Thursday, October 13, 2016

Phantasm Ravager

Phantasm Ravager marks the end of one of the most original and creative horror movie franchises in history, and more importantly wraps up the epic story of Reggie the ice cream man and his lonely quest to save his friends and humanity from the schemes of the Tall Man, a seemingly omnipotent being that can travel through dimensions, time, and space to reap the dead for his own nefarious purposes.  It seems impractical to recount the entire story thus far, as the newest entry is really a love note for the long time “phans” of the series, anyone wondering about the story at this point is better off watching the series and forming your own informed opinion about what is really going on in Phantasm, where seeing is easy, but understanding is the hard part.

When we last saw Reggie he was chasing the Tall Man through a dimensional gate while Mike laid dying on the desert floor after the Tall Man extracted a large dark metallic sphere from his skull; a wound he was very unlikely to survive.  Reggie’s back “home” now, we are not sure where the dimensional gate led him, or for how long he has been chasing the Tall Man since Oblivion, but it looks like he has returned to his original dimension.  He begins to recant his story, pointing out that even he is unsure of reality anymore after dealing with the Tall Man’s tricks for so long. 

I believe this opening dialogue leans into the idea that what we are seeing in Phantasm movies isn’t real; it is a dream state, a psychosis to deal with the idea of passing from this world into the next.  The first four movies were all in Mike’s head; when we see him in a coma in bed in part 3 those are actual glimpses of the real world.  He’s been in that twilight state between life and death since the crash that killed his brother and parents.  Reggie is his last friend trying to ease his passing bedside.  Mike is caught in a dream and refuses to accept death until the end of Oblivion, where he finally accepts what is happening to him, explained by the last sequence of the film, and allows him self to pass on.

I think that theory ties the series together nicely, but doesn’t apply to Ravager.  If the first four movies were about Mike dealing with his passing, Ravager is about Reggie dealing with getting old and being stuck in a nursery home with senior onset dementia.  Reggie is dealing with his passing, but in a different way.  The movie quickly shifts between Reggie being the bad ass undead ass kicker in the past, to the nursery home in his present, to an apocalyptic future where the Tall Man has conquered the planet, sometimes within the same scene or in the middle of a speech.  The transitions are so jarring and sudden that Reggie has trouble coping with it all.  He refuses to accept the nursery home reality; he believes it is all a trick by the Tall Man.

But I don’t think it’s a trick at all.  I think Mike truly passed on at the end of Oblivion and finally accepted his fate.  Reggie had a family at one point and somehow lost them, we aren’t sure how, but Mike was the only support he had left, and he died at the end of Oblivion, leaving poor Reggie alone and destitute.  He began grasping at the epic tale Mike told him bedside while coming in and out of a coma, perhaps embracing the fiction because it painted him as a hard luck warrior trying to save humanity from the legions of the dead invading our dimension; a lovely fantasy when Reggie felt he was at his lowest.  The early onset dementia only exasperated matters, Reggie began believing Mike’s story to be real, and started living through the adventure in his mind.  The few moments he is lucid he is brought back to the reality of the nursery home, where he struggles with the idea of being old, dying in bed, and being “shoved into some box”.      

When Reggie makes the speech about dying on his feet with his four barreled shotgun at his side fighting the forces of evil he is completely rejecting the reality of the old folk’s home, and a dimensional portal appears.  He goes through it and is completely lost in the rat maze of his mind, jumping from past to present to future without warning.  The Tall Man appears and offers him a chance to be re-united with his loved ones in death, but Reggie refuses.  He’s not ready to die yet; instead he demands that the Tall Man return his friends Mike and Jody back to him.

The rest of the movie is a check list of classic Phantasm-like moments for the “phans”; Reggie is stalked by the undead in a massive mausoleum resembling the same complex from part 3.  He’s re-united with Mike and battles the Tall Man in the red dimension all the while experiencing random lucid moments in the reality of his nursery home room.  He is finally re-united with his friends “in the future”, but in the real world Reggie is slowly passing away in his bed.  As the trio rides off into the sunset in the series staple 1971 Plymouth Barracuda, Reggie accepts his fate and dies with his best friends by his side, welcoming him into the afterlife.

Even writing that makes me emotional.  As a “phan” of the series I thought it hit all the right beats.  I would have wanted a bigger budget and less CGI, more polish, but this series has always made the most out of a dime store budget.  I didn’t like the addition of the new character “Chunk” so late in the franchise, I thought he was essentially terrible comedic relief, but rest of the movie is hot as love.  After watching this I’ve been spinning through the other entries of the series and have no intention of stopping anytime soon.  The Tall Man LIVES!  BOOOOOYYYY!        

Friday, September 9, 2016

Clown 2016

Clown is a movie that gets a lot of gas out of its killer concept; what if you were slowly changing into an actual circus clown and there was nothing you can do about it?  The movie takes the potentially hilarious premise of someone who cannot get a clown suit off, having to endure the rigors of the normal work day in full clown attire, and takes the concept one step further; into the crimson waters of body horror.  Think of it as The Fly, except instead of turning into Brundle-fly the main protagonist ends up something more akin to Pennywise from IT; a clown monster with an insatiable appetite for the flesh of children, at least until winter passes.

While the premise of the film is wildly entertaining, capitalizing on the inherit creepiness of clowns, there are some minor gaffs that prevent it from elevating from a mere cinematic curiosity to must see splatter.  There is some silly made up myth about the “true origin of the clowne” from Sweden or some place, a lot of time spent on exploring how another man had already exorcised the demon clown but it ends up really going nowhere, the only information he can really provide is that decapitating the demon will ultimately kill it.  Well no shit.  The wife they chose to “save” her husband from becoming a demon clown is a total cardboard cutout of an actress, her reactions to his clown possession are like “well he seems mad at me, he’s acting strange” when her husband  has already provided ample evidence that he couldn’t get loose from the cursed clown suit or accoutrements.

As the protagonist and loyal husband slowly transmogrifies into a clown during the film he gets more and more desperate to end the curse through any means, eventually resorting to attempting suicide.  In one of the more gruesome scenes in the film the shifting clown-demon-man shoots himself in the head painting his blood in rainbow colors across the wall behind him.  The dark humor in that one scene encapsulates the feeling of Clown perfectly for me; it’s a mix between black humor and sadistic horror.  The demon-clown eventually totally overpowers his host, cultivating into a kiddy massacre at honest to god Chuck E. Cheese.  A literal wave of blood splashes into the ball pit, the demon clown escapes back to his house to lure and kill his son, and the wife finally makes herself useful, decapitating her husband (and his clown dog, yeah that happens too), freeing him from the curse and you know, this shitty no good life. 

I thought Clown was definitely worth the rental in this lull of good horror.  It certainly kept my crew entertained until the end.

Monday, August 1, 2016

I Come In Peace

The White Boys are a group of white collar workers who happen to deal heroin on the side, although it’s clear they don’t need the money; they are just evil fuckers.  Damn white people.  They own exotic sports car dealerships, yuppie CEOs in designer suits with shoulder pads snorting mountains of coke; these bozos think they are above the law and they might be right, but they aren’t above Jack Caine (Dolph Lundgren), a loose canon cop who plays by his own rules.  They killed his black partner and they are going to pay with sweet round house kicks to the head, problem is some alien who uses CDs like ninja stars is slicing and dicing his way through their ranks, and now Jack is really pissed.  Turns out this albino alien with perfectly quaffed hair is a drug dealer himself; he sticks tubes in people’s chests to overdose them on heroin, and then extract pieces of their brains for the endorphins to sell on his home planet.  This piece of information is treated like an “ah-ha” moment, and is explained without a hint of irony, because shit happens, just another day on the beat for a Houston detective.  There’s also criminal who goes by the name Boner and is interrogated by Jack pressing a gun to his nuts.  If you are looking for any gay subtext in this situation stop right there,  this isn’t that sort of movie, besides, Jack is boning the local undertaker, although I am not sure why; seems like they could have gotten a hotter broad for this kind of B-trash.

The movie goes through the stereotypical odd couple cop partner thing for a while; Jack is paired with an impish brown-noser that does everything “by the book”, crap we’ve seen a dozen times before which only seems to distract from the alien chest fucking action.  The other portion of the movie is schlock creature feature, watching this weird silver haired dude making drugs out of people’s brains and dodge exploding cars.  He tells everyone “I come in peace” before sucking out their brains with a smirk on his face, the kidder.

Everything about this movie is slightly nutty, I’d like to think behind the scenes there was a lot of booze and partying going on; there’s a lot of energy and crazy ideas and somehow it works without making me want to gouge out my own frontal lobe.  There’s no underlining context or pigeon holed message about “drugs are bad mmmkay”, just real stuntmen and pyrotechnics and goofy wise cracks “you come in peace, and leave in pieces!”.  The final fight is about what you’d expect, lots of round house kicks and action posturing.  This is Dolph at his peak; would make a perfect double feature with Split Second

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sketch dump 7/14/16

Still grinding away during this hot, hot summer.  Been watching a lot of HalloweeN 5 lately.

Halloween Horror Nights - Michael Myers Returns!

Michael Myers returns to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

I might actually go this year for the Michael Myers maze.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Battle Truck - review

Civilization has begun its march to extinction.  It’s a steady pace, the cadence of violence and fear rings loud and clear for all. Panic is everywhere.  Cities crumble as survivors spread out to the wasteland in search of food and shelter; society decays.  On the streets it is a white line nightmare of Darwinian survival.  The highways are painted red with the blood of the innocent.  The high and tights, the ex-militia, the crazy and lonely and sadistic men that used violence to protect us and let us sleep at night have emerged from the maelstrom to take control.  The gas wars lead to the oil wars which lead to the water wars which end in a nuclear nightmare.  Resources are spread to the breaking point.  Tribalism rules the land.  Roaming bandits feast upon the weak.  It’s a new world, with new rules, learn them….

And amidst the rubble and decay of this post-apocalyptic nightmare, never stopping, never ceasing; BATTLE TRUCK!  A roaming death machine, twisted metal crushing bodies in its wake, unstoppable, unbreakable, and helmed by the sadistic ex-colonel Straker.  Straker sees the new world as it is; an opportunity for the strong to suppress the weak, to survive and flourish as warlords.  Politics of the old world are too soft and for the meek, “too much lipstick, not enough napalm”.  He roams the world doing what “the Generals” were too cowardly to do; instill order through fear and violence.  He has gathered a band of brutal mercenaries to impose his will on whomever he crosses, gobbling them up in his war machine to use as another resource in his unending search for conquest. 

Straker is polite, courteous, and willing to murder anyone with a cold reptilian detachment; anything for more oil.  His daughter however is a peace loving daisy hugging dreamer (bleargh!) who can’t reconcile her petty moral code with the harsh reality of the nuclear wasteland.  She runs away from Straker’s camp and is rescued by a loner with a cool motorcycle and night vision goggles; Hunter.  Hunter brings her to his thriving chicken shit farm.  After telling her he really hates people but helps them anyways he leads her to another community of hippies who are attacked by Battle Truck while picking apples.  They put up a pathetic fight, and a distressed Straker’s daughter runs back to Hunter as the raiders gather up the town women.  Let me tell you, when she is recounting the tale of the fallen town to Hunter it really seems like the actress is suffering from severe PTSD or something.  Snot is flying from her nose, she’s crying so hard she can barely speak her line; holy shitballs give this lady a Grammy or whatever; best supporting actress in a B-rated post-apocalyptic movie about a giant truck.  Later Hunter bangs her, and she gets all prophetic about humanity like she’s stoned or something; damn hippy.  The mailman from Cheers is in this too although his mustache is gone (must have been melted by nuclear fallout). 

There’s a shootout at night.  They must have used the same lighting guy from Humongous because I can’t see shit.  Straker ends up kidnapping his daughter back and Hunter works with the dude from Cheers to build a new battle wagon, which sucks ass.  It really kind of looks like a junky piece of shit but Hunter makes it work.  I’m assuming the film crew tried building something formable at first like the V-8 Interceptor from Mad Max but ran out of money or patience or both and just said “fuck it, let’s mount a machine gun to a beat up Volkswagen bug and call it a day”.   In the end the Battle Truck careens off into a gully and explodes although I’m not convinced Straker really died.  Seemed like they hysterically set up room for a sequel: Battle Truck 2: The Revenge of Straker.  Fuck I’d be there opening day.  Something about post-apocalyptic nonsense makes me feel free and long for the end of civilization.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

JC to return to HALLOWEEN

From the OFFICIAL HALLOWEEN MESSAGE BOARD front page (aka one of the coolest places for Halloween fiends to hang their kitchen knives)