suck them dry, and throw them away like used condoms once they can no longer pull off the “jailbait couture” look, said movie also requires your basic “small town, big dreams” victim to consume the soul of before metaphysically defecating into the empty space left behind. As such, Elle plays Jesse – the latest fresh face the City of Angels cannot wait to R. Kelly upon. Hell, within the first 10 minutes of the movie we discover she’s “not from around here”, lives alone in a sleazy motel room, and has no family of which to speak! To paraphrase Pinhead, “Norma Jeans are such easy prey.”
Speaking of, a makeup artist radiating a strong sexual predator vibe and calling herself Ruby (Jena Malone) comments on our subject’s beautifully smooth skin and immediately attaches herself to Jesse after working together on one of those “gore + glamour = art” photo shoots that the kids these days apparently think are so “edgy”. You know, like that “Girls and Corpses” magazine that people keep gifting me subscriptions to for some reason despite my frequent comments of “If it’s not Linnea Quigley stripping in a graveyard or a severed head going down on Barbara Crampton, don’t waste my time”.
Not five minutes into their new friendship, Ruby invites (i.e. insistently drags) Jesse to a party to introduce the young lady to her new peers in the industry, specifically her pals Sarah (Abbey Lee) and Gigi (Bella Heathcote). Gigs is the faux friendly type whose smile is as artificial as the lips and teeth that make it up, while Sarah is colder and blunter than the sledgehammer I keep in my meat locker. As with any newbie to a social group, our protagonista is circled by the other members of the pack and has her mettle tested in judgment. In this case it’s the usual ladies’ room emotional hazing of woman-on-woman mockery about how the fresh-faced bumpkin isn’t fit to be one of them. Gigi and Sarah might as well both be named Heather, but that’d be too on-Gigi’s-surgically-manipulated-nose.
Despite the pair’s “never evolved past high school” treatment of Jesse, Ruby sticks by the girl and takes her under her big sister wing to help guide her through the labyrinth of the modeling world and not get trampled to death by the metaphorical Minotaur. I’d be more inclined to believe the legitimacy of the cosmetologist’s intentions for the Georgia Peach if only she’d stop throwing Jesse the Big Bad Wolf leer every 10 minutes! Instead I’m anchored with the unshakable presumption that the would-be mentor’s so obviously going to be the one holding the knife that goes into our gal’s back come Jesse’s inevitable nosedive from grace.
Speaking of, much like a modern fairy tale, our Cinderellian peasant destined for princessery is picked up by an esteemed modeling agent (Christina Hendricks) and immediately paired with a highly regarded camera jockey named Jack (Desmond Harrington) who looks more like the type of guy who shoots amateur gangbang porn in the backyard of his stepdad's mansion than he does a sought after fashion photog. You know what really takes the audience out of the fantasy, though? No self-respecting (or self ego-inflating) “artist” in any industry would call himself “Jack”.
As if the modeling industry’s ominous presence as our heroine’s personal chainsaw of Damocles weren’t enough of a threat, Jesse’s also endangered by the sadism of Hank (Keanu Reeves), the manager of the motor lodge in which she’s living. Henry probably got his Hotel Management diploma from the ICS home education courses that Sally Struthers used to shill for…while he was doing a stretch in prison for sexually assaulting a troop of girl scouts. Seriously, the guy would whip out his 3” killer to a single mom at a bus stop and insist she swallow his tadpoles while her preschooler and a nearby nun looked on. He reveals himself as the kind of human garbage that makes even my cast iron stomach churn harder than an industrial washing machine on the “Wipe Clean the Stains of a Life Lived in Filth” setting. His assistant/apprentice Mikey seems generally harmless, but he looks like Iggy Pop Junior (somebody’s gene pool needs a lifeguard!) and works for Hank, so that’s probably enough to land him at least somewhere near the latter rungs of Dante’s ladder.
As much as the deck is clearly stacked against her, Jesse’s not alone in her story. How’d she get to the spiritual wasteland in the first place, anyway? Enter Dean (Karl Glusman)…well, I guess you can enter him if he’s okay with it. I’ll take a pass, myself. Back on topic, Dean is an aspiring photographer who came across Jesse on the internet and convinced her to come to the left coast so they could make art together. I met my Evil Dead Bride in a fucking AOL horror chat room and even I think this pairing sounds sketchier than MC Esher’s high school notebooks! Despite his efforts to woo her while still being respectful and protective of her, Jesse is very reluctant to refer to him as any kind of boyfriend figure in conversation with others. He’s a surprisingly decent dude who never tanks his decency by pulling the bullshit “you owe me sex!” card on Jesse, which you totally expect to happen given how he too leers at Miss Jesse like fucking Jack the Ripper in the movie’s opening scene!
No friggin’ diggity, Jesse gets eye fucked from people so often in this flick, you’d think she farts Spanish Fly. It’s unnerving.
Predictably enough, as Jesse’s successes compile, so does her ego. She mutates from innocent southern teen into Family Guy rendition of Julia Roberts (“ME! ME! MEEEEE!”), talking about herself as if she were the second coming of Cindy Crawford. Such a path couldn’t lead to our heroine’s downfall harder if it were a literal street named “Downfall Avenue”. I’m presuming this transformation is what the title’s referencing, given that (spoiler alert) there isn’t a single giant neon devil sign brought to life to kaiju the downtown Los Angeles area. Will Jesse find love and safety in the arms of her unavoidable love interest Dean, or will the D-Man discover he’s better off with an inflatable girlfriend? Don’t knock it. The only rubber you need to use with her comes in her repair kit! Will Jesse instead be a “grrrl”, pull her life out of her tailspin on her own and conquer her enemies to become the new White Queen of the fashion industry? Will our neon demon predictably wind up eaten alive by the green-eyed monsters that she so naively trusts with her well being? Will this modern fable end triumphantly for Jesse like Disney’s The Little Mermaid, or tragically like Hans Christen Andersen’s The Little Mermaid? That’s for me to know and for you to find out…I mean, if you feel like it. You don’t even have to watch the movie if you don’t want to to find out. The internet will just tell you how it ends, if you prefer to do it that way. Doesn’t effect my day either way. Que sera sera.
And so our story goes. Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, beauty and the beast. It’s nothing to write home about, really, unless your family gets excited over loose threads. Plot threads, that is. Story elements that drop off the map, never to be seen again and character threads that drop right off with them. If it’s so bad, though, then why the quartet of disembodied blood pumpers at the top of the review? Because NeoDemo is a classic case of style over substance being a good thing. Oddly appropriate given the theme of the movie, dontcha think? You can almost believe it was poorly written intentionally…
The performances are all fine, almost in spite of the roles being generic. It doesn’t help your story’s endgame seem less obvious by having your actors play their characters so blatantly. I do give Elle Fanning credit for not taking Jesse overboard in personality even though her lines still take the character there. It’s a well done balancing act and I hope the young lady earns herself a reputable career. Glusman’s Dean is a good dude done well, with the exception of his almost Captain Howdy levels of “creepy, shadow monster face” in the opening. Everyone else is just as shallow and one-dimensional as their roles are intended to be (at least that’s my guess), so that’s fine. Now, story and cast outta the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this Neon Demon.
Hold onto your bippies, kids, because I’m about to slap you in the faces with a big cold salmon of shock . Surprise you it may well, but this is my first date with Mr. Winding Refn. I’ve never seen Drive. I’ve heard great things, but universally renowned projects are a breed of poultry that rarely cross my proverbial path. You know what else I’ve yet to see? The Force Awakens. Yep. Let that one soak into your corpuscles for a few. Back to Nicky WR, his presentation style fills me with the similar fondness I have for Dario Argento and Stanley Kubrick’s stuff. His heavy accentuation on the use of colors and shadows and mirrors and trippy imagery combined with jarring/haunting music are tres Argubrick. He also throws lots of different patterns straight into our eyeballs, from wallpapers to curtains to bed sheets to carpets to clothing, and they all bleed into this visual clusterfuck that borders on overwhelming without going full-on brain barf. The aforementioned music is very dream-like, and makes the whole movie feel very surreal. It’s a psyche smothering safari for the senses.
Of the biggest complaints I came across while poking around the worldwide wasteland for details were people who called out Winding Refn, some for perpetuating mainstream misogyny (all women are jealous, petty cunts to each other and will do anything to get ahead) and others for ripping off Argento’s style. Regarding the former, I can’t really weigh in, given that my gonads reside on the outside. As for the Argento complaint, it depends on whether you want to call it a rip-off or an homage. Potato, potato. However you wanna pronounce it, I’m all for it. Kubrick’s long croaked and nobody’s really doing the Argento thing anymore. Christ at a Cracker Barrel, at this point even its namesake hasn’t properly Argentoed for a good twenty years! I’d rather watch someone doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well instead of trying to force the old Italian to go back to his roots. So, for those who disagree with my positive take on the matter, I’ll let Academy Award winner Tommy Lee (the actor, not the drummer with the horse dong) answer for me.
Given the mostly cold shoulder reception The Neon Demon was given (50%ish scores on aggregated criticism sites), I’m sure there are plenty of people who would accuse me of “falling for the sales pitch”, but you could fill a thimble with all the shits I give and still have plenty of room left to fit your fingertip so you can deposit it straight into your orifice of choice. If “artsy fartsy” stuff bothers you, bypass this flick because that’s its big selling point. It’s not perfect, but it’s well worth a watch if you’re down for something different and you’re not up for taking Suspiria off your shelf for the 164th time. Keep in mind that, despite ND‘s categorization as a “horror” movie, it’s really more psychological wrapped up in an air of dread. The one traditional horror movie element kicks in in the flick’s final stretch… then it goes on for another 15 minutes. These last minutes have very little dialogue. Like almost zero. Makes you wonder if the actors were getting paid by the line and the budget ran out. What is there is still technically part of the movie, but exists less out of necessity to the story than it does to drop some more visual weirdery and fuck with the audience one last time. It reminds me a lot of what Rob Zombie did with the last act of Lords of Salem, come to think about it. Leaves us with more questions than answers, really.
Still, it looks fucking cool.
Coming up will be the next and last installment of our “Ladies Night!” cineménage à trois, so any misogynists like the one who messaged me last week telling me this kind of “pandering pussy shit” isn’t what they want to see? You can rest easy, cuz it’s almost over. Or, you can just get the fuck out. You don’t like woman-centric movies? Guess what…
Now I gotta head over to the local halal eatery and get a pile of Samosas for lunch. Those taste bud tantalizing s.o.b.s get my salivary glands more excited than Gorunk the Baby Eating Gibbon gets around babies! Yum!
Dean looks like he’s plotting to take revenge on someone by cooking their family into a pot of chili and feeding it to them… possibly after he’s had sex with it.
Eli Roth’s homage to the 20th anniversary of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” music video is, well, pretty much what you expected it to be.
“Don’t worry, I was an intern on Evil Dead II. I know how to get karo syrup and red dye out of ANYTHING.”
If Dario Argento directed Mean Girls.
“I don’t care how many penises you have, Mr. Sinclair, this isn’t a casting call for Marilyn Manson’s adults only traveling freakshow! That’s down the hall in Suite 31.”
Was this room decorated by a blind person or somebody on acid? Either way, if I have to look at it much longer I’m gonna lose my Fritos!
“Look, I know SLC Punk 2 was garbage and if you wanna throw yourself off a cliff over it, I totally understand. But I gotta get to my shift at Big Kahuna Burger in 20 minutes, so either shit or get off the pot!”
Could this mean Nicolas Winding Refn’s next project will be that rumored Smokey and the Bandit remake we’ve been hearing about for years?! I’d bet my White Lightning / Gator double-feature LaserDisc on it!
Keanu Reeves finally takes measures to have Alex Winter forcefully removed from his guest house. After 25 years of his “I’m almost done with the script for Bill & Ted 3!” excuses, Keanu has had enough.
Hey, they’ve finally started casting for the She-Ra live-action movie! I really hope they opt to cast a real Pegacorn for Swift Wind instead of cheaping out and ruining her with some stupid cgi crap.
At the Sears catalog model tryouts, dozens of moderately attractive women compete for the chance to be thousands of young American boys’ first effort hording wank material. At least until they can convince their older cousin to buy them an issue of “Hustler”. Well, that’s how it was before the internet, anyway. Kids today have it way too easy…
Only true industry insiders know about the sacred Triforce of Fashion! It’s made up of the Triforce of Beauty, the Triforce of Design, and the Triforce of Film, each of which is held by one of three legendary heroes. The sacred texts say that, one day, the three will be brought together to create the GREATEST fall collection in all of fashion!
“Screw the picture. I’m gonna make her look like Large Marge just to see the family’s reaction when they open up the casket!”
“This is why I tell you not to eat candy in bed. You’ve got a whole Sugar Daddy tangled up back here! Uggh!”
“Is THIS your card?… Ah, shit! Let me try that again.”
I know how she feels. I feel the same way when I have a third Most American Thickburger too. Brutal.
Anubis will return next time in
“The Psychedelic Conception of LSDizzle”
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.
Featuring: Ashok “Soodhu Kavvum” Selvan , Sanchita “Soodhu Kavvum” Shetty , Nasser “Fair Game”
Writer & Director: Deepan Chakravarthy
Also Known As: The Villa
Sequel to: Pizza
Welcome back, boils and ghouls! I hope all of my fellow ugly Americans had a horrible Thanksgiving holiday and have my talons crossed that more than a few of you were unceremoniously trampled to death amid the fervor and fever of the following Black Friday Madness. I kid, of course, because if you’re reading this review, that means you’re hopefully the type of person I’d get along with, in which case I’m a well-wisher, in that I don’t wish you any specific harm. Where the Hel was I going with this? Meh. Fuck it. Moving on.
Rather than hitting our next stop on the World Tour, I opted for yet another side trip on the scenic route. I liked India’s Pizza enough that I wanted to see what its sequel had to offer. Besides, what better bread to use in a review sandwich where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (see previous episode) is the meat than a pair of Pizzas? Yeah, there are more levels to my methods than there are floors in Elevator Action…or not. I honestly can’t recall how many floors there were in Elevator Action, so my boastful statement could very well be incorrect. I never should have said it in the first place. I’m sorry.
In something of a throwback to the glory days of ’80s bad movies like The Curse, P2 is a sequel that has no direct connection with its predecessor. Thematically, you could call it a spiritual successor (pun most assuredly intended) given the common subject of “Indian haunted house movie” and the inclusion of another (albeit less grandiose) Shyamalan-ed finale. But by Tom Turkey’s gizzard bag, there isn’t the slightest mention of pizza anywhere in the damn movie! Why even call it a Pizza sequel?! Oh wait, I know why: to cash in on name recognition. Well, congratulations Thirukumaran Entertainment. If nothing else, you managed to convince a middle-aged Beardo-American incarnation of the Egyptian Death God to watch your movie for free on YouTube. Thumbs up.
Technicalities aside, it’s business time! Let’s kick back, straw fuck a couple of those little boxes of Ecto Cooler you’ve been saving since 1993 (it’s comin’ back, ya know!), and take a tour of The Villa! Cue the music.
