Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If you're going to have the characters in your movie watch a movie on television, make absolute goddamn sure it's not a movie that is 10x better than yours. "Pay tribute" my ass.

No, Rogue -- I am not Rogue. So get your goddamn web advertisement off the logo and place it at the tail-end of the end credits, where it belongs.

Here's another one off the request line; this time I was asked by this gentleman to ramble about My Soul to Take. I wasn't interested in seeing this film, nor was I interested in paying the extra charge for the privilege of watching it in 3D. But then I found that one of the local drive-ins was playing this along with Let Me In, which I was interested in seeing -- and for half the price of a 3D ticket! So off I went. By the way, there are SPOILERS (slight-to-medium spoilers, but everybody's gotta get bothered by something).

My Soul to Take starts off like Mr. Brooks II: Money Never Sleeps, and yes, I’m starting that shit right now -- it will be my life goal to make Money Never Sleeps the new Electric Boogaloo, or at the very least, the new The Quickening. But yeah, it’s Mr. Brooks Deux, because we have this mild-mannered husband with a wife and a kid and a kid in the wife, but he’s also got this split personality that makes him go out and filet people with a knife that has “Vengeance” engraved on it. It says Vengeance because that way the audience can go Ooooh! when we recognize that same knife on his basement floor. Because he's the killer, you see. That's why you should go Ooooh! or Ahhhh! or Oh My God, or any acceptable variations thereof.

Mr. Brooks II begs his split personality to stop the madness, but the SP is like Fuck That Shit and threatens to kill Mr. Brooks II’s family if he doesn’t shut the fuck up, then suddenly Mr. Brooks II wakes up in his comfy bed and is all “Oh, it was just a bad dream!”, then he turns to find his wife has been filleted and he wakes up again and is all "Oh, it was just a bad dream!", then something goes BOO and he wakes up yet again and is all "Oh, it was just a bad dream!" and I’m like Cut The Shit Already. The cops show up with a douchebag psychologist (played by the asshole judge from Ghostbusters II) and stop Mr. Brooks II from traumatizing his daughter by shooting him repeatedly until he’s dead right in front of her, so good job there, guys. Only he’s not dead, he wakes back up and shoots the psychologist, then they shoot him again, only he’s not dead, he wakes back up and tries to kill a paramedic, then they shoot him again, only he’s not dead, he wakes back up in an ambulance and stabs the paramedic and I’m like CUT THE SHIT ALREADY.

I wondered if Wes Craven (the first time in a long time that he directed his own screenplay) was doing some kind of tribute to the climaxes of the Scream movies or if he was actually going to give us a horror film comprised of nothing but 90 minutes of the killer being killed and coming back again, maybe calling it He’s Not Dead Yet. Then I think what happened was that Craven found out that not only was he not the only guy out there making horror films, but that there are already about 30 years of movies built on this Resurrecting Killer premise. I’m sure the suits at Rogue gave the bad news to Mr. Craven with a heavy heart, and he was all broken up about it, not just because his film (originally titled 25/8, which probably refers to the ratio of bad dreams-to-resurrections Mr. Brooks II goes through) would need a drastic overhaul, but because he wouldn’t be able to meet the original 2009 release date. So crafty Craven then pulled a new scenario out of his ass, and proceeded to shoot that shit, which is now this shit.

We cut to 16 years later and find out that the killer and his exploits have made him a town legend; he’s known as the Ripper and since there’s nothing to do in this boring town, the kids have something called Ripper Day which is held on the anniversary of the night Mr. Brooks II/The Ripper kept refusing to die. On that same night, 7 children were born, and each year on Ripper Day one of them is chosen to defeat a fake Ripper and this time it’s some dude named Bug doing the honors, only he’s not gonna do it because he’s a pussy-ass bitch-boy who wouldn’t know how to step up and be a man if his goddamn life depended on it (well, up until the film’s climax, of course). He freaks out and cries and probably pees himself a little and everyone laughs except for his two friends and a hot Jesus Freak.

Let me talk about this Jesus Freak chick; a couple years back, I saw this flick called The Haunting of Molly Hartley and had issues with making the film’s sole devout religious character a frumpy-dressed homely girl. That’s like casting a short fat chick to play the best friend and I’m sick of that shit. Say all the shit you want about Tommy Wiseau, but at least that motherfucker threw caution to the wind and decided that for the best friend role in The Room, he would cast an actress who was more attractive than the lead girl. I'm sure he meant to do that, making him a master in the field of the filmmaking arts. But yeah, I dug the redheaded lass they cast as the Jesus Freak, she's pretty and even her conservative clothing can't hide that, and despite her predilection for speaking entirely in Psalmspeak and wearing squeaky shoes (judge not lest ye be judged, fellow squeaky-shoe wearers), she was my favorite character, which of course is why she’s killed off early. That fuckin’ asshole Wes Craven knows how to hit me where it hurts; he killed Tatum Riley, he killed Randy Meeks, and now he killed Hot Redheaded Jesus Freak.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that; it looks like the Ripper is, in fact, still alive and he’s out killing the 7 kids who were born on the day that he, uh, died. What a fuckin’ hater; he goes around looking like a shaved version of Rob Zombie's skid-row version of Michael Myers in Halloween II, chasing them around and going “ARRRRGGGGHHH, I’M THE RIPPER! BOOGIE BOOGIE BOOGIE!” or some shit like that before slicing them up with his Vengeance knife the same way the Ginsu sliced through that tomato right after it sliced through a soda can in that old commercial. It must suck for Wes Craven when he's making a Scream movie, because the Ghostface Killer doesn't say shit and keeps quiet when killing people. Craven's not used to that, he's used to having guys like Freddy and the Ripper and Shocker never shutting the fuck up while dicing up a motherfucker.

It’s OK though, because half of these kids are douches anyway; you have the Cute Blonde Whore, you have the Asshole Jock (redundant), you have Ray Charles (cuz he’s black and blind, you see), you have that kid who reminded me of Rufio from Hook but who gives a shit cuz he’s the first to die, and you have the Comic Relief who lives with the stepfather equivalent to Chet from Weird Science. Counting Bug and Hot Redheaded Jesus Freak, that's your 7 kids, and maybe they all die, maybe one survives, who knows, the suspense is killing you, I'm sure.

My fave death would have to be the Asshole Jock because you find out early on that he may or may not have knocked some chick up and is now doing the Man thing by pretending that bitch don’t exist. But just as the Ripper finishes introducing Asshole Jock’s internal organs to the concept of leaves and soil, he asks him if there’s anyone he wants to say goodbye to. “My unborn child” says Asshole Jock before expiring.

I liked that moment, it seemed very genuine and unexpected. Leading up to this kill scene, Asshole Jock was pretty much letting his guard down and telling his girlfriend (at least he thought he was telling his girlfriend, MWAHAHAHA) about how sorry he was for being a piece-of-shit as a human being. And earlier that morning, when he still thought he was invincible and a champion at life, Hot Redheaded Jesus Freak told this motherfucker (with the certainty of a True Believer) that he was going to burn in Hell for his sins. And now he’s got the Ripper assuring him of that fate. And you know what? Good, I say.

I mean, these fuckin' assholes think they rule the world, and they're right -- star quarterback in high school gets the women, gets the scholarship, gets drafted into the NFL, gets the money, gets more women. That kind of shit inflates a motherfucker's ego to the point that they think they're above such lame things like being a good person to your fellow human being, which is why I live for those rare public moments when they overstep their boundaries and realize they are not untouchable -- sorry, O.J., you can't stab your wife; sorry, Brett Favre, not every girl considers text message'd pics of your tiny penis charming; and sorry, Asshole Jock, even you are not exempt from eternal damnation. I'll give Craven points for that.

But then there are a whole bunch of other moments and lines and actions that make you wonder if this film was actually intended as a satire; there are entire dialogue scenes and odd digressions and bits that feel more at home in the Deleted Scenes section of the Hot Rod DVD, rather than a horror/slasher flick. Maybe Wes Craven was trying to channel his inner Kevin Williamson, completely forgetting that the last time he tried to be funny and scary, it was in between scenes of chicks getting stabbed and it involved Sensei Kreese and it was funny in the way that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is funny -- in other words, fucking hilarious. I don't know, either Craven was still trying to figure out the kind of movie he was making or the man is having us on, having us on big-time, at that. It's just half the time I thought the characters were gonna start breaking into some Cool Beans kinda shit.

You know what? I think I'll have to take back what I said about Hot Redheaded Jesus Freak being my fave character. I'm not ready to knock her off the pedestal, though, she will share the slot with another character. It's a tie, is what I'm saying. I'm talking about the character of Fang, played by a girl who kinda reminded me of Rose McGowan, back when she used to look like Rose McGowan. Fang is a hot popular chick who runs the school like a mafia don -- she's part Mean Girls, part Jawbreaker, all Win.

The entire high school is Fang's oyster, so I guess the girl's restroom is the pearl within that oyster, because she spends a lot of non-excreting time in there, holding court among the toilets and tampon dispensers, ordering her lackeys, underlings and minions around. One of the stall doors has a handwritten sign that says "Fang Zone" or something like that. For reals, yo. If the sign also said "No Boyz Allowed!" or "Kool Kidz Only!" and each letter was written in different crayon colors, it wouldn't have made much difference. Asshole Jock is one of her enforcers, and she orders him to give hurtings to undeserving nerds and various other unpopular types, even going as far as to assign the amount of pain each person should get based on a number scale (Comic Relief character, for example, gets a punch to the stomach that measures an 8).

Just when her character can't get any better, you then find out late in the film that Fang is 19 years old! I haven't had that big a smile since the last time I had that big a smile. How beautifully pathetic; all the kids in high school either worship her or are afraid of her, and I don't know if she's stupid and got held back or just doesn't want to give up a good thing. Fuck, talk about reigning in Hell vs. serving in Heaven. She's not that much older than the other kids, but fuck man, it makes a world of difference in high school if they knew. Or maybe they do know, and they're too stupid to see the big picture, instead they choose to look at this chick as the embodiment of Awesome because she learned to drive before they did, or because in a couple years she'll be able to legally buy beer, I don't know.

I'm gonna switch topics, as I am wont to do, and tell you about some shit that happened about 10 years ago. I used to drive a 1964 Plymouth Valiant; it was old and it was a convertible, so I guess that made it all right. Anyway, my aunt visited (the same aunt who is going to die from cancer soon, because God likes to reward nice/generous/kindhearted people with Slow Painful Death, the fuckin' asshole) along with my 15-year-old cousin, who had also brought along his friend. He and his friend were chilling outside while I was inside with the family, and later on, when I went outside, my cousin went up to me and shared the following exchange he had with his friend earlier when they arrived:

FRIEND: Whose car is that?
COUSIN: It's my cousin's.
FRIEND: Man, he must get ALL the pussy!

Oh, to be young and innocent! He did not see me for the pathetic douchebag that I was (and still am). If he only knew that my luck with the ladies only went as far as being lucky enough not to have one get the dry heaves upon my asking them out for a date. As far as he was concerned, older-than-him Me was Mr. Cool, taking his pick among all the beautiful babies out there who wanted to party. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I can feel Fang's secret pain, and since she's 19, I'd like to feel a little more than that, if you get my drift -- I'M A GENTLEMAN! Anyway, Fang is awesome, Fang rules, and you should try to be Fang when you grow up.

Bug has this thing for birds -- he listens to a radio show called The Birding Hour, seriously, for real, that's what it's called and it airs at 2 am which sounds about right -- and he especially has a thing for condors, even going as far as to whip up an elaborate and complicated condor costume for a school project that is due in few hours. This is supposed to mean something, I think, the whole myth about condors taking in the souls of its prey. I think the Ripper does that too, but I'll be goddamned if I can explain how. If it was ever explained in the movie in terms more specific than HE'S EEEEVIIILLL! then I missed that shit.

Bug also has this habit of breaking into sudden impressions of the recent victims, which I think might have something to do with the fact that he's possibly possessed by the Ripper's soul or something like that, I don't know, all I know is that he comes off like he's trying to be the next Robin Williams with his manic gift for mimicry. He'd look right at home making an ass of himself alongside Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg for the sake of the homeless, is what I'm saying. Anyway, I guess Craven could've called this movie Operation Condor or Condorman, except those titles were already taken, so he went with My Soul to Take.

People have been going on about what a crushing disappointment this movie is for a director of Craven's caliber, talking like he was Martin Scorsese or somebody. The guy's always been hit-and-miss for me, hot-and-cold; for every Nightmare on Elm Street and Last House on the Left, there's also a Deadly Friend and Vampire in Brooklyn. This movie leans toward the latter category but not entirely; it's an odd movie, that's the best way I can describe it. It wasn't scary, and it certainly wasn't good, but I can't completely dismiss it because it has enough WTF/interesting moments sprinkled throughout to make it worth sitting through.

Looking over what I wrote about him, I realize I gave Bug a lot of shit, but he's actually a pretty likable guy, and finding a character you like and don't want to see harmed is nowadays worthy of being considered a cinematic miracle. I also found it kinda endearing that he not only gets a cell phone on his birthday from his mom, but that he's genuinely stoked about it. Maybe it's because I assume the kids today take that kind of shit for granted, they take everything for granted, especially in movies. Kids gotta be so fuckin' cool and with it in movies today; I hate that shit. They all have Blackberries and nice cars, but you never see the behind-closed-doors shit, when they were begging Mommy and Daddy for the hookup on that shit, it's all assumed they got that shit through osmosis or something. Little bastards. Nice clothes, it must be nice to afford nice clothes, where do you work to make the money to buy those nice clothes? Wait, you don't have a job? Hmm. I wonder how you got those clothes, then. Yeah, that's what I thought. Not so cool, now, are ya?

I guess what I'm trying to say is Kids, Get Off My Lawn.