Red Sonja Preview

“How… how are we talking to you?” Rich asks the small squirrel that has appeared in front of them. “Destiny,” it whispers in importance, dancing excitedly on its tiny feet, “it is foretold in the ancient scroll. Come.” Its eyes are shining and it hurries off, occasionally turning back and beckoning them forth. Rich and Poe shrug their shoulders. What’s one more adventure? Besides, Nic Cage needs saving and this, however bizarre, is their best lead. Upon arriving at the squirrel’s tree they see that word has already spread, for hundreds of squirrels are there chattering amongst themselves. A gray, wizened squirrel waddles up with a little tiny knobbly cane and it’s all very sweet and Rich and Poe both think it’s very cute. “It has been foretold,” the old squirrel wheezes, “in the ancient scroll,” it continues pulling out the cutest, tiniest scroll and unrolling it. Thank god they don’t have to read it themselves because it’s so little and tiny and they’d need tiny cute glasses to read it, which the old squirrel has. He clears his throat and reads, “It is foretold in this ancient scroll that there will come a time where the great one will fall ill and a pair of twins will arrive to seek out the cure. The Great Nut that will be broken and through its shattering will clear the bowels of humanity.” The bad movie twins frown. “And with a mighty expulsion of putrid air and waste, which is foretold in this scroll, the world will be empty and the movement satisfactory.” The old squirrel hacks and coughs with the effort of speaking and really this whole thing is a little less cute once it’s all laid out like that. Recovering, it squeaks out a final, “Destiny,” before waving them away. That’s right! We’re watching the Conan the Barbarian adjacent sword and sandals film Red Sonja starring a new-on-the-scene Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold (but not playing Conan for some reason). Let’s see if 35 years have aged this fantasy action film into a fine wine. Let’s go!

Red Sonja (1985) – BMeTric: 60.0; Notability: 33 

(Surprisingly low. I guess I’m not surprised it has been rising with the number of votes though. I feel like these cheesy 80s properties are ripe for cult status. Very high notability given though considering it looks like garbage.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Spectacularly silly sword-and-sorcery saga with female lead, based on pulp writings of Robert E. Howard (of Conan fame). Might amuse juvenile viewers, but only point of interest for adults is deciding who gives the worse performance, Nielsen or villainess Bergman. Schwarzenegger has a brief guest spot.

(I don’t think Arnold’s guest sport is all that brief. I think he’s in like half the film. This feels like a review that was written much closer to the time of the film’s release. Somewhat interesting that he gave the same score to Conan the Destroyer, which was a genuinely terrible film from what I can recall.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUHsZEo4I24/

(They basically go all out on “THIS IS A CONAN FILM” … but he’s Lord Kalidor don’t worry about it. Man they really don’t make films like this anymore. It is basically a pulp novel come to life!)

Directors – Richard Fleischer – (Known For: Soylent Green; Tora! Tora! Tora!; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; Fantastic Voyage; The Vikings; 10 Rillington Place; Compulsion; Mr. Majestyk; The Boston Strangler; Barabbas; See No Evil; The Last Run; The Narrow Margin; Violent Saturday; Future BMT: Amityville 3-D; The Jazz Singer; Doctor Dolittle; Mandingo; Million Dollar Mystery; The Incredible Sarah; BMT: Red Sonja; Conan the Destroyer; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for The Jazz Singer in 1981; Notes: )

Writers – Robert E. Howard (based on the character created by) – (Known For: Conan the Barbarian; Solomon Kane; Future BMT: Kull the Conqueror; BMT: Conan the Barbarian; Red Sonja; Conan the Destroyer; Notes: Sadly killed himself on the night his mother died when he was 30 years old. Was friends with H. P. Lovecraft and one of the Lovecraft Circle.)

Clive Exton (written by) – (Known For: 10 Rillington Place; Isadora; Future BMT: The Awakening; BMT: Red Sonja; Notes: His last major motion picture. He wrote 21 episodes of Poirot, which is great and I highly recommend.)

George MacDonald Fraser (written by) – (Known For: Octopussy; The Three Musketeers; The Four Musketeers; The Return of the Musketeers; BMT: Red Sonja; Notes: Created Harry Flashman, the bully of Tom Brown’s School Days. The character appeared in the film Royal Flash starring Malcolm McDowell.)

Roy Thomas (comic book) (uncredited) – (Known For: Logan; Fire and Ice; BMT: Red Sonja; Conan the Destroyer; Notes: Wrote for a bunch of comic companies, but probably most notably Marvel. Credited on Morbius, and Captain Marvel among many others because of that. Wrote three sword and sorcery films in 1983, 1984, and 1985.)

Barry Windsor-Smith (comic book) (uncredited) – (BMT: Red Sonja; Notes: Notably wrote on the Weapon X storyline for Marvel comics in addition to the Conan the Barbarian comics.)

Actors – Arnold Schwarzenegger – (Known For: Terminator: Dark Fate; Terminator 2: Judgment Day; The Terminator; Total Recall; Commando; Predator; Dave; True Lies; Kindergarten Cop; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; Conan the Barbarian; The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Escape Plan; The Running Man; Twins; Welcome to the Jungle; The Last Stand; The 6th Day; Maggie; Future BMT: Hercules in New York; Junior; Collateral Damage; Jingle All The Way; End of Days; Cactus Jack; The Iron Mask; Eraser; Terminator Genisys; Last Action Hero; The Kid & I; BMT: Batman & Robin; Red Sonja; 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: A little odd he gets top billing in the film. Anyhoo, he just had heart surgery, but is in recovery and feeling “fantastic”. Arnold is the best.)

Brigitte Nielsen – (Known For: Creed II; Beverly Hills Cop II; Future BMT: Rocky IV; BMT: Red Sonja; Cobra; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actress, and Worst New Star for Rocky IV in 1986; Winner for Worst New Star for Red Sonja in 1986; and Nominee for Worst Actress in 1986 for Red Sonja; in 1987 for Cobra; and in 1990 for Bye Bye Baby; Notes: Famously was engaged to Sly Stallone during Rocky IV and then married soon after. She’s famously 6’1’’ which is part of the reason they approached her for this film.)

Sandahl Bergman – (Known For: Conan the Barbarian; All That Jazz; Airplane II: The Sequel; Hell Comes to Frogtown; Future BMT: Xanadu; The Singing Detective; Mame; BMT: Red Sonja; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for Red Sonja in 1986; Notes: Oddly, much like Arnold, she played two different characters in this and the original Conan the Barbarian. Apparently she was originally asked to play Sonja … I wonder with Arnold and her in the two leading roles whether they would have more explicitly suggested they were Conan and Valerie.)

Budget/Gross – $17.9 million / Domestic: $6,948,633 (Worldwide: $6,951,415)

(Yeah that’s a disaster. I’m not sure I believe the nearly $20 million budget though, but perhaps that explains why they pumped the brakes on King Conan, the third film that was eventually turned into Kull the Conqueror … oh yeah I forgot we have a final Conan film to watch!)

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (4/26): Dull, poorly directed, and badly miscast, Red Sonja is an uninspired conclusion to Schwarzenegger’s barbarian trilogy.

(Most reviews appear to lament how miscast Nielsen is, and how if she were the least bit charming or funny the film would end up being a light romp. Instead it is a deathly serious disaster. Reviewer Highlight: Red Sonja returns to those olden days when women were women and the menfolk stood around with funny hats on until called forth to be whacked at. – Variety)

Poster – Red Skloga

(Yes. … … oh you want more? This fits a mold that makes my brain happy and I wish I could go back in time, ask for a large poster for my room, and hang it there because it’s cool. It feels like the cover of a book I’d read and it would be kinda terrible but also I’d like reading it. So I don’t even think I can give an unbiased opinion on this so I’ll rate it J. Stands for “Jamie likes this.”)

Tagline(s) – A woman and a warrior that became a legend. (C-)

(Bringing me down to Earth. I can judge this without bias and I don’t like it because it’s bad. It’s too long and doesn’t flow. It isn’t clever and is kinda vague.)

Keyword – sword and sorcery

Top 10: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Troy (2004), Dune (1984), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), The Princess Bride (1987), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), 300 (2006), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), Stardust (2007)

Future BMT: 65.9 Highlander: Endgame (2000), 53.2 The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (1990), 50.6 Your Highness (2011), 49.7 The Last Legion (2007), 46.9 Kull the Conqueror (1997), 45.3 A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (1995), 44.4 Wrath of the Titans (2012), 42.9 Hercules (1983), 41.2 Clash of the Titans (2010), 34.4 Il mondo di Yor (1983);

BMT: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), Hellboy (2019), Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), The Last Airbender (2010), Conan the Barbarian (2011), Masters of the Universe (1987), Seventh Son (2014), The 13th Warrior (1999), Eragon (2006), Conan the Destroyer (1984), Red Sonja (1985), Season of the Witch (2011), Dungeons & Dragons (2000), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994)

(I mean … I wouldn’t count the Harry Potter films personally. But certainly the genre had a moment with Lord of the Rings in the early 00s. And now they are having a big moment on television with Game of Thrones and now the upcoming Wheel of Time (which I hope is good), a reboot of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and things like The Witcher. NeverEnding Story II is a wild one from the BMT list.)

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 Red Sonja 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. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character was originally intended to be a reprisal of Conan, star of the comic book in which Red Sonja first appeared, but the film did not have the rights to this name. An unofficial explanation endorsed by fans is that Kalidor is one of Conan’s “traveling names,” a common feature of multi-national mythical/legendary heroes such as Zeus (a.k.a. Jupiter) and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Gandalf (a.k.a. Mithrandir). (Oh, I just thought they were trying to get that Conan sheen while not having to deal with it being a Conan movie explicitly. Weird they didn’t have the rights)

Arnold Schwarzenegger eschews this movie as one of his worst, yet he (laughingly) claims that it’s an excellent disciplinary tool for his children. “I tell them, if they get on my bad side, they’ll be forced to watch Red Sonja (1985) ten times in a row. It must be working, because none of my kids has ever given me much trouble.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger signed up for a glorified cameo, as a favor to producer Dino De Laurentiis. Much to his surprise, he was on the set for four weeks, three weeks longer than expected. He discovered after watching a rough cut of the movie that his role had been expanded to co-star, thanks to crafty angles and multiple cameras. Soon after, Schwarzenegger decided to terminate his 10-year contract with De Laurentiss. (Ha! See I knew the Maltin note was kind of wrong. He’s in like half the movie.)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brigitte Nielsen had an affair during filming. (Future wife of Sly … I wonder if there is any bad blood about that stuff)

Sigourney Weaver was considered for Red Sonja. (That would have been amazing)

It is commonly believed that Robert E. Howard created the character of Red Sonja in one of his Conan short stories. He actually created Red Sonya, who appeared in “Shadow of the Vulture,” a story set in 16th-century Turkey with no Conan connections. She was the namesake of the famous “Red Sonja” who first appeared in a Conan comic book written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith.

A remake was announced in 2009, with Robert Rodriguez directing and Rose McGowan to star as Red Sonja. When Conan the Barbarian (2011) failed at the box office, Rodriguez and McGowan backed out of the project. As of 2015, the remake is in development hell. (… but Rose McGowan was the bad guy in the 2011 Conan film … I don’t get it)

Sandahl Bergman was initially cast as the title character. She decided to portray Queen Gedren to help avoid typecasting. (Poor decision, would have been cooler with the Conan connection there)

It took Dino De Laurentiis almost a year to find an actress “Amazonian” enough to play the title character. Eight weeks before production was set to begin, he saw Brigitte Nielsen on the cover of a fashion magazine. The 21-year-old native of Helsingør, Denmark, in Milan for a modeling job, soon found herself on a plane heading for Rome and a successful screen test.

On a 2015 episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, soap opera actress Eileen Davidson revealed that she auditioned for the role and was actually runner-up to Brigitte Nielsen.

Awards – Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star (Brigitte Nielsen, 1986)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Brigitte Nielsen, 1986)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Sandahl Bergman, 1986)

Dolittle Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Dolittle Quiz

Oh boy, this is embarrassing. So I was on my way to see the queen on an important matter, riding my ostrich (natch) when I slipped and bopped my head! Now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Dolittle?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film we are shown the tragic love story of Dr. Dolittle. How does Dr. Dolittle’s lady love tragically die?

2) We are also introduced to Tommy Stubbins who is bringing a hurt animal by. What animal and how was it injured?

3) In the end Dolittle must go and see the queen for a very important reason indeed. Why does he have to go see the queen?

4) Two of the animals that Dolittle has have peculiar quirks, specifically a polar bear and a gorilla. What are their quirks?

5) Finally (and yeah I’m basically skipping the entire third act here, sue me) Dolittle and friends set sail to go and steel back his late wife’s journal. Who has the journal?

Answers

Dolittle Preview

As the chamber melts away, the craggy dry peaks of The Waste shine through the blistering walls. John Travolta screams in rage as a tower of melting rocks fall on top of him and Rich and Poe hear his final plea, “never forget meeeeeeee.” Together, as brothers, Rich and Poe step out into the light to their freedom. Just then they hear a weak voice behind them, “Bad Movie Twins.” They turn and see the badly burned face and upper torso of Nic Cage sticking out of the melting ruin. There is a twinkle in his eyes and a smile plays through a painful grimace. “I always knew you two would save the world… together,” he whispers, putting out a shaky hand. Rich and Poe take it. “You… you knew the whole time, didn’t you?” they ask. It must be, even though if you really think through it it probably doesn’t make much sense. “Of course,” he croaks, “I knew the only way to stop him was to get you two in the game… and now… you must help me… I’m gravely injured… there is only one cure for my condition… it’s all explained… in… *gasp*… journal… *cough*… and…” and with that he faints. Rich and Poe are badly shaken. They wonder what could possibly be in Nic Cage’s Journal (all rights reserved) that could bring someone back from so close to death. More importantly they wonder how they are going to find something they didn’t even know existed before now. “You looking for that journal?” they hear from a tiny voice. They look around but don’t see anyone. “No, down here,” it says again and when they look down they gasp in astonishment. Looks like this is the start of another wondrous bad movie twins adventure. That’s right! We are starting right in on another adventure as we do one of the only essential BMT films of 2020. What was shaping up to be a stellar BMT year was thrown by Covid, but not before delivering Robbie D. Jr. and Dolittle into our laps. Let’s walk the walk and talk the talk with the animals. Let’s go!

Dolittle (2020) – BMeTric: 44.3; Notability: 60 

(Ha, that early rating. If that isn’t some sort of proof that there are attempts to manipulate online polls early in a film’s release, then I’m not sure what is. I mean … why would early viewers of this films be like “yes! 7 out of 10, nailed it” when every indication is that the film is an unmitigated disaster. A notability of 60 is absolutely huge though, I suppose that’s what happens when you have a giant ensemble cast of famous actors providing voices.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – It’s hard to know what, exactly, went wrong here. The concept is fine, even the adaptation is fine: eccentric doctor who can talk to animals goes on a series of madcap adventures! Sure! Nothing wrong with that! Hugh Lofting’s popular children’s book series, published in regular intervals during the 1920s and ’30s (with a couple of books of previously uncollected stories appearing posthumously), has been adapted many times before, for film, for television, animated, live action, etc. The “property” has been its own little franchise for a century now. But “Dolittle,” with Robert Downey Jr. in the eponymous role, is a wild whirlwind of a mess, without any coherence, without even a guiding principle. … “Dolittle”‘s post-production was troubled and turbulent, with other directors brought in to do last-minute surgery (if you believe the reports), and three weeks’ worth of re-shoots. That speaks to pretty severe problems. The release date was pushed back for months (usually an ominous sign). None of this would matter, though, if the confusion didn’t show so clearly on the screen.

(You know, right up until I read this review I had kind of forgotten about that. I knew about the infamous dragon fart scene at the end. But I forgot that mostly the film was slammed by critics for being so obviously edited from a pile of disjointed scenes and a complete mess of a production. Should be interesting if, indeed, it is as wildly obvious that is suggested by this review.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEf412bSPLs/

(Oh my god, I forgot about the co-opted song … one of the worst examples of it I think. It is too bad Robert Downey Jr. does the weird accent, because without it and the horrible song choice the film merely looks like a shiny kids’ movie. With those two elements though you kind of know it is going to be a disaster.)

Directors – Stephen Gaghan – (Known For: Syriana; Gold; Future BMT: Abandon; BMT: Dolittle; Notes: Directed one of the James Bond Heineken commercials. The partnership is somewhat notable in that Heineken has effectively paid the entirety of the production cost of several of the films, so hundreds of millions of dollars. Heineken claims that their internal numbers suggest the deal has netted them billions in extra revenue. Win win I suppose.)

Writers – Stephen Gaghan (screenplay by) – (Known For: Traffic; Syriana; Havoc; Future BMT: Abandon; The Alamo; Rules of Engagement; BMT: Dolittle; Notes: Won an Oscar for writing for his work on Traffic.)

Dan Gregor and Doug Mand (screenplay by) – (Known For: Magic Camp; Most Likely to Murder; BMT: Dolittle; Notes: Were writers for How I Met Your Mother most notably I think. Are tapped to write Rookie of the Year (which I assume is a remake of the 90s classic) and a live-action Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers film.)

Thomas Shepherd (screen story by) – (BMT: Dolittle; Notes: He has no notable credits and such a generic name as to make it impossible to search for information on him … I’m going to guess he’s like 20 and was given a first pass at the screenplay before handing it over to the writing team above.)

Hugh Lofting (character created by) – (Known For: Doctor Dolittle; Dr. Dolittle 2; Future BMT: Doctor Dolittle; BMT: Dolittle; Notes: Doctor Dolittle was created as part of illustrated letters to his children from the trenches of World War I. Moved to Connecticut after the war.)

Actors – Robert Downey Jr. – (Known For: Avengers: Endgame; Zodiac; Avengers: Infinity War; Spider-Man: Homecoming; Sherlock Holmes; Avengers Assemble; Iron Man; Avengers: Age of Ultron; Captain America: Civil War; Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows; Iron Man Three; Iron Man 2; Tropic Thunder; The Incredible Hulk; Weird Science; Chef; Natural Born Killers; The Judge; Back to School; Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; Future BMT: The Shaggy Dog; Johnny Be Good; Black and White; Gothika; In Dreams; Air America; The Singing Detective; Lucky You; One Night Stand; Friends & Lovers; Girls Just Want to Have Fun; Hugo Pool; Up the Academy; Eros; Due Date; U.S. Marshals; Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus; Tuff Turf; Moving In; Too Much Sun; BMT: Dolittle; Notes: Nominated for two Oscars (Tropic Thunder and Chaplin). Has played Iron Man for over a decade. This was his first non-Tony Stark role since 2014.)

Antonio Banderas – (Known For: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles; Spy Kids; The Skin I Live In; The Mask of Zorro; Frida; The Laundromat; Philadelphia; Pain and Glory; Haywire; Shrek 2; Femme Fatale; Knight of Cups; Shrek the Third; Once Upon a Time in Mexico; Desperado; Ruby Sparks; Acts of Vengeance; Shrek Forever After; Puss in Boots; Spy Kids 3: Game Over; Future BMT: Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World; Machete Kills; The Other Man; Never Talk to Strangers; Play It to the Bone; Gun Shy; The Body; The Big Bang; The Legend of Zorro; Two Much; Thick as Thieves; Automata; Original Sin; Of Love and Shadows; Assassins; Justin and the Knights of Valour; Imagining Argentina; Four Rooms; Black Gold; Life Itself; The House of the Spirits; The Music of Silence; BMT: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; Dolittle; The Expendables 3; The 13th Warrior; Notes: Was married to Melanie Griffith for nearly 20 years. Was a famous actor in Spain before transitioning to Hollywood in the early 90s.)

Michael Sheen – (Known For: Nocturnal Animals; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2; Alice in Wonderland; Tron; Apostle; Midnight in Paris; Blood Diamond; How to Build a Girl; Far from the Madding Crowd; Frost/Nixon; Kill the Messenger; The Queen; The Four Feathers; Brad’s Status; Wilde; The Damned United; Bright Young Things; Othello; Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer; Resistance; Future BMT: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1; Slaughterhouse Rulez; Admission; Home Again; Laws of Attraction; Mary Reilly; The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box; Alice Through the Looking Glass; Underworld: Rise of the Lycans; My Last Five Girlfriends; Underworld: Evolution; Jesus Henry Christ; Passengers; Underworld; Kingdom of Heaven; Music Within; BMT: The Twilight Saga: New Moon; Dolittle; Timeline; Notes: Welsh. He played Motzart on Broadway around 2000 which is when his career took off. Has also found television success with Masters of Sex.)

Budget/Gross – $175,000,000 / Domestic: $77,047,065 (Worldwide: $245,229,088)

(I mean … terrible, a huge bomb if you believe that budget. But not the biggest bomb in the world, and not nearly as bad as I was expecting. Maybe benefited from being one of the only films to be released majorly to theaters in 2020.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 14% (31/227): Dolittle may be enough to entertain very young viewers, but they deserve better than this rote adaptation’s jumbled story and stale humor.

(All of the reviews are about the reshoots. Everything from how you can tell the story is cut up into a mish mash of ideas, to how Robert Downey Jr. never seems to be facing the camera when he speaks with all of this lines seemingly re-recorded. Reviewer Highlight: It really is horribly inert, and every time Downey opens his mouth to say something unintelligible, the film dies a bit more. – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian)

Poster – Dr. Skloglittle

(I don’t love it mostly because it’s just a lot going on. I like an artistic theme, a color scheme, a triple beam lyrical dream… you know? But it’s got some nice font and the layout is good. So not terrible either. B-)

Tagline(s) – He’s just not a people person. (A-)

(This is certainly clever and all that. Just always a little weird to have a tagline like this where you probably have to be considerably older than the audience to even understand what’s going on with it. It’s a strange concept to think that an adult would look at the poster, chuckle at the tagline, and then when they take their kids to the movies they look and say “maybe Dolittle… it had a fun tagline.”  But again, clever, short, and a play on the plot. Overall pretty good.)

Keyword – live action and animation

Top 10: Avengers: Endgame (2019), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Casper (1995), Jumanji: The Next Level (2019), Jurassic Park (1993), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Lion King (2019), Maleficent (2014)

Future BMT: 76.5 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011), 75.9 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), 67.3 Scooby-Doo (2002), 64.0 Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), 60.0 Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007), 54.5 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015), 53.6 The Smurfs (2011), 53.3 The Smurfs 2 (2013), 49.0 Hop (2011), 46.7 Men in Black: International (2019);

BMT: Dolittle (2020), Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), Pixels (2015), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), The Cat in the Hat (2003), Kangaroo Jack (2003), Cool World (1992), Eragon (2006)

(Ascendant in the 90s, a little too much in the 00s, and now just settled as a normal part of all levels of filmmaking. That’s how I interpret that plot. The Scooby-Doo films are probably the big ones we are missing from the BMT list.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 21) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Antonio Banderas is No. 2 billed in Dolittle and No. 1 billed in Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, which also stars Talisa Soto (No. 5 billed) who is in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (No. 2 billed), which also stars Robin Shou (No. 1 billed) who is in Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li (No. 6 billed), which also stars Chris Klein (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 2 + 1 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 6 + 2 + 2 = 21. If we were to watch Assassins, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Originally titled “The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle.” It was shortened in August 2019.

Robert Downey, Jr. based his character on Dr. William Price, an eccentric Welshman. Dr. Price is now a revered historical figure in Wales – there’s even a statue of him in his hometown of Llantrisant.

This is Robert Downey Jr.’s first non-Iron Man role since The Judge (2014).

This movie was originally going to be released on May 24, 2019 by Universal Pictures, but was moved to April 12, 2019 to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019). It was later pushed back again to January 17, 2020.

When the movie rights went up for auction, several studios went to bid before Universal Pictures got the rights. Amongst them were Sony and Twentieth Century Fox, with the latter having previously produced three theatrical movies based on the Dr. Dolittle series.

The cast includes five Oscar winners: Rami Malek, Jim Broadbent, Dame Emma Thompson, Octavia Spencer, and Marion Cotillard; and four Oscar nominees: Robert Downey, Jr., Antonio Banderas, Ralph Fiennes, and Kumail Nanjiani.

Originally, Randy Newman was the first choice to score this movie, seeing how his uncle Lionel Newman had involvement with Doctor Dolittle (1967).

To differentiate from his earlier British characters, Robert Downey, Jr. decided to use what he described as a “passable” Welsh accent for his version of Dr. Dolittle.

Universal Pictures drafted in Seth Rogen as a consultant during pre-production when the studio executives realized that re-shoots would be necessary.

The name of Rassouli, the King of Pirates is a likely reference to Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni. Known as Raisuli to most English speakers, he was a leader of the Jebala tribal confederacy in Morocco at the turn of the twentieth century. While regarded by foreigners and the Moroccan government as a brigand, some Moroccans, especially amongst the Jebala, considered him a heroic figure, fighting a repressive, corrupt government, while others considered him a thief. He was considered by many as “The last of the Barbary Pirates” though Barbary Coast piracy had ended by the middle of the nineteenth century. A fictionalized version of him was played by Sir Sean Connery in The Wind and the Lion (1975).

In Doctor Dolittle (1967), Chee-Chee was Judy the Chimpanzee.

House of Wax Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

House of Wax Quiz

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

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

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

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

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

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

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

Answers

House of Wax Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poster – House of Racks on Racks

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

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

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

Keyword – twins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is Dark Castle Entertainment’s fifth film.

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

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

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

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

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (2006)

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