A brand new movie calls for a brand new cast. As such, our brand new hero is Jebin (Ashok Selvan). Jeb (not to be confused with Jeb! Bush – note the lack of an exclamation point) is a struggling writer locked in mortal combat with book publishers who don’t want to print his novel. He’s all about high brow drama and suspense and challenging his readers, while they just want Twilight rip-offs. In other words, rip-offs of a rip-off of Laurel K. Hamilton’s stuff, written by a bored Mormon housewife with latent necrophiliac tendencies. Did I say “latent”? I meant “blatant”. BLATANT NECROPHILIAC TENDENCIES. It’s only Stephanie Meyers’ interest in beastiality that’s latent, otherwise all the little girls and their moist mommies would’ve watched Kristin Stewart getting mounted on the big screen by the derp-faced werewolf instead of the derp-faced corpse.
“BLATANT NECROPHILIAC TENDENCIES”? Looks like someone just found a name for their free form jazz-oompah band!
To add to Jeb’s problems, his father Marshall (Nasser) died recently during a 6 month coma. Though he was a painter and a musician, pops never approved of his son’s aspiration to be a successful novelist, and scolded the poor guy for having dreams of choosing a creative career path for his life. Weird. Maybe Marshall’s mom left his dad for a copy of The Kama Sutra when he was a kid, so he spent the rest of his life blaming books for his dad’s resultant rampant alcoholism? Either way, Marshall’s dead now, so his lifelong literary nightmare is no more. As for Jeb, it turns out that his disapproving daddy bequeathed him a here-to-unknown piece of property upon which sets one spiffy-as-fuck mansion of a house (our titular abode). Not sure why he was never told about the place before now (smart money’s on bad juju), but this is a fortuitous bit of news for our lead, given that Marshall’s home has been repossessed to cover unpaid debts accrued by Jeb during a failed business venture. Note to self: next time I’m on the verge of being evicted, find out if any of my relatives have me on their will, then start poisoning said relative’s Cocoa Puffs until they do the Mortal Coil (Un)Shuffle.
Jeb intends to sell the villa and use the windfall to self-publish his novel. I hope he planned on taking a business course or doing some kind of test audience research first! Dreamers are always the ones hardest hit when they finally wake up in the real world with the rest of us. Anyway, his fiancee (and our new female lead) Aarthi (Sanchita Shetty) convinces Jeb to at least look the place over first and consider taking up residence in the estate while he continues the hunt for a publisher rather than taking the money and doing the proverbial run. After checking out the spacious pad, decorated with his father’s painting and housing his father’s beloved piano, Jeb opts to go along with Arth and move in instead. It doesn’t hurt that the lady tempts him with the idea of having their wedding in the place, with said matrimonial bliss portrayed via impromptu music video. Well, I guess that’s something else the two Pizzas share: a romantic musical interlude. Anyway, it’s too bad for the real estate agent Jeb asked about finding buyers, who’s peskily persistent about bringing said potential payers by anyway and trying to convince our hero to reconsider. Fuckin’ real estate agents. They’d resell peoples’ graves if churches hadn’t already monopolized the market.
Can churches really do that? Puck if I know. Look it up. You might be surprised. Or maybe you won’t be. Like I said, I don’t know if that’s a real thing or not. It definitely sounds like something churches would do. Hell, Mormons convert corpses posthumously, so there’s not a lot that organized religion can do that would surprise me anymore! I really miss the Old Kingdom days…
(Do you know how much Alpha Flight porn I came across while looking for this pic? More than zero. That’s too much!)
No sooner does Jpeg make the house his home, then strange happenings start up. Some good (a publisher buys his book and contracts him to write another!), some gruesome (a rotting dog carcass appears in his yard, seemingly from nowhere), and some Encyclopedia Brown (NOT a racist joke!) level shit too. Namely, a mysterious key, a Transformers painting (not literally, just in that it’s “more than meets the eye”), and a hidden room concealing a dark legacy that Marshall (and the house’s previous owners) left behind. The movie’s only a year old, so as usual we’re in the No Spoiler Zone (I hope you choke to death on your own scrotum, Bill O’Reilly) here and I won’t delve further into the plot past this period. You want to know the rest of the story? This ain’t “Reading Rainbow”, fuck-o! Go watch it yourself on YouTube or just ruin it yourself by reading the complete play-by-play on Wikipedia. I did that for Knock Knock and you know what? I don’t regret it. Especially since Eli Roth replied to my requests for a post-Green Inferno apology letter with a restraining order signed by his lawyer. Dick weasel.
And there you have it: Pizza 2. You know what? It’s good. Real good. Given that it’s the freshman effort for writer-director Chakravarthy, I’d go so far as to call it damn good! His setup and progression of the story is smoother and plenty suspenseful exactly where it’s most called for. The scene wherein Jeb finds the secret room is impressive, as his discovery is lit entirely by the ever passing beam of a nearby lighthouse and backed up with some appropriately foreboding music. You know, the kind of stuff that Satan puts on his hi-fi before impregnating hypnotized baby mamas-to-be. Speaking of, all of the music is perfectly good background stuff that fits the scenes nicely. Good on composer Santhosh Narayanan.
The cast is all good too. At least I think they are. I don’t speak Tamil, but everyone’s physical game was on form, from faces to body language to that weird head bob that Indian people do. Not to get too Seinfeld over it, but what is the deal with that head bob thing, anyway? Pardon me if the next part sounds like a “head up my own hole” art critic type of statement, but the villa itself is the real main character. Its interior breathes an atmosphere of something old, ornate, and ominous. The place has the feel of a warm antiquity with a heart of darkness. Something beautiful used to create some really fucked up, evil shit. Just like Dyanne Thorne!
If it’s so great though, why doesn’t it get the golden feather seal of approval? Sadly, there’s a really goofy Rube Goldberg sequence that makes the ones in the Final Destination movies look simpler than instant oatmeal. For an otherwise tense and dramatic flick, said scene of tumbling tables and acrobatic armoires is an out-of-place, unintentional laugh that was only put in to give the studio an excuse to charge audiences extra rupees for the 3D treatment. Coupled with the needless twist that hinders the final act more than helps it, and we get a pair of unfortunate potholes in an otherwise smooth road.
Villa isn’t perfect, but I think I like it better than its forerunner. Not that I didn’t like Pizza as a whole, but the last 4 minutes of it were the movie viewing equivalent of Jabba the Hutt sneezing on the last slice of a Chicago deep dish. Villa‘s finale, on the other hand, finishes out on a higher note. A twist ending was expected, so I went into it with zero surprise or fanfare, but at least this one doesn’t shit the bed. It’s a tad more predictable than the last one, but in that way where you feel smarter for having sussed it out yourself ahead of time rather than in that “Tales From the Crypt” bullshit “because karma” way.
There don’t seem to be any plans in place to extend this double feature out into a trilogy. At least not from what I was able to find on the worldwide wasteland. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I do know that I’d like to see what kind of resumes either Chekravarthy or Karthik Subbaraj (writer-director of the original) establish for themselves following their forays into cinematic spook houses. I’d slaughter a goat in their honor, but that’s some pretty medieval cruelty by today’s standards. Instead, I’ll kill a few corned beef sliders from Arby’s. Yes! I discovered there are things on their menu that don’t make dumpster sludge look like a viable alternative for your mid-afternoon munchies! Not to be confused with Munchies, which is not a viable alternative to Gremlins, despite what Roger Corman would have you believe. That would be Critters. Or Ghoulies.
Well, that’s pretty much it for this episode! EDB will be happy, at least, being my editor and all. There are some things where women prefer less length on, folks. Happy 16th anniversary, dear! 😀
“Well? Are you just going to stand there watching me all night, or are you going to turn this tuning fork solo into a duet?!”
From the look on the other guy’s face, I’d say Jeb picked a pretty poor time to denounce his religion and all of its followers…
“We’re looking more for books about young women who let wealthy older men degrade them and put things in their butt for sexual fulfillment. Do you write anything like that, perhaps?”
“Seriously Diane? Why do all of your paintings have to be of famous people as centaurs? There’s something wrong with you.”
“For the last time, it’s a mole, NOT an M&M! Stop trying to pick at it!”
Jeez Greg, what did you do, get into a fist fight with your lunch?! You look like you got tea bagged by a Sloppy Joe! Go wash your face and get back to work!
“What duh ya mean ‘am I drunk’?! Thish ish MYYYYY wedding day! Not yoursh! MINE! If I wanna have shomeshing to drrrrink to settle MY nervesh on MYYYY wedding, I WILL! I’m an adult! Who are you, my dad!? No, I really *hiccup* don’t recognize you. Are you my dad?!”
If this were a SyFy Original movie, a giant computer generated platypus-sea urchin hybrid would come out of the water to eat these two before going off to fight Sharktopus.
That is easily the worst prop dog corpse I’ve seen since that episode of “The People’s Court” where the special effects guy sued the producer of a low budget movie because he wouldn’t pay him for the shitty prop dog corpse he made. It looks like an emaciated Pillow Pet!
“Oh mighty Lord Dagon! I ask you to rise from the depths and take my father’s life as sacrifice to the greatness of the Deep Ones!”
“Billy, why can’t you just throw a temper tantrum when I refuse to buy you ice cream, like a normal kid?”
Oh look! There IS a pizza in this movie! And they’re eating in a PitStop restaurant, like the one seen in the original Pizza! Specious justification of title successful!
“I’m sorry, Sir, but as the ad stated, the price for my son is 15,000 and not a rupee less!”
It’s the ghost of Santa Chewbacca!
“I call this piece, ‘Slender Man Takes a Bride’. It’s from my ‘Creepypasta Period’. The bidding starts at 15. Bitcoins only!”
Anubis will return next time in
Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!
All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.
Featuring: Sandi “Saint Francis” Gardiner , Callard “’Sons of Anarchy‘” Harris , Nick “Albino Farm” Richey
Writer & Director: Jonathan “The Punisher (2004)” Hensleigh
Also Known As: Cannibals
Intro: Hey everybody! This week’s episode is gonna be a rerun, since I had mental-dental surgery and need a lighter workload while I recuperate. The twin that I partially absorbed in the womb has been keeping me up at night grinding his teeth, so I had them removed. Next week’s review will be the whole big “very special episode” whatchamacallit, so until then, just read this!
Oh hey! The Green Inferno FINALLY made it into a theatrical release this weekend! Hooray! For those who aren’t aware, Inferno is the bastard spawn of cannibals (namely Holocaust and Ferox) as birthed from the creative test tube of Eli Roth’s brain.
Seeing as how a review for The Green Inferno is probably a few months off, and since I needed a break to digest all of the fucking Fantastic Factory I crammed into my mental mouth hole at the Spanish bad movie buffet, I figured I’d stick my hand into the rerun cooler and fish out my first can of do-over in over a year. Taking a cue from the week’s new release, I’m revisiting another found-footage romp through undiscovered man-eater country! To that extent, Welcome to the Jungle, won’t you?
Original Review: There are only three reasons that a movie should be titled “Welcome to the Jungle”: (1) It’s a documentary about the rise and fall of Guns ‘N’ Roses (2) It’s a SyFy Original starring Axl Rose and/or Slash (3) It’s a cannibalism movie about people from the “civilized” world going into a jungle and the title was changed because some slime licking studio exec decided the original title of “Cannibals” wasn’t flashy enough to sell the flick. If you’re a sweet child of the ’80s and you’re hoping for doors one or two, well you’re soljwf (dig out your Witchboard and ask George Carlin’s ghost what that means) because we’re giving you what’s behind the curtain. Oh, and look, it’s George Kennedy sodomizing a donkey while chickens peck kernels of corn from his naked ass. ZONK!
In 1961, Michael Rockafeller (“Rockafeller”? I don’t even wanna touch a feller, let alone rock one! *rimshot*) [editor’s note: Rockefeller is actually spelled with an E, not an A. I didn’t want to ruin Anubis’ joke or hurt his feelings, so I left it as written.] went missing in New Guinea while doing some follow-up research on a tribe called the Asmat. A boat that Mikey and his travel partner René Wassing were on was overturned and the two stayed with the boat while their guides swam off to get help. Tired of waiting, Rockefeller decided to swim off himself to get help, but was never heard from again. Wassing was saved the following day, proving that good things come to those who wait… except for Return of the Living Dead 4, because that was just a flaming Hefty bag full of hobo shit.
Son to then Vice-President-to-be Nelson Rockefeller, the search for Michael went on for three years before he was finally declared dead in ’64, though his body was never found. Insert ominous *DUN-DUN-DUN!* here. Well, 40+ years later, in Fiji, college girly Aussie surfer friends Bijou (Veronica Sywak) and Mandi (Sandi Gardiner) get together for a little reunion vacation. Turns out they had one of those “all girls are lesbians at some point in college” relationships, and Mandi’s still carrying a torch in hopes that their reunification will include re-insertion of lady protrusions into each other’s south mouths. Her hopes are dashed before you can say “Lilith Fair” though, when Bij gets introduced to Mand’s boyfriend of two whole weeks, Colby (Callard Harris). Ouch. If you slow the movie down, you can pinpoint the exact moment the poor girl’s heart breaks.
Just so the trip won’t be a total loss of drunken physical stimulation (via the aforementioned insertions), Bij is set up with Colby’s equally American buddy Mikey (Nick Richey). While Colby’s more the “privileged white kid with well-to-do parents” stereotype, Mikey comes from the “pig-headed drunken frat boy” side of the tracks. They’re like the Odd Couple, only I hate them!
The lads heard from a helicopter pilot friend that a 70 year-old white guy who may or may not be the missing Rocker (Marty Jannetty?) was spotted in the nearby jungle of New Guinea. As there’s a standing one-million dollar bounty from the Rockefeller estate for any information as to the lost heir’s whereabouts, the crew decides to go on an amateur jungle hunt (my favorite Atari 2600 game) to investigate the sightings of said geezer. If he turns out to be the legit article, they plan to do an interview with the old man and claim the million bucks so they can buy solid gold sports cars, a lifetime supply of Jack Daniels and all the lesbians Bijou can eat!
A doubly effective joke, since she’s into girls AND we’re watching a cannibal movie! *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* Say no more!
After engaging in the popular New Guinea “x-treme sport” of evading getting carjacked (tourism tip: never stop for children sitting in the road of a third world country – ALWAYS RUN THEM OVER AND KEEP GOING!), the quartet find the local guide who claimed to the helicopter pilot to have seen Grandpa Rockefeller. As proof, the guide pulls out an old timey Zippo lighter with the letters “MCR” monogrammed on it, which the crew trades a bag of tobacco in exchange for. Bijou thinks that the natives could be smarter than they’re giving them credit for and they may very well just be fucking with the stupid white tourists. Meanwhile, Micheal’s frat boy “tough guy” attitude amps up with every scene and really starts to piss me off right around this time, as he picks a fight with some Indonesian border guards (and gets the shit rightly kicked out of them when he calls one of them “zipperhead”, not thinking they know English). This comes after having earlier started shit with some local dudes who almost took his head off for being a posturing prick. He also shows us that he brought a gun with him, because for a brief moment he thought he’d go all Dirty Harry on those border guards before they bitch slapped him around and made him piss himself. Fucking frat boys.
While out in the jungle, the quarter runs into a missionary couple (in that they’re religious recruiters, and not just enthusiasts of that particular sexual position) for an awkward and seemingly pointless scene. If those two don’t wind up impaled on stakes and castrated later on, I’m going to be very disappointed. Speaking of which, if Mikey and Bijou do get eaten, the natives are gonna get so wasted off their whiskey soaked meat. And if they don’t get eaten after making me hate their stupid pathetic alcoholic shit-for-brains asses, this movie immediately gets 1/2 star no matter what happens for the rest of the flick. Seriously, we’re halfway through the movie and if Colb and Mand don’t just leave these two a-holes out in the middle of fucking nowhere to be eaten alive, I’m seriously considering shutting this shit off. On the plus side though, this movie has given me the great idea that, should I ever decide to kill the two most irritating fuckers I’ve ever met, I’ll invite them out into the middle of an uncharted jungle where local cannibals will dispose of the bodies…
Eventually, after many days of wearing thin on each others nerves, Mister and Missus Drunkerton make a raft and break off on their own down river, stealing the group’s only map, all of the money, and probably they keys to their rental van. Sadly, since they also stole one of the two cameras that have been journalizing the journey, we still have the fuckhead couple shoved in our face for a while longer. Oh well, all the better and more satisfying when they finally run into pissed off natives (unhappy with shitweed Mike’s desecration of one of their sacred burial mounds prior) and suffer violent, torturous deaths. By that point though, my lethal exposure to the toxic twins had long killed any and all redemption that might’ve been brought on by said deaths. They’re like a cancer: even though the chemo might get rid of them, you’re still emotionally and mentally ravaged by the experience. Once they’re gone though, it’s back to Colby and Mandi with the second camera as we follow their whiny search for their brain dead cohorts. On the plus side, the whiny stuff isn’t nearly as long or as insanely infuriating as the drunken posturing and mouthing off.
Will Mandy and Colby find Michael Rockefeller, let alone make it out of the jungle alive? Or, will there be some kind of epilogue tacked onto the end to explain how the “footage” made it back to civilization when they didn’t? And even if they do make it out alive, what other shit will the writers put in there to fill out the rest of the running time? Truth be told, I’m not even 100% sure of what the fuck I saw right before the credits rolled. By that point, all I really cared about was that the credits were finally rolling, so fuck it, it’s an ending and that’s all that matters.
Shot in pseudo-documentary style a la The Blair Witch Project (only in digital, because it’s cheaper and makes more sense), it’s hard to tell whether Welcome to the Jungle is supposed to be an homage to Cannibal Holocaust or just an attempt to make a mainstream cash-in on a flick that most “normal” people have never heard of. Obviously Dimension wasn’t too impressed with it, considering the flick went straight to DVD as part of their “Dimension Extreme” label. In this case, “extreme” meant “not good enough for a theatrical release”. To be fair though, Dimension Extreme also brought us the halfway decent Black Sheep, so they’re not all bollocks and ball socks. Whatever the fuck a “ball sock” is.
Considering the lack of explicit gore, vulgar rape sequences, National Geographic style native junk and disturbingly haunting and almost surreal score, I’m assuming it’s just a standard “buy low, sell high” cash-in effort by writer-director Jon Hensleigh. He’s written a bit of everything genre-wise, from Jumanji to Die Hard With A Vengeance. He also took up both writer and directorial chores for the 2004 version of The Punisher.
There are a couple of moments where the graphic special effects are actually done pretty damn well, but the inane dialogue and my general hatred for half the cast (compared to my “moderately steeped dislike” of the other half) just served as a black hole, sucking in any enjoyment I might’ve taken from the rest of the flick. If Cannibal Holocaust is too much for you to handle, but you’re still interested in the “raw footage” motif of a cannibal hunting movie and you can get past nerve baring characters, you might be up for a viewing of Welcome to the Jungle. As for me, well, I’d say it’s pretty friggin’ obvious how I feel about the whole craptacular debacle. Adieu!
Xtro: Damn! I don’t know if I was just way more bitter 8 years ago (“Bit him too!”), or if I just had a vendetta against any and every “found footage” flick between Blair Witch and [REC], but my original 1 star rating for this one is way off! Having re-viewed it for this rerun re-reviewing, I appreciate it a hell of a lot more now than I did upon my initial criticizing! Well, maybe not a hell of a lot more, but let’s say at least a moderately sized purgatory more. Not that we have to actually say that, because as every woman who’s ever gone down on Ron Jeremy has said, “that’s a mouthful”.
For starters, let me put it out there that I have in no way lightened my stance on Mikey: that stance being me with my size 13 boot firmly planted on his neck, making him denounce Adam Sandler movies if he ever wants the canned piss that is Old Milwaukee to cross his lips again. I know he’s meant to be the brain-splittingly obnoxious frat boy stereotype “TO THE EXTREME!!!1!” (especially given that his death is the most satisfyingly drawn out later on), but I also stand by my original statement that he’s so overly annoying that he’s what I call a “human onion”: even well after he’s gone, we’re still trying to get the rancid aftertaste of him out of our mouths. His specter lingers so long that I forget anything else about the “meal” and spend the next few hours wishing I’d asked the waiter for no Mikey.
Though Bijou isn’t much better, and the duo’s “party every night!” attitude gives me oozing pustules on my soul, this time around I actually find myself relating to her. Not because I’m a cunty drunk, but because I know the crushing disappointment of looking forward to reuniting with someone you still carry a torch for, only to have them douse it right out of the gate by introducing you to their new Kama Sutra co-pilot. It’s not the other person’s fault for moving on, but it doesn’t make it any easier to find out you’re the only one still living in the past. So, whether it’s because they’re both soulless partily-heartily types or Bij just wants a rebound fuck to get over the disappointment and/or resentment of having her hype for the clam buffet busted into a million little pieces (or she’s just trying to make Mandi “jealous”), she and Mikey actually hit it off and it makes sense. Depressing, annoying, understandable sense.
Oh yeah, speaking of the boozers, here’s one of the biggest hemorrhoids this movie planted in my crack: How much fucking alcohol did they weigh their packs down with to fuel such a party bus to Drunken Regrets Town?! By Jupiter! B & M (huh huh, “BM”) get shitfaced EVERY NIGHT, and they’re wandering out there for something like a week or more! You’re four people going into the fucking jungle for an extended period of time, yet you waste precious food & water space for rum!? Unless those two are the world’s lightest lightweights and have been getting blitzed on a couple of shots a day, up yours movie! Fuckin’ “Blart of the Day” award winner.
Whether you side with Couple A as people with a goal who want to get things done, or Couple B as people who want to make it party time all the time because life’s too short to be a fuddy-duddy, you’re more than likely going to end up taking a side while watching them pick at each other and come close to blows several times. Did you agree with Bij & Mike when they gave Mand & Colb the double “single digit salute” and ran off with the party’s map and valuables? Or, did you get a little more joy than you thought you would when the rebel pairing start turning on each other because they’re both self-centered knobs (who can’t get along without getting their faces idiomatically shitted first) and deserve the pain and horror they’re in store for? Even if your investment is simply, “I can’t wait to watch (insert names here) DIE!”, it’s still an investment!
I also made notice of something else that helps flesh out the four a bit more in character terms upon this viewing. There’s a short “five questions” segment the group records prior to their expedition, where each answers a handful of queries like “Do you believe in god?” and “What’s your relationship with your parents?”. A quick and dirty way to add a little more depth to them without shoehorning the same shit into forced “this was clearly scripted” conversations later or leaving it out entirely.
Even without a lot of cannibal screen time, the movie still pulls from its action hat (also today’s sponsor: Action Hat!™) to keep tension engaged via conflicts between our Wonder Bread quartet and foreign antagonists in the shape of angry locals, would-be hijackers, and border guards who don’t take kindly to racial slurs shouted by an entitled honkey frat boy whom we can all enjoy knowing will never grow up to be a frat man, constantly telling his wife and kids about how lucky every other guy around him is that he doesn’t “beat their asses”. If only we could’ve watched him raped to death by CHUDs.
And there we have it: Welcome to the Jungle is a lot better than I remembered it. It’s typical found-footage failures (like “Why would you keep filming this when you should be running for your life?!” moments) and movie logic flops (Why would they bring so much alcohol!?) work against it, but it’s nowhere near the bottom of the barrel of festering fish paste that I tossed it into with my original opinionation. Not a big fan of the “surprise” ending where a fat old guy we’re supposed to suspect is the lost feller rocker wanders in front of the video camera, nor of the little detail the movie left out about how this found-footage was supposed to have been found, but that still doesn’t make it a horrid waste of 90 minutes. Overall, it’s a Log™ flick – it’s better than bad, it’s good! But not great.
Before I go, I’d like to say that my newly discovered non-hate for Welcome in no way absolves Jon Hensleigh for his fucking “the blond guy from Deep Blue Sea vs. Vinnie Barbarino” Punisher movie. An elaborate scheme involving parking tickets and diamond earrings just to make a mobster kill his own wife out of suspicion?! Having him slowly pulled behind a car to his inevitable death amidst a exploding parking lot?! Fuck you. Frank Castle would’ve just shot the whole family in their collective faces and burned their mansion down to get any of the survivors. In an otherwise overwhelmingly “okay” movie, those segments brought it down to Dyson Ball Vacuum levels. It didn’t just suck, it sucked so hard that if it were to engage in fellatio, it would implode its partner’s testicles, creating a scrotal black hole! In a more Punisher-centric comparable scenario, that movie sucks so hard that I’m convinced it took detailed notes on how to suck by watching Angela make love to the 2nd Amendment in that Night of the Demons 3 scene! In case your bad movie education didn’t include the NotD trilogy, let me bring you up to speed:
Anyway, tune in this Sunday for that “very special episode” I mentioned! Mark your calenders! Set an alert on your myfacespacebook page! As for me, I’m gonna order my Green Inferno tickets and listen to this inappropriately upbeat song. Keep it sleazy, kiddos!
“As this photo shows, Rockefeller was also apparently the proto-hipster from which all other hipsters devolved!”
When not being used for their intended function of providing milk for a nursing infant, the breasts of the human female have evolved to also serve as pillows! Evolution in action.
That’s either a decorative desk lamp or the world’s second largest martini.
The term is actually “caught behind the 8 ball”, but whatever. Oddly enough, this comes in right around the 13 minute mark…
Looks like we got another cracker who thinks his white privilege includes casual usage of the n-word!
“More of the you fucking white people and your reality shows?! By the nine tribes! How about you leave me alone until you bring The Price Is Right Live! tour with you!”
“Did you guys pull the short stick for your missionary group too? Oh well. At least if we die out here we’ll finally find out if all this Jesus stuff was worth it, right? Haha… ha….. ha.”
I’m all for leaving up the holiday decorations a few weeks past due, but somebody needs to tell these Asmat guys that Halloween was over six months ago!
Look, a big empty bonehead… and he’s holding a skull! *rimshot*
When bulimics go too far, things can get very messy.
“Hey! Get out of that river, you damn kids! That’s our drinking water!”
“Fiiiiiigarooooo! Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! Fiiiiiigaaaaarooooooo!”
“Don’t tase me bro! I’m unarmed!”
“Where the hell did the random old white guy come from?!”
“Oh, don’t mind him. That’s just our neighbor, Mr. Warner. He’s got dementia and wanders around the neighborhood sometimes. He won’t bother us. Let’s get back to our blood ritual!”
Anubis will return next time in
“Werewolves. Mayhem. Soap.”
Featuring: Michael “’Doctors‘” McKell , Raquel “Dagon” Meroño , Charlotte “’The Tudors‘” Salt
Director: Brian “Bride of Re-Animator” Yuzna
Writers: Mike “Asmodexia” Hostench & Ángel Sala
Also Known As: Evil Lake ; Lake of the Dead
Summertime and the livin’s easy. The days of fun in the sun are over and for me that means a glorious return to weather where I don’t have to worry about my taint turning into the Okefenokee. Labor Day is here, and before we give the season its official “go fuck yourself”, be sure to share an ice cold bottle of the Coke product of your choice with the ones you love.
Two down and two to go: today’s episode is the third installment of our “Fantastic Four” reviews thing (semi-)event. After two less-than-stellar flicks in Faust and The Nun, can Beneath Still Waters pick us up, dust us off, and give us at least some regret that Yuzna’s short-lived production company is no more? Or, will the final film of their line further push the possibility that the Fantastic Factory’s failure was a mercy killing? Bailiff, bring in the jury and let’s get deliberatin’!
Not to be confused with the 2000 Harrison Ford & Michelle Pfeiffer supernatural murder mystery What Lies Beneath, our subject shares its name with the novel upon which it’s based. I know nothing about said novel though, as I’m illiterate (let that sink in for a moment or three), so at no point will I be citing comparisons between the two or critiquing the faithfulness of said adaptation. As you may expect though, I will be critiquing the crap out of the movie itself. With that said…
There’s a disturbing “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” practice across the world in which growing populations will damn up rivers in valleys to create artificial aquatic bodies that provide said populaces with necessary water to continue their social expansions. Though not disturbing in and of itself (unless mankind mutilating entire ecosystems for their own convenience makes you queasy), sometimes this process involves the sacrifice of entire villages that made the mistake of setting themselves up in prime territory. Yep, the people are relocated, whatever they can’t carry is left behind, and the buildings are swallowed up, all because the bigger town needed to flush more toilets. “If it yellow, leave it mellow”? Up yours. That’s gross. Click >>HERE (http://weburbanist.com/2014/03/10/drowned-towns-10-underwater-ghost-cities-buildings/)<< to find out more!
Our movie centers around one such human sized aquarium. In 1964, the small Spanish town of Marienbad was sunken for the sake of its neighboring village of Desbaria. After an opening credits sequence that resembles first person drunk-o-vision dizzily staring at a mural WAY too closely (as a fog machine occasionally barfs out smoke nearby), we’re introduced to two boys from The Des’ – Teo (Santiago Pasaglia) and Luis (Omar Muñoz). Twenty years too early to get into video games and deprived of the outlet to show random strangers their genitalia via Snapchat, the lads (whose accents sound more French than Spanish) decide to play Goonies and explore the abandoned buildings early on in the process, before the place goes under. And maybe fit in a little window breaking vandalism fun while they’re at it. Inside one of the structures they find walls covered with ritualistic symbols and writings, along with demonic statues and a painting of a creepy looking old dude. In the basement, they also find a small group of people chained up around a flaming inverted pentagram altar in the floor. It’s basically Satan’s barbecue pit.
As the incarcerated beg for their release, a well-dressed figure with a black bag over his head calmly instructs the boys to ignore the others and come set him free instead. Obediently, Teo comes over and cuts the man’s hands free, despite the desperate pleas of his compadre Luis. Taking off his hood, the guy (Patrick Gordon) is revealed to be the menacing geezer from the painting. If Phantasm‘s Tall Man and The Final Sacrifice‘s Satoris both ejaculated into a cloning machine set to “British”, this guy would be what comes out. Hell, he dresses like he goes to the same tailor too! As a reward for being a good junior human and doing what he’s told, Unsweetened T gets his head torn open at the mouth like a meat Pez dispenser, while his horrified buddy beats feet right the fuck outta town. Literally.
Two score years (and some time lapse) later, the damn dam’s anniversary is on the horizon and shit’s about to get freaky. Desbaria native Clara Borgia (Charlotte Salt) has a weird daydream/vision about her grandpa Roberto (Antonio Portillo) emerging from the lake and warning her of a shadowy, sharp dressed man in a luxury car lurking nearby. But I thought every girl was crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man? Has everything we’ve learned from ZZ Top been a lie?! Are their sunglasses truly cheap?! Does the eponymous “she” even know how to use her legs!? I don’t know what to believe anymore!
When Gramps’ face melts away and his screaming skull falls off, Clar wakes up horrified on the beach of the body of water in question, but is affirmed by her friend Susana (Pilar Soto) that everything’s groovy. They have a brief conversation about death (Clar thinks death is just a straight up ending, while Suze is more the afterlife type) before opting to forget their cares with a swim! With Susana’s bikini in place, I approve this plan. Their friend Antonio (Damia Plensa) pops up for a fake scare and to show us his uncanny ability to apparently breathe underwater (seriously, how long was he under there?!), while I get flashbacks of Zombie Lake what with all these sub-aquatic camera angles of young women in their bathing suit attire. It’s not as bad here because it doesn’t go on for ten aimless minutes, but it’s also not as good because the ladies aren’t flashing exploitative levels of gratuitous boobs & bush. Yes, I know there are 8 trillion hours of free pornography I can access on the internet with 2 minutes and a free hand, but extraneous titillation of the lady flesh variety gives me pleasant memories of my high school days. Make like a KitKat and gimme a break, Debbie Downer.
Antonio’s antics antagonize the ladies at first, but Clar gives in and agrees to go with the d-bag for a ride on his jet ski. Not a euphemism, mind you, as his hydro-craft is parked nearby. He also strikes me as the type of dudebro who wouldn’t know what the fuck a “euphemism” is to begin with. When Suze is seized by seemingly sentient seaweed, her BFF saves her butt and brings her to shore. The aggressive algae leaves behind some bruising (both emotional and physical), but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a few puffs from Susana’s emergency cigarette, which she lights up immediately after. At least she doesn’t end up like Tony Toni Toné, who gets maimed by something else from the murky depths. The goober spills blood like an Exxon tanker before being dragged to his apparent deceasement. Good riddance to the movie’s big rubber dick.
Elsewhere, British (maybe?) investigative reporter Dan Quarry (Michael McKell) has come to town to do some diving and try to rake a bit of muck on the real reason that Marienbad was turned into a reservoir. I’d like to think that his name was originally intended to be Dan Query, given his occupation, but Matt Costello (the book’s author) chose to change it when he realized it would’ve been a bit too on-the-nose. Probably not, but oh well. Anway, while parusing the dam, our hero-to-be wanders into the personal space of local news reporter Teresa (Raquel Meroño), who also happens to be Clara’s madre. Ter’s shooting b-roll footage for their coverage of the preparations for the dam’s 40th anni cele. Sorry, trying a bit of the shorthand like the kids these days are so into. I feel I should cut my fingertips off now in penance.
The inevitable love interests introduce themselves while Dan preps for his first dive into the down below, until Ter gets a call from Clar about the Antonio emergency. She takes her camera crew with her in case there’s a story to be had, and Dan suits up so he can get to work. The movie’s underwater scenes are actually pretty well shot for a small budget affair, and earn the movie a fair bump in quality. Kudos to Yuzna and his crew for pulling them off. So far not bad for BSW!
While exploring, Dan finds the evil house of the evil people, including the evil painting of the evil old man, which is in evilly good shape for having been submerged in evil water for four evil decades. But, when he tries to delve into the building’s basement, a sinister swathe of seaweed gets tangled in his respirator! Clearing the intrusive plantlife from his breather, he sallies forth, completely missing the part where an entire human arm falls to the lake floor and brushes his shoulder in passing! Since the guy’s not getting the hint, the lake stops being subtle and flat out attacks Diver Dan with a black cloud of (poorly) computer generated goo. He was like a fresh faced barely legal letting a pervy old squid jizz on his face for heroin money. Sounds like the basis for some pornographic Snork fanfic. Nasty.
Back at the beach, a police rescue team searches for Tony’s leftovers while Teresa consoles her daughter in the wake of the tragedy. Their bonding time is cut short when mom opts to put career over family and bum rush Desbaria’s mayor Luca (Richard Borràs) for a statement. Luca took over the office after Teresa’s father passed away. He takes all of his political advice from Jaws‘s Mayor Vaughn, as every line out of his mouth is about covering up or excusing any and all incidents related to the lake’s devious deeds so as not to disrupt the big dam-iversary shindig. As he says, right before faux comforting Tony’s parents in a photo op, “The show must go on!”.
If he lives to the end credits, it will be both a miracle and a shame.
Dan surfaces amidst the combing, relieving us that he wasn’t taken by the inky digital cloud. The town’s hard-ass Police Captain, Keller (Carlos Castañón), wastes no time trying to arrest our protagonist as a suspect in Tony’s drowning. Teresa steps forward as his alibi, telling Keller that she was with Dan when Clara called her about the incident, so there’s no way he could’ve been involved. Being a spiteful fucker who was hoping to wrap this case up with little-to-no effort by imprisoning an outsider, Keller confiscates Danny’s video camera, only offering to return it once Mr. Quarry can provide proof of his diving permits. I’d make a joke here about what would’ve happened had Dan been black or Latino and Keller had been an American cop, but you can only make that joke so many times before it’s just too depressing to say anymore. I’m leaving those up to Larry Willmore. Now I’m going to have to go watch an “MST3K” episode just to get the figurative flavor of misery out of my mental taste buds. Blah.
[Two house later] Ah, that’s better! Nothing puts you in the spirit to ignore reality and piss on movies like Pumaman! Back to business! 😀
At the dam, the caretaker slash professional “George Eastman in Anthropophagus” lookalike Julio (Josep Maria Pou) has discovered a sizable crack in the structure that requires immediate attention. When he calls his supervisor though, a ghostly (and silly) voice on the phone claiming to be his dead wife Rosa convinces him to keep his trap shut, as he’s likely to lose his job and his pension if his drunken neglect is blamed for allowing such damage to get as bad as it is. I’m sad that there wasn’t a scene of Julio trying to patch the leak with bubblegum a la Chevy Chase in Vegas Vacation, but you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need. When our intrepid truth seekers stop by for a visit and a look around, Julio chats with Dan about the suspiciously sped up circumstances revolving around the town’s burial. Teresa gets defensive about their conspiracy speak, since her father was the one in charge of the whole thing. As he shows them everything but the huge crack (Niki Minaj butt joke goes here), a moderate tremor shakes the place up. Ter says they’re on top of a fault line, so this is normal and happens every few years. Me? I’m hoping for Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward to show up to fight Graboids for the rest of the movie. As per always, my hopes will be inevitably dashed upon the jagged rocks of reality.
The following morning, Clara has another vision about her melty faced grandpa. This time he approaches her in her kitchen, pushing some manner of grimoire on her and saying a Latin phrase that translates to “That which created you hold the seeds to your destruction” before she snaps out of it. An allusion to how the villain will be defeated in the final act, or a warning that her mother will be her own downfall? Maybe both? You could jump to the end of the review and find out, but I’d stick around. There are some pretty poor attempts at humor in the remaining paragraphs you won’t want to miss!
A short scene at Grandpa Roberto’s grave shows us that the malevolant man from the opening is already in the picture (no word on how, though), as he monologues his intentions to take everything Borgia created – his town, his people, his family, his social security checks, his speed boat, his vintage collection of “Black Tail” magazines…you get the idea. Back at the scene of Antonio’s death, Suze posits the “What do you think happens to you when you die?” query to Clar again, only to get the same “Nothing. You just don’t exist.” reply. Deeply disturbed by her friend’s atheistic answer, the blonde throws a fit, accuses Clar of not caring, then leaves. An upset Clara then confronts her mom for not being around that morning, accuses her of not caring, then leaves to go to her babysitting job. So she’s a babysitter, eh? That means she’ll either prove to be the movie’s true heroine, or end up running away from the villain. Or, she could WWLSD (What Would Laurie Strode Do) it and manage both!
Meanwhile, back at the
ranch dam, Jules (who presumably lives in the massive structure since he’s seemingly never left) fishes his breakfast bottle of hooch from the keepin-it-cold lake water, only to be accosted by some hideous, loincloth clad monstrosity! Revisiting my earlier cloning machine comparison, this thing would be the subhumanoid offspring of a 3-way mating dance between Castle Freak, a C.H.U.D., and the alpha ghoul from [REC]. Coming out of the water, it makes the bathtub hag from The Shining look like Charlize Theron in Reindeer Games or Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. That sentence is making my penis all kinds of confused right now! Gah!
The beast refers to Julio by name, and he calls her Rosa, so I’m presuming this is a manifestation of the aforementioned dead wife, likely as the self-esteem robbing, soul crushing, emasculating bitch she was portrayed as during their prior “Twilight Zone – Night Call” telephone exchange. I’m hoping it’s not what his wife actually looked like when she died, though that would explain why Julio became a rancid alcoholic. Whatever the case, the cretinous creation corners Julio then drags him to his watery grave. Meh, it was quicker and less painful than the liver failure he was likely headed towards in the near future, so I consider it a mercy killing.
At the lake proper, Dan helps a pair of police divers search the hoary depths for Antonio’s remains. They find the evil house and are attacked by the same sinister squid squeezings that waylayed Daniel previously. Driven back to the surface, they bring with them the oddly decomposed severed head of Julio! The portlier of the pair catches a glimpse of some golden light effect across the water’s surface and it compels him to dive right back in, only to have his dismembered (and similarly oddly decomposed) bits and pieces float back to the surface shortly after. After all the pieces have been collected, the forensics officer on scene postulates that the mutilation could’ve been an animal attack or a bad date with the boat’s propeller. The latter being the most believable of the two (especially since an animal in the lake would just scare people away), the Mayor says that’s the story they’ll go with, and they’ll wait until after the celebration to file the report. Are we sure it’s the poor man’s Angus Scrimm that’s the villain of this flick!?
The pissed off Police Captain (now sporting a nasty looking and unexplained foreshadow wound across his right jaw!) blames Dan for this too, and threatens to throw him jail if he sees him in town again. Dan waves it off, saying he won’t be coming back once he gets his camera back. Being a massive prick, Keller returns said equipment, but proceeds to throw the recovered film into the lake as a big “FUCK YOU!”. Rather than letting Dan skip town like he intends, Teresa appeals to his investigative side and gets him to stay on the story (and on her, I’m sure) by following a possible lead: Luis, the boy who survived the opening scene, lives just outside of town and may be worth a look-up.
Elsewhere, Clara’s on the clock looking after a brother and sister pair – David (Alejandro de Nova) and Samantha (Gara Muñoz). Of course, the brat I share my human name with has to be a whiny little fit-throwing skidmark who hates popcorn. As if it weren’t already hard enough sharing my name with dick sneezes like David Duke and David Lee Roth. Also, my sole sibling’s name is Samantha, making this all the weirder for me. Naturally, snot bag David sneaks off to the lake while Clar’s nose deep in a book, but she realizes he’s gone just in time to save him from “playing” with a vision of the Rosa monster and presumably drowning himself. Why it couldn’t just pull him under like it did with Julio isn’t explained, but whatever. Also, the lake’s gotten oddly foggy in the two minutes since Dan and Ter were standing next to it…
On their drive to interview Luis (in adult form portrayed by Manuel Manquina), Dan describes the feeling of being in the black cloud as “the total absence of life”. He goes on to compare it to the same feeling he had when his young son fell through some ice and drowned. He attempted to save the kid, but gave in to instinct and went up for air, despite knowing that you have 30 seconds before your body starts to shut down under such conditions. So not only did Dan lose his sole heir, but he blames himself for not saving him when his logical mind knew he could have. Since Dan’s an experienced diver, his failure and subsequent loss is made all the more tragic. He also casually drops that his marriage ended shortly thereafter, subtly giving Teresa the go ahead to get jiggy with his banger and mash, should the urge take her. *wink*wink*
Upset over the near death-by-negligence of David, Clar calls mom for moral support. Ter agrees to meet her shortly. But when Dan offers to hold off on checking out Luis so she can go to her daughter’s side immediately, mom opts to widen the rift with her offspring in favor of sticking with her new beau-to-be. She none-too-subtley drops her own hints of intention, telling Dan that she regrets that she could never give Clara a “proper family”, and that her own mother’s death left her feeling alone and scared. Cue the first kiss as the two make out in front of Luis’s Fred Sanford lookin’ junk pile hoard of a front yard. Luis introduces himself by interrupting their tongue wrestling to spout Crazy Ralph style portents of the dam bursting and flushing the whole town to Hell. If I had a dollar for every time I was cockblocked by a crazy guy spouting veiled threats at me, I’d have a dollar. Shit you not, it happened to me once while I was making out with a lady friend on the subway platform. A drunk old white guy shouted something racist about how god would bury us in a landfill for our mixed-breed mouth play. It was too fucking weird to even get angry about. We just thanked him for the warning and went back to it. In my head, his story ended when he was pushed in front of the D train by Black Dynamite.
Luis confirms that Grandpa Borgia and his associates were indeed responsible for flooding Marienbad, and they did indeed use less0than-legal methods in both purchasing the land out from under the township and in pushing the project through as fast as possible. However, it wasn’t just a real estate scam, as Dan surmises. Borgia knew that there was evil going on in the town. Evil that he had spent his life fighting, and evil that Luis posits he’s still fighting “from beyond the grave” (i.e., via the visions that Clara’s been having). This includes her latest, in which Grandpa, on his deathbed, tells her “When I die, he’ll come for you. Clara, don’t submit. You have the power to resist”, before she’s started back into consciousness by the sight of Tall Man Light (Great taste, less killing!)
Luis further fills in the backstory, telling Dan and Teresa about one Mordecai Salas. Bingo, our antagonist has a name-o. Mord was in cahoots with a disciple of noted English occultist Aleister Crowley, who was NOT a Satanist as most people think, but the founder of Thelema. Thelema is a philosophy very much like actual modern Satanism which has nothing to do with Christianity, but simply revolves around the Brad Goodman “Be like the boy/Do as you feel” credo; and promotes aligning yourself with your personal “True Will” through the practice of sorcery. Anyway, Salas learned dark magic from this unnamed disciple until said lackey mysteriously croaked it during one of the rituals. After that, Mordy came back to Marienbad with the grimoire from Clara’s hallucinations, upon whose pages he wrote his spells in blood. No word on if the book was also bound in human flesh, but I would imagine so, as it was the style at the time.
Through his newfound who-doo magicks, the creep summoned an insidious campfire powered by the Devil’s own farts that gave he and his followers great power and prosperity. Much like Dagon would teach us a few years previously, unholy prosperity comes with unholy punishment: drought, infection, deformed babies and the corrupting black sludge spread across the town. Citizens dropped out of church to instead relish in the sadistic sex parties and gore-soaked blood orgies of Mordecai’s fruity little club. Cannibalism, torture, child murder…they had it all! Then, of course, Borgia and his buddies party-pooped all over it. They chained the cultists up in the basement of their sin shack and buried Salas’ Encyclopedia Satanica within the sanctified grounds of the town church to weaken him so he couldn’t escape the oncoming flood.
