Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In the kingdom of the sneezing audience, the man with the packet of Emergen-C is king

Shortly after finding a seat at the New Beverly Cinema for the 5th annual All Night Horror Show, I saw Cathie Horlick walking down the aisle and thought, Hey, it's been a couple days since I made a total ass of myself in an attempt to interact with another human being, so why not fill my quota with the woman whose movie blog inspired me to start one of my own?

I pounced in Cathie's way and jabbed my hand out towards her like a T-1000's stabbing weapon, watching as the look in her eyes blink-changed from a happy "I'm so excited for tonight" to a frightened "Is this how it's going to end for me, in the aisle of my favorite movie theater, at the hands of a fat weird-looking douchebag with bad breath?" I then identified myself with a rapid-fire volley of smashed-together mumbles, and she was very nice about the whole thing. After our chat, she went to her seat and I proceeded to horrify my fellow audience members by going Cookie Monster on my large bag of popcorn, with nothing resembling even an inkling of shame.

Brian Quinn of the Grindhouse Film Festival came down for the introduction, telling those not in the know about how Phil Blankenship was like the DJ Screw of the New Bev's All Night Horror Show (in that he was The Originator of it), and told everyone what to expect -- 6 movies (including a "secret film"), trailer reels, and shorts. Then the lights went down and the fun began with a bunch of trailers for films about teens getting owned by power drills, blades, and fangs. What's up with all these dead kids, I thought to myself, before our first feature of the night started: Strange Behavior (aka Dead Kids).

If you hated the film adaptation of Dreamgirls, then you'll probably like the opening scene of this film because the writer/director of that joint (and co-writer of this joint) Bill Condon, gets stabbed in the fucking head as Victim #1. Why? Maybe the killer was psychic and wanted to spare Condon the fate of directing The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. No, it's far more complicated than that, and the chief of police (played by Tanner '88), is getting all confused about these teens getting killed in manners that don't involve the usual teen-killers like drugs, drunk driving, asphyxiation games, or stupid videotaped stunts. It gets to where he has no choice but pop open yet another beer and clip his dirty toenails right next to the kitchen table, even though he's literally a foot away from all the food and beverages.

His son is played by Billy the Kid from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and his entrance came at just the right time because while I was watching Tanner '88 shave in the bathroom, I was wondering when I was gonna see some naked man-ass in this film. Well, in struts Billy and his tight cheeks to save me from non-buttock boredom. Anyway, the son wants to go to a local college but his dad would rather that he attend an East Coast university, probably because he's tired of the sight of his naked son in the house and wants to have the place to himself. I mean, Jesus, can't a man shave in his own bathroom without catching a glimpse in the mirror of his son's approaching dong? For Christ's sake, kid, I'm trying to bang Louise Fletcher over here and you're muckin' up the works -- I can't make any headway as long as your head's getting in the way!

You'd think it was a third-world country or an ethnic-heavy neighborhood with all the kids killing kids here, except this is Wholesome White God-Fearing Peopleville, U.S.A. (played by New Zealand), so obviously something's amiss, right? Can it have something to do with Fiona Lewis and her fellow godless liberal scientists conducting experiments at the university, paying these teens to take some new drug that helps make them feel smarter, more assured, and pumps up their energy while turning them into insufferable assholes and yet isn't cocaine? I don't know. I guess you'll have to see the movie to find out.

This film was directed by a cat named Michael Laughlin, but I'm calling bullshit because I'm convinced that David Lynch secretly made this movie between The Elephant Man and Dune. It has that Blue Velvet borderline-languid dream feel with everything in this small town looking very idealized/picturesque and yet it's all unsettling, and that's even before the Tangerine Dream synths kick in to either lull you into a false sense of comfort or to creep you the hell out because Something Bad May Or May Not Happen In A Moment. It's also very Lynchian in that the characters are all such weirdos and that the film has a wacky sense of humor.

Shit, it's not even a wacky sense of humor so much, more of a wacky sense of everything. There's a party scene with a bunch of costumed teens getting their drink and dance on, to an endlessly looped track of Lou Christie's "Lightnin' Strikes". We cut between the various teens doing their thing, and it builds up to a shot where the camera pulls back to take in the entire room as all the dancers suddenly go into a synchronized routine to the song. The movie went flash mob on us!

A lot of the dialogue and interaction between characters is very funny too; one of my faves is a scene with a possibly hungover Tanner talking in his office to one of his very, very old staff. It's a nicely-composed wide shot (of which this film has many) and done in one long take -- then some 1950's detective-looking motherfucker suddenly enters the frame. Tanner looks up at the guy, and says in a more-annoyed-than-startled tone what all of us in the audience probably thought at the moment: "Who the hell are you?" We all busted out laughing. I don't know, I guess you had to be there. Or better yet, just find the goddamn thing and watch it, because it's an awesomely weird flick that lives up to its title while also managing to be very creepy at times. And if you like movies where people stab other people in the slowest possible manner, well, there's that too.

(Also, there's a scene where some dude pisses blood and all the men in the audience audibly winced/moaned in sympathy while the girl a few seats down from me was all HAW HAW HAW.)

We then watched a Three Stooges short titled "If a Body Meets a Body" (and if any women laughed during this, they were drowned out by the men's guffaws), a trailer reel that included some William Castle productions, a couple haunted house flicks, and What's Up, Tiger Lily? (because seeing Woody Allen smugly ogle a young Asian woman is kind of a horror movie in and of itself).

Then came our second feature, Night Monster, which is not about a mad scientist declaring to his creation that he intends to kill himself by the end of the night. Instead, it's about some old dude in a wheelchair named Ingston whose bad condition is now worse, thanks to the three shitty doctors who looked after him. That's fuckin' Obamacare for you. Poor Ingston had a hard enough time having to be carried up and down the stairs like he's Uncle Jack from Arrested Development, but now thanks to these three medical stooges, he can't even move his arms and legs anymore.

So he invites the docs over to his estate and already you know shit's gonna go down because Bela Lugosi is the butler and one of the guests is introduced wearing a turban and you Just Fucking Know what that means. (It means he's a yogi, that's what it means.) Meanwhile, Ingston's mentally fragile sister is tired of finding blood all over her pad, so she calls up a female doctor because only she can understand and I just realized what I wrote so let me clarify that by "pad", I mean the mansion she lives in with Old Man Ingston.

On the way to the estate, the woman doctor (haha, women doctors, that'll be the day) has some car trouble but thankfully there's a man around to give the helpless dame a lift to the old man's place. She brings the lug along because you never know when you'll need a man to take care of business, if you know what I mean, amirite ladies? (No, thank you, I can't possibly have another Cosmo.) They arrive and have dinner with the old cripple, his quacks, and the terrorist, then they're shown a demonstration by the now turban-less yogi that is basically some hocus-pocus involving materializing things with the use of the mind and vibrations and some other bullshit. It's impressive and all, watching homeboy teleport a skeleton from Egypt into the old man's den, but it always results in leaving behind fresh bloodstains on the floor, so don't try this at home unless you've already had your place Scotchgarded, otherwise you are fucked.

But not nearly as fucked as the people staying at old man Ingston's place; throughout the night, something is sneaking around and indulging its inner Wayne Brady by choking these bitches. The local head pig, Cap Beggs, shows up to investigate, and he is quite possibly the best/worst fictional lawman since Chief Wiggum. This crotchety old screw is far more interested in arresting someone -- anyone -- than actually having hard evidence. Besides, due process is for Commies. He's also a real asshole to everyone; he has no tact, this Beggs, and it's a real hoot to watch. It's too bad they never made a spinoff series with this guy, with more opportunities for him to do a shit job at enforcing the law while making smart ass remarks to those around him. But as entertaining as it is to watch him put in so much effort in accomplishing nothing, it's also disturbing because I bet Beggs railroaded many an unfortunate Negro in his heyday. After all, it is 1942 and Beggs is a very old man, so he's probably very old school in the worst way.

I'd say Beggs shares My Favorite Character honors in this flick with Ingston's chauffeur, who I'm just gonna refer to as The Walking Erection because that's what he is, the horniest hetero on both coasts. This creep is always trying to mack on some broad (no matter what age she is), and if he can't cop a feel or swap spit, he'll get by with some good ol' peeping tom action. Were it not for the existence of cavemen long ago, I'd say that hulking sex fiend was the man who invented the concept of Date Rape.

Night Monster is a good old-fashioned mystery/scare flick; I dug the cast and the atmospheric setting (big mansion, dark roads filled with fog, unseen asshole dogs that don't stop barking), and while it never scared me, that's less a reflection on the film itself and more a reflection of the time it was made. It's rather quaint, the way they used to scare people at the cinema. The director was a dude named Ford Beebe, which is a name that still makes me laugh when I remember the way Joel and the Bots would make fun of it on MST3k.

After some more trailers, our programmers took us to the Great White North to show us how the Canadians get down with their horror in Curtains, starring Samantha Eggar as an actress who wants the title role in "Audra", which I assume is some Oscar Bait biopic about the lady who played Mrs. Roper in "Three's Company". If so, I had no idea Mrs. Roper was super crazy; how did poor Norman Fell handle that shit behind the scenes? So nuts is this Audra character, that Eggar feels she must do time in an asylum for a while, in order to truly get to know what it feels like to have a slippery grip on The Real. Unfortunately for her, the only other person she let in on this plan is played by that bad John Vernon, and if you're looking to trust your fake insanity over to the man who not only betrayed muthafuckin' Lee Marvin in Point Blank but also tried to screw over Delta House, then you're dumber than me, my friend. And I'm really fuckin' dumb.

Vernon plays a big deal director named Jonathan Stryker, which is also the name of Curtains' director. I can only assume it was a cute way for the director to not take credit for the film. But why? Is it because he or she thought it would add an extra level of mindfuckery to the proceedings, or did he or she think the movie was no good and didn't want to be connected to it? (I'm leaning towards the latter.) While Eggar is doing the Girl, Interrupted thing and soaking up perhaps a little too much residual craziness from her fellow nutters, Stryker invites five actresses to his winter home to audition for the part of Audra -- and by audition, I mean he fucks with their heads and then just straight out fucks them. Stryker's awesome. He's probably one of the many illegitimate children left behind by Night Monster's chauffeur, because he's definitely his father's son in the libido department, except he's not nearly as forceful on the ladies. Stryker's more of a Chicks Dig Jerks student in the art of scoring.

It's too bad Stryker didn't count on the asylum having a subscription to the Daily Variety, because that's how Eggar finds out about his little 5-girl-shuffle; soon she escapes from the nuthouse and is on her way to Casa de Bastard for a little talk with the man. There's also a freaky-masked psycho killer going around and ensuring that our starlets will never warm another casting couch again. These two different plot threads might possibly be related to each other.

I can't say I cared much for this film, because I didn't. For the most part it felt pretty disjointed, like it wasn't sure what kind of movie it was going to be. Some elements feel less organic with the plot of the movie and more like they were placed there by rote, because that's what they had in other successful scary flicks. Masked killer? Check. Fake-out nightmare scene? Check. Scary dolls? Check. With the exception of an offbeat scene involving Our Psycho Killer ice-skating towards a potential victim (who somehow can't hear the approaching skater), I actually got impatient every time Curtains would go into slasher mode, and much preferred watching the scenes between the actresses and Stryker. I wanted that movie instead.

Curtains is also like a rogue cop in that it plays by its own rules, completely changing its focus on certain characters willy-goddamn-nilly just because it can; there's what felt like a 10-minute sequence focusing on another actress where we learn quite a bit about her -- she gets off on having her boyfriend break into her apartment in a stocking mask and forcefully take advantage of her, among other things -- then the movie dispatches with her and moves on and I realized that her character ultimately made no real difference in the overall plot of this story. Curtains featured a genuinely scary mask, Michael Wincott, and an interpretive dance routine that has to be seen to be believed -- yet still underwhelmed me. And I doubt that any additional follow-ups to the scene where one actress nervously paws another actresses' breasts would've helped the movie out. But I would've certainly appreciated the effort.

The fourth film was Neon Maniacs, which is absolutely dripping with 80's ambience -- and that's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. The film takes place in San Francisco, and you have these things...creatures...uh, I don't really know what they are. The narrator calls them Neon Maniacs, and they're a group of mostly zombified killers wearing varying shades of ugly; you have a samurai maniac, a soldier maniac, a Native American maniac, a Cruising maniac, a reptilian maniac that is all mouth and eyeball, a maniac who kinda reminded me of Emil in Robocop after the toxic waste incident, a Missing Link maniac, etc. They appear to kill only for killing's sake, using weapons like swords, M16s, nooses, arrows, and other things I'm sure I left off. I don't know what they do with the bodies of their victims afterward, only that they gaff 'em away and leave behind puddles of slime. They also have their own trading cards and live under a bridge, despite -- or maybe in spite of -- water being deadly to them.

Anyway, Sharon Stone's chick from Basic Instinct plays a newly single high schooler named Natalie, who goes out for an evening fuck-around at the local park with her friends in their van only to become the Final Girl in the first 15 minutes of the movie after our Maniacs show up and murder everyone else -- effectively saving these popular kids from the inevitable horror that is life after high school.

But alas, the horror is merely beginning for our girl because she has to deal with asshole cops who don't believe her, the Maniacs trying to finish what they started (they don't like unfinished business, or she's just too fuckin' pure to pass up), and the angry/desperate relatives of her dead friends demanding answers. Even her own school kicks her out for an indefinite period of time because having her around is just too much of a drag, which I'm sure does wonders for her self-esteem. I think the biggest bummer from this whole situation is that her parents are out of town and she has this big house all to herself, awesome swimming pool included. But now that her friends are dead and no one at school wants to hang with her, who is she gonna invite over?

At least she has this delivery boy from the local deli stopping by to deliver groceries and keep her company while taking her to the movie theater (when Natalie tells him "No horror movies", the audience booed). He's the "hero", in that he's the guy accompanying our girl as they both run for their lives from the Maniacs. Aside from that, he's pretty goddamn ineffectual in his designation.

Meanwhile, there's Paula, a fellow student who believes Natalie's story because she's seen these Maniacs as well. As far as I'm concerned, Paula's the real hero of this movie. She's a horror/sci-fi geek with monster masks and movie posters on her bedroom wall (she was into Blade Runner way before all of you) and is usually wearing a cap from the USCSS Nostromo. Paula also likes to make movies with her friends on one of those giant old video cameras that requires a separate shoulder rig for the tape deck. She even has an impressive linear video editing setup in her room to put together her little masterpieces; two tape decks, two monitors, and an edit controller. I would've killed for that gear when I was her age.

I dug this movie; it's lots of cheesy fun, not meant to be taken seriously (for the most part, anyway; there's a phone call between Natalie and her recently deceased friend's mother that kinda harshed my buzz), and like I said earlier, the 80's fashion and music alone (there's a high school dance that felt like it took up a third of the running time with love songs and hair metal) make it worth a watch. The film never explains who or what the Neon Maniacs are, or why they do what they do, which is fine because it kinda works in a Phantasm kind-of-way -- even though Phantasm does it a whole lot better and is a genuinely scary film.

Another thing Phantasm did better is the ending; that film ended in a way that can pass for both a disturbing closure or a to-be-continued deal. Neon Maniacs, on the other hand, not only pisses it all away, it closes out on a note that is less of a question mark and more of a shrug, like "I guess this is where we'll end it" and my initial reaction to that was FUCK YOU, MOVIE. But I've since chilled out about it, and want to warn anyone interested in checking this flick out not to expect anything satisfying after the high school dance sequence.

The fifth film was also the eagerly awaited "secret film"; Quinn told us that it was a lesser-loved film from an Italian director and hadn't been screened around these parts for about seven years. But first we watched one final trailer reel that included some Argento, Fulci, and Lenzi joints plus Torso and Cemetery Man, followed by an animated adaptation of "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, with James Mason doing the voice-over.

The secret film turned out to be The Psychic, directed by Lucio Fulci, and it was at that moment that a sizable portion of the audience got up and left. Which is not to say that The Psychic isn't worth a shit -- oh no, quite the opposite. I've already seen this film three times (VHS, 35mm screening at the Egyptian, DVD), so it's safe to say that I like it. I'm guessing most of the walk-outs were from people who were already well into fighting off sleep and would only stick around if the mystery flick was some crazy, mind-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime madness that you'd have to be a damn fool to miss. But after realizing that, no, the secret movie isn't Valentine, they were like Fuck This Shit and left.

I left too, but only because I felt that perhaps 4 A.M. was not the best time to watch this rather quiet and deliberately paced mystery joint, not to mention that staring at the beautiful Jennifer O'Neill for 90 minutes carries with it a risk of hypnosis to the point of being lulled into a tired state. I went for an early morning stroll and came back for the last 20 minutes; in the spirit of that action (besides, this post is already too long), I'm gonna step out for a bit and link to a far better review (that I agree with) from the homegirl over at Seven Doors to Cinema. I'm trusting you to come back here when you're done. Maybe I'll come back as well.

The final film of the evening was Frank Henenlotter's Frankenhooker; his Brain Damage was the secret movie last year, so it's kinda like a natural progression or something to have it wrap up the marathon. This movie stars the guy from King of New York, the one who learned the hard way that nobody rides for free; he plays Jeffrey Franken, "a bio-electro technician, whatever that means" who has been kicked out of three different medical schools, so in the meantime, he pays the bills working for New Jersey Electric. The film begins with the man giving his father a remote-controlled lawnmower for the old man's birthday, which Jeff's fiancee promptly demonstrates by having it run over her and chop her up into a hundred pieces (not on purpose).

The accident puts Jeffrey in a bad place and now he's doing the mad scientist thing, having kept some of his fiancee's body parts (including her head) and looking for a way to bring back his beloved Elizabeth Shelley with the use of his crazy bio-electro knowledge. Whenever he's stuck in a rut, Jeff busts out with his power drill and bores a hole into his skull, comparing what he does to (more normal) people doing drugs. He actually makes a good point, because you're pretty much doing the same kind of damage to your head in the long run, so it's a matter of whether you prefer your damage to be more internal or external. After a couple of trepanation sessions, Jeffrey finally comes up with a plan, but he's going to need more body parts to put his Humpty Dumpty back together again -- so why not hit up a few hookers across the bridge and use them for raw material?

I'm glad Henenlotter decided to have fun with this story, rather than play it straight; it's a very funny movie that keeps its silly tone throughout the running time and never feels gruesome or gory despite all the severed limbs, exploding bodies, and freakshow genetic combos. If anything, I think it's all the tits, ass, and whore-fucking in bathroom stalls that got this film its R-rating (unrated on home video), not the violence. I remember the VHS box had a quote from Bill Murray, something about "if you can only see one movie this year, see Frankenhooker", which now reminds me of an interview he did a few years back where he talked about how Kung Fu Hustle was like, one of the greatest films ever made. What can I say, the man has great taste.

There are two performances that stood out for me in this flick; the first is the muscle-bound pimp Zorro, played by some raza who also showed up in Brain Damage as a friendly muscle-bound naked man in a shower room. Here, he gets to wear clothes and act tough, except it's clear that he's not much of an actor. And yet, his performance (which favors getting the lines out correctly over saying the lines convincingly) works in some strange neo-realist kind-of-way. I'm particularly a fan of this spiel he delivers near the end of the film, where he goes on about how he's going to get his ladies back into ass-selling mode with the help of "some of this sweet, sweet rock!" In the hands of a better actor, that wouldn't have sounded as awesome, if that makes any sense. Good job, Zorro the Pimp!

The second one, goes to the fuckin' MVP of this film, and that's the titular hoo-er herself, played by Patty Mullen. I'd put her interpretation of Frankenstein (which is what she's doing, no matter what they call her in this movie) right up there with Karloff & Lanchester, man, no bullshit. But whereas those actors were giving us some prime dramatic shit, she's kicking ass in the comedy department. Mullen plays the reincarnated Elizabeth with all of these hilarious facial tics and ultra-spastic body movements, and every word that comes out of her mouth is spoken as if she was built without an indoor voice. Her eyes are wide open but it's clear that she isn't really taking anything in as she repeatedly propositions everyone she comes in contact with. Mullen's performance is a fascinating thing to watch, and it's too bad there isn't as much Frankenhooker in Frankenhooker as you'd expect from a movie with the title of Frankenhooker.

(The movie, by the way, is called Frankenhooker.)

And so ended another All Night Horror Show at the New Bev. After, my friend and I went to a restaurant for a post-movie marathon breakfast; while waiting for our pancakes, he noticed that there was no more syrup at our table and looked for a waitress to ask her for some. I told him that we wouldn't need any syrup, because we watched the opening credits to The Psychic. He slowly nodded, then gave me a long look, before finally asking "What?"

It wasn't the first time I got that reaction from someone, and I sadly reckon it won't be the last.

Click here for Cathie's recollection of the marathon.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Doomsday prism

This September has been absolutely Amy-tastic with two films featuring The Adorable Amy Adams in our fine overpriced, badly-projected theaters; I've already rambled about the first movie, The Master (read that if you haven't already, please, thank you) and now I'll ramble about the second flick, Trouble with the Curve, where she co-stars with Clint Muthafuckin' Eastwood.

For the record, my experience with baseball is mostly relegated to my junior high school years, and later, the occasional half-drunken softball fuck-around at barbecues. Other than that, I don't give a good goddamn about the game and watching it on television makes me sleepy and hearing about it from others makes my eyes glaze over. Sorry. I don't know a fuckin' thing about stats or players or teams. Once upon a time, I used to think the "Black Sox" was an actual team and not just a name related to an old scandal (holy shit, was that an embarrassing night of Trivial Pursuit). I did go to a couple games and enjoyed stuffing my fat ass with overpriced snacks, though. Anyway, keep all that shit in mind while I ramble about this movie, which I only watched because Clint Eastwood is awesome and Amy Adams is AWWW-some.

So Clint's a scout for the Atlanta Braves and it seems like a pretty cool job, sitting around with his fellow oldsters, munching on peanuts, chomping on cigars, talking shit while taking down notes on the potential acquisition. Then he'll continue with his notes over a few beers at the local watering hole, then after he'll go to his cheap motel and let the Powers That Be know whether or not this guy's worth a shit or not. It's a cool job, he's been doing it forever, but now it's coming close to contract-renewing time and that fuckin' asshole Matthew Lillard is trying to get rid of him and replace him with those newfangled computers because this motherfucker's like Fuck Gran Torino, It's All About Moneyball In This Bitch.

Lillard's job to fuck Clint out of employment would be much easier if he knew about Clint's recent problems with his sight; it's tough enough that it takes him five minutes to take a twenty-second leak at his age, but now the man has to deal with his vision getting all blobby-blurry on him. Early on in the film, he accidentally bumps into his coffee table and ends up angrily kicking the motherfucker away, making this not only the second of two films featuring Amy Adams this month, but the second of two films featuring Amy Adams this month that include scenes of the lead character taking his pain/annoyance out on the house after bumping into a table.

Clint gets the official word from his eye doctor, a man who wears quite possibly the worst fuckin' rug I've ever seen on something that wasn't a floor. I guess it makes sense, given that he's an eye doctor and most of his patients wouldn't be able to see well enough to tell. Or maybe that's how he tests them, by asking them how his hair looks and their response would determine how bad/good their eyesight really is.

Thankfully, John Goodman is on the scene, playing Clint's old buddy. He gets the hint that something's up with Clint's eyes, so he calls up the man's semi-estranged daughter (played by our girl Amy) to help this ancient work of art out on the job. See, if this was my dad, I'd be like Sure, it's not like I have much going on right now anyway -- I can hang out for a while in North Carolina with the old man, watch some ball games, eat hot dogs. But it's not me, this is Amy's character with a good life going for her as a hard-working, kick-ass attorney who's thisclose to becoming a partner at the law firm headed up by the warden from Shawshank and the deputy from "She's the Sheriff", provided she doesn't fuck up an important case they got going on. She's got a lot of shit in her life right now, is what I'm saying. She's busy. That and, you know, the semi-estrangement.

She's very serious about these things, both at work and outside of work; she has a boyfriend taking her to the nice eatery with the kind of music you'd hear at the Black Angus and he's all like C'mon Bitch when are we gonna get married, but she's married to her work, and she's also married to being a vegan -- until the halfway point of the film, when she starts stuffing herself with hot dogs because she "couldn't hold out any longer", like that kind of lifestyle choice is that easy/fast to switch without any repercussions.

That reminds me of a dude I knew, he was a vegan because his girlfriend of six years was vegan. She ended up going to see her family for the weekend, and my man was home alone, watching television. A Pizza Hut commercial came on and he was like Fuck It, I'm ordering me a Meat Lover's. A couple hours later, he's puking his guts out. According to his doctor, my dude spent so much time without that harsh meat that his system wasn't ready for the strong re-introduction. So basically what I'm saying is, thank you Robert Lorenz, director of this film, for sparing us the scene where Our Amy is upchucking poorly digested chunks of animal anus or whatever the fuck is supposedly in that stuff.

Anyway, I'm sure there's some other stuff early on in this film about how this is Clint's possibly last go-round as a scout on account of his age, and there's a sub-sub-plot about some player not doing so well and that perhaps seeing his parents will help him out, but I honestly don't remember it that well because the characters discussing it were all familiar actors who now look so much older and I was distracted by that. Clint, of course, is all wrinkled out but at least he spent the last 20-something years easing us into it by making his age a factor in the stories he was telling. Then there's Ed Lauter and the dude who made the mistake of stealing Jobu's rum in Major League (as fellow scouts), not to mention the aforementioned Warden of Shawshank -- those guys were always kinda old, so that's no surprise, to see them even older.

But then you look over at Robert Patrick -- the T-1000, people! -- looking so fuckin' grizzed here and that really threw me off. Even Matthew Lillard -- who I always thought of as the young-ass punk guy in SLC Punk! or the punk-ass young guy in Scream -- is starting to show signs of getting bitchslapped by Father Time, looking more and more like Michael Berryman with hair. I guess it's my refusal to grow up (I'm a Toys R Us kid) that makes it difficult to acknowledge everyone else getting older. And if they are, then I sure as fuck am. I think the trick is to just be really fat and slowly lose some pounds over the years, then the aging won't be as noticeable, because that seems to be working for Goodman.

So off they go, that old badass Clint and our swell gal Amy, off to watch some thick asshole of a human being hit homers and see if he's Braves material. I don't know about that, but he's definitely douchebag material, treating his teammates like shit and charging people for autographs. He also believes in visualizing in his mind all the good shit that's gonna happen to him in the future -- money, women, fame -- which I'm not against, I just wish he would also visualize becoming a better human being as well. Best/worst part is he's not even a pro yet but he's already doing that cheapskate thing that pro-athletes excel at by demanding a bag of nuts from the raza peanut vendor in the stands (calls him "peanut boy"), then refusing to pay the fuckin' $2 for 'em. You fuckin' piece of shit -- I got your bag of nuts swinging, ya fat cunt.

Along the way, they run into Mr. Sexy Back himself, Justin Timberlake. He's all right, playing a former-player-turned-scout for the Red Sox who's hoping to parlay his current career into a gig as an announcer up in the sports booth. He's not annoying, in fact, he's a pretty likable dude and even really funny at times -- he's introduced in a scene that starts out Whatever and ends in Awkward, with someone calling him a "dork", so with that I was already on his side. Likability is important if he's going to be the potential hug interest for Our Amy in this film. That's why it's gonna hurt so fuckin' much when Amy eventually does a movie with Punk'd the Douchebag. You may scoff, but shit, did you ever think you were gonna see that human smegma co-star with Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman? No, you didn't. But it happened anyway. We're living in the darkest timeline, people -- so expect the worst, hope for the best and watch the worst happen in front of your fuckin' eyes anyway.

I like how they make Amy's character a big baseball fan who knows a lot of trivia, demonstrating it over tequila shots with Sexy Back; if I loved baseball as much as I love movies and getting fat, I'd totally be falling in love watching this scene of a pretty girl downing the booze and displaying such knowledge about the sport. It's a great use of Nerd Bait by the filmmakers, and yeah, don't get it twisted -- hardcore sports fans are just another form of nerd, don't try to pretend they're not. You stats-quoting, fantasy sports-playing, jersey-wearing motherfuckers are just as bad as those of us who quote lines from films or those other peeps who show up at conventions wearing fuckin' cosplay from some fuckin' anime, which some of you homophobes might call gay except I'd argue the sports thing is gayer because of all the sweaty muscular mens you're taking in. Yeah, "mens", I'm not gonna correct it.

This movie started off really fuckin' lame and cheesy, with Clint eating Spam out of the can and declaring it as a "breakfast of champions", which isn't quite Jim Belushi creating some weird concoction in The Principal, but felt just as 1980s when I heard it. The antagonists don't go any deeper than about a hundred feet into the depths of Asshole, but that kind of shit is still fun to watch and it made me laugh. I don't know if it's Lorenz' direction or Randy Brown's script that's to blame, or both, but that's just how it is. It's the kind of movie where more than one character agrees that Ice Cube has long been ignored by the Oscars for his performances, which I guess is funnier if you're in your late 70s and only have a passing idea of who or what a fuckin' Ice Cube is.

It gets a little better along the way, not like "really good" better, more like lazy Sunday afternoon viewing better. Which I guess is just a long way for me to say "kinda decent". I liked the interactions between the three main characters, that really worked; mostly the humorous moments between them. It certainly doesn't try to surprise you at the end, or at least I hope it wasn't, otherwise the film thinks very little of you. As it is, it could've been done a lot worse. I don't know about paying full price to see this in a shitty too-dark-digital-projection theater, but you can put this harmless shit on in the family room a few months from now and you're not gonna get anyone's feathers ruffled up, unless someone in your family was sodomized with a baseball bat or something. 

You'd probably get more out of it if you're into the beisbol, but for me it was OK at best. But then again, there is a scene where Amy Adams hits a ball, trots past the bases going "WOOOO!" and then finishes it off by performing a cartwheel. Which is just so overwhelmingly precious I've changed my mind and now declare:


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Melora Walters singing "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" sounds exactly like Melora Walters singing "A-Tisket, A-Tasket"

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Hollywood has sent forth two Amy Adams films to the cinemas. The first is The Master (which sadly has nothing to do with that one episode of "Roseanne" where she and Dan were one-upping each others' Halloween pranks), the latest from Paul Thomas Anderson, he of the late 90s explosion of big time filmmakers with the same last name, alongside Wes Anderson and Paul W.S. Anderson. (I didn't say they were of matching talents.)

The Adorable Amy Adams plays the wife of an L. Ron Hubbard-like motherfucker named Lancaster Dodd, MOC, PhD, MD, ABC, BBD, The East Coast Family -- played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, best known to assholes like me as the funny best friend in that shitty Ben Stiller movie. No, the other one. No, not that one either, the other one, the one where he's a bit of an awkward dude and he has a thing for this hot chick and -- no, not that one either.

I don't know if Hubbard had a wife who sat in the background keeping an ever-watchful eye on him and the people he hung out with, but that's what Adams' character Peggy mostly does in this movie. There's a definite "behind every great man..." element at play between Peggy and Lancaster, and Anderson cannily keeps her mostly in the background during the film, making a motherfucker feel that there's possibly even more than meets the eye with that broad -- there's a little Karl Rove mixed into her Jackie Kennedy, if you get my drift.

This life is complicated enough with all the haters giving my man Dodd shit about his movement and book titled "The Cause" -- which involves healing motherfuckers from their past traumas and giving up "animal" behaviors -- and they're either showing up to his parties and interrupting him while he's dropping Mental Health Modern Science on old gullible society ladies, or they're sending the pigs to harass him while he's doing his thing at Laura "The Tidbit" Dern's house. It's enough to make a man want to drink some super-strong hooch made mostly from household items that probably shouldn't be imbibed.

That's where Joaquin Phoenix's character, Freddie Quell, comes in. Quell's a lost soul/expert mixologist, and when he's not trying to show his liver who the fuck is in charge, he's getting into smacking/wrestling matches with his fellow man, trying to get into penis/vagina matches with his fellow ladies, or beating the shit out of jail cell toilets. He's an unhappy fellow who "can't take this world straight", to steal a line from the film. I would judge this unpleasant weirdo harshly, were it not for the unfortunate fact that I found myself relating a little too much with him at times.

I'm not Quell, though; I don't share his fondness for farting in public or whacking off in front of others and I don't look like Joaquin Phoenix. Come to think of it, even Joaquin Phoenix doesn't look like Joaquin Phoenix here. I don't know if he specifically lost weight for the film or if that fake wannabe Andy Kaufman rapper shit failure took a chomp out of his spirit, but either way, Jay-P is lookin' tore the fuck up. It works because his Quell is coming down from the one-two punch of getting permanently jangled from serving in WW2, and from ditching the girl he loved. All that, plus drinking torpedo fuel and downing paint thinner-based concoctions is gonna make any young man look like a, uh, not a young man.

Eventually Quell hooks up with Dodd, and their relationship ultimately comes down to some inherent need for one another -- call it scientist/guinea pig, father/son, general/soldier, philosopher/student -- it's all of those, really. You have the wild uninhibited Quell, all id, all animal. You have Dodd, the "master" of himself, talking shit about animals like somehow humans are better. Both are full of shit because despite his drinking and outbursts, Quell ultimately would like to improve (even though he doesn't make it easy) and while Dodd tries to use his Cause methods to help the dude out (or exploit as a prime test subject?), I also got the sense that he secretly gets some vicarious pleasure watching the homie act a fool. (It's seems the only moments where Dodd is able to indulge himself is when he's tipsily dancing/singing at parties or wildly gesticulating while telling stories about putting leashes on dragons.)

It's a sad little movie, an intimate character study painted on a grand canvas, the canvas being the 70mm film format (or 65mm, if you wanna be that way). I've seen it twice -- 70mm and digital -- and while you lose the bonus of watching the beautiful cinematography lookin' so large and pristine in the non-70mm versions, you don't lose out on any of the dramatic punch. By "dramatic", I mean the acting, because narrative-wise this joint's a very simple story, quite possibly the most simple story told by PTA since Punch-Drunk Love, it's just that homeboy likes taking the scenic route. There is no memorable set-piece in this film, like the burning oil derrick in There Will Be Blood or raining ribbits in Magnolia, no pop-culture-ready quotables like "I drink your milkshake", no coked-up Alfred Molina in a bathrobe.

This is definitely his most subtle film, as far as what makes these characters tick; nothing is spelled out and sometimes it's just a matter of taking in a dude's body language or even his surroundings to get where he's coming from. Go to the next paragraph if you want to avoid an example that happens like 10-20 minutes into the film: So there's this scene where Quell is working as a photographer at a shopping center, taking pics of families and shit like that. He ends up getting drunk on the job and is setting up a photo shoot with some dude; in the background we can hear the distant cries of a baby, as you would at a public place like this. Quell stops for a moment, then asks the man if he's married. Man says yes. Quell then approaches him and starts fucking with the dude and eventually it gets physical between them (the man slaps Quell in the face and the digital 7.1 surround fucking sells that SMACK so hard, holy shit). Anyway, I think the baby crying, the man being married, and Quell being apart from the girl he loved, plus the booze....I don't know what the fuck I'm saying.  

You don't have Anderson drawing you a map to each character's motivations, or bravura cinematic moments that you'll be quoting and rewinding and spoofing on YouTube or Funny or Die (those assholes always find a way, though), but what you do have are a few intense moments of 100-proof Grade-A Acting between some of the best actors around. Phoenix's Quell has spent time at the V.A. getting treatment for his "nervous condition", and watching him will give many viewers a nervous condition as well; he always appears to be on the verge of lunging at a motherfucker, and at one point, he literally begins chewing the scenery as he tears into a mattress.

He's also just fascinating to watch, especially whenever PTA shoots him in low-angle close-ups while homeboy already has his head tilted back; he's always hunched over and he even makes standing with his hands on his hips look like some kind of painful ordeal. His face is always scrunched up with his cleft-palate'd mouth frozen in some kind of post-stroke rictus, causing his dialogue to sometimes sound all GWARNM BLAGRM and causing me to reach for the Subtitle option on my remote except I'm at a movie theater, there's no remote, and now I'm all like Fuck, I gotta wait for the Blu-ray to understand this motherfucker?!

Hoffman is excellent as Dodd, someone who seems to be on top of everything, seems to know everything, prone to hearty handshakes and being the center of attention at social functions. You can totally understand why people would be eager to believe what he says, even though the game he spits can range from "interesting" to "are you fucking kidding me?" And the cracks certainly show through his otherwise confident facade whenever someone has the audacity to call Dodd on this shit, causing homeboy to snap on a motherfucker. Not that anyone takes much notice (or refuses to acknowledge it), I guess for the same reason people will forgive their favorite politician or spiritual leader for fucking up royally; nobody's perfect and we're only human after all, either that or maybe people just want to believe in something so bad, they'll plug their ears, close their eyes, and go LALALALALALA to ignore the warning signs and then unplug and open long enough to blame someone else -- anyone else -- for putting Their Guy in that position.

As for The Adorable Amy Adams, she does very well in her role; nothing showstopping, but that's not what the part's about anyway, she's more of a presence that pops up from time to time to remind us that Amy Adams is in this movie. Dalton from Road House must've been her grandson and that's where he learned his Be Nice Until It's Time Not To Be Nice ways, because there are times where she looks/acts as sweet as expected, bouncing her toddler son on her knee and baby-talking him, and then there are other moments where she is all business and will get up in a dude's face while he's trying to catch some ZZZ's and tell him what's what.

And when it comes time to pull the leash on the ol' hubby, she does that shit like a fuckin' boss, walking up to L.D. while he's washing up in the bathroom before bed, and proceeding to jerk that motherfucker off while setting him straight with some rules on how he should behave. My goodness -- the last film they acted in together, Adams and Hoffman were bonding over their fondness for Frosty the Snowman, now she's like the reverse Frank T.J. Mackey, demanding respect for the cunt while taming the cock. The cherry of this hand-job sundae is when she tells Dodd when to come (I prefer the non-porn spelling), she doesn't even let the guy come at his own leisure. It's like just 'cause she's tugging this dude's main vein doesn't mean she has all fuckin' night, either, 'cause a girl's gotta get her sleep. Damn. Even her one-handed hand-wash afterward was gangsta.

People always gotta make it about something it's not, and I guess as soon as they found out that Lancaster Dodd was based in some part on L. Ron Hubbard, they figured Anderson was gonna fuck Scientology in the ass, like he's Jesus Quintana on a Wednesday night date. He doesn't really do that because it's not an exposé on that shit. It's more about the flawed motherfuckers behind that kind of thing, but there are enough references to it that you can point it out your bud, all "That's the auditing session he's doing, only he doesn't have the E-meter!" If he wanted to, Anderson could've completely changed it to something that didn't resemble Scientology at all -- and you'd still have the same story and character arc (or lack thereof).

I think the 70mm will throw some people off, coming in and expecting some epic bastard-from-a-basket type shit, but they're getting something closer to a minor-scaled joint like Hard Eight (or Sydney, if you wanna be that way). His last film ended with a character declaring "I'm finished!" while this film ended with the lady behind me asking her friend "Is that it?", so keep that in mind. It's got a bit of a Full Metal Jacket thing going where the second half doesn't match the first half in power and awesomeness. I liked the film but after seeing it twice, I have to say this is my least favorite P.T. Anderson flick. But hey, with an oeuvre like his, "least" is still pretty fuckin' good.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's getting to be like a goddamn Dr. Bronner's Soap label in this motherfucker

After you help me get up off the floor, I'll tell you that I had to be defensive about the guy because what you said was an out-and-out falsehood. Me, I'm in the truth business. See, you can talk all the shit you want about Michael Cimino the man, but questioning him as an artist is the first step onto a road that will lead to heartbreak for the both of us.

So stop acting like he was just some lucky duck who pulled the wool over critics' eyes with The Deer Hunter and that it took Heaven's Gate for them to find out they'd been somehow hoodwinked, 'cause the former was/is/always will be a great flick while the latter is, in my humble-yet-emotional opinion, his best work as a filmmaker that was overshadowed by his studio-killing perfectionist style, like he's the only fuckin' tyrannical asshole director in the entire history of film. Don't let his later disappointing efforts paint over the triumph of his early winning output, not unless you're one of those guys who also feels Francis Ford Coppola ain't worth a shit anymore just because he also directed Jack, and if that's the case, you need a hug to get that hate out of your system.

But just because I think Heaven's Gate is his best work doesn't make it my favorite Cimino; no, that would have to be Year of the Dragon, his follow-up/comeback attempt starring Mickey Rourke in his prime. Cimino co-wrote the film with Oliver Stone, who must've been in coked-out Scarface mode while he was tapping away on the keyboard, because like Scarface, this one's got insanely quotable dialogue that is often badass, hilarious, wrong, or all three simultaneously. Like Scarface, the dramatics are pumped-up, emotionally overwrought, and occasionally didactic as it tries to Teach You Something. And like Scarface, two gunmen shoot up a nightspot filled with innocent bystanders before one of them gets blasted in the foot.

It's like Stone's writing forces a motherfucker to up his game and swell up his directorial testicles in order to tell the story properly; Cimino, Brian De Palma, and John Milius were already up to the challenge -- aggressively cinematic filmmakers that they are --  while a delicate hippie vegan flower like Hal Ashby ended up succumbing to the harsh For Real Men Only energies emanating from Stone's pages and ended up a drugged-out shadow of his former self. You have to look deep within yourself before you take on an Oliver Stone script and know for goddamn sure that you can handle it -- otherwise you might as well be a Nazi opening up the Ark of the Covenant.

But Cimino took to the task like his name was Henry Jones, Jr. and the end accomplishment is a great-looking epic cop flick about a real piece of work named Stanley White (né Wizynski), played by Rourke in one of his best performances. White was a Marine who fought in the Vietnam War but now works out his despair and frustration of that experience by putting some serious foot to ass as the most decorated cop in New York City. In addition to all his commendations for his police work, my man Stan is also highly decorated in being an unlikable prick of a human being; he's pushy, rude, obnoxious, he uses casually racist language, he's a shitty husband to his wife, and he's inconsiderate to the news reporter he's banging on the side (and using in his War Against Crime).

His latest assignment is Chinatown, where he's expected to make the streets safe from all the spiky haired guys and gals who are terrorizing both locals and tourists by doing lovely things out in the open, like stabbing fat old Chinese men in restaurants or blasting old bald cigar-chomping Guidos in the face. It's not so much the deaths of these guys that bothers me, it's the incredibly sad funeral marches that follow with their beyond-mournful dirges that seem to awaken the darkest part of my soul which then says to me "C'mon, it's just a quick slash down your wrist, it'll be worth it".

White must've served in Vietnam alongside Black Dynamite, because evidently Homeboy sees this new beat as an opportunity for a Round 2 against the Vee-Its, and he doesn't limit his street-cleaning to just the youth gangs (which is what his superiors want), he also goes straight to the older recognizable Asian character actors running things and tells them that shit's gonna change (which is what his superiors don't want). This of course doesn't go well with these older tong/triad types, but it really doesn't go well with the young up-and-comer of the group (played by Iceman from Iceman) who may or may not be making power plays for the top of the triads. From that moment on, White's mission is met with many political and criminal roadblocks, occasional tragedies, and the overall hee-larious irony that in his attempt to avoid this becoming "Vietnam all over again" he's pretty much recreating that shit only this time he's the General in this motherfucker.

White's a complicated motherfucker in that he talks so much shit about the Chinese (often to their faces) and yet at times gets very upset at how many of them got fucked/are getting fucked by their own people here in the States -- not to mention how his fellow Americans don't seem to give a fuck about their plight, and those that do are really just taking advantage of them. There's a part where White practically lectures someone on how the railroads in America were built on the bones of many hardworking Chinese and yet they were never given the proper tribute or respect after the job for all their damn-near slave laboring. That had to be a Stone contribution, one of many to remind the audience that this great country can also be a great asshole to the poor/tired/huddled masses, while also serving as a way to cushion the blow for all the uses of "chink", "Chinamen", "yellow niggers", not to mention White's constant references to spare ribs. (Sure enough, all that spare ribs talk led to me picking up Chinese takeout after the film because THE FATNESS NEVER ENDS, IT ONLY EXPANDS.)

Well, those Chinese Are People Too moments were all for naught, because from what I understand, this film got the protest treatment by Asian special interest groups when it hit theaters, because they needed something to get up-in-arms about and Sarah Silverman was still in high school at the time. Actually, I can see where they're coming from; here you have a movie where the lead character keeps going off on the Chinese being both unable or unwilling to assimilate to the American way of doing things, and the only positive Chinese characters are pretty much victims/ineffectual/sacrificial lambs. At that point it doesn't matter that everyone in this film -- with the exception of White's long-suffering wife -- carry degrees from the University of Being A Fucking Asshole, the filmmakers can write and shoot all the lectures they want but it won't change what feels like a tale about Stanley The Very Flawed White Knight trying to save the Chinese from themselves. 

Because it's called Year of the Dragon and not Year of the Chupacabra, I can get past the controversy and enjoy the film for what it is, without any baggage. I've never read the Robert Daley novel that this was based on, so I don't know how that shit compares, but the screen-story feels like some pulpy B-level criminal underworld paperback shit. Only Cimino treated the material like he was making 2 Deer 2 Hunter; the cinematography is as beautiful as expected in a Cimino flick (there are also quite a few long takes employed in the storytelling), the production design is even more impressive when you consider that most of this Big Apple flick was shot in North Carolina (on the DVD commentary, Cimino says that his good friend/fellow filmmaking perfectionist Stanley Kubrick was fooled by the fake Mott Street in the film), acting-wise everyone is operating at the proper pitch for this story (with one major exception I'll get to later), there are awesomely intense moments of extreme violence peppered throughout the story (gotta love that borderline-mythical climax on the bridge!), and there's even a detour to Thailand that I'm not even sure was necessary to the film except to give Cimino an opportunity to flex his old-school David Lean muscles and shoot widescreen vistas of mountains, rivers, trees, horses, and hundreds of soldiers in the background. 

On the minus side, there are moments that just get a little too goofy for their own good, like the way White looks after pulling a burning body from a fire; combined with his already unkempt appearance, Stan had some Wile E. Coyote stuff happening there. Stuff like that may leave you laughing because there's really no other way to react. Among the other flaws; the ending that I still haven't been able to make total sense of (mostly because of studio interference; Cimino explains on the commentary track what was supposed to be said by one of the characters during the closing moment, and it's a sad reflection on the post-Gate state of his career that he couldn't get his way), and the casting of the news reporter; she's played by model Ariane, who is the personification of Cimino's later works: very impressive visually but underwhelming in performance. The poor girl certainly tries, but she was obviously too young and green for this, her first film.

I've been re-watching the Cims' oeuvre for the past year (easy to take your time when the guy has only made seven features) and my opinion remains the same on this film: It is his most entertaining, and in comparison to the nearly 4-hour Gate, Dragon's 134-minute runtime whizzes by like a fuckin' Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker collaboration, so there's that too. It's as serious as my impending heart attack in tone but is overall Good Times as a viewing experience, which also happens to be how I felt about Scarface and come to think of it both films would make for an awesome double-bill of coked-out entertainment (For the record, fan that I am of certain substances, I'm too scared to do the white stuff because I'm hyper enough as is and my heart would probably explode, plus I don't want to get Cocaine Face).

Anyway, I really like this movie, and if you're a fan of lovely music that sounds like the director told the composer to remind the audience that he once made a movie called The Deer Hunter, or you like seeing people get shot through the hand as they attempt to cover their faces from oncoming bullets, you might like this movie too.


Friday, August 17, 2012

What, no Sven-Ole Thorsen?

(Update 8/19/12 -- I made a Tony Scott comment in these ramblings, and today I found out about what happened to the poor guy. What a fucking bummer. I've decided to leave my stupid joke/critique about him as I had written it, just keep in mind it was written two days before what happened, and that it was written by a fan, not a hater. 

Anyway, after reading this, go watch True Muthafuckin' Romance, The Last Muthafuckin' Boy Scout, or Muthafuckin' Revenge (either version) in honor of the man. The guy made some muthafuckin' awesome flicks in his career and it's sad to know that he won't be around to make more. Even sadder is knowing why he isn't around anymore. I'll miss your 360 Dolly Shots, my man.)

Some films were meant to be seen at a theater full of rowdy action fans and played through a sound system that makes you feel every punch, gunshot, and explosion to the point that it actually starts to overwhelm your senses and make you feel slightly ill. That was the case with The Expendables 2, and the Italian Stallion is back with his crew of fellow action film stars as mercenaries who I'm sure all achieved their peak physical conditioning in a completely natural way, and this time they're on a new mission that doesn't so much pay as it keeps them out of Gitmo for the bullshit they pulled in the last one.

Yup, Bruce Willis' Mr. Church character is back as well and he's even creepier and sinister-er than in the last film, until the final act when all of a sudden he inexplicably starts acting less like Shadowy CIA Guy and a little more like Former Pitchman For Seagram's Wine Cooler. Also, remember the former governor of California who took a bad thing and made it worse and us Californians have no one to blame but ourselves because we thought it would be cool to have Conan the Barbarian running shit? He's in this too, in a bigger role.

So, the mission involves jacking something from a safe on a plane and I'm guessing Samuel L. Jackson was on that flight and declared that he's had it with these muthafuckin' safes on this muthafuckin' plane, because when they find the plane it's long been crashed and if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put a bullet into my fuckin' head for writing that shit about safes on a plane. Somewhere along the way, shit doesn't go as planned and our heroes will have to improvise with the help of many automatic weapons and incendiaries.

Tagging along for the ride (even though she'll give you a look if you say she's tagging along) is some Chinese chick and I guess I'm not up on my Chinese cinema because I'm probably supposed to be all fuckin' geeked out about seeing her in this movie, only I'm not, because I don't know who she is. She's kinda like Michelle Rodriguez in that she's a tad butchy as an action gal, but I'm sure she has definite hottening-up potential if she cleaned up, got herself a nice dress, and found herself a man who will appreciate her for the delicate flower inside -- which sounds kinda pervy, but I didn't mean it that way.

I know Stallone is old now, but it didn't really hit me until watching this film that the motherfucker looks really old, like he doesn't look so much like Stallone anymore and the way-too-dark hair implants are kinda distracting and I swear some close-up shots look like they were softened up in post or maybe the projectionist's heavy breathing from looking at all the manly beef was fogging up the glass and it just looked that way.

The old look must be getting popular, because Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis show up here wearing that same facial fashion; Arnold's hairline is not what it used to be and his flat-top is less a overpopulated city and more of a brand new suburban housing development, while Willis' face is now starting to show some wear and tear. This is not me mocking them, just pointing that shit out (and for the record, they at least got to enjoy another 25 years of thick hair and smooth faces, whereas my shit started going south a couple years ago FUCK YOU GOD I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE 25 FOREVER), because I realize I'm (we're) probably going through the same shit that moviegoers way back in the day went through while watching guys like John Wayne get old. I mean, Wayne was already old (not to mention dead) when I first knew about that guy, Charles Bronson was never a pretty boy, and Clint Eastwood was already kinda getting there, so I never felt reminded of my own fleeting existence on this planet like I'm being reminded now by watching these 3 dudes slowly succumb to the realities of time. Shit, even Crank McTransporter is showing some age here.

Perhaps Stallone is starting to feel his age and didn't want to spread out his energy by wearing different hats on this project (besides, he's busy enough wearing that fuckin' beret), so he got someone else to direct and farmed out the writing gigs to some other dudes and only took a co-screenwriting credit this time. The other writers consist of the dude who wrote 16 Blocks and the guy who wrote Space Cowboys, the latter making total fuckin' sense because that's a movie about a bunch of oldsters doing some young man shit and doing that shit right. Take that, you young bastards with your hair and your clothes and your civil rights for gays. 

Simon West directed this, and I thought I was supposed to hate him because of that awful Tomb Raider movie, not because of Con Air (which I thought was fun) or The General's Daughter (which I liked in a pulpy airplane read sort-of-way), which apparently everyone else hates him for. I was kinda underwhelmed by his work on The Mechanic remake but I thought he did a good job here; while the first film's action was a blend of shakycam, epileptic editing, and goofy CGI, the action in the sequel is a bit more old school with a lot more tripods and dollies being employed and the cuts even have some occasional rhythm, just like a honky being forced to dance at gunpoint by Dolemite.

There's a part in the opening sequence where Jet Li owns a bunch of dudes with the use of a frying pan, and it's mostly done in one long dolly shot. Now compare that to the fights in the first one, where at times it felt like every single move had it's own camera set-up and was cut so quick that it made a motherfucker feel like he or she was having an acid flashback to that one time he or she was fighting Gary Daniels under some South American dictator's crib, rather than watching someone fight Gary Daniels under some South American dictator's crib. I wonder if the change of style was Stallone answering the critiques of the first film (even if he didn't direct the sequel, I'm sure he had a strong creative pimp hand), or maybe even Simon West himself put his foot down and said Fuck That Shit, I want people to understand what's going on -- but not too much, because I am Simon West, after all.

The cinematography is a lot more atmospheric and textured, which I dug. It's got that Eastern European direct-to-video blueish tint for most of it, but D.P. Shelly Johnson makes up for it by employing lots of shafts of light through smoke, like Tony Scott used to do back in the day (then Tony Scott left that faithful companion and hooked up with that harlot mistress that is the 360 Dolly Shot). To me, this one looked more "classical" in its style, just because it wasn't being predominately shot in the way most action films today are shot. Not every movie has to be shot like The Bourne Supremacy, but you know how it is, that movie was a hit so obviously that's what the audience wants to see so let's make every other action movie ape that shit, but you really have to be Paul Greengrass or some-fuckin-body to pull that shit off right. Shit, some would argue that even Greengrass didn't get it right.

Muthafuckin' Jean Claude Van Damme shows up as the main villain (named "Vilain", pronounced "Vi-lane"), and I really dug him here. He's really good playing such an unlikable prick; he's the kind of guy who wears sunglasses most of the time, even though it really isn't necessary -- and he knows it. That's the kind of asshole he is. Even his body language is all Euro-Cunty and it's obvious my man is having a blast acting this way. And why not? He's been given a big role in a huge action film that's actually gonna play in theaters all over the world, rather than just a few select markets before hitting the Redbox, which has been the fate for most of his films for the past few years. He even gets to pull off some of those kicks that deliver maximum Van Dammage to people. The only way that shit would've been more full of Win is if they cut to multiple angles of those kicks, like in the good ol' days. Also, I would've appreciated one of those slow-motion stretched out yells he'd give out while delivering said multiple-angled kicks. But you can't have everything.

Scott Adkins plays Vilain's Number Two and he's fun to watch here with his bad accent. If you don't know who Scott Adkins is, then you just don't know, but don't kick yourself over it. His role is about as (not so) big as Gary Daniels' similar part in the first flick, and like that dude, he gets to have a nice fight scene near the end -- which ends in a manner that may or may not be an intentional tribute to a particular death in a rather infamous Steven Seagal film. It's like the filmmakers thought that since they'll probably never get Seagal in the third one (because of some drama between Fats Aikido and the producers of this film), the best they can do is jack a death from one of his flicks.

Also, both Van Damme and Adkins look like the main bosses from some 16-bit Final Fight/Streets of Rage type of game. This is a plus, in my book.

My favorite character here is Gunner, played by Dolph Lundgren; he's recovered from whatever near-psychosis he had going on in the last one and is now kind of the goofy comic relief, which means that he's the only Expendable who received any character development between films. He has a couple moments that I can only describe as Oh, Dolph! moments and as a result, he's a lot better here than he was in part one. They even mix in some real life Dolph stuff into his character by not only bringing up his Swedish heritage, but his former life as a Fulbright scholar with a master's degree in chemical engineering.

Which brings up another thing about this flick; there are a lot of jokey references to past performances and/or real life shit with these actors. (There's also a ton of mainstream film soundtrack standards in this film. If you've ever heard a song in a movie, it's probably in this film as well.) Remember that moment in Tango & Cash where Kurt Russell says something to Sly about having coffee & Danish, and Sly responds with "I hate Danish" and we were all supposed to laugh because in real life Stallone had recently divorced Dane Brigitte Nielsen? I guess Stallone thought that this film needed a lot more of that, so in this film we have to accept the most awkward, shoehorned callbacks to taglines as funny.

And you know what? It is funny, in the way that the lame jokes your grandfather told you were funny -- funny because he thinks they're funny. Either that or Gramps was the original Anti-Comedian, one who could show these Tim & Eric and Neil Hamburger whippersnappers a thing or two about a thing or two. There's also an odd moment during one of the fight scenes, where it looks like it's going to end after a very brief scuffle, and then one of the fighters says something like "Is that it? What a ripoff!" which might be some kind of meta-comment on what the audience might have been thinking at that moment or I'm just looking way too much into what was probably just a throwaway line.

One reference/joke managed to step across the border from Lame into Genuinely Funny; Chuck Norris shows up for no real good reason other than the filmmakers thought it would be awesome to see Chuck Norris show up (and they're right; the audience I saw it with -- myself included -- cheered when his character arrived). For some reason, they play the theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly whenever he's in a scene -- which I guess means that they'll play the theme to The Delta Force if they manage to score Eastwood for the third one. Anyway, he gives a line during his first appearance which is a reference to those Chuck Norris Facts, and I swear, the way he delivers that line is quite possibly the greatest performance in all of Mr. Norris' career -- which I understand isn't saying much given that it's Chuck Norris, graduate of the Acting School for Lumber, but I thought it sounded perfect coming from him.

With these Expendable flicks, I think a lot of people wanted something more akin to a Walter Hill or John McTiernan or Paul Verhoeven movie in terms of action storytelling quality and they were disappointed; in other words, they wanted Terminator 2 and got Commando instead. Except I liked Commando, and judging by that standard, I liked The Expendables part 1 and I think the sequel is a definite improvement; the story is still something that is just as rote as tales told by previous Millenium Films/Nu Image productions made as far back as the mid-90s for a tiny fraction of the budget, but the filmmaking is better and the action is bigger and includes even more bloody ownage than its predecessor (but far less Jet Li -- he's to The Expendables 2 what Margot Kidder was to Superman III -- I'm just trying to save you from disappointment if that's who you came to see).

It really comes down to this -- there's a shot during the climax where Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis fill the entire 2.35:1 frame, standing side by side, blasting away the opposition with their automatic rifles and shotguns. That's all I ever wanted to see since I was a kid, these dudes working together in solving the world's problems in the only way we as human beings have been solving problems since time immemorial -- by killing the shit out of other human beings. And with that gloriously composed shot, that's what I got with The Expendables 2. Fuckin' A.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fangs a lot

The Liebster Award, it's called, and I got it from the homegirl Erin over at Seven Doors to Cinema. Why thank you, Erin. Fangs. I'm gonna copy/paste what she copy/pasted about the why & how of this award, this Liebster Award:

-->I know these ‘viral/chain letter’ awards are all just a bit of fun and dismissed by some people, but I feel if someone has gone to the effort to think of my site as a nomination and set some questions, the least I can do is answer them and post it up, linking back to them as a way of thanks and maybe shedding some light on myself and other bloggers in the process, which is what these awards are really all about, getting to know our community a little better.
Yeah, that sounds about right. According to the rules of this award, I have to:

1) Post eleven things about myself.
2) Answer the eleven questions the person giving the award has set
    for me.
3) Choose eleven people to award and send them a link to my post.
OK, here goes (I noticed Erin went with movie-related stuff, so that's what I'll probably do):

1. I like but don't love the original Star Wars trilogy. Having said that, it's been a long while, so perhaps it's time to watch them again and find out if my feelings change for the better, worse, or don't change at all.

2. On a sorta related note, it wasn't until I first watched Pulp Fiction that I got that same wonderful HOLY SHIT THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE EVAAAARRR feeling that I'm sure many a Star Wars fan got when they were first exposed to the Force.

3. I used to make mix DVDs for the people in my life, because I used to give a shit and had that kind of time. Usually they were double or triple features with trailers or commercials or other shit that the receiver of said mix DVD would appreciate. Since they were usually made from VHS movies or Laserdiscs I owned (or rented), the quality was pretty good.

4. I made a movie when I was 11 called Catzilla, starring my black cat, General. Yeah, the color is important, that's why I mentioned it. It mainly consisted of my cat slumping over and bathing itself between my badly-made model buildings while I pushed toy cars or lowered down toy helicopters on a string towards her, and then cutting to close-ups of me or one of my friends sitting on a folding chair pretending to drive/fly said vehicles. All this drama played to the tape-recorded scores of Darkman and Batman Returns, although on occasion during the cat shots you might hear me in the background doing variations of DUN DUN DUN because I'm an idiot. Our characters were all so freaked out about the giant disinterested cat in our path. I put it down on an SLP tape containing the HBO/Cinemax recordings of Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight and the Jay Leno/Pat Morita buddy cop film Collision Course because classics belong together. I don't know what happened to that goddamn tape. If you happen to find it, give it back. It's mine.

5. The first film I remember seeing in a movie theater was The Neverending Story. Flying dog FTW.

6. The first film I watched on DVD was The Assignment, starring Aidan Quinn and Donald Sutherland, which I had rented. My first purchase was Wild Things, and it was upon that viewing that I realized the marvelous technology that is the Digital Versatile Disc.

7. I had an honest-to-goodness nervous breakdown immediately after viewing the final cut of my first feature. Eventually, I got over it and made peace with the fact that they can't all be Catzilla. Also, this.

8. You know those poor souls who are hardcore about brewing their own coffee and how much better it is than everywhere else? I'm like that about my popcorn. I don't even get popcorn at most theaters because the popcorn at these establishments suck a big fat metaphorical appendage. But I do love the popcorn at the New Beverly Cinema and the Landmark Nuart. New Bev is cheaper, though, so that edges out the latter. And while Nuart can't compete price-wise, they do offer pitchers of water in the lobby, so you can step out during a lull and fill up on some H20 while winking at the concession stand girl with the distinct voice, creeping her out.

8b. Speaking of those theaters, my first New Bev film was a double-feature of Straw Dogs and Marathon Man, back in '99. My first Nuart film was the re-release of the original Solaris, back in '02.

9. At one point I owned five copies of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead; the VHS Thorn-Emi release, the first Anchor Bay "flipper" DVD of the extended cut, the '99 "anniversary" release that was a kind of hybrid cut of both the extended and theatrical versions, a VHS dub from the Japanese laserdisc of the Argento edit, and finally, the '05 Ultimate Edition dvd set. You see, I like that movie.

10. The riffing was better in the later seasons of MST3k, but personality-wise, I'm more of a Joel guy than a Mike guy. TV's Frank owns them all, though.

11. I started with cinematic sacrilege and I will close out with it as well: As much as I like This Is Spinal Tap, I gotta say I think Fear of a Black Hat is better in my humblest of humble opinions.

Now, to answer the 11 questions I was given: 

1. Why do you think cops in horror movies are always so reluctant to try to catch the killer? I’m watching Edge of the Axe right now and the sheriff is a useless ass, but it seems to be a theme in many horror movies. 

Because to catch the killer immediately would mean moving on the next case and possibly dealing with someone even worse, requiring harder work. Fuck that shit, I'll take my sweet ass time trying to find whoever is chopping up all these comely coeds. I'm not getting paid enough for this shit and I'm two weeks from retirement anyway.

2. Name a minor horror character you like, preferably one who has almost no bearing on the plot and who seems to be in the film just to entertain in a WTF way. 

Aside from Random Kung-Fu Guy from Pieces, I'm pretty sure Jack Black was having fun at the film's expense with his portrayal of Dreadlocked Pot-Smoking Douchebag in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

3. Is there a horror villain you root for? Difficulty: no Freddy Krueger.

Hmm. Jason would be as obvious as Freddy, right? If it's a teen slasher, chances are I'm rooting for the bad guy.

4. Who would win in a fight between Christopher Lee as Dracula and Christopher Lee as Frankenstein’s monster?


5. What movie character do you have a crush on?

Shakma from Shakma.

6. Is there a horror movie that you think absolutely goes too far?

No. But I get annoyed when a movie only focuses on being as extreme as possible while forgetting to have a screenplay with a story and characters the audience would give a shit about. Then the filmmakers crow about how the bad reviews are a result of the movie being too hardcore. No, your film got bad reviews because it sucks, regardless of how much blood and anguish you put in the motherfucker.

7. What is your favorite song from an 80s movie?

I can't narrow the shit down, lady, I love too many of them. But recently I watched Warrior of the Lost World in its original non-MST3k version, and there's this really cheesy song near the end (the scene where Robert Ginty gets some sugar from Persis Khambatta) with some female vocalist warbling about god knows what and it's Good Times for my ears.

8. What weapon would you want most in a zombie siege?

One of those movie guns that never runs out of ammo. And an army of zombie fodder to slow those flesh-eating bastards down while I head for the hills.
9. What movie’s ending would you rewrite?

As far as horror/slasher films go, I'd probably rewrite the end to The House on Sorority Row. Don't know what I'd come up with, I just know the end was pretty lame compared to everything that preceded it.

10. What is your favorite moment in which a movie totally rips off another movie?

Probably the last shot in Raising Cain, which as far as I'm concerned was probably the result of Brian De Palma watching a certain Dario Argento film and going Bingo!

11. What movie did you learn the most from, and what did you learn? Either a serious answer or a facetious one will do.
El Mariachi. It taught me early on that it's possible to go out there and make a film with little to no resources, and that there's more than one way to get things done, not just the way it's been done forever. Now here's a video with a dog in it:

Ok, now to pass this award on to 11 other people:

Scarlett Johansson
Brian Wilson
Mr. T
Gertrude Stein
Classy Freddie Blassie
Tina Fey
Quentin Tarantino
Charlotte Brontë
Frank Zappa
Amy Adams
Bruce Lee

I'll e-mail the questions to you guys when you get back to me, so don't leave me hanging. As for the rest of ya'll, I will see you anon.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hell is double-faced Black dudes and Peter Frampton-looking motherfuckers prancing about in G-strings

"What's up, baby!" yelled the homie leaning out the passenger side of his best friend's ride, trying to holler at one of the ladies waiting in line outside the Nuart Theatre. After receiving zero response, he reiterated with "I SAID WHAT'S UP BAY-BEEEE!" and then the car was gone to whatever awesome most likely alcohol/rape-based event those motherfuckers were going to. Anyway, I assume he was yelling at one of the women. Maybe he was trying to hit up some cute guy, I don't know.

What I do know is that we were all there for the midnight showing of The Apple, Menahem Golan's far out musical from the far off time of 1980. I'd never seen the film, but I knew of it from its reputation of being a classic in the WTF genre of so-bad-it's-good filmmaking; the dude behind me told his Apple-virgin lady friend that "after seeing this, you're gonna wanna buy the DVD, the VHS, the laserdisc!" Her response to that was "Now I'm afraid." A guy behind me had a paper-bagged can of the Good Stuff, and after popping the top, the people in front of me turned to glance at him like Well I Never and he almost didn't, because the line started being let into the theater, causing him to panic and gulp as much of that stuff as possible before finally placing it down on the sidewalk and declaring to his friend, "Man down!"

Inside, I saw Marc Heuck talking to two patrons, telling them that they had to see the manager about....something. I don't know. I just hear these things in quick bursts as I pass by, plus I'm drunk right now. (I never tried Buchanan's Scotch Whisky before, but now that I have, I can tell you that it does the job.) While looking for a seat, I noticed some confetti on the floor in one section near the back, which either had something to do with the Lukas Haas/Madeline Zima joint that was playing there earlier that evening or some Apple fanatic had decided to spread some Apple cheer in only one small area of the auditorium for some reason. Some of the audience peeps had on small triangular stickers on their faces, and one dude had on a skinny headband. A deep-voiced well-spoken gentlemen in a mustard and black suit walked up the aisle and pointed out some of these people, saying "I see lots of BIM marks!" and that's when I put two and two together and figured that's what the triangles were, BIM marks. As for what the fuck a BIM was, I'd find out soon enough.

One woman asked out loud to her group of buddies taking up an entire row whether The Apple was a good movie or not. "Yes!" said one friend, while another said "It's terrible", but in an agreeable tone, so I guess that tells you everything right there. She then jumped (as did I), after the voice of God yelled out "BEEEEEEE!" only it wasn't the voice of God, it was one of the Nuart dudes on-stage with a microphone. He was a fan, this Nuart man, and he told those who had never seen The Apple that we would pee our brains as a result of the experience. He then told us about the upcoming midnight shows (Battle Royale! Overboard! Weekend at Bernie's!) and that the upcoming screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark is now cancelled for whatever reason (I assume it was George Lucas being George Lucas...again) and instead, the studio was giving them The Lost World: Jurassic Park as a replacement. Because why watch one of Spielberg's best when you can watch one of his worst instead?

So, the movie. The Apple takes place in the futuristic setting of New York 1994, or at least 1994 as envisioned through super-tacky late 70's eyeballs. (At least I think it was supposed to be New York. It could've been Boston, for all I know.) In this world, people are either dressed like extras from Doctor Who circa 1972 or dudes on their way to the set of William Friedkin's Cruising or a combo of both. Here, ballers roll in souped-up motorcycles and stationwagons that look a lot more cumbersome than practical, because practicality left this world long fuckin' ago; we're talking buildings with entrances that consist of signs like "Music Dept" hanging over escalators that lead to upstairs rooms, yet they only go down. Figure that shit out, my man. Me, I'm still trying to deal with people who are down with drinking out of "BIM glasses" that are obviously vases, or that mothers push their babies in strollers that look like they were made by the same folks who built that bubble-topped motorcycle sidecar in Mad Max. I can only hope that the air system in those things work well, otherwise the infant mortality rate in 1994 must be, like, really fuckin' high. In that case, the future ain't that bad.

Now as we all know, 1994 turned out to be one of our great years for Cinema, but in this film 1994 is a time of lame-ass music that is being forced down the public's throat and the grateful public votes on this shitty music and somehow this tells the world that this awful music is the Best Music EVAR, case closed, no arguments. It's a good thing we dodged that bullet in real life and 2012 is a paradise of top notch tunes on the radio and great music videos on MTV, rather than the cesspool of soulless manufactured dreck and reality shows about nothing it could've been.

But there is hope, people, because two fresh-faced innocents from Canada have come down to compete in this worldwide song contest with a love song that eventually wins over the souls of the audience -- until some fey foreigner in charge of Everything orders his way-past-fey Number Two man to throw a wrench into the proceedings by playing some micro-cassette filled with high-pitched squealing that apparently causes the audience to forget the lovely music they were falling for and now they're like Fuck That Noise We're Giving This Shit Two Thumbs Down. By the way -- in addition to colorful bling-bling all over his self (and teeth), the Number Two guy wears a huge star & crescent earring that may or may not be some kind of DUN DUN DUN TERRORIST visual cue telling us that homeboy is not One Of Us or something. I don't know.

The fey foreigner is named Mr. Boogalow (which no one can agree on how to pronounce -- some go with "Loo" for the last syllable, while others stick with "Low") and he's kinda like the taller, leaner, Semitic answer to Swan from Phantom of the Paradise crossed with all the corporations that control everything in this country/world/universe. He runs Boogalow International Music, a music company that somehow manages to have its fingers in everything -- media, food, even a government-mandated daily BIM workout hour where every citizen must stop what he or she is doing (including surgeons and firemen) and rock out.

So big is BIM, that people are even declaring their allegiance by placing triangular stickers (BIM marks) on their faces, and those who refuse to wear the mark of the BIM get ticketed for it by The Man. But at least The Man's cool enough to let you wear it anywhere on your body and not just your face, which left me thinking that if I was living in that world and wanted to be rebellious, I'd just stick a couple BIMs on my fat hairy asscheeks, then that way whenever some blocky-costumed police officer ordered me to show him my BIM mark, I can just moon that fuckin' pig while displaying good citizenship. But with my luck, he'd probably call in for backup and here comes Henry Silva and his Disinfestation Annihilation Squad and all of a sudden I'm getting the barbecue treatment for my smart-assery. That's what I get for not leaving the Bronx.

Anyway, Boogalow knows what's up; when you're a Bad Motherfucker who's Running Shit, and you have any kind of force (however small it may be) that threatens the tranquility of the Good Thing you got going on, you don't destroy it -- you buy it out. That's what he does to a journalist who gets a little too journalistic about BIM's endeavors, and that's what he plans to do with our Canadian Innocents. He offers each of them recording contracts that promise fame, fortune, and the whole nine -- but of course they only have 20 minutes to sign the line which is dotted, so it's not like they have time to read the fuckin' thing, let alone bring a lawyer into the proceedings.

It turns out that there's a whole Adam & Eve thing going on with our Canadian Innocents, and Mr. Boogelow is the snake in this garden of Eden that is the German locations being passed off as New York Of The Future. In case you don't get it, Golan then gives us a musical sequence where the Male Canadian Innocent envisions Mr. Boogalow as the Devil (albeit a glittery, fey, Dracula-looking Devil with one horn) and his entire crew and stable of music-making bitches are making like Deney Terrio in a fiery netherworld. He tries to convince his fellow Canadian Innocent not to sign with BIM, but c'mon, this is Catherine Mary Stewart we're talking about and Catherine Mary Stewart will do whatever Catherine Mary Stewart wants to do and you can't tell her otherwise, especially if you're some vaguely Ralph Garman-looking motherfucker who sounds kinda like Paul Koslo.

The actors are all game for these proceedings (did not expect to see Miriam Margoyles and Diplomatic Immunity! from Lethal Weapon 2 but here they are), and the choreography during the musical sequences is top notch (even if what they're actually doing is pretty fuckin' goofy in context), but it's all in the service of a ridiculous ninety-minutes of WTF-ery. You have these (mostly) catchy songs with fucked-up lyrics (there's one song called "Coming" that might as well be called "Put Your Penis In My Vagina And Ejaculate Inside"), you have the hilarious costumes and production design (too many male g-strings for my taste, and that Hell set is straight out of a sitcom), and it's all coming from Menahem Golan's goofy-as-fuck mise-en-scene that stems from the deepest grounds of sincerity (of which only Great Success or Massive Fail can grow -- guess which one grows out of this film).

I mean, I could be wrong, but I think Golan was really coming from a I Want To Move The Audience state-of-mind with the ending -- which of course makes the ending the most hilariously wrong part of the entire picture. This is also one of those movies that sucks the viewer into an interdimensional portal between Meant To Be Funny and Not Meant To Be Funny and then leaves you stranded without a fuckin' map or compass or whatever the fuck you'd need to figure out which way is North. As a result, I laughed quite a bit at this flick, but I kinda felt for it, if that makes sense. Best example would be a scene where our main characters are separated by distance and situation, yet manage to sing longingly towards each other during a rainstorm -- dramatically I didn't really see anything wrong with the idea of that scene, but the execution (not to mention the tools provided for the job) falls on the wrong side of the Good/Bad spectrum.

OK, I feel like passing out, and besides, this is one of those joints you want to go into fresh and just let happen to your unsuspecting ass, so I'm gonna wrap this up by saying that if you like not-quite-Disco music, fey Devils, old hippies, surprise vampires, Yiddish-speaking landladies who cure life's ills with chicken soup, and turning to your friend while watching a movie and giving him-or-her the WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING look, then you'll definitely want to take a bite out of this Apple!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to ask someone to beat the shit out of me for that "take a bite out of this Apple" part, I mean even Gene Shalit would've been like "Bitch, are you for real?" after reading that shit. I mean, really! I'll just redo the ending: If you want to see a really goofy cult musical, look for The Apple on Netflix Instant or rent it from a cool video store and may God have mercy on your soul or something like that, I don't know, drinking scotch on an empty stomach wasn't the best plan, I gotta go.