Ernest Goes to Jail Recap

Jamie

Ernest is back, Jack! Right? It’s the same guy each time? Anyway, unbeknownst to Ernest he has a doppelganger on death row. A fateful turn on jury duty unexpectedly gets them switched and his whole life is turned upside down when he’s stuck in jail. Can he escape, stop the criminal, and get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Ernest Goes to Jail.

How?! Meet Ernest P. Worrell. A dim but well-meaning janitor at a bank. Everyone there loves him and wants him to succeed as a future bank teller except the cranky president of the bank. Booooooo. Oh and he also becomes magnetic whenever he is electrocuted instead of dying. Not sure why. Anyway, in a wild coincidence he is called to jury duty for the trial of a toady for a local crime lord, Nash, who is just days away from his time in the electric chair and is an exact doppelganger for our poor Ernest. Realizing an opportunity the criminal convinces the judge to allow the jury to tour the prison during which the crime lord pulls the ol’ switcheroo and leaves poor Ernest in his place. Double boooo. While Ernest tries to navigate the hilarious world of maximum security prison, Nash is planning to rob the bank, sexually assault Ernest’s very kind female coworker (and love interest?), and probably do a whole bunch of other nasty stuff. Ernest attempts to escape to no avail, only to find that when they try to electrocute him it merely imbues him with super electromagnetic powers. With said powers he blows that joint (with the help of a prisoner with a heart of gold, Lyle) and gets to the bank just in time to try to stop Nash from blowing the vault and killing his coworkers. An all-out brawl ensues ending with Ernest once again getting electrocuted, gaining the ability to fly via polarization, and flying the bomb into the night sky where it appears he is killed. However, he falls back to Earth right on top of Nash, incapacitating him for good and then smash cut. THE END.

Why?! I’m actually not sure… I think it has something to do with the American dream. Like sure Ernest is dumb, but he’s nice and works hard, so shouldn’t that count for something? Interestingly they don’t make any claim that Ernest is actually good at his job despite his shortcomings. In fact they make it clear that he is quite bad at it. A convicted killer on death row comes straight out of jail and is so much better than Ernest at his job that he is immediately offered the promotion that Ernest has been trying hard to get. It’s actually kinda sad when you think about it.

Who?! Big time shout out to the true friend Ernest met in Jail, Lyle. He’s a big enforcer type who turns out to have a heart of gold (and an unrivaled mane of hair). The actor was actually former professional kickboxer and heavyweight boxer Tex Cobb. He’s probably best known for getting absolutely destroyed by Larry Holmes in an unlikely title fight. Some interesting rumors surrounded his career, including some drug and gambling stuff that was allegedly connected to his sudden retirement from the sport in 1993 and a claim that he was supposed to be the opponent for Muhammad Ali’s last fight but broke his arm saving a friend from a bar fight and had to back out.

What?! In some ways you can think of the entire franchise as a product placement. Ernest started as a character used in a number of commercials and eventually he himself became the product. Ironically once that became the point all the products in this film are cartoon versions and not real product placements.

Where?! Unsurprisingly, given Ernest’s roots, this film is set in the great state of Tennessee. Even if it weren’t predictable, it’s made clear at the very least by the Tennessee license plates on some of the main characters’ cars. C.

When?! This is actually a funny question. There is a calendar in Ernest/Nash’s cell with dates being crossed off, but there doesn’t seem to be much indication of what month the calendar is supposed to represent. Likely this is just a prop calendar, but I like to think that it is actually a nonspecific generic calendar that they give prisoners. You do see a January 1990 calendar hanging in the bank. Again likely just grabbed a prop and hung it up to the first page, but gotta assume the bank is actively using the calendar and it’s accurate. KnowhutImean? B-

So I watched Ernest’s “friend” Escape Plan: Hades first and that film is a whole bunch of nonsense. At times I thought they were speaking a different language or something because it was hard to follow exactly what was happening. It looked nice, though, with its fancy robots and fancy prison and fancy fight scenes. But it’s all fluff and was actually pretty boring. As if they didn’t really care to make a comprehensible film, but rather just an entry in their visual portfolio so they could try to get an even bigger and fancier job. I can certainly see why it didn’t go to theaters. As for Ernest, I daresay I actually kinda enjoyed myself. Ernest is just a silly character and his schtick lands quite often as he mugs and goes off on some overly-serious monologue on acting or business or the like. I can understand why I liked the films as a kid even if I almost definitely didn’t understand how crazy the attempted sexual assault by Nash is or the fact that Ernest is nearly executed via electric chair. Probably a full twenty minutes where the film starts to venture into the twilight zone away from the harmless fun that otherwise makes the franchise what it is: enjoyable stupidity. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes I forget that the Ernest films were a real thing. Like … if my parents had told me that it was some Canadian TV movie and that no one else had seen it I would have just shrugged and said “yeah makes sense”. But it isn’t … this was released to over 1000 theaters in 1990. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I watched the trailer, and made the notes, and read the reviews … but I still had a sneaking suspicion I would like this film. Why? First because I watched it as a kid. Something about Ernest must just remind me of simpler times. But more important I’ve watched Ernest Goes to Camp more recently, about 7 years ago, and I thought that was actually a lot better than you might think. I was sure I was going to think the same thing here.

The Good – Ernest is goofy harmless silliness. Varney himself is top notch, with both the physicality necessary for a kids’ movie character and the ability to do some goofy impressions. As the heart and soul of the film there is little more I would ask him to do. I dig the surrealist atmosphere this movie takes, the bright pink guard uniforms, the completely open prison cells with twenty foot ceilings, a world filled with goofy caricatures. It all kind of works on a straight-to-video level.