Back to the rest of our cast. Susana confronts Clara for a third time about Antonio, asking her: “What do you do when you never got the chance to say ‘I love you’?”. Clara yet again replies with something less than comforting, which (yet again) incites Suze to denounce her as cold and callous, before kissing her on the cheek and giving her one of those “I’m going to kill myself now” goodbyes. More irritated than concerned, Clar says nothing and goes back to babysitting. That night, when the kids’ mom returns home, David’s disappeared again while Clara was sleeping. I don’t see her getting a good reference out of this job! Mrs. Martin goes off to look for him in a panic, ending up getting romanced Evil Dead style on the forest floor by some persistent fauna consisting of a Cronenbergian flesh pod (that sprays her in the face with an aerosol Rohypnol) and some eye-peelingly poor computer generated seaweed vines that cocoon around her. Meanwhile, David pops up at home, asking Clara what happened. Maybe before running off into the forest, someone should’ve checked to see if the kid was just on the crapper?!
Nearby, Susana’s having a one-woman pity party on the beach, getting drunk and screaming “ANTONIO!” while throwing beers into the lake in case the dead guy gets thirsty. In a fit of inebriated post-tragedy horniness, she takes off her clothes (revealing surgically mutilated fake breasts) so they can have “one last swim together”. As she’s getting in, demonic one-armed zombie Antonio (looking impressively horrific) rises from the depths! Unlike Julio, who tried to escape his mutant wife monster, Suze doesn’t have a single fuck to spare and just lays down spread eagle in the sand, ready for some of that sweet rotten corpse dick (barnacled for her pleasure!). Instead, she gets a mouthful of her neck torn out, which seems like the scenario most people would prefer when considering what she wanted to happen. Such is the power of love and cheap beer, I suppose.
When Dan and Teresa write Luis off as a nutcase, he takes her hostage with a metal cross/shortsword to her throat and demands Dan drive them to the dam. Just as they’re about to make their escape from the loony toon, Mordecai appears in the middle of the road while Dan does the stupid thing and STOPS! When you’re in a horror movie and something appears from nowhere directly in the path of your car, you RUN IT OVER and keep on driving! I don’t endorse doing that in real life though, so don’t try to pin your vehicular manslaughter charges on me. I’m looking at YOU, Chad. Anyway, the trio’s confrontation with dime store Lurch doesn’t go well for Luis, as the baddie uses his Satanic Force powers to pull the poor man through a car window, forces him to slit his own Achilles tendons, lifts him into the air, spins him around playfully, then bends both his arms backwards at the elbows like a bad guy in a Steven Seagal movie and explodes his torso! Devil Man adds insult to injury by dropping what’s left of Luis to the ground and doing that weird jaw rip he gave Teo. Not unlike the maiming a disguised MechaGodzilla gave to Godzilla cronie/homie Anguirus in Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla. As a final gross-out insult, Mord also rips Luis’ tongue out with and eats it! By Ra’s balls, it’s one of the most brutal death scenes I’ve seen in a good long while! I have to add an extra 2/3 of a rating point just for that.
Gambling his fortunes needlessly, Mord chooses to let Dan and Teresa go, making fun of them for Dan’s dead son and Teresa’s shitty parenting rather than turning them inside out. He pulls the Bond villain move of declaring his intentions to take Clara as his own, then walks back to his car and leaves. Proving the ghoul’s point, Teresa hesistates going to protect Clara as she’s more concerned with Dan’s well being and wants to go with him. He tells her he’s got a plan and sends her to go find her daughter, which she begrudgingly concedes to. As for the rest of town, while the crack in the dam embiggens, the revelers at the dam-iversary are elevating from “drunken merrymaking” to full-on “seven deadly sins”. The bacchanal sees people writhe nekkidly together whilst whipping each other, a woman squishes her tits into the celebratory cake (that looks like someone picked up for $5 at the sketchy old grocery store in the poor section of town), a priest gets ready to fuck (or be fucked by) a black goat, a chicken squawks frighteningly at what’s likely going to happen to it, and so forth. What of those not socializing with Satan? They’re turning into violent, laughing maniacs who are mutilating themselves and killing each other, which is one of my favorite scenarios! It reminds me of the phenomenally unsettling PlayStation 3 game Siren: Blood Curse. If you don’t know what this is, I prescribe the following video and wish you best of luck with the resultant night terrors it’s likely to give you.
The possessed Police Captain herds Clara and the kids toward the waiting Mordecai in one of those fun “people running with flashlights” chase scenes (It’s the NBC Sunday Night Mystery Movie!), while Teresa is at the Martin house acquiring a gun from some fat cop she finds sawing off his own limbs. Mord threatens to show Clar and the children just what comes after death for realsies if she doesn’t submit to him and become his Bride of Boogedy. Not wanting to die herself, she goes with the gaunt gentleman as he walks her across the lake’s surface toward their unholy honeymoon, offering her immortality and a world of lust and violence once the dam breaks and Marienbad rises from its tomb. Ter shows up just in time to beg Mord to take her instead, then tells Clar to move while she tries to get a clear shot on the bad guy. Like any teen, Clara defies her mother and chooses to go through with the “marriage” to the creepy old creep instead. Reason number 452 as to why I’ll never reproduce.
Down below them, Dan’s plan is to do another night dive into the remains of Marienbad, search the church for Mord’s tome and return it to the eternal infernal flame from whence it came. As soon as he removes it from its resting place, the evil trapped below is freed. A weird dimensional bubble forms around the evil basement apartment/ritual room that not only gives life to the deformed corpses still chained there, but also creates a breathable dry area in which Dan can go about his deed without need of his breathing mask. Though I’d probably keep it on were it me, as I can’t imagine desiccated mutant re-animates would smell too good after soaking in filthy lake water for 40 years. Dan’s dead son comes from nowhere (obviously an illusion) and pleads with dear old dad not to toss the book into the fire. Realizing that this is all bullshit, Dan spurns the mop-headed turd and makes Fredric Wertham proud by tossing the evil book into the evil fire. This, of course, makes Salas vulnerable, which is the perfect time for Teresa to show off her crack shot skills, putting a slug right between his eyes. She actually fires of several rounds, only one of which hits him. Clara is miraculously unscathed. Mord could teach Darth Anakin a few things about shouting “NOOOOOO!”, as the lake smokes around him and he sinks into the dark water to his end.
Clara goes down with him, but Dan gets to redeem himself for his failure to save his son as he grabs his future stepdaughter on his ascent and saves her. She’s laid out on the beach and manages to barf up a bunch of ingested water, bringing herself back to consciousness. Good thing too, since NOBODY attempted to give her CPR! Teresa gets my vote for Shittiest Mom of the Year. Back at the anniversary celebration, everyone passes out, only to wake up feeling strange and with massive hangovers. They’re left wondering why everyone’s naked, covered in food, blood, and welts, and who impregnated all of the livestock. I’d be curious to see what kind of Village of the Damned type follow up this party would have led to, if only we’d been given a sequel.
Just when you think everything’s wrapped up in a nice little package, it turns out nobody paid the Thai masseuse for a happy ending! David lowers his head, flashes a “you’re fucked now” look like Damian, mutters “I hate them.”, then his eyes light up with fire and the dam explodes anyway! It’s not entirely out of left field though, as upon my second viewing I noticed that Mordecai and Dave have a brief moment while the ne’er-do-well is dying where their eyes lock. Weird that he’d choose to inhabit the body of a kid, though that could just be because kids don’t have strong enough wills to resist him. Then again, being a whiny, selfish little dickhead, you’d think his will might be a little too strong. Whatever. I appreciate endings where the villain triumphs, but this came off a little too deus ex machina for my taste buds.
Of the Fantastic Factory flicks I’ve featured so far, Beneath Still Waters is the top of the group. I love the concept of a drowned ghost town full of closet skeletons and evil cultists. Though if I’m being honest, were I Grandpa Borgia, I think I would’ve burned the joint down in a “mysterious fire”, as opposed to going through the drawn out process of submerging it. This would’ve killed the novelty of the story though, so fuck me. I also enjoy the knock off Tall Man, especially given that we haven’t had nearly enough of the genuine article for years, so a stand-in can be appreciated. It’s not unlike cheating on a spouse during the decade they’ve been in outer space. We horror fans have needs that require addressing and Mordecai Salas does that for me. That being said, I do have a nitpick or two to put forward on the man. For starters, where the Hel was the guy for the last 40 years?! Also, if he had the Midichlorian/Midi-chlorian count to be able to slaughter Luis the way he did, why wouldn’t he just wreck everybody the same way?! I get that he kept Teresa alive so she could watch him corrupt Clara all for his petty vendetta to fill the Borgia family tree with gypsy moths and termites, but why bother leaving Dan intact? You’d think Mordy would’ve been smart enough to consider that the solitary person capable of stopping him would be the only skilled diver left in the entire fucking township!
Patrick Gordon’s voice is exceedingly British. It sounds exactly like the Michael Caine-ish actor playing Homer in the video Mr. Burns uses to convince Bart that his family no longer loves him in the “Burns’ Heir” episode of “The Simpsons”. I keep waiting for him to say “I mean, what the hell am I doing here?!”. Gordon and McKell (whose IMDB bio says was a “prolific singer and songwriter in the ‘80s)’s line readings were the only ones I really cared for, because just like every other FF movie, half the cast is dubbed and the other half speak poor English through heavy inflections. I’d rather they made the movies in Spanish and subtitled the dam things (see what I did there?) instead. After these last few weeks, I’d be happy to never have to listen to another Spanish person speaking English again. No diggity. I’ve overkilled my ear canals with the aural labor of listening to these bad line readers and even worse dubbings. By the time this gimmick’s run its course, not even Satanico Pandemonium herself will be able to charm my trouser snake with that accent. On the plus side though, we always get at least one amazing overdramatic reading that you can’t help but laugh at every time. Today’s line comes courtesy of Clara, and is posted at the top of the review. Hilarious.
The music tends to not be great in these flicks either. Most of the soundtrack here is not too awful, while some of it’s just uncut bricks of terrible and wholly out of place. It sounds like it was lifted from a ’90s Full Moon horror-comedy, with too much “farty trombone” for a seriously toned tale such as this. You know what wasn’t a letdown though? The practical makeup effects! The CG stuff will sear your corneas off if you stare directly at it for too long, but the monster makeup is REALLY good! Many thanks to Pedro de Diego (also worked on Beyond Re-Animator and The Machinist), Pedro Rodriguez, and David Ambit (also worked on all four [REC] movies!), who all received top billing in the end credits! And rightfully so! The severed heads weren’t the greatest, but by the many tantacles of Nyarlathotep, the Rosa monster, zombie Antonio, decayed zombie cultists, and maimed Luis designs are something to drool over! The general gore was well done too, so A+ to these gents.
On a completely pointless note, I’d like to bring it to your attention that one of the writers’ names is Hostench. Whatever the proper pronunciation, I read it as “ho stench”. Uggh. I just threw up in my mouth. Wait, maybe his name’s pronounced something like “Raymond Luxury Yacht” or “Throat Warbler Man Grove”. Those wouldn’t be so bad. Unlike this joke, which is no doubt dying for everyone reading it, aside from the two or three who get the Monty Python reference. Oh well. And now for something completely different.
Incidentally, whilst doing the basest of base research on Fantastic Factory’s origin nation, I discovered that Spain’s motto is “Further Beyond”. If Brian Yuzna (or someone who has his ear) should happen to be reading this, “Further Beyond” is an amazing name for a From Beyond sequel. Take the hint!
Before I go, here’s my pair of pennies on the passing of horror icon Wes Craven. The guy gave us The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. For these I thank him. Hell, I’ll even give him a postmortem high five for Shocker. Unfortunately, he also threw shit like Hills Have Eyes Part II, New Nightmare, Vampire in Brooklyn, and all four fucking Scream movies into our faces. Don’t start me on the fucking door that Scream opened, allowing scads of Hollywood shit show teeny-bopper slasher garbage to ruin the ’90s. I blame Craven for all of those. Of his 40-year career, he spent the last 30 burying the successes of the first 10 with a legacy of mediocrity.
If you read any of The ToA’s original site, my frustration with Craven is well documented. Okay, was well documented before I let it all disappear into the digital ether and La Quinta Hotels bought my domain name out from under me. I’d like to think that the man’s unfortunate passing after a painful feud with brain cancer (that I may or may not have wished upon him back in college, I honestly don’t remember) will bring an end to every horror movie critic publicly sucking his cock, but I’m sure it won’t. Hell, that fucking “Scream” TV show will continue assaulting the proverbial expired equine, so Craven’s influence will continue to be a barb wire chastity cage on me for years to come. Blart.
So, my condolences to his friends and family. But, as far as I’m concerned (which doesn’t matter outside of the context of this website), it’s not really a “loss”. Probably not a popular opinion, but if I cared about people liking me, I would’ve ended this site two months after starting it!
And so, with the sound of a dozen or so “unlikes” now echoing through the internets, I take my leave. Tune in next time (or don’t) when this Fantastic Four reviews thing is also put to rest. Until then, have a drink on me, shoot to thrill, give the dog a bone, shake a leg, and let me put my love into you. Hasta luego, folladoras!
Call me crazy, but I feel his menace is undercut a bit by his bow tie.
“Holy cow! Is that the Ark of the Covenant they’re opening over there?!”
“Yep. That’s definitely the Ark of the Covenant…”
Give her a Mohawk and a big viking beard and that’s the exact same face I give old Italian women when they try to pass religious pamphlets to me at the thrift store on Sundays.
“I don’t know, Zadok. Maybe catching nothing but human-mutant fish babies for the last few days is a good sign we need to start fishing a different lake.”
Looks like somebody accidentally put Smilex in her coffee this morning!
“Suicide hotline? Yes, it’s me again. Huh? What do you mean ‘just kill yourself already’?!”
“Who wants to give grandma some sugar!?”
“Captain! The other officers are making fun of my diving suit! Make them stop!”
Yikes! Shit like that is why you’re only supposed to use disposable razors ONCE!
“Dear diary, you’ll never guess who I ran into at the Stop ‘N Gulp today – Diane from pottery class!”
Mold can creep up on you when you least expect it! Keep your bathroom safe with Mold Away™!
“I came back from the dead for you, baby, because I love y… wait… you’ve got fake tits?! Fuck. I’ve made a terrible mistake.”
I know it’s easy to get “too into the mood”, but trust me folks: always use a condom! Because even if you think they look clean, you can never know for sure.
“I called dibs on the last brownie, you bastard! Give it back! GIVE IT BACK!”
“You guys gotta have some of these ribs before I eat ’em all! There’s plates and napkins over there. Beers are in the fridge. Help yourself!”
Parents, this is the face of a kid who gets a PlayStation 4 box full of socks and underwear for Christmas. It’s not funny, and if you want to live to see New Year’s, I would definitely recommend against doing so. Fair warning.
Anubis will return next time in
“Where Monsters Dwell”
Featuring: Christian “Batman Begins” Bale , Willem “Spider-Man” Dafoe , Jared “Suicide Squad” Leto
Director: Mary “I Shot Andy Warhol” Harron
Writers: Mary “I Shot Andy Warhol” Harron , Guinevere “BloodRayne” Turner
Sequel: American Psycho 2
Oh my Elder Gods, this movie. Apologies for taking yet another detour from the World Tour de Farce, but this month marks the 15th anniversary of the release of American Psycho. I fucking love American Psycho. A decade-and-a-half ago, 4 months into a long distance relationship with this evil 17 year old from a far away land (I was only 18, so put down your torches), my Evil Dead Bride-to-Be and yours truly had been highly anticipating this amazing looking cerebral slasher flick summation of the infamous ‘80s materialism obsession. In those tormenting times when we could only see each other once a month (she was my period and her period was, well, her period), we had to plan rest breaks in our coital merrymaking, so going to the movies would help prevent us from injuring ourselves. This is the first such feature from that time that I can do a proper review for, so…here it is!
I didn’t read American Psycho until after seeing the movie, so I was in no way ahead of the curve on this one. The only inkling I’d even had of the subject was the 1997 Misfits album of the same name (fuck you Fallout Boy, you shunty ass-butts!), which was the first release sans Danzig and, thus, the last Misfits album I’d ever listen to. My Evil Dead Mother-In-Law had read the dark and twisted tale by Bret Easton Ellis, but couldn’t finish it after the infamous rat chapter…which meant I had to see what the fuss was aboot. I was nonplussed by the graphic descriptions of genital mutilation, but I’m inured to that kinda shit anyway. I have no soul. Unless you show me those videos of animals from different species playing around like friends. Those hit me in the joy buzzer. I thought Ellis’ writing was fantastic though! Not an opinion I deja vued when I tried to read Less Than Zero, but that might’ve just been due to a disdain for spoiled dickbag preppie college kids.
Hey! This isn’t a friggin’ stupid book club, damn it! This is a friggin’ stupid movie review site, damn it! Get on with it, damn it!
The time is 1987. The place is Wall Street. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is obsessed with his job at the firm of Pierce & Pierce. Actually, no, he’s not. He doesn’t do a lick of “work” throughout the entire running time of this movie! Sure, he spends hours each day occupying his office space (“Somebody stole my stapler…”), but all he actually does is dress down his secretary, do the New York Times crossword (very poorly), and doodle in his date book. No, Patty’s true obsession is having the best clothes, the smoothest skin, the slightly-better-than-his-peer’s haircut, the deepest understanding of ‘80s pop music, eating at the upperest crust restaurants in New York City and wanting women to ask him what he does for a living so he has an excuse to brag. He’s the anthropomorphizing of the “gimme gimme” decade, and he’s climbing to the top of the high society food chain, populated by his fellow worshippers at the alter of the almighty dollar (AKA “the alighty ollar”). In the land of yuppie royalty, he’s Claudius, plotting his ascension through the disposal of those that stand in his way, dreaming of the day he’ll sit in his throne atop a pile of corpses in Armani suits, their blood smeared Rolexi glinting in the golden beams of his all consuming ego. How all-consuming? He’s the kind of guy who’ll go balls deep in a pair of $500/hr call girls, then just spend the whole time checking himself out in the mirror.
That wasn’t a joke.
When the sun goes does down, this wolf of Wall Street goes full lycanthrope (figuratively), as his world of mergers and acquisitions turns into a waking nightmare of murders and executions. Beneath his Gordon Gecko exterior lurks a bloodthirsty Norman Bates, man! Get it? “Bates, man”? Bateman? Well, if you haven’t picked up on it yet, don’t over grind those gears in your noggin. I wouldn’t want your ears to start throwin’ sparks and risk catching my collection of oily rags aflame. The smoke alarms are all dead because I never replaced the batteries after my last “let’s put 9 volts on our tongues!” party, and I’ve yet to flush the ichor out of the sprinklers following that vampire Ishtar-Easter rave I rented out The Tomb for a few weeks ago. I know, vampire raves are so ’99, but who am I to say no to a dance floor full of topless wanna-be Bathorys showered in gore? Exactly…and for no reason at all, now I can’t imagine the name “Bathory” without it being shouted in the manner of Metallica’s “Battery”.
Where was I? Oh yeah, Bath-o-ry. I mean, oh yeah, Bateman.
At his core, Patrick Bateman is a man that wants to fit in and be liked by his associates, so he gives up any sense of self-identity in his efforts to do so. He appreciates “Hip to Be Square” because of its message of the pleasures of conformity, further convincing himself that being a faceless clone is the way to go. We’ve all felt that need to be accepted by a group at one time or another. They used to make socially conscious scare films about it in the ’50s, warning kids not to join gangs and break windows just because they want to be popular, instead recommending they volunteer at the retirement home or get their heads blown off in the Army instead. For me, the need to fit in is past tense, because once I realized humanity is mostly refuse not worth the gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate needed to napalm it into oblivion (“Hello, oblivion!”), my desire to fit in died faster than a fetus on a coat hanger. Unfortunately for Pat, he lives in a world of sociopaths. They’re all like mannequins: interchangeable nothing entities that are judged solely on the things they wear and the places they’re seen. Every sentence of his narration, Pat name-drops some highbrow product or exclusive restaurant because he has to constantly tell you (and himself) about how great the life he struggles to maintain is. That grappling to keep his mask of normalcy in place is worth not being who he really is…not that he’d probably know who that is at this point. Even his relationships with his girlfriend Evelyn (Reese Witherspoon) and his mistress Courtney (Samantha Mathis) are equally as hollow – socialite Ev is just there to up Pat’s status, while Courtney’s just a Xanax Xombie vessel for him to do a pump & dump into when he feels like it. As he himself tells us, he has no emotions but greed and disgust. Hell, following a scene where he can barely contain his impotent rage over how everyone else has a better business card than he does (we’re the only ones who realize they’re all the same), he stabs a homeless man (Reg “Marcus from Airheads!” Cathey) to death, then stomps the guy’s dog. It’s both horrific and pathetic.
There may be hope for Bater’s salvation in his previously alluded to secretary Jean (Chloe Sevigny), who seems to see something worthwhile in Patrick. Maybe she’s just naive, or maybe her innocence and her separation from the yuppie social life is what’s appealing about her. Whatever the case, Patrick can’t bring himself to kill her…though he comes realllllly close on a date before sending her home. Like, “nail gun to the back of her head for almost getting sorbet on his coffee table” close. Instead, our hero(?) opts to vent his urges on more deserving fare – his lady friend Elizabeth (Guinevere Turner – the screenplay’s co-writer!) and a hooker (Cara Seymour), both of whom can be excused. We all have friends we’d like to decapitate sooner or later, after all. As for the hooker, she had a sleepover with Patrick prior that ended with her going to an emergency room, in need of some reconstructive surgery (use your imagination) and fearing for her life. But when he comes back to her corner and flashes a wad of cash? She hops into the limo and goes home with him for round 2! You know how important money will be to you if you’re not alive to spend it? NOT AT ALL. It’s not fucking rocket surgery! Just another testament to how little some people value everything else in the face of their green paper god.
Speaking of, the absurdity of the 1% portrayed here is hilarious. Business cards (more later), cuisine that sounds like something people in an alternate dimension from a “Twilight Zone” episode would eat, those Zack Morris cells that make military field phones from ‘Nam look more convenient, and CD players from a time when only the five richest kings of Europe could afford them. Those last two have probably already been the subject of one of those dumbass videos where teenagers from today look at them like 4 year-olds given a particle accelerator. “Durrrrr! Old things are confusing! I have no cognizance of things existing prior to my birth!” BLART!
Throughout his blood soaked escapades, the only Bateman victim that anyone gives a fuck about is his high-profile rival at P&P, Paul Allen (Jared Leto). Infuriated that Paul’s able to get reservations at Dorsia (apparently it’s yuppie El Dorado), his constant mistaking of Patrick for fellow P&P cookie-cutter clone Marcus Halberstram and his business card being so much better than Pat’s to the point of emasculation (Bale’s performance here is scary good). He plots to take the guy out to a shithole restaurant (no risk of peer witnesses), get him drunk, then invite him back to his place to listen to some Huey Lewis, while our dapper death dealer expunges the finer points of The News and disposes of Paul’s need for, well, anything that involves a head. It’s here, and in some similar scenes later, where I start to think that Patrick missed his calling as a music critic…or he just spends way too much time on the shitter reading reviews in “Rolling Stone”. Either way, he butchers his associate with an axe while shouting, “Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you fucking stupid bastard!”.
Despite doing his best to cover up the casual slaughter (by taking measures to make it seem Paul had to make a last minute trip to London), Allen’s girlfriend Meredith still reports him missing. It’s not long before NYPD Detective Donald Kimball (Willem Dafoe) follows a trail of breadcrumbs to the office door of one Master Bateman (*wink*wink*).
Kimball is a great performance by Dafoe, not only because the guy’s a top notch thespian (insert cliched joke about how “thespian” sounds kinda like “lesbian” here), but because Mary Harron had him read his lines in 3 different contexts – Kimball thinking Bateman was innocent, thinking he might’ve done it, and thinking he was guilty as OJ. The three sets of takes were then chopped up and edited together as such that audiences couldn’t read which way he was leaning. The first time I saw this, I thought it might’ve just been unbalanced acting on Dafoe’s part, looking to pick up a paycheck and get home in time to watch “Wheel of Fortune” while he fucked a TV dinner. When I learned the truth, it made a lot more sense. It’s a great reflection of Patrick’s paranoid perception of their exchanges, as you see our titular psycho start to sweat and panic just shy of becoming that nervous guy in cartoons who pulls on his collar so hard that his neck turns an acute angle.
According to Kimball, several people in Bateman’s social circle commented on how they’d seen or spoken to Paul while he’s been in London. The first time I saw this, I thought that Patrick had just fantasized about all of the terrible things he’d done and there was never any actual bloodshed. Having seen it several times since, I’m convinced that the murders really did happen, only nobody noticed because they all live in a constant state of head-up-their-own-ass-ity. Paul Allen’s identity is actually questioned in several scenes, as Patrick’s companions mistake one person or another for Allen. Once again, an attestation to the sameness of every a-hole on the stretch between Broadway and South. There’s also the possibility that Patty himself may be the one suffering a case of mistaken identity, but if that were the case, Paul’s girlfriend probably wouldn’t have reported him missing.
Amidst all this, there are two great scenes that revolve around the bizarre business card obsession these maniacs have. The first is the previously mentioned exchange of Allen “winning” the dick measuring contest of who has the better card amid his fellow Piercers. The second involves Courtney’s fiance Luis (Matt Ross, looking like the bastard spawn of Lyle Lovett and Pippi Longstocking), as he tempts Bateman’s ire at lunch by nonchalantly showing everyone his new card, whose “perfection” pushes Pat over the edge faster than Thelma and Louise in a ’66 Thunderbird. When our lunatic tries to strangle Luis in the men’s room after, Luis thinks Patty’s just being aggressively flirtatious and responds by making passionate mouth foreplay with the murderer’s hand! The resulting confusion and revulsion from Bate-and-switch is hilarious, but rather than continue with what would be a hate crime by today’s standards (or “AIDS prevention” by the medieval logic of the Reagan era), Pat washes his gloves and leaves the restaurant in a huff, citing his usual excuse of needing to “return some videotapes”. Easy money says it’s porn or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, since that seems to be all he ever watches. Still my favorite way to say goodbye to people, even years after that sentence no longer means anything.
Eventually, Patrick finally just loses it and tosses his metaphorical mask of sanity into the nearest metaphorical toilet. He goes on a rampage, gunning random strangers down left and right. His body count includes an old lady, a doorman, a janitor and several policemen before he finally escapes. Despite evading capture, he picks up a phone and calls Howard, his lawyer, then leaves a confession on the ambulance chaser’s answering machine about all of the atrocities he’s committed (most of which didn’t make it onscreen)! The next morning, after flipping out on Jean from a payphone, Patrick meets his cohorts like he does every day, as if NOTHING HAPPENED. Here he runs into Howie, and their confrontation only results in a case of mistaken identity, where Patrick’s advocate confuses him for someone else entirely and thinks the whole phone message was a joke! He cites Bateman as being too spineless and dorky to ever pull off something like a killing spree! As Patrick says himself, “this confession has meant nothing”, and it’s then that our antagonistic protagonist realizes there’s no escape from the numb and pointless existence he’s tried so hard to be a part of. You’d almost feel sorry for the guy if he hadn’t tried to feed a stray cat to an ATM machine…
You know what, I’m just gonna post his entire ending monologue here because just saying “this confession has meant nothing” doesn’t do it a lick of justice… also, “Lick of Justice” sounds like an all oral fetish porn where everyone’s dressed in police uniforms and judges’ robes.
“There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it I have now surpassed. My pain is constant and sharp, and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this, there is no catharsis; my punishment continues to elude me, and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself. No new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing.”
Getting American Psycho made is your typical tale of a train derailment to Clusterfuck City. Harron left the project when Lions Gate insisted on having Leo DiCaprio star (Lions Gate? Leo DiCaprio? CONSPIRACY!) rather than her original pick of Bale, and they subsequently brought in Oliver Stone to replace her. Stone wanted James Woods to play Kimball, Cameron Diaz as Evelyn, and Elizabeth Berkley as Courtney. But, with Stone’s budget going gaga and Leo leaving to make The Beach instead, Harron and Bale were brought back to make the cheaper (and likely better) film. When it was originally optioned for the cinematic treatment WAY back in ’91, Ellis was actually set to adapt the screenplay himself, Johnny Depp was eyed to play Batey, and Tomb hero Stuart “Re-Animator” Gordon was set to direct! The man who gave life to celluloid Herbert West wanted to stick as closely to the book as possible (which would’ve popped the flick an ‘X’ rating) and planned to shoot the whole shebang in black & white. When that attempt died a painful death, David “Scanners” Cronenberg was pegged to man the camera for a second effort with none other than Brad Pitt lacing up Patrick’s Ferragamos! I wouldn’t ask for either of these as an alternative to Herron and Bale’s final product, but Set DAMN would I love to have both of those version as companion pieces! When CERN finally figures out how to tear open dimensional gateway vaginas into alternate realities, somebody bring me back the Gordon and Cronenberg versions of American Psycho! I’ll even cover the gas money, or boson money, or whatever you need me to pay you! It can be my birthday and Cthulhumas presents for the rest of my life! JUST MAKE THEM HAPPEN!
Anyway, the movie we did get is pretty fucking great! It doesn’t delve too deeply into the more graphic depictions of violence portrayed in the book, but selling an NC-17 movie is near impossible if you hope to make any kind of profit on it. That’s fine by me though, because I’d rather experience the beautiful monster we’re given if it has to be at the expense of not seeing a woman’s cunt torn up by a giant sewer rat who hollows out her pelvis to make a nest. Yes, that happens in the book…or something like it. I don’t know, it’s been 15 years. Fuck off. A friend of mine recently started reading it and complained that all she’s seen so far is some guy talking about designer clothing for 20 pages. I don’t want to spoil the nightmarish “Marquis de Sade on coke” stuff for her, but I may need to before she loses all interest. Now, about that movie…
Harron’s direction is superb. From the illusory pouring of raspberry sauce that the audience initially may mistake for blood, to Bateman’s opening monologue/morning routine going directly into a straight-out-of-an-’80s-movie shot of the NYC skyline serenaded by “Walking On Sunshine”, you know the next hour and a half are going to be damn weirder than your average slasher flick, and maybe, just maybe, more fucking magical than a unicorn & pegasi orgy. The orchestral music is great, and reminds the viewer of the classic stringed tunes of the Psycho soundtrack…or, to a much lesser extent, Richard Band’s mostly copyright-infringing Re-Animator score. Likely not an accident, I’m sure…the Psycho connection, I mean, not Richard Band being a rip-off artist like his brother Charles.
