The Specialist Recap

Jamie

Ray Quick is a specialist who is super special at ‘splosions. May is a beautiful woman looking for revenge against those that killed her family. Seems like a match made in heaven… that is until Ray’s insane former partner Ned comes a-knockin’. Can Ray stop Ned and get vengeance (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Specialist.

How?! While on secret CIA assignment, Ray Quick is shocked to find that his partner Ned Trent is willing to kill an innocent child in the course of an assassination. After failing to save the child, Ray beats Ned to a pulp, disgraces him, and leaves the agency. Years later he works by answering personal requests for help using his specialty: shaped explosions meant to kill only his targets. May Munro is a woman who has continually requested Ray’s help with getting vengeance on the local Miami mob who is responsible for the death of her family. He’s resistant to use his skills for such a job, but after realizing that May is willing to risk her own life by infiltrating the mob herself, he decides to start taking out the targets to save her. Despite this she still becomes the girlfriend of mob boss’ son Tomas. After the lower level targets start to be killed the mob calls in Ned Trent to investigate and it’s revealed that May is in his employ (what a twist!) and is being used to get to Ray. Ray sets his sights on Tomas and gets ready for ‘Splosion Time (his words, not mine). But after the trap has been set May goes in to see him one last time and appears to be killed in the blast. Both Ray and Ned think that May is dead and when Ned tries to get to Ray through May’s personal ad, Ray realizes what’s up. Shortly thereafter Ray goes to May’s funeral and she reveals that she faked her own death and that they should def go to a hotel tootsweet and have a gratuitous sex scene that mostly focuses on Sly’s tight behind. After getting her fill of Sly she attempts to leave him high and dry only to be captured by Ned. She’s able to warn Ray, who escapes via ‘splosion. Ned tries to use May as bait, but is tricked like a dumbo and May and Ray escape back to his hideout. Ned is able to track them down where they engage in a climactic ‘sploision out where Ned is killed. As Ray and May leave Miami to live out their life together we see one final trap set by Ray to kill the head of the Miami mob. THE END.

Why?! May just wants revenge… as does Ned. Ray on the other hand is just like a lot of people in this world. He gained valuable skills in his last job (mostly deadly ‘splosions) that haven’t translated very well to the private sector. So really he’s just trying to make ends meet in this harsh world that doesn’t appreciate ‘Splosion Time (again, it’s his term, not mine). The man has a warehouse hideout to pay rent on after all.

Who?! There is a brief music scene in the film that apparently involves Emilio Estefan Jr. from Miami Sound Machine on piano and LaGaylia Frazier on vocal. You’re like ‘who?’ uh, only the judge from Sweden’s Got Talent. Duh. But seriously she’s like a pretty major Swedish singer. Weird that the scene is thrown away so quickly.

What?! Not really a whole lot to say in terms of product placements or MacGuffins. Not really any props for sale either. Now props not for sale? Jackpot. I like this blog entry. Not really for The Specialist prop which is just some fake dynamite, but the other two from Demolition Man and Cliffhanger which are both bonkers.

Where?! Mega Miami movie. It’s got the vibes, it’s got the heat, it’s got the sexy, sultry rhythm. No wonder Sly and Stone had to get in that shower to make sweet sweet yoga sex. Anywhere else and their skin would be sizzling with sweat. Some good sites and sounds and specific tie-ins to the region and I daresay this is an A.

When?! I went through this film with a fine-tooth comb convinced that I would find a solid date. Sly Stallone is a computer wizard checking his weirdo message boards all day so I thought that was a solid lead… nope. Maybe May’s funeral notice in the newspaper? Nope. But surely the end where our villain smugly looks at the front page news story about the death of Ray Quick?! Nope, nope, nope. F.

I loved this movie so much that it made me face mortality. Not my own, but rather the very real fact that the time of peak Stallone was forever in our rearview mirror. At one point The Specialist was new, a fresh Sly jewel that put a sparkle in everyone’s eyes. But now it is in the past and we can dig up that jewel, but supplies are limited. The film is right on the cusp of straight-to-video with Stallone going full mumblecore and the only sexy yoga scene I can remember. The sex scene is like a parody of a sex scene and there are explosions everywhere. If my mind could conjure a Sly Stallone film out of thin air it probably would look something like this. It’s really great and a very solid first Stallone Day and end of the year. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If you want a movie where you get to stare at Sylvester Stallone’s greased up and tanned abs, boy howdy do I have a movie for you! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This film had been on the docket for quite a while. Stallone, Stone, bombs, and glistening abs. Yes please, and may I order seconds? The most interesting thing in the preview (beyond some of the notes which make Stallone sound like a lunatic) was the director who is from Peru and seems to be a major player (still) in Peruvian television and film. What were my expectations? The reviews for the film were catastrophic, so I assumed the film would be ultra dumb with Stallone in particular being like … a smart beefcake character, like Cobra. The type of person Stallone really wanted to play (a cross between a stock broker and police officer, basically Raymond Tango) for some reason, and he never really sells it right.

The Good – The illogical bomb scenarios are really really fun. There is probably a really interesting Hitman-esque video game called The Specialist where the goal is to design various custom bombs for assassinations without causing collateral damage … uh, patent pending, that does really sound cool. Anyways, I liked Stone well enough, I can see how she was nominated for an Oscar a year later. And the sweaty Miami setting was used to good effect. Best Bit: Da bombs!

The Bad – Stallone is terrible in this, it is right around when his action career cratered with Judge Dredd, Daylight, and Assassins coming out right after. Woods isn’t much better, mostly just yelling and rending his clothes. And Eric Roberts is a B-list character actor inexplicably hired to play a Cuban-American (I think). The writing is, indeed, braindead. For real, James Woods knows what Ray Quick looks like, he knows he lives in Miami, and Ray Quick looks like Sly Stallone. There is no way he doesn’t find him in a second by just asking around for a bit. I don’t believe it. I feel like the movie wanted to be Heat, but then they accidentally made James Woods a true sociopath and Ray Quick not much more likeable, and the film fell apart. Fatal Flaw: Stallone is a terrible actor.

The BMT – This is the first real deal Stallone Day, the other kind of coming in hot right when we invented the concept. And I think we chose well. Once we watch Assassins we’ll be pretty close to finishing off his major films (Oscar and a few of the Rocky films would be the only major ones left). Unless we wait for decades though I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to switch to a different actor, like Nicolas Cage, for the special 53rd Thursday. Did it meet my expectations? I think it exceeded them. I kind of expected just a rote action film, but the film is almost erotic thriller level sex scenes with a slippery Stallone and Stone, in full muscle-y glory, going at it in a shower. That alone is worth the price of admission, the whole thing is just insanity.

Roast-radamus – An okay Product Placement (What?) for Miller. When you are sweating profusely in the sweltering Miami heat nothing is as refreshing as a delicious corn-flavored Miller. Great Setting as a Character (Where?) for Miami, obviously. And I think this is a slam dunk BMT.

