Archive for the Just Plain Bad Category

Screaming Streaming: CASA DE MI PADRE (2012)

Posted in 2013, Comedies, Just Plain Bad, Michael Arruda Reviews, Parodies, R-Rated Comedy, Screaming Streaming with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2013 by knifefighter

SCREAMING STREAMING!
Streaming Video Movie Review:  CASA DE MI PADRE (2012)
By Michael Arruda

casa-de-mi-padre poster

I get it

Will Ferrell has made so many movies and has achieved so much success, he’s at the point in his career where he can do whatever he wants, like making movies that are experimental and offbeat, and stand little chance of making money at the box office.

I get it.  But that doesn’t mean I liked CASA DE MI PADRE, a movie that is indeed offbeat—it’s in Spanish with English subtitles— yet isn’t all that funny, nor is it much of an action movie.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like the idea of a quirky movie, but it’s got to work.  This movie doesn’t work.

In CASA DE MI PADRE (2012), now available on Streaming Video, Armando (Will Ferrell) is the black sheep of his family.  His father Miguel (Pedro Armendariz, Jr.) is always calling him stupid, and while he does work on his father’s ranch, we see him spending his days hanging around with his buddies.  When his brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns home with his beautiful fiancée Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), he’s welcomed with open arms by his father, but it turns out Raul is really a drug dealer who’s at war with the local drug lord, Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), who happens to be Sonia’s uncle.

Onza’s goons shoot up Raul’s and Sonia’s wedding, creating a bloodbath in the one stylish scene in the movie, leaving Armando to seek vengeance against Onza and to save his family’s honor

I kept waiting for CASA DE MI PADRE to be funny.  I’m still waiting.

I don’t think I laughed once, and that’s no joke.  Not a good sign for a comedy. Sure, it’s possible I could have missed the point.  I could have missed the good intentions of what Ferrell and company were trying to do here.  I’ll admit that.  Then again, CASA DE MI PADRE just might be a bad movie.

Ferrell plays it straight here.  Even though his character Armando is supposed to be a simpleton, he’s really not.  He’s no goofy idiot bumbling his way through situations a la a Mexican Inspector Clouseau.  He’s supposed to be an honorable man with a touch of spiritualism, a hero.  Gag.

I suppose the joke is that it’s Will Ferrell and he’s playing it straight in a Mexican action movie.  I suppose this is supposed to be funny.  So, if you’re into seeing a serious Ferrell play a Mexican farmer battling a Mexican drug lord, and you think that’s humorous, then this might be the movie for you. 

For a comedy, the jokes just aren’t there.  The screenplay by Andrew Steele is about as funny as Taco Bell ad.  I’ll take that back. I’ve seen funnier Taco Bell ads.  In all fairness, I’d guess that the screenplay accomplishes what the writer and director and Ferrell wanted it to accomplish.  There doesn’t seem to be much effort or interest in creating a straight comedy

Instead, the interest seems to be in creating an authentic Mexican action movie, and to get laughs simply through weird scenes and offbeat dialogue, as in, let’s have Ferrell deliver these serious lines with a straight face, and won’t this be funny! 

Here’s my answer:  no.

Director Matt Piedmont hasn’t made much of an action movie either.  There’s one decent action scene, the bloodbath at the wedding, but that’s it.  The rest of the action is incredibly flat.  So, without comedy, without action, you’re left with a Spanish language drama starring Will Ferrell, the type of thing you’d catch on your local Spanish language TV channel.

Genesis Rodriguez is drop dead gorgeous and in all seriousness is the only reason to see this movie.  But do you really want to sit through 90 minutes of CASA DE MI PADRE just to see Rodriguez?  Heck, even her nude love scene is ruined by frequent shots of Will Ferrell’s naked butt.  Yes, sadly, you will see more of Ferrell’s naked butt than Rodriguez’s.  What were the filmmakers thinking? 

Genesis Rodriguez - the only reason to see CASA DE MI PADRE.

Genesis Rodriguez – the only reason to see CASA DE MI PADRE.

I honestly felt as if the joke was on the audience.  Let’s make this as unfunny as possible and see what people say about it.  It’s as if they wanted to see our faces and laugh.

There are also some weird spiritual aspects to the story, including a talking mountain lion, which is so fake looking it makes the TWILIGHT werewolves look good!  It looks like a Muppet reject.  This lion talks to Ferrell and raises him from the dead.  Huh?  You know, maybe if you’ve had a few drinks before you see this one—.

There’s also some goofy songs sung by Ferrell and Rodriguez, but these miss the mark as well

In fact, the whole film misses the mark.  It’s so bad, I wish I hadn’t seen it

I chose to review CASA DE MI PADRE because it was an R-rated comedy, something we review regularly here at Cinema Knife Fight.  It’s about as far removed from traditional R-rated comedies as you can get.  It’s rated R because of its one nude scene (hey, is that still Will Ferrell’s butt?  Somebody make it stop!)  There’s also that one bloody scene at the wedding, but that’s about it folks.  The rest of the movie is hopelessly lame.

But didn’t I like the quirkiness of the whole thing?  The deadpan style of Will Ferrell?  His goofy buddies?  About those buddies— when the funniest thing they do is laugh, you know you’re in trouble.  Again, I felt as if they were laughing at the audience.  Yep, the joke is on us. 

Didn’t I like the scene with the severed hand?  You mean the hand that looked like it was bought from Toys R Us?  But wasn’t that funny?  That it looked fake?  No. 

Didn’t I like the strange camera angles?  The weird props?  The fake-looking mountain lion?  The mannequin?  You mean, the stuff that looked like it belonged in a Pee Wee Herman movie?  You know, I might have, if Pee Wee Herman had been around, but sadly, he’s not.

This is all a roundabout way of saying what you already know, that this movie simply didn’t work for me, not on any level.

As a result, I give CASA DE MI PADRE a whopping 0 Knives.

Don’t waste your time on this one.  Save yourself the torture and have a Dos Equis instead.

—END–

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives CASA DE MI PADRE ZERO KNIVES!

Zero

 

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SCARY MOVIE 5 (2013)

Posted in 2013, Cinema Knife Fights, Comedies, Garbage, Just Plain Bad, Michael Arruda Reviews, Spoofs with tags , , , , on April 15, 2013 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT:  SCARY MOVIE 5 (2013)
By Michael Arruda

Scary-Movie-5

(THE SCENE: A cabin in the woods.  MICHAEL ARRUDA walks through the interior, inspecting the bloody carnage from some horrifying incident.  Blood is spattered on the walls, severed body parts are strewn about the floor, and the room is littered with busted and broken furniture.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA (looking things over):  I guess I’m too late for THE HANGOVER PART III cast party!  Wow, it must have been quite the shindig!  Hey look!  (picks up a small white object.)  It’s one of Stu’s teeth.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to be reviewing THE HANGOVER PART III today, I’m not.

Nope, I’m here today in this cabin in the woods because I’m reviewing that sorry excuse for a comedy, SCARY MOVIE 5 (2013).