The visual composition of the scenes are so beautifully arranged too, and I’m not the type of digital movie griper to bring attention to artsy shit like that very often. Osiris, it’s all just so slick and pretty. That business card showdown! The sounds of unsheathing swords were used for the guys’ pulling their “weapons” from their holders, and it’s all shot so stuffed to the gills with tension that you’re just waiting for Patrick to start stabbing everyone in the eyes with a letter opener! The death of Christie the hooker is another one of the movie’s iconic highlights, as we’re given the nightmarish vision of a bloody and naked Bates, wearing nothing but sneakers and wielding a chainsaw almost as deadly as the look of complete insanity he’s got on his face. He chases the courtesan through a poorly lit hallway before planting the steely teeth of hungry death into her insides like someone drilling for oil. You know that part in the second episode of Netflix’s “Daredevil” with the bad guy on the stairwell and the fire extinguisher? All I could think of when watching that was Bateman + chainsaw + gravity = dead hooker.
The writing is also top-notch and packed with so much quotable goodness! From dark, insightful, self-actualizations of horrific (in)human nature, to trivia about pop stars and serial killers, to shit that’s just fun to shout at people, there’s something for everyone! Patrick’s running narration helps keep the rhythm of the book and is a constant reminder that this story is Patrick’s and no one else’s – just the way he’d want it. Bale puts on a career making performance. Literally. Despite being told by everyone that playing a scum-ass misogynist serial killer would be the premature burial of his future in Hollywood, he went on to be, well, Batman among other things! Speaking of, was it weird or straight up providence that Elizabeth calls Patrick “Batman” in the book, and the guy who would play Bates in the movie would go on to play fucking Batman in the Chris Nolan trilogy!? And further crazy dicks? Christian Bale’s character brutally murders Jared Leto’s character here. Leto is going to play the Caped Crusader’s jolly nemesis The Joker in the four-color feature, Suicide Squad next year. So, we get to watch Batman ax the Joker to death. Also, for no reason, Willem Dafoe played The Green Goblin in Spider-Man. For further no reason, Reg Cathey will be playing Sue and Johnny’s father, in this summer’s Fantastic Four re-boot… or, if you’re a shit lord in 20th Century Fox’s marketing department, Fant4stic. A testament to how comic books have become a legitimate movie genre over the last 15 years, or just proof that everybody needs to pay their bills and funnybook films are the way to go? Either way, fun facts for my fellow fanboys/girls.
So, yeah, Christian Bale brings Bateman to life. Like Vic Frankenstein with a lightning rod and open access to a cemetery. And after hearing about the other actors that could have played him, I can’t picture anyone other than Bale being Bateman. His line delivery. His facial expressions. The way he inserts violent threats into casual conversation. The way he fake fucks two women while winking at the camcorder and pointing at himself in the mirror. All of it. There were a pair of scenes that I was taken out of the magic by my nose hairs, though. I know PB’s confessions at the end are SUPPOSED to be broken and manic, but I feel Bale goes a little too far off the rails and develops a hankering for the distinct taste of scenery. Not nearly as off-putting as the infamous Batman “tonsils in a rock tumbler” voice (which Bale has made it a point to place the blame for squarely on Nolan), but it does verge on being goofy. Other than that, though, I’m gonna reach into my cliché cookie (like a fortune cookie, just stuffed with cliches) and pull out…“tour de force performance”. Sure. That works. Go with it.
Wanna know more about the Bateman family tree? Check out The Rules of Attraction. Dawson Van Der Beek plays Patrick’s little brother Sean. It’s not as good as American Psycho, but it’s still a solid flick. Also, there’s no serial killing, so its lack of horror/sci-fi/fantasy/action kinda disqualifies it from getting its own episode and thus I won’t be reviewing it. Sorry kids, sometimes you gotta watch movies yourselves.
I’m just a happy camper, rockin’ n’ rollin’, but I gotta return some videotapes. My copy of Full House of 1000 Corpses was due back at Blockbuster in 2007, so it’s time to flatline this episode! You live in fear for the day I finally review American Psycho 2, and we’ll meet back here next time for The Tomb 2.0’s big 50th episode celebration! Which movie will it be? You’ll have to wait and see. Until then, watch this video. If it had a sentient brain and a Social Security Number, I’d adopt it. Later, mutilators!
Gah! This guy looks like a Muppet! Not even a licensed Muppet! He looks like a Made In China Muppet! He’s a Murpitt!
The Hel? Is this The Lone Ranger training for a marathon? Did somebody switch reels/discs/.avis on me?!
See? I knew I wasn’t the only adult who still covers the hairless parts of their body in glue and tries to peel it off in the largest sections possible. I see Patrick’s mastered the “Elmer’s Death Mask”. Kudos to you, Sir.
“I’m sorry, Reese, but I just didn’t think Sweet Home Alabama was very good. No… you know what? It was GARBAGE! It was utter pandering TRASH and I HATE YOU!”
What’s with that hair?! Did he steal it from the set of Heartbeeps? Holy shit… I just made a Heartbeeps reference… I’ll see myself out before everybody starts awkwardly asking what the fuck that is. I was never here.
Ah, the ’80s. When porn wasn’t just parodies of popular TV shows or innuendo titles. When your movie’s called “Inside Lydia’s Ass”, you know what you’re getting.
I applaud Bateman’s patience. I’d probably lose it if the bastard son of Carrot Top and Pee Wee Herman started fondling my pocket square.
This! Showing someone THIS is enough to get your face split open with an ax! Wall Street was fucking Fury Road 30 years ago!
“I turned down every role that came my way because I wanted to keep my schedule open for Airheads 2, and without any work, I ended up here. Adam Sandler has been telling me since 1995 that he was gonna produce Airheads 2! HE PROMISED ME! He told me there’s a script and everything, they’re just tweaking it and I need to hold out a few more weeks! I’m starting to doubt him…”
“Why the slicker? Are you kidding?! When the ladies see this hi-fi setup, there’s going to be a *SPLOOSH* tsunami coming my way!”
“Sorry for my appearance, but you know what they say: a real man loves his woman every day of the month! Haha!”
Is he making reservations at a restaurant, or calling in an air strike?! I wish cell phones were still that big though. I guarantee I wouldn’t have to listen to every asshole at the supermarket shouting their personal conversations if they had to lug one of those monsters around.
Bateman was 25 years ahead of the curve with recording adorable cat antics. Unfortunately, he taped over all of them with snuff films before YouTube would be invented.
“Hey! Does that picture frame look crooked to you? You know what, never mind. I probably should’ve waited till later. Damn coke… but seriously, is it just me or is that fucking frame, like, REALLY crooked?! IT GETS MORE CROOKED THE LONGER I LOOK AT IT! Alright, I’m sorry, but I can’t finish this till I fix that damn frame!”
Did you know Patrick Bateman invented the FlowBee? His was called the BloodFlowBee though… also, it killed you… there were a LOT of lawsuits. It bankrupted him.
“So, can I rely on you to help me with my little spider infestation?”
“Of course, provided you can help me get the bats out of my belfry… permanently! Hahahahahahaha!…. We are talking about teaming-up to kill each others’ nemesi, right?”
“I know I said that whole ‘real men’ comment earlier, but COME ON! When you sneeze it’s like Evil Dead 2 in here! I can’t keep buying new Egyptian cotton sheets EVERY MONTH!”
In Miami, you learn not to look up. Every time you do, THAT is what’s staring back at you from EVERY fire escape. Fucking Florida.
“And THIS is for all the times you insisted on cornering me in the elevator and forced me to make small talk with you! I don’t CARE about your FUCKING grandchildren getting their FUCKING braces off!”
“No… please… please… PLEASE STOP! I just… I just want the internet service… THE INTERNET SERVICE!… NO!… I don’t want 3 free months of 15 different Showtime channels!… no…. no…… NO!….. NOOOOO!…. PLEASE STOP!…. please….. please…. just…. please…. just stop….” *heavy sobbing sounds*
Anubis will return next time in
Featuring: Stephen “Shoot ‘Em Up” McHattie , Lisa “Ejecta” Houle , Georgina “Eddie: the Sleepwalking Cannibal” Reilly
Director: Bruce “Roadkill” McDonald
Writer: Tony “Septic Man” Burgess
Welcome to the first installment of my 25 part (give or take) series, “World Tour de Farce 2015”! Every episode will basically involve my ignorant American self (Egyptian godhood aside) traversing international bad cinema in an effort to make myself a more cultured Death God… and maybe expand my brand on a global scale into heretofore untapped markets, exploiting my core competencies with an eye towards productivity and connectivity. Sorry, I hired a business consultant to try and turn the Tomb into a profit and he just kept barfing stuff like that into my ears until I had to staple his tongue to the roof of his mouth. Anyway, stop #1 on this round trip is the maple syrup dripping, lumberjack spawning, hockey rocking, very polite Great White North known as Canada! And the landmark shown in our “Where in the World is Anubis Von Mojo?” teaser image? That’s the UFO Landing Pad in the town of St. Paul, Alberta! Yep, Canada’s got its own UFO landing site. Apparently Mars Attacks was never released in the land of the Doug & Bob McKenzie. You can read more about Alberta’s extraterrestrial airport at this link. Arm yourself with knowledge, kiddos!
I know I just reviewed a Canadian film a few weeks ago (Santa’s Slay) and a zombie movie last episode (Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies), but I’ve been itching to give Pontypool a viewing for a couple of years now, so fuck it. Here comes what’s guaranteed to be some of the most accommodating living dead (except they’re not) this side of Mormon Heaven! And if you don’t like it? Soory, hosers. I’ve got a thing for girls who say “aboot”. Let’s split a sixer of Moosehead, fry up some back bacon, enjoy the free health care and take in some Canucksploitation until we leave for our next destination!
People (well, 2 of them) have been preaching the benefits of Ponty to me since its release. The best I could offer them was the promise that it would have a place on my “I’ll get to it when I get to it” list. Well, I got to it. And sweet succulent jalapeno poppers dropped from the Virgin Mary’s hair pie do I feel like a better human being having done so. Let’s run the recap and afterward I’ll take a cue from Ben Murphy if you’ll “Permit me to explain wah.”
For starters, this is NOT to be mistaken for the documentary Pontius Pool, which followed Jackass member Chris Pontius through the summer of 2013 as he attempted to fill a swimming pool with his friends’ bodily fluids, while living within said gathering of secretions. It lead him on a downward spiral of madness and near-fatal body toxicity that won him 3 Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe, and 4 CableACE Awards… despite the CableACEs having been discontinued in 1997. No, this is Pontypool, based on the novel “Pontypool Changes Everything”, as written by Tony Burgess. Why does that name sound familiar? Oh yeah, it’s because his name’s up above in the “Writer” credit! Yep, he’s the same Tony Burgess who adapted the screenplay. I’ve never read the book because, as I told my high school English teachers, I’m illiterate. That said, given that the author of the book was also the author of the movie, I really hope this turned out to be a faithful adaptation. Especially since I’m actually going to break my illiteracy rule and READ the damn book now!
From the opening, I get a hint that there’s something interesting in store for my next 90 minutes as we’re greeted with an oscillator scope illustrating our opening narration from talk radio host Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie). Despite being played by a native Canadian, I’m presuming that Grant’s a transplant from the U.S. of A. given his unfamiliarity with the surrounding area and very American “cowboy” manner of wardrobe selection. “Presuming” rather than “assuming”, as I make it a point never to leave myself verbally vulnerable for the same “assuming makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘Ming’” retort that I prefer to inflict on others. And you never want to make an ass out of Ming. He’ll put his bejeweled boot a Mongo mile up your Flash Gordon.
The Mazzster’s a Don Imus-y type of “Fuck politically correct, I don’t care if people think I’m a racist asshole, you’re gonna listen to my opinion!” personality who takes his morning coffee 50/50 with whiskey. His radio perfect voice carries the morning show on CLSY Radio 660 (“the Beacon!”) in the small town of Pontypool in the province of Ontario. On the way into his shift one dark and snowy Valentine’s Day morning (it is Canada, after all), and after firing his agent over his cell, Grant’s stopped in the parking lot by an oddly acting woman who bangs on his car window while uttering something incoherent over and over again, only to slowly back away into the darkness when Grant addresses her. He calls out to her, only to be answered by his own echoes…though I’m not entirely sure they’re all his (he said, knowingly).
Joined by his no-nonsense producer Sydney (Lisa Houle) and starry-eyed tech engineer Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly, pulling off that “girl next door/looking good while not looking like she’s trying to look good” appeal so well), Grant goes about his morning business battling back his winter blues to give the hosers something to listen to on their way to cut down trees and wrestle beavers and play hockey and whatever else it is Canucks do for work. They’re your typical talk radio trio: Grant causes trouble, Syd tries to rein him in, and LA sides with the old man because she admires him and may or may not want to fuck him. That’s not just me being an old man saying that young girls are attracted to we fossils, through “daddy issues” or some misguided sense of “age = maturity = sexy”, either. My Evil Dead Bride actually said it as soon as we see their first morning exchange, so if that sounded sexist, blame her!
Editor’s Note: She was TOTALLY eye-fucking Mazzy. This is NOT UP FOR DEBATE.
After a morning of what I’m presuming to be their typical “office family” squabbles, news of a hostage situation comes in over the radio band with a pair of gunmen holding a van of people against their will… you know, hence the term “hostage situation”. Thanks to LA “accidentally” feeding it into the booth to him against Syd’s wishes, Mazzola (the Indians call him “Maize”) reports on it prior to any police approval, while also implying that everybody involved is probably drunk, including the alcoholic local constabulary. Following, the station is called to drop the story as it’s officially been “resolved”, leading to a nice little exchange between Mazz and Syd where she politely tells him that their listeners are small time folk who prefer their shared small town ignorance, as the cops are actually alcoholics and, while we’re peeking behind the curtain, CLSY’s reporter/weatherman/traffic guy Ken Loney’s “chopper” is just a Dodge Dart he parks on top of the tallest hill. Everybody knows it, but they just like to pretend his sound effects are the real thing. A town just oozing blissful ignorance. Mazz in turn opens up to Syd, confessing that he’s got serious depression issues and every winter wonders if he’ll be able to hold out long enough to see the Spring again. Cue the canned audience noise where everybody goes “Awwwwwww”, but in an awkward way where they’re all worried that Grant will lose it and hang himself from the only bridge in town.
Immediately following their little moment, another newsflash comes in about a big mob of people swarming around the office of John Mendez: a local doctor who’s had recent controversy with writing questionable prescriptions. “Chopper” man Ken (voiced by Rick Roberts) calls in with a play-by-play of the pure chaos on the scene, including “an explosion of people”, bodies all over the place, and military trucks and helicopters (real ones) coming in from out of nowhere. Mazztermind wants to cover the story, but Syd would rather keep the airwaves free of potential public panicking turmoil while she tries to dig up something official that they can report. Mazzter Blaster is forced to go ahead with the planned show, including a performance by their special guests: local a cappella group Lawrence and the Arabians! Fun fact: the guy playing the group’s titular leader is none other than writer Tony Burgess. Hold onto that one next time you and your friends are playing DIY horror movie Trivial Pursuit.
As you can imagine, this performance doesn’t sit well with our self-professed bastion of truthy journalism…until shit gets interesting when Maureen/Farraj, one of the “Arabians” (I see Canadians don’t have the hang-ups with wearing black face that we do down here in North America’s ever-expanding waistband), starts speaking gibberish and eventually just breaks down into repeatedly shouting “PRA!”. Hannah Fleming, who plays the girl, actually does pretty well with her brief smattering of dialogue and that’s saying something coming from the guy who’d rather watch the child actors of the world thrown onto one massive tire fire than have to watch them “act”. Good for you, Hannah. Maybe when you’re older I’ll get to see you in a role with a few more lines and a lot less racial insensitive minstrel show shit smeared on your face!
As more reports make their way into the station, we learn that the people from the Mendez incident have formed into a “herd” of maniacs, swarming like bugs over people trapped in their cars, and collectively making weird sounds (like windshield wipers) or speaking utterances and phrases in unison as if they’re all connected with a hive mind. While trying to sift through the deluge of updates, suddenly the BBC is contacting CLSY in an effort to verify reports that the rest of the world is getting – news about military quarantining of the entire town and a possible terrorist insurgency/mass political uprising in progress! Not much later, an emergency message broadcast breaks into the station’s signal, relaying in French about how everyone within earshot should avoid loved ones, using terms of endearment, and speaking English…and how they also shouldn’t translate this message into English… which Mazzy and friends do…over the air…oops. Keep fucking that chicken, Grant.
Ken escapes the mob, holds up in a grain silo somewhere in town, and calls in to report further. We listen to a man whose face we’ll never even see as he sobs on the brink of total collapse about things he’s seen today “that are going to ruin the rest of his natural life”. Don’t worry Ken, I’m pretty sure your natural life won’t be haunting you much longer. Over the air, Ken relates how everyone is acting less than human and more like wild-eyed like dogs, cannibalizing anyone in their path, and tearing people apart with their bare teeth. Listening to Ken narrate everything to us is somehow far more intense than if we were watching it ourselves. Seeing the three in the studio hanging on each panicked word just as desperately only adds to it. When he records the twisted baby-like screams escaping an infected victim’s throat before it dies, followed by Grant descending into his own auditory hallucinations inside the sound booth? Fuck. That’s some stomach churning Silent Hill levels of terror tension. The games, not those dumbass movies.
When the horror movie paranoia and isolation kick into full swing, Mazzter & Commander and Syd argue right out the front door and into the awaiting blizzard (like I said, Canada)…where a horde of mindless psychos nearby catch wind of their exchange and start screaming “DON’T YOU WALK OUT ON ME, GRANT!” together, mimicking Sydney. Director Bruce McDonald refers to the infected as “conversationalists” rather than zombies, given that they’re not dead and they’re continuously listening while repeating words in a twisted form of symptomatic conversation with their victims. A great concept, but a twist in the vas deferens for someone like myself who doesn’t want to type “conversationalists” twenty or thirty times over the course of a few dozen paragraphs. As such, since they’re all basically brain dead on a conscious level, I’m sticking with “zombies”. If you don’t like it, then in the words of the epic poet Homer (Simpson), go to Russia!…like I will be in a future World Tour installment! Hope they’ve got enough vodka stocked away. Not for me, for them. I’m a whiskey kinda guy.
Barricading themselves in the studio and attempting to maintain their sanity by going on with the show (starting with a surreal obituaries segment), Laurel-Ann joins the ranks of the zombies almost immediately after, standing in place and mimicking the whistle of a tea kettle as she stares off into nothing. This is when Doc Mendez (and his German accent?), the guy whose practice went up in an explosion of bodies and flames earlier, crawls in through a window! He hurries Syd into the sound booth with Snazzy Mazzy and starts telling us what he’s learned by studying the outbreak’s victims. Meanwhile, LA spirals into her own zombiehood as her co-workers watch in saddened horror. To make matters worse, Ken calls back in finally…only to start losing his own mind as we listen to him jibber-jabber away the closing incoherent lines of his life story. Mister T would not like this virus.
Syd drops a shocking little revelation about Ken after his “passing” that fits in with her previous theme of small town not-so-secrets secrets that folks would rather ignore than confront. The twisted look of surprise and disgust on Grant’s face during this is priceless and mirrors what the audience is probably feeling at hearing the same news. Anyway, according to Mendez (whose accent I can’t hear without picturing Dr. Scott in Rocky Horror), the victims of the virus degrade into little more than a “crude radio signal” that’s just seeking something to bounce off of. His theory is that the it’s some kind of “god bug” that spontaneously came into being and is spreading, unpredictably and possibly boundless, infecting people at random and reproducing at epidemic proportions. And how is this bug being passed? Through the blood? Through the air? No. It’s being spread through the mind. Specifically, through the English language. Somehow words are becoming “infected”, and when these infected words reach into a victim’s brain and are understood, it turns the victim into a mindless animal. It then forces them to “hunt” for more words. And when they find someone speaking said words? They rip out their victim’s throat. And if they can’t find a victim? They die. Violently. And Vomity. The only motivator for one animal to murder the fuck out of another animal: self preservation.
In an effort to stem the virus from infecting them too, Syd and Grant stick to communicating in French and through written notes, while Mendez rambles in what may or may not be unsubtitled German. Sooner than later, the mob make their way into the building, but are lured away by a recording of All That Mazz saying “Sydney Briar is alive” played over the outside loudspeaker. Because things can’t be that easy (remember, we’re in an outbreak movie!), a random blip in the power causes everything to reset, defaulting to a playing of the Canadian National Anthem inside the building that lures the mob back in, all shouting “OH CANADA!”. Mendez runs off into the blizzard shouting “Sydney Briar is alive!”, presumably to perish as he leads the maniacs away to give Mazz and Syd a chance for safety. So much for my theory that Mendez was part of some Nazi think tank whose experiment to destroy the world through a 70 year old genocide project got away from them, what with the zombos’ rambling about Hitler and U-Boats. Oh well.
Trapped together in a supply room, Syd works on drinking herself into a numb oblivion and writing stuff on the walls in Sharpie like a teenager, while Grant tries to figure out how to cure the virus. His theory? The reason people are repeating the words over and over again is to say them so much that the words lose meaning, thus losing their contaminating power. It’s a defense mechanism by their immune systems attempting to purge the invading taint. The Mazzter Baiter’s idea for a cure? Don’t just repeat the words until they’re meaningless, but reteach the infected a new meaning to the words. Example? When Syd starts to lose it, her trigger word is “kill”. Instead, Grant keeps repeating “kill is kiss” to her until her brain replaces the meaning of the word “kill” with the meaning of “kiss”, thus curing the trigger! It’s weird, it’s a bit heady for a movie most people will probably expect to be a basic zombie schmoz coming into it, but it’s different. It works though, with Syd whispering “kill me” after, leading to the resolution of that “just fuck already!” workplace sexual tension between the two as they trade spit. It’s like some kind of emo romance thing.
Grant makes one last broadcast in an effort to fix the problem, but it’s like putting a band-aid on a severed leg. Too little, too late. The only people who know the cure take it to their bomb obliterated graves with them as Pontypool becomes a victim of the Return of the Living Dead Protocol. But, to his credit, Grant Mazzy’s last words are spent shitting all over the heavy handed government who responds to something they don’t understand by murdering an entire town of people in fire and thunder. It’s a brilliant tirade, and I don’t use that word casually either, because this diatribe is fucking brilliant to behold. Stick around after the credits though, because there’s a fun, entirely nonsensical stinger at the end that gives our heroes a fucking insane Tarantino-ish happy (I think?!) ending send-off. I hope to see you on the other side, Johnny Deadeyes and Lisa the Killer!
Before I get into the technicals, I’d just like to make mention that the term “OPP” dances through the dialogue time and again. OPP stands for “Ontario Provincial Police”, hence its frequent usage in a Canadian quarantine flick. All I could think of every time I heard “OPP” though, is that Naughty By Nature’s message of what they were “down with” had a whole different meaning up North. In Canada, they must’ve come off as the most law abiding, Kilted Yaksmen supporting rappers ever!
Pontypool. Holy. Shit. Holiest of shits. My faith in movies as a means to grab me by the nose hairs and make me feel things has been restored. Freddie Mercury meme goes here. I have not felt this sense of dread and suspense licking my neck with its barbed tongue since [REC]. While that movie managed it by utilizing the “found footage” method to perfection, Pontypool does it on pure pacing. Oh, and Stephen McHattie (who looks a LOT like Lance Henriksen from the right angle). Stephen McHattie’s like…fuck. His performance is uncannily good here! It’s almost inhuman. Like my Evil Dead Bride said, he was like Dennis Hopper levels of grand with his perfect transition of casual into intensity into stoic into in-fucking-sanity and back into “fuck you” stoic. Mazzy keeps his shit together, but not without faltering here and there so we can be impressed with how quickly he regains his shit just when you think he’s gonna lose it down his pant leg. McHattie acts his ass raw. Down to the bone. I hear he had to sit on a hemorrhoid doughnut for a month after they wrapped filming before they could find a compatible donor for seat meat implants. So much more than I expected from the evil NRA guy from Shoot ‘Em Up. Odd coincidence how he’s the connecting element between the Tomb’s first two 5 star features… and weird as John Merrick’s balls how McHattie looks like Jon Astin on the DVD cover art.
The minimal approach is just so fucking potent! It’s full-on tension. I said it before, but it bears repeating: it’s a thousand times more effective than anything they could actually show us. There’s very little in the way of graphic violence (really, there’s just zom Laurel-Ann bashing her face off of a window and hyper barfing all over the place), but it’s the way that we’re relayed the violence verbally that haunts us. The voice acting by Rick Roberts as Ken as he tells us all of the horrors he’s seeing is fantastic. It’s intense, borderline heartbreaking stuff to hear. The characterization of our tiny group is excellent. Pardon me for finding myself unable to stop sucking it’s metaphorical dick, but this has to be one of the best slow builds I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for a fast paced splatter-palooza, this is not the movie you want. They’re great in their own right (one of my favorite sub-sub-genres, really), but Pontypool is all about the drama and gradual slide into deep horror. To keep you on your toes, there are also these weird, brain poking moments where reality seems to hiccup. As if the movie is a nightmare coming apart in places as the threads unravel. They’re not as blatant as the “PANCAKES!” scene in Cabin Fever, but they’ll get your attention.
Beyond that, there’s not really a whole lot left for me to say on why I love the maple syrup out of this motherfucker! Let’s bathe in a bit of the afterglow before we go.
There are/were two sequels to Pontypool that were actually planned before this initial installment. They’re supposed to provide more exposition, according to Burgess and McDonald, but given the nature of most sequels, this knowledge fills me with more apprehension than anticipation. When something unique really works for a movie like this (i.e. the isolation and the very slow-but-satisfying expositional foreplay), it doesn’t usually carry over to the follow-up. Remember how The Blair Witch Project and Quarantine both went from “found footage” benchmarks directly into paint-by-numbers horror movie sequels? I have this stabbing dread in my liver that Ponty 2: Electric Booga-Pool Harder would just try to be a low budget World War Z… or that could just be a serious infection from that uncooked meat I ate yesterday. Hey, I just can’t say no to ChiChi’s Baby Tartare Enchiladas! And yes, ChiChi’s does still exist, but only in China, Belgium, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Indonesia and here in the Underworld.
Given that it’s been 7 years since the first sequel was announced at the 2009 Cannes, and director McDonald and writer Burgess have had a dozen or so other movie and TV projects between their respective schedules since with NO sign of any actual progress on the proposed Pontypool Changes (not as good as my title, to be honest), I’m going to officially call it a Natalie Wood – dead in the water. Natalie Wood: the only kind of wood that doesn’t float! Or, if you’re going for a more “upturned proboscis” approach, you can call it a Virginia Woolf. Pinkies up, fuckers!
Oh well. As douche-snob shithead as this might sound, I prefer my PP pure… call me a hipster and I’ll feed you your mother’s insides colon end first. Just focus on the part where I “peepee” and let’s move on.
Pontypool was also done as an hour long radio play that was broadcast on the BBC’s website, which I was legit excited to hear of, considering the H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds” vibe I was feeling throughout the length of the feature. Sadly, all attempts on my part to find a playable version of it met with dead ends. The best I could drudge up was a YouTube video someone put together of Mazzy’s radio material as taken from the flick. Speaking of the spoken word, if IMDB is to be believed, Burgess’s original concept for the movie was going to be the “The Outer Limits” style oscillator image (seen in the movie’s opening) as the singular visual, bouncing along to Burgess’s voice as he simply read the script for an hour and a half… Might’ve been okay as some kind of performance piece, but as a movie you’re asking people to pay money to see? Outta your fucking mind. Besides, we would’ve been robbed of McHattie’s brilliant visual performance that came along with the verbal. A performance that probably gave Sir Alec Guinness’s ghost an erect lightsaber as he watched from Jedi Heaven. What does that even mean? I don’t know! I may have just become infected… TIME TO GO! GO! GO! GO? GO! GO! GO!
Seriously mine peeples, why wouldst thou be breeders of sinners? Get thee to a Netflixery and submerge thy selves in the Pontypool, lest I pity thee as fools, eh?
With the finale of our episode, so ends our time in France’s North American piece-on-the-side. The Canadian Chuck Norris, Zap Rowsdower, welcomes you to get the fuck out. See you next time in [REDACTED]! To the airport!
Typoo – what it’s called when your spelling and grammar mistakes are so far from correct, they’re just straight up unrepentant shit.
That’s a few too many man rings there, Grant. Just buy a pair of brass knuckles and be done with it.
The only movie where you can watch Joey Ramone sexually propositioning a fish. In real life he was more a marsupial type of guy.
This reminds me of Monkey Shines… but Pontypool is still a great movie in spite of that. Fuck you, Monkey Shines.
“Wait till she finds out that I replaced the morning weather report with a track of nothing but fart sounds! And that I replaced her coffee creamer with Ex-Lax! And that I replaced her birth control pills with rat poison! … What the fuck is wrong with me!?”
“‘Best part of waking up’ my ass. This stuff tastes like it was poured out of a ranch hand’s boot at the end of a long day.”
Ever since Laurel-Ann made the joke about how microphones are robot penises, Grant doesn’t like having his nearly as close to his face as before.
Ladies and gentlemen, the look of an actress who just realized her current role should probably be left off of any future audition reels.
“Why so serious?!”
That moment when you’re in the middle of introducing your morning interview guest and regret having a breakfast of nothing but coffee and bran muffins.
Grant gets a little too wrapped up in his latest promo read for Crazy Larry’s Discount Used Cars. “WE’RE NOT JUST CRAZY AT CRAZY LARRY’S! WE’RE FUCKING INSAAAAAAANE!”
“All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work and no play makes Syd a dull girl. All work…”
Anubis will return next time in