Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Show me 'round your fruit cage

A long long time ago, I read some article in Movieline (that's how long ago it was) where they asked a bunch of celebrities what their favorite movie was. Some actor named Jeroen Krabbe mentioned one that of course I can't remember the name of, but I do remember that he agreed with its theme, something like "Your whole life is a pursuit for something and when you finally get it, you die". I don't know what this has to do with what I wanted to write about, but whatever dude, it just came up.

So I had a little double-feature of shot-on-video gore flicks a few nights ago, and after the disappointing 555, I made another bowl of popcorn and poured another Jack & Coke and put on the second flick, Sledgehammer.

First off, the opening production credit is done in that old-school computer generated font I used to see a lot of on public-access television, back in the day. It only appeared to have two styles -- regular and bold -- but at least you could change the colors. The main title follows, and instead of using a computer generator, they actually shaped the words Sledgehammer out of stone or brick or balsa wood or something, and it has blood leaking all over. Then a sledgehammer comes down and smashes it to bits. It's a beauty, that title.

The film opens in an old farmhouse where some lady in a slip is yelling at her little boy. She then locks him in a closet and tells him to be quiet or else. Turns out she has a man in the house and they're about to get intimate. She twirls around for him, showing her body off and asking "What do you think, sexy enough for you?". Baby, I just watched a flick where the hot chick was played by an older lady whose day job was probably as school principal, so you got my fuckin' vote, that's for sure. The dude asks the lady what happened to the boy and she responds with "I took care of the little bastard" and it just goes to show that even in this wonderful free country of ours, we really need to require licenses for people to have kids. But we don't have to worry about these two procreating, because someone shows up and bashes both of them to death with a sledgehammer.

We get a "Ten Years Later..." card and now we're back at the same farmhouse, looking exactly the same. A van pulls up in front and when the doors open, douchebags and assholes tumble out of it. They immediately go WOOOO! and ALL RIGHT! and one dude even does the Tarzan yell before getting pantsed by his shirtless friend who's clutching an overflowing can of beer and singing "Hound Dog". They then start taking out sleeping bags and cases of beer and radios and cases of beer and food and cases of beer. And a guitar. The driver of the van is an old man, and he drives away with the van so he can fix it overnight, and the screenplay to give us a roadblock later on. In this one scene, we find out everything we ever want to know about our young characters, mainly that they're douchebags and assholes. But we're going to get a lot more of these scenes throughout the movie.

Among the group is a girl named Joanie, who is obviously going to be the Final Girl of this flick because she's not having as good a time as everyone else. She must feel the same way I do about these assholes. Her shirtless boyfriend (who I'm gonna call Matthew McConaughey, after the actor who also can't get enough of going shirtless) takes her aside and tells her to try to enjoy herself, all the while bouncing his beer can on her head, pulling her shirt open and giving her noogies. We then get this awesome scene where they're walking together past a field while soft 70's lovey dovey music plays and the whole thing plays in one shot. In slow motion. For two minutes and twenty seconds. And at the end, he balances his beer can on her head. Young love.

There's about seven people in this party, three couples and one guy all by his lonesome. You have a now-shirted McConaughey and Joanie, you have this beefy bearded dude and his chick, you have this blonde chick and her boyfriend Tony Orlando With AIDS (which I guess makes him John Oates), and finally you have the one lonely guy, Dead Meat. We watch them all as they party in the den, drinking beer and liquor and dancing along to tunes from the boombox.

There's lots of WOOOO! going on in this motherfucker, and the WOOOO! type of behavior that goes with it. There's also a lot of spitting of drinks and pouring of drinks onto others. At one point, Beefy Beard starts to speak in a lisping gay guy voice, grabs a cowboy hat and uses it to block our view as he goes over to Dead Meat to kiss him. I thought he was only pretending to smooch him as a goof for the others to laugh at, but Dead Meat gets up and freaks out, wiping slobber off his face. You know Beefy Beard is totally one of those guys who makes fun of gays, but can't seem to stop pulling gay stunts with his bros either. The kind of dude who always manages to show his penis to his friends "for a laugh". You wonder about those guys.

Later on, McConaughey and Joanie have a heart-to-heart about his change of heart. You see, they've been together for two years and had plans to get married, but now McConaughey is having second thoughts. If you ask me, "Not Sure" is a great reason not to get married, but then I'm a guy, so I don't know how those without penises (or is that peni?) feel. Joanie doesn't have a penis, so she takes this as meaning that he's not interested in her anymore and wants to see other women. McConaughey steadies her down, telling her that he only wants to be with her, he's just not sure of taking the big step I like to call Ending The Fun.

This dude ain't so bad, he sees the writing on the wall. Even though this was made in the early 80's, this motherfucker probably knows all about Bridezillas and Jon & Kate Plus 8 (or as I like to call it, "The Cunt, The Ball-less Douche, and Their Spawn") and he figures that some great relationships are ruined by putting that shit on paper. I'm telling you man, look at Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. Those motherfuckers are gonna last forever, and that's because they know what's up. They're both divorced from previous marriages and they know all about how hearing the words "I Now Pronounce You Husband and Wife" cause something to change in a couples' psyche for the worst, and that those words might as well be changed to "Begin Countdown to Relationship Oblivion". That's right folks, for the majority of people, marriage is a motherfuckin' timebomb and saying "I Do" is like setting the timer on. And some of these doomed couples actually think having kids is gonna save their marriage. But the truth is that by having kids, all they did was take a guess on the timebomb and cut the blue wire, which causes the timer to speed up. I knew we should've cut the red wire! But it doesn't matter which wire you cut, that motherfucker is going to blow. This isn't Speed, this isn't Blown Away, this is the fuckin' first five minutes of Lethal Weapon 3 and it's going to end with you running away with a cat under your arm as the fucking building (aka Your Marriage) explodes behind you. Now you're divorced, alone, and all you got to keep was the fucking cat. You're too old for this shit.

Speaking of getting old, this Douchebag Debauchery going on the flick certainly is. Our assholes are sitting around a dinner table and GO! GO! GO!-ing Beefy Beard on as he shoves an entire Dagwood-style sandwich into his mouth. He then spits all of it onto Joanie's face. Nice. McConaughey then pours a whole bottle of mustard on her hair. Much screaming and WOOOO!-ing follows, and then a food fight breaks out. After everything I've seen McConaughey do to this chick, I'm pretty fucking sure that Joanie is no stranger to the Dutch Oven treatment from him. Hell, every guy in this movie has probably at one time or another farted in bed and put the blanket over their girl's head. They seem like that type. And that's why I'm going to die lonely while every mustard-pouring, beer can balancing, liquor spitting, WOOOOO! and PAAAARRRRTTYYYYYY! yelling motherfucker is going to die loved.

Later that night, there's more drinking for a while until McConaughey comes up with the idea of holding a seance. They're all down for it, so the lights are turned off and McConaughey begins by first telling a story about Mr. Sledge Hammer. We then watch as the opening scene is played out again in its entirety while McConaughey narrates what we already know. What new stuff we do find out is that the murdered couple had actually been engaging in a extramarital affair. The lady's husband was the prime suspect, but was never charged in the crime. And while the bodies of the couple were eventually discovered, the little boy who was locked in the closet disappeared and never returned. The seance then begins, with McConaughey calling for the spirit of one of the victims to join them. Loud ominous noises are heard, followed by an angry otherworldly voice. Everyone freaks out, but it turns out it's all a prank devised by McConaughey and Dead Meat, who is upstairs controlling the sound and voice with his trusty boombox.

But I guess the seance really worked, because the spirit of Mr. Hammer, looking like a construction worker in his flannel & work boots getup, shows up and turns Dead Meat into his namesake by stabbing him in the neck with a knife. His body is then dragged away while everyone downstairs decides to play charades and drink some more. After a while, Blondie takes Tony Orlando With AIDS upstairs to have a little fun, while McConaughey also goes upstairs to look for Dead Meat. He only finds Dead Meat's boombox and some splattered blood surrounding it, which would completely set off the Something's Not Right alarm, but since he's pretty trashed it comes off kinda muffled and he doesn't react as fast to it. Meanwhile in the next room, Blondie is taking the initiative and trying to get Tony Orlando With AIDS to give her some. After much prying and prodding, it's revealed that Tony Orlando With AIDS is a virgin, and that's why he's been kinda shy with Blondie the whole time. After that, Blondie gets on top and proceeds to tie her yellow ribbons 'round his old oak tree. I have no idea what that means, but I wrote it anyway.

Joanie joins McConaughey upstairs where he tells her about the blood and Dead Meat's disappearance. She tells him he's probably hiding somewhere, pranking him back. She changes her mind, though, after she finds Dead Meat's body in the closet. McConaughey tells her to go find Tony Orlando With AIDS and Blondie while he goes to tell Mr. & Mrs. Beefy Beard.

But there will be no dawn for Tony Orlando With AIDS and his chick, because after completing the deflowerization, they are both killed by Mr. Hammer. Joanie walks in on the aftermath and a chase ensues. Well, maybe "chase" is the wrong word. It's more like she's very slowly followed by Mr. Hammer while she constantly stumbles down the hallway. Joanie manages to get away and run into the rest of her jerk friends downstairs.

The survivors argue about what to do next. The idea of Getting The Fuck Outta Here is shut down by Beefy Beard, who believes it's better to stay and hunt for the killer rather than hiking to the next town (there's that screenplay roadblock I mentioned earlier). It's a good plan, because it ends with that asshole Beefy Beard getting a knife in his back. Mrs. Beefy Beard takes the knife and goes out for revenge, only to suddenly get teleported into a locked room with Mr. Hammer. When McConaughey and Joanie arrive, they find Mrs. Beefy Beard's corpse being repeatedly stabbed by a junior little boy version of Mr. Hammer. I'm guessing that here the kid explains how he can take shape as both a little boy and a big man and why he has teleportation powers, but since he says it way too fast and his voice is altered too much, I couldn't make fuckin' heads or tails of it. There are bloody pentagrams on the wall, though, so I guess it involves dealings with El Diablo or other similar evil spirits. McConaughey goes over to smack this kid around and teach him some manners, but the little boy fuckin' bitchslaps the dude. That moment is so full of Win, it brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.

More chasing and cheesy synthesized music ensues, and it all climaxes with a fight between McConaughey (inexplicably shirtless once again) duking it out with Mr. Hammer. In the end, McConaughey takes Sledge's hammer and bashes his head in, killing the supernatural construction worker. Both McConaughey and Joanie exit the farmhouse and the camera begins to pan away from them, and the movie hasn't faded to black yet, so you're just watching and waiting for the moment that these movies usually end in. The camera continues to pan away, finally moving up to the second story window of the house, and guess who we see staring out of it? Junior Sledge Hammer! DUN DUN DUN! Or in the case of the synth music used in the movie, SQWEEEEEYOWWWNNNN! Roll end credits, and wait till you see what kneeslappers these turn out to be:




Special Sound Effects

Here's a couple more that seem a little too on the nose:

Lighting Director

Edited By

Of my shot-on-video double feature, I liked this one better than 555, but not by much. I liked the first two-thirds of the flick, but then it gets pretty dull for the last third, which is weird because that's where the real horror stuff happens. The gore isn't much to write home about, and the killer only uses the sledgehammer twice, which is pretty disappointing. It's like if I made a movie called Butcher Knife and out of the ten victims in the flick, the killer strangles seven of them. I wouldn't have an excuse and neither should the makers of Sledgehammer. But it nearly makes up for that shit with the wall-to-wall douchebaggery displayed and all of the WOOOO!-ing and the shit-treating of the women by the menfolk. So while it may fail as a genuine scary movie, it does barely succeed in having enough moments of What The Fuck? and Get The Fuck Outta Here! and Are You Fucking Kidding Me? to make it entertaining for the most part. I figure you can watch this one with some friends and some booze, and by the time it gets boring, you're too drunk by then to care anyway.

Unlike the dude who made 555, the guy who made this flick has gone on to have a career as a filmmaker. He's written and directed over 30 movies, working with Pamela Anderson, Lance Henriksen, Tony Curtis and David Carradine, among others. That's a pretty good step up from shooting Tony Orlando With AIDS on video. The guy found his niche, making low budget B-movies with guns, blood and titties -- the stuff Pure Cinema is made of, if you ask me. David A. Prior is the dude's name, and I've seen quite a few of his flicks. All go well with beer and pizza.

One of my faves was called Mankillers, a chicks-with-guns flick that featured one of the longest painful death scenes I've seen a villain go through. The bad guy in that movie got shot a bunch of times and squealed like a stuck pig for each bullet received. I swear this shit went on for five minutes, he kept popping up and one of the good guys would shoot him and he'd go AAAAAGGGGGHHH and fall to the ground again. I think all the surviving characters managed to pop a cap in him somewhere along the way, and in the end, he still wasn't dead. He got into a car and tried to run over the heroine. But she shot a fuckin' bazooka at him and the whole car exploded -- and he STILL screamed afterwards. That's the kind of suffering and assbeating I thought was missing from Curfew. So good on ya, Mr. Prior. Good on ya for giving the audience what it wants. I raise my Jack & Coke to you and I'd like to see more violence and titties from you in the future, if you please. But for Sledgehammer, I'll only raise my Jack & Coke halfway up.

(Note: I censored one of the moments in the video below, and that's because I'm sure showing one innocent titty is a lot more dangerous to the YouTube Police than showing blood and gore. Sorry.)