The Bad – The film is aggressively dumb, and in that sense all of the reviews are totally justified. The love story comes across as creepy now I think as it is abundantly obvious Ernest had either a learning disability or has serious emotional issues he should be working out with a therapist. The film is crazy dark with Ernest going to the electric chair and basically killed while the prison warden looks on in glee. Super nuts. The film is extremely derivative, relying exclusively on the doppelganger / Prince and the Pauper trope to drive the story forwards.

You Just Got Schooled – The story of Ernest is pretty interesting, at least what you can glean from IMDb notes and elsewhere. This article seems like a pretty good roundup. Short story: Varney wanted to be an actor, but struggled to establish himself on the stage in NYC. Bouncing between his home in Kentucky and New York he ended up landing a spot with Cherry, an ad man. They ended up doing hundreds of commercials together, and then got a four picture deal (which Ernest Goes to Jail is part of). Afterwards they settled into a more lucrative straight-to-video deal, but unfortunately Verney died in 2000 prior to filming Ernest Goes to Space and Ernest and the Voodoo Curse (which I would have called Weekend at Ernest’s 2, but whatever). Fascinating stuff, a really really unique only-in-the-90s type franchise I think.

The BMT – Do I think Ernest is a BMT franchise … no. I don’t. Despite the fact that I would say that I’m fairly objective when it comes to films I saw when I was a kid (Hook, I’m looking at you), I can’t help but like Ernest. I think he’s harmless fun, so there. The character is sweet, and naive, and always tries to do what’s best. What’s wrong with that? Nothing I think … although they are pretty bad. I reserve the right to change my mind, but for now Ernest is pretty okay nonsense.

Sklogwords – After moving Welcome to Earth to the preview I needed a new game, and noticing that The Movie Database is a little light on keywords what bigger service could I provide the world that filling in entirely too accurate keywords for BMT films. For Ernest I chose the following ten in order: Prison, prison break, magnetism, bank robbery, janitor, electric chair, Tennessee, doppelganger, impersonation, animal actor. The funniest one is probably either doppelganger (where the film Southland Tales tends to come up a lot) or Tennessee which, fun fact, is also the setting of the Hannah Montana Movie! And now I’m the number one editor of the film Ernest Goes to Jail on TMDB. So there.

StreetCreditReport.com – There is really nothing here, which isn’t that surprising. Do you know what is surprising? That one of the main reasons listed in reviews as to why Ernest was unbearable was that he was either “too nerdy” or “too geeky”. Like, say what? It doesn’t feel like he is either of those things. At the very least he has a learning disability, but geeky? Nerdy? What was up with the early 90s yo?

Bring a Friend Analysis – As the number of wide release bad movies has dropped in the past few years I’ve often thought that it is likely that at least some of them are going direct to VOD. And Escape Plan 2: Hades seemed like a perfect test of this theory. Wrong! Wrong! The first film was surprisingly good, a decent team-up in Stallone and Arnold, a classic 80s actioner really. This? This is trash. This is dog poo thrown forcefully into my face. It has robots, and terrible actors, and AI, and … it is gibberish. It makes you feel like you are taking crazy pills. And then there is a ton of guns and killing … I just wanted some prison escapes man! This is worse that Prison Break season 2 when they forgot the show was about breaking out of prisons! On the one hand I’m glad to hear that, no, not all VOD features are suddenly on BMT’s radar. On the other I watched Escape Plan 2: Hades in real life, that is something I spent some of my short time on Earth doing. So that’s depressing. B as a friend, F- as an actual movie fit for human consumption.

Phew, long one, but I have a feeling the Bring a Friend cycle will tend to be that way. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

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Ernest Goes to Jail Quiz

So you’re Ernest. You’re a janitor, you’re kind to a fault, you got friends and maybe (oooooooo) a girlfriend, and fine … you might be a bit slow. But gosh darn it you want to be a bank clerk! Well you can’t … until you take this quiz that is!

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) As was explained Ernest is a janitor at a bank (but he wants to be a bank clerk). The night we meet this kind misfit he’s busy innocently trashing the bank. What unfortunate action by our hero sets off the chain of events whereby the bank is messed up?

2) Like normal human beings Ernest, when electrocuted, becomes magnetic (and much hilarity ensues). How many times did Ernest become magnetically charged?

3) Ernest is very very excited to serve on Jury Duty. What case does he very coincidentally and inconveniently get to be a juror for?

4) After a little switcheroo with Bizarro Ernest (i.e. Nash), Ernest ends up in prison. Whoops! Afterwards Ernest attempts to escape three times prior to his execution. Describe each attempt.

5) Why is Ernest able to fly in the climactic battle scene with Bizarro Ernest?

Answers

Ernest Goes to Jail Preview

Creeping silently down the corridors of the Super Duper Commando HQ, Jamie and Patrick are quaking in their boots. They never thought the ancient scroll would turn out to be true. They never thought that only one of them may survive. Turning a corner they confront the Commando wielding the Sword of Destiny. “Poor children,” he laughs, “So ill-equipped. So pathetic.” Suddenly he throws a samurai sword and a mesh tank top to Patrick. “To give you a chance,” he scoffs and takes a fighting stance. Patrick drops both to the side, “it doesn’t have to end this way, Commando. We are all humans. You were once too. Remember what it was like to feel the grass between your toes, the wind in your hair, the smell of fresh baked bread?” The Commando begins to break, licking his lips nervously. “Heh, right. I have power, though. Better than all that.” Patrick steps forward, “Is it? Is it power? Or is power the love between a mother and her child, the ocean’s tides, or a fresh squeezed glass of lemonade?” He steps forward again and he embraces the Commando who is now weeping. The Commando steps back wiping his eyes and throws his sword away. “Thank you,” he says quietly, “for everything.” Suddenly a powerful gust of wind blows through the hallway and sends Patrick’s sword flying through the air and decapitates the Commando. “Jesus Christ!” Both Jamie and Patrick scream and they are surrounded by police. “Freeze, dirtbags!” The Commander shakes his head sadly. “I’m sorry lads, this is the end of the line. And you had such a promising career in t-shirt sales.” He puts them in handcuffs and leads them to jail. That’s right! We’re watching Ernest Goes to Jail! And not only that but we’re watching it as part of a new segment in the cycle as of 2019. We loved Bring a Friend so much that it is now a permanent part of the cycle. It replaces the Games segment since we just gotta make it our beeswax to work on our games 24/7/365. For this entry Ernest is bringing along an unexpected Jail Break Friend in Escape Plan 2. It’s the sequel to the Sly Stallone original and came and went without making it into theaters. This gives us a chance to see just how shitty it turned out. Let’s go!

Ernest Goes to Jail (1990) – BMeTric: 37.2

ErnestGoestoJail_BMeT

ErnestGoestoJail_RV

(Honestly? Shockingly high. I’m quite surprised that it has nearly 10K votes. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I was told that Ernest Goes to Jail was some fever dream of mine from when I was a kid and literally no one else knew about it …)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Third in the surprisingly successful series about Ernest P. Worrell finds out hero in prison as a result of a switch set up by an evil inmate look alike (also played by Varney). Harmless, predictable, and hokey.

(That review … doesn’t sound like a 2-star film. But yes. It is harmless and hokey for sure. Basically, if you read the reviews for the other films it boils down to this: this series is for literal dumb people. He’s not wrong …)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4zNSx42aEo/

(That … isn’t a real trailer, but whatever. These films are a lot more surreal that you would think given the character. Ernest Goes to Camp is the same way, a very weird film. I’m extremely interested in seeing just how terrible this film is.)

Directors – John R. Cherry III – (Known For: Ernest Goes to Camp; Future BMT: Ernest Saves Christmas; Ernest Scared Stupid; Ernest Rides Again; BMT: Ernest Goes to Jail; Notes: He developed Ernest at his Nashville advertising agency. He apparently based it on a person who had worked for his father.)

Writers – Charlie Cohen (written by) – (BMT: Ernest Goes to Jail; Notes: Apparently was an executive producer of Justin Bieber’s Believe.)

Actors – Jim Varney – (Known For: Toy Story; Toy Story 2; Atlantis: The Lost Empire; Ernest Goes to Camp; Daddy and Them; 100 Proof; Future BMT: 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain; Ernest Saves Christmas; Ernest Scared Stupid; Ernest Rides Again; Wilder Napalm; BMT: The Beverly Hillbillies; Ernest Goes to Jail; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst New Star for Ernest Goes to Camp in 1988; Notes: Given how famous he eventually became, it is crazy to think that Ernest was his actual starting point. He began portraying Ernest in 1980 in local commercials in Kentucky.)

Gailard Sartain – (Known For: The Outsiders; The Replacements; Mississippi Burning; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; Ali; The Jerk; Nashville; The Grifters; The Buddy Holly Story; The Big Easy; Ernest Goes to Camp; All of Me; Blaze; Made in Heaven; Guilty by Suspicion; Choose Me; Trouble in Mind; The Moderns; Songwriter; Love at Large; Future BMT: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; The Patriot; Getting Even with Dad; The Real McCoy; Ernest Saves Christmas; RocketMan; Speechless; Clean Slate; Elizabethtown; Roadie; The Hollywood Knights; Equinox; BMT: Wagons East; Ernest Goes to Jail; Notes: A regular on Hee Haw, he was only in the first three Ernest films, eventually being replaced in his role.)

Bill Byrge – (Future BMT: Ernest Saves Christmas; Ernest Scared Stupid; BMT: Ernest Goes to Jail; Notes: Worked at the Nashville library (what what!). He retired in 1995 at the age of 63. IMDb claims he did it to focus on acting, but he didn’t appear in anything else, not even the subsequent Ernest films.)

Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $25,029,569

(Hmmmm. Let’s see what The Numbers says … nothing. My guess is this film cost literally nothing to make. The entire franchise made less than $100 million at the box office. Four theatrically released films, at least six overall. Less than $100 million. Yeah, these things cost nothing.)

#24 for the Comedy – Bumbling genre

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(By far the worst we’ve seen in the genre which should just be renamed Kevin-James. Just a shade below Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol … which is an embarrassment.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 13% (1/8): No consensus yet.

(My fake consensus is pretty short: Ernest is an obnoxious and I hate him. It pretty much sums up the consensus. The one good review is pretty hilarious though. Reviewer Highlight: Jim Varney at the peak of his comedic powers, playing two instantly distinctive roles. If you only ever see one Ernest movie, make it this one. – Luke Y. Thompson, New Times)

Poster – The Sklogs Go to Jail (B+)

ernest_goes_to_jail

(Certainly interesting. I like the artistic perspective and the special font they used. It’s also just kind of funny and makes me want to see the film, which is obviously a good thing. Only wish the coloring was better.)

Tagline(s) – Guilty of Maximum Fun in the First Degree! (F)

(Oh noooooooooooooooooooo! This may actually be the worst tagline I’ve ever seen. Fortunately I don’t see it on the poster. I wonder where they used that atrocity. Looking around it seems like maybe the kicker on the description on the back of the VHS box… so phew, not really a tagline, but I’m keeping it because it’s ridiculous.)

Keyword(s) – jury duty; Top Ten by BMeTric: 57.1 Jury Duty (1995); 38.2 The Juror (1996); 37.2 Ernest Goes to Jail (1990); 17.1 Trial by Jury (1994); 16.1 Illegally Yours (1988); 13.4 Leslie, My Name Is Evil (2009); 11.4 Suspect (1987); 10.5 Fantozzi alla riscossa (1990); 7.6 Runaway Jury (2003); 3.4 Murder Most Foul (1964);

(Holy shit. For reals the top three are incredible … and then it just drops off. You’d think more bad movies would involve jury duty. It does at least remind me that we should watch Jury Duty.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists  using only BMT films is: Jim Varney is No. 1 billed in Ernest Goes to Jail and No. 1 billed in The Beverly Hillbillies, which also stars Lea Thompson (No. 6 billed) who is in Left Behind (2014) (No. 3 billed), which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 1 + 6 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 19. If we were to watch Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 16.

Notes – There were a few extended and deleted scenes that were not featured in the original version of the movie, but were in some made-for-TV versions. 1. There was an extended scene where Ernest was washing himself in a washing machine, and was staggering after he stepped out. 2. A scene where Ernest was trying to sneak out of jail and was found by the searchlights. Then, he was making shadow puppets. 3. An extended scene where Nash (as Ernest) was in Mr. Penalsmythe’s office negotiating the clerk job. 4. A deleted scene where Ernest was working as a bank clerk. (I … think the version I watched as a kid had at least a few of those. Definitely first scene was there)

This is the last Ernest movie to have the character Chuck played by Gailard Sartain. (Yup, he’s replaced in Ernest Scared Stupid)

Among the famous eccentric actors whom Ernest imitates in jail when trying out for “Mr. Nash”, are James Cagney, Walter Brennan, Humphrey Bogart, Barry Fitzgerald, Sylvester Stallone, and James Mason. During the impression of Sylvester Stallone the line that Ernest says is “Hey you, Murdock, you’re the guy who shot my brother…” The character of Murdock was played by Charles Napier in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), which starred Stallone. Charles Napier plays Warden Carmichael in Ernest Goes To Jail. (FUN FACT)

Gailard Sartain, Charles Napier, and Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb appeared on the TV series “Walker, Texas Ranger” (1993-2001), with Napier playing a prison warden on that show as he did in this film.

Before Ernest is put in the electric chair, he is asked if he wants a blindfold or a cigarette. Ernest responds with, “I’m afraid of the dark, and cigarettes’ll kill you.” Ironically, ten years later Jim Varney died of lung cancer that was brought on by a lifetime of smoking. (Yeah, his Nash voice is I think his natural smoker’s voice)

Highlander: The Final Dimension Recap

Jamie

Connor MacLeod is back, Jack! Oh and he’s ready to forget the second film ever happened and kill another Immortal. That’s because Kane is back and ready to declare once again that there can be only one. Can Connor get the girl and cut off Kane’s head before it’s too late? Find out in… Highlander III: The Final Dimension.

How?! We are reintroduced to the Connor MacLeod we know and love as he explicitly explains that contrary to popular belief there was never a sequel to The Highlander and in fact this is the direct sequel. We then get treated to a large sequence set in Medieval Japan where Connor learns the sword from a magician, Nakano. An evil Immortal, Kane, dead set on killing all the other Immortals, finds Nakano and is able to kill him, but The Quickening caves in the mountain and buries Kane preventing him from taking part in the events of the first film. In the present day an archeological dig unearths Kane and he uses one of his cronies to find MacLeod and kills the other in order to sap on his sweet sweet Quickening. When MacLeod sees the effects of The Quickening in the skies over Marrakesh he knows that he’s basically the only hope that Earth has and that Kane will be after him regardless. So to protect his family he decides to head off the threat and head back to his old stomping grounds of NYC. There the police are still suspicious about all those murders a few years back (God, let it go, right?) and there is also a pretty lady archeologist, Dr. Alex, to fall in love with, so he’s pretty busy. Eventually Kane catches up and nearly defeats MacLeod, but is stopped at the last moment when they venture onto sacred ground. Knowing that he was too close to defeat he heads to Scotland to make a new sword, bone the lady archeologist for hours, and eat haggis probably. When he is informed that his adopted son is unexpectedly heading to the US he runs back and confronts Kane in a petroleum refinery or power plant or factory or something (classic 80’s). They battle and shit but obviously MacLeod wins, endures The Quickening, and then probably has his own quickening with Dr. Alex. THE END.

Why?! Kinda spelled it out above. Kane wants to be the last Immortal and use the power to rule Earth, while MacLeod (who has loved the peaceful life of being the only Immortal left) just wants to protect the adopted family he has surrounded himself with. Unfortunately for the franchise this means that every sequel has to reveal exactly why this turns out to not work out for MacLeod. The first one decided to make it all about aliens and it was terrible. The second now has decided that he actually didn’t kill all the other Immortals, psych! I tried reading the plot synopsis for the fourth film and my eyes fell out of my head. This series is hilariously awful.

Who?! Not your typical Who here as there isn’t anything to note in the traditional categories. The best thing I found was that the young actor who played Connor’s adopted son was played by Gabriel Kakon. World famous actor? No, but he did co-found a high-end furniture and lighting store called Gabriel Scott.

What?! You always hope that a film like this can deliver with a Sword of Power or something, but alas. I did enjoy the moment where Connor undergoes a Quickening and the sheer power makes a large number of cans of delicious Mountain Dew explode. Now that’s what I call doing the dew, right?… right?

Where?! We get three different major settings. Primarily this is a New York City film like the first one. We also get some significant scenes in Japan and Scotland and some less significant portions in England, France, and Morocco. I do wish they did a bit more with NYC in this one. Just a violent backdrop for the battle between Immortals. B.

When?! This may be my favorite of all time. Early in the film Connor decapitates a fellow Immortal in the basement of a hospital and, seeing as that is unusual even for crime-ridden NYC, we get a glimpse of the front page of the New York Post. At the top there are a series of news stories about Tanya Harding, Bill Clinton, and… Mayor Rudy Giuliani getting yelled at by hecklers at a MLK event… because it was MLK Day… Super Secret Holiday Film Alert! C+++.

This is clearly a much better concept for a Highlander sequel than the second one ever was, no matter the cut. Unfortunately they really bungled the film as a whole and it’s almost laughably poorly constructed from a narrative point of view. The film has zero flow. It’s almost like the director had never done anything other than commercials and music videos and wasn’t equipped to make a feature length film… which was the case. It really makes it hard to have fun watching Mario Van Peebles eat entire set pieces and, although I’m sure Patrick will mention it, probably the greatest sex scene in BMT history. Seriously… you could just watch the film for the sex scene. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Highlander III is like if they decided to make like … Under Siege 3: Submarine Saboteur, but instead of getting an actual director they got … me? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – The main thing that was weird about the entire preview was that the director had done nothing except music videos prior to this film. Combine that with an especially cheap looking trailer (with Mario Van Peebles acting off the chain) and you have a recipe for disaster. And that, for BMT, is interesting.

The Good – I have to admit. If I were to outline to you what the best plan of action for Highlander after the successful first film … well, this film would be it. I would say that the film should either be a prequel (and thus The Gathering wouldn’t have happened yet), or make it a sequel with something about a hidden Immortal, or some way in which new Immortals are created. This, from a story perspective, is kind of exactly what I envisioned. The sex scene in this film is genuinely great, and it is profoundly sad that that is the only good thing from this film.

The Bad – The film is a trainwreck. It is so ludicrous that it stands right beside Highlander II: The Quickening as a just off the wall crazy installment to this series. And the reviews are correct. This film stops the franchise right in its tracks. It looks cheap, Van Peebles is absurd in scenery chewing glory, the film makes no sense, and it just exhausts you of any tolerance you might have had for the now very muddled lore. Top to bottom, an absolutely terrible installment to a franchise which should have never been. And everything kind of comes down to the director being totally out of his depth. It feels like even a halfway competent director would have managed something … anything better with the material.

You Just Got Schooled! – I went ahead and watched the pilot for the Highlander television series which started as a syndicated series in 1992 starring Adrian Paul of Love Potion No. 9 fame. Man … 1992 was a wild time. Adrian Paul is legit one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen. And he headlines 6 seasons of a show! In the positive I will say the expansion and exploration of the lore behind Highlander certainly should be done in a television program, and they immediately start on the proper foot by retconning The Gathering from the first movie. In the end, the tv show as a tv show is a D, but the tv show as a sequel to the first movie is probably a solid C+. Helps that the acting in the original movie was pretty trashy in the first place. Do yourself a favor and watch the opening sequence though. For real, it is just … amazing.

The BMT – Back to back with Universal Soldier: The Return is … something else. I think these are both great examples of what BMT tries to be on its good days. Terrible, but not boring, with a lot of weird and wild stuff. Both captured the mid-to-late 90s in their own terrible franchise glory. Two early standards for the best bad movie of the year in my opinion.

Welcome to Earf – I now have a program to do this! The ideal (and BMT) path is: Deborah Kara Unger is in this and 88 Minutes, with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth! We now have the ability to calculate a Here on Earth number, which is the shortest path (based on billing according to The Movie Database) through the BMT movie web. Unger was 3rd billed here and 6th billed in 88 Minutes (for a total of 9) and then Leelee Sobieski was 3rd billed in 88 Minutes and 1st billed in Here on Earth for a total of 4. I’ll probably eventually put this in the preview instead and figure out a new thing to do in the recap in its place. Here on Earf Number – 13 (Ideal: 13).

StreetCreditReport.com – It is fairly obvious that this was never going to actually make any lists since, you know … it isn’t a real movie. Instead I’ll take the opportunity to mention that this is literally the worst reviewed franchise in Metacritic history. It seems weird to me to see Highlander getting such bad reviews to be honest. I mean, according to Metacritic it is worse than Highlander II. That’s literally impossible.

I think watching all of these franchises is melting my brain … Cheerios, 

The Sklogs

 

Highlander: The Final Dimension Quiz

There can only be one! This movie is obviously the worst because it begs the question: What happens if there were twin Highlanders? Huh? One would have to kill the other? Bullshit. Quiz time.

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We open by completely ignoring Highlander II: The Quickening, and instead blast to the past to join up with Conor McCloud (he’s back jack!) after the death of his wife. What does McCloud decide to do after this unfortunate event?

2) Meanwhile our heroine Alexandra arrives in Japan circa 1994. What is her job and why is she there?

3) How many Highlanders die in the film?

4) Why does McCloud go back to the Scottish highlands?

5) Name at least three things Kane transforms himself into during the course of the film.

Answers

Highlander: The Final Dimension Preview

Jamie and Patrick are excited to take part in the Super Duper Commando Project… sounds pretty rad. Unfortunately when they show up there seems to have been a mix up. A gust of wind blew their applications from the accept pile into the reject pile. What a mistake! They are informed that the only open positions are as security guards. Jamie and Patrick shrug. You take what you can get. As they walk around the building they are super duper bored. “If I wanted to be a security guard I would have joined the Security Brigade,” Jamie says resulting in a chuckle from Patrick. Just then a Super Duper Commando backflips his way into their path. “What thuuuuuuu…” Patrick says before they are both kicked out of a window. Shaking off the serious trauma inflicted on their non-Super Duper bodies they return to the security center and find the place in disarray. Turns out a rogue general bestowed the Sword of Power upon one of the Commandos giving him the power of the gods. Sounds totally ridiculous and unbelievable, I know, but like… you better believe it’s happening. Jamie and Patrick look at one another. The head of security is curious, “You boys look like you know something. Out with it.” They look sheepish. “It’s just,” Jamie begins and takes out an ancient scroll, “when we were born it was foretold that we would face a super soldier equipped with the Sword of Power. It was oddly specific to this exact situation.” The head of security is in awe. “Did it say anything else?” Patrick and Jamie look at each other again. “Yes,” Patrick whispers, “It said ‘There can only be one.’” That’s right! We’re getting another notch in the Highlander Franchise belt with our Sci-Fi/Fantasy entry in the cycle, Highlander: The Final Dimension… or is it Highlander: The Magician… or is it Highlander: The Sorcerer? Impossible to tell with the third entry in the series. I’m sure you’re all like ‘But Jamie, don’t you mean last entry in the series. There can’t possibly be a fourth major release in the Highlander series.’ Well you’d be wrong. Highlander: Endgame exists and it is foretold that we will watch it… someday. But not today. Let’s go!

Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994) – BMeTric: 69.4

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(Quite low, but is getting that regression to the mean as one would have expected. Nearly 70+ BMeTric, which is obviously extremely impressive. High hopes.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Conor McCloud, the wanderer from medieval Scotland, does battle in today’s N.Y. with evil fellow immortal from the past, the Mongol magician Cane (Van Peebles). Foolish, badly written piffle is a sequel only to the first film, ignoring the second and the TV series. Lambert is glum, Van Peebles shamelessly hammy. Dozens of unexplained elements, starting with Cane’s perfect English.

(Leonard hates Highlander. The films are rated: 1.5, 1.5, BOMB, BOMB for the first four. Which is insane. The first is actually halfway decent, at least compared to the second! I’m looking forward to the performances now. Seems like it could be something truly to behold.)

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

(I guess it is called “The Sorcerer” in this case. Anywho, this looks terribly cheap. And they kind of give away that he quickens again there. And they also give away that there is a pretttttty sexy sex scene … it’s a wash, this could go either way now.)

Directors – Andrew Morahan – (BMT: Highlander: The Final Dimension; Notes: British. Still is a music video director mostly. His father was a director as well, and his half-sister is an actress.)

Writers – Gregory Widen (characters) – (Known For: Highlander; Backdraft; The Prophecy; Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander: The Final Dimension; Notes: Worked as a firefighter for three years. Witnessed a friend killed by a deadly backdraft which became the basis for the script.)

Brad Mirman (story & screenplay) (uncredited) – (Known For: Forsaken; The Shadow Dancer; Crime Spree; Future BMT: Knight Moves; Resurrection; Truth or Consequences, N.M.; BMT: Highlander: The Final Dimension; Body of Evidence; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Body of Evidence in 1994; Notes: Mostly a writer-director now, including a television mini-series called The Confession starring Kiefer Sutherland.)

William N. Panzer (story) – (Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander: The Final Dimension; Notes: Was the producer for basically every single Highlander property over the years. Died in 2007.)

Paul Ohl (screenplay) – (BMT: Highlander: The Final Dimension; Notes: French, but lived mostly in Quebec. Was in public service most of his life, and wrote multiple novels which I suppose is how he ended up connected to this.)

René Manzor (uncredited) – (Known For: Monsieur N.; BMT: Highlander: The Final Dimension; Notes: Caught the attention of George Lucas and Spielberg early in his career and wrote on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.)

Actors – Christopher Lambert – (Known For: Highlander; Hail, Caesar!; Bel Canto; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Fortress; Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes; Subway; White Material; To Kill a Priest; Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; Beowulf; Fortress 2; Southland Tales; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; Mortal Kombat; The Sicilian; Loaded Weapon 1; Gunmen; Knight Moves; Resurrection; The Hunted; Electric Slide; BMT: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander: The Final Dimension; Notes: Born in the US, although he is French as his father was a diplomat. Was married to Diane Lane, and had a daughter with her.)

Mario Van Peebles – (Known For: New Jack City; Ali; Heartbreak Ridge; The Cotton Club; Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song; How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass; The Hebrew Hammer; Stag; Future BMT: Solo; Exterminator 2; Gunmen; Posse; Submerged; We the Party; Multiple Sarcasms; BMT: Jaws: The Revenge; Highlander: The Final Dimension; Notes: Son of the famous director Melvin Van Peebles, whom he portrays in Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.)

Deborah Kara Unger – (Known For: The Game; Thirteen; Crash; Payback; The Way; The Hurricane; Sunshine; The Salton Sea; A Love Song for Bobby Long; The Alibi; Fear X; Stander; One Point O; Shake Hands with the Devil; Hollywood North; Signs & Wonders; Emile; Future BMT:White Noise; The Samaritan; Jackals; A Dark Truth; Keys to Tulsa; Whispers in the Dark; BMT: Highlander: The Final Dimension; Silent Hill: Revelation; 88 Minutes; Silent Hill; Notes: Canadian, but she started her career in Australia where she became quite a famous actress before returning to North America.)

Budget/Gross – $26 million / Domestic: $12,303,080

(Absolutely absurd budget. I understand there is a level of set design and special effects involved, but it would have been ludicrous to think they’d recoup that number. It has to involve funny math.)

#97 for the Fantasy – Live Action genre

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(Around Dungeons & Dragons. The genre really took off in 2000, likely because they were able to put together films that otherwise would have been impossible to produce with practical effects with the cheaper CGI that had been developed by then.)

#29 for the Sword and Sorcery genre

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(Only In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale did worse among BMT films. The chart gets a bit skewed because The Lord of the Rings made so much money all within a few years of each other. The genre has never really be huge in the number of films produced.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 5% (1/20): No consensus yet.

(My god the consensus would be something else: Cheap looking with absolutely ridiculous performances by Lambert and Van Peebles. Literally like watching a franchise crash and burn in front of your eyes! Reviewer Highlight: As for Van Peebles, he’s quite the ridiculous sight and sound. – Richard Harrington, Washington Post)

Poster – Skloglander: The Final Dimensional Sorcerer from Space Probably (B-)

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(I have to say I like the clock and how the poster is laid out. The coloring is crazy though and the font is just meh. Tone it down a little and get some sweet Highlander brand font and we might be off to the races.)

Tagline(s) – Centuries ago one man was chosen to protect all that is good. But an enemy from the past has travelled through time to challenge him in the present. (F)

(Bahahahaahaha… … … hahahahahahaha… ha… ah… well that sounds stupid.)

Keyword(s) – sex scene; Top Ten by BMeTric: 90.6 The Room (2003); 90.4 Fifty Shades of Grey (2015); 82.0 Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000); 81.9 I Know Who Killed Me (2007); 81.2 Sex and the City 2 (2010); 78.7 Jason X (2001); 77.6 Fifty Shades Darker (2017); 77.0 Fifty Shades of Black (2016); 75.8 Fifty Shades Freed (2018); 74.9 Species II (1998);

(Kind of unbelievable there are still films on the table here. Given the number of films with the keyword it isn’t that surprising that all of them are basically above 75 BMeTric which is incredible. All three Fifty Shades films make this list.)

Notes – Deborah Kara Unger did her love scenes with Christopher Lambert herself, declining to use a body double. (Good for her I guess)

The original script for the film was radically different from the finished product in that the flashback sequences to place in early 17th century Scotland and early 18th century England. MacLeod had an Immortal friend in the script named Cavanagh who had similar aspects like Ramirez, The main villain in the script was named Kilvera. The script started depicting what happened with Connor after he buried Heather as well as a scene that revealed that he kills Jack the Ripper who was an Immortal as well. (I understand none of this)

The film is true to the original Highlander (1986) and ignores Highlander II: The Quickening (1991). In Highlander 2, Connor, Ramirez and the Immortals were aliens from the planet Zeist. In the original Highlander, Connor and Ramirez were not aliens from another planet and Highlander 3 takes place 8 years after the original film and is true to the original story and mythology. (Cool? They’re going to fuck it up anyways, so what does it really matter, y’know?)

Christopher Lambert and Mario Van Peebles had both previously starred in Gunmen (1993) and had become good friends.

In early development this was going to be a prequel about Connor arriving in New York at the start of ‘The Gathering’. (That would have been kind of cool. If I recall correctly the original kind of starts as the battle for The Quickening is coming to a close)

Mako plays a similar role to the role he played in Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984). (M’man Mako is in this? Hell yeah)

For the UK VHS and DVD releases, the title was changed to Highlander 3: The Sorcerer, with no extended cut (renegade cut). (This title keeps on coming up and it annoys me. There are like fifty goddamn names for this film)

Universal Soldier: The Return Recap

Jamie

Luc Devereaux is back, Jack! And boy howdy is he ready to fight more Universal Soldiers. When the Universal Soldier program’s AI computer, SETH, goes rogue, Luc and his new reporter friend Erin have to figure out how to take it out. Will they stop SETH, save Luc’s daughter, and perhaps find love before it’s too late? Find out in… Universal Soldier: The Return.

How?! Luc Devereaux is living his life in Texas working for the Universal Soldier program. He was still totally a dead person at one point but apparently was cured of that and his junk apparently still works because he even has a daughter. She seems fine with having a dad that was dead for a very long time. Anyway, the UniSol program is told that they are being shut down because the government is a little wary of this whole bringing-people-back-to-life-as-soldiers thing and Luc and his colleagues are shocked (shocked!). None more than their AI computer system SETH. He’s like “fuck that” and starts going rogue. He kills a whole bunch of people, make a new set of soldiers, and even gives himself a rad new body with some killer abs and karate skillz. SETH knows that a safe guard will shut him down in eight hours unless he can crack a code that only Luc has. Luc is like “Over my dead body” and along with a reporter that was snooping around, Erin, heads out to figure out what they can do. They end up going to a strip club because obviously that place will have internet and he is able to figure out that SETH has been in contact with a disgraced elite hacker. They head over to Squid’s place where it is revealed that SETH is going to use Luc’s daughter as a pawn to get the code. They head to the hospital where Luc’s daughter is being taken care of but they are too late and know that a direct confrontation is their only chance. Back at Universal Soldier HQ, Luc and SETH totally battle with martial arts skills and punch and kick each other for a while. SETH cracks the code and is like “guess I didn’t need you after all. Time to die,” and Luc is like “when Hell freezes over” and whatever other puns you can think of and is able to quick freeze SETH and shatters him into a million pieces. THE END.

Why?! This time the driving force of the film is not the snooping reporter but the Universal Soldier program itself. The government gets cold feet about their crazy morally bankrupt dead soldier venture and SETH can’t handle rejection. I think SETH wants to take over the world at this point but it’s actually hard to tell. I’m not entirely sure what his end game is… perhaps creating a Universal Soldier utopia in Texas? Whatever it is Luc wants to stop it and save his daughter and smooch on that reporter’s face.

Who?! I can no longer say someone gave us the worst acting performance we’ve ever seen because we’ve seen so many terrible acting performances, but WWE wrestler Bill Goldberg gifts us an all-timer. I also didn’t realize he was a legit NFL football player. He actually played for the Falcons for a number of years and started a game and everything.

What?! I think there is an argument to be made that the super secret code that turns off the safe guard against SETH is a MacGuffin of sorts. It is what SETH needs and he will do whatever necessary to get it. The only problem is that we know exactly what it does and it’s not some random piece of magic or technology. You know what it needed to be? It needed to be on a dongle. And perhaps that dongle could be made of some important material… say… I don’t know, obsidian?

Where?! When JCVD is jet skiing about from minute one I thought perhaps they had moved the Universal Soldier program to Louisiana so he could be near his folks. Nope, shortly thereafter they mention explicitly that this is all occurring in Central Texas and then JCVD ends up at the famous strip club in Dallas, The Clubhouse. B.

When?! I almost hoped there wouldn’t be an exact date for this one because they used intertitles to tell you unnecessarily specific times. So it would flash on screen like “9:22 PM CST” in case you might be confused as to whether they meant Greenwich Mean Time or something. Unfortunately computer whiz JCVD realized that SETH must be communicated with an elite haxor on the outside and we see that he called said haxor on October 3rd 1999. Since we see SETH make this last call this almost definitely sets the exact date of the film. B+.

Alright so I’ll let Patrick tell you about the two Universal Soldier made-for-TV films that preceded this one. Rest assured that they made me sad and curiously thirsty for some delicious Labatt Blue. As for this film, it did not make me sad. It made me BMT happy. Universal Soldier: The Return is bonkers from the jump. We open with a jet ski chase and head right into a HAL rip-off eeeevil computer. Goldberg is terrible at acting but somehow better than JCVD. There are explosions and full body burns everywhere because it was directed by a stunt man. An elite haxor shows up who is straight up off the chain and played by the middle aged actor who played The Sidler in Seinfeld. I could go on and on and on. This film was pedal to the metal for 90 minutes and never let up. It’s like they knew the BMT formula and took it to the extreme. The only problematic thing about its perfection is that an argument could be made that this is just a straight-to-DVD film that somehow made it onto a release schedule. That it can’t be judged the same way as other films because it was never meant to be consumed by a mass audience. That it only ended up in theaters because an evil magician put a curse on a producer (probably). These are all things that will have to be judged as part of next year’s Smaddies Baddies and perhaps the retrospective look will turn it into a pumpkin. Until then I’m just enjoying all the memories we had together. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I know after watching the two television films in the Universal Soldier series we were all a-clamoring for more Universal Soldier. Or my brain melted and I in a daze I accidentally turned on The Return. Either way I watched the second (or fourth depending on what you consider canon … actually The Return isn’t canon either) Universal Soldier film. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – The trailer for this film is bonkers, so I kind of knew it was going to be nuts in the first place. But the main thing that obviously sticks out is that they decided to retcon the television movies. It is obvious why you do that but still … it isn’t like the films did anything drastic with the story really. They could have vaguely had the story continue from where the third left off. But you know the series isn’t getting taken care of properly when the original production company went bankrupt, sold it to Showtime, and then yada yada yada they make a direct sequel in 1997. Doesn’t bode well.

The Good – Hmmmmmm. Unfortunately I don’t think you see many buns in this film. They even cover up Michael Jai White’s buns, do what am I supposed to do with that? Plenty of cyborgs though. A weird peak into what a strip club in 1999 might have looked like. A really big ‘splosion, and some full body burns. You could ask for less, right?

The Bad – The movie is nuts. There is an AI called SETH, and a l33t h4XX0r names Squid. And JCVD isn’t a cyborg anymore (he’s a regular human who apparently isn’t sterile despite being legit dead for like … 25 years at one point, because he has a human child). The AI bit really does it. You immediately can’t take the movie seriously the instant they introduce it, and the reasoning behind its existence is non-existent. It really is just a masterstroke of terrible filmmaking.

You Just Got Schooled – Right when it looks like we took a step forward it is time to take a step back with a recap of the third film, Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business. In this film our two heroes Luc and Veronica are back on the trail of the Universal Soldier program and trying to take it down. It killed his brother Eric, and boy is he steamed about it. Meanwhile the eeeeevil scientist and Burt Reynolds are a-scheming to create a little Eric clone to fight Luc (boy oh boy, how eeeevil). Ultimately Luc karate chops all the other cyborgs, and they self destruct Eric after he magically gets his memory back (oh did I forget to mention that they give him super-aging serum to make him precisely the same age as when he died …). In the end Burt Reynolds kills himself and the Unisol program continues to operate in the shadows in season 1 of the smash hit Showtime series Universal Soldier … what’s that? That didn’t happen? Oh, then they totally leave us hanging forever since this garbage film was retconned out of existence. F——.

The BMT – Now we’re cooking with fire! Frontrunner for most BMT film of the year right here. The main thing that will hold it back in the future? It’s a bit too small maybe? Like it qualifies and everything, but it feels a bit like punching down when you pick JCVD’s last theatrical release (literally). But we tend to ignore such things, and the film is pretty entertaining. I’m sure it will be just as entertaining in 5 years (wait … are we going to still be doing BMT in 5 years … surely not …).

Welcome to Earf – With the new found knowledge I gained with my own SETH (a python shortest path script and cast lists from The Movie Database) I think the likely best path is something like JCVD was in Universal Soldier with Dolph Lundgren, who was in Expendables 3 with Jason Statham, who was in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earth!

StreetCreditReport.com – A little disappointing, but somewhat expected I think that the few lists wouldn’t necessarily acknowledge this one. It is, as I said, a bit too small. Almost straight-to-DVD. Still, you can find it on random blogs like this, and that is good enough for me.

The Universal Soldier marathon is complete. My life, what am I doing? Cheerios,

The Sklogs