Graveyard Shift Recap

Jamie

John Hall is a drifter just a-driftin’ along in Maine when he gets a graveyard shift job cleaning out the subbasement of a dilapidated textile mill. He and the crew of misfits are forced to go deeper and deeper by the eeeevil factory owner until untold horrors surround them. Can they escape from the true horror (hint: it’s themselves) before it’s too late? Find out in… Graveyard Shift.

How?! In a small town in Maine a local textile mill run by a sadistic foreman, Warwick, is desperate to get rid of all the rats that may or may not be killing some of the employees (but shhhh, that’s a bit of a secret). Taking advantage of the upcoming July 4th holiday, Warwick hopes to get a band of the most desperate workers together to work under the table to clean out the subbasement(s) where the infestation is assumed to be worst. Enter John Hall, a drifter who lost his family and *looks wistfully into the distance* now just drifts. He has a bit of a rivalry with Warwick, who decides he is definitely going to be one of the guys sent into rat hell along with Jane, the object of Warwick’s interest who instead more-than-brefriends Hall. Together with a bunch of other local riff-raff and misfits they clean out the whole basement but then ooops! Hall discovers a trapdoor. Warwick is like, uh duh, get down there and soon they are in the nest of a giant rat king/bat king/something king creature that is totally gross. They scramble in total horror all over the place, most of them getting ripped to shreds in short order. Warwick immediately descends into insanity and pounces on John and Jane just when they are about to escape the abomination, leading to the death of Jane. Distraught, John pursues Warwick only to see him eaten no prob by the giant bat creature. John is like “you know what, nevermind” and tries to escape but ends up having to do battle with the bat/rat creature in hand-to-claw combat. Using the power of Diet Pepsi he is able to blast the creature into the mill machinery and kill it. THE END.

Why?! Warwick is obviously eeevil and turns to all kinds of underhanded methods to keep his mill open despite being so horrifically disgusting that it has produced a giant rat/bat king of immense proportions that routinely kills the drifters he has working there. He has no motivation besides that and getting rid of anyone, like John, who he considers even a remote rival for his romantic pursuits. John is just a drifter looking for some honest pay so he can *looks wistfully into the distance* just keep a-driftin’. The rat/bat? Probably just to eat. But who knows, perhaps it harbors some deep desire to be accepted by society above so it can spread its gross translucent wings and soar majestically through the night stopping crime in its tracks.

Who?! There is an extremely Maine cameo in the film in the form of Joe Perham, who plays a Mill Inspector. He is a Maine specific humorist who was popular at the time. I’m starting to suspect this may actually be the most Maine film of all time. 

What?! Only through the power of Diet Pepsi is our hero able to subdue the giant bat rat. Using a slingshot he is able to shoot an empty Diet Pepsi can and hit the big red button that starts the murder machine that munches the creature up. And before you claim that any ol’ can would have done the job, we even see him try a Diet Slice can to no avail and then very pointedly eye the Diet Pepsi as his only savior… cause he knows only a Diet Pepsi can will fly true like a heat seeking missile of refreshment.

Where?! Maine for days. If it was a bigger film and not an exploitation horror then it could even be the definitive Maine film. But alas. Dreamcatcher probably gets that crown. But watch this movie for the Maine accent alone. It is both horrible and yet also actually is a clear attempt at a Maine accent… just like in a cartoonish way. A

When?! Secret holiday film alert! Pretty solid one too as Warwick takes advantage of July 4th weekend to get some of the misfits to take extra pay under the table and clean the hell basement. What else does our boy John Hall have to do… other than, you know… *stares wistfully into the distance, a tear traces a path through the dust on his cheek* just keep a-driftin’. A-. Actually plays a role in the plot. 

Stephen King is notoriously negative about most of the adaptations of his work. Usually the reason is just that they weren’t faithful enough to the source material. He’ll be like ‘by cutting out the giant bug creature at the end you totally ruined the metaphor on writers block’ or something. This is one example where I do totally agree though. I really enjoyed the short story this was based on and instead of attempting to make a psychological horror film where the group descends into insanity as they descend further into hell, they made just another exploitation film. It’s cheap and it’s looking for some cheap thrills. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable in that way, it just is no more than what it is: a cheap horror. Although it does have one of the absolutely nuttiest accents I’ve ever heard put the screen. Warwick totally mangles an over the top Maine accent and it’s pretty amazing. Ayuh. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Giant bat/rats and eeeeeeeeevil factory owners. ‘Nuff said. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – So I hadn’t really ever heard of the film or the book prior to reading it. It actually compelled me to buy Night Shift, the short story collection it was later included in by Stephen King (it was originally a magazine story). So I well and truly went into the film blind, which was fun. The notable thing in the preview is that this is the only feature by the director. The direction is often singled out in reviews at the worst bit as well. What were my expectations? Looking at the trailer, I was looking forward to some campy 80s/90s creature feature horror, which is always a bit of fun.

The Good – In the end if you have the proper expectations and pretend the film was made five years before it was and for television instead of a theatrical release … it is a load of silly fun. It feels a lot like ‘Salem’s Lot, which was made for television and I think maybe gets a bit of a pass for the slow cheesiness of the affair because it was made a decade prior and for television. Decent creature design as well, although it is just a guy in a bad suit most of the time. Best Bit: Cheesiness.

The Bad – As far as a theatrical film is concerned it is really poor quality. It comes across a bit like the Corman films of the 80s, except somehow this film cost $10 million to produce which is just bizarre. I have to think that filming on location in Maine was a massive mistake given the entire film could have been filmed on a soundstage for pennies on the dollar. And, of course, you can’t not mention Stephen Macht’s bizarre Maine accent. That is what it is supposed to be, a straight Maine accent (for a while I thought he was supposed to be a Scottish person putting on an affected Maine accent), and it is bonkers. It is very very similar to the accents on Murder She Wrote (especially by Sheriff Jake Tupper), and was just a bad decision. Fatal Flaw: Maine accent.

The BMT – I like collecting smaller BMT films like this whenever possible. It seems weird, but I think something like Graveyard Shift is a lot more palatable and understandable from a bad movie perspective than even something like Here on Earth which would probably mostly be perplexing to a general audience. The reasons why this film is bad is understandable: cheap looking effects, exploitation feel, bad accents. Bing bang boom. Always good to knock off a Stephen King adaptation as well. Did it meet my expectations? One hundred percent, I actually kind of liked watching this film because I like creature features. They are not-scary horror films, and as you know, I get spooky scared by normal horror films.

Roast-radamus – I definitely think we have a Planchet (Who?) in the case of Ippelton. Sure, he seems affable in his ability to imitate Warwick (although somehow his Maine accent is better in the impression …), but he also exists only to run away and get dunked on by Warwick. I’m loving the Setting as a Character (Where?) for Maine, complete with terrible Maine accent, and Secret Holiday Film (When?) for Fourth of Juuuuuly, since that is when they decide they have to clear out the factory basement. And I think the film is closest to a Good film, it all depends on just how low you can get your expectations.

StreetCreditReport.com – This week was actually an interesting assessment because we were deciding between this film and The Mangler, both Stephen King short story adaptations. Here’s a few stats for both of them. Both are tops in BMeTric, both are around the top 3% of their respective years. But Graveyard Shift is significantly better as far as Rotten Tomatoes is concerned, being top 5% of its year whereas The Mangler is top 20%. Neither are major films though being one of the lower films are far as notability is concerned. So obviously most of the cred comes from it being a Stephen King adaptation, but Graveyard Shift is a particularly impressive critical failure for 1990. It got #7 in both the worst and the least accurate Stephen King adaptations according to IMDb as well.

You Just Got Schooled – Obviously whenever possible (which for me is not often) I do like to read the books of the films we watch for BMT. Well, this week it was possible since the book is a short story and easily readable given a half hour. Also called Graveyard Shift the short story is markedly different from the film. The premise is the same: a gang of factory workers are enlisted to clear out a factory basement of clutter on a July 4th weekend. In the short story though there is a classic “mysterious connection” between Warwick, the unlikeable factory owner, and the main character Hall. As the gang discovers a trapdoor in the factory basement, Hal is compelled to lead Warwick down into the basement to both of their dooms at the hands of a giant blind legless rat and its minions. A, I very much enjoyed the short story. Usually I find short story collections to mostly be boring, but I think I’ll return to Night Shift because the short format lends itself well to horror in general.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Graveyard Shift Quiz

Oh man, so I was just hired on to exterminate some rats in this old factory when lo and behold a giant rat/bat thing pops out and bops me on the head. Now I can’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Graveyard Shift?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We meet our hero, John Hall, as he applies for a position at Warwick’s insane Maine cloth (?) factory. Why is this position open and why does he get it?

2) Meanwhile an equally insane exterminator has arrived to take care of the rats in the factory. Why is it so very urgent for Warwick to whip his factory basement into shape?

3) In the end how many people are conscripted to battle the rats in the basement?

4) What is the final death toll for the film?

5) And how does John Hall destroy the giant rat/bat that lives in the sunken cemetery below the factory?

Answers

Graveyard Shift Preview

As the balloon lands softly on the island, Rich and Poe marvel at all the beautiful fancy trees that surround them. Poe pulls out a notebook to note genus and species, but Rich stops him. No time for their botanical endeavors, they got a hike ahead of them. Almost as soon as they start, though, things begin to go sideways. First the sassy ghost gets to make peace with all those she wronged while alive, which is nice. Then Kilgorn gets to bathe in the blood of his enemies, which is less nice. Finally, Poe gets to reunite with his best friend Mr. Big one last time in order to tell him how much he liked The Skulls (both his club and the movie). Once Mr. Big disappears, they look around waiting for Rich’s most wonderful dreams to come true too. “Huh, that’s weird,” Poe says as they continue their trek. Rich turns to agree but finds himself sprawled out on the jungle floor. At his feet is a book half buried in the soft ground. Pulling it free, both Rich and Poe stare in wonder at the shiny hardcover image of their own faces. They wipe some dirt to unveil the title and gasp. “R&P: Rest in Peace: The Death of Rich and Poe.” Suddenly a cold wind blows and a shiver runs up their spines. Even Kilgorn’s blood bath was nicer than this. Rich and Poe look around the jungle in fear. A book they never wrote exists here and it’s hard to understand why. In fact it’s hard to understand anything about this terrible jungle. “We better hunker down for the night,” suggests Poe and recommends sassy ghost and Kilgorn get some rest cause Rich and Poe are gonna take the night shift. That’s right! We are technically (although only technically) transitioning to the first cycle of 2021 which will be (drumroll) films based on books. I love book cycles cause I get to read usually terrible books that they made into even worse movies. We’re starting it off, though, with a classic as we are doing one of the many Stephen King bombs. It’s Graveyard Shift, based on a short story that I actually really loved and currently celebrating 30 years of anonymity. Let’s go!

Graveyard Shift (1990) – BMeTric: 48.8; Notability: 16 

(Oh wow that is a really low IMDb rating. We are on a pretty good streak for that. It was between this and Mangler, and both of them amazingly had really similar stats. This did have a slightly higher Notability. A Notability of 16 is right on the cusp, but I think it isn’t as abnormal for the early 90s.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB – Bottom-of-the-barrel, cliche-ridden shocker chronicling the goings-on in a mysterious mill, whose workers are disappearing within its rat-infested bowels. Poorly directed, with even worse special effects. Based on a short story by Stephen King. 

(The key to a Leonard BOMB is obviously to watch a bad horror film from the 80s. It is far enough back that he was probably watching all of the films, even the ones he knew he wouldn’t like, and he haaaaates horror films.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6u4z-OqgSM/

(Looks cheap and cheesy … but that can be good. I love watching cheesy horror films, it reminds you of the time when people could take a camera, some no-name actors, and a few bucks and make a film … but this was apparently $10 million dollars, so it isn’t quite like that.)

Directors – Ralph S. Singleton – (BMT: Graveyard Shift; Notes: Was mostly a production manager weirdly. Won an Emmy as a part of the production of Cagney & Lacey. Was the production manager on the recent BMT film Supernova.)

Writers – Stephen King (short story) – (Known For: The Shawshank Redemption; Doctor Sleep; It; The Green Mile; The Shining; It: Chapter Two; Stand by Me; Misery; Gerald’s Game; The Mist; Carrie; Christine; Pet Sematary; 1922; Carrie; Pet Sematary; The Running Man; Secret Window; 1408; Hearts in Atlantis; Future BMT: Cell; The Rage: Carrie 2; The Mangler; Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice; In the Tall Grass; Sleepwalkers; The Dark Tower; A Good Marriage; Riding the Bullet; Children of the Corn; Thinner; Firestarter; Creepshow 2; The Night Flier; Needful Things; BMT: Dreamcatcher; Graveyard Shift; The Lawnmower Man; Maximum Overdrive; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Maximum Overdrive in 1987; Notes: The newest adaptation of The Stand is about to come out. I do enjoy Stephen King books, even though he can be a bit verbose at times.)

John Esposito (screenplay) – (Future BMT: Tale of the Mummy; The Theatre Bizarre; BMT: Graveyard Shift; Notes: He also wrote for a bunch of horror shows, like R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour and Creepshow. So definitely a horror guy.)

Actors – David Andrews – (Known For: Fight Club; Apollo 13; World War Z; A Nightmare on Elm Street; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; Wyatt Earp; Fair Game; The Conspirator; Future BMT: Jessabelle; Cherry 2000; Arthur and Mike; Dear John; Hannibal; The Squeeze; BMT: Stealth; Graveyard Shift; A Walk to Remember; Notes: Apparently has written a few feature films, although none appear to have been producer in any meaningful capacity. One was called Bushido set in WWII.)

Kelly Wolf – (Known For: Less Than Zero; Margaret; Triumph of the Spirit; Infinity; BMT: Graveyard Shift; Notes: Her husband, Scott Burkholder, and their son Max are both quite accomplished actors. Max was one of the stars of the television show Parenthood.)

Stephen Macht – (Known For: The Monster Squad; The Choirboys; The Mountain Men; Outside the Law; Future BMT: Galaxina; Nightwing; BMT: Graveyard Shift; Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike; Notes: Appeared in 160 episodes of General Hospital and, among others, 6 episodes of Murder She Wrote (as six different characters). Almost got the role of Jean-Luc Picard. Father of Gabriel Macht who starred in Suits and who we’ve seen in Whiteout, Behind Enemy Lines, Bad Company, and Because I Said So.)

Budget/Gross – $10.5 million / Domestic: $11,582,891 (Worldwide: $11,582,891)

(That’s pretty rough. But let this sink in for a second. The film Fantasy Island, set in Fiji and involving serious special effects, cost about two-thirds as much to film as this 1990 adaptation of a Stephen King short story I had never heard of, starring nobody, and presumably set in a single dilapidated warehouse.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 12% (1/8)

(I’ll make a consensus then: Really only worthwhile to horror novices who are just discovering the appeal of gorey horror. Reviewer Highlight: One of the worst of Stephen King movies. Don’t punch in for this mess. – Gerry Shamray, Your Movies)

Poster – Sklogyard Shift

(This looks cheap and so it has a ceiling, but I kinda like the kooky look to it. The font is nice too. It’s just weird enough that I could imagine wanting to hang up the poster semi-ironically. But still a C.)

Tagline(s) – Stephen King took you to the edge with The Shining and Pet Sematary. This time……he pushes you over. (F)

(Nope. I can’t abide by this sham of a tagline. You don’t need me to tell you everything that is wrong with this trash.)

Keyword – based on short story

Top 10: The Shawshank Redemption (1994), National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Arrival (2016), The Thing (1982), Total Recall (1990), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Brokeback Mountain (2005), A Few Good Men (1992), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Future BMT: 57.6 The Mangler (1995), 55.9 Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992), 41.3 Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995), 41.3 Children of the Corn (1984), 39.7 The Heartbreak Kid (2007), 34.3 Double Take (2001), 27.4 Next (2007), 25.8 Creepshow 2 (1987), 24.8 Total Recall (2012), 23.4 Impostor (2001);

BMT: Johnny Mnemonic (1995), Maximum Overdrive (1986), Paycheck (2003), The Lawnmower Man (1992), Graveyard Shift (1990), A Sound of Thunder (2005)

(An interesting “genre” I do wonder if it is kind of fueled by bad horror to an extent. In the 80s and 00s pulp short horror stories (e.g. The Hellbound Heart) seemed like all the rage. Do people still write short stories? Is that why the genre is dying? Or is it just a quirk of this particular keyword?)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 29) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Brad Dourif is No. 7 billed in Graveyard Shift and No. 6 billed in Color of Night, which also stars Bruce Willis (No. 1 billed) who is in The Whole Ten Yards (No. 1 billed), which also stars Natasha Henstridge (No. 4 billed) who is in Ghosts of Mars (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 3 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) => 7 + 6 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 29. If we were to watch A Low Down Dirty Shame, and Kingdom Come we can get the HoE Number down to 21.

Notes – The name of the mill is “Bachman Mills.” “Bachman” is a pseudonym used by Stephen King, upon whose short story the movie was based.

When John and Jane are in the cafe together, Ippeston sitting in the booth behind them is reading a paperback of “Ben.” “Ben” is a story of a socially dysfunctional boy who befriends a rat and uses other rats to extract revenge upon others.

The movie was filmed in the village of Harmony, Maine at Bartlettyarns Inc., the oldest woolen yarn mill in the United States (est. 1821). The interior shots of the antique mill machinery, and the riverside cemetery, were in Harmony. Other scenes (restaurant interior, and giant wool picking machine) were at locations in Bangor, Maine, at an abandoned waterworks and armory. A few other mill scenes were staged near the Eastland woolen mill in Corinna, Maine, which subsequently became a Super Fund site.

Wisconsky mentions she is from Castle Rock, home to many other Stephen King books and movies.

The patch on Cleveland’s (The Exterminator) shoulder is the emblem of 33 (“Ba Muoi Ba”), a Vietnamese rice-brewed beer that was popular among American GIs who served during the war.

Stephen King heavily disliked the film and named it one of his least favorite adaptations, calling it “a quick exploitation picture”.

House of Wax Recap

Jamie

Carly and Nick are a couple of totally opposite twins. When a group of their friends get stuck out in the woods they are spookified to find a creepy town dominated by an even creepier wax museum. Even scarier is when they start to disappear. Can they stop the baddies and escape before it’s too late? Find out in… House of Wax.

How?! On the way to the big college football game in Louisiana, a group of dope college kids are just looking to have a good time (and maybe spill some big secrets). Carly and Wade are in looooove, but are trying to figure out their future, no help to Nick, Carly’s bad boy twin brother fresh off his latest trouble with the law. Paige and Blake are also in loooove, but Paige is totally pregnant and doesn’t know how to tell him. There’s also the comedic relief, Dalton, but he’s silly. When it gets a little late to drive they decide to camp in the woods and finish the drive in the morning, only to wake up super late. When Wade checks his car he finds the fan belt has been cut and so everyone else leaves in the other car to try to make the game, while he and Carly catch a ride with a rando who claims to know where the nearby Ambrose is. In Ambrose they find the town virtually deserted with a weird giant House of Wax in the middle, but eventually meet Bo, who runs the gas station and who brings them back to his house to get the part. There they stumble into a house of horrors where Wade is trapped by Bo and given over to his separated conjoined twin brother Vincent to turn into a wax statue, while Carly is taken back to the station and put in the basement. Having missed the big game, everyone comes back to the camp and Dalton and Nick head to Ambrose check on Carly. There Dalton is pretty quickly killed by Vincent, while Nick does battle with Bo and manages to help Carly escape. Meanwhile, Vincent also heads over to Paige and Blake and kills them both just to really take care of those loose plot threads. Nick and Carly want to try to help Dalton and Wade if they can so they head over to the house where they have to hide when Bo and Vincent return. Realizing they are in the house, Bo and Vincent chase them through underground tunnels to the House of Wax where in a climactic battle they start a fire and amongst the melting ruins they fight Bo and Vincent. They are able to kill them and escape where they learn that there was also a third brother and, bum bum bum, we might even see him in a sequel (hint: we won’t) THE END.

Why?! The main characters here really just want to get to a football game. Even the bad guys only do a mediocre job at trapping them in the woods as most of them leave, but return of their own volition once they realize they’ve missed the big game. The motivation for the bad guys is a little murkier, which is not exactly typical of horror films, where that’s usually given quite a bit of detail. Here it’s mostly implied that Bo and Vincent were conjoined twins and their separation left Vincent scarred physically and Bo scarred mentally. Following Bo’s troubled youth, the death of their parents, and the decline of their small town, they live in isolation trapping passerbys with the help of their other brother in order to murder and turn them into wax art pieces to honor their late mother… I think I have that about right.

Who?! I do like to analyze the baddies in horror films and this is kinda interesting since their backstory is more implied than actually detailed for the audience. Like even the fact that Bo was the crazy one and not the deformed Vincent is only vaguely insinuated. I think Vincent had some real potential though. Think about it. He’s a hulking guy driven crazy by his overbearing twin brother. After the first film it could be revealed he is still alive and made a wax figure of Bo that he still talks to and imagines is telling him to do heinous things. Really could see a Jason type scenario where he just gets bigger and bigger and powered by lightning and shit. Missed opportunity. Give us more Houses of Waxes.

What?! I now have a bit of a feel when there might be some props for sale for these films and this is one of them. There are some crazy memorabilia online that isn’t for sale, but the only thing I could find for sale was this lame-o beauty pageant poster. That price is absurd. Get out of here with that. Much like Freddy has his gloves and Jason his mask, Vincent does have a mask that I would be interested in. He definitely would have a new, cool distinctive weapon if we made it to a sequel. I would go flamethrower. Would be different and would allow for the 4 or 5 full body burns I’m looking for in the films I watch.

Where?! This is truly a mystery in that online it suggests the kids are driving from University of Florida to Baton Rouge for the game. Then we see at the beginning of the film that they are 156 miles from the stadium, which would likely place them around Biloxi, MS. So really it just depends on how far they drive before making camp. My guess is LA. If you trust sources online, they say that Ambrose is 26 miles North of Baton Rouge but that seems like they are pulling that out of their ass. I mean… why would they stop and camp in the middle of nowhere when they are like a 20 minute drive from the capital of a state. C

When?! This would certainly be late in the college football season as they are heading to what seems to be a major SEC matchup in Baton Rouge and Carly has just nailed down an post-graduation internship. My inkling is that it would be a big time Gators-Tigers matchup between a couple undefeateds in November and boy howdy, I’ll just kill me if we don’t go to the game. There are actually a couple places online that suggest it’s November 2005 and I’m not really sure why. C-.

The final battle scene is truly astounding. An incredible piece of filmmaking. Beautiful to watch and I don’t think there are many horror films out there where you could point to something and say “just get through the rest of the movie so you can see it.” It’s really well done. I also will say that I think this is pretty easily the best I’ve seen both Cuthbert and Murray, so that’s interesting too. Other than that, though, it’s almost maddening how weird and poorly constructed the rest of the film is. You can pick out so many parts of the plot and wonder how they felt like it worked with the rest of the narrative. I mean, the bad guys skulk around the kids’ campsite and decide to cut the fan belt on one of two cars… leaving open the real possibility that the kids all leave in the one car and return with a tow truck. The end. Most of the kids even leave at that point and the other two only inadvertently run into the other brother who takes them to Ambrose. What I’m saying is the plot melts away at the merest flame of a critical examination, but that final battle scene is both fresh and dope. As for the Basket Case franchise, I thought the first one was pretty great. One of those independent exploitation like horror films that’s really interesting and fun to watch (and still is pretty creepy on top of it). The sequel goes the way of a number of horror sequels (Texas Chainsaw 2, Evil Dead 2, etc.) and leans into the comedic aspects of the idea and… I mean, I guess it works OK. There are some real funny horror stuff in there that needs to get some credit (the monster sex scene is kinda hilarious), but otherwise it’s a little heavy on the costumes and makeup to take seriously. A pretty fun twin franchise, though. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I remember watching House of Wax in theaters. And I remember being spooky scared because I was a scaredy cat about horror films. Time to flex my new found desensitivity. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – My impression of this film has always been that it is just outside of the Hostel-level torture porn that was on the rise at the time. I distinctly remember a scene in which the main character gets the tip of her finger clipped off (gross) and then a friend reminded me that someone also gets his Achilles tendon slices right up (double gross, and that happens in Hostel as well which is an odd coincidence). I still haven’t seen much torture porn horror films, they aren’t my cup of tea, but I should have a more informed opinion now that I’ve seen a bunch of horror films. What were my expectations? To be super grossed out, and then probably to realize the film isn’t actually scary and is mostly like Silent Hill 2 or something in the end.

The Good – The final scene, which is mentioned in multiple reviews, is, indeed, an incredible set piece. They tease the “this house is entirely made of wax” angle early enough that it is delightful to see it start to go up in flames. Murray and Cuthbert are also pretty excellent in the film. It feels like it missed something in translation in the end. It somehow mixed 2000s torture porn, with 80s / 90s slashers, but then paced it like a 70s spooky town / house film. It ends up kind of not feeling like it belongs to any era of American horror films, but not in an interesting or good way. Best Bit: The final set piece.

The Bad – The kills are not only complete crap in this film, they also come waaaaay too late. We open with a group of 6 people (Cuthbert and her beau, Hilton and her beau, then Murray and his dopey friend). Of those four die … but that is well and truly it, only four kills in the film. And the only actual tension-filled kill is Cuthbert’s boyfriend. With a film like this, you absolutely need a flashback / early kill to set things up, and it would have served a dual purpose in that the protagonists could then find the wax statue and the audience could wonder whether Vincent actually encased the person in wax, or made a likeness (spooky!). Anyways, the point is as a horror film the film is just bad, even if the final set piece and battle is decent. Also, nit pick, the group camps out and then accidentally sleeps in until 2PM. Impossible. No group of 6 people can all sleep to 2PM while camping. Most unrealistic bit of the film for me. Fatal Flaw: Unrealistic camping scene … fine it was the bad kills.

The BMT – Now having watched the film again, I don’t think this is really a torture porn film at all. There are elements of it in the film, but it is a slasher film through and through, complete with it kind of being garbage given that it was made in 2005. In Hostel there are whole scenes devoted to just watching people get tortured. Here it is just the standard ultra-violence / gore that came into vogue around when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake was made. Did it meet my expectations? It was a much worse horror film that I think I would have initially given it credit for, and not in an amusing way like with Silent Hill 2. I did vaguely remember that my reaction to Hilton’s death in the theater was “huh … that was it?”. So I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Roast-radamus – I think the dopey friend played by Jon Abrahams qualifies for Planchet (Who?), everyone just rips on him the entire time. A few funny product placements, especially the inexplicable Product Placement (What?) for the Pepsi machine outside of the gas station … you know, the fake gas station in the fake town that looks like it is stuck in the 50s, but with a shiny new Pepsi machine. Great Setting as a Character (Where?) for Louisiana. They just want to get to the big Florida-Louisiana football game man! I’m going to give this a nice MacGuffin (Why?) for the mysterious fanbelt the crew needs to fix their car throughout the film. And I’m going to count it as a Worst Twist (How?) for the dumb bit whereby they try and vaguely hide that Bo is the psycho twin from the beginning of the film, instead of the mutant Vincent, and also that Lester the weirdo from the beginning of the film is a third brother. And this is definitely solidly in the BMT category. That’s some goddamned cred! 

StreetCreditReport.com – It is mentioned on some IGN Roundtable around the time. Bloody Disgusting also did a whole profile on the fairly notable Paris Hilton kill. That actually was the big point on the Roundtable as well. At the time Paris Hilton being in this film was obviously a huge deal. Is it weird that I didn’t really bat an eye at her or her performance in the film? It was bad, but I’ve seen worse. But at the time it was fairly weird, I guess because of her reality show, this movie came out right in the middle of its run.

You Just Got Schooled – I’ll try and keep these sections short since there are three of them this week. I watched the original Basket Case in preparation for the sequel being brought along as a friend. It is really a pretty unique little creature feature exploitation film from 1982. The original puppet of Belial in this film is janky, but very charming. And the idea behind the murders and the main character are really amazingly refreshing for an early 80s horror film. But what takes the cake is the Times Square hotel setting, the kooky neighbors Duane meets during his brief stay in New York, and just the general grossness of the world created by the film. A-. Maybe a little low budget for everyone’s tastes, and definitely a tad gross at times with regards to Belial, but a fun horror film.

Bring a Friend Analysis – And from there we rolled right into Basket Case 2. Picking up right where the first film left off (although 8 years later, so with a notably older Kevin Van Hentenryck aka Duane) we are quickly introduced to a doctor who wants to add Belial to her menagerie of “unique individuals”, people like Belial that she’s saved from roadside attractions and given a safe space. Meanwhile, a tabloid reporter is looking to get the big scoop on Belial and Duane. Overall, the film feels both too shiny to be a proper sequel to its charmingly grimey predecessor, and too silly. Much like Leprechaun 2 it feels like the film got overwhelmed by one component of the first film. In that case it was the humor of Warwick Davis. In this case it is the clear fascination the director had with make-up / costuming for the unique individuals, which ended up just looking very silly and diluting the montrousness of Belial. It’s too bad, because Belial really is a rare movie monster that is both not very well known, and quite cool. While I disliked the film, I do think it is worth a look with regards to how low-budget 80s horror transitioned into cheap 90s horror. B+.

Twin Analysis – Hooooooooo doggy. Now I thought last week with Double Impact we got basically the best twin film you could have. Buy nay! House of Wax is basically the most twinsy of twin films. Sure, the protagonists are fraternal, but the male-female twin dynamic was a first for this particular cycle and thus refreshing. But then we combine that with the psycho killers being separate conjoined twins?! We have good-bad twin dynamics for days, and the ultimate good twins vs. bad twins battle royale to finish the film. Definite A+ right there. Then, completely by accident, we watched the Basket Case films as friends, and that also featured evil separated conjoined twins! What a coincidence. This one also involves some twin telekinesis and a truly monstrous twin relationship that drives the film forward. Also an easy A+. What a way to end the twin cycle!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

House of Wax Quiz

Oh boy, so me and my bros were inexplicably camping out in the middle of nowhere. New thing I know I was bopped on the head and made into a wax statue, and I don’t remember how! Do you remember what happened in House of Wax?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Prior to the gang deciding to camp out, where were they going? Spoilers, they aren’t going to make it.

2) How does Cuthbert meet the weirdo in the woods, and why do they go along with him to the nearby town?

3) How many people do we see killed in the film in total?

4) What causes the House of Wax to go up in flames?

5) There’s a big twist at the end of the film! What is it?

Answers

House of Wax Preview

As the gamemasters cackle and begin the unnecessarily long process of putting the two pieces of the Dongle back together, Rich begins to hear a whistle. It steadily grows louder until even the gamemasters stop and look around. A lightning strike suddenly hits the Earth. It quakes and Poe emerges from a crack. “Im… impossible,” John Travolta gasps in horror. Rich and Poe clasp hands in a Predator high five. “I’m here, brother,” Poe says, “now let’s pound some dweebs.” While Rich and Poe’s greasy abs, gleaming in the sunlight, would normally strike fear into anyone’s hearts (and in fact, even more so now as Poe emerged from the Earth entirely in the nude), the gamemasters simply smile. “Silly brothers, you have no chance against the power of the twins,” screams Travolta in crazed glee, but when he attempts to smash the pieces of the Dongle together an unseen power prevents him. “Wha wha whaaaaaa?” he says like a total dumbo. The pieces of the dongle are suddenly wrenched from his hands and float over to Rich and Poe. A look of peace is on their face as they use their new found powers to provide an anticlimactic ten minute long expository monologue directly into the gamemasters’ heads. It’s incredibly detailed and reveals formerly unknown facts about Rich and Poe’s upbringing on the bayou. It’s a tale of twins, separated at birth, one taken in by a rich family, the other a poor, but forever linked by their sense of justice and attitude towards rulez. They are and have forever been… the Bad Movie Twins. And with that they place the pieces of the Dongle together and totally pound those dweebs. The ceremonial chamber melts under the intense power of the Dongle. Looks like it’s time to blow this joint. That’s right! We are transitioning to a very special 2020 year in review cycle by watching House of Wax (2005). I’m sure you’re all like “but wait, that wasn’t made in 2020!” and you’d be right. Because of world events there just aren’t that many major motion pictures for the year. So instead we are doing what we are calling Hindsight is 2020. We are mixing together some of the films that did get released early in the year with a retrospective look at films released 5, 10, 15, etc. years ago and a few holiday films to boot. It’ll be an extravaganza the likes of which we’ll (hopefully) never see again. Let’s go!

The literary agent looks in fear at the two cyborg men. “Wh-what do you want with me?” he asks in fear and then looks down at the basket they have brought into the office, “and what’s in the basket?” he wonders aloud. “Oh, just something I think you’ll be very interested in,” the two cyborg men say before they turn and take off their stylish fedoras to reveal none other than… Sticks and Stones! Bum bum bum. That’s right! We are finishing our Bring a Friend cycle by partaking in the lesser known horror franchise Basket Case 2. It’s a little questionable just how bad some of these films are as they have niche audiences that love them, but can’t we just watch a weird horror sequel involving a tiny deformed twin in a basket in peace? Let’s go!

House of Wax (2005) – BMeTric: 58.0; Notability: 34 

(Nice, 2005 is basically the oldest a movie can be and still see the beginning of the film’s release on the internet archive it looks like. I find it interesting that it opened so low … maybe finicky horror fans slamming a not-great horror film? Maybe people trying to brigade a Paris Hilton film? Maybe back then IMDb was much more of a movie aficionado’s site. It is hard to tell, but still pleasantly low rating even today. Fun trajectory.)

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – The Dead Teenager Movie has grown up. The characters in “House of Wax” are in their 20s and yet still repeat the fatal errors of all the “Friday the 13th” kids who checked into Camp Crystal Lake and didn’t check out. … Where the movie excels is in its special effects and set design. Graham “Grace” Walker masterminds a spectacular closing sequence in which the House of Wax literally melts down, and characters sink into stairs, fall through floors and claw through walls. There is also an eerie sequence in which a living victim is sprayed with hot wax and ends up with a finish you’d have to pay an extra four bucks for at the car wash.

(I agree with Ebert about the final scene. I saw this film long ago and that is, indeed, an impressive set piece in a way. I’m more surprised, though, that he didn’t reject the film flat out as torture porn garbage. Because it is pretty close to Hostel-level in how it revels in gore. Unpleasant in my opinion, just not my cup of tea as far as horror is concerned. This is, of course, based on my memory of watching it over 15 years ago.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DnFKwVcM10/

(Pretty standard. Having watched it a few times now I can say they are being a bit deceptive about the set up for the film. The set up is epically stupid. But it gives the right vibe: Texas Chainsaw Massacre basically.)

Directors – Jaume Collet-Serra – (Known For: Orphan; The Shallows; The Commuter; Non-Stop; Unknown; Run All Night; Future BMT: Goal II: Living the Dream; BMT: House of Wax; Notes: Tapped for Black Adam and Jungle Cruise, two upcoming Dwayne Johnson features. From Spain, and directs music videos under the mononym Juame.)

Writers – Charles Belden (story) – (Known For: House of Wax; Dracula’s Daughter; Mystery of the Wax Museum; Charlie Chan at the Opera; BMT: House of Wax; Notes: This is why I found it odd that people talk about the 1953 film as the predecessor, when this guy wrote the 1933 Mystery of the Wax Museum and gets a credit listed on IMDb on this and the 1953 film. The story is a lot closer for that film as well.)

Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes (screenplay) – (Known For: The Conjuring; The Conjuring 2; Future BMT: The Turning; The Reaping; The Crucifixion; BMT: House of Wax; Whiteout; Notes: You guessed it, they are twins! They are twins that wrote a horror film about twins. They also played twins in the movie Rad starring Lori Loughlin. They are part of the writing team for the Die Hard prequel McClane.)

Actors – Chad Michael Murray – (Known For: Freaky Friday; Max Winslow and the House of Secrets; Fruitvale Station; Camp Cold Brook; Future BMT: The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia; Survive the Night; Megiddo: The Omega Code 2; A Cinderella Story; Home of the Brave; Cavemen; Outlaws and Angels; BMT: Left Behind; House of Wax; A Madea Christmas; Notes: Most notable for his star turn on One Tree Hill. He never quite made it to being a movie star, but he’s done a ton of television. Apparently he was up for the Ryan Atwood role on The O.C. but turned it down to do One Tree Hill.)

Paris Hilton – (Known For: Zoolander; The Bling Ring; Snakes on a Plane; Repo! The Genetic Opera; Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!; Future BMT: The Hottie & the Nottie; Pledge This!; Raising Helen; Wonderland; BMT: The Cat in the Hat; House of Wax; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actress, and Worst Screen Couple for The Hottie & the Nottie in 2009; Winner for Worst Supporting Actress in 2006 for House of Wax; and in 2009 for Repo! The Genetic Opera; and Winner for Worst Actress of the Decade in 2010 for House of Wax, Repo! The Genetic Opera, and The Hottie & the Nottie; Notes: The heiress of the Hilton fortune, but apparently has made around $300 million herself mostly through fragrance royalties overseas. Allegedly her antics caused her grandfather to donate 97% of his fortune to charity, thus costing her relatives billions in inheritance. Can’t say I’m crying a river over that, that sounds swell.)

Elisha Cuthbert – (Known For: The Girl Next Door; Love Actually; Old School; Goon: Last of the Enforcers; He Was a Quiet Man; Future BMT: Captivity; The Quiet; Just Before I Go; BMT: House of Wax; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress for Captivity in 2008; Notes: I think she’s still known for being Jack Bauer’s daughter on 24. But beyond that she also had a starring role on Happy Endings, and on Ashton Kutcher’s show The Ranch. Married to the professional hockey player Dion Phaneuf.)

Budget/Gross – $40,000,000 / Domestic: $32,064,800 (Worldwide: $68,766,121)

(Hmmmm, not great. I’m actually really surprised by this, usually horror films are money in the bank. I have two guesses. First, its word of mouth was so bad it torpedoed the release. This is most likely. Second, this is right around when things like Hostel were starting to come out and it ended up playing into a much more niche audience than the producers realized. This is maybe supported by Hostel, a film I feel is wildly successful and spawned multiple sequels, “only” made $47 million domestically. Saw II and The Ring 2 were released the same year and made far more despite being worse than Hostel … but maybe that is the sequel effect.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (41/158): Bearing little resemblance to the 1953 original, House of Wax is a formulaic but better-than-average teen slasher flick.

(I’m actually a bit surprised they even mention the original. The original really has nothing to do with this film. I don’t even really think they considered it a remake in any capacity, it just used the same name. Reviewer Highlight: Related to the 1953 Vincent Price film in name, embalming technique and Warner Bros. pedigree only, the new House of Wax is a dreary, predictable tale. – Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Time)

Poster – House of Racks on Racks

(That house is making bank on those wax sculptures fo sho. This is just a flat out good poster. Creepy and getting me intrigued. I like the subtle color scheme and the font is just enough, although I would have enjoyed them melting a little too. A)

Tagline(s) – Prey. Slay. Display. (A+)

(I mean… that’s… I’m speechless. This is the creativity I want. Stay within the tried and true formula while also surprising me. Rule of three with a rhyme scheme?! Come on. A little hint of the gory details of the plot and do it all in three words?!?! It’s a masterclass.)

Keyword – twins

Top 10: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Doctor Sleep (2019), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), The Great Outdoors (1988), House of Wax (2005), Lord of the Flies (1990), A Cinderella Story (2004), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

Future BMT: 92.7 Date Movie (2006), 58.2 Deck the Halls (2006), 54.9 The Back-up Plan (2010), 51.2 Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000), 36.2 A Cinderella Story (2004), 31.0 It Takes Two (1995), 13.4 Little Women (2018);

BMT: House of Wax (2005), Double Impact (1991), Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), Father Figures (2017), Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005), Jack and Jill (2011), Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000), The Astronaut’s Wife (1999), Pluto Nash (2002), Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), The Identical (2014)

(And with that we finish our twin cycle with eleven bona fide “twins” films. A wild success if I say so myself. It Takes Two is probably the only one on the list which is definitely “twins” and we should do. A Cinderella Story is close, but it is just the step sisters that are twins in that case (and it is really hard to tell if it is real or assumed online).)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 15) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Chad Michael Murray is No. 5 billed in House of Wax and No. 2 billed in Left Behind (2014), which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 5 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 15. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Aside from the title and the setting of a wax museum, this film has no connection to the original film House of Wax (1953) in terms of plot.

Jared Padalecki is one foot taller than co-star Elisha Cuthbert. To make herself appear taller in scenes where she and Padalecki would be filmed together, Cuthbert taped two-inch blocks of wood to the bottoms of her boots. This was only done during scenes where they would be shot from the knee and up.

Names mentioned in the script but not the film are the roadkill collector (Lester), and Carly and Nick’s last name (Jones). Chad Michael Murray (Nick), in a radio interview, was shocked to hear his character finally had a last name, and said that it was an ongoing debate on set.

The town of Ambrose was constructed in 10 weeks, and was modeled after a real town in Eritrea called Asmara. Asmara was built by the Italians in Africa during World War II in the Modern Style rather than the Deco Style, which was more popular at the time. (Whaaaaaa?)

On 26 June 2004, a sound stage being used for the film burned to the ground during a test of special-effects equipment. The fire, started by a candle, destroyed a studio at Warner Bros Movie World on Australia’s Gold Coast. One crew member was treated for burns to his arm, but no one else was injured.

Paris Hilton was actually the first to be cast for this film. The cast was then built around her. (Whaaaaaa?)

Though the film takes place in Florida, USA, the film was actually shot in Australia. (False, the film is set in Louisiana, they are coming from Florida. But whatever)

The first end credits song and one of the songs on the film’s soundtrack, “Helena” which is by the rock band, My Chemical Romance, was released about two months before the film’s release and was already a huge hit. (I love fun facts about made-for-film songs. Just bizarre how famous some songs ostensibly made for films can be over time despite the films themselves not being particularly notable)

This is Dark Castle Entertainment’s fifth film.

The film takes place in Florida. One of the filming locations of this film’s predecessor, House of Wax (1953), was Saint Augustine, Florida. (Wait … this is the second note to suggest it is in Florida. But I swear, they are travelling to Louisiana to see a Florida-LSU game? Maybe I have the direction wrong. This has to be confirmed!)

The film originally opened with a character named Jennifer (Emma Lung) stuck on an empty road with car troubles and is attacked and killed by either Bo or Vincent (this alternate opening is included as a special feature on the DVD and Blu-ray). Though this scene was scrapped, Jennifer’s presence still lingers in the film. She is the female sculpture that Vincent is working on and is later displayed with a pink dress and bouquet of flowers outside the movie theater. (WHAT? This is my exact criticism of the film. That they needed an early kill of a person you’d later see as a wax figure. Why scrap it?)

Awards – Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress of the Decade (Paris Hilton, 2010)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Paris Hilton, 2006)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (2006)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel (2006)

The Identical Recap

Jamie

Ryan Wade and Drexel Hemsley are identical twins separated at birth. Drexel ends up gaining worldwide fame as a musician, while Ryan struggles with his passion for music and his calling to God. This ultimately results in Ryan making a name for himself impersonating his brother on stage. Can he… uh… live his dream before it’s too late? Find out in… The Identical.

How?! There’s really not much to it. Ryan and Drexel are twins born to very poor parents in the Depression. Hearing a minister speak, they decide that fate is telling them to give one of the babies to the minister and his wife. While Ryan struggles to balance being a good minister’s son and a musician, Drexel rises from poverty to international fame. Ryan becomes a huge fan of Drexel’s without knowing their relationship and when a contest is held to find the best Drexel impersonator he enters and wins. And boy does he! Because an agent sets him up touring the country singing Drexel songs and things are pretty great. Ultimately, the inability to sing his own songs and life on the road bring him back home. Ultimately he finds out about his twin too late, as he tragically dies in a plane crash. But he is able to reconcile this and begin to tour again singing both his brother’s songs and his own. THE END.

Why?! Love… of music. Duh. The motivation is really life. He grows up with music in his bones and spends his life searching for it. Ultimately he finds it, but too late to share it with the only other person who could have understood. In some ways it’s like if Patrick and I were separated at birth and never got to combined our passion for bad movies and give it to the world *shudder* a truly terrible thought.

Who?! You have to highlight the wild story of Blake Rayne, our main character, for this section. The dude basically lived the story and then read the script and was like “wait, this is what happened to me… minus the twin part,” and then got the gig… even though he wasn’t an actor. Basically he entered an Elvis impersonator contest on a dare and won and then spent years doing that.

What?! Didn’t know what to put here, really, but did notice that this won an award according to IMDb. When I checked what it was it was “Worst Picture” from the Houston Film Critics Awards. Which is kinda hilarious that they give it out. In fact they even have nominees. This beat out Blended, Dumb and Dumber To, Left Behind, and Transformers: Age of Extinction. Interestingly, it looks like the category was discontinued starting this year. Must have seen the Smaddies Baddies buzzsaw coming its way.

Where?! This opens in Alabama, where Drexel is born and raised. Ryan is then separated and lives and grows up in Tennessee. That’s where most of the film takes place, besides some roadtrip type stuff while Ryan is on tour. All around pretty solid and plays a minor role in the film given the role of music in the plot. B+.

When?! The twins (feels good writing that) are born in 1935 and so the bulk of the film takes place from the early 50’s into the 70’s. Most of it probably takes place in the 60’s. Not bad given that we get a pretty clear picture of the exact birth date for our main character. Not important though. B.

I might have been able to forgive the film’s interminable length, directionless plot, and weird Elvis knockoff story. I even thought the story was pleasant enough and acting was all around decent. But the music… the music is terrible. I had to spend the entire film listening to these not very good songs play over and over. Sure there were a few halfway decent ones, but I literally thought Ryan’s first “hit” was supposed to be bad so that people would be like “he needs some work, but he’s otherwise good.” But no, it was apparently supposed to be that way. Then the final City Lights song that is supposed to be his crowning achievement is even worse. I’m not sure how you are supposed to make an Elvis knockoff and then write terrible songs to try to sell it. Boo. As for Sorceress, great choice by us. The film is ludicrous and I honestly am shocked it doesn’t get more play in bad movie circles. It is both unpleasant to watch and mesmerizing. A perfect combo. My only thought is perhaps it’s a little too R rated to be part of culture. Perhaps, but I don’t care. The film is Twins to the max and hilarious. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! What happens when you mix Elvis impersonators with a heavy dose of Christian film production? Apparently a twin film called The Identical. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I was not looking forward to watching this film. Mainly because the preview made it incredibly obvious that it was a barely-released Christian films. One of the delights of BMT is that we tend to occasionally go out of our comfort zone to watch films where we aren’t really the intended audience. But Christian films? They are almost always boring. The one saving grace perhaps would be Ray Liotta. What were my expectations? To be bored. But perhaps with a healthy dose of Ray Liotta wearing a Ray Liotta mask and cackling at me? A boy can dream.

The Good – The main actor / elvis impersonator was better than you would expect, the expectations being so low as to effectively be non-existent. I can’t decide if Ray Liotta looking like a normal human being is a positive or negative, but his performance was more subtle that a bad movie aficionado would hope as well. It is a very very very twin film, and that has to be a positive. And at least one of the songs I think was halfway decent (Angel of Mine). And Joey Pants is great as usual. Best Bit: Low Expectations.

The Bad – The film is, as expected, a nothing film. It, indeed, had a ham-fisted attempt to insert some pro-Isreal weirdness (specifically a scene where the cast prays for Israel to win the Six-Day War), likely at the bequest of the production company. Most of that stuff is just vaguely amusing (like the “other” twin finding out he’s half Jewish), but on occasion it is so weird as to be jarring. The music is mostly crap. And I could do without one twin dying in a plane crash. Fatal Flaw: Boring nothing film.

The BMT – I’m not sure. In the future I’m sure we’ll have to pick up a bunch of Christian films in some capacity, although I’m not exactly sure how to do that properly. There is a non-insignificant number of “wide” release films, but really just films barely released to 600 theaters and they’ll mostly be like this. Let’s sum up the storyline for most of these films: Man thinks he has the perfect life, man meets adversity he can’t immediately overcome, man questions his faith in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, man has epiphany about what faith really is all about, man achieves actual perfect life. I guarantee like 80% of the films are just that with various forms of adversity plugged in. Did it meet my expectations? Sadly yeah, this film was boring. Not only that, Ray Liotta looked normal and didn’t cackle at me. So overall a disappointment I think.

Roast-radamus – I think I’m going to count Seth Green as a Planchet (Who?), a character who just kind of gets into trouble and the rest of the cast bemusingly pokes fun at? I can get behind that. A decent Setting as a Character (Where?) for I think both Tennessee (where most of the film takes place for obvious reasons) and Alabama (where the beginning and end up for a bit). Definitely a good Period Piece (When?) for the 50s / 60s setting to coincide with Elvis’s rise. I think the unconscious search for his twin brother counts as a MacGuffin (Why?), f-it. Closest to Bad in the superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – The street cred comes from it being a twin film, for it being a weirdo half-biopic of Elvis, and it being a nothing-Christian film. But interestingly 2014 was a big Christian film year. According to Rolling Stone in a 2014:God’s Not Dead, Son of God, Heaven Is for Real, Persecuted, The Identical, Left Behind, and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas were all released! We’ve now seen three of those and God’s Not Dead will eventually be on the docket, but no wonder no list includes The Identical, it was competing with the notorious God’s Not Dead and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas!

Bring a Friend Analysis – As a friend this week we reached deeeeeep into the depths of the early 80s Roger Corman filmography to retrieve the absolutely dire Sorceress. Starring Leigh and Lynette Harris (Playboy Playmates) the film had a somewhat notorious production. Explicitly developed to build off of the success of Conan, Jack Hill (who often worked with Corman) was roped in with the promise of a big budget, and Hill thought it could revive his career (instead this would be the last film he would direct). Amazingly, this is actually a lot more similar to The Identical than it appeared at first blush. Hill specifically wrote the script in reference to The Corsican Brothers, which sounds suspiciously similar to moments in The Identical! I can tell you this much: The Satyr in the film is the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen, the Harris twins are not actors, the effects are horrible, and the multiple beastiality and rape scenes and jokes made me very uncomfortable. I would recommend this to no one, and may God have mercy on Roger Corman’s soul for producing this pile of garbage. And yet … I’m very very surprised that this isn’t more well known in bad movie circles (it does seem to be mentioned a lot on grindhouse lists due to it being directed by Hill) because it is like watching a slow motion car crash on screen. I’m going to give it an A. I hate it, but I cannot deny the allure. Somehow it feels like this is exactly the type of films we should be watching for Bring a Friend in general, and yet I never want to watch anything like this ever again. The juxtaposition is tantalizing. It’s the satyr. It is so horrifying that one must understand the demented mind that created it. And I can’t stop thinking about it.

Twins Analysis – How twins-y was The Identical? Extremely!! There were some extreme identical twins. You had identical twins separated at birth, both destined to be songwriting stars in their own right. When one twin dies tragically the other feels the others death instinctively without having to hear of the news. These guys were one step away from being Stigmata Twins. A. I won’t be docking points for not using twins because in most cases it doesn’t make sense. Like here, what? You’re going to go out and find twin Elvis impersonators?! That’s insane. And what about Sorceress. Five words for you: The Two That Are One. The entire plot is about twin destiny and how twins are the only thing that can defeat an evil wizard. Bomb. A-, I docked a bit for the twins being such horrible actors and besmirching the good name of twins.

The Identical Quiz

Oh man, last thing I remember I got bopped on the head while winning an Elvis impersonation contest. When I awoke I was a world famous recording artist! Go figure. Otherwise I don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in The Identical?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film Brian Geraghty gives up one of his two twin boys to Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd. What promise does he make Ray Liotta keep about the boys?

2) Ryan Wade has a bestest friend in the whole world in Seth Green. What instrument does Seth Green play?

3) During the course of the film Ryan Wade has three jobs. What are they?

4) How did Ryan’s secret twin brother Drexel Hemsley die and what happened to Ryan when he did?

5) During the course of the film Ryan and Drexel see each other once. When?

Answers

The Identical Preview

With their powers combined the robot vixens are no match for Rich and Poe. They bust those robots up and boy howdy, bustin’ makes them feel good. Rich looks at Poe and realizes that this is his moment to say goodbye. “It’s time to set yourself free,” he tells him. Poe steels himself and despite the love in his heart he delivers one last crosskick that sends the bots back into the puzzle box. With a second flying kick he forces the box close, thus sealing them away. With the spell finally broken, Poe picks up the box and has a moment of contemplation. Perhaps he should just throw the box into the fire and end it. Rich steps in, “I know you’re not ready to say goodbye and perhaps… just perhaps, we’ll see that puzzle box again down the road.” With that he gives a little wink and Poe nods, leaving the box behind. As they leave the ship they are greeted by a smiling Nic Cage and the masked gamemaster. “Congratulations, Rich and Poe, you have won. Earth is saved.” They smile and breathe a sigh of relief. “Unfortunately, the universe is lost,” the other gamemaster says and begins to cackle in glee. What? This doesn’t make sense! “But we won!” they scream. “Oh yes, you won, and for that you will pay dearly, for it revealed what is inside of you… what we are destined to possess,” and the gamemaster holds up the Obsidian Dongle! With a small shard missing! Rich’s hand immediately goes to his chest. “Nic Cage! Stop him,” they plead, but he just shakes his head and smiles. He then turns to the gamemaster who slowly takes off his mask to reveal… a second Nic Cage. They’re… they’re… identical. That’s right! We are kicking off the Twins battle cycle where we watch BMT films featuring twins paired with Bring a Friend’s also featuring twins! It’s a veritable twinstravaganza! First up The Identical. ‘What’s that?’ you ask. Who cares, no one remembers it, but it was all about an Elvis twin or something. Let’s go!

The Identical Nic Cage peers at Poe. “Oh, you don’t recognize me? Of course. The face. You see I had them take my face… off. And then I had his face put… on. You getting it yet?” Poe’s aghast. Travolta! The sequence of events is still a little confusing, but before he can get it clarified Travolta uses his sorcerer’s powers to send Poe deep into the Earth… to Hell! That’s right! We are pairing The Identical with Sorceress, an 80’s film that features magical creatures in some anonymous time of the past. Oh and sexy twin warriors. Pretty appropriate stuff. Let’s go!

The Identical (2014) – BMeTric: 25.4; Notability: 18 

(Odd plot. I think maybe the initial ratings were exclusive to people who actually went and watched the film in theaters … so like Elvis impersonators? Just seems insane the drop which almost definitely coincides with the film coming out on VOD or something.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – On January 8, 1935, a woman gave birth to twin boys in a little shack built by her husband in Tupelo, Mississippi. It is not known whether or not the twins were identical. One twin was stillborn, the other grew up to be Elvis Presley.  For the entirety of his life, Elvis missed his twin (named Jesse). He prayed to him, talked about him all the time. If you visit Graceland, there is a small gravestone for Jesse in the family burial plot outside the house. Elvis wondered if he had somehow sapped the strength of his twin brother in the womb, and if that was why he became the superstar that he did. He had guilt about it. … One positive thing about “The Identical” is that it will make you want to bust out Elvis Presley’s early Sun and RCA recordings, songs like “That’s All Right,” “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “My Baby Left Me,” or “Good Rockin'” just to remind you that no, it didn’t happen the way it did in “The Identical”. Thank goodness.

(Oh wow … wait, this is basically some screenwriter who read this story about Elvis and made a fictionalized version of it with an Elvis impersonator? That is crazy. Do you know what else it crazy? Ray Liotta’s face which is the only thing about this film that I’m looking forward to.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LWy9hBy0Kk/

(Hmmm, they really hide the fact that this is pretty explicitly a Christian film. Not that I blame them for that, but you’d think this was just a vague fantasy biopic thingy based on the trailer. It assuredly is not.)

Directors – Dustin Marcellino – (BMT: The Identical; Notes: There is nothing about this person. I have a theory: there is a real estate agent in Tennessee with this name. This film was likely produced and shot in Tennessee where both Wade Cummins and Blake Rayne live. I think he probably directed impersonator / local commercials / real estate stuff and these two people are one in the same.)

Writers – Wade Cummins (written by) – (BMT: The Identical; Notes: Also had a cameo part in the film. He is also an Elvis impersonator!! Here’s his website.)

Howard Klausner (screenplay) – (Known For: Space Cowboys; The Last Ride; Future BMT: God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness; The Grace Card; BMT: The Identical; Notes: Seems to have transitioned to Christian films, including directing a small Kevin Sorbo film called The Secret Handshake.)

Actors – Blake Rayne – (Future BMT: Hounddog; BMT: The Identical; Notes: An elvis impersonator. Was a web designer prior to winning an Elvis impersonator content in Columbus, Ohio in 1998. His real name is Ryan Pelton.)

Ray Liotta – (Known For: Goodfellas; Marriage Story; Blow; The Place Beyond the Pines; Identity; Killing Them Softly; Field of Dreams; Sin City: A Dame to Kill For; Bee Movie; Cop Land; The Iceman; Heartbreakers; Kill the Messenger; Date Night; Wanderlust; Muppets Most Wanted; Observe and Report; Something Wild; Youth in Revolt; No Escape; Future BMT: The Son of No One; Operation Dumbo Drop; Go with Me; Crazy on the Outside; Revenge of the Green Dragons; Forever Mine; Revolver; The Lonely Lady; The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud; Slow Burn; Even Money; Better Living Through Chemistry; Powder Blue; Unforgettable; Smokin’ Aces; Hannibal; Corrina, Corrina; Crossing Over; Flock of Dudes; Pilgrim; John Q; Local Color; A Rumour of Angels; BMT: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale; Turbulence; Wild Hogs; The Identical; Notes: Was adopted. Was a genuine A-list star in the 90s, but in more recent years he’s focused on television, like Shades of Blue with Jennifer Lopez.)

Ashley Judd – (Known For: Heat; Divergent; Natural Born Killers; A Time to Kill; Olympus Has Fallen; Frida; Barry; A Dog’s Way Home; Bug; Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood; Animal Attraction; Simon Birch; Dolphin Tale; Smoke; De-Lovely; Dolphin Tale 2; The Passion of Darkly Noon; Ruby in Paradise; Normal Life; Helen; Future BMT: Tooth Fairy; Eye of the Beholder; Allegiant; Insurgent; Kuffs; Good Kids; High Crimes; Big Stone Gap; Flypaper; Double Jeopardy; Crossing Over; Where the Heart Is; Trafficked; A Secret Sin; BMT: Twisted; The Identical; Kiss the Girls; Notes: Went to the University of Kentucky and considered a run for U.S. Senate from Kentucky in 2014, but ultimately decided not to pursue the position. Was in Twin Peaks: The Return.)

Budget/Gross – $16 million / Domestic: $2,827,666 (Worldwide: $2,840,991)

(I cannot believe the budget was actually that large … I guess maybe they knew you could pull in church groups and make bank like Tyler Perry. Weird story to try that strategy with though.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 6% (4/69): With nearly every element ringing as hollow as the ersatz Elvis at the story’s core, The Identical looks destined for a bright future on the ironic viewing circuit.

(Ironic viewing? Check. A saw a few reviews that mention the odd pro-Isreal slant the movie takes. Sounds like some weird and wild stuff. Reviewer Highlight: The script is so determined to deliver an upbeat message of faith and love, it forgets to be interesting. – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)

Poster – Twins: The Musical

(It’s certainly… magical looking. I won’t even say it’s a bad poster or anything. It’s fine. A little old fashioned, but I think I expected that. Just wish they tried a bit harder here and there. C)

Tagline(s) – If He is in your dreams, nothing can stand against Him. (D)

(Oh my gooooodddddddddddddddddd. I don’t even think this makes sense, but I don’t care. Run, Patrick! Run! What have we done?!)

Keyword – twins

Top 10: Doctor Sleep (2019), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), The Great Outdoors (1988), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), Despicable Me 3 (2017), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000)

Future BMT: 92.7 Date Movie (2006), 58.2 Deck the Halls (2006), 54.9 The Back-up Plan (2010), 51.2 Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000), 43.7 Double Impact (1991), 41.3 Father Figures (2017), 13.4 Little Women (2018);

BMT: Jack and Jill (2011), Pluto Nash (2002), The Identical (2014)

(Wow, how have we done so few? What a disaster. Looks like we are ready to fill up this keyword. Stay tuned because this same keyword plot will be coming at you every week for two months as we slowly watch every single BMT qualifying twin film (and I guess add the keyword to a few movies as well because this looks mighty incomplete to me!))

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 10) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Ray Liotta is No. 2 billed in The Identical and No. 3 billed in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale, which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 10. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Blake Rayne is a famous Elvis Presley impersonator. He was cast after one of his performances as Elvis garnered the casting director’s attention.

Joe Pantoliano appeared in La Bamba 27 years earlier, playing Ritchie Valens’ music manager, another movie about music and set around the 1950s. (I would have deleted this note as pointless … but there are so few notes for this film I’ll leave it in. Yes, sometimes actors act in two films with an extremely tenuous and vague connection …)

Ray Liotta and Amanda Crew previously starred together in the 2010 film Charlie St. Cloud, but shared no screen time together. (How is this a note? Step up your game random people on IMDb!)

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Recap

Jamie

Totally filthy dancing is back, Jack! And this time it’s hot hot hot in Havana. When all-american girl (and total nerd) Katey is plopped in the middle of Havana on the eve of the Cuban Revolution she starts to feel the heat with Javier, a local who works at the hotel. Can she dance her heart out (and get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

How?! Katey is a total nerd alert ready to crush it at college. That is until her dad gets a job in Cuba and they have to move during her senior year. Lame. Or is it? That’s because she pretty quickly catches the eye of a pretty rad dude. Unfortunately he turns out to be a total jerk. But she isn’t crying over spilled jerk (nailed it) cause she’s more into the waiter at the hotel, Javier, anyway. He’s nice and hard-working and moves to the groove like no one she’s ever seen (and that includes her ballroom champion parents). But nothing is going right because Javier is fired for hanging out with her! Oh no! Being poor and all he has to turn to a life of crime to support his family. Darn. But wait! What about the big dance competition where the winners get to go to America? Hooray! Training in secret (and with the help of her secret weapon, old Patrick Swayze) Katey and Javier dance their hearts out and to the shock and awe of all that know her (particularly her own parents) they make it to the finals on New Year’s Eve. Despite the angst this all creates, everyone learns to live and love again just in time for Katey and Javier to win the competition, right? Wrong! That’s because the Cuban Revolution literally happens in the middle of their routine. Katey is all like “Hooray! Viva la revolution!” but Javier knows what’s up and makes her realize that despite the fact that they’ll have to separate because of this international event, they will always have love and they will always have dance and they will always have the filthy steamy dirty memories of their dance. THE END. 

Why?! Love and dance, duh. But seriously, it’s weird, because Katey’s purpose is just like love and happiness. She’s trying to find herself as teens are wont to do and she finds that the rhythm of the beat evokes something stronger than all those nerd books ever did. But Javier is dealing with some shit. He’s trying to feed his family because his dad was killed by the government for sympathizing with the revolutionaries. So the idea of winning a dance contest and going to America is pretty sweet at first, but after the revolution not as much. It’s pretty intense and serious while Katey just goes back to America with her rich family afterwards… they are operating in two totally different worlds.

Who?! Obvs the big one is The Swayz cameo. He appears only for a bit and comes off a little differently in the role of old man briefly encouraging a young woman to dance while covered in sweat. Rather than in the original where he was an old man constantly encouraging a young woman to dance while covered in sweat. We also have a big performance by Mya during the main dance scene that kinda counts as a musician turned actress.

What?! Generally speaking I anticipate a difficult time for this section in the upcoming cycle. Past and Future films aren’t necessarily focused on delivering timely product placements. This one is slightly different in that at the time there was some press regarding a pretty intense integrated marketing campaign by Revlon. There are some appropriately silly names for the different shades of nail polish and the like… Pink Cha-Cha-Cha. Ooof.

Where?! A+ Setting Alert. They say Havana Nights and they mean Havana Nights. There is actually no moment that doesn’t take place in Havana. No scene of them moving from America. No nothing. Havana all day and all night, dancing to the rhythm of the city… Havana. A+. Weird part was that I knew this was actually shot in Puerto Rico. How? Because I recognized some of the locations from the Keanu Reeves film Replicas.

When?! Somewhere in that same city on the same night of the big dance competition is Michael Corleone. That too depicted the fall of the Batista regime on December 31st, 1958. I think the question on everyone’s mind is who wore the Cuban Revolution best? The Godfather Part II or Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Scientists contend we may never know. Those scientists? Us. A.

There is a charm to this film. The dancing is quite steamy and I really did find myself rooting for the characters to find happiness with each other through dance. If that sounds cheesy that’s because it is. The entire thing is a cheesefest. So while it’s not a particularly good movie (it probably had more of a place on ABC Family) you can’t help but find yourself lulled into a sense of comfort by the cheese. That is until it all explodes at the end with the Cuban Revolution. Why they even felt the need to set the film in 1958 (somehow making this a prequel to the original film) with a nonsensical cameo by The Swayz (let’s call him the estranged father of Swayze’s character from the original) is almost beyond explanation. Just set it in current day Miami and you got everything you need. Namely sweaty steamy dirty filthy dancing. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When’s a sequel not a sequel? When it is a low-key remake where the original star appears as a different character? Whatever, I still call it Dirty Dancing 2. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – After watching both Dirty Dancing films (both? What, you don’t remember the ABC original remake? It was really really bad) we somehow sidestepped the sequel-remake set in Cuba. A period piece and destination sequel? Yes please. I went into this with little knowledge about the film beyond that Patrick Swayze appears in a cameo. What were my expectations? I think this was supposed to be one of the worst sequels ever made. Anything less than a complete catastrophe would be a disappointment.

The Good – The dancing (besides being wholly inappropriate for a 50s teenager to partake in … wait, am I getting old?) is indeed hot and sexy. While you can kind of tell Diego Luna and Romola Garai were just taught how to dance right before filming, the dancing at times is still pretty cool. And unlike the original Dirty Dancing film they replace the somewhat uncomfortable central relationship (how old was Patrick Swayze supposed to be again?) and abortion story, with a charming innocence of Luna and a backdrop of the Cuban Revolution. While the movie is a shadow of the original, I take that trade ten times out of ten. Best Bit – The dancing is better than one would expect.

The Bad – The movie is a television movie pretending to be a theatrical feature. From involving a ton of television actors, to trying to build a teaching moment around the Cuban Revolution, and overall just exuding innocence. If the original was as chaste as this film is, I’m not sure it is as big of a cult film as it is. The main actress is pretty rough, slipping into a pretty obvious British accent on occasion. Finally, I don’t know whether this is a good-bad thing or just a bad thing, but the final scene in which our protagonist is flabbergasted that Luna wants to stay in Cuba after the revolution is great. It is both extremely real concerning the naivety of a teenager, and extremely hilarious in just how dumb she seems. Fatal Flaw – Television film.

The BMT – We’ve now watched all of the Dirty Dancing films! USA! USA! So including Lifetime/ABC originals I’ve managed to complete both Dirty Dancing and The Blue Lagoon in the last few months. My self-learning is getting out of control! I think for Cuba and remake-sequels this film will always have a place in the history of BMT. What more could you want. Did it meet my expectations? Nope, I truly expected this film to be a catastrophe. For some reason I thought this film was going to be like … ultra-sexy early-00s weirdness? But it is actually (much like The Blue Lagoon) the exact opposite of that, bizarrely chaste given the material. I kind of want the gross too-sexy version, but maybe we’ll find that in one of the many Step Up sequels in the future.

Roastra-damus – Definitely a solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Cuba. Indeed, it is a double dose of Cuba and the temporal setting in that the climax of the film takes place during the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959. But that also makes it a Secret Holiday Film (When?) as the original dance competition takes place on Christmas Eve 1958 (at least around then), and the final round of the competition is on New Years’ Eve, and the night in which the Cuban Revolution kicked off. I do think those are the only superlatives it has a chance on. Bet chance on Good in the end.

StreetCreditReport.com – Ended up being named a top 25 worst Sequel ever which is pretty solid cred. Which speaks to the film’s cred in general. It is a not-really-sequel to a pretty beloved cult film. No matter how okay the film was, there was always going to be an impression that it was a disaster. Possibly the worst film set in Cuba ever made? But yeah, as is typically for certain years, the official cred is a little difficult to find.

You Just Got Schooled – Naturally, after watching Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, I was itching to see some more sexy dancing in Cuba. And Michael Mann’s Miami Vice bizarrely fits the bill perfectly. Despite the fact that I find cops-worship films pretty distasteful, there is something incredibly alluring about this film. I think it is because, despite being pretty trashy, the main characters still exude a weird charm. And the vistas and boats are beautiful, and everyone is just pouring sweat throughout the film … it is so fake-real that I can’t look away. Pretty long, and the characters mumble all of their lines, but I still couldn’t help but like it. I don’t know why! Is my brain broken? As promised Colin Ferrell and Gong Li go to Havana to get a Mojito and dance the night away. Ultimately, I think Miami Vice shows why Mann’s career stalled in the mid-00s, and predicts the failure of Public Enemies three years later. B-. Liked it, but I don’t know why.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs