Tuesday, August 30, 2011

If I had an ass that red and irritated, I'd be non-stop pissed off too.

He takes another sip of his coffee and begins to write about Shakma, although he truly feels that the title should always be written in all caps and yelled -- SHAKMA! -- because that's the way it should be.

So I had heard about SHAKMA! since it's release 20 years ago, having seen the poster and having caught bits and pieces playing at the awesome video store that displayed said poster back-in-the-day. I also missed a screening of it at the Cinefamily a couple years ago, but I didn't miss out on one of my all-time favorite tweets about that film, one that displayed the sheer joy gained out of watching a killer baboon doling out raw psycho street-style ownage to a bunch of med students -- and after finally watching SHAKMA! the other night, I'd have to agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly.

See, SHAKMA! takes place in this medical research building located in Orlando, Florida and I guess Shaquille O'Neal was off playing ball somewhere else because I'm sure Shaq Diesel would've stepped in early in the film and stopped these assholes from doing what they were about to do, which is put some poor baboon (the titular SHAKMA!) through a surgical procedure that apparently involved reaching into SHAKMA!'s inner wiring and flicking the setting switch to Evil, because Dr. Shaq's a good dude and he wouldn't have stood for that kind of cruelty to animals in the name of science. He would've given Professor Sorenson (played by Roddy McDowall) and his students a stern talking to, because that's how my boy Shaqma rolls.

But alas, Shaq Daddy was not there to teach these...scientists...a lesson, so McDowall and company go ahead and power-saw SHAKMA!'s head open and fuck with it something awful. So they do what they do, and then cart the passed-out baboon to wherever you put the passed-out baboons. Then the movie introduces who I'm pretty sure is going to be the main dude, a med student played by Christopher Atkins From The Blue Lagoon (that's his official full name, he changed it to include the movie he's best known for). We see him fucking around with his chick, a fellow med student played by Amanda Wyss from Silverado and A Nightmare on Elm Street (but she only goes by the name Amanda Wyss).

Atkins and Wyss have a cool thing going on; he likes to push her buttons, or at least I hope that's what he's doing, and that he really doesn't honestly think that she's a "militant feminist" just because she's not interested in the life of a happy homemaker -- darning the socks, cooking the dinners, making the babies. I mean, c'mon, Atkins, if that's what she really wants to do, then why would she be in fuckin' medical school, ya fuckin' jackass? Better yet, why are you in fuckin' medical school? Obviously you don't have the capacity in your man-animal brain to understand where this chick is coming from, let alone the intricacies of the human body.

He also fails to grasp the idea behind having animals at a research facility, I mean, did he think they were placed there to boost morale? Sorry, chief -- all those rats and monkeys are there to get Hostel'd on in the name of Science. But I guess he didn't know that, because as soon as he finds out that his beloved SHAKMA! is now a bloody baboon who had his brain cut up, he gets all emo about it, which I guess triggers the psychic bond that is created whenever Man and Animal become very close, because suddenly SHAKMA! wakes up and is immediately open for ass-handing-back business. He takes a swipe at some random douche and then another douche hits the alarm, causing McDowall to arrive, dressed like he just came from the local Dress Like Pee-Wee Herman contest, where he placed 11th because the colors and material have to be same, not just the particular types of clothing, I mean c'mon, he didn't even have the right shoes. Anyway, in the end, wannabe Pee-Wee is able to sedate SHAKMA!

Pure fuckin' incompetence -- that's what really sets this party off. McDowall gives Atkins the simple task of shooting up SHAKMA! with a particular sedative (I think it's supposed to kill the baboon, I'm not sure because I was sooooo fuckin' blitzed while watching this) and this fool actually manages to fuck that up; Atkins ends up grabbing the wrong vial because he was looking the other way while grabbing it -- remember, this is a man who is pursuing a career that involves having responsibility for the health and well-being of others. So because he shot SHAKMA! up with what I'm guessing was a very light tranquilizer, or SuperAIDS version 2.0 (commissioned by the CIA), our baboon is only taking a nap for the time being while a group of these wannabe Dr. Houses are setting up for a weird Mazes and Monsters type of game, to be played in the research building after hours. Somehow they got McDowall to take part as the Game Master -- shit, the whole thing might have been his nerdy idea, I don't remember.

So yeah, this game; the building is locked up and most of the lights are shut off, allowing the group to split up and go around looking for keys and clues and shit, trying to either find or stay away from Nemesis, who I guess is like the douchey frat-boy minotaur in the labyrinth that is the research building. This Nemesis guy, he's not the Resident Evil villain or the Albert Pyun movie, he's just one of the med students and he's been asked to take part in the game, and he has to wear a stupid monster mask when playing as Nemesis. Meanwhile, his chick is waiting outside in her car, listening to the most awesome generic jazzy synthesizer music on her tape deck.

The game players all keep in contact with each other, using the kind of walkie-talkies you beg your dad to buy you at Toys R Us, and then you bitch about 'em afterward because you can't hear shit, but hey, at least they came with a Morse Code button that you never properly used and a Morse Code key that you never bothered to learn. Meanwhile, McDowall is chilling out in his office (at this point, he's now dressed like someone who should be sliding me a cold mug of Budweiser with one hand, while wiping down the bar with the other), keeping tabs on their locations with a map on his computer. This is what you did for fun in 1990, I guess. I'm not judging, because to be honest with you, I wish I could play something like that, but I don't know, I'm afraid of people or something.

But I'm not afraid of the bearded med student/computer nerd who's either got a stroke or is gay, based on the way he speaks, because that would be wrong, to be afraid; during a conversation with Atkins, he pronounces "game master" like he wanted to cut it off at the first half of the first syllable, creating a key that would unlock the gates to a whole new world of acceptance and understanding, but he won't. He probably secretly hopes that his lisp will be enough to out him, and his friends will pick up on it and not be hateful dicks to him because of his alternative lifestyle. Or maybe that's just how the actor playing him thinks computer nerds talk. Anyway, he's the first to get fuckin' merked by SHAKMA! and even his death stare is annoying.

There's this young girl, played by a young adult, and she's the Nemesis guy's little sister; she's part of the game, playing some kind of princess who awaits the winner of the game in the top floor, ready to award the person who saves her with underage poon or something, I don't fuckin' know. All I know is that she has a thing for Atkins, and maybe he has something for her, based on the pervy looks they share. But it's mostly her who is doing the staring, usually while Atkins is busy doing something else and not paying attention. Man, that would be awesome to have that happen to me, to be the one lovingly stared at, rather than be the one doing the staring -- and better yet, I'm not being stared at because of my usual freaky/ugly/fatty ways, no, not at all, I'm being stared at because somehow this nice girl looks at all of this fat brown pockmarked flesh and the first thought that goes through her twisted head is not Call The Cops Call The INS, but instead it's I Want That.

So while these assholes are playing their game, SHAKMA! is prowling the fuckin' hallways, being a fuckin' boss and occasionally owning a motherfucker. The first time SHAKMA! does his thing, it's when one of the med students goes into the primate room; he enters, sees a bunch of opened-up cages, blood splattered all over the walls, then turns to find SHAKMA! in mid-monkey-chew. SHAKMA! looks back at the med student, still chewing, all like "'Sup, man? I didn't even know you were coming" and then upon realizing that the med student is not happy with what he's witnessing, SHAKMA! (who hates being judged) jumps onto the counter, knocks over a monkey cage -- with a monkey still inside! -- and gives the dude a look like "Yeah, that's right, I did that shit!" before finally jumping onto the guy to tear him various new profusely bleeding orifices. Orifici?

No joke, man, the actor who plays SHAKMA! needs a fuckin' retroactive Oscar for his performance here. I mean, if that fuckin' overrated shit-stinking Bart the Bear managed to convince the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to let him amble his Harold Perrineau-eating ass onto the fuckin' Kodak Theater stage, then why not Typhoon the baboon? This baboon is awesome; he's either locomotion-ing down the hallways at furious speed, bouncing off the walls like some amped-up basehead who's just tried Crystal Meth for the first time (and took way too much), or he's nonchalantly munching on the flesh of one of his previous victims during downtime. When he's not doing that cool shit, he's doing even cooler shit, like going the fuck off on doors. Man, this baboon hates him some fuckin' doors -- I suspect that when SHAKMA! was young, some asshole old man paid homeless doors to beat the shit out of him, therefore instilling within Lil' SHAKMA! a violent abhorrence for all things Doorknob'd and Deadbolted.

At one point, Atkins tries to defend himself against the almighty SHAKMA! by using a flashbulb to distract him, thinking he's Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window in this bitch, and SHAKMA! gets a full bright flash in his face. But my boy reacts by quickly closing his eyes and reflexively shaking his head, then bounces back with this "No, you did NOT just flash that shit in my face" look/screech before getting back into Killing-mode. It's beauty, eh, the way he kills -- even after it's obvious that you're a goner, it's not gonna keep him from giving you a quick Haggar-style jump kick with both feet, because he's the kind of baboon who likes to break it off after sticking it in, the little screechy bastard.

Let me talk about that screech/growl shit he does -- it is Good Times, people. Right now, it just hit me that the producers of this film really missed out on making some serious merchandise/licensing money with a SHAKMA! car alarm. That shit would've made some serious bank, on account of being so fucking effective; a thief tries to break into your cherry Geo Metro and suddenly triggers a barrage of loud-ass SHAKMA!-screams going at 150 decibels -- putting the Fear Of God into that poverty-driven piece-of-shit and causing him to run the fuck away. Plus, any passerby or neighbors will have extra incentive in notifying the authorities because Jesus Christ Someone Please Turn Off That Godforsaken Alarm. The SHAKMA! alarm also makes a great deterrent, because any thief worth his worthless salt would not try to fuck with any automobile displaying the "Protected by SHAKMA!" label, he ain't taking that chance, because like the slogan for the SHAKMA! Auto Alarm says: "You Mess With The Baboon, You Get The Horns".

I don't think I've made it clear how splendid a job I think this Typhoon fellow did in his role as SHAKMA! The Killer Baboon. He doesn't just Bring It with the killing scenes, he's also got a bit of a Pacino-esque hamminess to him; half the time, ol' Shakee Boy is making these crazy open-mouthed faces and at first I thought he was being kind of an over-actor, but now I'm thinking something else. Like, maybe he's making fun of his co-star Christopher Atkins, who occasionally displays similar wide-eyed/wide-mouthed theatrics in this film (particularly during the scene when he discovers the acid-melted face of one of his buddies -- no joke, SHAKMA! will absolutely fuck you up).

Typhoon probably noticed that shit and when it came time to shoot his coverage during that OMG My Friend's Face Has Been Melted Off scene, he looked over to the crew members (Typhoon's been chummy with them, sometimes even playing cards with them in his trailer between setups, like Tom Hanks has been known to do) and said "Hey guys, check me out -- I'm Chris Atkins!" and then started doing the faces, cracking everyone up, because when you work long hours on low-budget shoots like this one, you need all the levity you can get. Well, the director -- ruthless Eli Cross wannabe that he is -- he had them roll camera during that shit, then later had that shit printed and told the editor to try and use some of that footage somewhere in the movie.

I bet you the director didn't even have the decency to tell Typhoon about this, preferring to let him know when he watches the film for the first time. Boy, did Typhoon feel betrayed upon seeing what was meant to be a private moment between talent and crew, now blown up and presented to everyone on a 40-foot screen. But he knew someone who felt even more betrayed at the moment, and he was sitting only a few seats away: Christopher Atkins. Typhoon knew that he did wrong -- no matter how lighthearted his intentions were -- and he had to make up for it as soon as possible, especially knowing how sensitive Atkins could get. Typhoon couldn't judge Chris on his fragile nature, for he too was once like Mr. Atkins, having had to deal with all kinds of jokes and barbs from producers about how he'd fit in this business since Hollywood is all "monkey business" anyway. Or those lame smart-ass questions from agents asking him if he and a bunch of his fellow simians ever got together with a typewriter and tried writing Shakespeare. Oh, how those "jokes" stung him!

And yet, here he was, dishing out the same kind of hurt to his polite co-star. No, this had to be made right -- and soon! Typhoon decided he would make his move during the after-party, only he wouldn't be too sudden about it, he'd have to drink up at least one flute of courage before working up the nerve to make amends. But he would, and it did -- and thankfully, Chris being the sensitive, positive and trusting soul that he was, forgave Typhoon, and all was well again.

I spoil shit all the time here, but I'm going to spoil something particularly big here so SPOILER BITCHES, but yeah, I want to talk about how surprised I was by the fact that the love interest gets dusted in this flick. I thought I had it pegged: Amanda Wyss will live and so will Nemesis' Little Sister, because there's no reason to kill them off because why be different from every other movie ever made? I figured Atkins wouldn't survive because three's a crowd in the survivor game, plus, he needs to atone because it's kinda his fault that this shit happened. I mean, yeah, it's McDowall's fault for Tampering In God's Domain with whatever the fuck he was doing to SHAKMA!'s brain, but it's also Blue Lagoon's fault for not paying attention to what drug he was injecting SHAKMA! with. Seriously, Atkins -- that's a dangerous killing machine that you were told to put down and you decided that it wasn't Top Priority for your eyes to pay attention to the fuckin' label? What an asshole!

But no, they don't kill off Atkins, so in his place they kill off love interest Amanda Wyss! Wow! It's a pretty fucked-up sequence, and the way it plays at first, you think she'll get away from SHAKMA!, but no. She manages to hide out in a bathroom stall, standing on the toilet while trying to pull off an air vent cover. The end of this scene is shot from the outside of the stall, so we only see the top half of Wyss as she tries to make a jump for the air vent -- but then you hear my homebaboon doing his screech thing and down goes Amanda, out of frame and into a world of shit (literally, if the last occupant of that stall forgot to flush). The sound of screams and bloody murder follow...until...out pops Amanda into frame again, barely hanging on (both figuratively and literally). Everything's quiet now as she slowly tries to make an attempt at crawling up onto the air vent. A few beats pass, and then -- SKKKRRRREEEEEEEE!!!! SHAKMA! pulls her back down and finishes what he started.

Now, I was wondering what happened in that brief period of non-violence; was SHAKMA! being a sadistic fuck and fooling Miss Wyss into thinking that she might escape this ordeal? I only wish it were that simple. I'll tell you what fuckin' happened, but first I have to fill in some details for ya: throughout the movie, upon closer inspection, you'll notice that SHAKMA!'s dong is rather primed during all of his murderous shenanigans. It's disturbing, but maybe it's supposed to be, because watching this hairy, angry creature running rampant with his penis hanging out, killing everything that he doesn't agree with, well it's like SHAKMA! is the male id personified.

So when you consider that, along with where SHAKMA! is located during his attacking of Miss Wyss -- on the floor, looking up at the girl standing on the toilet, leaving her ass in full prime view -- well, it doesn't take the proverbial rocket scientist to figure out that when you're as Horny As Fuck as this pent-up creep is, you take advantage of the time a quick break gives you and you beat that meat, son, you beat that fuckin' meat. Unfortunately for poor Amanda Wyss, my boy SHAKMA! is like The Flash when it comes to Turning Japanese, so she didn't have time to escape before he finished and now he's back to giving the lady a hands-on lesson in How To Die Slowly.

By the way, it's thoughts like these that keep me from ever wondering why I'm doomed to die alone.

At first, I thought the filmmakers justified her death for committing the crime of being a smart, assertive woman who could get along just fine without a man's help -- whereas Nemesis' Little Sister is allowed to live because she's dumb and needy and therefore Not A Threat To Man's Dominance. But no, they kill the little sister off too because this movie is like Judd Nelson in that it's just so goddamn relentless and way harsh. Each woman's death is mourned in similar ways by Atkins; he picks up each woman's SHAKMA'd-up body and does that slow, traumatized Riggs-in-Lethal Weapon 2 shuffle-walk as he carries it down the hall, only with Wyss he does this extra bit where he leans in and gives her one final kiss on the lips -- which is still OK by the rules, because as my late beloved grandmother was fond of saying, "It's not necrophilia, if no fluid is involved".

One by one, the team of potential Marcus Welbys and Meredith Greys are taken out, even McDowall (who is last seen dressed like he should be running on top of Mt. Rushmore with Eva Marie Saint in tow) gets it in the end, leaving only one man to fight the deadly terror, with only cunning, booby-traps, and an overall sense of I Don't Give A Damn Anymore at his disposal. So basically, this is Predator for the Scrubs crowd. But ultimately, what this film really is, is a scorching indictment on the severe damages to society caused by Man's stupidity -- particularly one man's stupidity, Christopher Atkins' stupidity. I think it's a harsh way for one man to learn his lesson, but short of having the dead bodies magically awaken and having SHAKMA! reveal himself to be a dwarf stuntman, then having George Bluth Sr. and his one-armed friend come out and say "And that's why you always read the label!" -- short of doing that, I think this was the only way for homeboy to learn.

After what I'm about to write, you might think that I got a free trip to New York and was invited to the premiere screening of SHAKMA! at the Radio City Music Hall, where everyone in the audience was hooting, hollering and bouncing beach balls around, but I honestly thought SHAKMA! was a good flick. First off, I like everything, so there's that -- and second, I thought it was a pretty well put-together low-budget scare joint. The idea of a crazed baboon skulking around dark corners of a practically abandoned building that you are trapped inside of, well shit, that's pretty scary to me. Hell, being in a well-lit, wide-open space with an even-tempered baboon would scare the shit out of me. It's an effective B-movie thriller, is what I'm saying. But I'm also saying that I was as high as Harrison Ford giving a rare friendly interview when I watched it, so there's that too.

I'm disappointed that they didn't make more SHAKMA! flicks because that baboon was awesome and I would've seen ten more sequels devoted to his flank-steak ass running around, killing doors and people. Don't give me that "But SHAKMA! got burned to death at the end" bullshit, because as the late Moustapha Akkad taught us, Evil Never Dies (as long as there is money to be made off of it). Seriously, this guy could've been the next Freddy Krueger and it's too bad they never got around to making SHAKMA! 2: SHAKMA!'s Revenge, where the ghost of SHAKMA! can torture some young innocent baboon and possess him, and it's all ladled with thick servings of homoerotic subtext.

It's not too late though; everyone's remake/reboot/sequel/prequel crazy nowadays, so why not call that crazy fuckin' kraut Werner Herzog to direct and since Typhoon's probably dead now, get Nicolas Cage to play the fuck out of SHAKMA! and together they can call it The SHAKMA!: Port of Call Orlando if they want. Then the press can call up Abel Ferrara for his opinion and he'll be like "Whaddya fuckin' talkin' about? I didn't direct no fuckin' movie called SHAKMA!, I was too busy hustlin' and lookin' like a filthy deranged drug addict to be fuckin' with some fuckin' monkey, Jesus fuckin' Christ, ya fuckin' killin' me with these fuckin' questions! Lend me five dollars."

In conclusion, there's a black guy in this movie and while he isn't the first guy to die, in retrospect, he probably wishes he was the first to go because homeboy is rockin' some hair and clothes that make this New Jack look like he just came back from doing background work in House Party 2: The Pajama Jam! because that was the style back when this movie was made, the early 90's -- which I miss dearly, actually, because the present day sucks a dick, until it becomes the past and then suddenly you're missing that shit with all of your heart while at the same time going What The Fuck.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Dig Your Blog

Erin over at In It For The Kills has chosen me and 4 other people better than me to receive the "I Dig Your Blog" award, and I'm grateful for that, so thank you, Erin.

Part of the deal with receiving said award is that I have to post 3 facts about myself, so here I go:

1) Growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut. I had to settle for being a space cadet. 

2) My first pet was a cat that I named "General", after homecat from Stephen King's Cat's Eye. There were no trolls in our household, to my knowledge, but if there were any, I'm sure the General took care of those motherfuckers.

3) I almost got kicked out of high school in my sophomore year, as a result of suffering from a severe case of Punching Motherfuckers In The Face, which I had shown early signs of since the 5th grade (I also managed to get suspended on my 2nd day of 6th grade for said symptoms of PMITF). I was not a bully, though, let's get that straight, just way-too-fucking sensitive about being fucked with, and I guess I had a very Please Fuck With Me aura about me. It did not help that I already knew how to box (from my father) and I studied taekwondo (from some Korean), in fact, this got me further into trouble, because it's one thing to haphazardly bomb fists on some asshole, but it's another to work an actual combo on the attempted Lunchable stealer. That shit gets the authorities involved, with their judgmental asses. 

But hey, as a result of being part of the GATE program, I was able to finish and graduate with my class by doing this Independent Study thing, which meant I only had to attend school twice a week and it felt like I won the goddamn lottery (saw a lot of flicks with my free time) -- although in exchange for that (and not being expelled), I had to go see a therapist about my PMITF. My first meeting with the therapist, he compared my handshake to that of a dead fish. By the way, I'm an idiot nowadays, GATE don't mean shit. Anyway, here's a completely unrelated video clip of a man and his dog, because I have no where else to share this: 

The other part of this I Dig Your Blog deal is that I have to pass this award to 5 other blogs (that I dig). I completely understand if the following people don't take part, Life can keep a motherfucker busy and all that, but for the record, here they are:

Cat's Blog - It was her blog that originally got me interested in doing one of my own. She's always been very nice to me, despite evidence proving to her that perhaps she shouldn't be. 

Don't Pet Me, I'm Working - Met an awesome St. Bernard named Phoebe at the Aero Horrorthon, and this is the blog belonging to her awesome owner, Lauren. 

The Projector Has Been Drinking - Marc Edward Heuck's blog. One of the most awesome things he ever did was give me a You Gotta Be Kidding Me look when I asked him if they accepted credit cards at the Nuart, while standing right in front of a goddamn credit card machine. What can say, I ask stupid questions and he was rather exasperated with the drunken Big Lebowski crowd that night.

Fist of B-List - Karl Brezdin's tight site about the kind of shit a motherfucker like me grew up watching, I'm talking Cynthia Rothrock flicks, Jeff Wincott punch-kickers, Don "The Dragon" Wilson kick-punchers, anything featuring Matthias Hues getting owned in the end. 

Colonel Mortimer Will Have His Revenge - I just happened to visit his cool movie site one day and noticed he linked to my blog on his blogroll. He didn't have to do that, especially since I didn't know. How about that, he just did it because I think he liked it. Well, I like your blog too, bro. In fact, I dig it.

I didn't link any Tumblr blogs, because I didn't want to fuck up their shit by forcing them to change their photo-blogs with some written shit like mine. But yeah, check out Phil Blankenship's Video Maniacs tumblr blog, if like me, scoping out VHS tapes gives you the same feeling one usually gets when looking at an attractive woman. OK, that's it. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yeah, because the first thing you want to do with a chick who just had hamburger smeared all over her face and chest is make out with her

I know that there are a few people who do, in fact, read these ramblings every once in a while; on occasion I'll receive a request from one of them to ramble about a particular film. I find this flattering, even though I totally understand that these very nice people probably like my blog for the same reason people like Tommy Wiseau and James Nguyen, or Rebecca Black and William Hung. Anyway, this awesome motherfucker asked me to write about Tuff Turf, which I'd never seen but always intended to because James Spader's sweet, sweet ass starred in it.

Yeah, Spader and his sweet, sweet ass always had it going the fuck on in the 80's; I remember when my mom took me to a double-feature of Mannequin and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol and it became one of The Greatest Nights Of Cinema Ever -- plus my mind was pretty fuckin' blown because G.W. Bailey was in both of those movies, and then my mind was blown even further about a year later when my sister brought home the VHS of Less Than Zero, which came off like an even darker version of Mannequin because James Spader and Andrew McCarthy were in both films. And to think, I had yet to discover Pretty in Pink.

So, I finally got a hold of the seemingly out-of-print DVD of Tuff Turf and watched it the other night, and I was pleasantly surprised to not only hear a Marianne Faithfull tune at the beginning, but to see that the crisp night photography was done by Willy Kurant; he shot Masculin Féminin for Jean-Luc Godard, but I'm gonna be honest and tell you that I didn't know about him from that flick -- not at the time, anyway -- instead, I first knew of Kurant after watching an early-90's flick called Day of Atonement (a re-edited/retitled cut of some French wannabe Godfather flick that featured Christopher Walken and that fine Jennifer Beals -- it has some hilarious dubbing of the French actors, so they can sound more American). He also shot Pootie Tang, which makes sense because in addition to being one of the funniest motherfuckers around, Louis C.K. is also very much a film snob -- a film snob who made Pootie Tang -- so it's no accident that Kurant was hired by him to lens his first studio film and Gallic up scenes like this one.

Anyway, the film starts off with Kim Richards all slutted up, setting up some poor dude in a gray suit and brown shoes at a bus stop to get jacked by her boyfriend and his fellow hoodlums. You'd think he'd know better in such a dark area, but the man sure makes it easy for these jackers by counting out his money way out in the open -- me, I'm like Bill Murray in Stripes when I pull out the green, turning my shit away so you can't see how I'm rolling -- but whatever, it looks like he's only got a bunch of ones anyway, so he must be one of those fake ballers who places the big bills in front, so no wonder he doesn't put up any struggle when they get up on him and flash the steel. 

But let me go back to Kim Richards; she's got this interesting look going for her in that her hair and outfits scream Bad Girl but her face politely insists Good Girl -- she's far more convincing (and prettier) when she un-sluts herself late in the film. All I knew about Ms. Richards was that she was in a Disney flick and a John Carpenter joint in the 70's and that she was related to the chick from Curfew and that useless walking STD, Paris Hilton. So I looked her up on the IMDB and found out she was on that Real Housewives of Beverly Hills show. Fuck, I knew about that show but had no idea she and her sister Kyle were in that shit. On the one hand, it was nice to know that she's most likely doing well financially if she's a RHOBH, but on the other hand, fuck man, she's a goddamn RHOBH? Aren't those ladies supposed to be, like, Real Cunts of Southern California or something?

Then I read the comments on her IMDB page's message board from people who watch her on that program, and apparently she's like the fuckin' Fredo of that show with her weak-willed ass, and that she's possibly a heavy drinker. I don't even know this chick, yet I was saddened to hear about that, but not surprised. I don't know, man, she just looks like the vulnerable type, like too fuckin' vulnerable; she has one of those faces that always seems primed and ready-made for some asshole husband to yell at her about the dinner being cold, right before the inevitable backhand.

Even at 46 years old, Kim Richards looks like she would still make the dumb/fatal mistake of Jan Brady-ing her ass back to the ice cream truck and politely stating that she asked for a Vanilla Twist. If that's the case, and if these IMDB-posting motherfuckers are right about her being a shit-taking pushover, then I hope she one day bounces back and escapes from the Witch Mountain that is her sister and the rest of those Botox'd leatherfaces and comes out of it stronger and healthier. But if she's just as bad as them, then I don't know, live your fuckin' life, lady, I don't give a shit, I got my own problems. Whatever the case, it's some crazy prescient-type shit to see her standing in front of a mirror in this movie and acting out this fantasy of being a high society rich girl, laughing about how she's recently been eating lobster so much -- never knowing that she would actually have those kind of Rich White Girl problems later in real life.

Back to the film; so these guys are about to fuck up the businessman something proper, but here comes James Spader's sweet ass to the rescue, on his fuckin' $500 bike. It's really none of his business, but good for him, spoiling these assholes' mugging attempt by riding in and spraying beer on them and causing one dude to spray paint his bro in the face, all while jamming to that Be-Bop-A-Lula song on his Walkman.

Yeah, this Spader's a real badass teen, man, but because his room is littered with books by guys like John Updike, Frederick Lewis Allen and Richard Bach -- not to mention he's got an Albert Einstein poster up on his wall -- there's more than meets the eye to this guy. By the way -- that Einstein poster? It's got a quote from the man, something about how great spirits always encounter violent opposition from mediocre minds, and I'm like, Of course Spader's character would think this pertains to him. Hell, anyone with that poster thinks that shit is referring to them -- oh, I'm a great spirit that no one understands! -- kinda like how Ayn Rand fans always think that bitch was referring to them when talking her shit, they all think they're Howard Roark up in this motherfucker.

But Spader? He ain't no second-hander, but he does use both hands to double-dart gun the roaches on his wall. He's also new in town, new to the school, trying to stay out of trouble. I know this because Spader's mom did the film a favor by having one of those awesome phone conversations that is really exposition in disguise and then his father continues said awesome exposition by telling Spader some shit he should already know by now -- like his son needs to be reminded on his first day at a new school that it's his first day at a new school.

Maybe I heard this wrong, but during the scene where Spader meets the very fair-and-balanced principal, something about "rooftop rock concerts" is mentioned and I guess that's one of the various hardcore gangsta shenanigans that got homeboy kicked out of the two prep schools he previously attended in the mean state of Connecticut. Sounds like the kind of shit that would get Zack Morris a slap on the wrist and maybe a Hey Hey Hey Hey What Is Going On Here from Principal Belding, but Spader had to move to another fuckin' state as a result of stunts like that, which is way too harsh for my taste, if you ask me, but what can you do? They probably weren't taking that kind of shit back in the 80's, and unfortunately Spader was born too early, homeboy's clearly a man born in the wrong time. 

The new school is actually pretty nice and non-threatening, at least to me it was; it didn't appear to be the kind of school that would be in dire need of a Morgan Freeman or John Belushi to clean up and set straight. But there is a Bad Element here, and they happen to be the same Bad Element that Kim Richards was hanging with at the beginning of the movie, led by the slightly David Hess-ian actor Paul Mones, a name that seemed very familiar to me, and it would be familiar to you too if you grew up watching Jean Claude Van Damme fucking people up. You see -- as I found out when I confirmed it on IMDB -- Paul Mones co-wrote the screenplays for Double Team and The Quest, which is amusing to me because in Tuff Turf he looks like the kind of guy that Van Damme would be beating the shit out of in one of his earlier flicks. Anyway, Mones also wrote & directed a movie starring original hipster Jeff Goldblum, but I really don't care about that right now.

What I do care about is finding out that muthafuckin' Robert Downey Jr. is in this movie! Holy shit, I had no idea because he's credited without the Jr. part in his name, so I figured from the credits that it was his father (a prince) who was going to show up somewhere down the line, but no, man, it's Iron Man himself -- not only that, it's yet another Less Than Zero connection. First off, looking at him in this movie, and knowing what I know now -- what all of us know now -- is that it's so fuckin' obvious this was made while he was gettin' up in them drugs something fierce, man. FIERCE. Some scenes, he looks less druggy than others, so maybe he was clean during the movie and got into Party Mode halfway through, I don't know. Maybe he was clean throughout the whole movie and just suffered from Jim Breuer disease, looking fucked-up all the time. Anyway, here he plays a dude who befriends Spader and even gives him a switchblade for protection, now that Mones & company are looking to fuck him up for fucking up their money.

At first, their various fuckeries with The Spades involve The Darker Side of The Karate Kid type of bullying; they spray-paint his face and launch his $500 bike into the air by driving straight into it, which is fuckin' hilarious, watching that bike fly up in slow-motion like it's The Most Tragic Moment Ever -- which it is, if you were a 17-year-old and your bike got straight-up merked like that. Anyway, you see these guys and the school they're terrorizing and realize that it's a clear-case of Big Fish In A Little Pond; I mean, this group of rough ruffians and tough tuffians might be able to scare the shit out of your average straight bleached-blond youngster in way-too-short-shorts, but you put these assholes in any high school located in, uh, I don't know, South Central Los Angeles, perhaps, and they'd get their punk asses handed to them. But they are threatening enough that if you were a character in an 80's teen movie, you'd much rather have to deal with William Zabka and his lunch-table-lifting jackofferies, instead of these guys -- at least until the inevitable Second Plot Point, when these douchebaggas upgrade the kind of steel they like to carry.

It's interesting (and perhaps very telling) that Mones' has this cross pendant dangling very conspicuously from his neck, the better to display his total lack of Getting It because with all the crime and bullying he does, I don't think he understands what that cross symbolizes, let alone what the motherfucker nailed to it was all about. Fuck it, I guess it makes sense and it's believable that his character would be that fuckin' clueless and/or hypocritical because we gots lots of motherfuckers today who are all about The Christ and his message of love, yet these same people would slam a door in their child's face if he or she told him or her that he or she had a preference for chugging his fellow man's cock or chowing her fellow girl's box (or scissoring their fellow girl, if that's what they're more into).

By the way, these hardcore religious types love to quote that Leviticus shit, never thinking that this shit wasn't so much written by The Man Upstairs and his son James Caviezel as it was dictated to human beings, and maybe one of these human beings had a hard-on for the gays (but not in that way) and snuck in one night into the Jesus files and did a little ghost-writing of his own, adding some bullshit about how doing the homo thing is an abomination, knowing that by doing this revision shit, he was fucking future generations of gay people (but not in that way). If that was the case, I bet you this asshole, after he died, he arrived at the pearly gates thinking how awesome he was and then God just gave him this look like "Seriously, dude?" and rather than use His God-powers to fix that shit, He figured it's just one more fucked-up test to give us human beings, to see how many people would believe that shit. As of now, He still can't believe people are following that shit to the letter, and He probably feels about us humans the same way that dude on YouTube felt about his dog shitting on the beach. 

While I'm on this Uncomfortably Discussing Homosexuality roll, let me bring up one of Mones' lackies; he's this raza dude and if you didn't know that just by looking at him, you'll know from hearing him because he's always saying the word "maricón" and if you don't know what that word means, then you're probably Tom Cruise and everything's sunshine and denials with you. Everything is "maricón" with this guy, which later makes you wonder -- these guys are fond of wearing belly shirts and thin headbands straight out of Cruising and during one scene, right before Mones (shirtless) and his crew attack Spader's sweet, sweet ass (also shirtless) in the locker room (right next to the showers), Mones gives Spader this Shawshank-style "Hey, anybody come at you yet?" look -- so maybe mi hermano was just calling it like he saw it.

I wasn't of age during the 80's, but all I hear about is how that decade was all about Gettin' Yours and living a life of excess and making as much as you can while telling your fellow man to go fuck himself, and I guess a lot of that shit would reflect in the movies and television shows of the time -- you were supposed to want all that shit, otherwise you can never be happy. So maybe that's why there's a sequence in this flick where Spader takes Iron Man, Vanilla Twist, and this chick who reminded me of my homegirl Kelli Maroney over to crash a country club for a taste of the good life.

It's there that these Tuff Turfians learn that there is more to life than eating delicious burgers and fries, there's also bullshit salads and non-filling hors d'oeuvres too -- all while taking these stuffed shirts down a peg or two and teaching them to Get Down. In other words, thanks to former rich kid Spader, these poor kids ended up getting a real treat by getting to live life like a baller, even if it was just for 20 minutes. But then, if you flash forward about 12 years or so later, you see a movie like Titanic, where poor scrappy DiCaprio takes rich unhappy Winslet down to party with the lower class -- where people REALLY know how to party, and where Winslet learns that these rich motherfuckers, man, they are missing the fuck out of Life. Which I guess tells you the difference between the messages of the movies of the 80's and 90's, even though Titanic took place in the 10's, so I really don't know what my fuckin' point is. I'm an idiot.

The best part of this country club sequence is when Spader goes up on-stage during a break in the house band's set to play a song on the piano and with the magic of lip-syncing, croons to Ms. Richards some bullshit about how he walks the night, and I say it's bullshit because he only walked the night for about 10 seconds in this entire movie -- otherwise he's either riding his $500 bike ($500!) or driving a jacked Porsche that obviously belongs to the Dumbest Motherfucker In The World, on account of him or her leaving the fuckin' keys in the ignition in the middle of what is obviously Tuff Turf. C'mon, people -- you don't leave your fuckin' keys in a car parked in the middle of Tuff Turf! Seriously!

Anyway, Spader is such a boss dude, he manages to woo over Kim Richards over to the non-greasy side with his singing and his various other Spaderies, like playing music and reading outside Ms. Richards' apartment (that's his way of serenading her and displaying his intelligence to her) in his awesome leather jacket, but this doesn't sit well with Mones and his crew of flunkies, so that means even more confrontations and threatening-sounding synthesizer music.

But man, fuck that Paul Mones, man, he's such a fuckin' prick in his stupid vests like he's in The Warriors and then he feels he's the victim of a My Chick robbery when Spader comes along, yet doesn't notice how fuckin' douchey he sounds when he refers to Ms. Richards as "my property". I don't think he even really loves her, despite what that asshole might say or think; she lives in an apartment located above the liquor store her father owns/works for and I bet you all he sees in her is his cock and some free booze. Man, fuck you, Mones -- I didn't even think Double Team was all that, anyway. KNOCK OFF FOR LIFE, BITCH.

But it's not just future screenwriters The Spade's got to deal with; his mother is simply not Getting It and giving him shit (he has a cool father, though), and she's holding him up to the gold standard that is his super-preppy brother who's got good things going in his collegiate life, this guy who probably has a girlfriend named Buffy. By the way, Spader's not a total opposite from his bro; while his sibling is dressed in a shirt & tie (rolled-up sleeves, natch) with one of those lightly knotted sweaters worn off the shoulders like he's fuckin' Bronson Pinchot about to ride the Viper, Spader's also got some pretty privileged duds he parades around in periodically (whenever he's not Walking The Night in his badass leather jacket); we're talking a light pink dress shirt under the kind of sweater that looks like something Paul Reiser would have on during any given episode of My Two Dads, whenever he was feeling particularly father-ish. But I can dig it, that's how dudes dressed back then, I guess.

The music seems like the kind of stuff they listened to back then; the soundtrack is pretty sweet, even though I don't recognize much of it (I reckon it's original stuff made for the movie) but it's definitely got that unmistakably 80's vibe to it. They also mix it up with some of that White Boy Goes Black Man music, courtesy of a band called Jack Mack and the Heart Attack, and these guys, man, I already knew about from the movie that hacks like Kubrick and Coppola and Malick only wished in their wildest dreams they could have made -- Police Academy.

But now, thanks to Tuff Turf, I know how these guys look; the trombone player/hypeman looks like a thinner Paul F. Tompkins wearing Powers Boothe's disguise from the climax of Sudden Death, and the lead singer looks like Bonecrusher from Deadbeat at Dawn. But Kim Richards, she hears this Jack Mack and she's like Step Back, because this fragile-looking thin girl with very long hair suddenly turns into a shorter thicker woman with fake-ass hair extensions when she's dancing. It's the power of music, ya'll!

Anyway, this is a cool 80's joint and I was surprised to find out afterwards that the shit was almost 2 hours long, because it never felt lagging or slow. Sure, it's funny to see the styles & clothes of the time, and watching Spader's sweet, sweet ass with his making-the-ladies-wet-with-his-singing routine is Good Times too, but overall I thought this was pretty legit; the villain's an asshole, the lead is relatively root-worthy (I mean that in both the American and Australian definition) and the climax involves dart guns and Tenebrae dobermans. I dug it -- and if you like watching emotional scenes get sabotaged by hilariously distracting posters of Johnny Rotten, then by all means, Tuff Turf this shit.

In conclusion, Jim Carroll is also in this flick and so is Cat Sassoon -- two more friends that DIED.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Any paragon of virtue

I was supposed to do it all in one post, my ramblings on watching all seven Saw flicks with my friends, back-to-back (the movie, not me and my friends), but because I ramble way too fuckin' much, I had to break this shit into two separate posts. Problem is, too much time had passed between watching the films and writing about them, hell, I was surprised that I was even able to write as much about the first three movies, since even those ramblings came rather late (I usually need to write about this shit within 3 days, or my alcohol-damaged/pot-resin'd brain forgets about it).

As for the rest of the Saw flicks, well, most of my initial thoughts have faded away, so I can only give you very brief impressions about them (relatively brief, anyway), so sorry about that. Although, considering my opinion of the final Saw film, it's kind of appropriate that I conclude my ramblings on this series in such a manner -- slapdash, thrown together and rushed (and when you consider that my ramblings in general are already slapdash, thrown together and rushed, that really says a lot). As for what my friends and I did between movies -- we snacked, took smoke/bathroom breaks, and drank lots of Cherry Coke. Then it was 9:00 in the morning, and we went our separate ways. So let's wrap this sucker up, shall we?


Saw IV: Jigsaw's dead (long live Jigsaw), but someone's stepped in and is picking up where that guy left off, picking dumb obsessed cops to fuck with, and this time it's one of the SWAT guys who committed the crime of thinking he can be everywhere and save everyone, like he's Dr. Manhattan or somebody. By the way, in addition to abandoned buildings and green-tinted visuals, the Saw series loves it some SWAT guys; damn near all of the Saws have a scene featuring SWAT guys entering a building with their flashlight-attached Heckler & Koch's. It also loves it some scenes of robed people in pig masks snatching people in isolated areas, followed by a quick cut to black.

I'm surprised by how many people dug this one; even though it returns to Saw II's speedy pace of events and includes some pretty nasty surprises, overall I wasn't feeling this one, with the exception of the flashbacks regarding Jigsaw; homeboy actually gets to have quite a bit of dramatic shit to play, this guy should feel blessed to have gotten this role, and not just because of the bank it would make him and the attention it would garner. I'm not as familiar with the roles of Tobin Bell, but I have a feeling he probably had a lot more to play with in the Saw series than he ever did with previous roles in the past 20 years of his career. Well, aside from this.

Also, if you ever doubted director Darren Lynn Bousman's love of transitions, man, you won't be doubting it after watching this one. There must've been lots of blood, sweat and tears on the set trying to pull these mothers off, but they did, and they're pretty sweet, these transitions. Crazy transitions. Transitions up the ass. Transitions transitions transitions. If fades & dissolves were human beings, Bousman would punch 'em in the throat, he has no love for those assholes.

Saw V: Now this one seems to get a lot of hate, but I don't hate on it, I thought it was eh, feh, and a little meh, but it was still better than IV. So what we have here is the new Jigsaw, played by the very Michael Pare-esque Costas Mandylor, and he's trapped 5 people who are as dumb as they are unlikable; Julie Benz is among them, and between Rambo, Punisher: War Zone, The Boondock Saints II, this flick, and the show Dexter, she seems to be the go-to hottie for all things Killing-related (she also appears to be the Lionsgate lucky charm for their violent action flicks, having appeared in most of them, so if they ever make a Crank 3, don't be surprised if she pops up in it somewhere, preferably catfighting with Amy Smart). But yeah, she was in the second Boondock Saints and on a related note, it was pretty awesome to see "Papa Joe" Yakavetta from the first Boondock show up here, speaking in his normally proper English accent. Anyway, I thought it was funny that they killed the characters in order of least to most hateable.

There's cool O.G. Jigsaw backstory here as well, told in flashbacks (the only way one can keep Tobin Bell in this series), and they continue the on-going saga of having the dumbest, most obsessed authority figures march their dumb asses towards inevitable ownage. Yet there's still a sense that these filmmaking motherfuckers are treading water, using water wings made out of the audience's money. Anyway, hooray for Betsy Russell.

Saw VI
: This one's more like it. This is my second favorite after Saw III -- it's goofy, insane, and best of all, fuckin' inspired; the victims here are all motherfuckers who work for a health insurance company and they get the Jigsaw treatment for being smug coverage denying/cancelling motherfuckers. The main dude at this place has to go through a Saw III-style series of tests, only here he doesn't so much have to save the victims as he has to choose which ones will survive, and since he makes his living more or less choosing who lives or dies anyway, this should be a cinch for him, right?

Thankfully/entertainingly, the answer is Fuck No.

The best trap is the one where his staff of assholes who seem to get off on finding discrepancies in past applications of current policy holders and cancelling/fucking them over, well, they're all tied up to this spinning carousel, and Main Smug Asshole has to choose which 2 out of the 6 staff members gets to live. The rest get a close-range shotgun blast to the chest (even poor Eddie Winslow from Family Matters gets no mercy), and it is a glorious sight to see. Shit, this goddamn film in its entirety is a glorious sight to see -- nay -- to behold! And the ending! Oh sweet Jesus, that ending -- the Saw films all have great endings, but this one might be my fave. I feel like Christian Bale in Harsh Times, tripping the fuck out after seeing homeboy turn that vato into a fountain of BLOOD!

The only part I thought was kinda unfair was during one of the tests, when the janitor -- the fuckin' janitor, man, c'mon -- is revealed to be one of the possible victims, and his crime -- get this -- his fuckin' crime is that he's 52 years old and smokes. That's it. It's one thing for some rich asshole to be throwing his health away on those cancer sticks, because that guy's got money, toys, bitches, respect -- why would he want to smoke? But the poor janitor, I'm sure he doesn't make that much money, he's scraping by just to get by, so let the poor guy have his cigarettes, let him have his brief moments of joy, it's all he's got. At this rate, they were probably only a couple sequels away from ripping some motherfucker's spleen out in a trap just because he or she liked cheeseburgers.

Saw: The Final Chapter (or Saw 3D, as it says on-screen): Easily the worst of the series, you can tell this was pretty much a rush job so they could complete the series, since the young gunslinger known as Paranormal Activity came into town and started muscling in on the Halloween action. I suspect that they were originally going to start a new trilogy that was all about Australian Michael Pare, since Saw VI pretty much completed Jigsaw's "grand plan", leaving only one loose end to tie. But then after that lame found-footage bullshit handed their asses to them at the box office, the filmmakers were probably scrambling for a way to save face and wrap this shit up while bullshitting everyone into thinking that it was always meant to end this way.

The opening is pretty awesome, if you discount the fact that it makes absolutely no fuckin' sense in the grand scheme of this whole Jigsaw business; the previous victims were somehow connected/related to Jigsaw's world, even in the loosest of ways, but I don't know how some late teens/early twenties love triangle fits into it. Was this some desperate way to get the younger Final Destination crowd? I mean, all the previous "test subjects" in the Saw movies were refreshingly older, it wasn't the usual Dead Teenager types who were being fucked with. But why would they go that way now? Young kids are the ones who go to see these flicks anyway, these kids today with their Phil Collins and their Melissa Etheridge, I didn't hear them complain about not seeing themselves on-screen during the last 6 Saws. But then again, maybe I'm wrong; it's not like I waste my time talking to young kids, not since that goddamn Sex Offender Registry outed me. 8-year-olds, dude.

Calm down, I was only kidding. Or was I? DUN DUN DUN -- HIDE YO KIDS, HIDE YO WIFE

And as ridiculous as the situations and traps got in the series, they still had a genuine unnerving menace to them as well, but this final chapter? Feels like some straight-up parody. I don't know if they were going for a tone similar to the last 2 Chucky movies, but I can't say they succeeded in their attempt because I laughed WITH those movies, whereas with Saw 3D, I was mostly laughing AT that lame bullshit. Maybe I missed something, but apparently, somewhere during the series, Jigsaw went Full Stansfield and demanded that EEEEVVVVEEEERRRRYYYYOOOONNNNEEE gets got, because it seems like half the population of this vaguely Canadian metropolis has gone through his tests at one time or another. There's even fuckin' support groups for Jigsaw test survivors, like it was some AA shit, complete with free coffee and donuts.

Cary Elwes finally returns, having gone full Shatner with his role as Dr. Gordon; he pops up about 3 times, and his is a welcome sight to see. Plus it was cool to see Lionsgate continue to hook up Boondock Saints alumni by having Powder McManus himself as the lead (more-or-less), playing some douche who has been passing himself off as a Jigsaw survivor, even writing a best-seller about his experience. Well, he's the dumbest motherfucker in the world to be pulling that shit in Jigsaw City, where as I said before, it's like 2 out of every 3 citizens have been tortured by the motherfucker, so guess what happens to his ass. I'll give you a hint: it's the same fuckin' shit the lead assholes had to do in Saw III and VI.

I'll give it this, though; it sure felt like the goriest Saw of the bunch -- there's a fantastic sequence involving a group of racist skinheads (and their racist groupie) getting owned by one of Jigsaw's traps, and the final test in the movie is genuinely fuckin' disturbing in how it plays out. But see, that's all this one has going for it, the gore, and even then, the power of that shit is diluted from being surrounded by a shitty thrown-together story.

Hell, even one of the traps pulls a Necrobutcher by sucking a fat dick; it's a self-activated machine gun that works when a couple of dumbasses stand in front of it and don't move a muscle as it aims and fires at them. I'm sure that's not the effect it's supposed to have, I'm sure it sounded awesome on paper, but it sure didn't translate well in front of that HD camera. Even for a Saw joint, this movie has a super-cheap look to it, both production design-wise -- big surprise there -- and Fuck Film Let's Shoot This On Digital-wise, which is odd since I think this was the most expensive one.

You'd think it wouldn't look like a direct-to-video Saw sequel, but it does -- come to think of it, that's what these sequels have always felt/looked like, DTV-sequels given a theatrical release -- but still, this shit was pushing $20 million, budget-wise, so either someone was pocketing the cash or the entire cast & crew was eating lobsters and truffles for breakfast, lunch and dinner, washed down with bottles of Cristal and grenades packed full with the finest, uncut Bolivian flake. Then they remembered there was still a movie to be filmed.

They didn't have enough money to get decent secondary actors, so they hired rejects who auditioned for Gran Torino and DIDN'T get the part, that's how bad they are in this movie; the latest Dumb Obsessed Cops are really....really....not good. I guess all the other good Canadian actors were working on other movies while this one was being made, Atom Egoyan and Don McKellar probably snaked all the good ones.

Anyway, this last chapter kinda sucked, but at least they gave it an ending that did just that -- ended all this shit -- while still leaving enough room for a new beginning, which I'm sure they'll do in a few years. They'll take a break, get their shit together, wait for that Paranormal Activity bullshit to lose it's luster, and then guess who's back, back again? Yup, it's Saw -- only they'll do something fucked up like call it The Saw or go back and reset the title to just plain Saw again (to confuse us) or maybe they'll continue numbering the sequels, only next time they'll change it from Roman numerals to good ol' Western Arabic (to fuck with us).

But first, they're gonna bleed every green drop of potential money from the original series, maybe even pull some special Godfather Saga-style re-edit of the movies, so the events can play in chronological order, and  they'll release it on Blu-ray and everyone's gonna get excited -- until the complaints start pouring in that the transfers have been tinted blue or red for some reason and it's not even 1080p, it's in 1080i, and everyone's gonna get pissed about it and bitch on the message boards that Harry Knowles is a sellout for lavishing praise on this new boxed set, because that's what we're good at, that's what we do! GAME OVER

Order of preference (if that shit matters to you):


SAW 3D or THE FINAL CHAPTER or whatever you want to fuckin' call it

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We do not want you here. We do not like you.

“Oh my goodness you like those kinds of movies? I can maybe watch one but that's it.”
                  -- a text message from my sister, referring to either 

                     the Saw movies or girl-on-girl porn

A few years ago -- during a break at either the New Beverly Cinema's All Night Horror Show or the Aero Cinematheque's Horrorthon -- a buddy of mine brought up the idea of having a Saw marathon. I had only seen the first one while he hadn't seen a single one, so we decided to have our back-to-back night of torture porn goodness as soon as the filmmakers and/or Lionsgate called it quits with those shits. Well, as of last October, the Saw machine has stopped -- for now. Because something tells me that much like the Halloween movies and the Friday the 13th movies, the Saw movies will pull a Chev Chelios in that they'll get better after dying.

Like that first-wife-beating, first-child-ignoring, asshole musical genius once said: Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans, and that's what kept us from setting up our evening of Saw at first, but eventually the night finally came and I had already acquired the entire series earlier that week from my awesome neighbor, a hard-working family man who not only gives good firearms conversation and hooks me up with free quality bread (rye! sourdough! bagels! I'm super fat!), he evidently also likes to unwind after a hard day's work by watching people scream in pain as they try to get through astonishingly baroque traps left by some sanctimonious asshole, hence his owning all seven Saw films.

After snatching said Saw series, I then rushed off to 7-11 for a couple bottles of Vitamin Water and some chips, then stopped over at Cigar Castle to buy a couple of choice stogies, while my wife LeEtta picked up some pizzas from the local -- oh, wait a minute, that's the other guy, not me. My bad. I get really confused sometimes. Two of my buddies showed up to give me some company, but more importantly, they brought Cherry Coke.


The first film was indeed Saw, about two guys -- a Brit and an Aussie -- trapped in an abandoned bathroom (really?) and trying their absolute fuckin' hardest to speak with convincing American accents without slipping into one of those odd Tim Roth-in-Reservoir Dogs voices. They also each have an ankle chained to the bathroom pipes, there's a bloody dead guy in the middle of the room, and oh yeah, then they find out that one has to kill the other by 6:00, so yeah, there's that too.

Most of the film consists of flashbacks about how they ended up in this predicament, as well as cutting to scenes involving a detective played by Danny Glover, and because he hasn't yet declared that he's approached an age in which he should no longer get involved in stressful/overly demanding situations, he's gathering an increase in heat on the trail of the "Jigsaw Killer"; some asshole who is kidnapping other assholes and placing them in these horrific traps that require these assholes to make some fucked up choices if they want to survive -- the idea being that they'll come out of it as former assholes, if they live through the ordeal. Anyway, turns out that our two wannabe American-speakers are the latest potential victims/survivors of Jigsaw's latest trap.

I've seen Saw once before in 2005, in its R-rated DVD incarnation, and I remember liking it even though the pacing got a tad protracted at times, like the filmmakers forgot the movie's called Saw, not Saaaaaawwwww. But the stuff that works in the film, really fuckin' works and overall it was a decent flick. The performances are pretty good; Danny Glover's got a nice dual mode going on here, first he's kind of an overly-assured dude who thinks he's got it all figured out, and then once he watches the karaoke salesman from Keeping the Faith get multiple-shotgun-blasted, he becomes Mr. Obsessed, and you get the sense that sleeping, eating and bathing are all low-priority for him from here on out.

Then there's Cary Elwes, who's pretty awesome here in that he's kinda like a subtle William Shatner at times, doing this whole ACTING! deal with his character. It's like he's an old fat English theater actor stuck inside a leading man's body (albeit a slightly plump leading man, but fuck that shit, the dude is getting older and a motherfucker's metabolism slows down with age, so give homie a break, don't hate on the motherfucker just because he doesn't look exactly like Westley anymore. Jesus tap-dancin' Christ, people).

The strongest scene for me was actually one that didn't involve any traps, it involved a gun being held to a frightened little girl's head while the sick fuck holding the gun listens to her heartbeat with a stethoscope -- that shit is so brilliantly ill, that if I were to ever meet director James Wan or writer Leigh Whannell, I'll have to buy them a fuckin' drink for coming up with it, even though they probably have more money than I do. I'd also buy the little girl a drink for her way-too-convincing performance in that scene, except that shit would probably get me locked up and/or a visit by that ultra-smug motherfucker who judges son/daughterfuckers with his Beacon Of Moral Purity act on television while cheating on his wife behind closed doors, but I'm not hating because that shit's between consenting adults, not a kid and some creep with fucked-up wiring. Fuck it, it doesn't have to be alcohol, I'll buy her a Yoo-Hoo or something.

All the events of this movie appear to take place in the same shitty 2-block radius somewhere in downtown Los Angeles, and aside from the now-iconic bathroom set, most of this movie looks fuckin' El Cheapo; the doctor's office in this flick, shit man, it looks like the set probably still reeked of semen and sweaty asses from the previous film that was shot there.I guess most of the budget went to scoring Danny Glover, Cary Elwes, and the chick who got blasted by a shotgun-wielding psycho in the family comedy Patch Adams and they didn't have much left for sets that didn't look like some rejected shit from a circa 1991 Don "The Dragon" Wilson joint.

Let me Tarantino this shit back to shortly after the first film's theatrical release, when I spoke to a guy who worked on Saw Uno and potentially could've hooked me up with some work, had I not slipped on a banana peel and fell straight into a pool of laziness and alcoholism. I remember two things from our conversation: first, he was very amused at the sight of the young Asian director speaking with a straight-up Fosters Beer/shrimp on the barbie accent (I guess he didn't know about the large Asian population Down Under) and second, the crew worked for very little money and put in some serious fuckin' overtime, yet he Just Fucking Knew that rather than reward said crew by keeping the sequel local, the producers were going to take that shit to Canada in order to minimize costs and maximize wallet girth. Sure enough, the motherfucker was right because the rest of the series was shot in Toronto -- they didn't even try to pull a Police Academy and take that shit back to L.A. for a couple sequels and throw a couple bones to some locals, they just fuckin' stayed up north, makin' that money, eatin' Tim Hortons, sippin' Purple Chango.

Back to our movie night; Saw II was next and in this one, Donnie Wahlberg plays one of those hardcore tough-guy detectives, and he's so grizzled and beaten-by-life that he doesn't even have time to get his clothes pressed and I think he must've lost a lot of weight recently because he's a baggy outfit-wearing motherfucker. But then again, he probably buys his shit from one of those places where you can get 3 suits for $100, and the off-the-rack joints tend to not be the best fitting, but hey, what can you do, the funeral's tomorrow and you can't show up in your 1989 Saturday night party borderline-Cosby sweater, just 'cause it's the closest thing to respectable in your closet, and surely you can't show up wearing one of your ironic hipster unicorn tees, nobody's that big of an asshole.

Anyway, he has one of those douchebag teenage sons who's always getting into trouble, and rather than break out the fuckin' Boone's Farm wine and celebrate after his son ditches him to run to Mommy's, he's all fucked up because he loves his son and all of that bullshit. But because this shit's called Saw II and not How To Make Your Douchebag Son Understand You, Plot Point #1 peeks its ugly head and it turns out Jigsaw's behind the little brat's disappearance, and even though Donnie has that fine Dizzy Flores and a crew of hardcore SWAT motherfuckers from the Vaguely-Canadian Police Department backing him up, Mr. Saw's holding all the cards in that warehouse hideout of his. You see, J. Saw has a bunch of monitors displaying a video feed from some unknown location, where a group of strangers have just woken up to find out they're J-Sizzy's latest "test subjects", and Probably Still A Virgin is among them.

This flick's a little flashier than the last one (which was mostly flashy with the edits as a way to disguise some low-budget shit), but I didn't mind; I remember reading lots of hate online at the time, regarding what they considered to be unnecessarily flamboyant camera moves & seizure-inducing editing during some of the trap scenes, and I'd have to disagree with them. See, I think the point of doing that was to get you into the mindset of the victim as he or she becomes increasingly panicked/frustrated/anguish as they try to get out of the trap, which is made worse by the victims knowing that they don't have forever to be careful about this shit, because they're on the clock, bitch, and midnight is coming.

I'd say overall, this one's about even with the first and it could've been better except this shit has it's own flaws to keep it from surpassing the original, like the raza with big arms who's just mean & evil because you need someone mean & evil to fuck shit up. But I did like that the sequel had a way fuckin' faster pace to it, and I preferred the interactions between Jigsaw & Marky Mark's brother in this flick over Cary Elwes & Leigh Whannell's slightly accented shenanigans in the previous joint.

All kidding about being Marky Mark's brother aside, I gotta give it up to Donnie Wahlberg for playing his character in the first third of the film as some generic hardass, and then spending the rest of the film with increasingly watery eyeballs after discovering about his son's current situation, while still trying to put the fear of having a motherfucker feel the vibrations into Jigsaw (and failing miserably, because Jigsaw knows what the fuck is up, now that Donny Don's revealed some serious vulnerabilities).

They get into Jigsaw's medical condition (he's got the big Casino) and how he's taking it out on people who aren't fully appreciating their lives in various ways; he'd probably disagree, though, saying that he's not on some vengeful wrath deal, but rather, he's giving them an opportunity to be "reborn". By the way, if I'm mixing any of this shit up, please forgive me, I watched all 7 flicks in a row and it gets to a point that with enough time, enough lack-of-sleep, and enough marijuana, one can easily confuse-o-blend these movies into one bloody, rusty, green-tinted slurpee of cheap sets, awesome gore and B & C-level actors.

I'm not a fan of the term "torture porn" -- even though I had no problem using it like 2 or 3 times already -- and I didn't consider the first Saw an example of T.P., because you're with the characters and you're feeling their pain and you don't want a motherfucker to saw his foot off, even though the titular tool hangs over the entire film like a threat that will eventually be carried out. But hey, that's not torture porn, that's good filmmaking.

And that's the main problem with Saw II -- there's a slight lack of said good filmmaking, causing this shit to feel rather torture porny at times because I didn't give a shit about most of the victims, I'm really just watching these people get owned for the fun of watching them get owned, rather than getting emotionally involved in their plight. I only cared for two people: Shawnee Smith's character, because she had already gone through this shit in the last movie (and because she's cute) and homeboy from South Central (or as some of you might know him as, Tuneman from Speed and Speed 2: Cruise Control).

It was interesting watching this movie with a friend who does not like anything remotely scary; when I heard she was coming over, I didn't believe it. This is the same girl who would not go to the horror movie marathons at the Aero and New Bev, and here she was watching her some Saw. Turns out the hardest part of watching the Saw movies for her was the music, particularly with the first one, because that really creeped her out. The music is definitely The Most, particularly that track called "Hello Zepp", because by the third film, my buddies and I realized that whenever that tune came on, it meant the movie was about to drop some heavy fuckin' science on the viewer (not to mention the unsuspecting on-screen characters). 

Saw III was next, and I want to bring up that the extended director's cut wasn't available, so instead we watched the unrated cut of the theatrical edit, which I found out later wasn't missing anything worth not missing, aside from a catfight that would've been cool to watch because two chicks fighting is always a good thing because, you know, they might get it on or something -- but hey, a rough version of that scene is on the unrated DVD extras; it's awesome in a watching-women's-tennis-with-your-eyes-closed kinda way because one chick pushes the other against the wall and there's a lot of groaning/moaning/panting going on and now I have to take a break to watch it again. 

Speaking of chicks getting physical, there's a scene involving Shawnee Smith getting the absolute shit beat out of her by Donny Don -- beaten with a large pipe! punched in the face! slammed repeatedly against a wall! -- and rather than keel over and piss herself like Kurt Russell's not-really daughter in that movie The Chris Brown Inside Me or whatever that shit was called, she takes her lumps like a fuckin' champ and gives just as good as she gets.

Sheeeeeiiiiiiit, I couldn't take nearly as much of a beating as she did, probably because I'm not a fictional character in a movie that stretches credibility tighter than a drum set made out of Joan Rivers' skin, but whatever, she looks pretty badass with her crazy hair and leather coat and blood dripping from her face, looking like some punky female Parker in a movie no one would ever make, on account of Hollywood being run by pussies (or Jews, if you're Mel Gibson). Sure, there's Anna Karina in Made in U.S.A., but that was made by Jean-Luc Godard, back when he was beginning to dabble in his now-permanent I Like Being An Antagonizing Contrarian Dickwad Who Thinks He's Better Than Everything phase, so I don't count that shit.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the unrated cut. It's the longest of the series at 113 minutes, while the director's cut is just a shade over two hours and while I'm usually all about the director's vision, c'mon man -- it's Saw III, not The Bridge on the River Kwai, so trim that bitch down, chief. Save the indulgences for your cult rock operas. Anyway, we watched the unrated 113-minute cut, that's what I was trying to say.

So in this one, it looks like that fine Dizzy Flores is gonna be the Main Dude/Obsessed Cop here, taking over for Danny Glover and Come On Come On Feel The Vib-- Oh I'm Sorry, That's My Brother You're Thinking Of. But goddammit, they tricked me because poor Dizzy can't catch a break in these goddamn movies, she's always meat wagon material, but at least she always goes out hard: she's either getting eaten or impaled or power-drilled through the eyeball, and in this flick she gets her fuckin' ribcage torn open, causing her guts to plop down on the ground, plus she's barefoot, so she's probably really cold too. Anyway, she and Michelle Rodriguez need to do a buddy cop movie or something where it ends with everyone BUT their characters getting killed, leaving our dynamic duo as the only ones left alive, because that would be a change for them, you see.

The filmmakers cruelly decided not to make Saw III about an attractive detective, and instead made it about Low-Budget Russell Crowe looking all bloated and assed-out because his dumbass son rode his bike onto oncoming traffic. He ends up getting Jigsaw'd into yet another abandoned building (because a Saw movie without an abandoned building is like a day without sunshine), only instead of getting thrown into some elaborate trap and being forced make the decision to live or die, he's thrown into a series of traps, and it's not his life he's playing with, it's the lives of the people who were somehow involved with his son's first-and-only-date with 4 Firestone tires: the witness to the accident (she ran away from the scene), the judge (he gave the driver a light sentence), and the vehicular manslaughter himself (the recipient of said light sentence -- but why did it have to be a brotha? Movie's racist, yo, racist, call Al Sharpton). Oh yeah, there's also some doctor chick who's being forced to delay Jigsaw's inevitable death-by-Cancer, or else the armed shotgun-shell collar she's wearing will go off and give her face a 12-gauge bukkake.

Because this one wasn't nearly as freight train-paced as Saw Dos, it took a bit getting used to at first, but eventually my patience paid off because this ended up being the best of the first 3 flicks; it has the most fucked-up traps, it has some great shit between all the characters (particularly anything involving Evil Chick getting physical with Victim Chick), and acting-wise these motherfuckers Brought It. Visually there's a lot of cool transitions between scenes where the camera moves from one location to another in the same shot; they're very reminiscent of a film directed by actor Saul Rubinek called Jerry and Tom, so it must be a Canadian thing, these awesome scene transitions. There's titties in this movie too -- the only titties in the entire series, I believe -- but it's during a torture trap scene and I don't know about you pervs but it's hard for me to get hard watching a woman screaming bloody murder as she freezes to death.

Also, I heard that part II was originally written as a stand-alone movie (which was then rewritten to fit the Saw universe), but I think this flick could easily have been it's own thing as well, because what you have here is a solid entry in the Revenge Ain't What It's Cracked Up To Be sub-genre of vengeance flicks: you have this dude, this Low-Budget Russell Crowe, who has so much anger and anguish (his drinking certainly doesn't help that shit) and suddenly he has the people he holds responsible for his current residence in Sucks To Be Me-ville handed to him on a rusty silver platter, about to die painful, horrible deaths, and all he has to do is....absolutely nothing.

But because Man is a complex beast, it turns out that letting them die is far easier said than done and now this fuckin' guy actually finds himself considering not only saving them from their plight, but considering making the necessary sacrifices that are required in order to save them (one trap involves him having to incinerate his dead son's stuffed animals and pictures in order to find a key that will save someone's life) -- and while he's racking his brain on this whole forgive/not forgive angle, his victims are currently being frozen/drowned/twisted to death in the slowest way possible.

I don't know how, but in this one I actually fuckin' cared for all the characters, even the assholes, even Jigsaw. Life is a motherfucker, is what this movie seems to be saying (because everyone in this movie has been motherfucked by Life), but goddammit, it's sure as fuck better than Death (especially Death by Freezing) and you only make things worse when trying to add Revenge into the mix. You gotta let that shit go, folks; I don't wanna be the one to tell you how it's gotta be, but livin' is the only way you're ever really gonna see. That's right, motherfuckers, I just invoked the Joe Public rule on all your asses.

It's kind of telling, I think, that while the rest of the Saws average about 90+ minutes, this one was a lot longer. I mean, considering all the shit that gets touched upon in this particular entry, and consider how this particular entry ends, and while you're still considering on those two things, consider this shit too: this was the last Saw that Leigh Whannell & James Wan were involved with writing-wise. They were probably hedging their bets with this one, wrapping it up in such a manner that this could also work as the last Saw movie ever made -- that is, if the grosses don't meet expectations.

Except the grosses DID meet expectations, not only that, they fuckin' surpassed said expectations, leaving the filmmakers to consider whether to leave on a high note, or bleed this motherfucker dry -- and it's safe to say that we all know which direction they took with it, right? Anyway, I can see that I've been writing quite a bit and I've only touched on the first three movies. Fuck, there's still four more Saws to ramble about, though, so I think I'm gonna have to Part 2 this shit by ending it here for now. Or perhaps I should do what the Saw guys didn't do, and quit while I'm ahead. I don't know, man. I don't know much of anything, but I do know that the Double Stacks at Wendy's cost more and taste shittier nowadays. Fuck that shit. You did me wrong, Wendy's, you did me real wrong. I'd go on a diet to spite you if it wasn't for the plain & simple fact that I'd have to put in an effort. Fuck THAT shit.

Click here for my shitty conclusion to my shitty ramblings.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

That dog does not want to be anywhere near your crotch, sir. Stop it.

A few weeks ago, friend-to-all-video-stores Phil Blankenship tweeted about a movie called Things, and it sounded pretty awesome in a WTF sort-of-way. A cool-sounding company called Intervision Picture Corp. recently released a special edition DVD (and a limited run of VHS copies), but fortunately for me and unfortunately for them, I was able to put my money back into my awesome wallet when my buddy told me that he already owned the previous DVD release (from the filmmakers' website) and would lend it to me. Later, I took my money back out of my awesome wallet and used it to buy a gram of Skywalker OG which was ultimately some bullshit, so I guess both Intervision and I lost 20 bucks that day.

Things is one of those ultra-low-budget/shot-on-weekends flicks made by some Tim Hortons-eating motherfuckers back in 1989; they shot it on Super 8 film and the only "professional" actor in the entire movie is a porn star named Amber Lynn. She plays this woman who looks like she just came back from some corporate hotshot type's mega-yuppie house, doing blow with said hotshot and another girl, until some bald dude in glasses showed up with a gun and rudely ordered the two girls to vacate the premises.

Now she's standing in front of what looks like the fuckin' Federated Group, or the Home Entertainment section of Crazy Gideon's circa 2004 (which means the products on display are from the early 80's) and either she's pretending to be or actually is an anchorwoman for the local news, only she keeps looking over to her right while reading Tonight's Stories for some reason, like she can see the manager of Crazy Gideon's staring at her and who can blame him -- this chick looks like she'd be more than up for a little Disco Disco Good Good.

I don't know, man, I'm watching her read the cue cards and it's like it never occurred to the filmmakers that maybe those cards should've been placed a little closer to the camera, perhaps even in the same fuckin' room. She has a co-anchor who carries with him the air of Kirk Cameron if he was gay and in Less Than Zero, and it looks like he co-anchors his shit from the Furniture section of Crazy Gideon's, sitting on a couch chair but not the comfy kind, it's the kind you can't recline. These news reports are placed pell-mell throughout the film, and they mostly consist of Amber Lynn telling us about 2 guys who are currently on the run or missing or something, I don't fucking know, don't expect me to pay attention to the goddamn thing.

But the main story involves this dude with a sweet mustache and a sweet-ass John Stamos circa '89 mullet and he's dressed like Garbage Day from Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, so to me, he's already Lieutenant Awesome in this bitch. He shows up at his brother's house in the woods, with Canadian Ricky Jay as his +1. Nobody's home, though -- or at least that's the impression the movie gives you until suddenly out pops the brother, talking that Hey Keep It Down bullshit, because his wife's in the next room; she's been fallen very ill, ever since she let some quack named Dr. Lucas perform some kind of experiment on her inner plumbing because Blondie here can't shit out a baby.

I'm not too sure it's the wife's fault, though; I mean, look at the fuckin' husband -- he looks like he'd be the kind of guy to shoot blanks, probably due to his balls getting irradiated as a result of too much fucking around old computer parts, because this guy looks like he loves him some fuckin' computers. In the pre-credits opening sequence, he's introduced trying to bang some naked chick with a mask over her face. Already in the first couple of minutes this movie is overwhelmingly Win; the badly dubbed actor sounds like one of Trey Parker's many anonymous side-character voices on South Park, the sad drugged-out porno music is a total beaut with its synthesized cheesiness, and at the end of the scene, you find out that this was all a dream -- meaning that even in this geek's fantasies, the best he can do is score with Butterfaces who need to mask themselves in order to entice the opposite sex.

Anyway, while the poor wife is suffering from intense pain in the bedroom, Perfect Husband, Sweet Mustache, and Canadian Ricky Jay are in the living room drinking beer and pranking each other with Cockroach Sandwiches because it's "Party party party!" according to one of them upon arrival. Look, I'm no fuckin' bon vivant who could put P. Diddy, Kanye West, or any other black music producer to shame when it comes to throwing nauseatingly excessive shindigs, but c'mon, 3 guys and a sick girl ain't a fuckin' party -- at best, it's a disturbing viral video.

And the shit's gonna get even more disturbing because it turns out that Dr. Lucas is one of those EEEEVIL doctors -- a mad doctor. Whenever he's not sticking his finger in some old guy's rectum or keeping up his shitty penmanship by writing referrals and prescriptions, he's busy torture-porning innocent people and it doesn't even seem to be a In The Name Of Science deal with him, I think he just likes to unwind by flaying the flesh off someone's hand or tearing a motherfucker's tongue out. He's the kind of madman who MWAHAHA's while his way-past-any-help victims beg for the sweet release of death.

What's even more freaky is that he does this with the help of a staff; how the fuck did he luck himself into finding like-minded people, did he post an ad on Craigslist? Or is the local job market so bad that these people are willing to ignore all the mutilations and scooped-out eyeballs as long as they're getting health insurance? The movie was shot in Canada but I think it takes place in the States, so I don't think this part of the film is supposed to be a Barbarian Invasions-style indictment on socialized medicine in the Great White North (I bet it won't stop Glenn Beck from using clips from this movie to stir the pot, though). Ah, doesn't matter now -- what matters is that unbeknownst to Sterile Husband and Barren Wife, the doc's created some kind of Thing or Things (kinda hazy on that one) that end up incubating inside the ol' ball & chain before finally pulling an Alien (causing the wife to pull a John Hurt) and now it's fuckin' on.

I take that back, it's not so much "on", as it's just merely "there". Perhaps it's just me, but these guys are reacting rather differently than expected upon discovering that there's a bunch of cat-sized carnivorous monsters prowling the house, having just eaten an innocent woman "to the skull" and looking for more of the same -- or maybe not, because these Things are as lackadaisical as our protagonists. They're not particularly fast or menacing, despite resembling junior Deadly Spawns crossed with a tarantula with a terrible case of Elephantiasis of the nuts -- it's pretty tasty -- but yeah, they walk like someone is holding them off-camera and doing that slightly-bouncy walk that kids would do with their toy soldiers and G.I. Joes when playing War or something. Mostly the Things just chill out and bum around the house; only occasionally, will they attack, and even then, they prefer to use the path of least resistance. These Things are fuckin' slackers, man.

For the most part, the Three Amigos in this flick don't seem too bent out of shape about what's going on, and the main emotional undercurrent between them seems to be one of either Frazzled Annoyance or Drunken Disbelief; the husband doesn't so much mourn the horrific death of his wife, as he just uses it as an excuse for him to start telling his buddies how this all reminds him of some horror novel he read. The plot of the movie seems to be an annoyance to the movie itself, which is far more content spending it's time with the characters acting like tipsy weirdos from the planet of Do The Complete Opposite Of What A Human Being Would Do and speaking in such a rambling, non-sequitur'd manner, that it makes one wonder if Coleman Francis (in Narrator Mode) did a dialogue polish (from beyond the grave) on the screenplay.

But that's cool with me because that's what really makes Things worth watching; you can eliminate the whole Killer Penile Tarantulas On The Loose plot and this movie would still be Top of the Pops for me. These guys, they're putting tape recorders and jackets in freezers and declaring out loud every fuckin' thing they do or see, whether or not there's another living person in the room with them. When they speak, they seem to be in a competition where the actor who can do the most stressing-of-the-wrong-syllable-in-a-word will win a prize -- shit, man, everything they do in general is just so fucking strange. Like, there's one part where Sweet Mustache takes a swig of beer and complains about the flavor, ("Must of came from a well in West Africa"), so he takes the bottle over to the sink and adds "pure American water" to it while humming to himself, then he puts his hand over the bottle and shakes it up before drinking it again.

They devote, like, an entire fuckin' minute of screen time to that kind of bullshit. They also devote long stretches of time to motherfuckers opening cabinets and looking inside for food, motherfuckers looking at artwork on the wall, motherfuckers playing with one of those drinking birds (the same kind from Darkman), leaving me to consider the possibility that the film's title might not be referring to the sharp-fanged monsters at all, but rather, it's serving as a description of the overall plot: just a random series of things happening.

I think a large part of this movie's weirdness stems from the filmmakers fancying themselves as Funny Motherfuckers. See, they're going for an Evil Dead vibe of mixing in the scary with the funny (they also make some of the clumsiest, awkward references to movies EVAAAR in this joint), and while they do succeed in making an overweight asshole crippled by back pain for being an overweight asshole laugh, it's because the humor is so astoundingly unfunny that I couldn't help but crack the fuck up -- it's like the cinematic equivalent to Darrell Bluett. I mean, c'mon -- I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to take it seriously when one character shoves his hand into some leftover blood & guts on a bed, then puts it up to his nose before declaring "Yeah, that's human blood, all right". Whatever, I'm not hating on the motherfuckers, and as long as people are laughing, who gives a shit as to WHY they're laughing. It's better than them booing, that's for fuckin' sure.

Yeah, you can't hate on the fuckin' movie in a Mean Asshole Blogger kind-of-way, at least I can't, even though it's absolutely fucking terrible. See, Things looks/feels like an unfortunate case of some guys who literally just started making movies, meaning we see all the classic fuck-ups one would normally make when one is 14 years old and fucking around with Daddy's Quasar VHS camcorder.

It reminds me of something Robert Rodriguez wrote in that book of his; when he was shooting student films, he noticed how polished his joints were compared to the rest of his class, and that was because most of them waited until they were in film school to pick up a camera. Rodriguez, on the other hand, had been practicing his craft for years with the family video camera & VCR, so by the time he upgraded from VHS to 16mm, homeboy already had a decent grasp on shit like Pacing and Shot Composition -- because nobody starts off making movies like a smooth motherfucker, you gotta fall on your face and eat shit many fuckin' times before you can get your shit together long enough to make an El Mariachi or an Evil Dead.

It's like they wanted to throw in everything but the kitchen sink, until they found out they could only afford a kitchen sink, because the house they were shooting in came with one. They didn't even get the sound right, so they re-recorded everything in post and the shit's in sync, like, half the time, and the sound design itself is very selective because sometimes I guess we in the audience don't need to always hear someone screaming, even though their mouth is open.

Maybe Francis Ford Coppola was in a wine & lithium stupor one night and caught this heartbreaking work of staggering unintentional genius (by way of incompetence), and he got the idea of the No-Screaming scream from them, then used that shit for the end of The Godfather Part III. There's also the music, which sometimes sounds warped, like it was being played on a faulty tape-player. Also, the movie sometimes leaves it up to you to figure out what the fuck a character is looking at/reacting to. And I swear, during one scene I caught a quick glimpse of the clapperboard in-between shots. These are a few of my favorite -- ahem -- things.

The best section of the movie is probably the last 20 minutes or so, because it really begins to ladle on the ridiculousness, particularly with the return of Dr. Lucas. The dubbing also goes completely off the fuckin' rails at this point, like maybe they realized how far gone the movie was and figured they could salvage it by having Super Wacky Fun Time and playing the whole thing off like it was a 70's Kung Fu flick. The actors then go into silent movie theatrics; any opportunity to wildly flail one's arms and make overly expressive faces is taken and ran with all the way to fuckin' Baja. Have you ever seen that short film Paul Thomas Anderson & Adam Sandler made for one of those charity shows where a bunch of celebrities with tax shelters and off-shore accounts show up and guilt trip you with how awesome and caring they are towards their fellow man, all while making you laugh (and think!)? Well, the acting in Things occasionally reminded me of that short.

My initial reaction following Things was similar to this guy's reaction, but after giving myself about a day to recover, I can conclude that yes, it's one of those post-Wood so-bad-they're-good joints, the kind of movie that I wouldn't be surprised to find out has already played at the Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theater to a room full of people hopped up on Pabst Blue Ribbon, giddiness and skinny jeans. This is pure uncut shit, though -- your casual viewer of The Room or Birdemic: Shock and Terror might not be able to handle it, they might come out of it like that kid in that Stephen King short story, The Jaunt.

But if you're the kind of person whose inner child has already been Day of the Locust'd, then you're probably the kind of person who would/should look for this sort of thing. You might enjoy watching it and mocking it/getting owned by it, forgetting for at least 80 minutes that your own cinematic endeavors aren't so far apart from this one. For those 80 minutes, man, you are Somewhere Else and you didn't even have to get high to get there, you're totally sober and yet it still feels like someone put something into your drink -- not for raping purposes, of course not, because who the fuck would want to sexually relate with YOU -- but just to see you make an ass of yourself as you try to make sense of the nonsensical and fail miserably at it. Because you don't so much watch Things as you just let Things happen to you.

In conclusion, I love that the credits were made with the same fonts one can find in your average editing software or public access character generator, but nobody ever uses on account of being some ugly, garish lame-ass shit. Helvetica forever, bitches.



THINGS Moments: Reaction In The Bathroom from Intervision Picture Corp. on Vimeo.