A group of people arrive on Fantasy Island, a magical island where Mr. Roarke makes your dreams come true. But they soon realize that these aren’t dreams, but rather nightmares and they have to escape the island. Can they stop Mr. Roarke and get off the island before it’s too late? Find out in… Fantasy Island.
How?! Gwen, Melanie, Patrick, Brax, and J. D. show up on Fantasy Island having won the opportunity to have their dreams come true courtesy of Mr. Roarke. Brax and J. D. are codependent bros looking to have fun with each other because family is everything. Patrick wants to be a soldier like his dad, who died a hero. Melanie wants to get revenge on her childhood tormentor. Gwen wants to get past her life full of regrets. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, particularly for Gwen, who having accepted a marriage proposal from the love of her life (who she let get away) is living the fantasy of having a beautiful family… but things feel off and she demands that she get over her real regret: the fact that she never saved a man from a fire she accidentally started years before. Meanwhile, Brax and J. D. are also experiencing some unpleasant side effects of having it all when it turns out they are occupying a drug dealer’s abode and some armed baddies show up to take them hostage. Patrick also is realizing that everything isn’t as it seems when he shows up to help his dad survive his fatal mission only to find that they are instead swarming the house that Brax and J. D. are in. Confused yet? Well we still have Melanie to talk about who gets a chance to torture her childhood bully only to have second thoughts and save her from the demonic torturer. Running away they are found by a journalist living in the jungle who reveals that the island is powered by some magic black liquid and they have to get in contact with his plane so they can get off the island. On the way to getting in contact the journalist sacrifices himself so they can escape. Brax and Patrick barely escape the hostage takers/soldiers who turn into unkillable zombies when shot. They run back to the beach where they meet up with Melanie and Gwen, but before they can escape Mr. Roarke destroys the plane. Turns out he must make sacrifices to the island to keep the fantasy of his dead wife alive. Running back into the jungle they head for the black liquid source, while Gwen explains that they were all connected to the fire in her fantasy. That they must in fact be part of someone else’s revenge fantasy for their roles in the guy’s death. When they reach the liquid it’s revealed that Melanie is the one looking for revenge, but before she can kill everyone Mr. Roarke finally has second thoughts about what he’s doing and helps kill Melanie, with Patrick sacrificing himself in the process like his dad. In the end the survivors leave the island, but Brax decides to stay so that the fantasy of J. D. being alive can continue in the real world. He is doomed to live on the island forever as… Tattoo. Bum bum bum. THE END (or is it?… probably). Wow that’s way more confusing than I remember.
Why?! Well the main motivation is Melanie’s. She was tormented as a child and went through years of low self esteem. As a result she couldn’t believe it when Nick wanted to date her and stood him up for a date so that when Gwen started the fire accidentally, Brax and J. D. didn’t think to look for him before fleeing. Patrick was on the scene as a police officer but didn’t go in to help Nick. So Melanie blamed all of them for his death and set up Fantasy Island to get revenge. The other important motivation is Mr. Roarke, who searched for the island in hopes of saving his wife, but found it too late. So now he sacrifices others in order to keep reliving the fantasy of being with her again.
Who?! There is an imposing character named Dr. Torture that shows up here and there in the film. When he showed up on screen my athlete-turned-actor sense was buzzing and indeed he had a long career as a professional rugby player in Australia. He also was the first high profile professional Australian athlete to come out as gay in 1995.
What?! I’m not really sure what the magic black liquid would be considering in the scope of the film. It has some characteristics of a MacGuffin given that it has unknowable magical properties. In fact if there were a prequel based around Mr. Roarke and his search for the island the liquid would be a MacGuffin. So maybe it is a MacGuffin… just one that most of the characters want to destroy rather than possess.
Where?! Fake setting alert! Patrick and I have bandied about the idea of having a whole cycle set in fake countries and locations, but it’s hard to tell how feasible something like that actually is. Particularly for some genres like romance. Anyway, this takes place on the titular Fantasy Island and is a rare example of an A+ fake setting.
When?! There is a good chance you can find when this takes place in some of the scenes with Melanie where things are posted to social media. I didn’t take a close enough look so I can’t be sure on that, but that would be where I would look first. Otherwise it plays little role in the film considering it takes place on a magical island and time is no object. F.
Patrick and I differed a little on our opinion of this one. I didn’t mind the beginning despite the confusion brought on by launching a million characters onto a magical island which in itself is also confusing. But I’m a sucker for some feel good action and even the kinda fratty characters Brax and J. D. have a sweet backstory about them loving each other unconditionally even though their family disowned Brax when he came out. But we both agreed that the ending was crazy bad. It felt like one twist too many and so Melanie’s behaviour during most of the film is totally nonsensical given that she turns out to be the bad guy. Like she’s acting for an audience of zero. It left a bad taste in my mouth. As for our friend this week, Welcome to Sudden Death is more of a remake than a sequel. Shot for shot until the end where predictably Michael Jai White couldn’t enter a professional basketball game impersonating a player for obvious reasons. Also there isn’t sudden death in basketball so that was jettisoned too. It’s a silly movie and really drags for a while, but it’s got some good fight scenes and there is a character Gus that is hilarious in a wait-is-this-guy-gonna-turn-out-to-be-a-ghost kind of way. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! If there ever was a film that deserved the title of That Sweet IP: The Movie, this is it. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – This is maybe the only film that definitively hit the market as a for sure 2020 BMT film. That obviously didn’t change as the pandemic wiped out any and all summer competitors. So here we are. A second Lucy Hall Blumhouse horror film almost exactly two years after Truth or Dare is rather impressive I think. What were my expectations? I purposefully didn’t look up things about this movie since I knew I would watch it for BMT. I mostly expected it to be a confounding horror film with few (and bad) scares which would only serve to anger horror fans and Fantasy Island fans alike.
The Good – The conceit of the film, on paper, is actually quite good. Basically, the ceiling of this film was Cabin in the Woods. A movie that purports to reason around the slasher tropes in such a way that you have a fourth wall breaking meta commentary on the genre. You could imagine sequels which play off of different examples of the genre (like Nightmare on Elm Street for example) with characters who are aware of the beats of horror films in general. Lucy Hall, Ryan Hansen, Jimmy Yang, and Michael Pena are also all quite good. Basically, the idea of the film and the cast are all well chosen, it just … well we’ll get to that. Best Bit: Conceit.
The Bad – The writing from two different fronts. As Jamie teased, I thought the beginning of the film was a mess. Unlike Cabin in the Woods there was absolutely no indication of what was actually happening for about an hour of the film. Combine that with the bad decision to split up the cast lead to just way too much being thrown around with no discernible explanation for way too long. The ideas finally gel at the beginning of what seemed poised to be a decent third act right before falling apart with one of the worst twists in horror history (and that is saying something!). My argument is that they should have all been brought to Fantasy Island with the original idea of it being a party island, reveal a behind the scenes operation to run a slasher film (basically) against the group, before a final reveal that they were actually, indeed, fulfilling someone’s ultimate fantasy: to be the killer in a horror film. It would end with, as usual, the slasher being killed, and the warning by Mr. Rourke that some fantasies are far more dangerous than one would perhaps expect. Fatal Flaw: Bad horror and bad twist.
The BMT – Every year we collect the various BMT films that come out. Unfortunately, this year has somewhat escalated the concern about bad theatrical films maybe dying in the future. But for now we are fine, we watched Dolittle and now Fantasy Island, and in the end both would have been the creme de la creme of any year regardless. But 2020 is a shot across the BMT Rulebook’s bow, and research is being conducted to guard against a dwindling number of BMT films being released every year. Did it meet my expectations? Ayup. It was indeed a confounding horror film with terrible scares. There was a nugget of something good though. If I’m being honest I would happily watch a sequel and I wouldn’t be that surprised to find that they figured out the formula the second time around.
Roast-radamus – This actually is literally a Setting as a Character (Where?) for Fantasy Island which appears to be a semi-conscious entity that is controlled by a magic stone and a magic pool of black liquid. Ultimately the storyline does devolve into a classic MacGuffin (Why?) or more precisely it is most like the Keystone Army trope in which all of this madness can just be stopped by destroying the aforementioned magic stone right?! Well kind of, and that’s where the Worst Twist (How?) comes into play in that it all turns out that Lucy Hall was putting on a master class of acting the whole time! This was all her fantasy, but one’s fantasy can, it turns out, be destroyed by another person’s fantasy! Checkmate! This is a quality BMT I think, very much a film that leaves you thinking (about how bad it is) for weeks afterwards.
StreetCreditReport.com – Looking through the 2020 films is actually quite interesting. We’ve done a 2020 film with a higher Notability (Dolittle and Bloodshot), but this is genuinely the lowest rated 2020 film we’ve watched, so that is serious. In the context of the year it is in the 99th percentile for BMeTric and Rotten Tomatoes score, it just flags a little in Notability, which is expected with Blumhouse. The real cred comes from its very tenuous connection to the 1970s television show Fantasy Island, but it has managed to be, by every proprietary Bad Movie Media Empire metric, a worthy BMT film.
You Just Got Schooled – Initially, I watched the original Sudden Death as a BMT film, just prior to Jamie pointing out that it actually has too many good reviews to technically qualify. If you haven’t seen this film stop reading this email (blog? Futuristic holographic device in the year 2100, year 64 of the Bad Movie Cultural Empire of the New United States of BMT?) and go and watch it right this instant. It is hilarious. It is so hilarious, in fact, that Jamie and I had a very long debate as to whether the entire film is actually a parody film in disguise. Here’s the argument. The film is explicitly a Die Hard in Blank film, the “blank” being game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. But then the first fight is with the team mascot, and later on in the film Van Damme himself plays goalie for a moment! Those are fake storylines for a Die Hard parody film. Go and watch the final helicopter scene and tell me this isn’t a comedy. Maybe the strongest point is that one of the writers of the film was genuinely a parody film writer at the time, so you can definitely see how they maybe wrote the film as a joke, but then got JCVD on board et voila! They accidentally wrote a real film. Anyways, the film is incredibly fun and you should watch it. A, I wish all cheesy 90s action was this fun.
Bring a Friend Analysis – And then of course we watched the sequel (remake? It feels like a remake) to Sudden Death called Welcome to Sudden Death which came out this year. Oh boy. There isn’t really that much to say, it is a remake of the original film almost beat for beat, but with the addition of Gary Owens as the wisecracking sidekick Gus (or was he a figment of Jesse’s imagination? We may never know), and the quality of a film shot in two days in an empty minor league basketball arena. The film is juuuuust aware enough to nod and wink at the camera during the fight scenes, but massively drops the ball with the bad guy played by Michael Eklund. The issue is that he is so gross and smarmy as a mercenary out for revenge against the billionaire owner of a basketball team that it all becomes no fun. You need the silly hamminess of Powers Booth’s crazy (like a fox!) plan to steal millions via secret service machinations for the entire thing to work. It just doesn’t work with some guy who is pissed that he lost his job because he accidentally killed an entire innocent family in a black ops mission. D, the new brand of self-aware bad movies are rarely fun, and this is no exception despite Michael Jai White being quite good in the Van Damme role, and a hilariousness of Gary Owen’s character.