(Picks up a severed arm.)

This arm is funnier than anything you’ll see in SCARY MOVIE 5.

(A severed head on the floor suddenly frowns.)

HEAD:  But that arm’s not funny at all!

MA: My point exactly.  (looks around cabin)

I sure have been spending a lot of time here lately, in this cabin in the woods.  L.L. SOARES and I were just here last week reviewing the EVIL DEAD remake, and I’m back here again for today’s review. I wish I were here under better circumstances.

HEAD:  I’m glad you’re here.  I could use the company.

MA (to HEAD):  So, what happened here, anyway?  Things must have gotten violent.

HEAD:  Why do you say that?

MA:  Well, for starters, you’re missing your body!

HEAD:  Oh, I’ve been without my body for years.  I arrived here this way.

MA:  You did?

HEAD:  Yeah, someone at the party said they wanted a little head.  (Drum beat)  So, here I am!

MA:  On that note, I should get started on today’s review. We’ll talk more later.

HEAD:  I’ll be right here.  It’s not like I can leave.

MA:  Anyway, I’m here in this cabin because today’s movie, SCARY MOVIE 5 (2013) involves a place just like this, although strangely, one of the movies it didn’t spoof, was the aptly titled THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2011).

I’m flying solo this week, as L.L. Soares is off on another assignment—which is code for “I’m not seeing that f—cking lame ass movie so do it yourself Arruda!” —so here I am, facing the dubious task of bringing you today’s review of SCARY MOVIE 5.

Here goes:  as if you didn’t already know, SCARY MOVIE 5 sucks.  Don’t see it.

Okay, you can go home now.

HEAD:  Are you leaving already?  Because if you are, would you mind giving me a lift to the closest bus station?

Scary Movie 5 poster #2

MA:  No, I’m not leaving already.  That was just a joke.

Even SCARY MOVIE 5 deserves an honest review.

HEAD: Okay, but when you do leave, can you take me to that bus station?

MA:  Sure.

HEAD:  I know it’s early, but I’d like to get a head start on the traffic.

MA:  Stop, all right?  Just stop.

Now, where was I?   Yes, the review.

Seriously, unless you’re a diehard fan of the series, and I’m sure there is one of you out there, you have no business seeing this movie.  Avoid it like the plague.  But you’re smart enough to already know that.

What’s the best part about SCARY MOVIE 5?  That Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan only appear in one scene, and it’s the pre-credit sequence.  You get them out of the way quickly.

Not that I have anything against Sheen or Lohan, but it’s obvious that they’re only in this movie to exploit their real life personal problems, which I find sad.  Keep your personal lives out of the movies, thank you very much!

Unfortunately, what follows after Sheen and Lohan isn’t much better.

SCARY MOVIE 5 spoofs a bunch of horror movies, obviously, and it uses as its framework the recent horror film MAMA (2013) as a young married couple Dan (Simon Rex) and Jody (Ashley Tisdale) agree to take care of Dan’s brother’s kids after they were found abandoned in a cabin in the woods.

So, that’s the framework for this one, but to say that this movie has a plot is saying a lot.

I will say that the scene where Snoop Dog and his buddy first discover the little girls in the cabin is a funny one, and one of the few times I laughed.

HEAD: I liked that scene, too.

MA:  So, you saw the movie?

HEAD:  What?  You think I’m not allowed into movie theaters or something?

MA:  I didn’t say that.

HEAD:  Of course, I do go early, so I can be at the head of the line.

MA (groans):  Enough! You’re giving me a headache.

HEAD:  You said that one.

MA: Moving right along—.

In addition to MAMA, the film pokes fun at the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies, and the jokes here are some of the worst.  Most involve the overweight housekeeper, in gags that are tasteless and vulgar. Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mind tasteless and vulgar jokes, but they have to make me laugh.  These didn’t.

The film strangely parodies RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011) as Dan’s day job is to work with Caesar and his fellow apes.  These scenes were the most disappointing of all.  The material here is ripe for laughter, and yet time and time again, the writers drop the ball.

While Dan is busy training Caesar, Jody trains to be a ballerina in scenes spoofing BLACK SWAN (2010), in yet another series of scenes that constantly misfire.

There’s even a pointless sequence lampooning INCEPTION (2010) which seems out of place here and is about as funny as the real movie.

HEAD: Was INCEPTION a comedy?

MA:  No.  It was a thriller.

HEAD:  Then, why did you— oh, I get it now.  (laughs).

MA:  Probably the funniest sequence in the movie is a spoof of EVIL DEAD (2013), where Jody and her friend take turns reading from the Book of the Dead, which causes some comical results.  But other than this, I didn’t laugh much at all.

I’ve heard the argument that films like this shouldn’t be criticized because they’re supposed to be stupid.  Really?  I thought they were supposed to be funny?  And that’s the problem I have with this film. You want to spoof something, do a flippin good job, or don’t do it at all!

Pat Proft and David Zucker wrote this movie, and these guys have a ton of comedic credits, including THE NAKED GUN films, AIRPLANE! (1980) and a bunch of other funny parodies.   They should know better.

What’s going on here is lazy writing and taking the easy way out.   It’s obvious to me that these jokes were written with the mindset that even if it’s just the tiniest bit humorous, it’s okay.  The film plays like a first draft from beginning to end.

So many of the jokes in this movie, had they been properly set up and thought out, could have been very funny.  There’s no reason in the world why a movie like SCARY MOVIE 5 couldn’t be a laugh riot.  But it’s not, because the jokes just aren’t there.

You’re telling me that you’re spoofing the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies and the best you can do is relentlessly make fun of the housekeeper?  That’s it?  That’s all you’ve got?  You can’t do any better than the lowest common denominator of humor—crude bathroom jokes, vulgar sex jokes—and rehash it over and over?  That’s spoofing?  I don’t think so.  That’s laziness.

Some of the best parodies take specific scenes and have fun with them.  That sort of thing is severely lacking here.  And if the material isn’t there, if these films have been satirized to death already, then maybe you shouldn’t be making a SCARY MOVIE 5.

The cast can’t save this one either.  While Ashley Tisdale is watchable as Jody, there was something about Simon Rex’s performance as Dan that I found irritating.  He was over the top silly and goofy without being funny.  I have to admit, I strongly disliked most of his scenes, and since he’s in most of the movie, that’s not good.

The rest of the cast either overacts or mails it in, looking as if they’re just there to have fun as opposed to work and actually create something funny.

SCARY MOVIE 5 is rated PG-13, and honestly, this one looks as if it was originally intended to be Rated R and then edited down to a PG-13 rating.  Not that it would have made much of a difference.

In one gag, for instance, as Dan and Jody tour the medical facility where their young girls are being cared for, they pass a window where they see two babes showering and soaping up their bodies, and these babes are wearing bathing suits.  Now that makes a lot of sense.

HEAD:  Who showers wearing a bathing suit?

MA:  My point exactly.

HEAD:  That was a lame scene!  I felt cheated.

MA:  Well, yeah.  I felt that way after the first five minutes of this one.

I almost gave this movie 0 Knives, but admittedly I did laugh a couple of times, and I did enjoy that EVIL DEAD scene.  So, I’ll be generous today, but still, that’s pretty sad to find only one or two laughs in a movie that is supposed to be a comedy.

I give SCARY MOVIE 5 one knife.

Do yourself a favor and see something else this weekend.  Okay, I’m out of here.

HEAD:  Hey, don’t leave me.  Hey!  A little help?

MA (sighs):  Sure, buddy.  What is it?  You want me to drop you off at the bus station?

HEAD:  Actually, I’ve changed my mind.  I feel like washing my hair.  Want to do me a huge favor and reach into that duffel bag and hand me that bottle of Head and Shoulders?

MA:  You know, I’ve had enough of these lame puns.  You’re on your own.  I’m outta here. (Exits.)

HEAD:  Gee, wasn’t he a heady bastard!

—END—

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda

(EDITOR’s NOTE: While I didn’t see this one, I can say that, based on Michael’s review, A HAUNTED HOUSE, which came out earlier this year, sounds a lot funnier than SCARY MOVIE 5. So if you really have to see a horror movie spoof movie this year—you’d be better off seeing that one. It has a lame title, but at least it has some laughs and I gave it a decent review. Check out the review here. ~LLS)

Michael Arruda gives SCARY MOVIE 5 ~ one knife!

Meals for Monsters Feeds THE LAUGHING DEAD (1989)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1980s Horror, 2013, Bad Acting, Evil Spirits, Jenny Orosel Columns, Just Plain Bad, Meals for Monsters, Occult, Reanimated Corpses, Zombies with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2013 by knifefighter

MEALS FOR MONSTERS: THE LAUGHING DEAD (1989)
Movie Review and Recipes by Jenny Orosel

The Laughing Dead 1989 online

There are horror movie fans who can appreciate a good scare, a well-crafted look at the darkness of the human soul, perfectly paced suspense. This one is not for those fans. No, this time I present a Meals for Monsters for those of us who love garbage. Yes, you, with the TROLL 2 T-shirt, the well-worn VHS of WEASELS RIP MY FLESH, the ones who have every line of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE memorized. For those of you eagerly searching, hoping that there might be one movie left out there even worse than the ones you’ve seen before. Whatever the worst one is that you’ve seen, here is one to top them all: THE LAUGHING DEAD (1989).

A priest leads a group to explore some Aztec ruins. The cast of characters include some obnoxious New Agers, an obnoxious runaway, a couple of obnoxious frat-boy-style tourists, and an obnoxious former nun kicked out when she gave birth to a now-obnoxious teenager. Oh, and that teenager is the secret love-child of said priest in question. Luckily, the former nun kept the parentage quiet so, while she was defrocked and defamed, he happily got to keep his post (something which embittered her to no end). Did I mention the priest was no prize either? They get to the ruins and come to find that an evil doctor is trying to bring the evil Death God to life, and in the process, raises a bunch of the dead. Cue battle for the fate of humanity.

How painful is this to watch? Let me count the ways: poor performances, poor dialogue, poor pacing. Not a single character is remotely likeable, so there’s no one to root for. And by the time they’re killed off, you’ve got such a ‘blah’ feeling about the movie as a whole, it’s hard to bring yourself to cheer. What makes it even more painful is that the director should have known how to make a halfway decent fright flick. THE LAUGHING DEAD was directed by horror writer and one-time Horror Writers Association president S.P. Somtow. So it’s not like this was directed by a sixteen year old who’d never crafted a story before. And the majority of actors aren’t professional…actors, that is. They’re writers, which makes for some interesting trivia (Tim Powers, Bruce Barlow, Gregory Frost, Wendy Webb, Ed Bryant and Forrest J. Ackerman all show their faces), but let’s face it: unless you’ve seen them around or at conventions, you’ll have no idea who’s who, especially the ones in zombie attire. Playing “spot the writer” isn’t as much fun when you wouldn’t recognize them in front of you.

There are a few things you can do when encountering a movie this painfully bad. You could block it from memory and pretend you never witnessed it. You could dedicate a small portion of your life warning others to stay as far away as possible. Or you can have a party with your other bad film fan friends and share your pain. And what better way than throwing an Endurance Party? You all gather around to watch the flick, and each person who groans, curses at the screen, or runs screaming from the room is eliminated. The last person holding in their pain wins.

Alcohol would definitely help make THE LAUGHING DEAD more enjoyable to watch. But, during an Endurance Party, that is the last thing you want to do. But what if your friends refuse to watch without some adult beverage refreshment? I recommend the Faketail. They’ll think they’re getting a good, strong drink, but they’ll be left sober enough to experience every painful frame:

THE FAKETAIL

drink

Ingredients:
Cherry Juice
Apple Juice
Gin

Directions:

Pour one part cherry juice and one part apple juice. Gently float one tablespoon of gin on top of the drink. The drink will smell like an alcoholic beverage, and for the first few sips, taste like one.

*****

I pondered making an authentic Aztec meal. After all, the movie is based on the Aztecs, right? Plantains were a staple in ancient Aztec cultures. Then I started thinking about how well-researched and historically correct the Aztec references are in THE LAUGHING DEAD, and adjusted my recipe to the movie’s level of authenticity. I present to you:

MEAT BANANA SPLITS (aka Stuffed Baked Plantains)
(Serves 3, adjust the recipe depending on how many people are in attendance.)

dinner

Ingredients:
3 green plantains
3 tbsps. Butter
1 ½ pounds various meats (I used 1/2lb taco meat, 1/2lb chicken sausage and 1/2lb pulled pork)
Salsa
Cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a slit in each plantain, through the peel, about halfway through. Stuff 1 tablespoon butter into each slit. Bake for an hour, or until the plantains soften.

Peel the plantains. Half the plantains lengthwise, using the slit as a guide. Arrange on a plate with three scoops of meat. Place the cheese directly onto the meat and top with salsa. Add a vegetable or salad for a side if you feel the need to make it a somewhat rounded meal. Otherwise, enjoy!

*****

After enduring the entirety of THE LAUGHING DEAD, a reward is definitely in order. I leave it to you whether or not the ‘drop-outs’ at your party deserve cake. Not just any cake, but…

BLEEDING CAKE

dessert

Ingredients:
1 box lemon cake mix (plus ingredients as directed on the box)
1 jar cherry jam
1 package unflavored gelatin
1 tub vanilla frosting

Directions:

Bake the cake in a 13” x 9” pan, as directed on the package. Cool in pan for an hour. Meanwhile, melt the jam down over medium heat. When it just begins to bubble, dissolve the gelatin package into the jam. Heat and stir until completely dissolved.

Using the back of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the cake of varying deepness. Spread the melted jam over the top of the cake, making sure to fill the holes. Refrigerate for an hour or until set. Spread the frosting over the cake until you can no longer see the jam layer. Can be made up to two days in advance.

I’m not normally one to advocate putting your friends through pain. But, as many other bad flick fans can attest, there’s a certain thrill at finding one that’s even worse than any you’d ever experienced. And that is one thing I can give THE LAUGHING DEAD, and one thing that makes me sad. I think I might have truly found the worst of the worst, and it’s going to be a long haul trying to top this one. And, in a sick, masochistic way, I look forward to the challenge.

© Copyright 2013 by Jenny Orosel

THE WORST MOVIES OF 2012 by L.L. Soares

Posted in 2012, 2013, 3-D, Bad Acting, Bad Situations, Based on a Video Game, Exorcism Movies, Fantasy, Faux Documentaries, Just Plain Bad, LL Soares Reviews, Sequels, Worst-Of lists with tags , , , , on January 2, 2013 by knifefighter

THE WORST FILMS OF 2012
By L.L. Soares

Well, there were lots of really good movies in 2012, but, as usual, there were some dogs as well. I think the fact that it was a lot easier writing this list – and keeping it to 10- is a good sign. There were a lot more good movies than bad ones in 2012.

These are the worst movies I saw last year.

NUMBER ONE:
SILENT HOUSE

silent-house-poster

I keep hearing the original 2010 film from Uruguay was better. That’s not hard to believe. The American remake of SILENT HOUSE was one of the worst movies I’ve had to sit through in a long time. Poor Elizabeth Olson, who was so great in MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (2011) is completely wasted in this “thriller” about a woman terrorized in her summer home by an unseen intruder (well, unseen until the end). The big gimmick here is that it was supposedly filmed in real time, all in one take. If that’s so, then it was a lot of effort for nothing. It has a stupid twist ending, involving something that should have been traumatic, but is never made believable by the awful script. It was an idea that could have been done well, but the filmmakers involved completely blew it. Laughably bad.

NUMBER TWO:
RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION (IN 3D)

Resident_evil_retribution_poster

The previous Resident Evil movie (RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE, 2010) was at least dumb fun. I was starting to think this was one of the better film series based on a video game – at least the movies were entertaining. Then the new one (RETRIBUTION) comes out in 2012, and it’s just friggin dismal. It’s more of a place holder between the previous movie and the next one than a real movie of its own, with very little plot to distinguish it, and no attempt to tie up loose ends. I walked out of the theater feeling really cheated. If nothing else, this movie convinced me that it’s time to stop making RESIDENT EVIL movies.

NUMBER THREE:
DARK SHADOWS

DarkShadows

As a kid, I used to watch the original DARK SHADOWS TV show after school every day in the late 60s/early 70s. It was extremely low-budget, and sometimes laughably bad, but they always played it straight and tried to make it a decent show. Basically a soap opera with vampires and werewolves, the main plot involved the vampire Barnabas Collins and his struggle to reunite with the reincarnated version of his lost love, Josette.   It spawned two pretty good movies at the time, too (HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS in 1970 and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS in 1971), which were clearly horror films. Then Tim Burton decided to revive the old show as a new movie. Is it a bigger budget version of the old horror show? Nope. It’s a completely asinine comedy, involving Johnny Depp as Barnabas (the role was originally played by Jonathan Frid), rising from the dead in the 1970s and experiencing culture shock when confronted with hippies and bad fashion. Made with that “wink wink” style of comedy that I can’t stand, this is easily one of the most annoying films of 2012. What a wasted opportunity to make a movie version that was truly scary. Instead, we get a moronic exercise in tedium.

NUMBER FOUR:
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2

MV5BMTcyMzUyMzY1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDQ4ODk1OA@@._V1._SY317_

You know something’s wrong when the latest TWILIGHT movie isn’t the worst movie of the year. The end of the “saga” – BREAKING DAWN – was broken into two films so the greedy studios could make more money. Meanwhile, we get more of the same crap we’ve been getting since the first film. Bella (Kristen Stewart) is now a vampire and is still in love with Edward (Robert Pattinson). The bad guys are told a lie and instead of checking it out, just attack our heroes and their family, when everything could have been resolved in a few minutes. I want to say this movie was a relief, because I knew the series was finally over, but I bet you they find a way to keep it going. Just to keep the money coming in. I want the two hours of my life I wasted on this movie back.

NUMBER FIVE:
SILENT HILL – REVELATION 3D

SilentHill

Not a good year for movies with “Silent” in their titles, I guess. And almost all of the 3D movies in 2012 were pretty lame, so this one has two strikes against it from the get go.

The original SILENT HILL movie from 2006 wasn’t great, but at least it had some interesting imagery and some strange scenes to keep it from being a complete snooze. About a journey to a surreal town/world where it’s always raining ashes and demons fight each other for power, it was actually one of the better video game-based movies. But as we learned with the RESIDENT EVIL franchise, these guys should stop while their ahead. It took six years to make this sequel, and they shouldn’t have bothered. It’s boring, incoherent, and just plain bad. Poor Pyramid Head, the strange-looking beastie from the series who deserved a better movie to appear in. Maybe it’s time to finally have a moratorium on movies based on video games.

NUMBER SIX:
UNDERWORLD AWAKENING (IN 3D)

MV5BMjAxMjc0ODk0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTc5NDQwNw@@._V1._SY317_CR0,0,214,317_

The UNDERWORLD films aren’t based on a video game, but they might as well be. Kate Beckinsdale returns as an ass-kicking vampire who has to fight werewolves and humans in what has to be one of the most boring franchises around. I hate this series. I hate it even more because Beckinsdale is hot in that leather outfit and deserves to be in a horror movie franchise that doesn’t suck. The vampires here might not sparkle like in the TWILIGHT movies, but they’re not much better. Another boring series that needs to just stop already.

NUMBER SEVEN:
THE DEVIL INSIDE

devilinside

Another “found footage” horror movie – a genre I normally enjoy. And the first half of this exorcism movie is actually pretty good, until it falls apart. A woman is making a documentary about her mother, who has committed murder while being possessed by a demon. There are a few good scenes, but they’re not enough to save the movie. Overall, it’s just too predictable and doesn’t give us anything we haven’t seen before. And then there’s the fact that the movie doesn’t really have an ending. Instead,  it ends abruptly and we’re given a URL and told to go to the website for more. I’m sorry, I don’t pay for a movie ticket to be told to check out a website. Another movie where I left the theater more than a little pissed off. You would be much better off renting the 2010 movie THE LAST EXORCISM instead. It’s another “found footage” horror flick about an exorcism, but it’s actually really good and doesn’t waste your time.

NUMBER EIGHT:
THE INBETWEENERS

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The British series this movie was based on, about four socially inept teenagers who are desperate to finally lose their virginity, is supposed to be pretty funny. Or so I’m told. But, if that’s the case, I have no idea why the movie version is so unfunny. The characters are likable enough. There’s some heartfelt scenes where you actually care about the people involved. But there are hardly any laughs. This is supposed to be a comedy. A comedy without laughs isn’t much of a success. And the fact that this was a big hit in England is kind of depressing.

NUMBER NINE:
BATTLESHIP

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The idea of making a board game into a movie is kind of dumb. The people involved with this movie were given an almost impossible task – to take this concept and run with it – and they try. But it’s a failure. Another waste of film and actors and special effects – all for nothing. Poor Taylor Kitsch. After playing the lead in a really good movie (JOHN CARTER) that was unfairly maligned, he next starred in this cinematic garbage, and any buzz he had as an up-and-coming movie star pretty much vanished. Until SAVAGES, that is. But will SAVAGES be enough to keep his career from fizzling out? 2012 must have been a real rollercoaster for poor Mr. Kitsch. As for BATTLESHIP, I hope the poor box office for this one has sunk any chances of a sequel. But no matter how awful this movie was, it was still better than the eight movies I listed before it.

NUMBER TEN:
WRATH OF THE TITANS

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Despite their budgets and the high-tech special effects, the TITANS movies have left me cold. First there was CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010) that was a remake of a 1981 Ray Harryhausen fantasy film with stop-motion monsters. In the new films, the monsters are CGI, but I don’t see them as much of an improvement. They’re kind of generic in a way. Sam Worthington plays Perseus as kind of a one-note character (and I know he’s capable of more than that – maybe he’s as bored as I am). Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are completely wasted as Zeus and Hades, respectively (but they’re the only characters in the movie with any real passion). Some of the monsters look cool, but overall, the movie is kind of boring. The story just isn’t that compelling….ZZZZZ… Oops, did I nod off there for a moment?

HONORABLE MENTION

PROJECT X – A faux documentary-style teen sex comedy about the craziest house party ever. It didn’t make my list because it was so forgettable that I…er…forgot about it until I saw it on Michael’s list. It mustn’t have annoyed me as much as it did him, but, frankly, it’s not worth talking about any further.

© Copyright 2013 by L.L. Soares

This Year’s Christmas Turkey Review: BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR (2010)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2012, Animals Attack, Apocalyptic Films, Based on a True Story, CGI, Cult Movies, Disaster Films, Horror, Indie Horror, Just Plain Bad, Man vs. Nature, Message Movies, Strange Cinema with tags , , , , , , , on December 25, 2012 by knifefighter

A Special Christmas Day Movie Review

BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR (2010)
Review By L.L. Soares

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Ever since PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959), started showing up on critics’ “Worst Movies of all Time” lists, people have been on the lookout for comparable bad cinema, and it’s not hard to find.  But movies that are truly bad and yet very entertaining aren’t always so forthcoming. In recent years, we’ve seen some great examples of “So Bad It’s Good” cinema with films like TROLL 2 (1990) and Tommy Wiseau’s THE ROOM (2003).

For the past year or two, I’ve been hearing a lot about BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR (2010) and how it deserves a place in the bad movie pantheon. I’ve been reluctant to check it out for some reason (what could be better than THE ROOM?), but figured that the time had come to finally subject myself to this one. And, it actually does a good job living up to its hype. It’s certainly bad, and yet it’s also quite enjoyably bad.

Directed by James Nguyen (who also wrote the screenplay), BIRDEMIC is what he calls a “romantic thriller,” in that the movie really starts out like a romantic film, but, as it progresses, the “thriller” elements make themselves known. In this case, the thriller elements amount to a low-budget “homage” to Alfred Hitchock’s classic, THE BIRDS, but with only birds of prey (eagles, hawks, falcons) involved.

The film begins by introducing us to Rod (Alan Bagh), a telemarketer who is waiting for that big day when someone buys the company he works for a fortune, and he can cash in his stock options and retire young.  The thing is, Rod has a little trouble expressing his emotions, because he talks in the same monotone whether he is talking about stock options or declaring his love for someone (do you think it could be the fault of Bagh’s awful acting?). This guy just doesn’t show enthusiasm or passion very well.

So, his job is going well (and guess what company gets bought up by a rich parent company soon afterwards?), but Rod is lonely. One day, while eating breakfast in his usual diner, he notices that a girl at another table, Natalie (Whitney Moore), looks familiar and goes to meet her outside after she leaves. He gives her the line, “Don’t I know you from someplace?” and immediately your eyes will start rolling in your head, except she says, “Hey, yeah, you do look familiar.” Turns out they went to high school together, where she was pretty and popular, and he was probably invisible (she has no clue they were in the same English class back then).

Natalie is now a fashion model, and at first it looks like Rod is irritating her, but she soon gives him her number and suddenly shows interest. He says he’ll call her.

When his dream of early retirement becomes a reality, Natalie is the first person Rod calls (while he seems to be friendly with a guy at his job, I guess he doesn’t have a lot of friends). They go out to dinner and find themselves falling for each other. This is the romance part of the film.

About 30 minutes in, however, something goes wrong. After a chaste few dates, they decide to finally go to a motel together (although she leaves her underwear on and he’s fully dressed in their “love scene”). When they wake up the next day (still in their clothes!), there are birds screeching outside their window, trying to get in.

What the hell is going on? It seems that some of the world’s birds have suddenly turned deadly. The reason that most of the characters in this movie give for this scary turn of events is global warming. In fact, before the birds show up, Rod and Natalie double-date with another couple and go to the movies. What do they see? The Al Gore documentary AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (2006). Not very heavy-handed, is it?

Rod and Natalie wait until the birds go away before they leave the motel room. They find another couple downstairs who have survived as well and, armed only with clothes hangers, somehow make it to a SUV alive and drive away.  The birds hover above, constantly screeching. We never see them actually bite anyone, but after they hover around you long enough, you’ll end up on the ground, bleeding. Probably with your eyes poked out. Scary stuff!

With a seemingly unlimited supply of ammunition, the survivors drive around, shooting at the birds, hitting a lot of them (they spurt blood and drop to the ground, kind of like in a video game). Eventually they save two kids whose parents have been killed by the birds, and they just drive around, trying to figure out what to do next, and where to go. But nowhere seems safe.

Along the way, they try to save people in trouble. One particularly hilarious scene involves a double-decker bus where the birds have trapped some passengers who are screaming for help. Our heroes stop and Rod starts shooting at the birds (they just start shooting in the direction of the bus, but somehow don’t break any of the windows or hurt any of the people inside), while some of the others go inside to grab the people in there and pull them out. Turns out they were better off inside the bus. Once outside, the people who have been “saved” get splashed with some kind of liquid by the birds (bird poop?) and start to scream and disintegrate as if they’ve been doused with acid. So much for saving the day!

Sometimes you just shouldn't get out of the bus. Just asking these unlucky souls from BIRDEMIC.

Sometimes you just shouldn’t get out of the bus. Just ask these unlucky souls from BIRDEMIC.

We’re also never sure how many people are left in the world. Most of the time, Rod and Natalie and their “friends” drive around empty highways with no signs of other people. We think they’re the last people left on Earth. Then they’ll be parked somewhere, and we’ll see tons of cars driving by in the distance (oops!). So is this the end of the world or not??

Another funny scene involves them getting to a gas station where a guy who can barely speak English tells them that because of the gas shortage it will cost them a hundred dollars a gallon! Instead of just shooting the guy, they pay him, but drive away in the middle of pumping the gas when some birds show up. Soon afterwards, a guy in a cowboy hat (Joe Teixeira) pretends to have car trouble. When they pull over to help him, he holds them up, pointing a gun and demanding their gas. Rod goes in the back to get an extra gas container. The guy takes it and is immediately killed by a low-flying bird that slits his throat with its beak. He drops the container of gas and—instead of grabbing it and putting it back in the car—Rod just leaves it there and runs back to the driver’s seat and drives away. Maybe five minutes later, they run out of gas! Duh!

They stop at a few places, and this gives them a chance to hear some words of wisdom, as cheesy characters pop out of nowhere to pontificate about the consequences of global warming. These include a doctor wearing a surgical mask named Dr. Jones (Rick Camp), who goes on to explain what’s going on (that global warming crap again). Later, they come across a character called “the Treehugger” (Stephen Gustavson), some weird hippie guy who lives in a treehouse up in some redwoods and who speaks for the trees (what is he, the Lorax?).

If they hover around you and screech for ten minutes, you are probably doomed.

If they hover around you and screech for ten minutes, you are probably doomed.

The acting is just short of abysmal. Whitney Moore as Natalie is easily the most talented one here. But male lead Alan Bagh as Rod is just laughably bad in every scene he’s in. Even funnier is an interview on the disk (one of the extras) where director James Nguyen speaks glowingly to a (really bad) interviewer on cable access television about how good BIRDEMIC is. You just know that after it became a cult classic for being so bad, he probably went the Tommy Wiseau route, declaring that he made the movie so bad on purpose. That it was meant to be a comedy. But here, in this interview, Nguyen is pretty serious and talks as if BIRDEMIC is a really important message movie.

Oh yeah, and there is an appearance by a big-name actor in this one. It’s Tippi Hedren in some footage from an earlier James Nguyen movie, JULIE AND JACK (2003), that is used again here in a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment. How’s that for star power? The thing is, I watched the movie twice, and I still can’t tell you where the scene is.

With bad acting, lame-ass gunfire (it’s obvious the guns are fake and little CGI blasts show up around the nozzles when they’re fired, along with sound effects), really pathetic CGI birds (the screeching alone will drive you mad) and a script that gives you more belly laughs than life lessons, BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR  is a completely inept, but thoroughly entertaining, journey in the land of truly awful cinema.

And if you’re good in 2013, Santa might just bring you a special treat called BIRDEMIC 2: THE RESURRECTION, which is rumored to be coming out next year.

What are you waiting for? Go check this one out. As William Carl would say in his “Bill’s Bizarre Bijou” column, “You won’t believe your eyes!” Especially if they’re pecked out by CGI birds.

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares

Coming to an abandoned theater near you in 2013.

Coming to an abandoned theater near you in 2013.

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou Visits SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY (1972)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1970s Movies, 2012, Adult Fairy Tales, Bad Acting, Based on a True Story, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Campy Movies, Family Films, Fantasy, HOLIDAY CHEER, Just Plain Bad, Magical Movies with tags , , , , , , on December 20, 2012 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

William D. Carl

This week’s feature presentation:

SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY (1972)

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Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

The Christmas Season is well known for its holiday music and movies, but there is a dark side to the trend of luring kids into matinees to bear witness to forced holiday cheer.  For every MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947), there is a SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964).  For every IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), there’s a corresponding SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984).  Actually, there are probably more dreadful Christmas movies than good ones.  Somewhere far below the schlocky entertainment offered by the likes of serial-killer turned snowman JACK FROST (1997), the Mexican drugged-out inanities of SANTA CLAUS (1959), or the hell on earth that is JINGLE ALL THE WAY (1996), there is the cesspool entitled SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY (1972/1970 – I’ll explain the date mix-up later).  I’ve watched hundreds of Christmas movies over the years, but this one is the true low point, lacking anything even closely resembling entertainment or Christmas cheer.  It is a gut-punch to all that is beautiful and holy.  It is the first Christmas movie made for children that seems designed to suck any happiness from every starry-eyed child in the world.

You think I am exaggerating?  Super glue your eyelids open and turn this baby on.

Behind the credits, kids dressed as elves in outfits made by the producer’s grandma sing an unintelligible song.  The only words I can make out are  “la-la-la-la-la.”  They pet toys, while the credits announce “Thumbelina Insert by B Mahon!”  One elf looks outside for Santa and spots stock nature footage of a herd of moose grazing in a summer field!  What season is this?  A female narrator who sounds like Truman Capote on downers informs us that Santa’s sleigh is stuck in the sand on a beach in Florida.  It was so hot, the reindeer have all gone away, and Santa sits in the sleigh, sweats a lot, and waves his hat in front of his face.  Sure enough, a too-skinny Santa sits in his sleigh looking around and perspiring, then sings a song through dubbing, “Woe is me…who will give me a helping hand…and get my sleigh out of the sand?”  Yep, that half inch of sand is really keeping him trapped and preventing lift-off.

Random kids are shown doing things like skipping rope, playing with dogs, wrestling like gay Greeks, and jumping off the garage roof wearing a parachute.  Then, Santa falls instantly asleep, as if his meds just kicked in.  The racially diverse group of children, resembling a Benetton ad from the late 1980s, hears an echoing Santa voice calling them and run to the sleigh.  Even Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer (and their pet raccoon on a string) steer their raft to the beach to a kazoo band playing Old Man River from the musical SHOW BOAT.

The kids rush off to find something to pull the sleigh from the half inch of sand, leaving Santa alone to sweat again for another couple of long minutes.  Santa, instead of being proactive, just sits in the sleigh bemoaning his predicament.  This guy gets around the world in one night delivering millions of toys?  I doubt he could get to the cupboard for the Doritos.

Santa and the kids strap a pig to the sleigh.

Santa and the kids strap a pig to the sleigh.

Eventually, the kids return with various animals to help pull the sleigh out of the sand.  First, a little girl brings a man in an ape suit, but the sleigh is stuck too tightly.  Then, two kids bring a mule, then a screaming pig, a terrified sheep, a brown cow, and a horse.  Then, Santa bitches for several more minutes about how he has to get out of the sand so he doesn’t disappoint the children all over the world, but he does nothing to actually escape!

The kids return, so Santa decides to tell the kids a story, and so begins Barry Mahon’s 1970, filmed at Pirate’s World Amusement Park film, THUMBELINA.  A hippie-chick with terrifying eyebrows wanders the amusement park while a whole new set of credits play again (is Santa relaying the credits to the kids in his story?).  Eventually the mini-skirted chick ends up in a room full of dioramas portraying the tale of Thumbelina, a girl no larger than a clothespin, all narrated by a disembodied voice over a PA system.  A single lonely woman goes to a witch to have a child and is rewarded with a freakishly miniscule daughter.   The tiny girl leaves her spinster-Mom’s home to get married to a horny frog.  She escapes, lives with a woman in a mole costume and eventually falls in love with a rich old mole.  They all resemble a relatively restrained furry convention.  And, yes, everyone sings a lot of dull songs on semi-professional sets.  To be honest, although THUMBELINA is pretty bad, it’s a typical kiddie matinee from the 1960s—no better or worse than most.  These things were churned out with ridiculously low budgets and actors from local amateur theater troupes all over the world.  Other examples of this odd sub-genre include THE MAGIC LAND OF MOTHER GOOSE, 1967 (directed by the Wizard of Gore himself, H.G. Lewis!), THE PRINCESS AND THE SWINEHERD, 1968, and LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND TOM THUMB VS. THE MONSTERS, 1965, which I would love to see!  So, if you remember after the hour of Thumbelina, yes, Santa is STILL telling this story to the children on the beach!

As bad as the Thumbelina segment is, it’s like CITIZEN KANE (1941) compared to the Santa segments . . . where we are again, watching Santa sweat while the kids watch him.  Nobody seems very motivated to get Santa back to the North Pole.  Oh, to return to the cut-rate flower power hippie musical from Pirate’s World.  The one directed by Barry Mahon, yes THAT Barry Mahon, who directed PAGAN ISLAND (1961), FANNY HILL MEETS DR. EROTICO (1969), A GOOD TIME WITH A BAD GIRL (1967), THE GIRL WITH THE MAGIC BOX (1965), and THE DIARY OF KNOCKERS MCCALLA (1969).  He was the obvious choice to helm a kid’s feature based on a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale!  It does, however, explain the strange erotic tension between Thumbelina and Mr. Digger, the mole.

Thumbelina meets a mole woman in the "movie within a movie" in the movie SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY.

Thumbelina meets a mole woman in the “movie within a movie” inside SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY.

Back to Santa in the sand. . .

The kids suddenly run away, as if learning Santa Claus was a sex offender…or an algebra teacher.  Santa strips off his coat and belt, and an antique fire truck (helpfully pushed by a visible production assistant) driven by a guy in a cheap white rabbit suit arrives, and all the kids are piled up in back.  It’s a vision of horror as the fire truck is shoved through Pirate’s World and down to the beach.  I’m starting to see why this film was made—it’s a 90 minute advertisement for a pathetic amusement park!  Yes, this could be the best WTF! moment ever in a children’s production.  And it goes on forever!  For.  Ev.  Er.  Santa exclaims, “Why my old friend the ice cream bunny!”  The hell-spawn rabbit, which had to terrify children everywhere, gives Santa a ride in his fire truck.  Then, Santa teleports the sleigh back to the North Pole.  What?  Why didn’t he just do that at the beginning instead of complaining for what seemed like days about being stranded?  Plus, why is this an ice cream bunny?  There isn’t a scoop of ice cream to be seen!

Full of padding (including an entire film from two years previous), SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY is easily the worst Christmas movie ever made.  From the terrible direction, the lousy acting and dubbing, the bad songs, and the freaky sexy vibe between tiny hippie chicks and earth-burrowing mammals, to the ridiculous ending and scary/evil rabbit suit, this is a movie that can honestly only be enjoyed under the influence of controlled substances or while RiffTrax pokes fun at it.  There has never been another movie like this one.  Thank God!

I give SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY one closed-down amusement park out of four.

The Santa image that haunts William Carl's nightmares.

The Santa image that haunts William Carl’s nightmares.

© Copyright 2012 by William D. Carl

Me and Lil’ Stevie’s Second Annual Holiday Turkey Shoot with MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986)

Posted in 1980s Horror, 2012, Apocalyptic Films, Evil Machines, Just Plain Bad, Me and Lil' Stevie, Peter Dudar Reviews, Stephen King Movies with tags , , , , , , on December 18, 2012 by knifefighter

Me and Lil’ Stevie’s Second Annual Holiday Turkey Shoot

King Turkey Shoot

Featuring This Year’s Turkey:
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986)
Review by Peter Dudar

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(EXTERIOR/NIGHT:  Establishing shot of the Dixie Boy truck stop in North Carolina.  There is a convoy of heavy-duty semis circling around the building and gas pumps, some honking their horns furiously while others belch out clouds of toxic diesel smoke.  Overhead, the night sky is lit an ominous monster-green by vapors from the tail of a comet that is passing by.  Every now and then we hear the sound of people screaming in terror from inside the Dixie Boy.  One truck, a long, sleek black rig with the fiberglass visage of the Green Goblin attached to the front rolls to a stop in front of the café’s doors.  The door of the truck’s cab flies open, and a figure climbs out.  Camera zooms in and we see that it’s a man holding a ventriloquist dummy in the form of Master of Horror Stephen King.

Peter:  Greetings, Constant Viewer, and welcome to our second annual Holiday Turkey Shoot.  Today, we’ll be examining King’s self-written directorial debut MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, adapted from his short story “Trucks,” which appeared in the story collection NIGHT SHIFT (1976).

Lil’ Stevie:  Actually, TRUCKS appeared first in Cavalier in 1973.

Peter:  Regardless, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE happens to be one of his fans’ least favorite movies of all time.  The film won King TWO Golden Raspberry Awards (for Worst Film and Worst Director), and is ranked at 17% favorability at RottenTomatoes.com.  Conversely, the adaptation of MISERY (1990) is ranked at 90% favorability, which shows an extraordinary discrepancy for disapproval.  It’s our job to dissect this film and figure out what went wrong.  And then, we can finally put MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE out of its misery…so to speak.

Lil’ Stevie:  I don’t understand all the bad hype.  This movie actually kinda kicks ass!

Peter:  Hey, what’s that white powder all around your nose?  Holy cow…are you on cocaine?

Lil’ Stevie:  Of course not!  I swiped some powdered donuts from the Dixie Boy before we started the review.

Peter:  (Shaking his head) Well, you’d better not be tweaking.  Let’s get started.  The film opens with a man approaching an ATM machine at a bank in Wilmington, North Carolina.  The digital time and temperature sign above the door begins flashing out filthy messages, and the man at the ATM is called an A*****E by the computer screen.

Lil’ SteveKing cameo!  The dude at the ATM is actually Stephen King.

Peter:  Yeah, that was pretty gratuitous to put himself in the first scene of the film, and give himself the first line.  Meanwhile, across town, a drawbridge decides to switch itself on while a pair of incompetent bridge technicians pays no attention whatsoever.  The bridge begins to ascend, to the terror of the motorists stuck on the bridge (the traffic light never turned red, so people just kept driving across).  It’s a pretty nifty scene in spite of more gratuitous nods (such as the van with the AC/DC logo stenciled on it…the band supplied the music to the soundtrack).  We see people thrown through windshields as cars begin slipping down into other cars, and a watermelon truck losing its load as the bridge’s gears continue to turn.  We see a truck tip over the chasm of the separated bridge ends, and plunge into the river below (an enormous fear of mine, personally).

Lil’ Stevie:  We also see a Little League game turn into a nightmare when the coach is attacked by a rogue soda machine and pelted with high-velocity soda cans to the groin and face.  A steamroller crashes through the outfield gate and crushes a fleeing player into a bloody pulp.  One of the players, Deke Keller (Holter Graham, SIX WAYS TO SUNDAY, 1997), escapes the carnage and races home.

Peter:  Meanwhile, back here at the Dixie Boy, we’re introduced to owner Bubba Hendershot (Pat Hingle, Commissioner Gordon from the 80s BATMAN franchise), and his crew of truck stop deviants.  It appears that Bubba takes on parolees as employees, and then blackmails them into working unpaid hours.  Can you say “douche bag?”

Lil’ Stevie:  Serves ‘em right for breaking the law…and for not being unionized.  Go Union!

Peter:  Short order cook Billy Robinson (Emilio Estevez, Brat Pack Dropout) is one of the poor slobs that is being chipped on Bubba’s racket.  The little gold star sticker on his timecard is all the reminder he needs to keep in line or go back to the hoosegow.

Lil’ Stevie:  Great writing, I tell ya!

Peter:  We’re slowly introduced to more characters, all of which seem like clichéd caricatures.  Deke’s dad, Duncan Keller (J.C. Quinn, BARFLY, 1987) is a pump jockey and grease monkey here at the Dixie Boy.  Waitress Wanda June (Ellen McElduff, JFK, 1991), is another parolee under Bubba’s thumb.  There’s a handful of truckers milling about, each of whom have a higher waist size than I.Q.  These people are all easily forgettable, and offer nothing in terms of building empathy.

Lil’ Stevie:  We’re also introduced to Brett (Laura Harrington, THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, 1997), a drifter who rolls into town after thumbing a ride with bible salesman Camp Loman (Christopher Murney, the greasy white guy in Berry Gordy’s THE LAST DRAGON, 1985).  Did you notice how I come up with cool names like that?  Camp Loman?  Camp as in juvenile humor and Loman as in Willy from DEATH OF A SALESMAN?

Peter:  Yeah, that’s priceless.  It’s equally amusing when the 18-wheeler runs him over, knocking him right out of his shoes, and then rolling over his suitcase full of bibles.  By the by…RottenTomatoes.com gave THE LAST DRAGON (1985) an 83% approval rating.  Can you believe that?

Lil’ Stevie: Sho’nuff!

Peter (chuckling): That’s very good…just like the Shogun of Harlem.  I STILL love that movie.

We’re ALSO introduced to Curtis and Connie (John Short, APOLLO 13, 1995, and Yeardley Smith, voice of Lisa Simpson), cruising through town in a car decked with ribbons and soap writing indicating that they are JUST MARRIED.  Connie is absolutely henpeck-ish and annoying throughout this movie.  Curtis, on the other hand, is a decent guy…far more heroic than all the truckers and grease monkeys at the Dixie Boy.  Curtis and Connie manage to dodge the convoy of driverless semis that have been parading around the truck stop.  Likewise, Deke finally makes his way to the truck stop as well, only to discover that his dad is dead (run over by the Green Goblin truck).

Lil’ Stevie:  Where this movie succeeds is how it pulls off a unique hostage situation, where humans are now captive to technology and machinery.   There’s no reasoning with inanimate objects!

Peter:  I’ll say.  Sometimes you’re just freakin’ impossible!

Lil’ Stevie:  Hey!

Peter:  Ask me how I feel about being held captive to this festering turd of a movie.  Yeah, the humans are held captive, but Billy and Brett somehow manage to figure out that all this nonsense is occurring because earth is in the tail of Rhea-M, the comet that is passing by in outer space.  All they have to do is stay alive for eight days, and then earth will be out of the comet’s tail again, and everything should just go back to normal.  This is kind of difficult, seeing that it’s an implied apocalypse where almost everybody else on earth is dead.  All of this brings up the point that an 8-day span is waaayyy too long to make this story an efficient thriller.  There’s a lot of waiting involved.  Now King has to devise ways to keep us entertained.  He kills off some of the characters, but they are none we have any sort of emotional attachment to.  Hell, I was applauding when annoying Wanda June gets gunned down after her second, “We MADE you!” screechfest at the circling rigs.  She’s so comically annoying that, had I been there, I’d have pushed her out the doors, myself.  If you put this hostage situation side to side with THE MIST (2007), you can see the night and day difference between King as a storyteller and King as a guy trying to entertain you with blood and gore.

Lil’ Stevie:  But I WANTED it to be comical.  I wanted people laughing one moment and then throwing up the next.  That’s the beauty of a good horror flick.

Peter:  No, Lil’ Stevie…that’s the beauty of a bachelor party.  King continues to kill time by having the vehicles communicate through Morse code that the humans are supposed to come outside and start filling their gas tanks.  Billy and the gang do so, but as they do, they finally devise an escape plan.  They tunnel through sewer lines to safety in the woods, then make their way to a marina to sail off to a car-free island for the rest of the week.  And as they sail off into the sunsets and closing credits, we’re told that a U.F.O. was shot down in space by a Soviet “Weather Satellite” just as the comet finally passes, and that the Dixie Boy truck stop survivors are still survivors.

Lil’ Stevie:  A masterpiece!

Peter:  I don’t get it, Lil’ Stevie.  You KNOW this is a terrible film.  As a directorial debut, it has all the flaws of an amateur storyteller, and the REAL Stephen King is NOT an amateur.  Maybe it showed some promise in terms of proving he could tell actors to look afraid or choreograph a major explosion sequence, but the story itself is a dud.  The characters are silly, the premise is astoundingly lame, and aside from a few neat gore moments, this just wasn’t scary.  So, WHY are you defending this movie?

Lil’ Stevie:  Because Mr. King told me to, or he would kill Santa Claus in his next book.

(Lil’ Stevie’s nose begins to grow).

Lil’ Stevie:  Because I’m secretly in love with Yeardley Smith.

(Lil’ Stevie’s nose grows longer).

Lil’ Stevie:  (Weeping) Because I secretly snorted some coke before we started, and now I’m all silly!

Peter:  Well, you should have just said NO!  (Pulls out a shotgun with his free hand).  It’s time.  Here, turkey turkey turkey…Gobble gobble gobble!

(The MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE DVD suddenly pops up behind a clump of bushes.  Peter draws a bead on it and pulls the trigger, and the disk explodes into a million tiny fragments).

Lil’ Stevie:  God bless us everyone!

Peter:  You’re overdue for an intervention.

Lil’ Stevie:  I was only kidding about the drugs.   I’ll give you a urine sample if you don’t believe me…

Peter:  Save it for the Cinema Knife Fight Christmas party.  Goodbye, folks.  Happy Holidays, and thank you for joining us.  We’ll see you in the New Year!

-The End-

© Copyright 2012 by Peter N. Dudar