Congo Recap

Jamie

Dr. Karen Ross has one aim: get some sweet blue diamonds and save her ex-fiance from the Congo. Dr. Peter Eliot has one aim: get his beloved talking gorilla Amy back to the Congo. These aims run headlong into each other just as a volcano is erupting… in adventure. Can they get in and out of the Congo before it’s too late? Find out in… Congo.

How?! Just when TravisCom gets in contact with their employees deep in the jungles of the Congo (and in possession of extremely valuable and powerful blue diamonds) they are horrified to find that they have been killed by some mysterious gorilla-like beasts. Dr. Karen Ross agrees to go in so that she can find out whether the leader of the group (and her ex-fiance) are still alive. Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Eliot has secured funding from a sketchy dude with a deep, fake-sounding accent to bring his special gorilla Amy back to the Congo. Amy can talk with the help of a sign language machine, but has suffered severe nightmares that Peter thinks is connected to the place she was born. When the sketchy funding falls through, Karen makes up the difference and joins the group, using it as a front to get into the war torn country before the borders close. Using all her connections they are able to bribe their way onto a plane and barely escape the army by parachuting over the border. As they trek across the Congo they encounter all kinds of adventures like with leeches and hippos and many more animal friends. On the way they also encounter a member of the previous TraviCom group who dies instantaneously of fright upon seeing Amy (bum bum bum). When they finally arrive they realize that Amy has led them to the lost city of Zinj, the legendary location of King Solomon’s Mines. Almost immediately though they are attacked by horrifying and aggressive grey gorillas and learn that they are descendents of the trained animal guards of the mine which eventually overthrew their trainers and destroyed the city. As their group is slowly picked off one by one and the volcano near the city becomes more active, it becomes a matter of simply surviving as the gorillas attack their camp. Before they can leave, though, they end up trapped deep in the mines with the gorillas and volcano looming. Enter: laser beams. Using the blue diamonds Karen is able to power a laser and blast those gray gorillas no prob. They manage to barely escape with the lava hot on their heels (I swear this is real). Realizing her employer only cared about money, Karen destroys his satellite with the laser beam and they all hop in a hot air balloon to escape, while waving goodbye to Amy who has joined her gorilla brethren… like for real. THE END. This might be my favorite recap of all time.

Why?! I guess I already told you in the recap. Peter wants to return Amy to the Congo, while Karen wants to see if her ex-fiance is still alive and, secondarily, complete the job of getting the special blue diamonds. Tim Curry also has the added motivation of discovering the Lost City of Zinj, but really he’s just a kooky guy who’s destined to have his face ripped off by a crazed gary gorilla. So who cares.

Who?! Delroy Lindo has a substantial speaking role and goes uncredited. Not sure why (although his accent is crazy so that might give a hint). The more interesting thing is that as I mentioned Crichton sold the rights to the film before writing it and eventually delivered a crazy techno-ape-thriller. By the time they actually got the production figured out he was distanced from the project and didn’t even get a screenplay credit on the film. Just a “based on” credit. 

What?! Solid MacGuffin here in the blue diamonds which hold such amazing powers that if TraviCom can get their hands on even a few it will produce a money-making laser that will save the company. That’s all well and good but when one of Amy’s paintings is on sale online you start to get your hopes up that her nintendo power glove might be out there too *stares wistfully into the distance* alas, no such luck.

Where?! A+ setting alert! Congo all up in there. Can’t imagine this is ever dethroned for the Congo mapl.de.map. That is until Patrick and I make Congo 2: Double Trouble where it turns out that after the volcano erupted there were only two gray gorillas left alive… twins. The evil gorilla is set on revenge and sets off to California to hunt down Peter, while the good twin gorilla attempts to stop him. Eventually they find common ground through their discovery of McDonald’s and the twin gorillas reconcile with Peter and get power gloves of their own… although the movie I just described isn’t really set in Congo… primarily set in a California McDonald’s. Wouldn’t even win the McDonald’s entry for mapl.de.map as Mac and Me has a stranglehold on that spot.

When?! It’s a beautiful thing when a film delivers an easy and precise way to track the time when it’s set. Periodically the explorers check in with TraviCom and the video feed has a handy dandy date right in the corner. So we know that the entire film takes place from October 16-22, 1994. Should have really hammered it home by having the characters jam out to I’ll Make Love to You by Boyz II Men… although probably needed to cut that scene to avoid an NC-17 rating.

Congo is really saved by an absolutely crazy ending where gorillas are mowed down by laser beams while another one speaks using a computer nintendo glove and a volcano erupts around them. Leading up to that point, though, it’s a much more standard adventure tale that is only betrayed a little by some fake looking gorillas and Tim Curry putting on a deep, deep accent. But if you can take out a forty minute chunk of a film and say “check this shit out,” then you’re in a pretty good spot when it comes to BMT. It just makes it a little harder to recommend the film to people. I actually read the book a little while back (when we previously thought we were going to watch it for BMT) and it’s a pretty close adaptation. What it lacks, and why I enjoyed the book quite a bit, was the Crichton-esque mix of deep science/technology and narrative. The book was super long though and by the end I was pretty sure it was unadaptable. Not only would you lose that unique narrative structure, but all you would be left with was all kinds of monster ape and diamonds and volcanoes and stuff. Easier to write than to put to screen with a straight face. What’s interesting is that he sold the film rights before writing the book… so he basically sold a studio a film and then wrote a nutso, unadaptable book for them to adapt. No wonder it took like 15 years for them to make it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Laser beams and talking apes is all I really needed to hear before watching Congo. Let’s go!

P’s View of the Preview – I’ve seen this film before and it is great. There’s a talking gorilla, there is a laser gun, and … wait yeah, not only is that all I remember, that is also all I care about, and that is also all you need to know. This is a film where a gorilla named Amy talks and they cut gorillas apart with a laser gun at the end. Boom. What were my expectations? Seriously? I just told you: talking gorillas and laser beams. Let’s gooooooooooooo!

The Good – Hmmmmm, I’m trying to think through this without falling into the trap of thinking something that is ironically good is actually good, you know? The film is a fun adventure film, and as far as a poor man’s Jurassic Park it does an interesting job at being just that. I loved Laura Linney and Ernie Hudson in their roles, as very specific Crichton archetypes (the suave adventurer and the corporate scientist / CIA agent). And the ultimate payoff in the Lost City of Zinj was just enough to satisfy (although they really closed the book on the franchise huh? No Lost World: Congo 2 was going to happen after the conclusion I would think). Best Bit: Laura Linney and Ernie Hudson.

The Bad – I could have done without the main character (who, no offense to him, came across as Steve Guttenberg but not as good). I understand he was a necessary bit of getting Amy the gorilla into the situation, but you definitely needed a better actor in the role to pull it off. The effects were incredibly subpar. The final scenes are so laughably bad it somehow makes the film better, but, again, that is ironically and shouldn’t be confused with the film actually being good. I love seeing people blast some evil white gorillas apart with a laser beam, but that doesn’t mean it is a good movie. I’ll also just through out that the entire bit about getting into the Democratic Republic of Congo is extremely troublesome if you know anything about the political issues colonization caused that country, all the way down to the poorly names “Hotel Leopold” they have to bribe their way out of. Fatal Flaw: Laughable effects.

The BMT – This is an incredibly hilarious film. It’ll be slow going for a bit, but then the laser beams and evil gorillas will pop up and all of your concern about the film will just melt away. It is one of those films where you’ll be like “you should watch this, it is hilarious” to someone, and they’ll sit down and for the first hour be like “what was this guy going on about again?” And then the laser beams and gorillas will show up and it’ll all make more sense. BMT Hall of Fame level hilariousness? Maybe, maybe no, we’ll see five years from now, but it certainly earns its BMeTric in my opinion. Did it meet my expectations? Given that I had seen the film before how could it not? And in reality, yes, there were indeed gorillas and laser beams, so … there it is.

Roast-radamus – I’m going to give a shout out to our Pseudo-Planchet (Who?) played by Grant Heslov who just really really really wishes he wasn’t in The Democratic Republic of Congo throughout the film. Hugely great A+ Setting as a Character (Where?) for The Democratic Republic of Congo, and a pretty rare Africa setting in general. A legendary (literally) MacGuffin (Why?) concerning the Lost City of Zinj filled with eeeeeevil guardian gorillas. I think this is a great BMT film in the end.

StreetCreditReport.com – The cred for Congo was off the hook. With an 50+ BeMetric and 80+ Notability it is one of the largest releases of 1995. Top 3% in BMeTric and Notability among the top 250 of that year, the only film with a higher BMeTric and Notability is Batman Forever. That’s the level of cred we are looking at here. Two things stand out in the connection on IMDb. First is the Sega Saturn game Congo the Movie: The Lost City of Zinj. I should have really watched a playthrough of that for the You Got Schooled section, but such is life. The other is that in the 2018 episode of the show A.P. Bio the kids have a Congo themed school dance complete with Amy the talking gorilla. Now that is cred, still getting dem sweet refs 23 years later!

You Just Got Schooled – Instead of watching a playthrough of a bad Doom clone, I instead went for another bad gorilla bash in Rampage. I had resisted Rampage mostly because I watched Skyscraper on a plane and it was awful, and if that was the expectations of a Dwayne Johnson film then hard pass. Having watched it though, Rampage isn’t necessarily awful. It has a lot of heart and The Rock, as usual, has an incredible amount of charisma which saves the film. The action is mostly Transformers level and your brain shuts off eventually. I suppose the only daring thing about it is that they really don’t mince words: like hundreds of people die during the film. That’s an interesting strategy, especially when one of the heroes (George the giant ape) is one of the animals doing all that killing. Regardless, much better than Skyscraper, and what more could I really ask for? C. Still not a good video game film, sorry.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Dutch Recap

Jamie

On the eve of TGivs, Natalie finds out that her asshole ex-husband has cancelled plans with their son, Doyle. Devastated, Doyle refuses to come home. Being the good guy that he is, Natalie’s new beau Dutch offers to bring him home, using the road trip as a way to bond. But can he overcome the brat’s hijinks and get him home before it’s too late? Find out in… Dutch.

How?! Dutch is just a man’s man. Someone who knows that if you spend some time with him, say on a long road trip, you will end the trip being friends. So when his new girlfriend, Natalie, is upset that her uber-rich asshole ex-husband broke Thanksgiving plans with their son, Dutch knows exactly what to do. He hops a plane to George and gets ready to take Doyle back home on a good old fashioned road trip. Things start out rocky when Doyle, finding a strange man in his room, assaults Dutch and is ultimately compelled to join the road trip by force. Things keep going from bad to worse as Dutch finds that Doyle isn’t just unwilling to participate in the road trip, but is an insufferable rich boy to boot. Dutch tries to show Doyle a good time with some fireworks but is eventually rewarded with a cigar in his crotch for his efforts. Trying to teach Doyle a lesson he kicks him out of the car and forces him to walk the rest of the way to the motel. When he arrives Doyle is so enraged that he steals the car and sets it up to be destroyed by a semi. Dutch is terrified for Doyle’s safety, but is horrified when he finds out that it was a stunt. Hoping to really teach him a lesson about life he pretends like they have no more money left and that they must beg the rest of the way home. They get a ride with a couple of prostitutes who steal their luggage and money, now really leaving them with no way to get home, and things are on the verge of falling apart. That is until Doyle calls his dad and finds out that he lied about being busy for TGivs. Seeing the good in Dutch, they hit the road together and find their way to a homeless shelter in Indiana, where Doyle shows how much he’s learned through his kindness for others. Finally making it home just in time for Thanksgiving, Doyle finds his dad there, but tells him off. He and his mother and Dutch then have a TGivs celebration complete with continued hijinks. THE END.

Why?! The motivations are actually pretty deep. Dutch loves Natalie and knows that he should have a good relationship with her son Doyle, especially given what a giant dick his dad is. Natalie just wants to be able to be with her son cause she knows her ex will ultimately disappoint him. And in the end it turns out that Doyle just wants a family. He’s hurting from his parent’s divorce and blames his mother for the breakup. But as we see it’s a TGivs miracle as everyone gets what they want out of the holiday.

Who?! Sometimes this section can also be for people who aren’t in the film. For some reason the wikipedia for this film claims that Arnold Palmer is in it as “himself.” I… I don’t think that’s true. That is not a credit on imdb and the only reference I can find to that online seems to come from the wikipedia article itself. I wonder if maybe he was in the background of the party at the beginning? Or maybe someone just made it up and put it on wikipedia. Hard to say.

What?! Not much to say here. The road trip itself avoids normal product placement as Dutch takes “the scenic route” on purpose so he and Doyle can get to know each other. And not nearly a notable enough film to warrant props for sale. So I’ll just point out that the car they drive for the beginning of the film is a Lincoln Town Car, which was the Motor Trend Car of the Year for 1990. It was a pretty popular car at the time and very in line for the car that Dutch would rent.

Where?! Road Trip alert! This is a notable road trip because a piece of trivia from the production is that the director, writer, and producer actually took the proposed road trip together and included places that they liked in the final product. It does give the trip a “real” feel. And it’s fun to note that the fireworks place they stop at is actually in Tennessee and would make sense as a place they might stop to grab gas.

When?! (Not so Secret) Holiday Film Alert! This is obviously a TGivs film set in the week leading up the holiday. The trip appears to take three nights (the first one when Doyle destroys the car, then they fall asleep in the car with the prostitutes, and finally they sleep in the homeless shelter) meaning that Dutch arrived to pick up Doyle on Monday and arrived back in Chicago just in time on Thursday. Pretty crazy for a 10-12 hour drive.

Certainly an interesting rewatch. As a kid there was so much that I remember loving in this film. The fireworks, the nudie cards, the begging for rides, etc. Those are still there, but it’s kind of mixed in with some very long stretches of Doyle being pretty insufferable and some half edgy/half saccharine holiday stuff. It’s still a very pleasant road trip all in all and I think watching it now I kind of appreciate things that I didn’t when I was younger (like that the road trip feels real… like it really does feel like they traveled specifically from Georgia to Illinois). Also Ed O’Neill is very charming in it and his character comes across with a lot more depth and nuance than it may seem at first glance. Through all ways that he tries to teach Doyle lessons, even when he takes it a little far, you do get a sense that it comes from a genuine place. So yeah, maybe not the continual laugh riot I remember as a kid, but it’s got its charm and certainly works well in teaching the meaning of TGivs. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I watched Dutch like 20 times as a kid. It was a quintessential TGivs movie. Well, it turns out it is a bad movie, who knew?! I didn’t. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I might as well mention what I remember from the film. I remember the fireworks scene obviously, as a kid that is hilarious. And I remember the dirty playing cards, because on television they cut away before you even get to see the not-really-nudity, and as a kid you don’t really even know that films were cut for television (beyond obvious dubbing). And I remember the film being great. It is always fun to watch films I’ve seen a bunch because guess what? I don’t really care what critics think, mostly I still like them. And it’s fun to watch films I actually like for BMT. What were my expectations? A TGivs miracle, a film I enjoy watching during the TGivs break.

The Good – Ed O’Neill is great as one would expect given they needed him to carry the entire film on his back. They didn’t exactly discover a new Macaulay Culkin in Ethan Embry, so really the film had to rely on Dutch to provide 100% of the humor and heart. And I think he does a good job there. I like it as a TGivs film, and I like it as a road trip film. As a vague follow up to Trains, Planes, and Automobiles it could have been a lot worse. I still enjoyed watching it. Best Bit: Ed O’Neill.

The Bad – I think as an adult the behavior of Dutch is a lot more questionable. As a kid the idea that anyone was ever in real danger is non-existent. It’s a movie, and the stakes can remain low because the shocking death of Doyle 20 minutes into the movie is understandably out of the question. But my God, he leaves him on the highway miles from a motel, he could have easily been struck by a car! They hitch rides home like lunatics, and literally get the shit kicked out of them by cops at one point! It is all pure lunacy, and not in a funny Uncle Buck sort of way, in a much more harrowing sort of way. I think you can see why critics didn’t enjoy the film, it was a paint-by-numbers Hughes film with a lot of questionable decisions from a writing standpoint, and an annoying kid who got his redemption far too late into the runtime. Fatal Flaw: Lazy writing.

The BMT – We knocked off one of the two major TGivs films, the other being Son-in-Law which I’ve also seen like 20 times … I’m starting to think that someone in Hollywood really screwed up by not making more TGivs films. I probably saw these two films twice each around TGivs for ten years straight. There seems to be a ton of money left on the table with this mini-genre. Did it meet my expectations? I think so. I can understand the criticisms of the film a lot more after watching Dutch as an adult. But I still liked it, which is about what I expected I think.

Roast-radamus – I’m loving this as a Road Trip Film (Where?) for the trip from Atlanta, through Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana to Chicago for TGivs. And obviously, by design, a solid Not-Very-Secret Holiday Film (When?) as this is very explicitly a very TGivs film. And as such there is obviously a (kind of) MacGuffin (Why?) as the ultimate prize at the end of the film is the delicious TGivs dinner they are all going to enjoy as a family. And an inevitable Worst Twist (How?) for Doyle’s change of heart, his realization that his father is a jerk, and his mother is the one who truly loves him and is all he needs. Definitely closest to Good.

StreetCreditReport.com – I think with the news that the entire WB slate for 2021 is going direct to home video we might be nearing a reckoning with BMT. And with that I’ll try to make this section a bit more focused on what exactly cred means. Typically I’ll first look at lists, but those are rare and I don’t really like using them anymore. Second, I’ll check the connections page on IMDb. This shows us that Dutch was featured on In the Movies the week it came out in 1991, that’s actual genuine cred. Otherwise we can look at things about the year the film came out. For example, for Notability and BMeTric if you take the top 200 films on IMDb released in 1991, this film is top 27% in Notability, top 46.5% in BMeTric, top 7.5% in IMDb popularity, and top 5.5% in Rotten Tomatoes Rotten percentage. I guess we’ll see. It does seem to be that we’ll have to adapt in the next few years to significantly less potentially qualifying films getting wide releases.

You Just Got Schooled – For this one I went in search for another road trip film. Given that most of the Vacation films qualify for BMT, I went for a not-quite comedy in Thelma & Louise which I had never seen. And it is a great movie, naturally. The critical reviews from the time I think nail the top line interest in the story, it is a feminist plot that also leaves the gunplay to two women breaking bad. It is also another road trip film which is focused on what might be considered more back roads areas of the U.S. taking place off the beaten track in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and finally Arizona. It makes me think you could plot the rough course of a lot of these films, and get a pretty fun map where you (maybe) hit all of the states. Some might be tough, but this and Dutch immediately give you ten at the very least. It helps that both films, in my opinion, are enjoyable in their own right. Oh, and this ended up being my fourth Christopher McDonald film I’ve seen in like two months which is wild. An easy A from me.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Skulls Recap

Jamie

Luke McNamara just wants to become a lawyer despite his humble origins. With the help of his crew prowess he gets a chance to join the elite and secretive Yale club called The Skulls. Soon, though, his friend is dead and he realizes that maybe the club is not just bad, but dangerous. Can he stop The Skulls (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Skulls.

How?! Luke is a rad dude who can win any crew meet with one oar tied behind his back. But really his main goal is to make it out of the ranks of the New Haven townies and into the ranks of successful lawyers without debt up the wazoo. The key? The Skulls, a Yale club that rumor has it will pay your entire tuition. His friends, roommate Will and love interest Chloe, don’t understand his obsession and are a little shocked when he indeed gets the invitation and accepts. Suddenly they are feeling a little left out as Luke and his new BFF Caleb are palling around and keeping secrets. One night while working late, Luke goes to talk to Will and is distressed to find him dead. Knowing it doesn’t make sense he searches around and finds that Will was working on a news story about The Skulls. Confronting Caleb he admits that Will didn’t commit suicide, but actually died from a fall in the Skull’s building, but insists it was all an accident. Luke doesn’t entirely believe him and so following this lead and with the help of his genius (and somewhat criminal) townie friends, Luke gets his hands on the security tape from the club. Watching them he sees that while Will’s fall was accidental, he was still alive afterwards… that is until the Provost of Yale, acting on the order of Caleb’s high powered father, snaps his neck! Luke tries to get help from upper level club members before going to the police, but is stymied and the tape is switched before he can bring it in. The Skulls get Luke committed, but Chloe helps break him out. On the run they are nearly taken out by the Provost, but a sympathetic police officer kills him and lets them go. Knowing his only chance is some real coolz rulez, Luke confronts Caleb and challenges him to a duel and by the club’s coolz duelz rulez he must accept. During the duel Luke tells Caleb that he knows it was all an accident and that his father actually killed Will and a dismayed Caleb shoots his own father. When he tries to take his own life, Luke stops him. Luke then withdraws from The Skulls because he’s gonna be pretty busy smooching Chloe. THE END.  

Why?! Luke just wants a rad life of lawyering and had already put his lean muscles and endurance for days to work getting into Yale. Now he needs The Skulls to finish the job. Unfortunately their only motivation is power and will stop at nothing to keep it. Particularly that damn Provost of Yale.

Who?! I personally think they should give Caleb’s father a pass on the whole murder misunderstanding because he was in line for a Supreme Court seat and it would be a pity to miss out on that for this section. Still, we do have a Senator and, of course… the Provost of Yale… or at least he was before he was killed following his participation in a murder.

What?! There is a slew of cars shown off in this film because that’s one of the clear perks to being in The Skulls: a super rad car that lets everyone know “I’m in a secret society, but shhhh it’s secret.” The one that’s most involved in the plot is Luke’s 1963 Ford Thunderbird, which he gives to his townie friends in exchange for their help.

Where?! This is a really really good Connecticut film. Set very hard in New Haven, CT (did I mention the Provost of Yale murders someone?) it’s not a great look for Yale. Then again, The Skulls is a perfect 10/10 film so maybe it is a good look despite all the murder cults involved. Obviously not an A+ like A Haunting in Connecticut but it’s an A+ in my heart (but really it’s an A). 

When?! Don’t be tricked! There is a scene in The Skulls where Judge Mandrake is all like “come to TGivs with me and my disappointing son” and you’d be tempted to be all like Secret Holiday Alert. But hold the phone! Leaves on the trees? Light jackets? A race that’s a leadup to the goddamn Ivy Sprints (guess they couldn’t get past the trademark for Eastern Sprints)? It’s clearly Spring so Judge Mandrake is really getting ahead on his TGivs planning. C

I unabashedly loved watching this movie. It is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen. The Provost of Yale is running around with a gun trying to kill the school’s star rower. The Provost! They should be making these films 24/7 to air on Netflix because this proves that no matter how ludicrously stupid they get I still cannot get enough of them. Like Swimfan before it they can just churn this stuff out. Where are the Jesse Bradfords and Jashua Jacksons of this generation to take on the newest aquatic sport and start cooking up the thrills? Even when they by accident make an Abduction starring Taylor Lautner they still at least made something dumb and unintentionally hilarious. This is dumb, unintentionally hilarious, and great. I loved it so much I even almost watched The Skulls 2… almost. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Do you ever wish you were in some secret society where people literally die and weird old people buy you prostitutes and stuff? No? Huh, then why was The Skulls written that way? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t need no preview for this! I’ve seen this movie multiple times in my youth, and am obviously rather excited to give it a rewatch years after I could have been in a secret society myself. I could talk about what I remember, which is the opening scene where Charlie from The Mighty Ducks wins a crew race with one less rower than the other teams … yeah, that’s ain’t happening man. What were my expectations? Much like that opening crew race I expected the film to be absurd. Front to back, just absurdity that melts my mind, but in a good way.

The Good – This film is absurd and melts my mind in a good way. It is juuuuuuust dumb enough to be funny, but also it has that conspiracy at the core which you just can’t wait to unravel. It is like The O.C. in movie form, the perfect level of teen melodrama, but as a thriller. This film is far from good. This film is far from even being adequate. But it is also a delight that continues to beg questions weeks after viewing. Like … how do they explain that the provost of Yale got shot in the back by a New Haven police detective on some abandoned stretch of railroad? That combined with multiple Yale alumni getting shot or having dark secrets revealed in the same week in November at least one person would be like “wait a tick … is all this connected?” This though is in fact a good thing, I love it. Best Bit: Pure teen melodramatic lunacy.

The Bad – I would say the acting isn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. I like Joshua Jackson well enough, I grew up with him in The Mighty Ducks and Dawson’s Creek, but he wasn’t great in the end. I think the conspiracy at the core of the film is troublesome. It might seem strange to say it … but killing Hill Harper’s character makes no sense. He was trespassing, the fall was a total accident (complete with video evidence), and he didn’t actually learn anything terrible about the Skulls. That’s the issue with the film: it really makes no sense. Why would the head of the skulls keep the video of this crime around? It seems easy enough for them to destroy it if they wanted. Why does Joshua Jackson even join The Skulls if he wants to do “real” legal work for the common man? The Skulls will make him so indebted to these powerful people he’ll almost definitely have no choice but to become a corporate lawyer in Washington D.C. or something. It is just poorly written … but again, in a great way that I love. Fatal Flaw: The film makes no sense.

The BMT – I love these types of films. Swimfan is the closest, but something like Hackers or even I Still Know What You Did Last Summer are similar in style. Crank up that lunacy, give me some drama, and spin a conspiracy that makes no sense, and I’m in. I have a lot of trouble finding lists of films like this … I might need to start thinking of a discovery method for something where I have two BMT films and I want a third that is similar in style … hmmm. Did it meet my expectations? It exceeded them. I imagined it would just be a cheesy teen thriller, but it is a lot closer to something like Hackers in its absurdity.

Roast-radamus – A very high falutin Product Placement (What?) with each member of The Skulls getting branded on the wrist (dumb) and then getting a Breitling Old Navitimer to cover it up. Probably around $10K these days. A pretty great Setting as a Character (Where?) for New Haven, Connecticut and Yale University specifically. And a Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that, indeed, the sneaky U.S. Senator played by William Petersen was pulling the strings all along to become the chairman of The Skulls or whatever. Definitely closest to BMT.

StreetCreditReport.com – As usual finding actual lists is difficult, and I’ve been searching for things to do in this section that veers away from using those. IMDb lists it as number 8 on its top 10 Fraternities and Sororities films, and number 6 on its Secret Society films. Watching the video it is rather interesting that The Skull and Bones society at Yale plays a prominent role in two films. This, and The Good Shepherd. That is because that film is about the establishment of the CIA, which was apparently established within The Skull and Bones around World War II. I think a huge amount of cred comes from it being one of the worst Secret Society films.

You Just Got Schooled – I couldn’t quite decide on the right angle for this one, especially since a lot of secret society films suck. And I certainly didn’t want to waste my time with the straight-to-DVD sequels (I’ll save that for a Bring a Friend in the future). In the end I went with the conspiracy angle and watched Oliver Stone’s JFK. One of the premiere ensemble casts in film history this controversial film was ultimately lauded as an epic political thriller and nominated for Best Picture (among other awards). The three hour runtime stretches one’s patience, especially near the end of act two where you could be forgiven for losing the thread on exactly who is doing what where. Shockingly watchable though all things considered, and if you didn’t know about the controversy (Stone does more than merely suggest Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for the assassination of JFK) then the movie makes a compelling case for the deep state cover up, especially in the minutes long monologue by Costner that ends the film. Knowing that Stone is credibly accused of stretching the truth beyond recognition unfortunately leaves it in a tier below more true-to-life political thrillers like All the President’s Men. A-. The best thing about the film in the end is the cast, and it definitely gets you interested in reading up on the mystery surrounding the JFK assassination.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Sex and the City 2 Recap

Jamie

Our gals are back, Jack! And they are ready to hit the road and spice up their lives with a little trip to the Middle East. Given a free trip to Abu Dhabi for business, Samantha brings the whole gang along for the ride. And boy howdy do they need it with married life hitting some bumps in the road. Can they straighten out their lives before it’s too late? Find out in… Sex and the City 2.

How?! Two years after Carrie and Big’s wedding and things are starting to get bumpy for everyone. Carrie fears they are turning into an old boring couple that will slowly drive each other crazy, and a suggestion by Big to spend some days apart each week doesn’t help. Miranda has a new boss who hates her and has to quit when he takes it too far. And Charlotte is going through the terrible two’s with her kids and things are getting overwhelming (including the hot nanny who never wears a bra). Only Samantha seems to be riding high, coasting through menopause with the help of hormones. When Smith returns to her life for his big film premier he puts in a good word for her with a powerful Middle Eastern businessman. He asks Samantha to come to Abu Dhabi and discuss taking over his account and she accepts… on one condition. Soon all the ladies are heading to Abu Dhabi for some very necessary R&R. Unfortunately Samantha immediately gets her hormones confiscated and is on the prowl for a guy to relight her spark. Meanwhile Carrie gets more bad news with some bad reviews of her new book. So despite Charlotte’s empathy and Miranda’s zest for tourism, Carrie is soon looking for her own spark and finds it with her old flame Aiden. Meeting him for dinner, they briefly kiss and in shock she runs away. She decides to tell Mr. Big and he responds coldly. Already down in the dumps they are soon in a panic when Samantha is picked up for breaking the law when she is caught canoodling with a hot Danish architect. This turns everything sour as the businessman revokes the trip and the ladies are soon heading for the airport (but not before meeting a few Middle Eastern ladies with a flair for fashion). Back home Carrie awaits Mr. Big anxiously only to find him more in love with her than ever and ready to give her a big ol’ diamond. Hooray. Everything works out great for everyone per usual and life is grand. THE END.

Who?! It’s hard to match the full Liza Minnelli music video in the beginning of the film. She performs a full cover of Single Ladies. It’s actually even a little explainable why she is there (she’s performing for the hottest gay wedding of the year), but even the characters ask each other why she would really accept the gig. Cause it’s in a movie, dum dums.