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 9.2%; Notability: top 26.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 3.7% Higher BMeT: The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Junior, The Next Karate Kid, The Flintstones, Double Dragon, On Deadly Ground, North, Leprechaun 2, 3 Ninjas Kick Back, Exit to Eden, Color of Night, The Fantastic Four, In the Army Now, Getting Even with Dad, Blank Cheque, My Girl 2, Beverly Hills Cop III, Bad Girls; Higher Notability: The Flintstones, Beverly Hills Cop III, The Shadow, Love Affair, Frankenstein, North, Radioland Murders, I Love Trouble, Exit to Eden, The Pagemaster, D2: The Mighty Ducks, Junior, Little Giants, The Puppet Masters, Clifford, Thumbelina, Major League II, Clean Slate, Angels in the Outfield, Blue Chips, and 9 more; Lower RT: Getting Even with Dad, Major League II, Exit to Eden, Leprechaun 2, Lightning Jack, In the Army Now; Notes: This is the last installment of this section as I’m moving it to the preview. I’ll note that IMDb gave this an honorable mention on its Top 10 Awkward Sex Scenes list.

You Just Got Schooled – Jamie noticed that for the 15th Razzie Awards the Worst Picture Nominees were North (BMT), Color of Night (BMT), On Deadly Ground (BMT), The Specialist (BMT) … and Wyatt Earp? Which doesn’t qualify with a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. Watching it, I pretty much got why people at the time didn’t respond very well to it, because Tombstone had just come out the year before (and was well received), and the acting is pretty atrocious (with the exception of Dennis Quaid who is really good as Doc Holliday). That being said, the film goes along at a pleasant clip for a three hour film, and it was interesting enough that I’ll probably ultimately read a book on Wyatt Earp / Tombstone because it was just a wild time in the west. B-.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Specialist Quiz

Oh boy. So I was wiring up this sweet bomb to have a controlled explosion (everyone knows bombs are more precise than guns … right?) as an assassination tool and it blew up in my face! Whoops. Now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in The Specialist?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) May Munro has a dark past, so dark that only the special explosive skillz of Ray Quick can help her out. What does May want Ray to do?

2) Ned Trent though haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaates Ray. Why?

3) Well, as usual with these “boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy blows up the enemies of girl” stories there’s a twist. Well, the twist is that May knows Trent. What did Trent want May to do?

4) Well, as usual Ray gets his man, and gets out. But there was one thing Ray wasn’t counting on, Trent finding him. How did Trent find him?

5) In the end Ray and Trent have an explosion standoff in Ray’s warehouse loft. Where does Ray hide his bomb, and where does Trent?

Answers

The Specialist Preview

“Welcome to Hell,” Santa says as his sleigh settles down in front of Rich and Poe. His well oiled muscles are fresh from destroying another horrific monster in this fantasy realm. Bathed in blood he nods cheerfully at Kilgorn, recognizing a kindred spirit. “Ho ho ho,” Santa laughs, his abs jiggling like a bowlful of rock hard jelly, “and what would you boys like for Christmas?” Just as Rich is about to tell Santa about their quest, Poe jumps in eagerly to ask for the latest Jim Nasium Jones action figure that has all the special add-ons, like the rocket pack and complete frolf set. “It’s really cool beans,” Poe gushes. Santa winks and out of thin air appears that most exclusive action figure. “Woah,” Poe says and honestly Rich can’t blame him, even if it did totally bone their quest to save Nic. Jim Nasium Jones is rad. Just as Santa is about to fly away, another satisfied customer in his wake, Rich calls out for him to wait. Santa turns a menacing eye on Rich, “Really? Another wish?” The rat-bat squeaks in fear and flies away. “You know the price. You must fulfill a wish of mine as well… if you dare. Ho ho ho.” His tone is menacing. “Yes,” Rich affirms, his voice cracking, “take us to Nic Cage.” Santa smirks and pops his knuckles. “Gladly, my boys,” Santa says in a suspicious, jolly tone, “But on one condition.” Rich and Poe lick their lips waiting for the other shoe to drop. “Just get me close enough to tell him something,” Rich and Poe look at each other. Just to say something to him? Seems harmless enough. They nod in agreement. “One very, very special thing,” Santa completes and begins to scream in maniacal laughter. That’s right! We are finishing 2020 with an extra special Stallonian Calendar Leap Week! Some very special years are blessed with 53 thursdays. In those years we get an extra week outside the cycles and BMT Lives to do what we wish and boy howdy do we wish upon a star for a new Sly Stallone movie. This year we gather under the traditional Stallone Day hanging slab of meat to watch The Specialist. Let’s go!   

The Specialist (1994) – BMeTric: 45.9; Notability: 42 

(Actually a lot lower Notability than I would have thought. It is a Sly Stallone film from 1994 involving, presumably, a lot of stunts and pyrotechnics. I wonder if given Sly’s undoubtedly absurd salary at the time they had to skimp on some of the crew to meet the production’s budget … could be. The rating is getting mighty close to a genuine cult classic. It it ever hits 6.0 on IMDb it would have to be one of the highest rated sub-10% Rotten Tomatoes films ever.)

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – Rod Steiger, as the mob patriarch, employs an accent that requires him to say “chew” when he means “you.” Roberts, as his son, is real slick with chicks (“What I want, I take” is his opener with Stone). And the movie includes a dandy example of the Aquarium Rule, which teaches that whenever a large aquarium is introduced into a crime movie, we will eventually see a character’s head sleeping with the fishes.

(He actually seemed to like the film more than a lot of critics at the time. This is right around the time that I think Ebert started softening on “good for what they are” action in particular, and I think the very forgiving 2 star review is evidence of that.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqTrjDsEg4g/

(I mean, yeah. I’m down. Mid-90s Stallone flicks are at least entertaining if not always good. They do a nice tease of how much Woods chews at the scenery as well.)

Directors – Luis Llosa – (Future BMT: Sniper; BMT: Anaconda; The Specialist; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Anaconda in 1998; Notes: Born in Peru, he made multiple films set in the Amazon jungle culminating in Anaconda. Since 1996 he’s mostly been a producer on Peruvian soap operas.)

Writers – John Shirley (Specialist novels) (suggestion) – (Known For: The Crow; BMT: The Specialist; Notes: The series was a pulpy book series about the assassin Jack Sullivan. It was published under the pseudonym John Cutter, and Shirley, after becoming a famous novelist, disowned the series as garbage written for quick cash. Also wrote multiple full albums for Blue Öyster Cult and was a writer on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon which won an Emmy.)

Alexandra Seros (written by) – (Known For: Point of No Return; BMT: The Specialist; Notes: While only credited on these two films she seems to maybe be involved with the UCLA film school and is still (maybe) listed as a screenwriter on LinkedIn, so it is possible she has been doing mostly behind the scenes writing for the last 20 years.)

Actors – Sylvester Stallone – (Known For: Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2; Rocky; Cliffhanger; Creed II; The Expendables; First Blood; Creed; Rocky III; Escape Plan; The Expendables 2; Rocky Balboa; Rocky II; Spy Kids 3: Game Over; Antz; Cop Land; Escape to Victory; Death Race 2000; Bullet to the Head; Animal Crackers; Future BMT: Escape Plan II; Escape Plan 3; Staying Alive; Rocky V; D-Tox; An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn; Backtrace; Avenging Angelo; Ratchet & Clank; Collection; Assassins; Oscar; Rocky IV; BMT: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Driven; Zookeeper; Rhinestone; Get Carter; Judge Dredd; The Specialist; Rambo III; Cobra; Over the Top; Daylight; The Expendables 3; Rambo: Last Blood; Tango & Cash; Grudge Match; Lock Up; Rambo: First Blood Part II; Demolition Man; Rambo; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Actor for Rocky IV in 1986; Winner for Worst Screenplay, and Worst Actor for Rambo: First Blood Part II in 1986; Winner for Worst Actor in 1985 for Rhinestone; in 1989 for Rambo III; and in 1993 for Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Winner for Worst Supporting Actor for Spy Kids 3: Game Over in 2004; Winner for Worst Screen Couple in 1995 for Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, and The Specialist; Winner for Worst Actor of the Decade in 1990 for Cobra, Cobra, Lock Up, Lock Up, Over the Top, Over the Top, Rambo III, Rambo III, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rhinestone, Rocky IV, and Tango & Cash; Nominee for Worst Director for The Expendables in 2011; Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 1985 for Rhinestone; in 1986 for Rocky IV; in 1987 for Cobra; in 1989 for Rambo III; in 1991 for Rocky V; in 1994 for Cliffhanger; in 2002 for Driven; and in 2020 for Rambo: Last Blood; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1987 for Cobra; in 1988 for Over the Top; in 1990 for Lock Up, and Tango & Cash; in 1991 for Rocky V; in 1992 for Oscar; in 1995 for The Specialist; in 1996 for Assassins, and Judge Dredd; in 1997 for Daylight; in 2001 for Get Carter; in 2014 for Bullet to the Head, Escape Plan, and Grudge Match; and in 2020 for Rambo: Last Blood; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Couple for Driven in 2002; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Screen Combo for Rambo: Last Blood in 2020; Notes: Y’all know Sylvester. Most of the recent news for him is about how he just bought a $35 million house in Florida. Good for him I guess.)

Sharon Stone – (Known For: Basic Instinct; Total Recall; Casino; The Disaster Artist; The Laundromat; The Quick and the Dead; Alpha Dog; Lovelace; Antz; Broken Flowers; Above the Law; Bobby; The Mighty; Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold; Stardust Memories; Irreconcilable Differences; Fading Gigolo; The Muse; Les uns et les autres; Beautiful Joe; Future BMT: Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol; Sliver; Cold Creek Manor; King Solomon’s Mines; Diabolique; Simpatico; Action Jackson; Intersection; Gloria; Life on the Line; Sphere; Mothers and Daughters; He Said, She Said; Deadly Blessing; Last Dance; Last Action Hero; Year of the Gun; Jiminy Glick in Lalawood; A Warrior’s Tail; A Little Something for Your Birthday; BMT: Catwoman; Basic Instinct 2; The Specialist; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actress in 1995 for Intersection, and The Specialist; and in 2007 for Basic Instinct 2; Winner for Worst Screen Couple in 1995 for Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, and The Specialist; Nominee for Worst Actress in 1988 for Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold; in 1994 for Sliver; and in 2000 for Gloria; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress, and Worst Screen Couple for Catwoman in 2005; and Nominee for Worst New Star in 1997 for Diabolique, and Last Dance; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for Casino. She appeared nude in Playboy in 1990 which is somewhat credited for getting her the role in Basic Instinct which would propel her to stardom. Still works a ton, just more sporadically on both television and film.)

James Woods – (Known For: Once Upon a Time in America; Casino; Hercules; Contact; The Virgin Suicides; White House Down; Any Given Sunday; Chaplin; Videodrome; Against All Odds; John Carpenter’s Vampires; The Way We Were; Surf’s Up; Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within; Straw Dogs; Stuart Little 2; Riding in Cars with Boys; Nixon; True Crime; Salvador; Future BMT: Big Fat Important Movie; Scary Movie 2; Play It to the Bone; The Getaway; The General’s Daughter; Kicked in the Head; Jamesy Boy; Pretty Persuasion; Bling; John Q; BMT: The Specialist; Be Cool; Jobs; Notes: Notably went to MIT and dropped out in his sophomore year to pursue acting. Nominated for Oscars for Ghosts of Mississippi and Salvador. Also notably a Hollywood conservative.)

Budget/Gross – $45,000,000 / Domestic: $57,362,582 (Worldwide: $170,362,582)

(That seems like a modest success to me. This probably didn’t end up leading to a sequel because of how poorly it was received critically.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 7% (2/29)

(Wowza! That is absurdly low! Let’s make a consensus: A dmb story involving dumb people saying dumb things. That about sums that up. Reviewer Highlight: Llosa relies on stock action shots and tedious exposition to get from scene to scene. You keep waiting for something — anything — neat to happen, but nothing does. – Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle)

Poster – The Sklogalist

(I should have been keeping track of the posters we’ve seen where the star(s) appear multiple times. It tickles me that there is double stallone on this. So much is wrong with this but daaaannnngg, that’s some unique font… I believe they are going for a digital look based on The Specialist’s brand of time bombs. Or maybe not. I honestly can’t tell, but I very much appreciate the effort. C-.)

Tagline(s) – The government taught him to kill. Now he’s using his skills to help a woman seek revenge against the Miami underworld. (F)

(No. Stop. I didn’t even read it. Who would read this enormous tagline? Fine, I’ll read it… did a child write this? That might be the worst tagline in history.)

Keyword – time bomb

Top 10: Tenet (2020), Die Hard (1988), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight (2008), Justice League (2017), Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), Spectre (2015), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), The Fifth Element (1997)

Future BMT: 88.2 Street Fighter (1994), 63.9 Underdog (2007), 62.5 Big Fat Important Movie (2008), 56.9 Suburban Commando (1991), 54.8 Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), 50.3 Son of the Pink Panther (1993), 47.7 Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995), 46.6 Solo (1996), 46.3 Machete Kills (2013), 44.4 Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection (1990);

BMT: Armageddon (1998), Sucker Punch (2011), Batman Forever (1995), The Expendables 3 (2014), Mechanic: Resurrection (2016), Point Break (2015), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Movie 43 (2013), Godzilla (1998), Tango & Cash (1989), The Specialist (1994), Rambo III (1988), Killers (2010), Abduction (2011), Soldier (1998), Hudson Hawk (1991), Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997), The Lawnmower Man (1992), Spice World (1997), Torque (2004), I Spy (2002), RoboCop 3 (1993), Fair Game (1995), On Deadly Ground (1994), Double Team (1997), Alone in the Dark (2005), Bad Company (2002), Universal Soldier: The Return (1999), Extreme Ops (2002)

(If you squint you might be able to get the impression that time bombs were a purely 90s thing. Like dumb 90s films love time bombs and that love just grew and grew. And now? Not so much. We are over time bombs now … I could actually believe that. As far as films with time bombs I hope to watch soon, look no further than Under Siege 2.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 10) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Sylvester Stallone is No. 1 billed in The Specialist and No. 1 billed in Expendables 3, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 10. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 8.

Notes – Sylvester Stallone had this to say on filming the shower scene with Sharon Stone:”OK. Let it be known, I didn’t want to do this scene because Sharon was not cooperating. We get to the set and she decides not to take her robe off. The director asks only a few of the crew to remain, and she still won’t take it off. I promised her I wouldn’t take any liberties, so what’s the problem? She said, ‘I’m just sick of nudity.’ I asked her if she could get sick of it on someone else’s film. She was having none of it, so I went down to my trailer, brought back a bottle of Black Death vodka that was given to me by Michael Douglas and after half-a-dozen shots we were wet and wild.” (Oh, that sounds awful Sly)

Sharon Stone was 36 when this movie was filmed, although her character was supposed to be in her early twenties.

Eric Roberts is only two years older than Sharon Stone. In the film his character was supposed to have killed her parents when she was a child. (haha)

Sylvester Stallone demanded for some of James Woods’s scenes to be cut out of the movie and for some of his scenes to be re-shot in order for Stallone to have more screen time. The reason for that was because Stallone was worried that Woods would “steal” the movie away. Stallone allegedly also cut out some Rutger Hauer’s scenes from Nighthawks (1981) for same reasons.

David Fincher was set to direct this at one stage. Sylvester Stallone liked Fincher but he was overruled by the producers, because Fincher’s career was still in deep freeze after the failure of Alien³ (1992) and wasn’t revived until the massive success of Seven (1995).

Ray Quick’s cat was named “Timer”. The cat who portrayed Timer (a Maine Coon) is also seen in Assassins as Pearl.

The producers got Sylvester Stallone to do the movie by threatening to replace him with Warren Beatty if he didn’t commit himself to the project within a fifteen-minute deadline.

In January, 1993 the Los Angeles Times listed The Specialist as the best unproduced thriller script in Hollywood, based on a poll of forty agents, producers and studio executives. (Interesting, an early blacklist thing)

“Turn the Beat Around”, covered by Gloria Estefan for this film, remains one of her highest selling singles.

Mario Van Peebles was attached to direct the movie in 1991, but left.

The music for this movie was written by John Barry who is more known for doing the music for the James Bond movies that starred Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.

When Sylvester Stallone enters his computer to activate the massive explosion of his home near end of film, the password he uses is “Top of the world, Ma.” This is a slight paraphrase of Jimmy Cagney’s last line in White Heat (1949), just before Cagney shoots into the large gas storage unit he’s standing on, causing massive explosions. (“Made it, Ma. Top of the world!”)

Awards – Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Sharon Stone, 1995)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, 1995)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Jerry Weintraub, 1995)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Sylvester Stallone, 1995)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Rod Steiger, 1995)

Jingle All the Way Recap

Jamie

Howard is a loving husband and father whose workaholic ways get in the way. When he once again disappoints his son, he promises to make it up to him by getting him the new Turboman doll for Xmas. Little does he know it’s the hottest toy in town. Can he take down the competition and get Turboman before it’s too late? Find out in… Jingle All the Way.

How?! Howard is just buy sell buy sell wall street stuff all day making the big bucks at his mattress store. Unfortunately the mattresses can’t sell itself and he misses his son’s big karate show right before Christmas. Oh no! You know what that means. He’s gotta buy his son the biggest, hottest toy in town, Turboman, in order to make sure he loves him. Hooray! That toy is hot, and when I say hot I mean people are laughing in Howard’s face when he and a crazy mailman are both attempting to find one on Xmas Eve. Much like Odysseus, Howard begins a long and winding quest that takes him to toy stores around town, to a Santa run counterfeit toy outfit, and finally to a radio station that claims to be giving away the coveted prize. The whole while he is stoking the rivalry with the mailman who eventually snaps and commits a string of felonies including (but not limited to) multiple bomb threats. After striking out at the radio station, Howard returns home to find his smarmy neighbor hitting on his wife and playing dad of the year. Enraged, Howard breaks into his neighbor’s house and steals the Turboman he got for his son. He attempts to return it after realizing what he’s doing is wrong, only to release a wild reindeer (don’t ask) which destroys his neighbor’s house and alerts his family to his misdeed. They go off to the big parade without him and Howard is feeling pretty blue… but this man is the mattress king of Minneapolis and you can’t keep him down for long. So he heads into the city only to inadvertently get dragged into the parade to portray (you guessed it) Turboman. This giant, Austrian man beast is apparently unrecognizable to friends and family in his Turboman costume and he is able to pull his son out of the crowd and give him an extra special Turboman. But uh oh! The mailman is back, Jack and he chases Howard’s son up to the top of a building. Howard uses his Turboman skillz to swoop in and saves his son, after which he reveals himself and his son is like “who needs a doll when I got the real Turboman at home.” It’s an Xmas miracle. THE END.

Why?! Just to jingle jangle, right? Nope, it’s really for love. Awwwww. Howard knows his son is a materialistic monster and that he’s a terrible father. He knows that only the spirit of Christmas can save their familial love… and by spirit of Christmas I of course mean the latest, hottest toy. The only other clear motivation is Phil Hartman’s smarmy neighbor character who clearly wants to get it on with Howard’s wife and would go to any lengths to do so.

Who?! One positive in the Santa mob scene was the brief appearance of the wrestler The Big Show and an uncredited appearance by Verne Troyer. Obviously Arnold fits into the athlete turned actor category and Sinbad is a major actor credited by a mononym. But probably the best credit in the film is Harvey Korman credited as the President of the US. How? Because they show a part of an episode of a Turboman show and there he is. I love it.

What?! Great MacGuffin in the Turboman doll. Both Arnold and Sinbad pull out all the stops to obtain this doll that certainly holds a mysterious power over the love from their children. There was also some fun product placement here with the final Christmas parade and the many Minnesota specific stores and diners and the like. But really the biggest shoutout goes to the Booster action figure that is on sale for a cool grand. They may have hated that giant pink tiger sidekick in the film, but I sure did like him.

Where?! This is a major Minnesota film and perhaps the greatest Minnesota BMT film of all time. They really show off the state with the Mall of America, Mickey’s Diner, Nicollet Island, etc. It would be really hard to beat unless they decided to make some series of films about a youth hockey team that wins big and loves the Minnesota North Stars… but that would be crazy. While a great setting I actually don’t think this is an A… just an A-. Could have been in Chicago? Why couldn’t it have been.

When?! This could be an A+ film and a not so secret Holiday Film, but really are we sure that Jingle All the Way is enough to be certain that it’s set on Christmas?… JK, it is enough and it is an A+, but it is an interesting side note to mention how the film is a Christmas film that is actually never set on Christmas. It ends during the Christmas Eve parade and we get a very brief scene at the end that seems to be still late on The Eve (as the kids call it). Christmas never actually makes an appearance.

The film is bonkers crazy in terms of what it thinks is hilarious for people to watch as they snuggle under a blanket on Christmas Eve with their eggnog (or whatever nog they prefer). Sinbad threatening to blow up a radio station in pursuit of a stupid toy? Hah! That’s not horrifying in the least. There were some jokes I liked (like the intense disdain everyone had for Turboman’s pink tiger sidekick Booster) and then others that probably worked better on paper (the santa mob) and then Sinbad acting like a psycho for the rest of it. Was it better than I thought it would be? No… I think it was just as bad as I expected it to be. The exact level of badness that Jingle All the Way conjured in my mind. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Jingle Jangle Jingling with them Janglin’s … let’s go!

P’s View of the Preview – Have I seen Jingle All the Way, you get right on outta here! Of course I have. I was what? Ten when it came out, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if I was told that I saw it in theaters. It certainly isn’t a good movie though, even ten-year-old me must have known this through the multiple viewings on cable. The preview reminded me that Jingle All the Way was filmed in Minneapolis / Saint Paul, which is where I lived at one point, so that’s a fun new viewpoint to bring to this Christmas viewing. What were my expectations? It was obviously still going to be terrible. But seeing classic Arnold in a comedic role was going to be a blast from the past, and as mentioned, I want as much Minnesota stuff in my face as possible.

The Good – Yes, this film is materialistic, but there is a nugget of wholesome family-is-more-important-to-money-and-toys message laced throughout the entire film which maybe saves it a bit. Arnold is just so goddamned charming, it is no wonder his comedic efforts fared far better than Sylvester Stallone’s from the same era. And I’m sure that children would enjoy the grand finale of the film, and some of the more absurd bits as well (like the kung fu santas and whatnot).  If only Arnold had an amusing male secretary he made fun of (but ultimately became indebted to) throughout the film. Fifteen years later and that character would have been played by like … Clark Duke or something and definitely would have been in the film. Best Bit: Arnold.

The Bad – For the most part the film is pretty down to Earth … and then out of nowhere Sinbad will blow up a police officer with a bomb like a cartoon, and Arnold will crash headfirst into a building only to be stunned like Wile E. Coyote. Those moments smash you out of the film so hard it is pretty unforgivable. And then the B-story is all about how Phil Hartman wants to steal Arnold’s wife!! The film is perplexing in that sense, and probably reflects the understanding that their lead actor doesn’t exactly have classical comedy chops. Fatal Flaw: Materialistic and cartoony.

The BMT – We finally knocked off one of the Calendar’s special Christmas films which is nice. This is also one of the Razzie nominees of that year. I should go through and do another analysis of Razzie films. As bad as that award is, completing the worst picture nominees (for example) would be a nice achievement as far as challenges go. Did it meet my expectations? If by “meet” you mean I was filled with holiday cheer, then yes. The film isn’t good, but it was fun to watch it with Jamie and reflect on just how wild some of the choices being made in 1996 were. Also huuuuge Minnesota film, just a Where’s Where of Minnesota wonder.

Roast-radamus – There is a sneaky Planchet (Who?) here in the form of Booster, Turboman’s sidekick which everyone hates and dunks on throughout the film for no reason. I’m going to give it a solid Product Placement (What?) for Grain Belt, the local corn-flavored beer from New Ulm, Minnesota which Arnold is sadly day-drinking at the end of the second act of the film. An amazing Setting as a Character (Where?) for the Twin Cities in general. A Not-So-Secret Holiday Film (When?) for it being an incredible Christmas film. A huuuuuge MacGuffin (Why?) in the TurboMan Toy. And a good Worst Twist (How?) for little Anakin Skywalker revealing that all he wants for Christmas is … his dad. Awwwwwwww. That’s a clean sweep boys! I like this in the BMT category.

StreetCreditReport.com – Jingle All the Way has cred up the wazoo. First some stats. Top 10% in BMeTric and Notability for 1996, and around top 15% for Rotten Tomatoes meter. I think being in the top 25% for any of those is qualifying and it has all three. Second, it has a straight-to-video sequel made nearly 20 years later in 1994. Nothing says cred like trying to cash in on that sweet IP with nostalgic twenty-somethings. Third, it had a Razzie nomination for the director, always nice to see. This is also, weirdly, the number six funniest Christmas movie according to IMDb. And, maybe most notably, it is mentioned on Jeopardy! as a subject of a $1,200 clue in the category “One-Named Personalities” 13 years after it was made in 2009 … that’s real deal cred.

You Just Got Schooled – You might me thinking, of course, Jingle All the Way 2. Wrong! I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead I just went with another classic Christmas film I had never really seen all the way through National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I really rather enjoyed this film, it is very similar to the original Vacation film in tone and structure. There are definitely some cartoony bits (like Chevy Chase flying around on a magic super-lubricated sled), and it is maybe one of the more anxiety-inducing films I’ve ever seen, but once it builds to the inevitable crescendo of Clark Griswald having a breakdown, it ends on a particularly high note in teaching his eeeeeevil greedy corporate boss a lesson about Christmas cheer. B+, maybe a bit too much of a carbon copy of the original as far as plot points, but still funny.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Jingle All the Way Quiz

Oh man, so I’m a workaholic bad dad and I plum forgot to get my son a gift for Christmas (whoops!). Well, while trying to get my hands on that sweet merch in the Mall of America, I got bopped on the head and now I can’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Jingle All the Way?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Arnold is a workaholic bad dad and bad husband. What is his job that he loves more than his wife and child? Moreover, what is Sinbad’s job?

2) And what does he miss on that fateful Christmas Eve Eve that gets everyone (especially Phil Hartman) all mad at him?

3) Well only one thing to do then, go and get that toy. In the end, prior to the parade at the end of the film, we see him explicitly try and get the toy in five different places. What are they? Ignore any and all montages.

4) What makes Arnold, who we find sadly day drinking in his backyard, realize that he has to go out and win back the love of his child?

5) What is so very special about the toy that Arnold ultimately gets his son and what happens to it?

Answers

Jingle All the Way Preview

As night closes around then, Rich and Poe hearts pound in fear. That strange, portentous book has spooked them and they no longer know what horrors await. Suddenly they feel very tired and homesick and shiver sadly in the gloom. They tense up when they hear a rustling in the woods. “Hello,” they call, peering into the darkness hoping that it was just the wind. Suddenly a monstrous rat-bat comes flying out of the trees! Egad! The horror! Woe is Rich and Poe, champions of the universe, who will be done in by this ghastly beast. Nic Cage will die and the prophecy will go unfulfilled. But instead of slaying them with its talons, the rat-bat instead screams  “Kout!” in a goofy, friendly voice as it flies down and kills a bush viper ready to strike and kill them. “Pissah of a snake, this one, ayuh,” it says as it perches in a tree above, “You boys lost yah cah or something?” It goggles its big disgusting eyes at Rich and Poe and snacks on mouthfuls of snake before a look of recognition crosses its rat-bat face, “Well, I’ll be. So the squirrels were right. You them boys gonna save the nuts or whatevah. Wicked cool. But what’re you doing out here in bush viper country? You’re going the wrong way, ayuh.” At the rat-bats words Rich and Poe deflate. Nic’s life hangs in the balance. They ask politely if the rat-bat could carry them in his horrifying claws and fly them to Nic, but the rat-bat lifts up his talons, dripping with fresh blood, and laughs, “these fellahs’ll rip yah to shreds, ayuh. No… I think I have something a little bettah.” And with that he winks and lets out a shrill whistle. Suddenly they hear a jingle jangle. That’s right! As a celebration of the end of 2020 we are doing a special live BMT Christmas spectacular. We thought maybe a Rocky marathon at first, but we realized only one BMT Christmas film would do. It’s Ahnold time. Jingle Jangle All the Way here we come. Let’s go!   

Jingle All The Way (1996) – BMeTric: 47.0; Notability: 73 

(The IMDb rating is shockingly low early on. I would have thought it would be higher since it always feels like Jingle All the Way has some cult following among people who were 10 in 1996. The Notability is amazingly high! I love it.)

RogerEbert.com – 2.5 stars – “Jingle All the Way” was inspired, I suspect, by that panic a few years ago when stores ran out of Cabbage Patch dolls. As the movie opens, little Jamie Langston is watching the TurboMan show on TV, and of course he wants the TurboMan action figure for Christmas, complete with all its accessories. Jamie’s dad, Howard (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is a busy businessman, who says he has already purchased the toy–but lies. His adventures while trying to find a TurboMan provide the movie’s plot. …I liked a lot of the movie, which is genial and has a lot of energy, but I was sort of depressed by its relentlessly materialistic view of Christmas, and by the choice to go with action and (mild) violence over dialogue and plot. Audiences will like it, I am sure, but I have to raise my hand in reluctant dissent and ask, please, sir, may we have some more goodwill among men? Even TurboMen?

(Oh don’t worry Ebert, literally every single reviewer hated this film. So there is no need to bravely stand alone against Jingle All the Way and its materialistic message. It is possible that Ebert gave it the best review out of any major critic, 2.5 out of 4 stars is pretty solid.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuPc9QJcGJs/

(This actually looks really fun as a trailer. It is a very obvious idea that would have only really existed after Cabbage Patch Kids in the 80s, a truly modern Christmas message about how materialism has taken over the holiday. I’m sure they absolutely thought they had a shoe in Christmas classic on their hands.)

Directors – Brian Levant – (Future BMT: The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas; The Flintstones; Problem Child 2; Snow Dogs; The Spy Next Door; Beethoven; BMT: Are We There Yet?; Jingle All The Way; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for The Flintstones in 1995; and Nominee for Worst Director for Jingle All the Way in 1997; Notes: Has mostly been straight to video sequels for the last 10 years, but he has also been announced for the writer-director of the new Police Academy film.)

Writers – Randy Kornfield (written by) – (Known For: Eight Legged Freaks; BMT: Jingle All The Way; Notes: Apparently his grandfather worked in film back in the day. He seems like he probably is a staff writer of some kind for production studios, still writing, just not getting explicitly credited on screenplays.)

Actors – Arnold Schwarzenegger – (Known For: Terminator: Dark Fate; Total Recall; The Terminator; Terminator 2: Judgment Day; Predator; The Expendables; True Lies; Conan the Barbarian; The Expendables 2; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; Commando; Kindergarten Cop; Twins; Escape Plan; The Running Man; Welcome to the Jungle; The Last Stand; The 6th Day; Dave; The Long Goodbye; Future BMT: Hercules in New York; Junior; Collateral Damage; End of Days; The Iron Mask; Cactus Jack; Eraser; Terminator Genisys; Last Action Hero; The Kid & I; BMT: Batman & Robin; Red Sonja; Jingle All The Way; Raw Deal; Sabotage; Around the World in 80 Days; Conan the Destroyer; The Expendables 3; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 1983 for Conan the Barbarian; in 1994 for Last Action Hero; in 2000 for End of Days; and in 2001 for The 6th Day; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor in 1998 for Batman & Robin; in 2001 for The 6th Day; in 2005 for Around the World in 80 Days; and in 2015 for The Expendables 3; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for The 6th Day in 2001; Notes: As with many old movies during quarantine, there was just a Kindergarten Cop reunion on Zoom, so that’s fun. He’s the father-in-law of Chris Pratt.)

Sinbad – (Known For: Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco; Crazy as Hell; Future BMT: Coneheads; First Kid; Planes; The Meteor Man; Good Burger; Hansel & Gretel; Houseguest; Necessary Roughness; BMT: Jingle All The Way; Notes: Apparently he suffered a stroke recently, sadly. Was in the Air Force prior to breaking into comedy, although he hasn’t really worked in film since the early 2000s.)

Phil Hartman – (Known For: Spaceballs; Pee-wee’s Big Adventure; Small Soldiers; So I Married an Axe Murderer; ¡Three Amigos!; Kiki’s Delivery Service; Amazon Women on the Moon; The Brave Little Toaster; Ruthless People; Quick Change; CB4; Future BMT: Coneheads; Sgt. Bilko; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Blind Date; The Pagemaster; Loaded Weapon 1; Fletch Lives; Houseguest; Greedy; How I Got Into College; BMT: Jingle All The Way; Stuart Saves His Family; Notes: Sadly was murdered by his wife in 1998 who was troubled with drug abuse. Was famous for his impressions on SNL, his voices on The Simpsons, and his role on NewsRadio.)

Budget/Gross – $60,000,000 / Domestic: $60,592,389 (Worldwide: $129,832,389)

(Obviously not what they were expecting given the apparent budget. Kind of okay, would have come out as a wash at least over the years with the DVD sales and whatnot.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (7/46): Arnold Schwarzenegger tries his best, but Jingle All the Way suffers from an uneven tone, shifting wildly from a would-be satire on materialism to an antic, slapstick yuk-fest.

(Really low. And interesting how the consensus seems to see some sort of statement on materialism in parts of the film, whereas other critiques seem to focus on just how materialistic the whole film actually seems to be. Reviewer Highlight: You’ll need an awful lot of Christmas cheer to forgive Arnold Schwarzenegger for his fourth, and hopefully last, venture into comedy, a turkey that needs stuffing on the most inaccessible shelf of your local video store. – Neil Smith, BBC)

Poster – Pringles All the Way

(Gah! My eyes! Get that out of here and burn it before too many people see it. Just… not good. But not like The Avengers or anything. D-.)

Tagline(s) – Two Dads, One Toy, No Prisoners. (A-)

(Yes, yes, yes. This is what you want from a tagline. Give me the classic hits with my sweet pringles all the way twist. It’s almost so classic you are tempted to downgrade it for lack of originality. But I won’t.)

Keyword – christmas

Top 10: Home Alone (1990), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), Love Actually (2003), Elf (2003), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), The Santa Clause (1994), The Grinch (2018), Die Hard (1988), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Peppermint (2018)

Future BMT: 82.9 Home Alone 3 (1997), 75.9 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), 73.7 Look Who’s Talking Now (1993), 69.1 The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006), 68.8 Black Christmas (2006), 68.5 Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015), 61.0 Legion (2010), 60.4 Maid in Manhattan (2002), 60.0 Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007), 59.8 Staying Alive (1983);

BMT: Jingle All The Way (1996), Christmas with the Kranks (2004), Santa Claus: The Movie (1985), Movie 43 (2013), Replicas (2018), Unaccompanied Minors (2006), Shaft (2019), Gangster Squad (2013), Soldier (1998), Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), A Madea Christmas (2013), Cobra (1986), Daylight (1996), RoboCop 3 (1993), Behind Enemy Lines (2001), Jack and Jill (2011), The Number 23 (2007), Jaws: The Revenge (1987), Get Carter (2000)

(Looks like that War on Christmas is working … I’m joking, but yeah, we really liked Christmas in the 2000s huh? Perhaps the completion of the “genre leaking” that Die Hard started where the keyword can be applied to any and all films since they all dare to be (ironically) Christmas movies? … Probably not.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Arnold Schwarzenegger is No. 1 billed in Jingle All The Way and No. 4 billed in Expendables 3, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 4 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 13. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Producer Chris Columbus wanted Joe Pesci to play Myron, but he was deemed too short at 5’3 next to Arnold Schwarzenegger who is 6’2. This was despite the fact that Schwarznegger had previously appeared in two films alongside the even-shorter Danny DeVito.

Sinbad improvised the majority of his lines. Arnold Schwarzenegger also improvised many of his responses in his conversations with him.

In March 2001, a U.S. District Court jury in Birmingham, Michigan ruled that 20th Century Fox stole the script idea “Jingle All the Way” from Detroit high school biology teacher Brian Webster. The studio was ordered to pay $19 million, later reduced to $1.5 million. Webster submitted the script, then named “Could This Be Christmas?”, to the studio in 1994, and never received payment nor credit despite the film making $129 million worldwide. 20th Century Fox appealed, and the verdict was reversed, since Webster’s script was submitted after the studio had already purchased a treatment (summary or outline) of what would become this movie’s script. (It is a really wild story. The wiki blurb about it either must be deceiving or wrong, because it says that the names of characters are the same … I don’t see how that could be the case without it being cut-and-dry plagiarism)

The story is based on the 1980s shopping frenzy over the Cabbage Patch dolls. However, it ended up perfectly mimicking the Tickle Me Elmo craze of Christmas 1996.

Verne Troyer has an uncredited role as the shortest Santa that gets punched while on Arnold Schwarzenegger in the warehouse.

Filming took place in Minnesota for five weeks from April 15, 1996. At the time, it was the largest film production to ever take place in the state.

You can buy official Turbo Man action figures on Ebay.

The world premiere was held on November 16, 1996 at the Mall of America in Bloomington where parts of the film were shot. A day of events was held to celebrate the film’s release and Arnold Schwarzenegger donated memorabilia from the film to the Mall’s Planet Hollywood.

Despite the Turbo Man being a fictional product created for the movie, the toy that Myron references in the diner that he did not get as a child (and later said to be the most popular boys’ toy aside from Turbo Man) is, in fact, a real toy. It is in real life called the Johnny Seven OMA gun (OMA meaning “one man army”), as it performed seven different functions. The Johnny Seven OMA gun was produced by Deluxe Reading under their Topper Toys toyline, and released in 1964, where it became the best selling boys’ toy of that year. The toy was marketed heavily on television, and the commercial went exactly as how Myron described it. The toy is no longer made, and has become a collector’s item.

The giant Santa in this film is WWE’s The Big Show.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was paid a reported $20 million for the role.

Although Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that the Minnesota locals were “well-behaved” and “cooperative”, director Brian Levant often found filming “impossible” due to the scale and noise of the crowds who came to watch production, especially in the Mall of America, but overall found the locals to be “respectful” and “lovely people”.

Chris Parnell’s first movie appearance.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger only signed on for the film in February and the film was shot so quickly, only six and a half months were available for merchandising, instead of the ideal year. As such, merchandising was limited to a thirteen and a half inch replica twenty-five dollar talking Turbo Man action figure and the west coast exclusive Turbo Man Time Racer vehicle, while no tie-in promotions could be secured. Despite this, several critics wrote that the film was only being made in order to sell the toy. Chris Columbus dismissed this notion, stating that with only roughly two hundred thousand Turbo Man toys being made, the merchandising was far less than the year’s other releases, such as Space Jam (1996) and 101 Dalmatians (1996).

20th Century Fox offered Arnold Schwarzenegger the project after development on a remake of Planet of the Apes (1968), which had been a longtime pet project for the actor, fell apart.

Some home media covers have Howard dressed in a Santa suit. Howard never wears a Santa suit in the course of the film.

Howard and the reindeer enjoy Grain Belt Premium Beer, which is a Classic Minnesota made beer, still very popular today.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Brian Levant, 1997)

Graveyard Shift Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Graveyard Shift Quiz

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

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

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

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

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

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

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

Answers

Graveyard Shift Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotten Tomatoes – 12% (1/8)

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

Poster – Sklogyard Shift

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

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

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

Keyword – based on short story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy Island Recap

Jamie

A group of people arrive on Fantasy Island, a magical island where Mr. Roarke makes your dreams come true. But they soon realize that these aren’t dreams, but rather nightmares and they have to escape the island. Can they stop Mr. Roarke and get off the island before it’s too late? Find out in… Fantasy Island.

How?! Gwen, Melanie, Patrick, Brax, and J. D. show up on Fantasy Island having won the opportunity to have their dreams come true courtesy of Mr. Roarke. Brax and J. D. are codependent bros looking to have fun with each other because family is everything. Patrick wants to be a soldier like his dad, who died a hero. Melanie wants to get revenge on her childhood tormentor. Gwen wants to get past her life full of regrets. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, particularly for Gwen, who having accepted a marriage proposal from the love of her life (who she let get away) is living the fantasy of having a beautiful family… but things feel off and she demands that she get over her real regret: the fact that she never saved a man from a fire she accidentally started years before. Meanwhile, Brax and J. D. are also experiencing some unpleasant side effects of having it all when it turns out they are occupying a drug dealer’s abode and some armed baddies show up to take them hostage. Patrick also is realizing that everything isn’t as it seems when he shows up to help his dad survive his fatal mission only to find that they are instead swarming the house that Brax and J. D. are in. Confused yet? Well we still have Melanie to talk about who gets a chance to torture her childhood bully only to have second thoughts and save her from the demonic torturer. Running away they are found by a journalist living in the jungle who reveals that the island is powered by some magic black liquid and they have to get in contact with his plane so they can get off the island. On the way to getting in contact the journalist sacrifices himself so they can escape. Brax and Patrick barely escape the hostage takers/soldiers who turn into unkillable zombies when shot. They run back to the beach where they meet up with Melanie and Gwen, but before they can escape Mr. Roarke destroys the plane. Turns out he must make sacrifices to the island to keep the fantasy of his dead wife alive. Running back into the jungle they head for the black liquid source, while Gwen explains that they were all connected to the fire in her fantasy. That they must in fact be part of someone else’s revenge fantasy for their roles in the guy’s death. When they reach the liquid it’s revealed that Melanie is the one looking for revenge, but before she can kill everyone Mr. Roarke finally has second thoughts about what he’s doing and helps kill Melanie, with Patrick sacrificing himself in the process like his dad. In the end the survivors leave the island, but Brax decides to stay so that the fantasy of J. D. being alive can continue in the real world. He is doomed to live on the island forever as… Tattoo. Bum bum bum. THE END (or is it?… probably). Wow that’s way more confusing than I remember.

Why?! Well the main motivation is Melanie’s. She was tormented as a child and went through years of low self esteem. As a result she couldn’t believe it when Nick wanted to date her and stood him up for a date so that when Gwen started the fire accidentally, Brax and J. D. didn’t think to look for him before fleeing. Patrick was on the scene as a police officer but didn’t go in to help Nick. So Melanie blamed all of them for his death and set up Fantasy Island to get revenge. The other important motivation is Mr. Roarke, who searched for the island in hopes of saving his wife, but found it too late. So now he sacrifices others in order to keep reliving the fantasy of being with her again.

Who?! There is an imposing character named Dr. Torture that shows up here and there in the film. When he showed up on screen my athlete-turned-actor sense was buzzing and indeed he had a long career as a professional rugby player in Australia. He also was the first high profile professional Australian athlete to come out as gay in 1995.

What?! I’m not really sure what the magic black liquid would be considering in the scope of the film. It has some characteristics of a MacGuffin given that it has unknowable magical properties. In fact if there were a prequel based around Mr. Roarke and his search for the island the liquid would be a MacGuffin. So maybe it is a MacGuffin… just one that most of the characters want to destroy rather than possess.

Where?! Fake setting alert! Patrick and I have bandied about the idea of having a whole cycle set in fake countries and locations, but it’s hard to tell how feasible something like that actually is. Particularly for some genres like romance. Anyway, this takes place on the titular Fantasy Island and is a rare example of an A+ fake setting.

When?! There is a good chance you can find when this takes place in some of the scenes with Melanie where things are posted to social media. I didn’t take a close enough look so I can’t be sure on that, but that would be where I would look first. Otherwise it plays little role in the film considering it takes place on a magical island and time is no object. F.

Patrick and I differed a little on our opinion of this one. I didn’t mind the beginning despite the confusion brought on by launching a million characters onto a magical island which in itself is also confusing. But I’m a sucker for some feel good action and even the kinda fratty characters Brax and J. D. have a sweet backstory about them loving each other unconditionally even though their family disowned Brax when he came out. But we both agreed that the ending was crazy bad. It felt like one twist too many and so Melanie’s behaviour during most of the film is totally nonsensical given that she turns out to be the bad guy. Like she’s acting for an audience of zero. It left a bad taste in my mouth. As for our friend this week, Welcome to Sudden Death is more of a remake than a sequel. Shot for shot until the end where predictably Michael Jai White couldn’t enter a professional basketball game impersonating a player for obvious reasons. Also there isn’t sudden death in basketball so that was jettisoned too. It’s a silly movie and really drags for a while, but it’s got some good fight scenes and there is a character Gus that is hilarious in a wait-is-this-guy-gonna-turn-out-to-be-a-ghost kind of way. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If there ever was a film that deserved the title of That Sweet IP: The Movie, this is it. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This is maybe the only film that definitively hit the market as a for sure 2020 BMT film. That obviously didn’t change as the pandemic wiped out any and all summer competitors. So here we are. A second Lucy Hall Blumhouse horror film almost exactly two years after Truth or Dare is rather impressive I think. What were my expectations? I purposefully didn’t look up things about this movie since I knew I would watch it for BMT. I mostly expected it to be a confounding horror film with few (and bad) scares which would only serve to anger horror fans and Fantasy Island fans alike.

The Good – The conceit of the film, on paper, is actually quite good. Basically, the ceiling of this film was Cabin in the Woods. A movie that purports to reason around the slasher tropes in such a way that you have a fourth wall breaking meta commentary on the genre. You could imagine sequels which play off of different examples of the genre (like Nightmare on Elm Street for example) with characters who are aware of the beats of horror films in general. Lucy Hall, Ryan Hansen, Jimmy Yang, and Michael Pena are also all quite good. Basically, the idea of the film and the cast are all well chosen, it just … well we’ll get to that. Best Bit: Conceit.

The Bad – The writing from two different fronts. As Jamie teased, I thought the beginning of the film was a mess. Unlike Cabin in the Woods there was absolutely no indication of what was actually happening for about an hour of the film. Combine that with the bad decision to split up the cast lead to just way too much being thrown around with no discernible explanation for way too long. The ideas finally gel at the beginning of what seemed poised to be a decent third act right before falling apart with one of the worst twists in horror history (and that is saying something!). My argument is that they should have all been brought to Fantasy Island with the original idea of it being a party island, reveal a behind the scenes operation to run a slasher film (basically) against the group, before a final reveal that they were actually, indeed, fulfilling someone’s ultimate fantasy: to be the killer in a horror film. It would end with, as usual, the slasher being killed, and the warning by Mr. Rourke that some fantasies are far more dangerous than one would perhaps expect. Fatal Flaw: Bad horror and bad twist.

The BMT – Every year we collect the various BMT films that come out. Unfortunately, this year has somewhat escalated the concern about bad theatrical films maybe dying in the future. But for now we are fine, we watched Dolittle and now Fantasy Island, and in the end both would have been the creme de la creme of any year regardless. But 2020 is a shot across the BMT Rulebook’s bow, and research is being conducted to guard against a dwindling number of BMT films being released every year. Did it meet my expectations? Ayup. It was indeed a confounding horror film with terrible scares. There was a nugget of something good though. If I’m being honest I would happily watch a sequel and I wouldn’t be that surprised to find that they figured out the formula the second time around.

Roast-radamus – This actually is literally a Setting as a Character (Where?) for Fantasy Island which appears to be a semi-conscious entity that is controlled by a magic stone and a magic pool of black liquid. Ultimately the storyline does devolve into a classic MacGuffin (Why?) or more precisely it is most like the Keystone Army trope in which all of this madness can just be stopped by destroying the aforementioned magic stone right?! Well kind of, and that’s where the Worst Twist (How?) comes into play in that it all turns out that Lucy Hall was putting on a master class of acting the whole time! This was all her fantasy, but one’s fantasy can, it turns out, be destroyed by another person’s fantasy! Checkmate! This is a quality BMT I think, very much a film that leaves you thinking (about how bad it is) for weeks afterwards.

StreetCreditReport.com – Looking through the 2020 films is actually quite interesting. We’ve done a 2020 film with a higher Notability (Dolittle and Bloodshot), but this is genuinely the lowest rated 2020 film we’ve watched, so that is serious. In the context of the year it is in the 99th percentile for BMeTric and Rotten Tomatoes score, it just flags a little in Notability, which is expected with Blumhouse. The real cred comes from its very tenuous connection to the 1970s television show Fantasy Island, but it has managed to be, by every proprietary Bad Movie Media Empire metric, a worthy BMT film.

You Just Got Schooled – Initially, I watched the original Sudden Death as a BMT film, just prior to Jamie pointing out that it actually has too many good reviews to technically qualify. If you haven’t seen this film stop reading this email (blog? Futuristic holographic device in the year 2100, year 64 of the Bad Movie Cultural Empire of the New United States of BMT?) and go and watch it right this instant. It is hilarious. It is so hilarious, in fact, that Jamie and I had a very long debate as to whether the entire film is actually a parody film in disguise. Here’s the argument. The film is explicitly a Die Hard in Blank film, the “blank” being game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. But then the first fight is with the team mascot, and later on in the film Van Damme himself plays goalie for a moment! Those are fake storylines for a Die Hard parody film. Go and watch the final helicopter scene and tell me this isn’t a comedy. Maybe the strongest point is that one of the writers of the film was genuinely a parody film writer at the time, so you can definitely see how they maybe wrote the film as a joke, but then got JCVD on board et voila! They accidentally wrote a real film. Anyways, the film is incredibly fun and you should watch it. A, I wish all cheesy 90s action was this fun.

Bring a Friend Analysis – And then of course we watched the sequel (remake? It feels like a remake) to Sudden Death called Welcome to Sudden Death which came out this year. Oh boy. There isn’t really that much to say, it is a remake of the original film almost beat for beat, but with the addition of Gary Owens as the wisecracking sidekick Gus (or was he a figment of Jesse’s imagination? We may never know), and the quality of a film shot in two days in an empty minor league basketball arena. The film is juuuuust aware enough to nod and wink at the camera during the fight scenes, but massively drops the ball with the bad guy played by Michael Eklund. The issue is that he is so gross and smarmy as a mercenary out for revenge against the billionaire owner of a basketball team that it all becomes no fun. You need the silly hamminess of Powers Booth’s crazy (like a fox!) plan to steal millions via secret service machinations for the entire thing to work. It just doesn’t work with some guy who is pissed that he lost his job because he accidentally killed an entire innocent family in a black ops mission. D, the new brand of self-aware bad movies are rarely fun, and this is no exception despite Michael Jai White being quite good in the Van Damme role, and a hilariousness of Gary Owen’s character.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs