Tracking the Forbidden Dimensions

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This film was eagerly anticipated and couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Let’s push things forward – if our cinematic horizons were to depend on my last review (Curse of Chucky) you could feel free to hang me now, and forget about ever cutting me down. Thankfully, one of the other films I’ve been waiting for to shock me awake arrived – that is Christopher J. Miller’s Forbidden Dimensions, a post-apocalyptic scifi body-horror time-traveling epic packed with very stylish post-post-modern afflictions, absurd, surrealist humor, tons of visual effects, and a healthy dose of the usual anarchic eclecticism we’ve come to expect out of Razorwire Pictures. That’s a lot for one genre, let alone one film.

The story follows a young Jack Slade, a man with an unfortunate penchant for slipping in and out of time against his will. Jack Slade eventually becomes one of the last survivors of a generation born during an eclipse, going from a young Charles Bukowski-type alcoholic writer to Road Warrior-esque savior of humanity in the blink of an eye. Our doomsday scenario is thus: an evil corporation derives a way to transmit matter from outer space into the earth’s atmosphere. In true science-fiction fashion, they beam down an alien, and in true corporate fashion, immediately murder it to synthesize drugs from its insides. Given the current client, that’s fairly plausible. Those said drugs turn anyone using it into a foul mutant (krocodil, anyone?), and America turns into a wasteland under corporate control. Slade has to find a way to end his own suffering, lead a revolution with surviving mostly-human denizens of the new American wasteland, and unite with the star-child Kadijah in order to undo the damage. Sounds easy enough, right?

I sat down with this film a number of times before the write-up. The first thing I’d like to note is that, as with all Razorwire films, the content totally belies the running time. I think the film clocks in around 87 minutes, not precisely sure, but there is so much going on in every single frame, every single scene, that epic status felt like a no-brainer. As far as attention to detail goes, I think it’s safe to say I haven’t seen such a fully realized science-fiction film since maybe Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. There’s a lot of care put into making this world tick, which probably wasn’t easy with juggling multiple eras. The same goes for the effects. Resourceful is the key word here, along with heart. A lot of the pictures we cover don’t have the extravagance of having a six or seven figure budget, but the sheer volume of film effects of all varieties is on display, each with a very distinct personality. It’s a very kitchen sink feel, but it doesn’t feel excessive (at least in the negative sense, there is a ton going on in every last second) as much as necessary to convey what the film is going for. That sounds clunky at first, let me explain – the film feels like it’s built on a skeleton of familiar sci-fi and horror tropes, most of them the cerebral and visceral variety, but instead of creating a simple re-tread/homage of known themes, it’s like they were focusing on re-combining that DNA and twisting it to its highest logical conclusion, then going further to deconstruct them all at once. There are rip-offs, homages, and love-letters, then there’s complete dissection and proving to the audience what they mean and why we need them in the first place. That’s just part what makes Forbidden Dimensions stand out.

Offsetting the genre trappings is a healthy sense of humor, mostly the absurdist variety. The film is played straight, to an extent, but most of the humor comes from the acting, dialogue, and completely bizarre situations our poor hero wakes up in. Delivery is generally very over the top, overly intense, regardless of being situation appropriate – my best analogy is if Scream was self-referential because they talked about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Forbidden Dimensions knows it’s a film, and is struggling very hard to not break character due to its sheer audacity – but given that we’re working under the assumption that the world onscreen is these character’s god honest reality, it adds another perverse mind twist to the picture. The world here is so very, very layered, that even if these characters know they’re in a fictional universe, one that’s on edge at all times, all they can do is go with that, and once again, push it as far as they can. That’s actually a bit more subtle than it sounds, and lacks the obnoxious tendencies of something like Funny Games, where the antagonist rudely breaks the 4th wall. Maybe that’s the real Forbidden Dimension. There’s wisdom in that – be self aware with respect to the audience.

The black out method of time travel here plays against plot coherence to dizzying effect. One second it’s 1998, then 30 years forward, then back, then 50 years forward, blurring continuity yet maintaining it. Kyle Morris’ Jack Slade is a very put upon youth, and the performance shows the wear and tear being at the mercy of a skewed existence brings. It serves as a reminder that time isn’t necessarily a straight line, and one wrong move can turn you in the weirdest direction to clarity. That seems to be one of the story’s universal truths. On an individual level, every day can feel like the apocalypse when even time isn’t on one’s side, and everyone encountered seems alien under the surface. There’s a healthy dose of paranoia and conflict in the chaotic mix. The endtimes in this film seem inviting at first (and wholly possible, with the current culture – in fact someone visiting the present from 1998 might think we’ve already skipped past the finish line), any genre fan, cartoon fan, or videogame fan might feel they’ve woken up to their wildest dreams in the role of Spade, only to realize that being a hero is much less celebrated and far more perilous than the hype could ever live up to. At times, even what’s seen as fun is maliciously devilish, and an absolute detriment to our protagonist’s fragile psyche. Jack never feels like an anti-hero more than a tragic one, working through corruption and torment, much to his own personal detriment. There’s a very important theme with the relationship between Jack and Kadijah, but the outcome of the film is very predicated on it. I’d love to expound here, but it would blow the whole movie, and I’d rather you experience it for yourself.

The support cast is a blast to watch, always entertaining. There’s a lot of grimacing, very physical acting going on, especially with those under intensive latex application. Lots and lots of scenery chewing, to great menace and comedic effect. Todd Brown reprises his role from an earlier Razorwire film, Carrion, as hard-nosed Detective Giger, both as opening narrator and plot propellant. He’s more menacing this time around, and edgier. A brief aside, Carrion and the other films in Miller’s earlier Splatter Collection (which I’ve unfortunately not had time to commit to discussion as of this writing) do help to establish continuity style-wise here – plots aside, Forbidden Dimensions is another worthy entry into the Razorwire canon, and a definite extension of previous work (though logically, with time and experience, currently one of the stronger entities). Jamie Katonic as Kadijah is worth examining, due to her function in the narrative. In fact she’s a huge part of the plot, as well as one of the film’s overarching themes. Miss Katonic displays a certain screen presence, mostly exuding equal parts allure and enigma. She’s one of the most important characters in the story, yet seen very briefly, and honestly, quite fetishized in one sequence. The old rule of thumb in horror films was to keep the monster off screen as much as possible, to let the audience’s imagination run rampant. It’s fitting that the roles over beauty and beast be inverted, if not prolapsed, here as well. Kadijah is thought to be legendary and not necessarily of earth. Her role is perhaps purposely blurred, starting off as idealized male fantasy, starting at the point of arch damsel in distress, with a dash of sympathetic femme fatale. Her function in the overall narrative seems to question viewers’ own expectations of male/female dynamics in film as a whole, against a backdrop of very strong male and female characters (the warriors of the wasteland, as it were), and then, in stable Razorwire fashion, trumps those same expectations while lending a very classic, literate conclusion. Point being, her role is sparse, but changes dramatically in quick succession, leading the viewer to question more of what they’ve witnessed. This makes for a much stronger story. It makes for a stronger character as well, taking what could’ve been a one note performance and taking it somewhere fresh and allowing in break-neck fashion for the performance to be fully realized. I’m not sure if someone else in the same role could’ve said as much by saying so little, or provide the needed emotional weight to establish something much stronger.

In fact the layered quality of the picture on the whole keeps the viewer thinking, and not just about who did what when. The jumpiness led me to believe (with conviction even) that there’s much more going on, radically under the surface of this film. Underneath the calculations of style and visual assault is a deeper movie, and a much more personal one, not exactly critical of our fair species, but questioning and exploring that which we hold rational and true. The essence of this film, to me, any way, is a mirror of the complex and clashing realities we inhabit, some within ourselves, some virtual, some painfully and inescapably real. There’s a sense of discovery here – I think I’ve sat down with the movie about 7 times to date and it feels more revelatory during each viewing. The film has its fair share of extreme and transgressive qualities – but on the whole it feels like something more transcendent and enlightened. So, to look at it in absolute objectivity, we’ve got the mother of all b-movies, an enormous triumph of shock and awe and fanfare, every single thing people watch genre movies for. In excess. And on the other side of the scale – there’s enough complexity and depth, if you know how to read a film, to match the most arch art film minus the pretense, threads and threads about society and humanity, perception, emotion, and raw experience.

 

That means you should watch it, because it’s definitely worthy.

 

Bonus Points: The soundtrack was awesome.

The Curse of Chucky OR Dear God What Have They Done Now?

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Ok, so in my last post, which was nearly 10 months ago, I swore there would be huge things for Cinemaglob this year. Well, I wasn’t completely full of it – it’s been a huge year in general, namely that Cinemaglob has a new headquarters, and is starting a family. If you have children, you already know that it’s a huge leap in life. It’s very demanding and difficult being a parent. Priorities change, and time and resources are scarce. Everything gets a little more serious, but it’s well worth it. It’s kind of trite to use that as a parallel to my review of Curse of Chucky, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t seem to fit perfectly.

There are more than a few things I could’ve talked about to get the ball rolling on the Glob again, but I decided to take the cheap route and go with the film that disappointed me the most, the film that I could relate the most to my current situation, and the film I was anticipating for months on end. I wasn’t waiting for Chucky’s return to strike at the keyboard again, better, far more interesting films have that crown – but this one struck a nerve, and I felt like returning the favor.

WARNING: Here there be spoilers.

Paraplegic Nica (Fiona Dourif, one of the few great things about the film) lives in a big old spookhouse with her alcoholic artist mother who seems to paint sunflowers exclusively. She receives a mysterious package in the mail containing everyone’s favorite knee-high murderer, the infamous Chucky, complete with a brand new doll design. He immediately murders mother and the story picks up – Nica’s overbearing, secret lesbian sister decides she’s moving her into a home for the disabled so they can sell the house and split the dough. In tow are her irritating, coffee slinging trophy husband, her nanny and secret lover, and pernicious daughter Alice. And a priest. To…make a statement about hypocritical show-Christians or something. I don’t know, he wound up as doll-fodder pretty quickly, leaving an untidy character arc in his wake.

So the whole unhappy family is together, in the big spooky house. With Chucky. Can you see where this is going? Everyone can. Herein lies the problem with the Curse of Chucky. You want to tell yourself you have no idea what’s going to happen, but, you do. You sadly know the whole film before it happens. Even if he looks like a chubby Asian bootleg on the cover. Which, coincidentally, would’ve made for a much more brilliant film, a discussion of knock-offs.

Let’s get to the heart of Damballa of this thing, shall we? The first win being here is, yes, Chucky’s back, and with the above foreshadowing, in a much more sombre tone, with less resources, and a lot of difficulty prioritizing. Like me, it’s a case of HEY, HE’S BACK, THAT’S CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION, RIGHT? Unlike me, due to the enormous expectations had on the material and illogical presence of bad will and cynicism, presence alone does not an awesome movie make. Because that was originally the only thing that I walked away with from the movie. At least Chucky’s back at all. After being a huge fan for so long, I was all set to like this movie no matter what happened. A lot of people can say the same thing. A lot of people are simply going to shell the money out for one more movie simply for nostalgia’s sake. This. Is. BAD.

The first 50 minutes of the movie are familiar without feeling too re-hashed, actually. Barring a few acting ,missteps here and there, and a few missteps with special effects, namely making the priest’s death scene so utterly realistic it looks comically over-exaggerated by default, the film is fairly strong and creepy. All the right beats are hit. Everything that made Chucky frightening to begin with is on display here, and that’s ok, momentarily. I still refuse to believe you can make a memorable film out of a greatest hits reel, unfortunately. That’s still not the biggest complaint with the film. It becomes a contentious mix of be careful what you wish for…

About the time we get to the second big murder scene, the film unravels at warp speed. Instead of showing the new, unsettling Chucky in small, creepy doses, he once again takes center stage, and everything that was so carefully put together is completely ripped to shreds. Quick aside, a big part of this film’s mystique lies in trying to figure out if it’s a sequel or a remake. I think the answer was supposed to be “whatever you want, for $20.” Yes, Chucky’s been downsized to street hooker level. It’s pretty clear looking at the early press materials compared to the film that editing was where the movie really came to life, giving the proceedings a rather looming identity crisis, not unlike our clever antagonist. In a series of reveals, Chucky isn’t really sporting a new anything. In one of the more effective post-crash bits, Chucky is unmasked to be the same scabby, stitched up lounge act from the last two heavily contentious sequels. It was a ruse all along – this is just a continuation of the same joke Kirschner’s been telling himself in the mirror for the last ten years. Not that it matters. In all honesty, I felt like Bride and Seed were pretty entertaining, a little lighter, but free from the heavy-handedness of forced fear that wore off immediately after the first ten seconds of Child’s Play 2. The problem is that in trying to meddle with expectations and then turn around and make a half-hearted attempt at fulfilling them plays out as a sad cash-grab.  It doesn’t feel like the filmmakers made the movie they really wanted, and fans are left scratching their heads. Chucky’s back to scare, to shock, but it feels like too-little, too late, when things turn out so uncannily familiar.

Yes, the uncanny valley is where the new doll design and the film as a whole attempts to live, and is quickly evicted, for lack of follow-through and an illogical story in an already unreal universe. The attempted exposition of Charles Lee Ray’s former life turns vile and icky instead off breathlessly horrific. This is a problem of class, especially when dealing with a horror icon such as Brad Dourif, a now much respected character actor. Sure, we get to see him act, but the entire flashback sequence removes a reliable motive and trades it for a stomach churning cheap shock, one quick to get over, one that spends so much time building to it it utterly demolishes any goodwill left for the audience. You’d have to be fairly thick to think anything in the last third of the film passes for decent drama, for good horror, and no one is that braindead or desperate. I imagine some would ask for me to lighten up, but I can only up the contrast as much as the filmmakers allowed me to.

There are a few fun bits of fan service, notably a quick return of Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany as Jennifer Tilly, Chucky’s apparently divorced yet still in obsession sidekick, and a huge post-credits about face that makes the whole sad affair go full-tilt-bozo on full circle This only reinforces the inconsistent tone and leaves for a bittersweet finale, if it truly is one. Oh, and he may or may not kill the kid, no one had the guts to go that far after the uneasy and ridiculous fate of Nica, who, once again, was about the only memorable element of the whole charade.

Which brings me full circle as well. This project was more than likely ruined from the start. It’s been divisive on the net as far as I can tell – my own stance is that it truly feels reflective of the last ten months. You set out to do something, and life takes its own hand into the matter, and it gets overwhelming. It’s hard, it’s brutal to maintain. But you pull yourself up, and you do something with it, and you look back and say it was worth it. It’s challenging, doing something worthwhile. You put effort and everything you have into building something greater than yourself. And this is the difference between everyone out there doing something memorable and original and the wonderful people behind Curse of Chucky – where others  strive and give it all they’re ever going to have, there are those among us that balk at the turning point, and coast back to safety on recognition and reputation.

My apologies to the Dourif family. They were awesome, but they could not put the broken mirror back together again alone.

State of the Glob: Year One

Greetings dear Globsters. After a brutal few months of moving and settling into our new headquarters I’m back. Life has changed fairly dramatically in the last two months, and somewhere in the midst of the  fury of reality it dawned on me that I’ve been writing to you (somewhat) regularly for an entire year. That means…GASP…We’re hovering right around Cinemaglob’s first birthday. Time surely flies.

It’s been a fairly intense year with lots of ups and downs and tons of personal growth. There were a lot of mistakes, a lot of missteps, but Cinemaglob has accomplished more than was ever thought possible and there were many important lessons learned.

All in all, as far as any year one could go, this was exceptional. Nearly 365 days in and we’re still standing.

With new home comes much responsibility – but as things get more settled in, expect things to liven up here on the Glob. There are tons of new movies coming out of the underground, and we’re here to seek out the koolest and craziest for your viewing pleasure.

That’s the hope and hype, in a nutshell. Keep watching for more reports on the most awesome horror, underground, indie, and insane flicks in existence.

Your Movie Freak, Jason Keith Hembree

P.S. Remember the 13th of May. Because, Awesomesauce.

Keeping the Faith: The Book of Dallas

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What is Television for the most part but serialized cinema? Well…at its worst, a vehicle for shallow capitalism, in that most shows are simply extended commercials. The only reference needed for that is to look back at our experiences with Saturday morning cartoons and the endless figures and childhood ephemera we goaded our weary parents into purchasing. They must have got something right, because the cycle is still at hand today. Television is a cyclical medium, yes, but as of late more and more shows are breaking away from precedent. I know I’ve heard a lot of jokes lately that all white people are obsessed with The Wire and Breaking Bad, but they still seem beyond their contemporaries. A few years back it was The Sopranos…maybe making waves is itself a cycle, but those that revolve within are few and far between. The koolest thing about T.V. is that it does have a tendency to bring people a little closer together.

At its best, we get epic mini-movies set for the prime past-time of mental and emotional expansion, and further connectivity as a species. It can be a pretty powerful medium.

I don’t watch much television these days besides Adventure Time, Regular Show, and South Park. The Walking Dead is pretty wicked, but, y’know, ZOMBIES. I’d be a straight up liar if I couldn’t admit I would watch on that point alone. That it’s awesome is bonus points.

So a while back I was alerted to a show that was produced and filmed no more than 30 miles from my outpost on the backroads of this world, and it was going to air as a webseries. I haven’t much experience with web T.V., so I was naturally curious as to how it was going to pan out. The few times I’d bothered with it in the past, the shows usually turned out to be produced in conjunction with some kind of snack food or soda, just another commercial created in a semi-underground way, not unlike Microsoft or Coca-Cola trying to co-op street art. I wasn’t cynical tuning in this time, I just didn’t know what to expect. Right off the bat, I was more than elated to find out the show wasn’t selling anything. There were commercials, but they were skippable. Immediately, I figured they were onto something, because they gave the show room to breathe. And a breath of fresh air it is.

The series we’re discussing is called The Book of Dallas. It’s a good book, filled with the good Word, and lots more four-letter ones. By the end of the first episode it was easy to tell, with its positively charged message and penchant for a few sophomoric bro-jinks here and there, we were most definitely not in TV Land anymore. Viacom, eat your heart out.

Official Plot Synopsis, Cast, and other IMPORTANT STUFF are as follows:

Dallas McKay is your average 20-something newspaper reporter: Single, liberal, and unabashedly atheist. When a truck smacks into him in a bar parking lot, he wakes up in Heaven and – after uttering a few choice profanities – finds himself face-to-face with the God he doesn’t believe exists. But God isn’t out for vengeance; He’s concerned that His message has been lost in a swarm of religious zealotry, and sends Dallas back to Earth to write and sell a new, improved religious text.

Starring: Benjamin Crockett, Clay Evans, Jeanne Whitney, Kevin Roach, Rusty James, Kristine Renee Farley, David Ross, and Julie Hernandez Seaton

Directed by: Joe Atkinson, Jakob Bilinski, Marx H. Pyle

Written by: Joe Atkinson

His message…bwahahahahaha!

Dallas gets splatterhoused, wakes up in a coffee shop, and comes face to face with one swarthy God. In fact if I get atomized and come face-to-face with the all-knowing, in between chewing the scenery, she better save a plate. I refuse to come back from the other side waffle-less. That’s right, God is a woman, and if you’ve ever listened to Modest Mouse, God is a woman, and the woman is pissed. She gives Dallas an offer he can’t refuse, return to the land of the living and perform the new good word, or, and I sincerely wish we’d had time for a glimpse of it, eternal damnation. Hitchcock and co. were right in saying some things are better left to the imagination, thus helping make the message more utilitarian on that front. It’s all about relatability.

So atheist Dallas becomes an instant convert, writes a new and improved religious text, and goes about attempting to spread his message to the world with his best friend and his new love, which, “Mouthpiece of the Lord” angle non-standing, is pretty relatable. It’s not as fantastic as something like Dogma, no Golgothan shit demons or crotchless angels, but it’s no Ten Commandments, by any means. Charlton Heston was away fighting those damned, dirty apes, so the O.T. was unavailable. Either way, that’s refreshing. Aside from the premise, and a few “Heaven is a Waffle House Away” sequences, there’s little fantasy to the mix whatsoever. What is there is poignant, honest, and funny. The writing is sharp and the tale unfolds fairly realistically. There are a lot of different shades to its thearical flair popping up in any given episode, keeping the pace brisk and interests piqued. The more humorous beginnings move seamlessly into a somewhat edgier middle and a very thought provoking, emotive climax. It’s a good mix, and there are quite a few smooth transitions. The spirit of collaboration is high with this one, as each director’s episodes compliment the others well. Teamwork pays off.

At any rate, with the series’ message, that makes perfect sense. Dallas’ new word sparks the Unitist movement, and it simply states that the word of God is not to be used for personal gain, intolerance, or violence of any kind towards other people. We need to learn to love and understand each other – and hey, what’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding? Well, more than Elvis Costello would’ve originally owned up to. It’s not to say the series is devoid of conflict – Dallas has to deal with a world full of nonbelievers, and not all of them are the Ivy league type – there’s debate, and then there’s a fun moment that offers a very sinister contrast for the good natured hijinks and light-charging of the status quo.

I shouldn’t highlight the violence, but it’s fictional violence. Cinemaglob usually profiles movies where at least one person leaves with a non-functional cranium. Sometimes, I just can’t help myself.

So there’s the story – a modern pilgrimage to help set the world right and teach us heathens to stop being assholes to each other. In this day and age, there are few more noble messages. World, stop being a dick.

Then there are the nuts and bolts of this thing.

I’m usually indie bandwagonning here, so I’m not going into the same spiel as always. If you’ve read more than one of my reviews, you know where I stand. The show looks good, the actors, for the vast majority, brought their A-Game, there are some fun, catchy soundtrack cues and some good ambient bits that ratchet up the tension later in the series, if you’re local, you’ll recognize some of the sets, which is pretty kool, but it’s all a very professional affair here. There is no “for an indie” this or that – the show’s done well and it’s as entertaining as it is engaging. There are a few standouts – of course our main ensemble of Benjamin Crockett as Dallas, Clay Evans as his right hand man Hank Jackson and Jeanne Whitney as Lindsey Dupree, Dallas’ well-intentioned skeptic love get front and center praise because they carry the bulk of the series, but Kristine Renee Farley’s God really caught me off guard. Though. I always suspected God had a sense of humor, there’s some snark there that’s refreshing. Kevin Roach as Benjamin Dolerman was a sight to behold, bringing some gut level pathos to the precedings; His role in the show brings a mix of complexity and surprise that push it away from standard “We’re on a mission from God” fare. Then there was David Ross as St. Peter. He was just fun as hell to watch. I can’t put my finger on it, but St. Peter as straight man made me smile.

For those at home, there’s also a quick cameo by weatherman Ron Rhodes. Lulz happened, for reasons I can not explain.

So that’s our cycle for this review – The Book of Dallas is a fun show with a lot of heart and a solid message, and it exists as an example to other shows that you can create something kinda kool, kinda edgy with a good sentiment and a lot to say and not have to be shilling anything but what it is. No subliminal messages, no fifteen cuts to the same taco bell ad at 3 a.m. well after the store is closed so the first thing on your mind when you wake up is a burrito and all the day-long nausea you can stand.

The Book of Dallas is satire done right, for an age when the very concept is incomprehensible. You need to watch it, because it’s a heartfelt kind of show – it doesn’t serve to insult your beliefs or your intelligence, there is no imaginary villain on the other end of the spectrum that the series’ core tenants are aimed at, it just asks you to keep an open mind and be entertained. The Book of Dallas is good, honest filmmaking, and that makes it a rarity for any era. You need to give this one a watch, because you’ll have fun, feel something, and it just might make you think.

And for the permanently askew, tempestuous and disturbed, there are guns and blood occasionally, so there’s that. This is Cinemaglob, after all, and what’s a bit of fun without watching someone’s head explode? (To clarify, no one’s head explodes in this show – I know someone out there is only going to skim this and take that out of context, and cry foul. These are jokes.)

Insinuant sophomoric gruesomeness aside – watch it. It’s free on Koldcast.tv, and it’s time well spent.

Posterism: Monster Party

I’ll review this one for Gamerglob eventually, as I’m sure most horror fans are well aware of this NES creature mashup. I made this poster for it a few weeks back and I figured why not share it with you awesome people? Download it, print it, and glue it to every available surface. All of them. That includes car windows and small children. Why? Why Not?

Monster Party

Everything Right Is Wrong Again: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D

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It’s like Leatherface has onset diabetes in the first stages of alzheimer’s…scratch that. If there was a movie that encapsulated the feeling of Hunter S. Thompson’s heartfelt speech about the waves crashing back, as he ruminated the demise of what should’ve been one of history’s great epochal moments, this is it.

tcmGet me the hell outta this movie…

Dear God. As if we didn’t have enough disappointment in our daily lives, Texas Chainsaw 3D opened last night. I honestly can’t recall a bigger let down in recent memory. I am a huge fan of the series, I even enjoyed the Platinum Dunes remake and it’s bizarre, muddled sequel. I had heard there was a bad buzz about the newest edition, but nothing could have prepared me for the horribly confused results of what should have been one of horror’s most beloved and revered characters’ triumphant, long overdue return. I swear, in an alternate universe, this was marketed as a comedy, and titled “Leatherface Gets Old”.

The film starts with some remastered scenes from the original TCM, retro-fitted to 3D (which doesn’t do much for the movie in any way possible, but we’ll get to that momentarily), and if you’ve never had a chance to screen that movie in a large theatre, there’s your happy thought. There is a voice-over from Sally Hardesty speaking to local authorities, then the new film kicks in and everything goes to hell, fast.

We join the extended Sawyer family (with fan-service cameos by Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface and Bill Moseley, who played Chop Top in TCM2, as Drayton) mid-siege, as some local good ole’ boys have descended on their bed of insanity to put an end to their ghoulish barbecues once and for all. They demand Leatherface be handed over or else, and of course, if they didn’t choose “or else”, we wouldn’t have a film. After a brief, dull shootout, someone lobs a molotov cocktail into the house, and it goes up in flames.

One of the lynch mob discovers a survivor cradling a baby. He snatches the baby, kicks the survivor in the face, and she dies. This is the setup – the baby grows up and her inheritance from the other side of the family is one truly awesome home stocked with what could best be referred to as “The Man who was Leatherface” – because aside from his mask shenanigans and chainsaw butlery, honestly, this is barely the character we once knew.

I keep telling myself it’s not Leatherface’s fault.

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Of course it isn’t his fault. For someone with the brains of an 8 year old, he’s still smarter than the writers.

Let’s just save some time – Leatherface gets loose, hacks a couple people up, some of the lynch mob who now occupy higher rank in their small community decide to finish what they started, the film ends with a cockeyed family feud and Leatherface, now balding and lurching, is re-branded as an anti-hero. There’s a lot of silliness in the middle, the story barely hangs together, and aside from Leather, there’s not a single character in this film you will give a damn about. Everything is paper thin, right down to the handling of the 3D aspect.

The 3D felt tacked on as an afterthought. It is not entertaining. It is not immersive. It just…is. It doesn’t do much for the film either way except inflate ticket prices. That…really pisses me off.

Let’s segue out of the review for a moment. Here’s a list of things you could do with your money instead of go and see Texas Chainsaw 3D:

  • Get tons of junk foodand watch every other film in the series on Netflix.
  • Donate the price of said tickets to nearly any indie project on Kickstarter or Indie-Go-Go.
  • Charitable acts.
  • Rent a real chainsaw, shenanigans ensue.
  • Get drunk on that money, sneak into the theatre – movie is exponentially better.
  • Send Tobe Hooper a get well card, because this film is bound to send him to the proctologist.

The movie alternated between dull and stupid. Halfway through, the entire audience, myself included, broke down laughing. This is NOT what a TCM film is supposed to do – fall into the realm of unintentional slapstick and irritatingly shallow stereotypes. After a while, it seemed like the movie was never going to right itself from its position of ineptitude. But then…

For a split second, near the end, there is a glimmer of what the series once was…I say glimmer, because another split second before that, lead actress Alexandra Daddario utters the most cringeworthy line in the film: “Do your thing, cuz!” If Leatherface were actually allowed to do his thing, this film would’ve been a helluva lot better.

Almost forgot – there are a few jump scares that may get you – mostly because with the pacing of the film, they’ll wake you back up from your boredom induced slumber.

I was glad I wasn’t alone in my disdain for the entire cast (sans Moseley and Hansen – they are completely, utterly squandered, and my first thought was that the filmmakers earned an extra special minus point for creating a movie that had two horror giants in it and it still managed to be TURRRRRIBLE), the story is confusing at best, the whole thing felt like it started as an entirely different script and had TCM elements shoe-horned into it…the 3D is a ripoff…the saving grace of this film is that with the emphasis on the two female leads’ looks (I honestly don’t recall the Friday the 13th elements of drugs and procreation equaling death being central to a Chainsaw film, but that’s what happened, and also, looks like Jason is quickly becoming the only horror icon you can’t ruin), the hammy dialogue, Oldface, and some mind-blowingly awkward story decisions (for my local friends, there is an entire sequence that looks like what would happen if Leatherface went to the Sweetcorn Festival…and it sucks as bad as it sounds), that with as much subliminal campiness (and I mean that in the BAD way) at hand, what we really have here is a film nerd prank, the equivalent of a booze-fueled night of “What If” jibes that broke new ground, or bar lowering, in that we have the answer to “What if they made a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and it was devoid of everything awesome about the movie, and they ret-conned every other film but the first one, and to top it off, it played out like Showgirls?”.

Minus the Caligula level of decadence, this is what the film felt like for me, Texas Chainsaw Showgirls Massacre. I’d wager that this one may play out for future audiences as a callback movie with props and Rocky Horror style yelling of different profanities for different characters.

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Upon receipt of the worst STD imaginable: The Derps.

On the drive home, I tuned into Nights with Alice Cooper. He reminisced about his fondness for the original, and while he didn’t find it quite so terrifying or repellant, he had a soft spot for Leatherface. I did too, Alice, and here’s the answer to your question of whether the film was good or not – the movie doesn’t completely scrub Leatherface’s repugnant, bloody legacy, but it makes the third sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation look like Oscar bait by default. It wasn’t scary – it was super bad, and it may gain new legs on the celebration of that alone. Skip it, Mr. Cooper. You’re better off going golfing with Dylan and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, as are we all.

Matthew McConaughey, Renee Zellweger, you can both rest easier knowing you are no longer the stars of the worst Texas Chainsaw Massacre in existence.

There are a ton of other reasons this film simply doesn’t work, but I’m going to show it some mercy. I really wanted to like this movie, the art direction is decent and John Frizzel’s score works nicely. That’s, unfortunately, all I can come up with. The weirdest, worst part, for me, was the ending. I AM going to spoil it, because it lacks all plausibility and is just horrible. The movie ends with the cousins resigning themselves to being the last in the bloodline, to look after each other and secure their legacy in the wake of a townful of haters in Middle Texas. The catch – it plays out like the ending to a Syfy channel pilot-movie that we all know deep in our hearts won’t get picked up. As Leatherface slams the door to his lair, one can only hope this slams the door on what was once a benchmark in the genre.

Gamerglob: Splatterhouse (2010)

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Ok, so I’ve been toying with the idea of throwing a few curveballs around here at the old Glob, simply due to the fact that every once in a while I get around to enjoying something that isn’t a film, but IS related to Cinema, and wouldn’t be to out of place here. We’re going to test some things out once in a while and if it’s fun, it stays, and if it starts to feel like watching other people’s vacation slides, it dies.

Tonight we’re going to roll out our very first installment of Gamerglob. For the record, I’ve posted random things in the Gamer vein before, but I’ma do my best to make sure they at least somehow connect to Movieland, even if it seems like I’m going off on a completely nonsensical tangent.

That brings us to Splatterhouse, the remake of the Namco arcade gore-brawler from the late 80′s/early 90′s that spawned two sequels and thoroughly enraged parents and bastions of censorship everywhere. But from a time hazed in Aquanet, when something as asinine as Terror in the Toybox had urged families to steer clear of the subliminal messages in everything from the Smurfs to Barney, it takes a really special game to get the remake treatment and remain a fan favorite for all these years.

WARNING: DUE TO THE GRAPHIC NATURE AND FOUL HUMOR OF THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE, AND RECENT EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE THAT PIXELATED VIOLENCE IS THE VERY SEED THAT INSERTS SATAN INTO THE LOINS OF THE FEEBLE, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. CINEMAGLOB IS NOT LIABLE FOR EXCESSIVE GROUNDINGS, MORAL CORRUPTION, OR LOSS OF ALL RESPECTABILITY AND PERMANENT CAREER INSTABILITY. THIS ARTICLE DEEMED UNFIT FOR ALL HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

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The Day the Radness Died – Killer Schoolgirls from Outer Space

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Good God please don’t take this personally. This movie has stirred up quite a calamity here, and not for any of the right reasons. Maybe I’m a movie snob, maybe I’m not – I tried to pull up my prepubescent, snot-nosed movie brat for the proper perspective from which to review this film – my inner thirteen-year-old. He had the lowest expectations of entertainment that any human being has ever had, and he was NOT HAPPY.

Cinemaglob has had a few quiet stretches over the course of its first year. I think I’ve run the reasons for that far enough into the ground that there’s no need to go into further detail, except this one funny little instance that made me consider what the hell I’ve brought myself to. I watched a film I really, REALLY didn’t like. It was an indie scifi flick, and the person who sent it to me seemed like a really nice, earnest person. I’ve been putting this off because I really didn’t want that person to read this and feel bad. So, here’s my plea not to take this review personally, there’s like a million faceless film critics on the internet, and I’m but one of them. If you’ve been reading the Hate List recently, one snowbound night I went off on a tangent in a spastic, half-crazed attempt to make peace with myself, and this was the elephant in the room I was trying not to discuss by name. Here it is, the note that drowned the rhythm, Killer Schoolgirls from Outer Space.

So…Killer Schoolgirls from Outer Space is purported to be an homage to every single Roger Corman film ever, specifically his drive-in days ouvre, and the unfortunate truth is that I really haven’t seen a lot of his movies outside of his mid-eighties VHS schlock and the kind of crap they used to shovel straight onto TMC and Showtime before anyone over their gave a shit about much besides Red Shoe Diaries. I honestly can’t tell you if they hit their mark. Something in my gut tells me maybe not so much.

The plot: Space Daddy Ron Jeremy sends his nubile young daughters to destroy our planet. The kid in the letters jacket gets a sloppy blow-job from the girl voted most likely to spend the rest of her life working the retail desk at Goodwill and they immediately take it upon themselves to save the world, digital genocide happens occasionally, and I pause the film to ask myself, “Is a world this shitty really worth saving?”. Hate to break it to you, but I rooted for Ron Jeremy the whole time, and he only comprises about 3.5 minutes of the entire movie. 15 minutes in I wanted everyone to just explode already so I could watch Killer Klowns, because that’s the closest thing I could think of to compare to this “unexpected invaders” flick, and I’ll probably watch that one forever. I promised myself, somewhere in the haze, walking down the road muttering, that after I got better, after the straight jacket came off, the movie men couldn’t hurt me anymore and I’d never have to watch this movie ever again. Therapy was a big help, but after my first failed escape attempt, the first thing that they put on for “film night” was KSGfOS, and I relapsed. When I came to, I was surrounded by orderlies and I couldn’t remember where I had gotten the scalpel.

So…where to begin with this movie’s many, many failures…there’s the poor acting (which is usually fairly forgivable for low-budget films and indies, here every last line felt robotic and under-emoted, or just plain out of place), the over-abundance of Adobe After Effects (does the moon never shine in Texas? If you need a still shot of the moon, for god’s sake, just plaster a photo in there, because it came off as a glow in the dark ceiling sticker from Dollar General, and that too would’ve been preferable…) that fills in just about everything where practical effects would’ve been fine, if not better (the disintegration deaths made perfect sense, but after a while, those just felt vague and generic), the pacing, which feels nigh eternal, i.e. nothing much happens in between the Schoolgirls showing up and blasting things and the movie will wear on you long before you even hit the halfway mark, the strange barn dance/hoedown/60′s rock segue which, according to the commentary, is lifted straight out of The Blob, the awkward nudity which is blatantly shoe-horned in and does the exact opposite of its intended purpose (and the marketing does its damnedest to make you feel like you’re walking into a softcore scifi spoof, and you, rest assured, aren’t; that didn’t irritate me as much as confuse me to the film’s overall purpose, period), hell, even Ron Jeremy didn’t look happy to be there, and he’s known to drag every single fucking person he knows to the premiere of any non-pornographic film he’s in, even if that role’s a two second cameo…in fact no one involved in the project looked like they wanted to be on screen.

That’s right – the biggest slight of this movie is that it is not fun, therefore not at all awesome, and that comes home when you look at the blank, nervous faces of the Killer Schoolgirls, the titular stars of this film, who seemed like they hated every last second they were trapped on camera. I listened to the commentary track intently, and I know at one point you’re told to not think too hard, it’s just a movie…

That’s the exact opposite of my entire nature. I was brought upon this world to think too hard. ESPECIALLY when someone tells me not to.

What saved this film from comprising the next fifteen Hate Lists is Alexander Schumake himself. He’s responsible for the vast majority of this thing, and he seems like a nice guy, who really, really likes movies. Usually this planet takes nice guys like that and grinds them up into a paste of equal parts urine and venom, molding them back into people shape under a banner known as “Bitter, Middle-Aged Fuckwit”. I don’t want to see that happen to Mr. Schumake. This film…is not fun. It isn’t funny. It isn’t scary, it isn’t much of anything but a collection of vignettes in sequential order. If you, the audience, want to make this film work as any kind of entertainment, the best thing you can do is write your own meta-narrative that bookends this movie, something along the lines of this: “The last children of a destroyed future civilization uncovered a time capsule full of Roger Corman’s 1960′s era films. Somewhere between their naive misunderstandings of the functioning of cinema and the vast cultural gap between shotgunning hover mutants and the soft, confused luxury afforded 20th century American lifestyles, does this film exist, lovingly crafted in the breathtakingly short period of time between cannibal raids and small, mildly nuclear holocausts.”

I apologize. I have a hard time being openly or secretly enthusiastic about this movie, as I was witness to some of the most creative and demanding independent movies this year. A lot of people made something from nothing through a combination of talent, dedication, and sheer triumph of will, and I think it would be a slight on them to even try to damn this film with faint praise. The biggest problem with this movie is that it’s just half-assed. It’s boring. Middle of the road. If anything could’ve been strong in any single direction I would’ve thought completely different of it. I think the biggest problem here was confusing could with should. None of this should’ve happened. Obviously it could’ve because it exists, but should it have? I get that this was supposed to be an homage to a by-gone era, but take just about any drive-in movie, even something as horrible as Robot Monster – at least the monster is balls-out crazy. It’s a freakin’ ape-suit with a diver’s helmet, but good lord does looking back at that inspire some kind of emotion! Taking the cheesecake factor of the schoolgirls and just relying on “these are girls in Japanese sailor style uniforms” and dangling it there does nothing. You’d have to be mega hard-up for this to have any kind of affect on you at all. There’s no payoff to the set-up and you can’t even eke any laughs out of it.

It’s not so bad it’s glorious. It’s not remotely good. There isn’t anything besides a few Mars Attacks style death scenes to go around, and we’ve seen better in a ton of places. I’ll say this – the direction was workman level. As absolute standard watchability goes, the camera stayed in focus. Now that’s something.

Honestly, the film is technically proficient enough that it just goes to show at some point during this movie’s production most of the people involved merely stopped caring. That makes me sad. If Mr. Schumake wants to continue to pursue filmmaking as a viable path in life, I’m all for it. I think the man has enough raw potential to create something good, perhaps even great, if he so chooses. But this isn’t it. It’s a really hard start, and there are a ton of lessons to be learned here, but please, by no means, do you let this be the movie you go down in history for. Even the guy that directed Troll 2 gave us Monster Dog, and it has Alice Cooper in it, so, automatic win by default. Please pay closer attention next time, please understand that even the most seemingly random thing in a movie has implied meaning behind its existence and inclusion, even those most seemingly mundane or inexplicable. Things don’t get to be awesome by default unless they already are in reality, and the people that think barely-legal women in uniform are generally epic are maybe not the kind of people you want to attract, unless you want to invoke the Pedo Bear, and then the all-white Federal van that constantly follows him. That’s all good for cosplayers and the criminally delusional, but don’t out your personal fetish stuff unless you’ve got something good on your hands. I imagine a lot of budding perverts would’ve requested their money back after the bait-and-switch play the movie so thoroughly owns, if they could be bothered to un-stick themselves from their body-molded office chairs. The main selling point, from an odd glance, seems to be sex, and the film ain’t sexy. It’s mildly embarassing.

In a nutshell, you can do better, and you owe it to yourself, not us, to do so. All you have to do is care.

Minus Points (No Bonus): The commentary sheds light on the film, then becomes the only interesting thing about it. Added to the fact is that a lot of first time filmmaker advice is offered up (in fact the film comes with a disc of tutorials, which after watching the main movie, I was not inclined to dig through), although I’m not sure at this point in the game if the Schumakes are qualified to be doling out advice yet. It’d be pretty adroit if they were open to receiving it.

Last Ditch Efforts: Starting with a film this bad, one only has room to go up.

Ah, The Taste of Eating One’s Own Words – Trailerism: Evil Dead Remake Edition

Well, I’ll be damned. The Red Band bump for Evil Dead has hit the net, and my expectations hit the deck. This may well be enough to take back all the snotty things I said about Diablo Cody permanently. See? This and the upcoming Maniac reboot may finally prove that remakes don’t have to suck. Hit the jump for the awesomesauce, because this one truly earns its Red Band status.

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Hate List: December (or “A One Sided Diatribe Against My Conscience”)

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Somehow I’m posting a Hate List before the month is over. Some small miracle on my part has kept the one regular feature I manage to keep on schedule (somewhat), rolling before the month’s actually over with! Perhaps it’s the massive amount of snow that’s hit – it keeps one focused. Unfortunately, I really hate snow right now. Yes, it’s beautiful to behold, and makes for an overly sentimental, feel-good, think-not Christmas card, but drive through it for more than ten minutes and you will know the terror of panic attacks and screeching tires. While the sky is falling, I’ve been doing my best to cocoon and keep warm and cozy whilst catching up on my movie list.

I hope all you awesome Globsters had an epic Christmas, Hannukah or whatever spiritual day your soul serves to celebrate. As for me, I’m truly thankful the holiday season is coming to a close. The end of the year has been marked with setback after setback, and fourth quarter has been truly humbling in a lot of ways. If anything, the end of 2012 has been the time of finding out what we’re made of…

…and we here at Cinemaglob are made of an excess of awesome, followed by 10% snark, an abundance of hyperbole, over-eagerness, and earnestness. Honest.

I didn’t get to catch much in December besides movies I’ve watched to the point of memorization and a couple films I’ve been waiting to check out for a few months now (and a really rad web series that warrants upcoming review), so I think it may be a good time to dissect what everyone loves to hate: criticism. It was like Jiminy Cricket had been whispering “You’re an asshole!” in my ear, and I felt the need to justify this column’s existence. Oh, the guilt.

Halfway through the month I got to thinking about why the Hate List even exists at all. There have been more than a few occasions where I’ve given my best and it simply wasn’t good enough – why kick other people when they’re down? Does not learning from failure to create something better define us all? Does misery really need all that company? What kind of authority have I reserved to pass off unwarranted, heavy handed judgement? Maybe some of these movies I’m over analyzing, or just don’t get. Maybe…just maybe…I’m being kind of a prick…

The Hate List was conceived as an exaggerated prank, to get a little back from movies that felt painful to watch. For some, it was an attempt to justify time and money that felt somewhat wasted – as well as a chance to play the villain for a change, the alter-ego being some kind of parody of the trolls and “hipster film-crit snobs” littering the internet. I don’t care much for labels, but I can’t stand trolls, either.

Some of it, unfortunately, does feel justified. Sometimes certain movies just strike me as cynical. See any academy award nominee who got there by not wearing makeup or playing a handicapped person by showing up dressed idiosyncratically.

Apologies – cabin fever and op-ed disorientation don’t mix well, dear readers.

Part of this column serves to entertain its author – I may love a movie and still shred it. I’ve always had a passion for dissecting sacred cows. This sounds hypocritical from someone inviting you to embrace the hype as part of the experience, but that’s the short end of it. Sometimes, we’re all still school children delighted by repeating four-letter words at those deemed superior in thought to us. This may be why I shredded Antichrist so hard. Because I was told I should admire that film, I spitefully turned it inside out. Criticism is a moody business, and sometimes the fault does lie within the viewer’s perspective. Oops.

Here’s the point, sans punchline. Movies are what we feel passionate about here at Cinemaglob, and that passion is a two way street. If you’ve ever seen people driving on the snowy, icy highway, you know it feels inevitable that somewhere on that winter road, the sides can flip, and worlds can collide instantly. There are accidents. The aftermath is rarely pleasant. Thus, somehow, in this insomnia-induced ramble, lies the genesis of this. I suppose its like gauging the reaction of various people observing the same car wreck.

So there’s the crash analogy –  what do we get out of watching an accident? We learn to avoid them like the plague, to not repeat our mistakes, to respect that other people are going to be involved in this. Movies are a two way street – those that survive making them are leaving the experience, embarking toward new creative endeavors. Those that watch them are just arriving at the scene to see what went on. Then we analyze what happened and how it affects us, and place our bets on who will survive and what will be left of them.

If the movie’s good, that’s awesome. If it’s bad, then one of two things happens. If it’s monumentally bad for a number of reasons, watching that film can become transcendent. So-called bad movies such as Tommy Wisseau’s THE ROOM or something like TROLL 2 end up being a completely unique experience taken out of context. They take on a life of their own and are so outside of the norm, they can no longer be judged by any kind of status quo, standardized conditions. Even in the worst of films there can be something so strange and charming about them they function on a completely unintentional higher plane, and escape the void of the HL.

Then there are movies that are just bad. They inspire negativity for a number of reasons. Usually, to make the Hate List, bad for Cinemaglob means any number of things from laziness to hubris. A fatal flaw somewhere in the mix pulls them out of the crowd – usually for losing focus, for being uninspired, for pandering, for being condescending to the audience, etc. ad nauseum.

 

If your movie made the Hate List, it was too “MEH” to make much impact other than ugly, bitter words. It made my job feel like drudge work, and it made me question my very existence. The moral here is that  if a flick was crummy enough to spark this clumsy, unbalanced article, maybe it deserves to be on this list, and maybe the people who made it owe it not only to us, but to themselves, to do better. So, the hate is indeed warranted. If your movie made me question why life continued to go on while I glued myself to the screen to sit through it, trading bits and pieces of a life I can’t get back to witness a car wreck level feat of half-assery, then by all means, a refund isn’t going to cover it.

That’s your end of the trade. So I’ve purged all of my guilty emotions and have decided this is going to continue out of necessity, Jiminy Cricket’s head is resting face down in a shallow pool of smart-mouthed spit, and the world’s not going to be a kinder, gentler place. Growth is generally neither gentle, nor kind, but it beats always crashing in the same car.