What?! This is mostly one long commercial for Abu Dhabi… you know up until their conservative way of life crashes headlong into Samantha’s way of life and it becomes a living nightmare. In reality the amount of product placement in the film is a little overwhelming but my personal favorite was a very nice 1968 Rolex 1601 that Carrie gives Big for their wedding anniversary. Would have run her maybe 5K and it’s a very nice and specific watch that gets to shine.

Where?! Inexplicably Abu Dhabi for the majority of the film. Truly a mystery as to why this is the direction that the film takes the franchise not only because it seems almost unnecessary for a franchise with such a fanbase to veer so far off course, but also because it is not really even appropriately advertising the location. It is, in fact, quite the opposite by the end of it. They really kinda dig in against Abu Dhabi to the point where it seems like it’s more of the vehicle used to deliver some statement about how women can embrace traditional values while also being thoroughly modern and rebellious. A.

When?! The great thing about a franchise like Sex and the City is that there are people even more insane than use taking care of a lot of these details. The same often goes for horror franchises (coincidence?). According to one site we see that the wedding at the beginning of the film takes place in July. Big and Carrie’s two year wedding anniversary takes place the next month and the trip at the center of the film takes place the week of August 26th. Ahhh. It’s nice. B.

Oh boy, I did not like watching this film. It is almost unbearably long and requires first sitting through a somewhat offensive start where they trot out all the marital cliches in the book. Working too much, afraid the husband will cheat with the nanny, are we a boring couple watching TV in our PJs, etc. etc. etc. They even shoehorn a rude couple in there to stare in disgust when Big and Carrie tell them they aren’t having children. I thought we were living in modern NYC with our modern gals? Never heard of a couple of uber-rich insufferable selfish people not having kids? Then we get an hourlong commercial for Abu Dhabi. Really the only thing I kinda liked was that Miranda gets to shine after quitting her job and turning into fun Miranda while on vacation. Oh and it’s pretty inclusive with some sweet storylines for some of the smaller characters. But overall glad we are past it and ready to watch SatC3 in theaters in shame. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! After a long hard journey I finally … didn’t watch the television show, we just decided it was time to watch the Sex and the City movies. It was time. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – So after watching the first film I was convinced that the decision to make the second a “destination sequel” had to be some British writer-director’s idea (British series love to make destination / road trip films, like The Inbetweeners) … but nope. The sequel has the same writer-director as the first, who is also the creator and the writer-director of dozens of episodes of the original HBO show. That was a stunning revelation that begged far more questions than it answered. What were my expectations? Every review says it is a vapid consuming-obsessed garbage film. So … that I suppose. Somehow more so than the original.

The Good – If you are obsessed with the television show I can’t imagine you aren’t somewhat pleased to have these four women back in your life one last time. I think if you can see beyond the bad messaging the show and films have about money, relationships, and consumerism … there is a solid message for women buried deep within there. Something like, everyone is different, women are powerful, and to forge your own path in your career, love, and motherhood. Something like that. It is best done with Miranda and Charlotte I think. The film is also surprisingly hard hitting towards the UAE. It’s a bit confusing on that front because it feels like a commercial for Abu Dhabi for a chunk of the film right up until they slam them on their general treatment of women and then bounce. Best Bit: The four main characters.

The Bad – The writing is horrendous. Just one bad joke after the other just serves to remind you that the style of comedy Sex and the City thrived in in the late 90s / early 00s really passed them by by the time this film came out. Carrie and Big’s relationship continues to perplex. He’s an unabashed asshole, and they both seem rather unwilling to significantly change their ways. I guess I can see why the message of “we are going to do our thing, society be damned” is tempting, it just seems like Mr. Big’s general assholery in both movies bodes poorly. I just don’t see how Mr. Big well and truly screwing up their wedding in the first film, and then seriously suggesting they take a two day break every week (every week!!!!) is anything but lunacy. Finally, the film is just a series of five different stories, all about 30 minutes long, to fill up their ludicrous 150 minute runtime. I’ll get into that more in the You Just Got Schooled section. Fatal Flaw: Big is the worst.

The BMT – This film has one of the highest BMeTrics ever recorded, and it takes place in the UAE. It’s a double dose of BMT magic. It’ll be remembered for those two things, and really should have been done earlier, but I wanted to at least try and watch the series beforehand (I got through two seasons and then quit). Did it meet my expectations? No. I was expecting more UAE ridiculousness if I’m being honest. I wasn’t quite prepared (despite having seen the first film) for it just being another season-disguised-as-a-film and it ended up being absolutely brutal to get through.

Roast-radamus – I’m going to give a shoutout to Celebrity Cameo (Who?) for Liza Minnelli looking real old singing and dancing to Single Ladies by Beyonce. It was terrible. There are too many Product Placement (What?) to count, but Rolex plays a particularly important role throughout the film. Huge Setting as a Character (Where?) for the UAE and Abu Dhabi in particular which plays a central role in the middle hour of the film. And this is closest to BMT by sheer cred alone.

StreetCreditReport.com – Speaking of cred. This makes all of the major lists of 2010. Indiewire and AV Club lead the pack, with the film getting second on the latter. The Indiewire review I think is particularly poignant as it points at that at least some of the vitriol towards the film seemed to be a commentary on the aging of the main stars. I mostly agree on all counts with that one, especially the bit concerning that the major issue was the running time. I have to imagine this is the worst sequel to a film based on a television show? There can’t be too many of those.

You Just Got Schooled – I have watched a few seasons of Sex and the City. In my opinion it is worse than people would remember, mostly because many prestige shows that have come after have done what it was doing better and without slipping into many of the tired cliches the show relies on (like Carrie like shoes amirite? Carrie be shoppin’!). But I did feel the need to watch the original Sex and the City movie. It is … actually kind of okay. If you can get past just how horrible Big inexplicably is, the movie is basically just another season of the show condensed into five short 30 minute episodes all stuck together. And as a season of the show I think it kind of works. If they had done that as a 10 episode show I think it would have been hailed as a surprising comeback for a show that had been off the air for a few years at that point. I think watching the two films back to back (a brutal five hours of Sex and the City) makes the issues of the sequel much more apparent. Even as a season of television that movie would have been horrible. A season filled with inconsequential melodrama and dumb excuses to foist the gang onto exotic locales. In the end I think the original is a cool B-. It is better than you would expect, but the run time makes it a no go for anyone without a decent reason to give it a watch.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Recap

Jamie

Jeff is a Blair Witch superfan (who isn’t?) who takes a tour group into the woods only to find his own night of terrors. Returning to the real world they soon find they’ve brought the witch’s powers back with them. Bum bum bum. Can they stop the witch and get their sanity back before it’s too late? Find out in… Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.

How?! Jeff is a local of Burkittsville, Maryland who becomes obsessed with the Blair Witch legend (and all the money it can make him) following the smash success of The Blair Witch Project (ooo, very meta of you). Expanding on his business he organizes a tour of key sites for Wiccan Erica, goth Kim, and Stephen and Tristan who research mythology. They tromp into the woods and set up a whole bunch of cameras at one of sites while directing another group away. After a night of partying the group awakens to find all their equipment and research destroyed with some tapes hidden away. Tristan, who is pregnant, begins to have cramps and they rush her to the hospital. Stephen and her are clearly upset and decide to temporarily crash at Jeff’s while Tristan recovers. When they get to Jeff’s house he pores over the tapes they found, but a huge chunk of time is missing and it reveals very little. Tristan begins to act erratically and everyone is JUST A LITTLE ON EDGE, OK. This goes on for a while as everyone hallucinates children and witches and shit. Soon things get really nuts when they see on TV that the other tour group was gruesomely murdered at Coffin Rock. The main suspects? You guessed it, Jeff and the gang. Oh no! They are freaking out when suddenly they realize they need to play the tapes backwards. There they see footage of themselves in a fugue state engaging in a night of debauchery and mayhem. Tristan is totally off her rocker at this point and more or less goads Stephen into killing her. The film ends with the three survivors getting arrested for murder and all the tapes they have revealing their guilt all through the power of the Blair Witch. Bwahahaha. THE END. 

Why?! Hmmm, I didn’t consider this question. Clearly our protagonists mostly want to get paid and laid and see some spooky Blair Witch action. The Witch herself though? My interpretation is this: she was falsely persecuted by the townspeople for being evil (not for being a witch, mind you, as she was a witch, but the townspeople wrongly assumed that she was evil because of the religion she practiced) and so her revenge for this wrongdoing is to manipulate innocent people into committing crimes. You do have to credit her tenacity in this case in also providing manipulated footage so that the people involved are arrested/committed. Really took to technology pretty well for a witch from the 18th century.

Who?! There are a number of archived news stories about the smash hit Blair Witch at the beginning of the film (including Roger Ebert), but two newscasters showed their acting chops by filming original news segments for the film. That is Chuck Scarborough (who seems to do that somewhat often) and Kurt Loder. Really showing a sign of the times with that classic MTV News segment.

What?! I really love when there is a product in the film that really says something about the people making it or the setting. This time it’s almost immediately apparent that someone involved in production really loved their Pete’s Wicked Ale. The characters in this film literally can’t get enough of that dang Wicked Ale and even head out on a liquor run to specifically pick up another delicious six pack. Must have been the curse of the Blair Witch because unfortunately they closed in 2011 and so we can’t enjoy our own Pete’s Wicked Ale while enjoying Blair Witch 2.

Where?! Clear A setting in this one as Burkittsville, Maryland became larger than life with the first film’s release. It’s a super tiny town (~100 people) and so it’s kinda weird to think how traumatic and weird it must have been to have the film make things go crazy. They had a lot of trouble with signs being stolen and then when the newest film was released not that long ago they preemptively blocked off roads and took down signs to deter the tourists.

When?! This takes place in November 1999, which makes sense with the film being released in 2000… assuming that it was supposed to also be a found footage film. Kinda funny in that this would mean this would have occurred only two months after the film left theaters… Jeff truly was ahead of the game there. Too bad it ended in murder and mayhem. B.

It feels like we’ve been searching for Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and finally found it. This film is so terrible that it feels like we’re finally home (and what better way to celebrate that special Halloween/Thanksgiving interlude). It is a misguided effort to capitalize on a smash hit and single-handedly destroyed any chance of a franchise. I’d even argue that the first film was a perfect set up for a franchise a la Paranormal Activity and yet they dropped the ball. On top of that they have all this backstory for exactly why there would be cameras everywhere ready to catch each moment of terror and yet… nope, not even a found footage film. Seems like someone (or something ooooo spooky) removed that at the last minute. It is scarily terrible in a perfect BMT way. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Remember when you could make a sequel to a film that was orders of magnitude worse than its predecessor and riddled with perplexing decisions and it didn’t just get hidden away on some niche streaming platform? Those were the days, let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I don’t think the preview does justice to the film at all. If you read the preview you could be forgiven for incorrectly assuming this film, like the original, is found footage. The director is a famous documentary director, and there is oddly not very much indication in the reviews either. Only by watching the trailer do you then go “oh … I’m watching actors walking around on a set this time.” That’s when I started to get excited and understood why this film is so reviled. What were my expectations? Pure lunacy. What producers take a successful found footage film and then make a non-found footage sequel? There is no explanation for this.

The Good – I think there is a tiniest kernel of a good idea hidden in here. The idea of a group of people getting haunted by a ghost and (very obviously) being made to murder people all while the events they experience themselves feel like a normal haunting. That feeling of “wait, am I losing my mind?” That is it though. I really was wracking my brain trying to think of anything else I enjoyed in the film. It doesn’t help that literally every actor in the film was really really bad. Best Bit: The idea of franchising a popular found footage horror film.

The Bad – Oh boy. It is hard to even think about where to start with this. Why not make this a found footage film? The original is quite effective with maybe the best ever raison d’etre for found footage ever (more on that in a later section). This seems like it was definitely supposed to be half found footage, and then the producers pulled the rug out from under it. In the end it ends up being a very generic horror film, with three separate scenes that rival Slender Man Goes to the Library for unintentional comedy. Not only did I not find this movie scary, I actively thought it was amusing. The acting top to bottom is just really really terrible, and the flashbacks destroyed any tension the film could have had since, you know … you see that most of the cast survives to be prosecuted for several (off screen) murders. This is, and I’m not exaggerating, one of the very worst horror films I have ever seen. Fatal Flaw: So not-scary it went around and became a comedy.

The BMT – I think this might go down in history as the greatest example of a production company taking something that should have produced a near unlimited supply of money, start running with it, step on their own dick, and destroy the franchise with one catastrophically bad sequel. It is actually genuinely amazing how little money the people who owned the rights to Blair Witch managed to make off of that franchise in the long run. Just look at Paranormal Activity for what could have been. In that way it is a huge milestone in bad movie (and thus BMT) history. Did it meet my expectations? It exceeded them. Never have I seen such a bad attempt at a sequel and even weeks later it continues to boggle the mind.

Roast-radamus – Pretty good Setting as a Character (Where?) for Maryland because the original movie exists in the world of the sequel and so the forest there has become a tourist attraction of sorts. Is it a MacGuffin (Why?)? I think so. The ghost of the original film is very much the goal of multiple groups of people, and the arrogance in not respecting the power of the witch is their downfall. That’s a classic MacGuffin trope in my opinion (very Raiders of the Lost Ark). This is probably one of my top BMT films of the year. It is just too funny not to consider.

StreetCreditReport.com – I don’t even need to look at the lists to know this has crazy cred. But I will anyways. It is mentioned (alongside Battlefield Earth, prestigious) in this list by CNN (now on a janky website). And then it just had to make this list of the worst sequels! Very nice Vox, I very much enjoy those graphics. That I think makes the case for why this film is one of the worst of all time: it takes something that was pretty great, and then almost immediately turns around and ruins it. That’s impressive stuff.

You Just Got Schooled – It may be shocking to learn I had never seen The Blair Witch Project before … or maybe not, I have mentioned that I find horror films spooky scary in general. Anyways, I finally got around to watching this. And it is, even for a person who doesn’t generally enjoy found footage films, amazing. As mentioned above, it has a great raison d’etre (they are filming a documentary), and they continually address that and explain its continued legitimacy (the main character gets so spooked and ashamed at getting her friends killed that the camera is the only thing tethering her to reality). The tension in the back 20 minutes is incredible. The only complaint I have in general is that the end of the film is kind of a let down. I expected to at least get a bit of the witch at the end. Obviously, they thought it was better with the cliffhanger, but I would have preferred at least a little bit more. The acting is astonishingly good as well which was a huge surprise. B+, if you don’t like found footage you won’t necessarily enjoy it, but it is a good tense horror film and something you should watch if you have any interest in modern versions (like the Paranormal Activity franchise).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Boo! A Madea Halloween Recap

Jamie

Boo! Get ready for some kooky spooky action up in hellur. When Madea is called to watch her rambunctious niece she gets in the middle of a frat’s big Halloween party and soon finds herself in the brunt of their hijinks. Can she stop the frat and teach everyone a lesson before it’s too late? Find out in Boo! A Madea Halloween.

How?! Brian has a big business trip planned right on Halloween and is dismayed to find his unruly teenage daughter Tiffany is dead set on two things: attending a frat party for which she is clearly under age and NOT being watched by anyone. No way. Brian knows what to do. He calls Madea into action who shows up trailing her group of crazy characters. They take up residence in the house but are almost immediately duped when they find Tiffany has snuck out to the party. While she is having a load of fun she’s horrified to see Madea and her pals crash the party and get all up in the business. They are all thrown out and Madea knows exactly what to do: call in the popo (anonymously of course, Madea is a criminal after all). The police arrive, Tiffany is sent home (none too soon either as the frat kids have discovered she’s only 17) and they begin to plot their revenge. The gang of elderly nogoodniks begins to have all kinds of spooky things happen to them and they do not like it. They flee the house and are accosted by loads of ghosts and ghouls and it’s real scary. But soon they come to find out about the frat’s scheme and start a scheme of their own. Forcing Brian home to deal with his daughter he finally gets her to understand the idea of rules and consequences only to have the police arrive and take her into custody in connection to the disappearance of her best friend. The police also arrive at the frat house and find Tiffany’s friend dead in the basement. Oh no! All the girls and the frat kids are loaded onto a bus to be transported to jail and they are real scared… but soon realize that they’ve all been set up by Brian and Madea with the help of Brian’s cop friends. THE END. Or is it? (it isn’t! There’s gonna be more!)

Why?! Why is the wrong question for a Madea film. Or perhaps it’s the perfect question because every film is essentially the same once you see through all the ten minute rambling conversations Madea has with people. Madea is throwing down hard truths for everyone and they best learn them because otherwise shit’s gonna get real. Ya dig?

Who?! I can’t help but love me a little mid-film music video. In fact if I was given the title of film czar I would require all films to have a music video interlude and the world would be better for it. Here Tyga gets up on stage at this random frat Halloween party and performs Rack City much to the chagrin/delight of Madea and her friends. It’s an A+ and I don’t even give grades for this section.

What?! Since Tyga took the previous spot I think it’s important to mention here that in a lot of ways this film was an advertisement for numerous YouTube/Vine/TikTok/Probably some other things I don’t know teenybopper stars of the future. Perry was pretty open about them being cast in order to make the franchise hipper and newer. So a younger audience could delight at the branded stars they know, while getting to know their new best friend: Madea. 

Where?! As is the case with most Perry films I know this was shot in Atlanta, but not sure it’s ever made clear that the film actually takes place there. It would certainly be a large city as Brian is a federal prosecutor, but that’s pretty much all we get as far as I remember. I still think it’s Atlanta so a D for now.

When?! Finally get an A+ Settings Alert as the title so appropriately tells us that this takes place on Halloween. As Patrick mentioned, though, not a single ghost or supernatural being in the whole thing. I would have liked at least for a ghost to show up at the end even if it was a not scary Casper type ghost. Just for a quick laugh about how not Halloween the film is in general. A+.

Wow. Sometimes you just need a film to come around after years of inuring ourselves to bad movies to remind us of what it’s like to be alive. Madea can do that when you start watching a scene and there are just piles and piles of Madea jokes being thrown your way and honestly you can’t tell if there is even a movie there or whether the entire thing will just be jokes on jokes forever and ever. And then ten minutes will pass and they’ll still be talking about the same broken down car that Madea was doing drugs in or something back in the day or explaining how Brian is a piece of shit or whatever and you’re mind won’t even be blown because your mind no longer exists. That’s Madea and I think I enjoyed the experience even if the film itself is really bad. If I had to give out a positive it would be Joe, Tyler Perry’s third character in the film, who is an old man and is actually kinda funny sometimes. I dug him. He was cool. If I had to pick out something bad it would be the numerous jokes about beating children, which would shock me except it seemed in line with everything else in the film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Boo! A Madea is Seeing Some Ghosts for Real, but She Doesn’t Take Guff from Ghosts so it isn’t a Big Deal I Say Boo to You Ghost, Boo! I think that is the full title of the film. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – So I think it is important to recognize something with this film. Going into the film we’ve seen a bunch of Tyler Perry films, and most are terrible (Alex Cross, Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, etc.), but I distinctly and bizarrely remembered vaguely enjoying Madea Christmas. The thing is? It isn’t really true. Looking back we were merely surprised we did not loath it. The film is still very much in your face with the religious messaging, and that’s fine since that is pretty explicitly the purpose of the film. But … weirdly just by thinking I enjoyed Madea Christmas made me really really not enjoy this film. The preview itself isn’t much to go on because the preview effectively says: this film stars Tyler Perry as Madea, which we already knew. What were my expectations? So a few things popped out about the film. First, that it stars a bunch of YouTube personalities, so terrible acting was definitely on the table. Second, it is definitely NOT an actual ghost film, so I was definitely going to be disappointed.

The Good – I think I am able to step back from Madea as a concept, understand that most of the film just isn’t messaging to me, and go about judging the film on something at least a bit closer to its merits. I think Tyler Perry is a wizard when it comes to film financing, and there is a reason he is very close to being a billionaire (he likely will be in the next few years). The film can, on very rare occasions, have amusing quips. And despite all of the characters being incredibly mean spirited and grating … I can also get why people find them amusing in their own right. To be clear, I don’t actually enjoy anything I watched in the film, but I don’t begrudge the fact that Tyler Perry’s audience does or that Tyler Perry is able to make movies that cater to that audience. Best Bit: Some amusing quips.

The Bad – The whole storyline with the father-daughter relationship is so bizarre that there is a 15 minute conversation about how Tyler Perry’s character’s father beat him so badly he was in intensive care at the hospital and it is played like “man, your daughter is bad news, you should probably beat her to an inch of her life, haha.” That for real is a message in the film. The relationship with Tyler Perry’s character’s ex-wife is also such that the film feels misogynistic, even though I believe that Tyler Perry sees it as a “weak willed man” joke rather than a “harpie ex-wife” joke. The film has no ghosts and for that I say boo! I say boo! to Boo! A Madea Halloween. I wanted Madea screaming about how she has warrants to actual ghosts, not the police! Whatever. The rest of the film is mostly 15 minute long segments of Tyler Perry having really bad improv sessions with himself. It almost makes you tear your hair out as they beat yet another unfunny joke into the ground for 10 minutes straight. This movie is not good and is, in fact, probably the worst of the three Madea films we have watched thus far. Fatal Flaw: Incredibly long sequences of not funny improvisation between various forms of Tyler Perry.

The BMT – I’m certainly getting more comfortable watching films that I’m not really the intended audience for. I could see a future where we have watched all of the Madea films (a truly dire future indeed). That being said, for the most part Madea films are the kind of films we try to avoid (like Saving Christmas for example). Films that are just low hanging fruit for people to dunk on because Tyler Perry wanted to make a cool $50 million on a 6 day shoot. But really … is there anything wrong with wanting to make $50 million on a 6 day film shoot? I don’t think so. Did it meet my expectations? No! But by that I mean yes, because I think in my heart I knew I secretly wanted to silently scream in horror as it dawned on me that there weren’t going to be actual ghosts in this film. I have to say … there better be ghosts in Boo 2! Otherwise, I riot.

Roast-radamus – I think Hattie Love absolutely qualifies as a Planchet (Who?). Her sole purpose appears to be to sit and take shit from Joe and Madea. Obviously this is a Not-so-secret Holiday Film (When?) for being rather explicitly about Halloween and the various shenanigans that young people get into on that day. And I think Worst Twist (How?) gets in there for the not very subtle (and cruel) joke Tyler Perry plays on his daughter and the frat brothers, tricking them into thinking they (checks notes) accidentally murdered someone and are going to jail for the rest of their lives … hilarious. Definitely closest to a Bad.

StreetCreditReport.com – I think it is quite odd that the film didn’t make any of the major lists in 2016, but I imagine this is because it must have come out in October? … But I’m pretty sure Saving Christmas dominated the lists in its year, so I’m less than convinced that is actually the case. There is this rather amusing list here, which looks at all of the Madea films. Pretty heartening to see Boo! coming in just under Madea Christmas. I think that is 100% right in retrospect. Christmas was saved a little bit, oddly, by Larry the Cable Guy who I remember just being a charming pleasant foil to the brash Madea. There is no such foil in Boo! unfortunately.

I’m going to have to skip the You Just Got Schooled section today. I think I would have maybe watched Hubie Halloween, but for a variety of reasons I really just don’t have time for that. So I’ll have to leave it there, I wrote a lot in the other sections anyways. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Red Sonja Recap

Jamie

After her family is killed by the eeevil Queen Gedren, Red Sonja trains to become the warrior destined to kill her. Unfortunately, Gedren has gotten her hands on the Talisman and it’s world destroying power. With the help of her friends Falkon, Tarn, and Cona… I mean, Kalidor, can she stop Gedren before it’s too late? Find out in… Red Sonja.

How?! It was Red Sonja’s destiny to destroy Gedren after she was bestowed with the powers of a warrior by a wizard… you tuned out yet? All you need to know is Gedren was hot for Red Sonja and she was like “no thanks” so Gedren killed her family and thought she killed but, nope, she just made her all the more powerful. Later Gedren steals The Talisman (bum bum bum) from its protectors after they determine it’s too powerful and must be destroyed. Fortunately one escapes and finds Cona… I mean, Kalidor, and tells him to go get Red Sonja. Sonja is a super badass now after years of training and is informed that Gedren has The Talisman (bum bum bum) and she must go after it. She spurns Kalidor’s offer of help and sets off on her own. In the ruins of a city she finds a petulant young prince Tarn and his servant Falkon. She sizes them up as pretty lame and continues on her way. She comes to a gate owned by Lord Brytag, who demands she pleasure him and she’s like “definitely not” and kills him in battle. With the help of Kalidor (who is kinda growing on her) she escapes through the gate and continues on towards Berkubane (I could be making this all up and you wouldn’t know). On the way she rescues Prince Tarn and Falkon and are trapped in a cave by Gedren. There she unleashes a Killing Machine on them and it’s looking pretty dire except that Kalidor swoops in looking fly and helps them defeat it. When they finally get to Gedren’s castle they all split up and methodically kill everyone. Confronting Gedren in a climactic battle, Red Sonja shows that she is the ultimate warrior and kills her and destroys the talisman. Escaping the collapsing castle, the whole gang moves on to their next great adventure (and maybe a little smooching too). THE END.

Why?! Did you not hear me? Gedren has The GD TALISMAN!! It’s a talisman… it’s got great power. Duh. So get off my back cause that’s pretty cereal and needs Red Sonja and our Conan knockoff characters to be pretty focused on it. Oh and Gedren wants to control… or maybe just destroy the world? Even her cronies are like “yo, she’s getting a bit crazy with this talisman business.”

Who?! We got a bunch of options here. Obviously Arnold is a former athlete and Ernie Reyes Jr. and Pat Roach dabbled in professional kickboxing and wrestling, respectively. Pat Roach is probably the most interesting as he was nicknamed “Judo” and “Bomber” and held the European Championship at one time.

What?! MacGuffin alert up in here. The Talisman has all dem powers. It can make lightning and earthquakes and basically destroys everything using the power of light. And not even like a whole bunch of light. Just fill a room with candles and The Talisman is off the hook. Image what it could do nowadays with new light technology. Fuggetaboutit. Alas, Red Sonja destroyed it.

Where?! Where? Where?! In the general vicinity of Hyrkania, Hilidor, Hablock and Berkubane. And no, those are not places I made up on the spot (OK fine, I did make up one of those). It does seem like some of those were made up for the film, but others were seen throughout the series. Still, this is a solid Fictional setting, which is always appreciated here at BMTHQ.

When?! It’s the Hyborian Age from Robert E. Howard. Scholars place it roughly from 30,000-10,000 B.C. (seriously, they do) although I think that’s all balderdash. It clearly exists in a time outside of history and to attempt to place it in reality is a fool’s errand. Also that would be like a D at best if it was supposed to be real.   

Not gonna lie, I kinda enjoyed watching this movie. It’s real silly, sure, but I can dig me a little sword and sorcery action and this delivered on both swords and sorcery. Obviously the weakest point, and why you can’t really seriously consider this anything but a disastrous movie, is the acting. It is not good, to put it kindly. But still, this ain’t no Sorceress and is more than just boring or anything like that. Our boy Arnold even battles a mechanical brute, so I feel like we’re getting some fun in there. I don’t know, I feel like I would be pretty satisfied if every bad movie we watched was on the level of this. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We are well on our way to finishing up all of the Conan films. Just a technicality left: Kull the Conqueror which was, by all accounts, originally a Conan film. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The trailer makes this look very much like Conan the Destroyer which was a terrible cheap looking trash film. So until further notice I have to imagine this is the same thing. Everything will hinge on exactly how bad the effects are. Because what really sank Conan the Destroyer was the room of mirrors fight against the wizard Thoth-Amon, once you see that nothing can redeem the film. What were my expectations? The wizard Thoth-Amon fight version two. I have little hope this was anything but a cash grab on that sweet IP with just the laziest possibly execution.

The Good – Watching these old sword and sorcery films is always fun in their own may. The dumb looking puppets. The bad wizard effects. The beautiful Italian vistas. This film is no different. I also think I liked this film more than Conan the Destroyer, which came across as more of a cheap cash grab. This film seemed like it was actually trying to do something. And finally while Brigitte Nielsen was bad I expected her to be terrible, so she actually exceeded expectations. Best Bit: Beautiful Italian vistas.

The Bad – The film. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a Dino De Laurentiis film from the 80s is terrible, but here we are. The effects are bad, the plot is stupid and predictable. I don’t really know what else to say. While I like Arnold his appearance as a totally different character also threw the entire film off kilter. I was sure he was going to eventually reveal that he is, in fact, King Conan, and this was, in fact, a third Conan film for real. But nope. Just really odd decisions, but that’s what happens when you create a movie to cash in on a trend I suppose. Fatal Flaw: Bad acting and effects.

The BMT – If not for the fact that we are going to eventually watch all of the Conan films for BMT I actually doubt we would have watched this film just because it is small and cheap and doesn’t bring much to the BMT table. I do enjoy being able to rank them though: Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja, Conan the Destroyer, Conan the Barbarian (2011). Easy peasy. Did it meet my expectations? It was slightly better. Throughout the film the effects (with the exception of the mechanical sea serpent I think) weren’t as bad as Thoth-Amon. But it was a cash grab on that sweet IP.

Roast-radamus – Prince Tarn and Falkarn are something. At times Falkarn seems like a Planchet. At others Tarn it. Sometimes they are a bumbling odd couple. I’m going to give it a Planchet (Who?) in general though. Definitely a huuuuuge MagGuffin (Why?) for the Talisman the … thing that created the world and … uh, it going to undo it? Closest to a Bad film in my opinion.

StreetCreditReport.com – This film was big enough at the time to be spoofed 5 years later on on In Living Color! That’s fun, and naturally Jim Carey is amazing. The Hanna Barbarians joke is still solid. … Honestly that’s it though, there isn’t much actual identifiable cred. I was considering doing some analysis of our various cred metrics (BMeTric, a new critic analysis I’m working on, and Notability), but it doesn’t quite feel like we are there yet. Maybe next week.

You Just Got Schooled – Once again this week I had a delightful cartoon to fall back on as far as schooling myself. Conan the Adventurer was a 1992 animated television series produced by Sunbow Entertainment who did many of the Hasbro productions in the 80s (like G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Jem and the Holograms) and was later bought by Sony. I, again, only watched the first episode was created a markedly different origin story for Conan compared to either the original pulp novels (where he is a barbarian wandering around, not much to it) or the movies (where his family is massacred). That is a bit dark for a kids’ television series, so here his family is turned to stone, and he wields a sword made from shooting stars against the evil lizard people (who are I think aliens? That is what it sounded like to me). The show is pretty amusing in how terrible it is at points, specifically the incredibly annoying pet phoenix Needle. And the character of Conan is not a barbarian at all! Rather he is an extremely kind (almost naive) young warrior just trying to save his family (aw shucks!). I vaguely like the ideas with the lizard people from another dimension, but I kind of wish it didn’t involve Conan. Conan could be a cool cartoon given the extensive comic book history he has, but probably not a children’s cartoon. C-. Not a good adaptation in the end.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Dolittle Recap

Jamie

Ready to walk with the animals, talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals? Good cause Dolittle is back on the scene trying to save the Queen of England from a mysterious illness with the help of the magical Fruit of Eden. Can he get the fruit, stop the eeevil Dr. Mudfly, and make some friends along the way before it’s too late? Find out in… Dolittle.

How?! Dr. Dolittle is just a sad sack living all alone in his mansion when his life is turned upside down by Tommy, a down on his luck kid who wants to be his apprentice. Helping bring back the spark to Dolittle’s life (which hasn’t been the same since the death of his lady love, Lily), he agrees to help Lady Rose save Queen Victoria from a mysterious illness. How? The magical Fruit of Eden of course. One problem. The fruit’s location is unknown except for in Lily’s diary, which is kept by her terrifying father King Rassouli, the king of the thieves. Fun. Heading out, Doolittle at first tries to keep Tommy out of the danger of the adventure, but he is too plucky and persistent and soon is friends with all the animals and a veritable animal expert. On their way they are attacked by the evil Dr. Mudfly, a rival of Dolittle who is trying to save the Queen himself for the glory. Fortunately, with the help of Tommy, they are able to escape and arrive at the island of the thieves. He and Tommy attempt to infiltrate the Rassouli’s fortress, but are caught and Dolittle is sentenced to death by tiger. Getting word to their animal friends, Dolittle is saved by their friendship and courage. Awww. Unfortunately, after stealing back the diary, Mudfly ambushes them and snatches it away, sinking their boat in the process. Boo. Rassouli, realizing the love that Dolittle had for his daughter, decides to give them a boat in order to get the diary back. Using some whales to follow Mudfly, they are able to make it to the mysterious island of the Fruit of Eden, where they encounter the dragon who guards it. Mudfly is dispatched by the dragon, but Dolittle is able to figure out that really it’s just got a rumbly in its tumbly and performs a manual disimpaction of its bowels (this is real). Satisfied with its newly emptied bowels, the dragon lets Dolittle take the Fruit of Eden. Back in England he is able to save the Queen just in time and reveal that she was actually poisoned (gasp!) by one of her advisors. Dolittle and Tommy then live their days treating animals and adventuring. THE END. 

Why?! I guess I haven’t mentioned it yet, but the backstory is that for his services to the crown Dolittle was granted a manor of some kind by the Queen “for life.” He didn’t understand that this meant the Queen’s life, so saving her life is not just for God and country, it’s also so that he doesn’t lose his home (and more specifically the place where his animal friends live happily). Tommy on the other hands just wants to be happy by being an animal doctor cause he loves animals. It’s sweet.

Who?! Good film for the sheer number of famous people who are doing at times very minor voice work. The most notable for this purpose is Selena Gomez who plays a random giraffe that I barely remember doing much in the film really. She’s best friends with a fox voiced by Marion Cotillard. Interesting pairing. Jessie Buckley also plays Queen Victoria, which I would say is a rare depiction in BMT except we just saw her in Holmes & Watson not that long ago.

What?! Classic MacGuffin in this one with the Fruit of Eden. Ah yes, a mysterious illness, we need the Fruit of Eden that can cure anything for vague reasons. Where is it? It’s a mystery, just like the mysterious illness and mysterious way the fruit works. Also, we don’t know how to get it once we find it… that’s also a mystery. But trust me, you’ll love it once we have it.

Where?! You can really only point to England here as the rest of the film takes place on the high seas or on imaginary islands. But England does have a nice role as we spend some time waiting on the ill Queen amidst Victorian England and on occasion espy one of the famous landmarks. B+.

When?! Online it claims this took place in 1819, which seems impossible since he is supposed to save Queen Victoria, who was born that year. It makes more sense if it lines up with the novel The Voyage of Dr. Dolittle, which took place in 1839. Dolittle getting his manor and Lily’s death would have to be relatively recent in that case, but not out of the question. The weirdest part is that they randomly show a solar eclipse occurring in London right before the final scene of the film… which doesn’t line up with any real event. Not sure why it’s even in the film. D-.

Mixed feelings on this one as the film is sweet and the animals kinda fun and kooky. Mudfly and some of the animals are also written in an oddly absurdist way that was funnier than the film probably deserved. Not really sure what Robby D was doing with his accent (I think he was doing Welsh), and he dominated the screen at times and not in a good way, but still understandable up to a point. That point is about halfway through the film when things just fall apart. By the time they reach the island of the Fruit of Eden there seemed to be so many reshoots or something that the film became legit hard to follow. Like they are about to be killed by a dragon who randomly flops over and Dolittle is like “oh I get it you are sad and that means your guts are all twisted up,” and then the dragon farts and stuff and they get the fruit… fo real. So… I guess if you don’t mind ⅔ of a watchable kids comedy and ⅓ gastrointestinal instructional video then you are in luck. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Despite the covid related audible to “anniversary films”, the cycle will also purport to watch the qualifying 2020 films (of which there are sadly few). And so, given that it is probably the biggest bomb of the year, Dolittle was a must. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I mentioned it several times in the preview, but I had mostly forgotten about all of the production troubles this film very publicly had. And then watching the trailer, woof, it is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen! Being a kids’ film it could have been merely dull, but there was abundant evidence that we’d at least see an abomination of uneditable garbage on screen. So that’s fun. What were my expectations? A chopped to shit pile of disparate film clips masquerading as a film.

The Good – There are moments during the film where you are looking at it and thinking “wow … this is really beautiful.” As a light and fluffy diversion for young kids it could have even been rather successful as it leans very charmingly into its bright-and-colorful palette. And a couple of the performances are even rather fun, most notably Michael Sheen as the bad doctor trying to stop Dolittle for various reasons, and Jason Mantzoukas who is a delight as a kind of dumb dragonfly. Best Bit: Probably Michael Sheen. 

The Bad – It is an uneditable pile of garbage, that bit is very true. But probably the worst bits of the film are just the performances in general. I don’t want to harp too much on the kid actors (Harry Collett and Carmel Laniado) who obviously do their best, but I just have no idea what Robert Downey Jr. was thinking with his mopey odd-ball interpretation of Dr. Dolittle. His generally morose unkempt version of the character is a complete distraction for the entire first act. Probably the biggest crime I think is the lackluster use of the pirate island ruled by King Rassouli (Antonio Banderas) … they build an entire Hook-like world up, and then barely show us any of it (probably because they were editing together a film from a totally different film). It was really distressing. Fatal Flaw: Horrible version of Dolittle by Robert Downey Jr.

The BMT – I don’t necessarily think I’ll remember this film much in the coming years. Neither will anyone else I imagine. They’ll never make a sequel, people will forget about it, and then another Dr. Dolittle will come out in a decade, and we’ll probably also watch that for BMT because it turns out most Dr. Dolittle films aren’t very good it seems. Are we going to still be doing BMT in a decade? Don’t make me get all existential about this, let’s assume so. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, it actually exceeded them in a way. It is far far more apparent that the film was constructed from various unconnected scenes that I can remember ever seeing. Doesn’t mean the film is any good as a bad movie though. It isn’t.

Roast-radamus – I’ll throw a little shoutout for Setting as a Character (Where?) for England, where, in order to knock Dolittle out of his rut, the queen herself must be threatened! Absolutely incredible MacGuffin (Why?) for the mysterious fruit of the Eden tree, guarded by a dragon on the island of Dolittle’s late wife’s birth, which just so happens to be the only known cure for deadly nightshade. That’s some MacGuffin! This will qualify mostly in the Live! category, although it is closest to BMT otherwise.

StreetCreditReport.com – These are obviously impossible to do for films that came out this year. But if you snoop about you’ll find plenty of articles about how Robert Downey Jr. pulls a full suit of armor and some bagpipes out of a dragon’s anus, and then you’ll realize why critics were somewhat distressed while watching this film. Given the severe lack of qualifying films in the year of covid, Dolittle will reign supreme as the worst of the year. This is a virtual certainty.

You Just Got Schooled! – Staring into the abyss that is the prospect of (re)watching the 1967 Dolittle film, I was distraught. It isn’t that I disliked the film, I had just seen it before and it is a brutal two and a half hours. But luckily there was a cartoon made right afterwards! Made in 1970, Dr. Dolittle was made by DePatie–Freleng Enterprises who notably created The Pink Panther. Also notable is that the series tends not to be released to home video because of a pretty racist band of racial stereotypes … er, pirates. Also apparently because the cricket band is thought to promote drug use? Yeah I don’t buy that second one, but the show is pretty racist, that one is true. I just watched the first episode. Amazingly they have the same (Oscar winning) song as the theme for the show. And also oddly the show appears to be a musical as well (that’s why there is a cricket band). Mostly it is a pretty light affair with a very clear formula: the pirates want to have the ability to talk to animals to control the high seas, and Dr. Dolittle barely notices their escapades as he tries to help the various animals of the world. Never show this to children though … you know, because of the racism. D, just generic kind of blah stuff with a generous dose of racism to really sink that score.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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

Double Impact Recap

Jamie

Alex and Chad are just wee lads when their parents are gunned down in Hong Kong. Years later, Chad’s guardian finds Alex and decides it’s time for them to team up and get back what is rightfully theirs. But can lame-o Chad and rough-around-the-edges Alex really take down the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Double Impact.

