Troll Recap

Jamie

When the Potter family moves into their new apartment their young daughter is taken possession by an evil wizard/troll. It’s up to the young Harry Potter to team up with the sorceress upstairs to stop the evil plan. Can they stop the troll and get his sister back before it’s too late? Find out in… Troll.

How?! The Potters are ready to live it up in their new apartment in San Fran, but on the very day they move in an evil wizard turned troll, Torok, possesses their daughter, Wendy, and begins to wreak havoc on the apartment building. While the parents are largely oblivious, their son, Harry Potter (seriously), is pretty much like “this girl has super strength and is a psychopath, something is going on.” He learns from Eunice, the witch that lives upstairs, about the whole troll business and she explains that he is trying to transform the apartment building into a fairy world. Once he is able to turn all the other tenants of the building into totally gross plants/fairies/trolls/giant bear monsters he will be able to take over the human realm in its entirety (which seems a bit arbitrary… why the apartment building?… whatever). She informs Harry that he needs to stab the heart of the fairy world in order to stop Torok. By doing this he’ll save his sister since Torok needs her to be his bride in his new kingdom. In a final climactic battle Harry confronts a giant bear-bat monster thing but is totally pwned like a noob. However, Torok is horrified when his creation gets out of control and attempts to kill Wendy (which would spoil his whole plan) and kills the monster himself. The fairy realm is thus destroyed and the Potter family skedaddles real quick before anyone realizes that a whole bunch of people died in that apartment building. In the end we see a police officer enter the basement of the building and the troll possesses him. BUM BUM BUM. THE END.

Why?! We are really given a lot of exposition by Eunice on exactly why the troll is doing what he’s doing. Back in the day the fairy and human realms were in perfect balance. Torok attempted to rise up and break this balance and there was a big war and the humans won. This resulted in Torok being turned into a troll. Only occasionally can Torok try to reclaim his power. As for our hero, Harry Potter, he’s just a kid who wants his lame little sister back rather than a psychopathic monster.

Who?! There are a bunch of interesting and not traditional things to highlight here. We have Phil Fondacaro playing two characters, Torok and Malcolm. We have the same role portrayed by two people as Eunice St. Claire is an old woman for most of the film, but also transformed into her younger self. These roles were portrayed by mother/daughter June and Anne Lockhart. Finally the recently deceased director of the film John Carl Buechler was featured uncredited as Torok in human/wizard form.

What?! There are certainly some Coca-Cola cups laying around, but nothing really pops as super interesting. I’m much more interested in what props were for sale for this film and lo and behold my little mushroom guy was! Look at the price he was asking for it. Can’t say I have $2000 laying around ready to be spent on a little mushroom puppet no matter how much I like it singing its little heart out.

Where?! We get a nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge near the Potter’s apartment so this is a San Francisco treat. Doesn’t really come into play beyond that though seeing as we spend the whole movie in the apartment building. B-.

When?! You are probably like “No way. Troll couldn’t possibly be a Secret Holiday Film.” Wrong! We are told by Eunice that the day that Wendy was transformed was Walpurgis Night, which lands on May 1st. The rest of the film follows from there. This is made somewhat confusing by an October calendar on Eunice’s wall, but I chalk that up to her being a witch land loving Halloween so much she keeps it up all year round. Weirdly specific and part of the plot. A-.

What a weird interesting movie. I can 100% see why this became a cult film. Like there is a moment when the troll is starting to build his fairy world and there is this creepy music going on and a little mushroom person is singing and shit and I was straight digging it. It also has a super nerd alert fantasy storyline without a lick of irony, which I always appreciate. All that said, the acting, writing, and general filmmaking is not good at all… so a mixed bag. On the one hand there is a little singing mushroom person, on the other everything else is bad. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Troll is super weird. Like Leprechaun it is hard to tell whether I’m supposed to think the movie is terrible on purpose or what. I imagine not. I mean … It at least seems like they want to make all of the practical effects work. They don’t. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – The only reason we watched this film is because of Troll 2 honestly. Oh … and I think the Worst Of wiki page is severely lacking in horror films. As a matter of fact I think we literally had to choose between Vampire in Brooklyn (a comedy in actuality) and this, and we chose this. I figured it was going to be nonsense. I was right.

The Good – As a fantasy story it actually is decently interesting. A remake (which is apparently in the works) is perfect for a film like this. Just for the love of God don’t make it an actual horror film. Just make it an adventure fantasy with the Troll being a kind of goofy antagonist. I think that would work much better. That’s it, I enjoyed the vibe of the film, but not much else. At times the VFX were impressive for 1986.

The Bad – The film is certainly nonsensical. I had a hell of a time making a quiz for it because I couldn’t even remember who all of the characters were. It isn’t a horror film and I don’t know why places suggest it is. Like maybe earlier in the 80s you could have gotten away with it, but at this point it should have been a Leprechaun-esque horror comedy. I’m not even sure the Troll actually kills anyone. Do they come back in the end? Otherwise wouldn’t the Potters be going to prison for killing them all? See the movie is ultra confusing. Top to bottom the acting is terrible. Like an early 80s syndicated television series instead of a film.

The BMT – As mentioned in the preview the film itself is mainly notable as being the not-really prior installment to the actual maybe-worst-film-ever in Troll 2. The film itself doesn’t have that BMT magic though. It feels a bit like you are punching down when a film is this small and looks so amateurly made. Especially when it isn’t made by a lunatic, but instead by a well-meaning FX artist who literally just died a few days ago. I’m a bit stumped as to why anyone would think this is one of the worst films ever made.

Roast-radamus – Huh. Nothing really comes to mind. No big cameos, no product placement from what I could recall, no twists, no Planchet getting ripped on in every scene. The movie isn’t good, but it isn’t horrible, and it isn’t really our cup of BMTea if you get my drift. A tiny Where (Setting) for San Francisco, but not even that. A recipe for completely forgetting I watched this film in a month.

StreetCreditReport.com – Lists from the 80s are few and far between naturally, but amazingly it did make this random list. The list itself is solid, we’ve seen quite a few of those for BMT. And I agree wholeheartedly with the Troll assessment there. It has some cred as a bad horror film of the mid-80s, and as the precursor to the notorious Troll 2, but not much else.

You Just Got Schooled – I was hoping there would be a doc or something about the film, and it turns out there is!:

It looks like the production company may have made it as some sort of promotion for their films since it is somehow related to Ghoulies. I would say watch the first ten minutes and you’ll get most of the interesting stories. The back half is fine, but all with the VFX guys and it is just very technical. I wish more movies had this kind of stuff. Instead of reading a never ending stream of IMDb nonsense you can get it straight from the source. Also makes me want to look into Fangoria. I can’t believe it still exists.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Troll Preview

Sergeant Godzilla roars with anger at Officer Fultz, who simply scoffs and asks if he can go. He’s got some actual bad guys to stop with lethal force and no time for pencil-pushing bullshit. “RAWR, not till you tell me why you broke all those rules last week. And who are these two bozos with you?” Fultz looks back at Jamie and Patrick, “Just some scum I caught littering in the dead zone.” Godzilla seems taken aback, “The dead zone, huh? Get outta here you rule-breaking nogoodnik and don’t let me catch you breaking any more rules.” With that Jamie and Patrick are left alone with Godzilla. “Mighty dangerous place out there in the dead zone. Wanna tell me what you were looking for besides trouble?” Knowing this might be their only shot Patrick speaks up, “A couple of your officers we hope… Rich and Poe? Do they work for you, sir?” Godzilla squints at them. For a moment recognition seems to dawn on his scaly face but then it’s gone, “No. Nobody by that name here. They sound like a couple of rule-breakers anyway. Perhaps they work over in Bridgetown. That’s the toughest precinct in these parts.” Jamie and Patrick ask if they can head that way but Godzilla seems hesitant, “It’s not exactly police friendly and you both seem like you follow the law.” Jamie and Patrick nod and think about all the coolz rulez they follow. “They won’t take kindly to either of us. But I can drop you over at an informant’s apartment and he might know something of interest. Just don’t… make a deal with him. He’s trouble.” They hop in Godzilla’s specialty police racecar and zoom on over to the apartment. When they approach the door it creaks open and a warty troll hand beckons them in. That’s right! We’re watching the 1986 cult classic Troll. Made on a shoestring budget and earning $5 million at the box office this was such an cult success that they later attempted to rebrand two different films as its sequel. Troll 2 actually is considered one of the worst films ever made and Troll 3 (originally The Crawlers) is largely forgotten. This was apparently mentioned on a list of the 50 worst films ever made, but that’s not enough to make it on the Wikipedia list so it was rejected. Let’s go!

Troll (1986) – BMeTric: 57.1

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(The rating has kind of hilariously been all over the place. Around 4.0 is obviously solid though. Interesting that it has nearly 10K votes as well, heartening.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  If your idea of entertainment is seeing Sonny Bono metamorphose into an apartment of foliage, this is the movie for you. Angelic tyke is possessed by a troll, who takes over her body and starts turning the neighbors into seed pods that eventually turn into new trolls. Too close to Gremlins; some viewers may get off on hearing June Lockhart swear. Sequel: Troll II.

(Troll II isn’t a sequel to Troll. Or at least, it is a SINO, a Sequel in Name Only. And yeah Leonard … seeing Sonny Bono morph into a forest is exactly what entertains me.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7rg8C8w5ZY/

(“The weirdest, and wildest … creature of them all. That troll legit just looks like the troll from Ernest Scared Stupid … or maybe Hoggle from Labyrinth?)

Directors – John Carl Buechler – (BMT: Troll; Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Visual Effects for The Garbage Pail Kids Movie in 1988; Notes: A Special Effects guy back in the heyday of 80s horror. He actually directed a number of features, most just don’t have reviews online.)

Writers – John Carl Buechler (story) (uncredited) – (BMT: Troll; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Visual Effects for The Garbage Pail Kids Movie in 1988; Notes: Awwww he was just diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer, like Alex Trebek.)

Ed Naha (written by) – (Known For: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Honey I Blew Up the Kid; Dolls; Future BMT: The Ten Commandments; BMT: Troll; Notes: He wrote two RoboCop novelizations. Pretty cheap.)

Actors – Michael Moriarty – (Known For: Pale Rider; Courage Under Fire; The Stuff; The Last Detail; Q; Bang the Drum Slowly; Shiloh; Dog Soldiers; It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive; Hickey & Boggs; Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season; Future BMT: Along Came a Spider; Neverwas; BMT: Troll; Notes: Probably most well known for Law & Order where he was the prosecutor for the first four years of the series’ run. He was eventually replaced by Sam Waterston.)

Shelley Hack – (Known For: Annie Hall; The King of Comedy; Time After Time; The Stepfather; Future BMT: House Arrest; BMT: Troll; Notes: Was a Charlie’s Angel for a season in 1979.)

Noah Hathaway – (Known For: The NeverEnding Story; Sushi Girl; Best Friends; BMT: Troll; Notes: He played Atreyu in The NeverEnding Story. He holds black belts in Tang Soo Do and Shotokan, and (at the time this sketchy IMDb bio was written) is learning American Kenpo. Hmmm, American Kenpo you say)

Budget/Gross – $700,000-1.1 million / Domestic: $5,450,815

(I mean sure. You couldn’t not make money with cheap horror films back in the day it seems.)

#113 for the Fantasy – Live Action genre

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(Juuuuust beats out In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale for our lowest grossing film in this genre. Right before the big Willow / Princess Bride boom in the 80s. Then everything kind of died off when people realized the effects looked like crap and were expensive. And then Highlander: Endgame changes the game in 2000 .. Joking, it was Harry Potter.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 25% (2/8)No Consensus

(Very few reviews naturally, and surprisingly bad considering how innocuous the trailer looks. The consensus can be summed up as: Boring, insufferable, and not scary. Reviewer Highlight: Almost as scary as the Leprechaun – Kevin Fiddler, Henderson Home News)

Poster – [Placeholder Picture] (F+)

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(This is so hard to distinguish what it’s trying to show that it has to have been done intentionally because they knew the troll looked dumb. It’s just like… a bad photo. A very tiny amount of credit for the font I guess.)

Tagline(s) – Apartment for Rent. Inquire Within… (D-)

(Things aren’t going well for the Troll marketing team. Is there a joke here… are we supposed to be enticed by the prospect of a Troll landlord? At least it’s short and all the words make sense when put together.)

Keyword(s) – troll; Top Ten by BMeTric: 86.3 Troll 2 (1990); 57.1 Troll (1986); 54.1 Leprechaun 2 (1994); 49.5 Seventh Son (I) (2014); 45.0 Slackers (2002); 32.4 A Troll in Central Park (1994); 30.9 Snow White and the Huntsman (2012); 30.7 Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013); 30.1 Beowulf & Grendel (2005); 29.0 Ernest Scared Stupid (1991);

(The original keyword was “girl in a notably short outfit” for reals. How about fucking “troll”?! Who wrote this email generator … oh yeah, I did. Anyways I manually replaced it. I’ve seen … most of these kind of sadly. I don’t see how Slackers applies though … maybe they are referring to like … online trolls there?)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 25) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is No. 3 billed in Troll and No. 3 billed in North, which also stars Elijah Wood (No. 1 billed) who is in The Last Witch Hunter (No. 3 billed), which also stars Vin Diesel (No. 1 billed) who is in Babylon A. D. (No. 1 billed), which also stars Michelle Yeoh (No. 2 billed) who is in Mechanic: Resurrection (No. 4 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 3 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 4 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 25. If we were to watch Fathers’ Day, Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – The hero of this film is a boy named Harry Potter Junior, who is surrounded by a fantasy world of witches, wizards and magic, 11 years before J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels swept the publishing world.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ film debut.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has admitted being embarrassed by her role. In April 2013, Jay Leno showed her scene as a nymph on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #21.125 (2013). Louis-Dreyfus was surprised and visibly annoyed that Leno dredged up her connection to the film. (Yeah not a good look. I sometimes think about how annoying it would be if I was like “My God, Jason Statham. I loved you in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.” I imagine he would punch me square in the face).

Brad Hall and Julia Louis-Dreyfus play an on-screen couple in this film. In real life, the two were dating, and married the year following the film’s release. It remains the only live-action film in which they starred together, although both provided their voices to A Bug’s Life (1998).

Although she remained covered in the film for her transformation into the Faery, an on-set photo of Julia Louis-Dreyfus was published in the March 1986 issue of Cinefantastique Magazine in which her bare breasts were visible. (Oh no)

The movie Troll 2 (1990), despite its title, is not a sequel to this movie and also does not contain Trolls. (Yeah they are goblins from Nilbog in that one)

In John Carl Buechler’s original story treatment, Torok was a monster who was systematically killing off the inhabitants of the building slasher-movie style. Producer Charles Band wanted to create a PG-13 movie, so the story was altered and the fantasy element was created.

The picture of Galwyn in his human form (before being turned into a mushroom) that Eunice St. Clair shows Harry Potter Jr. is a caricature of the film’s director, John Carl Buechler.

As production began, Michael Moriarty complained to director John Carl Buechler that he didn’t understand his character. The day that they shot the scene in which the Potter family moves into the building, Buechler snatched a bucket hat off the head of first assistant director Mauro Sacripanti and put it on Moriarty. “I look ridiculous,” Moriarty said. “So Harry Potter is ridiculous?” A light-bulb went off and there was no further discussion of the character. (I’m ridiculous … all I needed to know m’man. Jesus, this movie)

The Ratspit puppet from “The Dungeonmaster” (aka Ragewar (1984)) is recycled.

Director John Carl Buechler had been so impressed with Noah Hathaway’s performance in “The Neverending Story” that he cast him as the lead in the film.

“Cantos Profane,” otherwise known as “The Troll Song,” was recorded prior to shooting and set the tone for the rest of Richard Band’s musical score. The characters were supposed to perform it as a full-blown production number, but due to limitations in the low-budget puppets they had to grunt along to the music. (Oh no, I’m getting whiffs of Garbage Pail Kids the Movie)

While the film is not short on hideous or disgusting creatures, Torok is the only troll to appear on screen. The other creatures are fey folk, nymphs, goblins, and other mythical beings. (Coooooool)

The role of Malcolm Mallory was explicitly written for Phil Fondacaro but director/FX man John Carl Buechler was pressured to cast Billy Barty. Originally, a fully animatronic puppet was intended to have been utilized for Torok the Troll, but Buechler scrapped his plan and sculpted a creature costume directly onto Fondacaro’s life cast, knowing that the producers wouldn’t want to pay two different actors. (The guy seems like a straight up VFX genius)

Hellraiser: Bloodline Recap

Jamie

Pinhead is back, Jack! And boy howdy does he want to take over the world. How? By forcing John Merchant, the extra special descendent of the original creator of the puzzle box/portal to “Hell,” to build a giant permanent one. Can John stop the horrors before it’s too late? Find out in… Hellraiser IV: Bloodline.

How?! We open in 2127 on a space station… … *checks notes* yeah, I guess… I guess this is Hellraiser now. Cool, cool, cool. A mad scientist named Phillip Merchant has worked tirelessly to destroy Pinhead once and for all but just as he opens the portal to the Hellraiser dimension he is captured by some space police (all rights reserved). He explains that far in the past (1796 to be exact) his ancestor Paul L’Merchant was commissioned to create a puzzle box. Upon delivering his art piece an eeeeeevil Duke uses it to open a portal to “Hell” and use black magic to summon a demon named Angelique. Him and his protege, Jacques, have a grand old time experiencing the forbidden pleasures of the alternate dimension until our boy Phil attempts to steal back the puzzle box and modify it so as to close it forever. Unfortunately the demon kills him and curses his bloodline for all eternity. You’d think that the demon would go on to wreak havoc upon the world at this point but she is controlled by Jacques who just wants her for his own hedonistic pleasures and to live forever (I think, it’s hard to follow). Anyway, they basically bang until 1996 (that’s a lot of banging) when she’s all like “yo, I rediscovered that curses bloodline in John Merchant and I really want to use him to reopen the portal” but Jacques is like “but can’t we just bang?” and Angelique is like no and kills him and heads to NYC. There she finds the building shown at the end of the third Hellraiser and frees the puzzle box from its foundations. She opens the portal and frees Pinhead and begins work on using her sexy demon wiles to trick John into using the building as an even bigger puzzle box and opening a permanent portal to “Hell.” Pinhead tires of this and decides to take John’s family hostage instead. They all run around for a while and there is a cenobite dog and some cenobite twins and shit. Eventually they get him to activate the building, but he does some fancy hacking on the computer like a computer whiz and reverses the portal to send them back to “Hell.” Flash back to space and the space police (all rights reserved) are shook. Pinhead starts killing them and so they let Paul go so he can try to stop him. He again uses some fancy computer work to trick Pinhead with a hologram and then zooms away on a spaceship as the space station turns into a puzzle box and explodes for some reason and this apparently kills Pinhead (though I’m not sure why you would necessarily believe that). THE END.  

Why?! Hoo boy. Uh… the demons are still demons but this time you control them if you summon them (unless you get in the way of Hell’s plan). When Angelique finally tires of banging Jacques after 200 years she is freed and then only wants one thing: to permanently connect Earth and “Hell.” Everyone else in this film is kind of useless and don’t really know what they are doing most of the time. Only Paul has the right idea with his super genius space station bomb that kills pinhead for some reason… It’s a dumb film.

Who?! Oh boy! It’s one of our favorite. A rare treat where we get a new Twin Film that we weren’t expecting. That’s because in Hellraiser: Bloodline there are a couple of twin security guards who stumble upon Pinhead and Angelique. They are promptly turned into twin Cenobites and… basically disappear from the film. Underutilized talent! Come on! Use those twin cenobites or lose those twin cenobites. Fun nonetheless.

What?! Have to talk about the occasional MacGuffin, the Lament Configuration. It’s a puzzle box that is the key to unlocking “Hell” and all its pain. In the first film it is simply that, but as the films go on it gains more and more power. In the third it is what keeps Pinhead locked away in “Hell” and thus what he most wants to destroy. In the fourth it could forever connect Earth and “Hell,” but also (if configured correctly) is the key to destroying Pinhead forever. I’m sure it gets even weirder and crazier in the later straight-to-DVD entries, but scientists contend we may never know the plots of those films.

Where?! I believe the first two films took place in an undisclosed location. Filmed in the UK and certainly looked like it. In the third, though, they veer over to the Big Apple and stick around there for the fourth one. There is a flashback scene in France and a future scene in Space, but the primary focus is in NYC and its nice cityscapes. B.

When?! We start in 2127 and jump back to 1796 and then forward two hundred years to 1996 before finishing back in 2127. While these are no more specific than years, some bonus points for the intertitles informing us of that information and specific years in the far past and far future. It’s pretty amazing and I love it. A-.

There is nothing like trying to write a recap for a film to help you realize just how much nonsense it is. This film makes no sense. It’s almost like they made a film, didn’t like it, reshot a huge amount, then tried to cobble it together into a film and failed miserably. Oh wait, that’s exactly what happened. It hurt my brain trying to meander through the plot and the best things in it (Twin cenobites!) are thrown out immediately and barely play a role at all. What a tragic mistake. Put another notch in the belt you use to keep track of all the horror films that haven’t gotten better by taking it to space: Leprechaun, Friday the 13th, James Bond, and now this. What’s that? James Bond isn’t a horror franchise? News to me, cause he slayed the ladies. Boom. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You ever watch a movie and are like “wow, that was cool, I want some more.” And then the creators just shove dog poo in your face continuously for multiple sequels? Well I have with Hellraiser. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I had seen Hellraiser before a while back and looooooooved it. I’m not a huge fan of gory horror, but this had cool practical effects, an interesting story, and enough mystery to make the cenobites and living dead feel like something very rare and interesting as far as horror went. Like with the Friday the 13th series, I was excited to actually tackle a franchise in full.

The Good – Uh, with the fourth one? As a matter of fact with the second or third as well? Not much. The second brought back all of the main players, and did attempt to expand on the lore which, at first was interesting. Then woof. The third and fourth really don’t do much, although the woman who played Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space 9 was the main character in the third which was cool. And that one had a fun journalist team-up with a street rat thing going for it. That’s it, the fourth is trash.

The Bad – The lore. They expand upon it in an interesting way in the second one for a short bit, and then things go off the rails. It’s actually hell now, there are weird circuses, pinhead is the only cenobite now, he makes new cenobites, he was good, now he’s bad, now he wants to bring hell to earth, now he’s dead. The entire problem with most horror franchises is they try and expand on the lore too much. Hellraiser takes that to 1000% and then hires a bunch of television actors, and throws blood and guts everywhere as if that is what I want. It isn’t. I hated this series after the first, it was a travesty.

You Just Got Schooled – Fun fact, I read the short story that became the first film, Hellbound Heart. It was great. Being able to expand a bit more about where our antagonist Frank ends up, and lending a bit more mystery to the cenobites (who are almost definitely non-human interdimensional beings of some kind). And in the end it makes a ton of sense that the first film does the adaptation so well. The underlying lore established in the short story is concise and interesting without delving too deeply into the details. Perfecto. I would grade the initial adaptation as an A, and then all subsequent adaptations as F’s. It is inexcusable to make the cenobites transformed humans residing in hell. It doesn’t even need an explanation! They can just be cenobites!

The BMT – A huge success naturally. I love expanding my sub-genre experiences, especially with horror. And this franchise is basically the entirety of a niche supernatural gory horror genre. I don’t like gore, although when done practically it was quite spooky. And I think this is just an added example of one of my film hot takes: horror lore is the worst and should never be expanded. Nothing ruins a franchise quite like over-explanitis.

Welcome to Earf – I don’t believe we’ve seen any of the main players in other BMT players, so, to IMDb I go! Ah yes, Adam Scott is inexplicable in this film, which we have seen in at least one other BMT film, Torque starring Ice Cube, who was in Ghosts of Mars with Jason Statham, who was in Expendables 3 with Sylvester Stallone, who was in Zookeeper with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino, who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – The film is too small to make the main lists, but I knew it was going to be on a worst horror of the 90s list. And it makes perfect sense. A nail in the coffin for a signature 80s horror franchise. And yeah … the 90s was horrible for horror.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Hellraiser: Bloodline Preview

Patrick and Jamie start their police careers on Predator patrol. What a joke, right? “If I wanted to chase after aliums I would have joined the Alium Brigade” Jamie says resulting in a chuckle from Patrick. Just then a Predator ninja flips from the shadows and rips a civilian in half. “Jesus Christ!” yells Patrick and they are on the chase. Using their knowledge of the city and their extraordinary endurance, they just barely keep up with the greatest predator the universe has seen. Suddenly the Predator finds itself cornered and Patrick and Jamie pull out their guns. “Freeze, dirtbag,” Jamie says, but as they ready to make the arrest a strong gust of wind knocks the guns from their hands. With that the Predator is upon them and it spells certain doom for our heroes. Suddenly Jamie notices a distinctive birthmark on the mandibles of the Predator. “Wait… Predator? Is that you?” Recognition alights in its eyes. Of course. This must be the same Predator Jamie zoomed across the universe with just months ago. “But Predator, last time I saw you you were slamming Tacoz Fritos Mountain Dew and doing X-treme stuff… killing us isn’t X-treme. Ripping civilians in half isn’t X-treme. What happened?” The Predator looks ashamed and shrugs. “You know what is X-treme?” Jamie asks and the Predator looks up hopeful. “The most X-treme adventure of them all… death.” Jamie holds his breath. Could this really work? Did he want it to work? But he knew it was the only way. Recognition shows in the Predator’s eyes. It nods and pulls out an intricately carved puzzle box. Jamie and Patrick look at each other in horror, “What the fuuuuuuuuuuu…” That’s right! We’re watching the Hellraiser franchise… literally. There were four Hellraiser films released theatrically, and more or less people accept this as the original quadrilogy with the many straight-to-DVD films that followed considered separate. The fourth is the only one that qualifies for BMT as they steadily got worse reviews until arriving at the film that would stop the franchise in its tracks. The trailer is amazing and it’s one of the few BMT qualifying Alan Smithee films ever. I’ve gotten pretty hyped about it. Let’s go!

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996) – BMeTric: 53.1

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(I shouldn’t be surprised anymore that these things start absurdly low and then rise steadily over time. Horror films have finicky fans so they slam the films which then have nowhere to go but up as general audiences get ahold of them. 50+ and holding steady, so good enough for me.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Pinhead matches wits with a demon lover/cohort, ironically named Angelique (Vargas). Dull and plot-heavy, even if you’re a Clive Barker devotee. Re-caulk your bathtub instead. Followed by five direct-to-video sequels.

(The other films in the series went 2.5, 1.5, and 1.5, so none of them really were well received by Leonard. I guess not a giant surprise since Leonard notoriously hates horror films.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLfpZMAJW3k

(Oooof. That looks like a load of shit. The laser beams. The period pieces. The “Welcome to oblivion” at the end. It is exactly what you expect but don’t want in a horror mega-franchise of the time. Can’t wait.)

Directors – Kevin Yagher – (BMT: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline; Notes: Renowned make-up artist famous for Tales from the Crypt which is where he started directing. His older brother was in the second and third Atlas Shrugged films.)

Alan Smithee – (Known For: Catchfire; Future BMT: An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn; BMT: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn in 1999; Notes: A pseudonym previously used by the Directors’ Guild when a member wished to take their name off of a film. It was popularized by the film An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, so they reportedly retired it, although it has been used since.)

Writers – Peter Atkins (written by) – (Known For: Hellbound: Hellraiser II; Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth; Future BMT: Wishmaster; BMT: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline; Notes: Was a member of The Dog Company, an avant garde theatre group featuring Clive Barker and Doug Bradley.)

Actors – Bruce Ramsay – (Known For: Holes; Alive; Behind the Candelabra; Jacknife; The New Age; Hit Me; Future BMT: Collateral Damage; Brick Mansions; Curdled; Killing Zoe; BMT: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline; Timeline; Notes: Canadian. Made a bizarrely ill-received version of Hamlet which he directed and starred in in 2014 which possibly ended his career?)

Valentina Vargas – (Known For: The Name of the Rose; The Big Blue; La Noche de Enfrente; BMT: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline; Notes: Born in Chile, raised in France, she is trilingual and has played parts in French, Spanish and English.)

Doug Bradley – (Known For: Hellraiser; Hellbound: Hellraiser II; An Ideal Husband; Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth; The Cottage; Book of Blood; Future BMT: Nightbreed; BMT: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline; Notes: Pinhead. Old school friends with Clive Barker he played the character in eight different films.)

Budget/Gross – $4 million / Domestic: $9,336,886

(That is weirdly fine. I mean, it isn’t a lot of money, but it cost almost nothing apparently, so … weirdly fine.)

#302 for the Horror – R-Rated genre

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(Just watched by far the most lucrative BMT film in the The Nun. This genre has transcended its roots and, like action films, can basically print money at this point. And to think that PG-13 horror used to dominate the genre.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 31% (4/13): No consensus yet.

(The only Hellraiser film that qualifies as, from this point forward they aren’t released in theaters, and previously they were too well received, making it a rarity among horror mega-franchises. Reviewer Highlight: Except for the most undiscriminating gorehound, pic is a pointless mess. – Daniel M. Kimmel, Variety)

Poster – Hellskloger: Sklogline (B)

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(That’s actually pretty good… other than the Earth at the bottom that screams “this movie may or may not be set in space and is thus almost certainly super lame.” They needed to do a little more with the font too.)

Tagline(s) – This year, the past, the present and the future will all meet at the crossroads of hell. (D)

(The poster technically doesn’t have a tagline, but one of the alternates does so I’ll let it slide. If only to say that this one sucks. It’s too long and the “This year” makes it real clunky and hard to even think about.)

Keyword(s) – 22nd century; Top Ten by BMeTric: 67.2 Ghosts of Mars (2001); 53.1 Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996); 50.7 Judge Dredd (1995); 35.0 Dark Planet (2009); 22.0 Alien³ (1992); 21.9 Alien: Covenant (2017); 18.2 Dark Star (1974); 18.0 Space Battleship Yamato (2010); 13.4 Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966); 10.9 Vanilla Sky (2001);

(Been obviously smashing these. The Dalek one is crazy as that is surely a Doctor Who television movie no? Pretty nuts it manages that high of a BMeTric, but then again I guess there aren’t many films with the keyword.)

Notes – Walt Disney Pictures came under fire in the media when they purchased the then controversial and hip Miramax Films. The initial slate of films that Miramax would be releasing under the Disney deal included Hellraiser: Bloodline, Scream, The Prophecy, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Mother’s Boys. The outcry was due to the fact that Disney would be directly involved in the marketing and release of horror movies.

The US theatrical 1-sheet for the film does not have any credits. This was because original director Kevin Yagher had his name removed and replaced with the Directors’ Guild of America pseudonym Alan Smithee. Fearing this would negatively reflect on the quality of the film, Miramax opted for a credit-free 1-sheet. (Actually a good choice, I wouldn’t even notice)

Adam Scott was grateful for getting cast, citing the film as being a huge deal for booking a real movie, which he took very seriously. He remarked that on his first day to the set, he was shown his chair that was mistakenly labeled as Adam Craig. Scott said it was a nice welcome to Hollywood. Despite the film’s troubled production and box office failure, Scott didn’t care as long as he was working. Later in need of work, Scott even auditioned for the sequel with the hope that the casting directors wouldn’t remember him from the last film and no one said anything at the audition. However Scott suspects someone remembered him as he wasn’t hired for the sequel. (That is awesome)

Editor Randolph K. Bricker was brought in by Joe Chappelle (who was Miramax’s replacement for original director Kevin Yagher) to assemble a completely new cut of the film. This version was the one that was ultimately released in theaters in 1996.

The last “Hellraiser” movie to get a theatrical release. (Ayup)

Though promotional photos of Aristocratic Cenobites wearing white powdered wigs were released in various sci-fi magazines to promote this film, the Cenobites were cut from the finished film, along with Demon Clowns and an entire ballroom fancy dress party as the studio wanted to get to Pinhead’s story sooner.

Was intended to be the final installment of the “Hellraiser” franchise, ending with Pinhead destroyed once and for all. 5 direct-to-video sequels followed. (Whoops)

The film takes place in 1796, 1996 and 2127.

In the Hellraiser films and their legacy, author Paul Kane described his screenplay as ambitious and “one of the best Hellraiser sequels.” The screenplay featured a linear timeline, more special effects, and violent confrontations between Pinhead and Angelique. When Miramax was unwilling to provide a budget to realize the scenes, the film was scaled back. Stuart Gordon, known for his low-budget horror films, was approached to direct but backed out after artistic disagreements. Special effects technician Kevin Yagher was subsequently hired after his cost-saving directing work on Tales from the Crypt for Joel Silver. Yagher was initially hesitant about taking the job, as he did not want to do a retread of the previous installments of the series. However, he was impressed with the script and became enthusiastic after Barker describe his vision for the film. (Awwww, and then he declined to even put his name on it in the end)

Clive Barker acting as executive producer, wanted a fresh turn for the series after two sequels to his original 1987 film. The initial premise for the film, a shape-changing structure used to trap Pinhead, was inspired by the ending of Hellraiser 3 which featured a building whose architecture resembled the Lament Configuration. Barker suggested a three-part film set in different time periods, and Peter Atkins added the Lemarchand storyline, going back to Barker’s novella. Atkins had previously written Hellbound Hellraiser II (1988) and co-written Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) Atkins and Barker pitched the idea to Miramax who greenlit it without requiring an outline.

Gary J.Tunnicliffe of Image Animation, who had previously worked on Hellraiser III:Hell on Earth (1992) was recruited to perform special effects. Tunnicliffe was worried that director Kevin Yagher would want to perform the effects himself, but Yagher wanted to collaborate with Image Animation and believe their experience with prior films in the series would be valuable. Kevin Yagher only contributed to the Chatterer Beast.

The word Cenobite means a member of a monastic order.

Kevin Yagher: disowned the version with cuts made behind his back due to conflicting artistry ideas. Yagher’s version contained much more graphic imagery, plot, and explained everything that happened in the film. The producers disagreed and demanded Pinhead should appear sooner despite every version of the script up until then having him appear around the 40-minute mark. When Yagher was unable to satisfy he disowned it and never finished filming some final scenes. Joe Chappelle was brought on to finish the film, filming new scenes from re-writes including the narrative framing device. Some scenes of the original script were thus never shot. Joe Chappelle was the studio’s first choice to direct the film, and actually agreed to direct Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) on the understanding that he’d be allowed to direct this film (which he was more interested in) next, but eventually declined the offer due to feeling burned out after the troublesome production of that film. (Wowza, I didn’t realize Halloween and Hellraiser had that connection)

Ghosts of Mars Preview

A small note prior to this post: Last July we decided to take a look back at the movies that we watched over five years ago and choose a Hall of Fame class, five movies that we thought embodied BMT in some way. Perhaps they were particularly bad, or an example of a specific bad movie trope, whatever, something made them stand out as special in our minds. Since we didn’t do email previews before 2013ish we also decided to provide a preview for the movie. This is the second in a series of five leading up to our yearly awards the Smaddies Baddies. A recap (Hall of Fame speech really) will follow immediately afterwards to explain why the movie was chosen, things we loved about the movie, and things we discovered upon second viewing. Enjoy!

Ghosts of Mars (2001) – BMeTric: 67.2

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(that is quite a low rating I’m going to be honest. I’m not really surprised, the movie is a hilarious debacle, but you’d think those John Carpenter heads out there might be keeping the rating afloat a bit.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  In the near future, Mars has been colonized, but there’s an outbreak of mass murder in some remote settlements. People are possessed by vengeful Martian ghosts; it’s up to the leam of a lady cop and a hardened criminal to battle them. Routine, predictable, and dull; unimaginatively, the Martian-possessed people adopt a punk/grunge look. Basically a remake of Carpenter’s early Assault on Precinct 13.

(Multiple places note the similarities between this as Assault on Precinct 13. The reviews seem like a mix between either dull and predictable or so bonkers it is amazing. Suffice it to say: we thought it was so bonkers it is amazing.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbmFwk8n0f0

(Wow … well, that was certainly stylized. The premise is kind of a western (with alien possession being akin to some Native American burial ground perhaps, or just a Native raid on a mining outpost), and the costumes certainly seem to match at times.)

Directors – John Carpenter – (Known For: Halloween; Halloween; They Live; Escape from New York; Escape from L.A.; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; The Fog; Prince of Darkness; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Assault on Precinct 13; Assault on Precinct 13; Eyes of Laura Mars; Dark Star; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers; Halloween; Lockout; Black Moon Rising; Halloween II; BMT: The Fog; Ghosts of Mars; Notes: One of the most influential horror directors in history. One of my favorite directors. Halloween and The Thing are two great movies to introduce two very different approaches to the genre.)

Writers – Larry Sulkis (written by) – (Future BMT: Village of the Damned; BMT: Ghosts of Mars; Notes: Very likely close to or a production partner with Carpenter at the time, uncredited as a writer of his Village of the Damned as well.)

John Carpenter (written by) – (Known For: Halloween; They Live; Escape from New York; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Escape from L.A.; The Fog; Assault on Precinct 13; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Prince of Darkness; Assault on Precinct 13; Dark Star; Eyes of Laura Mars; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5; Halloween; Black Moon Rising; Halloween II; BMT: The Fog; Ghosts of Mars; Notes: He wrote a good number of the films he directed back in the day. Notably he also often produced the synth heavy soundtracks. I was in Edinburgh and missed a concert by him by one day. I was very sad.)

Actors – Natasha Henstridge – (Known For: The Whole Nine Yards; Bounce; Future BMT: Maximum Risk; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; Steal; Deception; Dog Park; BMT: Species II; Ghosts of Mars; The Whole Ten Yards; Species; Notes: Canadian, but started as a model in Paris. Species was her first role in the biz, which makes perfect sense.)

Ice Cube – (Known For: xXx: Return of Xander Cage; 21 Jump Street; Friday; Boyz n the Hood; 22 Jump Street; Three Kings; The Book of Life; Higher Learning; Barbershop; Barbershop: A Fresh Cut; Rampart; Trespass; Barbershop 2: Back in Business; The Longshots; The Glass Shield; Future BMT: First Sunday; Lottery Ticket; Fist Fight; Friday After Next; I Got the Hook Up; All About the Benjamins; Next Friday; Dangerous Ground; The Players Club; BMT: xXx²: State of the Union; Torque; Anaconda; Are We Done Yet?; Are We There Yet?; Ghosts of Mars; Ride Along 2; Ride Along; Notes: Basically a BMT staple at this point, and we got plenty of time to go. Has had an interesting acting career going from mostly thug / gangbanger, to comedy, to kids’ film, and now he tends to be a cop in comedies.)

Pam Grier – (Known For: Mars Attacks!; Jackie Brown; Escape from L.A.; The Man with the Iron Fists; Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey; Above the Law; Foxy Brown; Something Wicked This Way Comes; Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; The Big Bird Cage; Holy Smoke; Class of 1999; Coffy; Just Wright; The Big Doll House; The Package; Fort Apache the Bronx; Original Gangstas; Future BMT: Bones; Fortress 2; Snow Day; Jawbreaker; Larry Crowne; Posse; The Allnighter; In Too Deep; Scream Blacula Scream; BMT: Pluto Nash; Ghosts of Mars; Notes: Insane life. She started in blaxploitation cinema filming in the Philippines where at some point in the 70s she contracted some tropical disease, lost all her hair, and temporarily went blind taking over a year to recover. Then in 1988 she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 18 months to live. She survived both. Say what?)

Budget/Gross – $28 million / Domestic: $8,709,640 (Worldwide: $14,010,832)

(Absolute catastrophe! Oh no John Carpenter, why?)

#71 for the Action Heroine genre

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(Ah right there before the peak, that’s definitely fun. Considering the notes indicate Henstridge was basically dying of exhaustion during filming from making so many movies it does seem like it was the time to be a fit female actress in Hollywood. You got to just pick a franchise and run with it for a bit there.)

#43 for the Sci-Fi Horror genre

ghostsofmars_scifihorror

(You’d think this would be surging a bit more with the recent Horror surge … especially because sci-fi feels like one of the genres that can benefit from a low budget shoestring approach. We’ve seen quite a few of these at this point. Can’t genre I enjoy the genre much to be honest. Kind of like action comedies … not really good action films, not really good comedies. Sci-fi horror tends to make for a not really good sci-fi film and a not really good horror film.)

#30 for the Zombie genre

ghostsofmars_zombie

(Right at the forefront of a Zombie resurgence! Rather interesting because this is still the only bad zombie film we’ve done which seems … unbelievable. Although I guess that is mainly because we haven’t done any of the Resident Evil films. Really became a thing around 2015, has since cooled.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 21% (22/104): John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars is not one of Carpenter’s better movies, filled as it is with bad dialogue, bad acting, confusing flashbacks, and scenes that are more campy than scary.

(The flashbacks! That is one of the best parts to be honest. Once you are like 4 layers deep you kind of forget who you are and why you are even watching the film. Reviewer Highlight: Someday we’re all going to look back on this one and l-a-a-a-augh. – Cody Clark, Mr. Showbiz)

Poster – BANANANANANANANAS! (D)

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(I really really really wanted to like this poster but I have several problems with it. It looks cheap and dumb. The color scheme is both obvious (red is for Mars, black is for spoooooky) and poorly done. The alien guy looks silly. He wouldn’t look that silly, but they you notice his multiple finger piercings and you are like “that looks silly”. I desperately want to think any part of this is cool, but it isn’t. The font is maybe okay, the gradient is tough to replicate exactly on the fly.)

Tagline(s) – It’s their planet… we are the aliens. (B-)

(I like the idea of it, but it just doesn’t roll of the tongue as much as it needs to to get it a better score. Kind of obvious, but with the poster above I think it works enough, like you see the weird looking guy and you know it is kind of talking about him / them / it specifically.)

Keyword(s) – martian; Top Ten by BMeTric: 70.0 Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964); 67.2 Ghosts of Mars (2001); 61.0 Doom (2005); 51.4 My Favorite Martian (1999); 45.9 Mars Needs Moms (2011); 39.4 Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003); 26.8 Contamination (1980); 26.3 Spaced Invaders (1990); 26.2 Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991); 24.7 Mars Attacks! (1996);

(I’m kind of shocked at how few of these we’ve done. I bet we could get a lot more done. Maybe with a stellar cycle … would have to think of how best to do something like that though.)

Notes – John Carpenter revealed that he had become burnt out after he had made this film and made the decision of leaving Hollywood for good. It would not be until nine years later that he made a full feature film, which was The Ward (2010).

Filmed entirely at night.

The prosthetics that the main bad guy wears were rather too large for his mouth and resulted in most of the “ghost-speak” having only the “a” vowel sound. (kind of like him sounding like he’s saying banananananans the entire time? … yeah I might have noticed that a bit)

Much of the location shooting was done on a gypsum mine near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The gypsum, which is almost pure white, was sprayed with a biodegradable red food dye to give the appearance of a Martian landscape. (Oh they didn’t create a giant biohazard by spraying it with blood?)

Jason Statham was originally hired to play James “Desolation” Williams, but was replaced by Ice Cube for star power.

Natasha Henstridge replaced Courtney Love (the original choice) at the last minute. Love left the project after her boyfriend’s ex-wife ran over her foot in her car while she was in training for the picture. Michelle Yeoh, Franka Potente and Famke Janssen were briefly considered. Henstridge was suggested by her then-boyfriend Liam Waite, and was able to join the cast just a week before production began. The actress found the experience to be very harrowing, due to the heavily physical nature of her role and the difficult working conditions.

In a 2006 interview, Ice Cube nominated this as the worst movie he had appeared in, calling it “unwatchable in many ways. John Carpenter really let us down with the special effects on that one – it looked like something out of a film from 1979”.

This film contains Jason Statham’s first ever on-screen kiss.

Production had to shut down for a week when Natasha Henstridge fell ill due to extreme exhaustion (she had just done two other films back-to-back before joining the production at the last moment).

For the film’s score, music producer Bruce Robb brought in famed heavy metal band Anthrax to play to picture for director John Carpenter, who had originally filmed the movie listening to Metallica. The film’s score is entirely original and was recorded by Robb at his Cherokee Studios in Hollywood. The film’s DVD offers a bonus feature with behind-the-scenes footage in the studio with the musicians, Carpenter and Robb.

The narrator on the trailer is Keith David.

The film is considered to be a futuristic remake of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). (Eh makes sense I guess. I’ve seen the original Assault on Precinct 13, very grindhouse style which is good and bad I think)

Originally called Escape from Earth, a supposed sequel to Escape from L.A. (1996) that features Kurt Russell as Snake Plisskin before changing its script due to box office failure.

For the film’s soundtrack, director and composer John Carpenter called upon various rock musicans to help enhance his own score. They include members of Anthrax, Steve Vai, Guns N’ Roses’ guitarists Buckethead and Robin Finck and Elliot Easton (formerly of The Cars).

The film takes place in 2176.

Truth or Dare Recap

Jamie

A bunch of dum-dums travel to Mexico to party it up one last time (literally). They end up playing a game of Truth or Dare in a spooky abandoned mission (naturally) and awaken a demon that uses the game to torment and eventually kill them one by one. Can they stop the demon before it’s too late? Find out in… Truth or Dare.

How?! I feel like I’ve written this one several times before. A bunch of (kinda douchey) friends are spending one last Spring Break in Mexico drinking and partying. Near the end of their time there they are invited out to a sketchy abandoned mission by a sketchy guy for sketchy reasons, but they follow him there (duh). He asks them to play truth or dare and they oblige because they are dumb. Turns out that he was using them to get more people involved in a demonic game of truth or dare run by a demon trickster. This demon trickster proceeds to torment them by having them reveal their deepest darkest secrets to each other or attempt death defying dares. When one refuses or is unsuccessful they are possessed and kill themselves. Weirdly, a lot of the truths and/or dares actually seem like they are helping the characters. Like they finally confront things in their lives that they’ve so far refused to confront. Like one guy has been scared to come out to his dad but the demon forces him to and he actually seems better for it. More true to himself. Kinda a good guy demon sometimes. Anyway, in the end they track down the source of the demon and find a way out of the game. But the demon is too tricky and smart and outwits them at the last moment. Our final girls are doomed but in a shocking twist (what a twist!) they post a video on YouTube inviting the whole world into the game thus dooming a significant number of people to death. Cooooool. THE END.

Why?! The motivations are where I think they could have played with the concept a little more. Like they have a bunch of people, most of who are objectively terrible, that get caught up in a game of terror with no other motivations other than to survive. Instead of having cartoonish misogynist Ronnie turn out to be a sensitive good guy… he is slaughtered in the first thirty minutes for laughs. Instead of having the fake prescription writing future med student learn the errors of his ways… he is also slaughtered. Instead of the two main characters knowing that while they’ll likely die as part of this game they actually were able to finally be fully truthful with each other after years of hiding their secrets away… they use the internet to turn the world to chaos (presumably). In the end it’s because the trickster demon of course doesn’t want to help them, he not some demon therapist trying to have them communicate better with each other or anything, but at the very least they could have acknowledged that that is kinda what the demon was doing. He helps a kid come out as gay to his homophobic dad for god’s sake!

Who?! I do want to discuss Ronnie a little bit. He’s not a true Planchet as his motivations are not pure (he is clearly a fratty horndog), but he does seem to just want to hang out with our terrible group of main characters and they’re like “gross, Ronnie.” There was opportunity to use him in a more creative way rather than as an obvious first kill… like why couldn’t the main character be dared to hook up with Ronnie but then find he’s actually a good dude and it’s all an act? Nope. Just killed off after his 1000th joke about wanting to bone some hot chick with big bazongas or whatever.

What?! The use of SnapChat, Facebook, YouTube, etc. throughout the film isn’t product placement perse. Seems more like a little signaling to let youngsters know that the writers “get it” and aren’t a couple fuddy-duddy old people. In particular when the main character says that she uses YouTube for videos about her volunteer work and SnapChat if just for fun. Classic. And yes, I used the term “fuddy-duddy” to signal to all the octogenarians that read BMT that I “get it.”

Where?! A nice balance of Mexico and California. They seem to go to the made-up Westlake University in the LA area as evidenced by the quick trips to Mexico, CA license plates, and bars and restaurants located in that area. While obvious it’s not super necessary to the plot. B+.

When?! Obviously around Spring Break, but we are no treated to an exact date. Weirdly our main characters are lured into playing the game by a previous group of players desperate to try to save themselves. It’s clear from some articles we see in the film though that this previous group was playing around June 4th. So we are either expected to believe that they have been continuing to play for almost a year or whatever school these dum-dums go to has Spring Break in the middle of June. I choose neither. They probably just screwed up the timing when making the props or whatever. C+.

I was actually really surprised at how bad this film was. Felt very Rings or Ouija to me and that’s not what you typically get from Blumhouse. They are supposed to deliver high concept horror/thriller, but this literally seems like the lowest, most cliched concept with a terrible script to boot. Patrick pointed out to me that rewrites aren’t generally in the cards for the budgets that Blumhouse are after but… I mean… at some point you have to, right? This was really bad. At moments you could get whiffs of Happy Death Day (which similarly had the main characters be damaged and somewhat unlikeable), but then it would disappear like a mirage. Is it better than Slender Man… eeesh. Probably. But barely and that’s not a good look. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! What do you get when you cross Rings with Final Destination? Apparently a really dumb film with a terrible ending … let’s get into it!

The Good – The film looks okay. The concept is also at least original to a degree, with a kind of trickster demon being the crux of the whole thing. It is just Rings, so originality is really only superficial ultimately. I liked the actors even if they were terrible. And I still think I like Blumhouse. I think the concepts they bring to horror and the way they make them is fantastic for the genre and, honestly, I hope that similar things can be done with other flagging genres. Like rom coms, or original sci fi, or fantasy, see what you can do with a small budget and small television actors and see if there is any interest. Although the issue will likely be that horror audiences are dependable, you almost always get at least $10 million from teenagers no matter how bad the film is.

P’s View on the Preview – Everything pointed towards this being a boring PG-13 horror film. The only thing that made me a bit curious was why they added new rules to the game. In the preview it was suggested that you have to do a dare after two truths in a row. That isn’t real. That isn’t a real rule! That is just some made up bullshit to make sure the people in the film didn’t find the most obvious loophole to the stupidest game of all time. I was hoping I was wrong, but I wasn’t. Sigh.

The Bad – This film is not scary, is mostly boring, and the hook is silly to the point of just making my laugh (like The Bye Bye Man). The entire film is predicated on the assumption that no one gives a shit that a handful of people who all know each other are killing themselves and dying and shit. Number one thing people would assume it that these people are all on some crazy drugs, they wouldn’t be running around solving mysteries. The action doesn’t start quick enough, the acting is bad, all of these people are horrible people I don’t care about who make poor decisions and are dumb. If not for the ending I would have just said the film was shiny nonsense like Flatliners, but the ending might be one of the worst shoulder shrugs of an ending I’ve ever seen. It pushes it right into Bye Bye Man level nonsense. Like … I hate this movie? Wait … is this dog poo in my face at the last second three pointer!?

You Just Got Schooled – Do you know what would be fun? Looking through the wiki page on the game Truth or Dare in general. First we have this bonkers 1986 straight-to-video feature. WTF, the writer-director was 18 when it was made! There are also films of the same name in 2011, 2013, and 2017 which is pretty incredible. The game itself seems to date to at least 1712 described thusly: “A Christmas game, in which the commander bids his subjects to answer a question which is asked. If the subject refuses or fails to satisfy the commander, he must pay a forfeit [follow a command] or have his face smutted [dirtied].” It also is similar to the ancient Greek game basilinda where a king would tell him subjects what acts to perform. Fun. Facts.

The BMT – This probably enters the worst endings hall of fame for me personally. Somehow the ending to Rings worked, whereas this just feels like a cop out. I’ll probably also note this as a bigger version of what we saw in The Call starring Halle Berry where the ending flies so totally in the face of how a character acts throughout the film that is it jarring and weird. Otherwise is just stands alongside Slender Man and Bye Bye Man and the like. Supernatural horror churns out a ton of films (five qualifying films this year alone) so it isn’t a surprise we collect them like pokemon.

Welcome to Earf – There was a zero percent chance I was getting any connections without looking up at least the first step. The number one best option would have been The Canyons starring Lindsay Lohan and (for reals, third billed) Nolan Funk … which I’ve seen, but it wasn’t released to enough theaters to count for BMT. So I’ll have to fall back to Sam Lerner who played our first hapless victim Ronnie, and was a child actor in the Jack Black classic Envy with Ben Stiller, who was in Zoolander 2 with Owen Wilson, who was in I, Spy with Eddie Murphy, who was in Norbit with Terry Crews, who was in Blended with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino, who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth! Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – Interestingly the cred is a little thin here. It is obviously mentioned in review-based worst of lists (like this one), but elsewhere it seems to be ignored. There are individual reviews lamenting it as one of the worst of the year though. I certainly think it is. But some people seem to disagree about the ending in particular. I think that up until that ending they had a chance to be an Ouija with a decent prequel. Now? Trash.

This film is pretty bad, and now I’ve seen seven films from this year. From worst to best I think I would currently put them at: (1) Fifty Shades Freed (2) Show Dogs (3) Truth or Dare (4) Slender Man (5) Death Wish (6) The Predator (7) Hunter Killer. Stay tuned for an updated list.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Truth or Dare Quiz

In Truth or Dare a group of teens get challenged by a demon to a game of well … truth or dare. On this website a demon (me) challenged a group of people to a game of Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) When we meet our garbage dump of a hero she is very hesitant to go a-partying in sunny Mexico. What does she have plans to do for spring break instead, and why does she decide to go?

2) In Mexico a man named Carter traps them in a deadly game of Truth or Dare (ah, that’s the name of the movie!). Name as many of the truth/dare as you can.

3) In the end all but two of our seven newcomers to the game die. How did those five (Ronnie, Tyson, Penelope, Brad, Lucas in that order) die? Bonus for the other two players we see die as well.

4) In the end what is the only way the players can end the game?

5) How can the players end the game once the option described above is impossible, and what ultimate decision do they make concerning the game?

Answers