Monday, February 16, 2009

I guess the only early Full Moon flick left to watch is Meridian

Back in my late years of elementary school, I started to rent a lot of these Full Moon movies at the video store. Full Moon was the name of a production company that specialized in low-budget sci-fi and horror for the straight-to-video market. At the end of each flick, there was also a 15-20 minute featurette called Videozone that featured a behind-the-scenes of the flick you just watched, trailers and coming attractions for other Full Moon productions. The flicks were entertaining and fast-paced, and they released a new one every month.

There are still a couple flicks from the early years of Full Moon that I never got around to watching though, and I found one of them at the going-out-of-business video store. It's called Shadowzone, and it starts with a dude from NASA arriving via helicopter at an underground bunker in the middle of the Nevada desert. There's an experimental project called Shadowzone being conducted for the past year, one that involves deep sleep for extended periods of time. NASA is funding it, but there's been a death during one of the procedures, so NASA Dude is here to check out on it and determine whether or not his bosses should continue footing the bill for Shadowzone. He's taken down to the bunker by the maintenance man, nicknamed Shivers because of his always trembling right hand. Shivers is a dirty-looking motherfucker; he's got a huge bushy unkempt beard, filthy clothes (with filthier-looking undershirt), dirty smudges all over his hands and fingernails and he's greasy too. You just know this scumbag has been wearing the same underwear for at least two weeks.

NASA Dude then goes to the pantry to eat and be brought up to speed by Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She tells him that they are close to making a breakthrough. But NASA Dude doesn't want to hear it; he wants to meet the main dude in charge and he also wants to see the body of the unfortunate test subject who died. We also meet Cutter the cook and Dr. Kidwell, this chick who works with a bunch of lab animals. Kidwell's young and pretty, which means she will be the only other survivor, along with the handsome NASA dude. That's just how it works in these flicks. After inspecting the body, they all go to the control room that is adjacent to the experiment chamber, and NASA Dude meets the computer whiz at the controls named Wiley. NASA Dude then enters the experiment chamber and meets with the head dude, this guy named Dr. Van Fleet. Van Fleet is played by Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China. We have an Asian actor playing a dude with a Dutch name and a German accent, which I thought was pretty cool, because I'm down with the melting pot.

Van Fleet shows NASA Dude the male & female test subjects who have been in deep sleep. Both are laid out and enclosed in sleeping pods and both are completely naked. This is awesome in the chick's case, because she's got a nice rack and we get full frontal too. Her name is Jenna, she's been in deep sleep for only a few days now (replacing the recently deceased security guard) and for the record, the carpet does not match the drapes. The male test subject is named James, he's been under for six months now and unfortunately we see all of him too. Van Fleet explains that he has safely disconnected their brainstems electronically, that way they can enter an even deeper state of sleep without going brain dead. NASA Dude asks if this could've caused the last subject to have his deadly stroke, but like the others, Van Fleet strongly insists that there's no way that could be. It was just a bad coincidence, he says.

That night, NASA Dude has a bad dream where he watches the rest of the crew performing an autopsy on Jenna, then we're off to the next morning at the experiment chamber. NASA Dude has read the print-outs of previous tests and discovered that the last subject had been sent to a particular level of sleep before expiring, called Level 31F. Van Fleet insists it has nothing to do with the test subject's stroke. NASA Dude tells him in that case, if there's nothing wrong with 31F, then they shouldn't have a problem setting one of the subjects on it and letting him observe. Van Fleet tries to talk his way around it, but he knows that refusing to do so would be an admission of guilt and Shadowzone would get shut down. So he and his crew go ahead and set Test Subject James on Level 31F and hope for the best, knowing that the last test subject only lasted 40 seconds under that setting.

NASA Dude goes to the experiment chamber and watches over James' in the sleeping pod as he undergoes Level 31F, meanwhile Van Fleet and his crew are in the control room with fingers crossed and assholes puckered, wishing for NASA Dude to hurry the fuck up and finish getting what he wants so they can shut it down before the 40 seconds are up. Almost a minute passes before NASA Dude is satisfied, and James is brought down to a safer level. Suddenly something interfaces with the computer system and overrides it. Alarms and bells start going off, and Wiley is powerless to stop it. The earth starts quaking and the sleeping pods start shooting out sparks, and it ends with Test Subject James' head exploding all over the pod. The lights go out, and we cut to Shivers as he comes out of the restroom, zipping up his fly and hooking his belt back up. I can bet you this filthy motherfucker didn't even wash his hands. He goes over and turns on the emergency lights, contaminating the switches with his unwashed shit-wipers.

Van Fleet, Kidwell and NASA Dude then go into the experiment chamber to check and make sure everything else is okay. Wiley has control of the system again, so he uses the mapping system on the monitor to keep track of the three while they're inside. The three check on the pods; Jenna is fine, still under deep sleep in her pod. James's pod, on the other hand, looks likes its been coated with Wild Cherry Slurpee, so that's how he's doing. Back in the control room, Wiley notices on the monitor that there is another life form inside the chamber. Van Fleet separates himself in one part of the chamber to look for the lifeform, forcing NASA Dude and Kidwell to go back to the control room. Van Fleet looks around, gets a couple of false scares and is then attacked by some mutated Leprechaun-looking thing in woman's clothing. The last thing he says is "Madam Pip!" and then after that it's just a bunch of high-pitched squealing, the kind one usually lets out when he or she is getting murder-ized.

Our cast of characters all go to the pantry for much "Rabble rabble harumph harumph" about what just happened. Ratched explains to NASA Dude what she and Van Fleet had discovered early on. They found out that when taken past the deepest level of dream-state sleep, a human being's subconscious becomes a sort of radio tuner that is able to communicate with other dimensions. The only reason inter-dimensional communication isn't an everyday occurrence is because the brain wakes the person up as a kind of defense mechanism. In other words, your brain knows when your stupid ass subconscious is walking into a bad neighborhood, so it drives its Hyundai up onto the sidewalk in front of you, opens the door, pulls you inside, and then double-backs the other way and speeds its way back to Mayberry before the fuckin' Crips and Bloods see you and try to jack your shit. But since Van Fleet shut off the brainstem from the test subjects, that means that not only was communication with an other dimension made possible, but with the help of Shadowzone's system, a lifeform from the other dimension has been able to come over to our side and start fucking shit up. Ain't that a bitch?

Dirty motherfucker Shivers explains to everyone that the top is sealed, communications are down, and they only have a few hours of air left. They also find out that the lifeform from another dimension has the ability to change its shape and size, meaning it can be anywhere in the bunker it wants to be. So they also have that going for them. NASA Dude and Wiley decide to go further downstairs to fail at fixing something. Shivers and Kidwell take off to go and check on Cutter in the kitchen. As for Nurse Ratched, she stays to hold the fort back at the control room, where she applies Chap Stick non-stop, and if she's not doing that, she's playing with the tube. Every fucking scene, she's messing with that Chap Stick.

Cutter buys it first. She reaches into a mousehole to replace a trap. She screams, blood splatters on her face, and suddenly a giant mutant rat smashes through the wall, Kool-Aid-Man style.

Surprisingly, Kidwell gets it next. I figured she was going to live to become NASA Dude's fuck buddy, but it's made very clear that she won't, not after she messed with a lab monkey that was really the creature in monkey form.

Shivers is next. After hearing Kidwell's dying screams over the intercom and finding Cutter's mangled corpse in the kitchen, he runs hollering like the mortified hillbilly he is through every part of the bunker. If I was the director of this flick, I would've asked the sound guys to add in the sound of constant urination and bowel evacuating, because that's what this motherfucker looks like he's got going on. Because Scared and Stupid park their cars in the same garage, Shivers' fires his weapon all over the place until he's left facing the unseen monster with an empty shotgun. Well, at least Shivers' no longer has to worry about taking showers anymore. Not that he ever did, the stinky motherfucker. NASA Dude and Wiley arrive and find shredded pieces of meat and gore and a pair of broken glasses where Shivers had been standing.

They stand there, open-mouthed and stunned at all the blood. NASA Dude looks over to the darkness at the other end of the hall. It's completely quiet, and it looks like there's nothing there. But NASA Dude just fucking knows and quietly whispers to Wiley that they should beat their feet. I have to admit, that was a pretty creepy fucking moment. The filmmakers didn't use special effects or sound effects. There's no growl or monster roar. It's just a shot of an unlit section of the hall. And yet even I was like "GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE!!!"

Off they go, to the nearest elevator, which of course is out-of-order. Wiley runs down the hall to a control box so he can hotwire the elevator to work again. Motherfucker. That elevator had been out for a couple of days now, and all along Wiley could've fixed it if he wanted to? Well, Wiley is about to learn a painfully final lesson about procrastination, because while he manages to hotwire the elevator doors to open, allowing NASA Dude to go inside, Wiley does not make it to the doors in time and they close on him. NASA Dude cannot pry them open, and guess who just showed up down the hall? NASA Dude is then treated to the sound of Wiley screaming and the sight of the elevator door window getting splattered with blood.

NASA Dude climbs out through the elevator shaft and makes it to the control room. There he finds Ratched, who tells him what she's found out about the killer lifeform. Based on what happened to both Van Fleet and Kidwell, Ratched has figured out that the creature takes the form of whatever happens to be in the victim's mind. Kidwell was looking around for her monkey, so the creature took the form of that ugly fuck. And before Van Fleet was attacked, he was scared, and his fear triggered an old childhood memory of a carnival geek named "Madam Pip", so that's what the creature appeared as. I guess that would mean that if I was in the movie, either a Scarlett Johansson clone or a giant pizza would end up doing me in. Unless I was scared, because in that case I'd probably be running away from a giant Algebra book. That's Komedy people! Komedy!

The lifeform once again interfaces with the computer system and communicates with NASA Dude and Ratched. The lifeform says that it can no longer sustain itself in our world and wants to go back to its dimension. Our survivors agree to help, but they must set Jenna at Level 31F and risk killing her to do it. They turn on the doohicky, sparks explode and then a big shaft of glowing light forms in the center of the room. The creature shows up, looking nothing like the full-bodied mutant on the video cover. Instead, it looks more like the sad AIDS-stricken version; it would be more at home in a robe and slippers, walking slowly across the study and sipping a cup of broth.

Anyway, the creature walks into the shaft of light and disappears. Ratched just can't leave well enough alone, so she picks up a broken piece of metal rod and sticks it into the light. It gets sucked in. I guess this was Ratched's way of checking if the water was fine, so to speak, because she then walks right into the light and disappears.

NASA Dude figures she ain't coming back anyway, so he grabs an axe and smashes up the entire system, both to ensure this shit will never happen again and to save Jenna from getting the Scanners Treatment. Ratched suddenly returns, stepping halfway out of the light. She looks at NASA Dude with an amazed and excited gaze and tells him "There are thousands of th--" and that's all she gets to say because that metal rod from earlier has just poked out of her chest. She then does that thing we've seen in lots of movies; she stands there confused, rubs the blood off of her mouth and finally keels over. This all just goes to prove my long-standing theory: Never try to confirm if you have been gravely wounded. If you think you've just been shot or stabbed, by all means DO NOT LOOK OR TOUCH, just let it go. As long as you don't try to confirm your fatal wound, you will survive. You can go days, months, years like this. But as soon as you touch it and raise your bloody fingers up to your eyes for a closer look, you will DIE.

Turns out it was the creature who ran Ratched through with the metal rod. It leans in closer and starts stroking Ratched's hair, then looks at NASA Dude before giving out an anguished-sounding scream. The creature then pulls Ratched's body back into the other dimension with it. I don't know, man. You figure that shit out. Anyway, stuff explodes and NASA Dude passes out. He wakes up a short while later to the sounds of someone yelling. It's Test Subject Jenna, now completely woken up and trapped in her sleeping pod. NASA Dude goes over and gets her out, left dumbfounded by the sight of this hot naked piece-of-ass sitting before him. Roll credits. It's gotten to a point that when one of these movies ends without a surprise "IT AIN'T OVAH! DUN DUN DUN!" ending, that in itself is a surprise ending.

Shadowzone was a'ight. It lost two L's and an R over time. The movie looks good for its budget and it has the occasional good moment and surprise. I liked the idea of a creature that takes the form of whatever you're thinking about, and since you're most likely thinking of some scary shit to begin with in this kind of situation, it's not going to be good. Anyway there was no Videozone after the flick. Instead there's an odd promotion for Full Moon merchandise. It's's...uh...hmm. I'll just post it at the end of the Not-So-Random moments YouTube clip and let you see for yourself.