How?! Alex and Chad are tiny twin babies when their genius daddio builds a smoking hot tunnel in Hong Kong that’ll earn big bucks for days. Unfortunately his skeezy business partner has his eyes on that sweet tunnel action and teams up with the mob to take them out. In the process Chad is saved by their bodyguard, Frank, while Alex is taken to an orphanage by their nanny. Fortunately for the viewer it’s made very clear that they are both taken in by the French so that we wouldn’t spend any brainpower wondering how both Alex and Chad have French accents. Phew. Years later Chad is kind of a lame-o scoping on chicks in LA while impressing them with his splits (they are impressive, though). Frank finds Alex in Hong Kong living as a smuggler and thinks it’s time to take that super money making tunnel back! They fly to Hong Kong where Chad is kinda shocked by how everyone seems to know him. It’s only after a beautiful lady comes onto him, earning him a punch in the mouth from Alex, does he realize that he’s a t-t-t-twin?! Wha?! Alex is not super interested in fighting Griffith, who employs his girlfriend Danielle, but after Alex is beat up by the mobsters Griffith works with he starts to help out. After stealing a big shipment from the mob and then hitting up a party with some explosives, they become targets. They escape to an abandoned resort where Chad gets contacted by Danielle who is in trouble. He heads off to pick her up which makes Alex crazy with jealousy. When Chad finally returns the brothers split up in anger narrowly avoiding the mob who, having followed Chad, have arrived to take them out. Finding out that Frank and Danielle have been taken hostage they track them to a shipyard where they put their martial arts skillz to good use and kill all the bad guys and inherit their drop dead gorgeous money making tunnel. THE END.

Why?! The tunnel baby! They want that gd tunnel and they want it now. I kinda laughed at this idea, but in fact the Cross-Harbour Tunnel was built privately with the contract stating that those that built it would collect tolls for 30 years from the start of construction before the contract went over to the Hong Kong government. So this would mean by killing Griffith (and thus inheriting the bridge… I think? I don’t think that’s how this works) they would have had eight more years of those sweet tolls to gobble up.

Who?! Obviously an important film in the “actors portraying two characters” canon. However, I think the most interesting aspect of the cast is that this was the last film for which JCVD got a “fight coordinator” credit. He got it for Kickboxer and Lionheart in the two years before this as well. I can only assume this was a way he could make more on the film when they were still relatively small time affairs. After this he moved onto things like Universal Soldier.

What?! Is the tunnel a MacGuffin? I would argue no as generally a MacGuffin must hold power and allure in a way where the audience is meant to not care or understand anything more about it. Generally it’s like a staff or machine with a weird name or interesting properties. This is a tunnel. We know its allure (money bags with green dollar signs painted on them) and we know its power (the power over your time, literally the greatest power of them all).

Where?! Hong Kong quite literally for days. We get a brief scene in LA, but otherwise the city gets to shine in all its glory as we see Victoria Harbour in a lot of detail. Much like JCVD’s Knock Off we get a sense that the mob/smuggling/underworld aspect of the city holds particular interest for these east meets west martial arts mash ups. A. 

When?! I do think this takes place in modern day. The beginning of the film would take place August 2, 1972, when the tunnel opened, and it makes sense that they are about 19/20 years old when we see them attempting their big comeback. Chad in particular played it like an early 20-something just wanting to teach aerobics and woo the ladies with his splits.

I found the film to be a little boring as it dived into the murky waters of private tunnel ownership. In a lot of ways it felt like a 60’s film like an old James Bond or something. Didn’t feel particularly modern and so the story kinda dragged. But JCVD was surprisingly good in the dual role. He really acted his buns off (and his buns did their fair share of acting as well) to the point where I think it overcame some of the faults to at least be interesting from a JCVD point of view. I also really appreciated the fact that they didn’t play a bunch of games when it came to the dual role. One of the twins didn’t die early or have an accident requiring them to wear gauze on their face the whole time or anything. Lots of split screens, lots of body doubles, lots of fun (that’s the tagline for this review). As for Twisted Pair, I’ll let Patrick tell most of the story, but given our first taste of Niel Breen I have to say that it tasted very Breen. The movie makes no sense and at times you wonder if perhaps you are doing something unsavory by taking such a glimpse into the mind of a madman. But still, if you can get your hands on the film it’s a wild ride. I can certainly see the fascination people have with him and it’s actually pretty impressive that he’s made more than a few films with similar bad movie qualities. Usually bad movies of The Room kind are one hit wonders. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Am I seeing double? Double … impact?! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – If I’m being honest I’m still not really very familiar with Van Damme’s filmography. That might seem like sacrilege, but I just never was very into martial arts films in general. I once went to a Van Damme movie marathon which is fun. But obviously you stick to the classics there: Hard Target, Time Cop, and Sudden Death. I’ve seen a bunch of them, but the early films and anything past 1999 are still mostly a mystery. But obviously “the one where he plays his own twin” was always an eventual must watch for the Bad Movie Twins. What were my expectations? I suppose I expected it to be a silly half-assed garbage film? I don’t know. Sudden Death is an incredibly hilarious film, especially the final helicopter scene. So why can’t this be the same?

The Good – The split screen and movie magic moments are actually halfway decent. If this was a kids’ movie or something I would say it actually is a pretty effective gimmick. I also just mostly like this style. Much like Knock Off it feels very much like a Hong Kong crime film of the time. Unlike Knock Off I assume the crew filming in Hong Kong spoke english which possibly explains why the film felt of higher quality. And while the acting was pretty dire top to bottom I want to give a shoutout to both Bolo Yeung and Corinna Everson who were some very fun body builder bad guys. Yeung is amazing. His body-builder-martial-artist body is really just a sight to behold. Best Bit: Two Van Dammes.

The Bad – The film is kind of boring and, indeed, kind of just feels like a pretty silly Hong Kong crime film of the time. That isn’t a terrible thing on its own, it is just a tad bit more self-serious that you might expect from a “Van Damme Is a Twin!!” film. As mentioned the acting is particularly bad. It is too bad Van Damme could never really get a handle on his accent in the 90s. If he could have pulled off the American accent (and I think they did try for a scene or two in the beginning) and got himself into a more mainstream film as the bad guy, I think he would have had a bit more longevity in his career. Fatal Flaw: Too self-serious.

The BMT – It’s probably one of the quintessential bad twin films ever made. The one where Van Damme plays his own twin. Getting a fuller picture of Van Damme’s career is always fun, as is getting introduced to the world of Hong Kong cinema (even through what is ostensibly an American version of it). I don’t think it’ll really be remembered alongside The Quest and other great-bad Van Damme films, but it is still an interesting turning point in his career as Ebert astutely noted in his review at the time.

Roast-radamus – There is for real an odd number of Johnnie Walker bottles strewn around this film, so it does feel like a Product Placement (What?), although maybe the crew just really like Johnnie Walker. Loving the Setting as a Character (Where?) for Hong Kong, the seedy underworld of smuggling once again playing a major role in a Van Damme film. Is Vengeance a MacGuffin? I don’t think so. And I’ll toss this out as probably closest to Good, although I do think it is a rare film where you could argue for any of the three superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – I can’t really speak to any official cred (beyond being a twin film, and according to IMDb directly inspiring the film Twin Dragons which is amusing), but unofficially it was listed on an Over the Top Action Film list and a Guilty Pleasure Action Film list on IMDb, which I think is a fairly accurate description of the film. Although I’d argue there are multiple bad Van Damme films which are more entertaining than this one.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This was a very special week at BMTHQ. For this week we watched our very first Neil Breen film, Twisted Pair. Breen is the relatively new kid on the bad movie block. A real estate agent (or something) from Las Vegas, his films are notable in that he typically stars as a messianic figure. This is his latest film, and I have a hard time with it. Mostly the film is spectacular trash. The kind of thing only a delusional weirdo could produce and release to the world unironically. But is it ironic? It might be, he certainly has made enough films to know people are watching them ironically. Is Breen a bad person? Impossible to tell. Much like Tommy Wiseau, he seems to enjoy his notoriety while also keeping his personal life and business much to himself. The film is insanity, pure and simple, and was mostly fun to watch in order to speculate on Breen’s relationship with the actors on set and Nevada State University. The storyline is almost impossible to parse, though, and mostly dull. I would say that the only kind of Room-ish bit of the film is the fake rape scene in the beginning, which genuinely makes one wonder about Breen’s mental state. The rest is just an exercise in seeing what happens when a probable narcissist gets hold of a quality film camera. B+. If the film was more readily available I would say the Breen filmography is probably worth a watch just to see the current state of the art bad movie production in action. But at the moment this one in particular is a little too hard to get, so I have to dock it points.

Twin Analysis – Oh boy, as far as Double Impact is concerned this might be one of the best twin films ever. It’s got it all. The harsh brooding twin, the fun loving happy twin, twins separated at birth creating a real fish out of water scenario combined with a real odd couple scenario. The entire film revolves around the twins and avenging their parents. And complete with twin fighting twin and multiple split screens throughout the film creating two Jean Claude Van Dammes. Never have there been twins so adept at side splits! I’m giving it an A+. Boom done it. Then as for Twisted Pair you have the opposite problem in a way. At first blush it would appear to be the perfect twin film. Good/evil twin dynamics for days. Twins all over the place including a very bad split screen. And perhaps a twin-centric story with the good twin battling the bad twin … or is it? Is the storyline actually about the twins? I mean, they were both inexplicably granted magic abilities, just one of them fell out of Messiah Academy / Spy School and became a vigilante drug addict … or something like that. And in the end the story seems to be much much more about Good Breen laying waste to some international deep state conspiracy (or something, again, the storyline is impossible to parse). I feel obligated to give this an A- … but is the story actually about twins? Or is the movie just two twin brothers’ mostly disjointed stories smushed together? Scientists maintain we may never know.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs