Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Am Legend (2007)

Or “I Am Mildly Amused but Not Blown Away”

Granted, I knew the premise of I Am Legend before watching it, having seen the 1964 version called The Last Man On Earth, starring Vincent Price, so, some could argue that , with that foreknowledge, I couldn’t expect to be surprised by much. And I’ll give you that much. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that I am the type of person who you can lay out the entire plot of a movie to & (with some exceptions) I can still thoroughly enjoy the movie. (This is in large part due to the fact that I’ll probably not see the movie for another year or two, but still…) Keeping that in mind, the movie still only managed to merely leave me with a “Meh.”


The good about the movie? Well, Will Smith was completely adequate as the lead (& primary, for most of the film’s running time) character, Robert Neville, a military scientist trying to find a cure for a virus that turned most of the planet’s populace into raging, cannibalistic albinos (as opposed to straight up, garlic fearin’ vampires in The Last Man On Earth). Neville holds out some hope that there may be someone else out there, broadcasting a radio message calling on anyone out there to contact him. He’s pretty persistent, too, as it’s established that it’s been about three years since the outbreak.

Interspersed throughout are flashbacks to the evacuation of Manhattan, with Neville trying to get his family out to safety. This is done to provide us with a bit of pathos, eventually showing us how Neville lost his wife & daughter, but, more importantly, to show us how he acquired Samantha, his dog & the only other entity he’s had contact with for the past three years that hasn’t tried to eat him. That is, at least, until she’s infected & he’s forced to put her down (hey, I warned you about spoilers).

Later, while attempting suicide via cannibal albino, Neville is rescued by another woman who, like he, is immune to the virus. She takes him back to his place, but, in doing so, inadvertently leaves a trail for the albinos to follow. This leads to the climactic showdown between Neville & the “alpha male” cannibal & ends with the release of a nuclear grenade. Of course, not before Neville finally finds the right vaccination that’ll turn the albinos back into normal people & handing it off to Anna, the woman who saved him the night before & thus saving the world. Convenient timing, no?

Credit where credit’s due: at least the movie didn’t end with Neville making his way out with Anna, off to greener pastures & happy sunsets.

All in all, not a bad movie. Certainly not The Ninth Gate bad.

So, why the “meh,” you ask?

I think a lot of my indifference toward the movie stems from the differences between this & Last Man. I’ve never read the original source material, so I can’t make any comparisons in that respect. The differences between the two movies though (there’s a third, for those who don’t know - The Omega Man - that I’d seen years ago & can’t remember a lot about), while not real big deals, were enough to be a bit of a distraction for me. First of all, in the first movie, the virus isn’t some cure for cancer. In fact, I don’t remember there being much background to it, other than that it originated in Europe & then made its way across the pond.

Second, Neville I was a scientist (& his name was Robert Morgan, but "Neville I" will suffice for this review), not the military scientist that Neville II is, so it makes his survival more of a “learned along the way” kind of thing, as opposed to Neville II’s assumed military training. (In fact, one of the thoughts that kept running through my head was where Neville II found, & how did he install, all of the sliding armored doors & window shutters. In one scene, you can tell that the door is one of those steel storefront doors, but, as for the rest, I just had to wonder.)

Thirdly, the Anna analogue (Anna-logue?) from Last Man was actually one of the vampires who lived in a colony where they’d found a treatment, though not a cure, for the virus. It turns out that Neville I had been going about killing off these semi-cured people, not knowing that they were semi-cured, thus making him a “Legend,” a man both feared & hated. In the current movie, Anna (&, I neglected, a young boy named Ethan, whom I neglected to mention, not as an omission, but, rather, because he plays no part other than to have a cute little kid to put in danger & to give Neville II a chance recite some loosely related lines from Shrek; Samantha the dog had more lines & screen presence than this kid) is a Red Cross worker who escaped a medical ship & followed Neville II’s radio signal in an effort to find him. She & Ethan prove to also be immune to the virus.

This leads us to my fourth point, that of the mutants. In Last Man, they were, for all intents & purposes, vampires: they shunned sunlight, severe garlic allergies & didn’t like mirrors (not really a vampire thing, but we’ll just go along with it). They also retained some intelligence & memories, as the main ghoul is Neville I’s former lab partner & remembers Neville I, goading him to open the door & let them in. The mutants in Legend have the sunlight shunning bit, but that’s it. They’re more like the rage zombies is 28 Days Later than vampires. They have no memory of who they were, don’t talk, but, rather, scream & are superpowered. They do, we find out, have the capacity to learn, but it’s mainly just a plot contrivance. Also, with the exception of a couple jumper scenes, they weren’t all that scary; maybe it’s exposure to too many poorly realized CGI monsters in Sci-Fi Channel movies, but, the CGI in this movie just wasn’t all that convincing. I know they were supposed to be mutated, but they just never seemed to move or react to their surroundings naturally, a problem all too common with CGI creatures.

Those are just the big points. There are other little ones (like Neville II’s family dying in a retarded helicopter accident as opposed to Neville I’s family contracting the virus, which, to me, would make things much more personal; I guess they didn’t want us to think about how Neville II’s wife & daughter would’ve been dispatched once the craving for human flesh kicked in), but, nothing too major.

“So,” you may be asking (or maybe not), “was there anything that you liked about the movie?” To which I answer, “Yes, it had a few redeeming qualities.” One is Will Smith. I’ll admit, that, while I do like him enough, his swaggering and “Bad Boys” jibba jabba wears a little thin after awhile. In Legend, though, it was kept to a very bare minimum. While I didn’t buy for a moment that he was a Colonel in the Army (I’ve never seen a Colonel under fifty), the parts showing him just trying to survive from day to day were quite good. The scene after he has to put Samantha down, where he begs a mannequin to simply say hello to him was actually a bit moving. Even the “Shrek” scene was good, as was his reaction to being around people again after Anna & Ethan move into his home were well done.

While the movie ended on a much more hopeful note than Last Man or the source book (I do know how that ends), it was still a better ending than I anticipated, thankfully, nuclear grenade notwithstanding. Would I recommend renting it? Yeah, I would. I can think of far worse ways to kill a hundred minutes.

I Am Legend:

3 out of 5 Screaming Albino Cannibals

Dog Soldiers (2002)

A year or so ago, the Sci-Fi Channel used to play movies late at night on weeknights. On one of these particular nights, I’d just watched some atrocity that more than likely involved either weather gone amok or poorly rendered CGI monsters stalking & eating idiot characters more than likely played by Casper van Dien or John Rhys-Davies.

It was a little slice of Heaven in the middle of the week.

Anyway, on this particular night, after having watched the above described cinematic abomination, one of those annoying ads that networks run in the bottom corner of the screen popped up, saying something along the lines of “You’re Watching: Chupacabra Vs. SS Doomtrooper; Up Next: Dog Soldiers.” After rolling my eyes so far back that I could actually see my frontal lobe, I thought, “Oh, brother – this I’ve got to see.” After all, we’re talking about the Sci-Fi Channel here, probably the only network that produces movies where the title tells you exactly what you’re in for. I figured this would be some dumb flick about post-apocalyptic warriors who are teamed up with talking dogs fighting against – I dunno – their opposite number, only they’d be armed with eee-vil housecats (post-apocalyptic eee-vil housecats!) & that I’d turn it off about ten minutes in.

When I finally turned the TV off at 1a, I realized just how wrong I was.
Unfortunately for you, Loyal Readers, life intervened & I was never able to do a write-up of the movie. Fortunately for you, Loyal Readers, Sci-Fi played it again recently, giving me enough time to digest it & give to you what I know you were hoping for…

What’s that? You’re hoping that I’m announcing my retirement from the Internet?

Oh, how droll…

Anyway, like or lump it, you’re getting a review of Dog Soldiers. So there.

Our movie starts off in a forest in England. A man & woman are out camping, getting away from the hustle & bustle of life. Apparently, he’s a writer of sorts & is feeling a bit burned out. The woman presents him with a gift – no, not that…well, not yet, at least – of a letter opener.

A pure sliver letter opener. *hint, hint*

After the gift exchange, they go back to enjoying the scenery &…well, he’s enjoying her scenery, if you know what I mean, & I think you do. Don’t get excited, though, because, before anything happens, the zipper to their tent sloooowly opens. The woman is then pulled through the opening, with her husband trying in vain to pull her back. It’s here that I learned that the inside of the human body is pressurized, as, when the unseen beastie chomps into the woman, she pops, flinging prop blood all over the guy.

We next get some text indicating that we’re now about two weeks prior to the abovementioned festivities. We catch up with a man running through the woods, being chased by men with machineguns & dogs. He’s accosted by a couple of the armed men & manages to take them out, only to finally be cornered. Just when it looks like it might be the end, we learn that this was a training exercise. The man being chased is one Private Cooper & this has all been a trial to get into the British Special Forces. Here we also meet Captain Ryan, the leader of this particular unit, who congratulates Cooper on evading capture for so long & tells him that he’s made it onto the team – well, after one last little test. For reasons that I still don’t quite get, Ryan hands Cooper a pistol & orders him to shoot a dog. This scene is done for no other reason than to set up another scene later in the movie. Cooper refuses to do the deed & Ryan, after dispatching the dog himself (again, why? Well, other than IITS…), tells Cooper that he’s now out of the team.

OK, I have a slight problem with this scene. In the military, as with the police K-9 units, dogs are highly trained, considered soldiers/airmen, just as their two legged counterparts are. The shooting of the dog, one that no doubt cost the British government a pretty pound to train, is on par with Ryan pulling out his gun & shooting a human soldier. There’s no way he would’ve reached the rank of captain shooting his fellow troops left & right. A military prison would be the only thing he’d be seeing for the rest of his life.

Back to the story. We now shift ahead two months to a squad of soldiers on maneuvers in, gee, the same forest. And who should be a part of the squad? Why, it’s Private Cooper! Small world, eh? Anyway, the squad is on maneuvers as part of a training mission with the Special Forces team. Here, we meet the rest of the dead meat…er, team: the leader, Sarge; Joe, the loudmouth; Terry, the footy fan; & the rest – Bruce, Spoon &, I think one other guy whose name escapes me at the moment. He puked a lot, though, so I’ll call him Pukey. The squad sets up camp & Sarge tells a story about a friend of his with whom he served in the first Gulf War that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie.

This was one of the many little touches to the movie that I really liked & I’ll tell you why: because, in real life, not everything we do or say has a lick to do with anything else in our lives. Sure, maybe a “Butterfly Effect” kind of thing happens sometimes, but, take, for instance, me. I am a walking vault of near useless knowledge; I spout stupid trivia at the drop of a hat. I’m like Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire, just a little taller & without the lisp. Does any of the trivia that I dispense matter one wit to the world at large? Unless you’re on Jeopardy!, then, no, it doesn’t. You could probably go your entire life without knowing that, say, palm trees are more of a weed than an actual tree; you’d probably die happy & content without that knowledge. But, it may have been a little bit of trivia that added to your day. The point is (I’ll get there eventually, I promise) the story told in the story managed to add just a bit more depth & dimension to the movie, making you care a little more about the characters & what they’re about to go through.

All that to say, nice touch, movie!

Back to the movie (remember that?). As the troops bed down for the night, the calm of this bucolic scene is shattered by the arrival, via trebuchet, apparently, of a dead sheep, into the middle of their encampment. This induced flashbacks to Monty Python & the Holy Grail. All that was missing were screams of “Run away!” Cooper, being the medic in the group, looks at the carcass & notes bite marks all over it. (Hmm…silver letter opener. Bite marks. Unless I miss my guess, I’d say the monster we’re dealing with is a mummy of some sort.) Oh, & Pukey pukes.

Soon after, a flare goes up from the Special Forces encampment. The squad makes its way over, only to find the camp totally turned on end with blood everywhere & no sign of the Special Forces team. Howling is heard in the distance. (Yup, I’m sure it’s a mummy now!) Sarge orders everybody to find whatever weapons they can & load up with live ammo (they were using blanks for the training mission). He also order radio silence be broken & an extraction helicopter to come in to get them. For some reason, though, the squad’s radio can’t get through & the Special Forces radio, when it’s eventually found, is out of commission. While looking around, they find Captain Ryan, the only survivor, with a big gash across his chest. He’s barely alive & babbling on about how there was only supposed to be one of “them,” though never specifying what “them” is.

With the injured Ryan in tow, the squad makes for the forest, which proves to be a bad move. Bruce is ordered to bring up the rear & cover the rest of the group. Unfortunately, Bruce has a faulty internal compass; he gets disoriented while being stalked by some sort of monster (A mummy! I just know it!). Running blindly, he becomes a Bruce-kabob when he runs, gut first, into an exposed tree branch. Sarge fares little better, as he gets gutted by the beastie. Cooper finds him &, tucking Sarge’s innards back in, helps his NCOIC hobble off to safety.

The men make their way to a road, where help just happens to come rolling along in the form of Megan, a scientist of some sort who just happens to be out & about in her Land Rover. The troops load in with a pack of werewolves (Drat! I was certain they were going to be mummies) nipping at their heels. Megan informs them that the nearest town (&, by default, phone) are fifty miles away. There is, however, a farmhouse nearby & Megan knows the people who live there.

They arrive, only to find that the owners are out. In a scene out of what is sure to be the next Sci-Fi original movie, “Goldilocks & The Three Werebears,” the soldiers break in & find the dinner table set & food cooking on the stove, as if the whole family just up & disappeared right before supper. Perhaps they were taking a walk whilst waiting for their porridge to cool. Totally ignoring all rules of etiquette, the men settle in for what will prove to be a long night. Sarge is taken upstairs to lie down & Ryan is tied to a chair. It’s here where we find out that the training mission was actually an attempt to capture one of the werewolves to study & potentially use as a weapon (yeah, that’s always a good idea).

Soon the siege begins, as the werewolves try to gain entrance, only to be repelled by the troops. Slowly, though, the munitions run low. Cooper resorts to using a sword to take out Ryan once he starts transforming. During this time, we also find out that Sarge has been infected, as his wounds have fully healed. We also find out that - surprise! – Megan is also one of the werewolves, working with the family to lure the soldiers to them. I guess they underestimated just how much of a fight trained soldiers would put up.

The fighting continues, with Sarge taking out Megan just as she starts to transform (I guess you can kill a werewolf when it’s in its human or transitional stage – who knew?). Soon, the group is whittled down to Sarge & Cooper (but not before Spoon goes mano a mano with one of the beasties, holding his own for quite awile). The werewolves finally make their way through the team’s defenses & Sarge, beginning to feel the effects of the infection, orders Cooper into the cellar while he plans to blow the roof off the place by cutting the gas line. The house goes boom & all is well for Cooper…

…or so we think.

Wandering around, Cooper discovers that he’s actually in the werewolves’ pantry, as he runs into bodies in various states of dismemberment, including our couple from the beginning of the movie. Here we also find out that Captain Ryan wasn’t completely out of the game. Earlier, Cooper had stabbed Ryan with a sword, which was left embedded in his torso. Now Ryan, looking to exact a little revenge for the whole impertinence thing from earlier in the movie & the more recent stabbiness, pushes the business end of the sword into Cooper’s mouth, making a grating sound against his teeth which give me chills every time I think of it. Groping around, Cooper fins the silver letter opener spotlighted at the beginning of the movie & stabs Ryan with it. Exit Ryan. Cooper makes his way home. End of movie.

As I implied earlier, Dog Soldiers turned out to be one of those rare treats found occasionally on Sci-Fi: a decent movie with good acting, serviceable special effects & an interesting, well paced script. I have a feeling that the Powers That Be at Sci-Fi HQ didn’t have much, if any, input on the making of this movie. If only that applied to the movies that Sci-Fi actually produces, maybe their movies would less painful to watch.

Nah, probably not.

Dog Soldiers

4 out of 5 Full Moons

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud (2007)

Who says that movies can’t teach you anything? Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud is a veritable Encyclopedia Britannica of cultural insight. For instance, did you know that the Hatfield/McCoy family feud began not over a pig in the late 19th century, but over the running over of a Hatfield by a McCoy & the subsequent gypping of the Hatfield’s their due restitution? Me neither! I also didn’t know that people in the Deep South have the worst Southern accents ever!

We start the movie with a little prologue involving two guys on dirtbikes being chased by a red-tinted, grunting & snarling POV shot. Having not seen the previous installment of the Pumpkinhead series, I don’t know if this was one of those wrap-up-of-the-end-of-the-last-movie deals, a la some of the Halloween movies; it really doesn’t matter all that much in any case. Anyway, back to the action – the two guys are ripping their way through some woods in a desperate attempt to flee an irate POV shot. Motorcycle Guy One (MG1) makes his way through the trees without incident. Unfortunately for Motorcycle Guy Two (MG2), a log teleports its way onto the trail, causing him to endo & land on his back; the dirtbike, apparently made of nitroglycerine, explodes after ejecting its rider. The now poorly rendered CGI Pumpkinhead then lands near MG2 & proceeds to pull his head off. Upon seeing his cohort being viciously mauled by a killer POV, MG1 rides back to stave off the demonic collection of pixels & save his friend.

Nah, just kidding.

MG1 sees what’s happening &, despite MG2’s screams for help (before having his head removed, of course), hauls butt out of the woods to the house of the guy who requested the assistance of the demon. MG1 begs the guy to call off the demon, but is told that he can’t, that Pumpkinhead will keep killing until it finishes the job (that’s some real job loyalty, there). Upon learning this, Pumpkinhead bursts into the cabin & slashes MG1 across the chest, resulting in a variation of the Hero’s Battle Death Exemption (usually, this exemption means that the hero will be able to take about ten times the abuse that the other victims in the movie were able to withstand; in this case, MG1’s not really the ‘hero’, so much as a plot conveyance mechanism that must survive long enough to fill in the others later in the movie as to how to take out the monster before buying it himself – oops, hope I didn’t spoil anything for you!). MG1 takes a shot at his otherworldly assailant, finding this to be less than effective. What he does find effective, though, is shooting the guy who called up Pumpkinhead in the first place & in dispatching him, he also dispatches the demon. At this, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen), the man who called upon Pumpkinhead in the first movie, shows up to tell MG1 that he’s basically screwed for the rest of eternity, that he’ll end up like Harley, unable to cross over to the afterlife. (Why this is, as MG1 didn’t call up Pumpkinhead, is unknown; I’ve not kept up on my Pumpkinhead lore, unfortunately.) MG1 looks away for a moment & then back to where Harley was standing, finding, instead, empty space. Aaaaand, fade to black…

We now find ourselves, five years after MG1’s encounter, outside of what looks to be the Boar’s Nest. Outside, a huge banner proclaiming the current festivities to be the McCoy Wedding (it just occurred to me – there’s only one name on the banner & this is taking place in some inbred section of the Deep South; you don’t suppose the reason for there only being one name on the sign is because the bride won’t be having to change her maiden name, if you catch my meaning, do you? Ewww!!!). Inside, the shindig is in full swing, complete with a jugband right out of the Country Bear Jamboree show at Disneyland. Pa McCoy looks over at his son, Ricky, sitting sullen & not out dancing. He’s worried that his boy might not be right in the orientation department. My initial thought was just that he didn’t think any of his sisters were purdy enough to dance with (maybe he’s a tooth man & none of them have enough for his liking). Right after thinking that, Ricky’s little sister, Sara, dressed like she shopped at Walton’s Mercantile, asks him why he’s not dancing, at which he offers to dance with her.

I then felt the sudden need for a shower.

She rebuffs him (wow, how sad is that?), saying that she asked him why he’s not dancing with a girl, by which she meant one not immediately related to him. Still sullen, he replies that he’s already spoken for & that even though his beloved wouldn’t know, nor probably care, if he danced with someone, he’d still know.

Three guesses as to the surname of his girlfriend…

Outside, a few drunken rednecks pull up, looking to start trouble. They’re greeted by someone who I initially thought was a bouncer of some sort, but instead ended up being Little John McCoy. A fight is averted when Jodie Hatfield gets in between the two parties & shoos off her intoxicated brothers. This goes over none too well with the Hatfield boys, who return with even greater numbers & crash the party. (Perhaps, if the McCoy’s hadn’t advertised when & where the wedding reception was taking place, this whole terrible thing – by which I mean this movie – could’ve been avoided.)

We then go to the Hatfield home, where we find the brothers a’whoopin’ & a’hollerin’ about their disruption of the party. It’s here that we meet sweet old Uncle Abner, relegated to spending his life in a wheelchair. It seems that, contrary to what I’d learned on the History Channel, the loss of Abner’s legs after being hit by a car driven by a McCoy, & the afore mentioned reneging on their agreement to turn the car over to the Hatfield’s as a form of restitution is what started the whole feud. According to Pa Hatfield, the McCoy’s owned the first ‘motorcar’ in town & drove around like they owned the place. Uncle Abner, only nine years old at the time, had the misfortune to become the town’s first speedbump when the McCoy Deathmobile came tearing through & hit him, cutting L’il Uncle Abner off at the knees.

Now, I want you to pay particular attention to that last paragraph, as we’ll be touching on it later.

Later that night, while everyone was sleeping, Jodie sneaks out of her room & down the stairs. Almost making her way out undetected, she’s startled when Uncle Abner comes rolling in. She begs him not to tell anyone about her sneaking out; he replies by asking her if she loves this boy, to which she answers, unequivocally, yes. He tells her to go on then, revealing that he, Uncle Abner, the one out of all of the Hatfield’s to be justifiably torque at the McCoy’s, doesn’t hold a grudge against them.

Oh, & five points to whomever can guess who Jodie’s beau is.

Jodie leaves &, just as we’re feeling all warm & fuzzy over Uncle Abner’s sense of forgiveness, Jodie’s brothers confront him about where she’s taken off to. They even threaten to bust up his wheelchair if he doesn’t tell them. The cads! Boo, I say! I say boo to you, sirs!

So, off to the woods, where we find Ricky & Sara running off to an apparent rendezvous, thankfully, we find, not with each other. No, Sara’s to act as lookout while Ricky & *gasp!* Jodie engage in some illicit tonsil hockey.

Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

Well, we all know that this scene of love in bloom can’t go on without some sort of tragedy befalling it, & befall it does, as Jodie’s idiot brothers come looking for her. First, they come upon Sara, who decided to set up her watchpost three miles from where Ricky & Jodie are making out. After nearly being raped by the brothers, Sara makes a run for it & probably wishes she’d set up camp a wee bit closer to her brother. She makes a few pitiful attempts at screaming, which Jodie hears. Ricky, of course, has other things on his mind & doesn’t notice it.

Back to Sara, who’s still trying to outrun her assailants. She ends up stumbling down a slope & inadvertently flings herself forehead-first into a tree. Exit Sara. The brothers find her &, without checking on her, leave to find their sister & that no good McCoy boy. Ricky & Jodie talking about running away, getting away from their families before they make them marry their cousins (Ugh! Shower time again!). Apparently, the Hillbilly Mafia has quite the reach, as Jodie can’t imagine a place where they could ever go & be safe from their families. Well, as it seems that none of these people have ever left Hooterville, I’m pretty sure that they could just go to the next county over & be safe, but, then, I’m not as cold & calculating as the Hillbilly Mafia. Anyway, their talking & making out session is interrupted by Jodie’s brothers, who don’t take kindly to seeing Ricky pawing their sister. They pull Jodie away & proceed to lay the smackdown on Ricky. When he comes to, he finds himself tied to the back of the Hatfield boys’ ’06 Chevy truck, just prior to them reenacting the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy gets dragged behind the Nazi truck. This goes on for a little bit & then Ricky’s cut loose & left in the woods.

Pay close attention to the make & model of the truck. We’ll touch on that later, as well.

After being towed about half a mile behind the truck, as well as being dragged from wherever he & Jodie were getting’ it on, Ricky manages to stumble across Sara’s lifeless form. Grief stricken, he carries her to a secluded cabin in the middle of the woods. This, as anyone who’s seen any of the previous incarnations of the Pumpkinhead series will no doubt recognize, is the cabin where the witch who conjures up the demon lives. And anyone who’s seen any of the previous movies will also know where this is going. Ricky wants Pumpkinhead brought about to wreak vengeance against all of the Hatfield’s, except for Jodie, so that the two of them can be together. Before all of this, however, Ed Harley, whose curse is apparently to be a Jedi ghost for the rest of eternity, asks the witch not to do it, to spare the boy Harley’s fate. She replies that she can’t deny the boy his request, if it’s really what he wants to do.

She takes Ricky on inside, where Harley tries to talk Ricky out of going through with it. The witch (who, while having a face that looks like she spent an hour too long in a tanning bed, has surprisingly young looking hands – she must moisturize) then proceeds to ask him if he’s sure he wants to go through with the ritual, to which he replies “yes.” She asks him again if he’s really, really sure about this, to which he again replies “yes.” After again making sure he really, really, really wants to do this, she gets things going, telling him that the price for this will be great.

Y’know what I’ve never understood about ghosts & old witches (with & without silky smooth hands) who’re trying to keep someone from doing something that they may regret? Why is it they never just up & tell the person what the consequence is? Much like Obi-Wan to Luke, Harley keeps trying to turn Ricky, but remains vague about this curse that will befall him will be. Is it that you’ll remain a ghost for all eternity? Will you become chronically vague for the rest of time? Will you be forced to reprise a role from twenty years ago every time someone decides to make another DTV sequel to the original movie?

Anyway, Ricky asks what the price is & the witch replies “Your soul, boy!” (See? Was that so hard, Ed?) Already swayed to the Dark Side, Ricky agrees to the terms & conditions of this contract with the devil. The witch takes him out to the old rotten pumpkin patch & calls up Pumpkinhead, who apparently resides about three inches below the surface of the Earth when not doing the bidding of distraught fathers & CW angst-ridden teenagers. Pumpkinhead reappears & is given his marching orders by Ricky, who disappears for a good portion of the movie.

Hijinx ensue as the demon cleaves his way through the Hatfield genepool. After two of the Hatfield boys are killed at their moonshine still (to be fair, one set himself on fire), a few more go out into the woods, setting bear traps, as they’re assuming that that’s what took out the other brothers (well, that & mass stupidity). Pumpkinhead starts chasing them, resulting in one stepping on one of the traps. His brother (geez, had their parents heard of birth control?), unable to open the trap, starts hacking away at the other’s leg, resulting in what is the lamest gore effect & acting in reaction to having a limb carved off that I’ve ever seen. I mean, really – if someone were going at my leg with a knife, I think I’d be doing a lot more than sucking my teeth & grimacing. Anyway, finding that he’s not making much progress on his brother’s leg with his buck knife, he leaves the knife & bails on his sibling. The brother in the trap commences to finishing the job, somehow managing to cut through his femur as though it were a cheese log. Dragging himself away, with his surprisingly bloodless stump (I always thought femoral arteries were notoriously bad about holding blood once they’d been severed), Stumpy finds himself in a worse situation, as Pumpkinhead pops up right in front of him & steps on his head, revealing the contents of his noggin to be nothing more than raspberry jelly. The monster then catches up to the other brother & eviscerates him.

Two other brothers (Good grief – are these people Catholic?) hear the commotion &, upon seeing the demon, begin running. One brother, apparently named ‘Grace’, trips & falls, face first, into one of the bear traps. Oh, but don’t worry! The trap doesn’t spring – until a couple seconds later, resulting in another shower of raspberry preserves. The last brother finally makes it out to the road – only to be hit by a truck. The driver runs to his aid, whereupon the brother reveals that Pumpkinhead, previously thought to be an old legend, is really real & really mad.

Y’know, stupidity & bad luck seem to be doing these people in more than Pumpkinhead. If I were Ricky, I’d see about getting a prorating on the cost of having this minion of evil doing my dirty work. Maybe only have it cost half his soul. Let’s look at this: of the six brothers killed, one immolated himself, one got his head squished in a bear trap & one got creamed by a truck. One of them would’ve bled to death before he got thirty feet, then had his head stepped on by the monster. Only two were actually killed by Pumpkinhead without any assistance from natural selection. That’s just lazy, O, Minion from the Underworld. I’d demand my soul back.

Jodie finally figures out what’s going on & pays a visit to the old witch with the Palmolive hands. Getting no answer, she decides to poke around a bit & finds the old rotten pumpkin patch, whereupon she meets up with Pumpkinhead. He gets in her face & then pulls back, as he’s not allowed to hurt her. Witchiepoo & Harley show up, explaining the situation to her. When she asks what can be done to keep the monster from slaughtering the rest of her potential breeding stock…um, I mean, kinfolk. Again, we get the vague “You’ll know what to do when the time comes” shtick, along with the warning that it’ll be the hardest thing she’ll ever have to do.

I wonder what that’ll be. *yawn*

And, not to be pedantic, but, would it really be so hard, if the two of them know what Jodie will need to do when the times comes (like we don’t already know what she’ll have to do), to JUST TELL HER.

Geez, they’re as bad as old Jedi ghosts…

Meanwhile, after six mysterious killings, the Sheriff finally shows up. Any guesses as to who he might be?

Yup, MG1, here to enlighten everyone with the tale of Pumpkinhead (told ya!). Both he & Jodie try to convince everyone that this is really a demon brought to do the bidding of Ricky & are somewhat less than successful. They both walk outside, only to see some of the other thousand or so Hatfield brothers (Cripes! It’s almost like the Baldwin family!) making Molotov cocktails from the plethora of beer bottles strewn about the place. One of the brothers puts a shotgun to the Sheriff’s head, preventing him from interfering with the cocktail party. Then, in a move I’d not seen since Torgo took down Mike with a gentle tap of his staff, the brother taps the Sheriff on the shoulder & - plop! – down he goes! The rest of the inbreds take off to the McCoy family home for a little housewarming. Ha! I’m so funny!

Oh, & Jodie takes the Sheriff’s keys & follows them in his cruiser.

I’d like to take this moment to say that the Hooterville Sheriffs department has the butt-ugliest police cruisers in the country.

Back to our story. Ma & Pa McCoy are talking about how strange Ricky was acting at Sara’s funeral & how he took off, telling everyone to leave him alone. (Almost forgot – whenever Pumpkinhead checks someone off of its ‘naughty list’, Ricky is effected, physically reacting to whatever misfortune the demon metes out to whomever it takes out; if that’s the case, then, shouldn’t Ricky have had one wicked migraine when Pumpkinhead stepped on the one guy’s head?) Ma tells Pa to go out & find the boy, as he’s not like his brothers – he’s “sensitive.” As Pa & the boys are heading out, the Hatfield Housewarming Committee comes rolling up & starts launching Molotov’s. Apparently, the McCoy house was made from gasoline soaked wood, because it goes up in no time flat. The menfolk commence to beating the snot out of each other & it’s only Jodie (who pulled up just as the festivities began) who realizes that Ma McCoy is still inside.

As the men just stand there with their fingers up their noses, Jodie takes charge & rams the Hatfield truck through the front door of the house & into the parlor. Long story short, she succeeds in saving Ma McCoy, thus starting the healing process between the feudin’ families.

Back at the Hatfield’s, Pa Hatfield is giving the boys a dressing down for the whole nearly-bar-b-queing-Ma McCoy incident. After this, Pa McCoy drives up in an old, 1920’s Model T, the same car that just happened to knock poor Uncle Abner’s legs off all those years ago. He offers it to the Hatfield’s, doing what should’ve been done years ago & calling a truce to the whole silly feud.

Now, allow me to go off topic here for a moment, as here’s were all those points that I told you to pay attention to will come into play. We’re told early on that the whole Hatfield & McCoy thing started when Uncle Abner was nine & was hit by the McCoy’s in their fancy new motorcar, right? The car in question is, like I said before, a 1920’s Model T. Uncle Abner looked to be, maybe, mid-sixties (let’s just say sixty-five). Now, for the sake of argument, let’s just use those factors, we’ll say a 1926 car & Uncle Abner’s age at the time of the accident. In addition, let’s say that, since it’s mentioned that the McCoy’s owned the first car in the county, that the accident happened in 1926; 1926 + 65 - 9= the movie taking place in around 1982. However, recalling the scene where Ricky was dragged behind the Hatfield boys’ pickup, that truck looked to be about a 2006 model, which would set the movie a full twenty-four years later, meaning that Uncle Abner’s accident happened in 1950. So, if I understand this correctly, the movie’s trying to tell me that Hooterville County had no cars until the middle of the 20th century? What’re these people, Amish?

Stupid movie, making my head hurt…

*sigh* Back to the movie. Pa McCoy hands over the keys to the car to Pa Hatfield & the two start working to figure out how to stop the monster. Sheriff MG1 hops on the vague info bandwagon, only telling the two parties involved the bare minimum. Finally, he spills the beans about why he knows so much about Pumpkinhead. He responds by opening his shirt (a little something for the ladies!) to reveal the scars from his last brush with evil, five years ago; scars that look just as fresh as they did from the beginning of the movie. Needless to say, the news that they’ll have to kill Ricky doesn’t go over to well with the McCoy clan. Much is made about how it’s the Hatfield’s problem & if they just let the monster take them out, then it’ll go away, a total win-win for the McCoy’s. The Hatfield’s point out that, in addition to them not wanting to be gutted by a demon, they’ve also got innocent children & womenfolk in the house, a notion that falls on mostly deaf ears.

Jodie goes to comfort her sister, Jodie, who’s been listening in & is understandably unhappy with the situation. Jodie promises that she won’t let anything happen to her sister. She then goes back down stairs, only to hear Sheriff MG1 reiterating that the only way to stop this is to see Ricky off this mortal plane. Jodie begs & pleads with them, asking them if there’s another way; of course, the answer is no. Right about then, a bloodcurdling scream emanates from upstairs. Everybody rushes upstairs, looking out the bedroom window to find Pumpkinhead making his way to the house.

Pa Hatfield breaks out his shotgun arsenal & starts passing them around. While this is happening, Harley appears to Sheriff MG1, telling him that the Sheriff knew this wasn’t over five years ago &, again, starts in with the “you know what you’ve got to do” vague crap. (Apparently, this agent of evil keeps a tab for those that manage to escape him, which he collects on when he’s conjured up again.) Elsewhere in the house, more fighting about how the McCoy’s should leave the Hatfield’s to their fate ensues, when the demon starts its assault on the house, pulling people through windows & walls left & right. Sheriff MG1 confronts Pumpkinhead, shooting at it, even though he, of all people, knows that it’ll do nothing. Pumpkinhead finishes what it started five years prior & shows the Sheriff what his liver looks like. Jodie grabs the Sheriff’s gun & boogies on out with her sister. We then get a view of the carnage that’s gone on inside, seeing that, for some reason, the monster has apparently categorized all of the dismembered body parts of its victims. Also, in a touching moment, we see Uncle Abner’s blood spattered, overturned wheelchair, with one wheel still spinning.

Loyal Readers, let’s observe a moment of silence for dear, departed, dismembered Uncle Abner, who’s now up in Heaven with the legs that he lost in childhood. Fair thee well, Uncle Abner. We’ll never forget how easily you caved & spilled the beans about the whereabouts of your niece, sparking this whole mess.


OK, so, the sisters make it outside, only to be cornered by the titular beastie. Oh, & who should show up but Ricky! Hi Ricky! Welcome back to the movie! Anyway, as Pumpkinhead is about to do expunge one of the last of the Hatfield’s from the planet, Jodie jumps in between the monster & her sister, with the Sheriff’s pistol ready to fire. She begs Ricky to call off the monster, but he tells her that, even if he wanted to, he can’t & that Pumpkinhead won’t hurt her, unless she gets between it & its intended victim. Harley then shows up, telling Jodie again that she’d know what to do when the time came & that it’d be the hardest thing she’d ever had to do. (Geez disease, just tell her to shoot Ricky already! There, was that so hard?!?) It finally, finally dawns on her that she needs to kack her beloved if she’s to keep from being the last carrier of Hatfield DNA. Finally, with trembling hands & a quivering lower lip, Jodie pulls the trigger - & reveals that the Hatfield’s never taught their womenfolk how to shoot, as she manages to shoot Ricky in the side. Pumpkinhead reacts to this as one would expect a demon to & comes after Jodie

Fortunately, he moves slow enough for her to line up a better shot at Ricky, this time hitting him smack in the ticker. In a surprise variation of the Hero’s Battle Death Exemption, this time applied to the monster, Pumpkinhead &, by association, Ricky, prove to be pretty resilient when it comes to being shot & both stagger around a bit, but don’t go down. Ricky finally grows a pair & jumps on Pumpkinhead, pulling it backward & causing the two of them to tumble into a well. This is then followed by the requisite “I’m not dead yet” monster pop-up scene, with the demon clawing its way out of the well & then Ricky grabbing it & taking it down into the murky depths of the well. Jodie crumples into a blubbering mess & hugs her sister. Harley turns into a really bad blue screen effect & walks off, looking like a Jedi ghost whose corporeal form had spent one too many nights at the Mos Eisley cantina.

So, what’d you really think?

All in all, Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud wasn’t the worst thing ever to dance before my eyes. Even the terrible acting, ho-hum CGI (as usual, the monster costume looked far better & more realistic than the CGI version), the fact that almost the entire cast were dressed like they were picked from the rejects at a “Return to Walton Mountain” casting call, the apparent time distortion phenomenon that’s occurring in Hooterville & the lack of any appreciable police presence, other than Sheriff MG1 managed to elicit a few laughs from me

I haven’t decided if the writers of this were geniuses or just stoned when they came up with a concept as delightfully loopy as they did. I get the distinct feeling that they, after one too many bong hits & watching old Bugs Bunny cartoons, thought “Hey! Let’s put Pumpkinhead in the middle of the Hatfield & McCoy feud! Pass me the Doritos.” That’s the only way I can wrap my head around what I saw unspool on the screen before me.

Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud: 3.5 out of 5 Eyeballs

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Piñata: Survival Island

Wow, the things I endure so that you, Loyal Readers, don't have to.

I've subjected myself to some pretty bad movies over the years (I just recently watched Battlefield Earth; any review that I could write would pale in comparison to the one found at Jabootu, though). Some are good - fun even: The Brainiac, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Robot Monster. Others...well...words fail to describe how painfully bad some are. Some of them weren't even meant to be bad, I'm assuming. I reckon that when Sarah Michelle Gellar signed on for Simply Irresistible, she wasn't intending to make one of the worst movies that I've ever attempted to sit through (twice now, both times unsuccessful - hey, I'm only human, people). Maybe she opted to make the movie around the same time her brain turned to pudding & she decided to marry Freddie Prinz, Jr.

Then you have our subject of today's article, Piñata: Survival Island, a movie that I'm sure featured star Jamie Pressly intentionally leaves off of her resume. The problem with this movie, though, lies not in the acting skills of Ms. Pressly or most of the rest of the cast. No, the biggest problem this flick has against it is that it's boring. And I don't mean boring in the lack of action way (although, from what I gleaned from IMDb, there's surprisingly no 'action', if you catch my meaning). That's usually one of the only reasons for these movies to exist. (I thought that the editing job done by AMC was due to copious amounts of nudidity; turns out, they edited the movie due in part to language, but also to fit in their timeslot, which had the added effect of shortening my torture - & for that I am forever grateful, AMC!) The movie's boring because it's so paint by numbers, which seems to be a common complaint of mine with films of this caliber. Everyone has a particular niche to fill: jock, sex-crazed pothead, witch, drunk, village idiot, etc. I noted in my review for Abominable (which, in comparison to Piñata, is Citizen Kane) how all of the people who get whacked in these things are usually personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins (although Gluttony, of the eating variety, is almost always absent for some reason). This movie is no exception: Lust - sex-crazed pothead Larry & Lisa & dumb jock Jake & Carmen; Gluttony (excessive drinking) - everyone; Greed - village idiot Larry; Sloth - the makers of this piece of crap, or in the context of not wanting to act or cowardice, Lisa again (but justifiably so); Wrath (more like pouting) - the heroes of our movie, Kyle (Nicolas Brendon, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) & Tina (Pressly's character), who were an item until Kyle thought Tina was messing around on him, which turned out to be a misunderstanding, which they worked out, which is why they survive to see the credits (oops, hope I didn't spoil anything for you); Envy - me, envious of anybody else watching anything else; & Pride - Julie. The only two that really don't do anything too bad are Doug & Monica, the token black couple (OK, they drank a little), & Paul (Garrett Wang, Ensign Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager; geez, Garrett, did you need money to pay the rent or something?) & Connie, the island's caretakers/resident advisors. And three of them still get eaten!

OK, I guess I've stalled long enough. On to the movie itself.

We start off with what is seriously the longest into since The Braniac's Inquisition read-a-thon. It seems that some time ago, a prosperous little Indian village in Central America was cursed. The village shaman figured the best way to rid his people of their affliction was to make two piñatas (unfortunately, not the candy filled, crepe paper covered kind, but rather made of terracotta). One was made, complete with a fresh, still beating (natch) pigs heart, to absorb the sins of the people & another was made to bring happiness & stability back. This is accomplished by standing in front of the ugly, pig-hearted piñata & having all of one's iniquities sucked out of oneself, then going to the much nicer piñata &, um...not really doing much (well, it worked for them). They then take turns smacking the good piñata (that's gratitude for you), setting the stage for the bulk of the clips sent in to America's Funniest Home Videos. The bad, ugly, pig-hearted, sin-filled piñata is set adrift in the ocean, taking with it all of the troubles of the tribe, who probably ended up on the losing end of the Conquistador invasion anyway.

We cut to the present, where we catch two rubber rafts skipping across the waves, full of Piñata-chow students from some local college (located on an island in what looks to be the Caribbean?). All aboard are acting like they're in a Coors Light commercial: girls in bikinis, everyone squirting each other with super-soakers & lobbing water balloons. Being blared over the festivities is some of the most obnoxious, generic 'X-treme' rock music ever committed to batter my ears (great...fifteen seconds into the movie & I'm already filled with a strange mix of dread & rage. Never a good sign.). This goes on for an interminable length. I found myself wishing that they'd run into the monster in the title, rupture their rafts on the broken terracotta & sink before they landed on the beach. But alas...

Despite my desires, they make landfall & the characterization...begins. I guess I shouldn't complain much. The characterization of these automatons pretty much consists of establishing that most of them are hormonally charged, apparently haven't had a drink in about ten minutes &, in the case of our heroes, are mad at each other. Much whoopin' & hollerin' of the typical college frat boy & sorority girl type is made. Here we meet Paul & Connie, who, I guess, are affiliated with the college as some kind of resident advisor sort of thing. Their duties seem to include plying the students with copious amounts of alcohol & littering the island with underwear for a treasure-hunt. (Is this the kind of stuff I missed by not going to college? If so, then I guess I didn't miss much.)

So, the idiots are taken to their campsite on the RA's awesome, X-treme quads (equipped with boom boxes mounted on the front, so we don't miss any of the rockin' beats being laid down by the soundtrack) & start off with a little drinking game. Then they try to answer Mexican history questions. Seriously. Each right answer gets them some bonus underwear (cripes, this is so stupid). The next challenge is the aforementioned underwear treasure-hunt (crumbs, was the writer obsessed with underpants or what?). The dorks are paired up (conveniently, there just happens to be an equal boy to girl ratio) & handcuffed to one another. Gee, do you think this will put them in some kind of peril? Hmm... Everyone takes off, except for Kyle & Tina, who are sitting at the campsite, pouting about having been shackled together.

And, much to my unabated chagrin, the lame 'X-treme' music kicks in again, compounding the pain of watching this mess.

We catch up with sex-crazed stoner, who's cuffed to Lisa. Somehow, SCS got ahold of a key & removes the cuff from Lisa. They celebrate SCS's slyness by busting out a joint & tokin' up. Oh, & they start making out somewhat. Stuff, stuff, stuff... Lisa walks on down to the riverbank & finds...the Piñata! I guess Lisa's major is in ancient Mexican party favors, because she, to my amazement, recognizes it as being a piñata. Up to this point I wasn't even sure she (or any of the other morons in this debacle) could tie her own shoes, much less identify a four hundred year old clay pot. SCS gets a stick & starts whackin' the Piñata, to no avail. They look around & find a rock, which really agitates the Piñata when they start hitting it, so much so that the clay pot becomes animated & takes a stick to SCS's head (Ha! A piñata using a stick on a person; oh, the irony of it all). Lisa freaks out, having just watched her man's head go squish, & books out.

It's here that we get a really good look at just how ridiculous the monster looks. The CGI work in display here is on par with the creature from SS Doomtrooper, & that ain't good, my friends. Cripes, even the bee from the Nasonex commercials is animated better. I realize that these movies are made on an extremely tight budget, but, c'mon… In this case, not only is the monster poorly animated & looks incredibly stupid, but it's confusing, as it has three different forms: one looks like a midget dressed up as a M.U.S.C.L.E. wrestler, the second looks like a really big Minotaur, & the third looks like a monster head with a tail attached to it. And in this mode it can fly. There's really no rhyme or reason to the changes (except for the flying part, which still makes no sense, as the critter has off-screen teleportation abilities); one minute the CGI midget's chasing someone, the next the Minotaur's bashing in someone's skull, & yet a minute later, the flying skull is locked in on someone. The real cherry on top of this cowpie sundae, though, is the Piñata-cam. Apparently, the cyborg from Future War & the Piñata are related, as they both have the same type of blurry, triangular tunnel-vision.

My memories of who was killed when after the initial killing are a little murky. At some point Kyle & Tina finally join in the fun & trek off into the jungle. Village idiot drags his companion to a location where a stash of underwear has been hidden by…I dunno who. Anyway, his head is caved in & his soul is sucked out by the Piñata & the girl, being unfortunately attached to the guy, is dispatched in a similar fashion. We jump to Dumb Jock & his cuffmate who have just finished up some assumed nookie (the movie was edited, remember?). The titular beastie finds them & doles out some punishment on Dumb Jock by handing his nads to him. Literally. A rather inventive, albeit uncomfortable to watch, way to take someone out. His rather non-descript friend also exits the movie.

Doug & Monica, the token black couple, almost get et, as we see them via Piñata-cam, of course. Their time hasn't come yet, so they live. Meanwhile, Kyle & Tina have a heartfelt talk about Tina's alleged indiscretion & end up back together (Aww!). This is where my memories of the movie get really sketchy, as it was really late, I was really tired & I just wanted to see everyone die & end the movie. Lisa makes it back to camp & tells Kyle, Tina & the RA's what happened to SCS. Of course, because she had partaken of a bit of SCS's wacky-tabacky, everyone thinks she's hallucinating. Nobody really wonders why she's spattered with blood, though. Eventually, evidence is discovered to support Lisa's story in the form of one of the other idiot's bodies strung up in a tree. The RA's take off to find the rest of the group & Kyle, Tina & Lisa wait at the camp. Doug & Monica show up & scare the crap out of everyone by rustling the bushes. After they've been sternly chastised, it's explained that one of their chums was found dead. It's decided that they can't just sit there & wait around. Lisa's still freaked out & is reeeeally against the idea, but rather than sticking around the camp by herself & getting eaten now (oops, there goes the surprise), she reluctantly goes along.

Back over to the RA's, as they're tooling about the jungle on their awesome, X-treme quads, complete with all sorts of ground level jumping action shots & whatnot. Finally (Finally!), the Piñata catches up with them. Of course, Connie dumps her quad (someone had to), which, as per some sort of union rule, explodes upon hitting a log. The Piñata catches up to Paul & he's soon a Piñata snack. Connie gimps off with the monster in hot pursuit. For some reason, she decides that rather than quickly sliding down a not-really-all-that-steep slope it'd be better to try to slowly walk down a fallen tree instead. Just as the critter is about to get her, she falls off the log &, surprise, slides down the hill. Moron. The Piñata either can't see her or is full from eating Paul or just lost interest. I know that by this time I had.

The other survivors are bumbling around the jungle. Doug says that he has a rock in his shoe & needs to stop to take it out. He also insists that everyone else keep going & he'll catch up. After some debate (& another Piñata-cam view), the other four trudge on, leaving Doug to his imminent doom remove the pebble from his shoe. Apparently, my earlier supposition that none of these people could even tie their own shoes was correct, as it takes Doug five minutes to get the rock out of his shoe & put it back on. The Piñata decides to make its move & lowers a vine down from a tree, catching him in its noose & dragging him up into the branches for a soulectomy.

As an aside, I noticed that the monster evidentially came equipped with a stealth module & a soundwave neutralizer, as, although the thing is made out of clay & ranges in size from a head to the Incredible Hulk, nobody ever hears it. It stalks people, runs through the jungle, roars(?!) & climbs what are apparently very strong trees, & nobody ever notices it until it's beating their head in with a stick.

OK, back to the story…sigh.

Kyle finally realizes that it was a bonehead idea to leave Doug behind (& this guy's in college?) & determines that they should go back to find him. They get back to where Doug had been left, only to find nothing. Of course, none of them ever bother to look up or hear him gasping for breath or the monster growling (see previous comment re: stealth).

Lisa begins to lose her tenuous grasp on her sanity & starts babbling about how they should go back to the camp, that no one had been attacked there & that they'd be safer there. And you know what? She's right, to an extent. I mean, I don't know why the Piñata hadn't attacked there yet, but they had been safe there. Anyway, Kyle & Tina think it's a bad idea, but Monica decides that Lisa's idea is sounding pretty reasonable. So, they head back.

Along the way, Lisa tells Monica that nature's calling. I would've thought that, given the trauma she's already been through, she would've…um…already taken care of business against her will, if you catch my meaning.

Y'know, I'm writing this & realizing that it just keeps getting dumber & dumber.

Sigh…needless to say, this little emission intermission gives the walking flowerpot enough time to gain on the women, taking out Monica. Lisa finally loses all her marbles & runs back to the camp. She hears something moving in one of the tents & foolishly moves in to investigate. Exit Lisa. Now, what I want to know is how the Piñata got from where he'd just et Monica, to the campsite & into the tent before Lisa. I know it has the same off screen teleportation abilities that all movie monsters have, but, c'mon! It's now smart enough to plan an ambush? How'd it know that Lisa was heading back to the camp? It's a friggin' Chia Pet, fer cryin' out loud!

Alright *sigh*, back to Kyle & Tina. Their still traipsing around the jungle when they hear something. They assume the worst, but, oh ho! it turns out to be Connie. It seems her little tumble down the hill saved her from being Piñata kibble. She's a little gimpy, but still alive. The trio makes back for the beach to get off the island. Upon getting there, they find out that the rafts have been deflated.

So, the Piñata knew what the rafts were for? A four hundred year old piece of pottery, with a pig's heart & the sins of a small village, is now not only a master of ambush, but of sabotage as well?

ARRRRGH!!! Stupid movie, keeping me awake, making my head hurt…

I honestly dozed off for a few minutes after the last scene, but I don't think I missed anything. When I came to, I saw that Tina was making Molotov cocktails (hey, there was plenty of alcohol around - why not?), which they all throw at the monster. It was here that I learned that terracotta is combustible, for the Piñata explodes after one of the makeshift incendiary devices is thrown at it. And that's pretty much the end of the Piñata. A short time later, a rescue team shows up (I don't know how they knew to come; must've happened while I dozed) &…that's it. The movie just…ends.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing, come to think of it.

So, what'd you really think?

Wow, this movie sucked. I don't know what all they cut out to make the version I saw, but I honestly don't think any amount of boobs or butts they took out could've made this cinematic steaming pile any better. And the music? Ugh! It literally assaults your ears. This was one of the most unpleasant scores that I've ever heard. All I can figure is that the producer had a talentless hack of a musician brother who had a band & insisted that he write & perform the music.

The one thing the movie had going for it, & I will give it credit where credit is due, is that it moved along pretty fast. While I could've done without the Coors Light opening & the pathetic efforts at characterization, the makers of this mess did get to the action (such as it was) pretty quickly. On the other side of the coin, the fact that the whole plot was one big, regurgitated, paint by numbers bore kinda takes away from any kudos that could possibly be heaped upon the movie.

I've developed a rating system to go along with the movies I review. Here's a breakdown & explanation of how the scoring works, using a scale of 1 to 5:

Plot: .5 Was it original? Did it tread any new ground or offer up a new spin on an old idea?

Acting: 3 Even cheesy movies can have fairly competent acting.

Special Effects: 1 Even cheesy movies can have competent F/X; but, sometimes seeing strings holding up a flying saucer or noticing the zipper on the back of a monster costume adds an endearing quality to a movie. Seriously bad CGI work though? Not so much.

Score: 1 I don't always pay too much attention to the score in a movie, but sometimes the movie won't let you not hear it.

Entertainment Value: 3 Was it fun? Would I watch it again? Would I purchase the movie at some point? Or would I be too embarrassed to show this even to my B-Movie watching friends?

Pinata: Survival Island: 1.7 Chia Pets out of 5

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Hey, here's something I haven't done in awhile...

No, not updating my site. Shut up.

I mean a review of a recently viewed, currently-in-the-theatre movie. In this case, the latest offering from our friends at Pixar, Ratatouille.

In my usual fashion, I'll start with the couple trailers that I can remember off the top of my head.

First up - Underdog, yet another in a long line of bad ideas from the bottom of the barrel. And I don't say that because of the subject material, but rather the ill-advised (& repeated) attempt by Hollywood to take 10 minute cartoons & make them into 90+ minute live-action features. *sigh* Did they learn nothing from the Garfield train wrecks? Anyway, the one thing this one's got going for it is that Underdog is voiced by Jason Lee, who could read the ingredients on a Twinkie wrapper & have me rolling all over the floor.

The only other trailer that I can remember (I lapsed into my happy place after this one...Wee!) is for a movie that looks so horrible, so awful, so incredibly stupid that words simply fail me in describing how truly terrible this movie will be (I've got to get a bigger thesaurus), except to say that this is the first time a movie preview has ever driven me to contemplate suicide - Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you Bratz. Yes, a movie about spoiled, self-absorbed, empty-headed, hydrocephalic dolls.

Oh. My. Word. This movie alone makes me so glad that The Boy is both too old & the opposite gender than that of the target audience. In what I can only assume was an attempt to keep parents from throwing themselves over the railing of the front row of the upper level seats, plummeting to their deaths (or at least into blessed, semi-unconsciousness) 4 feet below in an effort to escape this cinematic crap pile, the makers of the trailer tried to pummel the audience into submission with a flurry of "OMG!" lefts, "BFF!" rights & a few "squealing girl" uppercuts before showing the title.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Satan.

Seriously, if I would've had a razor in my pocket, I wouldn't be here writing this. Are there really children in the world that are as vapid & braindead as the characters that assaulted my eyes & ears on that fateful evening? Please, for the love of all that's good & holy, sterilize them! Do not let them into the genepool!

Hey, reliving that little bit of trauma shook loose the memory of another trailer for a Pixar movie coming out next year that looks really good about a robot that gains sentiency that's called...URG!!! I can't remember it now!

Curse you, Bratz! CUUUURSE YOOOOOOOU!!!

Anyway, the memories of screaming 'tweens juming up & down to horrid faux-rock music were soon put to rest (until I started writing this - see what I do for you people?) when the short before our feature presentation began - a little gem called Lifted, about an alien abductor-trainee, his demanding instructor & a million buttons. I can't remember the last time that I laughed so hard in a theatre. I honestly thought I was having a heart attack as I started getting shooting pains in my left arm. I would've gone out on a high note if I'd keeled over right there. In fact, this may have backfired on Ratatouille, as the laugh bar was raised almost out of reach.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you all know the premise of the movie, so I think I'll skip going into great detail about it. Suffice it to say, this wasn't one of my favorite Pixar flicks, ranking above A Bug's Life, which is on the low end of the rating spectrum. That's not to say that it's an awful movie (neither was A Bug's Life,, really). A sub-par Pixar movie is far, far superior to crap like Hoodwinked or Happily n' Everafter or Shark Tale (man, I hate that one).

The animation, as usual, is incredible. I swear, every movie that Pixar puts out amazes me (visually) a hundred times more than the last. The fur on the rats (as well as the hair on the humans), both wet & dry, looks realistic. The cityscapes & backgrounds are breathtaking. Little details, like rusty old sewer pipes & the wood splinters in the joists of a house after they've been peppered by a shotgun & even the old, black & white television show clips seen in the early parts of the movie, flesh out the world into which we're peering into. Ratatouille is a visual feast. And any movie that can make a character voiced by Janene Garaffalo look good is working some serious CGI magic.

So, if it's such a visually stunning work, what's the problem then?

Well, as we all know, watching a movie is only half the experience. You've got to have an engrossing story & engaging characters that you actually care about. This is Ratatouille's shortcoming. Remy (Patton Oswalt), the long tailed star of the movie, is a little...well...boring. You get it that he's a rodent with a refined palette. You get it that he'd rather starve than eat another piece of rubbish. But, we have no background on him, really, other than that he's his nest's poison tester due to his sensitive sniffer. And he can read. And understand French & English. How did he get that way, though? Is he a mutant? Did he escape from NIMH? We don't know. It's never explained

The other problem is Remy's human puppet, Linguini, voiced by Lou Romano (the poor-man's Ray Romano); he's even more boring than Remy. Romano's voice is one of those that's okay in small doses, but in 110 minute batches, it gets a little grating. I just wanted him to shut up & do something - anything - other than talk & whine.

The primary antagonist, Skinner (Ian Holm), is hysterical to watch, as he's about 3 feet tall (& if you've read anything I've written, you know that midgets make me smile). Many a time, all that's seen of him is his toque cruising by people at bellybutton level. He's a little man with a major Napoleon complex & it's milked for all of its comedic worth.

The peripheral characters are all more interesting than the main players, though. (I'd love to see a back story on Skinner's second-in-command, a man with a shadowy past who apparently killed someone - using only his thumbs) The supporting cast (the rats, the rest of the kitchen staff, Antono Ego (Peter O'Toole), the sadistic restaurant reviewer), much like the little visual touches throughout the movie, add a lot of flavor*, picking up some of the slack left by Linguini & Remy.

(*I just noticed the abundance of food related words/phrases that I've used in this review. I promise, it wasn't intentional. Hey, at least I haven't resorted to using any 'salty' language!)

(Sorry. That was bad.)

So, what'd you really think?

As I said before, a so-so Pixar offering is better than most of the other CGI junk out there. Ratatouille isn't a bad movie by a longshot. In fact, just for the chance to laugh myself retarded watching Lifted over & over, it'll probably find its way into my video shelf. All in all, though, it's just kind of like watching a cooking show - you've just seen something incredible & that you know you'd never be able to make.

And you're still hungry.

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, March 24, 2007


AKA 'When Wookiees Attack'

El Note from El Hombre: If this review looks familiar, well...that's because it is. Well, it is if you are one of the three Loyal readers of my other site. I recycled this review in large part to have something to work with here,but also because, even though I have a few reviews in various stages of completion, dial up's a pain in the butt & I didn't have anything else ready at the moment.

Bear with me, 'kay? I'll try to make future posts worth your while.

So rarely is the title of a movie so dead on accurate. 'Abominable' hits the bullseye. I didn't think it was possible to have worse acting than 'SS Doomtrooper', but this movie managed to plumb even lower depths than the latter could ever dream of. The film looks like it was made by someone who had a Wookiee suit from 'Star Wars', a collection of scripts from previous horror/monster flicks, $37.42 for the budget & a membership at a Thousand Trails campground.

The basic jist of the movie is that a killer 'yeti' (not 'sasquatch') is attacking & eating people in a remote mountain retreat (is there any other kind?). Apparently, yetis are more violent than sasquatch. Also, there's already been a movie called 'Sasquatch' & it would've been kinda hard to get Nessie up into the mountains, so I guess the monster had to be a yeti. How a yeti, a creature said to be found in the Himalayas, ended up in the forests of North America, well you got me there.

You ask how I would know that a yeti is more aggressive than a sasquatch? Well, this is kindly exposited by none other than Lance Henriksen, who is summarily eaten a little bit later. I'm guessing that a lot of the $37.50 budget (& probably a free weekend pass to stay at the campsite) went to paying for such a big name actor.

Our hero, Preston Rogers, a parapalegic, is at the retreat for some R&R, accompanied by his nurse/assistant/resident creep Otis (based on his creepiness & his enormous 70's pornstar 'stache, I figured he'd exit the movie in a particularly gruesome manner while perpetrating some bit of nastiness on the heroine of the flick - I was half right & genuinely surprised). Preston lost the use of his lower extremities after a fall six months ago from Suicide Rock (gee, that took a lot of thought to name - good job, scriptmonkey!) that also resulted in the death of his wife. He seems to have adapted pretty well to paralysis/widowerhood after only six months. Honestly, Matt McCoy, the actor playing Preston, doesn't look like he's climbed anything more than a barstool at the wrap party for this flick, but, not being much of a climber myself, what do I know? Anyway, in what looks to be a rip-off...uh, homage to 'Rear Window', Preston watches the goings on outside via a pair of magic binoculars. 'Magic' in that wherever the binoculars are pointed, the user can also hear what's going on. It's truly amazing to see him look through his closed window & through the closed window of the cabin that's a good fifty feet away & hear everything that's being said in the cabin. I so want a pair of those.

Anyway, Peepin' Preston sees the titular menace lurking about & tries to contact the local sheriff's office via email (?), telling them that there's a monster outside, apparently known to locals as the 'Flatwoods Monster'. The dead-by-the-end-of-the-movie sheriff (oops, hope I didn't blow anything for you) thinks it's a hoax & refuses to send anyone out to investigate, despite the protests of the designated good hearted deputy/eventual yeti chewtoy (hope I didn't spoil that one for you, either). They reply to Preston, telling him that they don't respond to pranks & to quit sending them messages (that's some police department they have there). The sheriff does relent & tell the good hearted deputy that when the phone lines are back up, they'll call out & make sure everything's alright. This despite the fact that the place is, as noted in the movie, only twenty-five minutes away. I may have missed it, but I think, judging by the fact that the sheriff recognizes Preston's name, that there's some history between the two.

In the cabin across the lot, a group of college-aged girls (obligatory shower girl [OSG], designated drunk/coward [DDC], non-descript red shirt [NDRS] & our heroine [Amanda (Haley Joel) - she's the only one whose name I caught] are freaking out after one of their comrades (designated initial yetichow) goes missing. Through both Preston's magic binoculars & the amazing yeticam (let me just say that I don't think they spent much of the extravagant budget on that effect; if we are to believe the movie, yetis have very poor nightvision, which results in tunnelvision), we can see that the yeti is about to take another one of the ladies out for dinner, if you know what I mean. Preston starts flashing the lights off in his cabin to distract the monster, causing the ladies to briefly forget about their missing friend & note that Preston has been watching them from his window. Thoroughly skeeved out at that, they return to their quarters.

Before going back in, though, they all remember that, 'oh yeah, our friend's missing' & OSG & DDC start arguing about whether to go trapsing around in the forest at night looking for their missing chum or to just stay in the safety of the cabin. DDC is gunning for staying in the cabin, which makes sense, but, because she's the designated coward of the flick, it just makes her look, well, cowardly. In keeping with her designation as the resident drunk, she's always seen walking around with a margarita glass in her hand. In addition to affirming her DDC credentials, this prop also gives the scriptmonkey a reason for OSG to get nekkid & fullfill the obligatory shower scene, as DDC flings her drink on OSG, dousing her in crushed ice & rum. This, & DDC later going in to the living room & cranking up the radio, also shows us the true power of the magic binoculars, as we hear every word of the exchage between the women & the crappy rap being pumped through what was obviously the boombox from the director's room in the basement of his mother's house.

Preston watches as OSG takes it all off in preparation for her obligatory shower scene. He then sees the yeti just outside the bathroom window. Preston calls Otis over to see the monster &, of course, Otis instead watches OSG, solidifying his creepiness standing. He hands the magic binoculars back to Preston & walks off, just in time for the monster to grab a mannequin of OSG & pull her through the balsawood & cellophane bathroom window, folding her in half (backwards!) along the way. DDC, NDRS & Amanda start banging on the bathroom door for some reason (this is a horror movie - they obviously wouldn't have heard the monster roaring, OSG screaming or the breaking of balsawood & the ripping of cellophane). DDC walks outside to look into the bathroom & discovers the remodeling job that the yeti did.

Preston starts yelling for Otis & babbling about the monster, prompting Otis to ready a hypodermic with a sedative. Being a brilliant strategist, Otis places the uncapped syringe in his breast pocket. Soon a scuffle ensues & Preston manages to get the needle from Otis' pocket & drives it into his neck, dropping Otis in like five seconds. (Good thing the scriptmonkey thought to have Otis take the cap off or Preston would be snoozing instead). Preston returns to the window just in time to have the yeti give us one of the many lame jumper scenes that fill this movie, looking in the window, face to face with Preston (why didn't it reach through the wall & pull Preston out? Because he's the hero of course! He has certain immunities, donchaknow!). Making this scene even more laughable is the fact that the yeti looks like a cross between Chewbacca & Marty Feldman. It's really hard to be frightened by something when you're too busy laughing at it. Anyway, he flies backward & topples his wheelchair, knocking himself out.

Preston wakes up some time later (a clock shows it to be about 445a, but as I didn't know what time it was when he was knocked out, I have no idea how long he was out). He makes his way back to the window in time to see the monster prowling around outside. He tries screaming to them (which, for some reason doesn't draw the attention of the yeti), but the girls can't hear him because the music's still cranked. For some reason (I missed the first few minutes of the flick, so it may have been explained there; while it would be keeping in the tradition of crappy movies to neglect such details, it would still be pretty lame if it wasn't explained) he has an email address for one of them & pings them, saying to turn the music down so that they can hear (it's later explained that while the land lines are down, the internet connection is supplied via satellite). Amanda pokes her head out & he asks if she can call out on her cell. Naturally, she can't get a signal.

Then, when we *yawn* least expect it, ths monster barges into the house. Amanda bolts back into the cabin & all of the girls look for places to hide. NDRS, being outta luck in the hiding department, stands on the floor directly above the yeti. Preston tries to tell her not to move, but alas, it's for naught. The yeti reaches through the floor, pulls NDRS through & takes a big chomp out of her neck. Exit NDRS.

Amanda seeks safety behind the sofa while the yeti looks around the room for her (they can tell where someone's standing above them through a floor, but can't smell someone in the same room? Add poor sense of smell to the list of yeti shortcomings.). She manages to get by him unnoticed & then DDC enters the room & screams. Gee, with friends like these... Things get a little fuzzy here (it was a long weekend & I'd already burned out my suspension of disbelief abilities the previous night watching Pinata: Survival Island). I think Amanda manages to get into a closet while DDC runs outside to their Jeep. Of course, she doesn't have the keys with her. The yeti starts shaking the car back & forth & DDC gets out, trying to run away. Not suprisingly, the monster is soon on top of her. DDC then sprays something...I don't know, perfume; hairspray; the yeti's face. This, of course, only serves to aggravate the monster, who responds to her aerosol assault by stepping on her midsection, causing her to squirt like a raspberry jelly-filled doughnut. Exit DDC.

Amanda sneaks out & Preston signals for her to run over to his place. Understandibly freaked, she asks Preston why the monster is attacking them. He replies that animals only attack for two reasons (uh, only two? I can think of a few more): they're hungry or they're territory is being threatened, &, in an attempt by the scriptmonkey at 'wit', he adds "Obviously, it's not hungry." Yeah, you'd think after chowing down on her four friends, he'd probably be full. He also makes the mistake of thinking that they're smarter than the monster.

With Otis still laying on the floor with a hypodermic sticking out of his neck, the two start setting a trap at the front door. I'm taking it that the cabins are part of some sort of timeshare or something, as Preston still has all of his climbing equipment stashed in the linen closet. And a big friggin' axe (I kept expecting him to pull out a fire extinguisher & a flaregun - he would've been unstoppable with those). He tells Amanda to email the police again, but not to mention the word 'monster' this time. She instead tells them that a psycho killer is attacking them. Just as she's about to his send, the power goes out. She freaks & asks what happened. Preston notes that the beastie must've cut the power, admitting that it must be smarter than they thought (& an electrician, to boot). Isn't it amazing how, be it a monster or some backwoods tribe that has barely mastered fire & has no idea what electricity even is, always know how to cut the power?

Anyway, Preston rigs up his climbing gear for both he & Amanda to use to escape the cabin (it's built on stilts or on a slope or something & they have to repel off the patio). He lowers himself down to the ground first. Amanda then hooks herself up & starts her way on down. Much to no one's surprise, the yeti breaks into the house. It makes its way to the railing & starts pulling Amanda back up. I don't know how the climbing rigging worked exactly, but for some reason, Preston is unable to pull her back down & Amanda is unable to release the her harness from the rope. The yeti grabs ahold of Amanda & just when we think that, gee, she might be eaten, Otis shows up with the big friggin' axe.

Honest & for true, this did surprise me. Given what an obvious bottomfeeder he was portrayed as at the beginning, I assumed that he'd meet his ultimately gruesome fate while trying to force himself on Amanda or something to that affect. I'll give the movie credit for this as it's one of the only genuine attempts at trying something other than the norm when it comes to monster movies.

OK, so Otis buries the big friggin' axe in the back of the Wookiee suit, I mean, the back of the yeti. For all of his efforts, he's repaid by having the whole front of his head bitten off. Now, I did not know this, because Lance Henriksen never mentioned this, but yetis can evidently unhinge their lower jaw, as Otis' head was far to big to fit in the gaping maw of the yeti otherwise. Basically, the monster stuck its mandible into Otis' mouth, its maxilla over the top of his head & bit down like it was an apple. While OSG's boobs & butt were blurred out, what's left of Otis's head is lovingly shown in close-up, all while he convulses on the floor. Thank you, FCC, for protecting me from the evils of the showering nekkid female body, but for allowing network TV to provide me with a detailed examination of what happens when monsters eat peoples heads. I am truly in your debt.

Once Otis introduces the big friggin' axe to the back of the yeti, it lets go of the rope holding Amanda, letting her drop about twenty feet to to ground. Now, either she swung out enough so as not to fall on top of Preston or he moved, because she was right over him before she was yanked back up. She should've fallen smack down on top of Preston. Having survived the fall & probably having the wind knocked out of her, Amanda now has to drag Preston over to his car. They make it into the car & ratchet up the *snore* tension when they can't find the keys, only to have Preston remember that they're up in the visor. Whew. That was close, boy howdy. To no ones surprise, the monster, big friggin' axe still firmly embedded in its back, lifts up the back of the car as the dup try to drive off. The yeti then drops the car, which then careens into a tree, sending Amanda through the windshield. Preston, slightly shaken, sees the creature coming to chew on Amanda. He pops the car into reverse, floors the gas pedal with his hand & plows the car into the yeti, pinning it against a tree. When the yeti hits the tree, the big friggin' axe is pushed all the way through the front of its chest (did you know yetis squirt? Neither did I). Preston jams the pedal down with his shoe & drags himself over to the prone & bloodied Amanda. (In another nice touch, you can see McCoy move his legs a little as he drags himself from the car) He makes his way to her &, surprise!, she's not dead. This despite her having gone through the windshield face-first.

Now, I don't know how many of you have seen a windshield after someones head has been slammed into it. For those of you that haven't had the pleasure, let me give you a little info on what happens. The glass in a windshield is designed to keep people from flying through it & being ripped to shreds. It's made to break into little pieces &, for the most part, stay in one, shattered piece. (The windshield in the car that I rolled was laying on the ground like a big glass blanket. The few pieces that I did get hit by were from the side window, which is not made to stay together when it's broken.) For a body to be sent flying through safety glass, one - they'd have to be going mighty fast & hit an object mighty hard, & two - they probably wouldn't survive the trip. If the glass doesn't rip you to ribbons, the impact would probably break your neck.

Needless to say, Amanda not only survived the impact & she also only has a gash across her forehead & copious amounts of stage blood covering her face. And she's conscious & able to drag Preston some more. To my absolute, complete unamazement, the police finally show up, just in the nick o' time. We cut to the two protagonists being loaded into a couple of ambulances. It's here where we find out that Amanda is related to the X-Man Wolverine, as the gash that earlier went from the middle of her hairline down to around her ear is now a neat little two inch cut & all of the blood has been entirely wiped clear of her face. Wow, that's some job you did there, Mr. Continuity Manager! Kudos to you, sir!

The police, which include the sheriff, the good hearted deputy, an odious comic relief deputy from earlier & a non-descript red shirt deputy, go looking for the bodies that Preston said were literally littering the campsite. None are found, of course. The fuzz find Preston's car, still backed up against the tree, but, BUM, BUM, BUUUUM!!!, the yeti is nowhere to be found. Thanks again, scriptmonkey, for that original twist. Just how many bananas did you earn for writing this? Geez...

So, the police gather 'round, noting that nothing has been found, which prompts the sheriff to say that there probably was never anything to begin with yadda, yadda, when they hear a noise in the brush & turn to see...a bunch of red CGI eyes looking back at them. Exit the police department.

And, fade to black...

Thank you, Lord!

(Credit where credit's due - I was again genuinely surprised to see that the good hearted deputy apparently became yetichow along with the putz of a sheriff. So that's two - two! - twists in the entire movie. Two times that the scriptmonkey dared deviate from the formula. His trainer must've walked away for a second & he slipped it into the script.)

So, what'd you really think?

Well, it seems SciFi has done it again. Yet another in a long line of really crappy movies, although this is the first one in a long time that didn't star John Rhyes-Davies or Casper Van Dien, so I guess it shows that the network is branching out & offering other starving actors some jobs. Either that or Rhyes-Davies & Van Dien are busy making sequels to other such DTV crapfests as Chupacabra or SS Doomtrooper.

This movie was so by the numbers that it was almost painful to watch. You knew what was going to happen, when it was going to happen & to whom it was going to happen. Given the caliber of movie that this is, it's not entirely surprising that there would be a certain amount of reliance on the old horror formulas, but, cripes, I felt like I'd seen this movie a half dozen other times, only with different antagonists & actors (in most cases). It's become a game for me to see how many future victims I can identify early on in a movie.

I read somewhere that it seems that the victims in horror/monster movies always seem to commit one or more of the seven deadly sins & that the psycho/cryptozooilogical beastie/rabid koala/killer azaelea are actually dishing out payback for their iniquities. As I watched this movie & Pinata the night before (I actually quit watching that one just before it was finished because a) it was almost 2a & b) it was about as predictable as this movie), I noticed that just about everyone who got munched on was either a coward, a drunk, was naked at one point (& not necessarily doing the wild thing) or was just plain mean (in Pinata there was one black man & woman that got et [even though I really didn't see that they'd committed any particular deadly sin], which seems to be part of the formula, as well). Is this actually how they write these things? Do they use this outline to flesh out the plot? Or is this just some logirithim used by some scriptwriting program?

Well, you got me.

Abominable - 2 Stars out of 5