The Skulls Preview

Poe shields his eyes against the blinding lights of the club and taps the glass of a giant aquarium filled with semi-nude women. The disguises worked like a charm to get into the club, but now what? Suddenly a mermaid lady swims up and after looking from the ghost back to Poe, winks and tilts her head towards a table in the back. Poe whispers softly to the sassy ghost, trying to make sure no one can hear them in the deathly quiet club. “Good,” murmurs the ghost, “that’s my contact. Seems like the key to getting to the book is already here.” The group sashays their way towards the back of the club, careful not to spill their flirtinis and Poe doing his best to wink dramatically at every guy that passes by. They are stopped by a security guard before reaching the table, but a voice behind them demands that the man let them through. A big man (let’s call him Mr. Big) gets up from the table and ignoring everyone else he extends his hand out to Poe. Poe smiles coquettishly and, channelling all the Samantha possible make a winking comment about the size of his hands, much to the embarrassment of the rest of the group. The man smiles devilishly, “My my, you are a sultry minx. What are you doing in a club like this? It’s so… 2000’s, am I right? Allow me to take you someplace a little more… exclusive,” and leaning in he whispers softly, “You ever hear of a club called The Skulls?” Poe titters shyly and Mr. Big takes Poe by the hands and leads him away. Alarmed, he looks over at the sassy ghost who nods her head and urges him forward. Looks like it’s all up to Samantha now. That’s right! We are watching the true classic of Dawson’s Creek era college thriller in The Skulls released 20 years ago. Much like Swimfan I can’t wait for this to both be incredibly stupid and yet my favorite thing ever. Let’s go!

The Skulls (2000) – BMeTric: 42.8; Notability: 25 

(Delightfully low IMDb rating there. I feel like this is often exactly the right spot you want to be in. A 25 notability is right in the ranger where the film is a wide release film, but there aren’t so many people involved that a disaster can be averted by throwing money at it. And a 50ish BMeTric is a genuinely bad movie that a bunch of people still managed to see when it was released to theaters. I wonder if I collected 40+ BMeTric and 25-35 Notability whether we’d end up finding a bunch of hidden gems. I bet so.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.0 stars – I would give a great deal to be able to see “The Skulls” on opening night in New Haven, Conn., in a movie theater full of Yale students, with gales of laughter rolling at the screen. It isn’t a comedy, but that won’t stop anyone. “The Skulls” is one of the great howlers, a film that bears comparison, yes, with “The Greek Tycoon” or even “The Scarlet Letter.” It’s so ludicrous in so many different ways it achieves a kind of forlorn grandeur. It’s in a category by itself.

(I had never really heard of The Greek Tycoon, but that is quite a deep cut by Roger. And this review is just a delight. A “forlorn grandeur” … that is absolutely the perfect word for what we have been ever striving for at BMTHQ. I love it.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B03lvL3pVp8/

(Hoooooooweeeee that rocking soundtrack? The dutch angles! The punctuated close up shots. I have to say … that is basically my dream BMT trailer. You know this thing is a melodramatic trash triller, which is the best type of thriller.)

Directors – Rob Cohen – (Known For: DragonHeart; Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story; xXx; The Hurricane Heist; Future BMT: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor; BMT: The Boy Next Door; Stealth; Alex Cross; The Skulls; Daylight; The Fast and the Furious; Notes: Was a producer in the 70s, and also ran Motown Records at the age of 24. He moved into television production and direction in the 80s, and then film directing in the 90s. Was considered a “baby mogul” in the 70s.)

Writers – John Pogue (written by) – (Known For: Quarantine 2: Terminal; Future BMT: The Quiet Ones; U.S. Marshals; BMT: Rollerball; Ghost Ship; The Skulls; Notes: Graduated from Yale and claims to have been part of a secret society, which is part of the inspiration for this film.)

Actors – Joshua Jackson – (Known For: Cruel Intentions; Scream 2; Bobby; Apt Pupil; Andre; Muppets from Space; One Week; Battle in Seattle; Sky; The Safety of Objects; The Shadow Dancer; Aurora Borealis; Americano; Future BMT: Cursed; Shutter; Lay the Favorite; Racing Stripes; D3: The Mighty Ducks; Gossip; D2: The Mighty Ducks; Inescapable; I Love Your Work; The Mighty Ducks; Magic in the Water; BMT: Urban Legend; The Skulls; Notes: You might also know him as Pacey in Dawson’s Creek, or his leading role on Fringe. A rare child actor who has managed to transition from a real deal kid actor through to teen soaps, to now adult television roles.)

Paul Walker – (Known For: Fast & Furious 7; She’s All That; Furious 6; Pleasantville; Fast & Furious 5; Flags of Our Fathers; Varsity Blues; Running Scared; Tammy and the T-Rex; Eight Below; Hours; The Lazarus Project; Future BMT: Vehicle 19; Brick Mansions; Meet the Deedles; Into the Blue; Hustlers; Takers; Noel; Brokedown Palace; BMT: The Skulls; Timeline; 2 Fast 2 Furious; Fast & Furious; The Fast and the Furious; Notes: Sadly passed away in 2013 as a passenger of a supercar which crashed in California. Was also something of a kid actor having a role in the tv show Throb in his teens.)

Hill Harper – (Known For: Concussion; He Got Game; The Sun Is Also a Star; Beloved; An Interview with God; 1982; Get on the Bus; Premium; Love, Sex and Eating the Bones; The Visit; Future BMT: The Breed; All Eyez on Me; For Colored Girls; In Too Deep; The Badge; Hav Plenty; Loving Jezebel; Destined; BMT: Steel; The Boy Next Door; The Skulls; Notes: Mostly a television actor, he had a major role in both CSI: NY and currently is in the main cast of The Good Doctor.)

Budget/Gross – $35,000,000 / Domestic: $35,046,120 (Worldwide: $50,802,120)

(Not great. I imagine the budget was inflated after it was clear it wasn’t going to do very well though. $35 million just seems way to high for a schlocky teen thriller. Still not a huge success though.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 9% (8/85): The Skulls is full of nonsense and empty of good script and plot.

(Always love sub-10%. And I’m always down for films that are “full of nonsense.” Yes please. Reviewer Highlight: If there was an Oscar for the Silliest Movie Category, then The Skulls might be in with a good chance of winning. – Ben Falk, BBC)

Poster – The Sklogs

(While the poster is not good from a scoring perspective I have to say it tugs a bit at my heart. Give me a thriller set in college and I’ll be pretty excited. But really, it’s a little drab and the font is terrible. I do like the artistic spacing of the whole thing and I’ll give a little shoutout to the tiny skull emblem at the bottom. So that saves it a little and gets it to a C+.)

Tagline(s) – A secret society so powerful, it can give you everything you desire… at a price. (D-)

Getting in is easy. Getting out is a killer. (B+)

(The first one is on the poster and is so long it’s almost unbelievable. What is this, school? It’s not even clever… just kind of straight forward. The second one… now that is kind of amazing and should have been on the poster. Just one note, shouldn’t it be “Getting in is hard. Getting out is a killer.”? Cause getting in was, like, incredibly difficult. Just seems weird once you watch the film.)

Keyword – secret society

Top 10: Hereditary (2018), Fight Club (1999), Get Out (2017), Spectre (2015), Glass (2019), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Future BMT: 87.9 BloodRayne (2005), 55.7 An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), 42.4 Darkness (2002), 41.7 Blood and Chocolate (2007), 19.3 Now You See Me 2 (2016), 19.0 Killer Elite (2011), 18.6 Mona Lisa Smile (2003), 18.5 The Hunted (1995), 18.0 Malone (1987), 17.0 The Da Vinci Code (2006);

BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), The Mummy (2017), Hellboy (2019), Assassin’s Creed (2016), Vampire Academy (2014), The Last Witch Hunter (2015), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Queen of the Damned (2002), Silent Hill: Revelation (2012), The Wicker Man (2006), The Skulls (2000)

(These are genuinely all films about secret societies. Maybe at some point I’ll need to look through all of these and rank all of the secret societies. It’ll be a two axis ranking. One by how secret it is, and one by how powerful it is. The Skulls are more powerful than secret. The Wicker Man cult is more secret than powerful. The Hellboy secret society is both. This is already great. And as should be obvious, secret societies boomed in the 00s. I have a feeling such things will crater over the next decade or two. With QAnon and other weird conspiracies seemingly in real world news, people might not want to hear about such things in their escapist fiction.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Paul Walker is No. 2 billed in The Skulls and No. 1 billed in 2 Fast 2 Furious, which also stars Eva Mendes (No. 3 billed) who is in Ghost Rider (No. 2 billed), which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 1 + 3 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch Into the Blue we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – The Skull-and-Bones Society (on which this movie was based) actually gives out watches to each class of skulls, though not necessarily with the whole branding ceremony. After the movie was filmed, Joshua Jackson acquired one of the actual watches and gave it to director Rob Cohen. (Well .. obviously they don’t brand themselves on their wrists. That’s insane).

Hill Harper’s character, Will, who plays Luke’s roommate in the film, is modeled after director Rob Cohen’s real life Harvard roommate.

When the Skulls members are heading out to the island, the castle in the background is Singer Castle on Dark Island. The island that the Skull and Bone Society owns is called Deer Island. Both islands are in the Thousand Island of the St. Lawrence River. (The amount of this that is already real is insane)

Yale is never mentioned by name during the film, but there are plenty of references: – At the boat race, every team is mentioned by its school name, except for “The Bulldogs.” (They’re the Yale team.) – The characters wear Ys on their sports uniforms. – The Skulls are said to have “322 alumni worldwide.” The Yale secret society Skull & Bones uses the number 322 as an identifier on many of its symbols. – The characters are seen celebrating at a pizza parlor they refer to as “Mory’s,” drinking from a big golden cup. Mory’s is an actual place, and the tradition with the song and the big golden cup is accurate; however, it’s a formal restaurant, not a pizza parlor, and actual Mory’s cups are traditionally silver. – The new Skulls are sent to raid “Snake & Skeleton.” There is a Yale secret society called “Book & Snake.” – Some campus shots seem to purposefully mimic Yale buildings. There’s a tower that looks a lot like Harkness Tower, and the dining hall looks like the one in Saybrook College.

The wristwatch that each new member of the Skulls is given is the Breitling Old Navitimer. (This is what I come for right here, these fun facts)

The film is included on the film critic Roger Ebert’s “Most Hated” list.

Swimfan Preview

With the collars popped on their jean jackets and bubble gum a-poppin’, Rich and Poe ‘board their way to Seattle Tech (or as the kids call it, Seattle Blech. Rad). They’ve been on the case for a week and have deftly used their social skillz and disregard for the rulez to glean info from the high school rumor mill. With that they have targeted the auto vocational class as suspect numero uno. Word on the street is that they’ve developed some new tech that let’s them boost some of the sweet wheels around town. Selling them on the blackmarket can fetch a pretty penny, but these punks better be ready to step up to the streetz or all they’ll fetch is a world of hurt. “This has got to be the tech Gruber is after. Let’s take down this punks, get the ‘ware, and save my family,” says Rich, but Poe doesn’t like this one bit. Will they themselves become fugitives from the law by helping Gruber? No time for hesitation, though, as they stroll into class and immediately win over the gang of car thieves. One of them is wary, but the leader, Blaze, is pretty sure he can trust these new cool bros. They are soon pulled into the heists, and ultimately become part of their family. “Blaze,” Rich says, “you’re real cool, bro. I have something to tell you. We’re the fuzz. I’m sorry.” Blaze is shocked and horrified, “you gonna turn us in, bro?” tears glistening in his eyes. But they can’t and just ask him to hand over the tech. But Blaze is confused. Tech? What tech? They’ve mostly just been jimmying the locks and using their mad driving skillz to get away. But Blaze does remember some rumors about the Swim Team and their unlikely run to the championship last season. “They gotta have the tech, bros,” Blaze says, “so I suggest we grab some speedos and become some swim fans.” That’s right! We’re watching the teen thriller classic Swimfan starring our boy Jesse Bradford of Hackers fame. It’s a wonder he became such a swim champ after drinking coffee, smoking cigs, and hacking his life away just a short while before. What’s not a wonder is that he caught the eye of the crazy high school stalker. He’s Jesse Bradford! Let’s go!

Swimfan (2002) – BMeTric: 56.3 

SwimfanIMDb_BMeT

SwimfanIMDb_RV

(Holy shit, it was in the 4.0s? That seems quite low for a cheesy teen thriller. Then again, IMDb does tend to skew against films that target female viewership, so I shouldn’t be so surprised.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Waterlogged teenage version of Fatal Attraction with Christensen as a new girl in town who sets her sights on high school swimming champion Bradford – who already has a girlfriend – and doesn’t take rejection well. Even as a formula film this falls short, becoming outlandish, with laughable plot turns and dialogue.

(Yes, that is really all I want Leonard, outlandish and laughable plot turns. Yellow card for the terrible “waterlogged” use at the beginning, but then again, this is a Maltin review, so I don’t know what I expected really.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-RGVruG7Y0/

(That looks thrilling. I am thrilled. I’m officially super excited to watch Jesse Bradford swim around. I might be a swimfan … hold your breath!)

Directors – John Polson – (Known For: Tenderness; Siam Sunset; Future BMT: Hide and Seek; BMT: Swimfan; Notes: Started out as an actor, even having a named part in Mission: Impossible II. He’s transitioned to directing and producing, including producing Elementary starring none other than Jonny Lee Miller.)

Writers – Charles F. Bohl (written by) (as Charles Bohl) – (BMT: Swimfan; Notes: Died in 2018, he basically wrote this and then a bunch of television movies, notably one about Martha Stewart’s time in prison.)

Phillip Schneider (written by) – (BMT: Swimfan; Notes: Nothing about this guy except that weirdly he’s had an “announced” film on IMDb since 2017 called Homicidal which I fear will never see the light of day.)

Actors – Jesse Bradford – (Known For: Romeo + Juliet; Bring It On; Flags of Our Fathers; W.; Presumed Innocent; The Year of Spectacular Men; My Blue Heaven; Happy Endings; Falling in Love; Cherry Falls; King of the Hill; Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog; Heights; Bound; Prancer; A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries; Future BMT: Clockstoppers; 10 Rules for Sleeping Around; Dead Awake; Hackers; Dancing at the Blue Iguana; Speedway Junky; Eulogy; BMT: Swimfan; I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell; Notes: Both of his parents are actors, he debuted as an infant in a Q-Tip commercial. He graduated from Columbia with a degree in film.)

Erika Christensen – (Known For: Traffic; The Case for Christ; The Upside of Anger; The Banger Sisters; Home Room; Mercy; Future BMT: Riding the Bullet; The Perfect Score; The Tortured; Leave It to Beaver; Flightplan; How to Rob a Bank (and 10 Tips to Actually Get Away with It); BMT: Swimfan; Notes: A Scientologist, and was clearly born into it, going to a Scientologist school as a kid. Was in over 100 episodes of parenthood.)

Shiri Appleby – (Known For: Charlie Wilson’s War; The Devil’s Candy; Havoc; I Love You to Death; The Meddler; Lemon; Undertow; I’m Reed Fish; When Do We Eat?; Future BMT: The Battle of Shaker Heights; The Other Sister; What Love Is; BMT: Swimfan; Notes: Was in over 50 episodes of Roswell right before landing this role. Is married to the celebrity chef Jon Shook.)

Budget/Gross – $10 million / Domestic: $28,564,995 (Worldwide: $34,411,240)

(That’s a solid haul. Where is Swimfan 2: Olympic Dreams? WHERE?!)

#18 for the Thriller – Psycho / Stalker / Blank from Hell genre

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(Wow this made less money than The Roommate and The Boy Next Door?! On a bit of a hiatus, but they always do come back. Might already be sequestered to VOD though.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (14/92): A Fatal Attraction rip-off, Swimfan is a predictable, mediocre thriller.

(Basically what everyone says it that is well made, but predictable. Wait … is Fatal Attraction the film the following review is talking about? Reviewer Highlight: Director John Polson mutes the conservative sexual politics of the original film, focusing on the lightweight, efficient suspense story. – J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader)

Poster – Sklogfan (D+)

swimfan

(Terrible poster, but also a little ahead of its time. I feel like this is a type of poster that has only gotten more popular AS (After Swimfan). But yeah, it sucks and even the font is a little lackluster. I give it a bump for being a little artistic.).

Tagline(s) – His biggest fan just became his worst nightmare. (C)

(My brain is having trouble figuring out whether this is good. It’s on the verge of being too long and on the verge of being clever (I think). It does paint a very clear picture of what the film is about… but is that good. It’s like they were trying to land perfectly at mediocre.)

Keyword(s) – fatal attraction; Top Ten by BMeTric: 78.3 Basic Instinct 2 (2006); 70.2 The Boy Next Door (2015); 68.6 Vampire in Brooklyn (1995); 64.5 Body of Evidence (1992); 63.0 Obsessed (2009); 60.1 Sliver (1993); 56.3 Swimfan (2002); 55.8 Eye of the Beholder (1999); 55.2 Queen of the Damned (2002); 49.3 In the Cut (2003);

(I love this keyword. It is now officially my goal that we complete this keyword. They do indeed all qualify, phew!)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 27) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Jason Ritter is No. 5 billed in Swimfan and No. 16 billed in The Wicker Man, which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 5 + 16 + 5 + 1 = 27. If we were to watch Hackers, and Mindhunters we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – The scenes inside Madison’s house are the only ones where a light blue tint was not added to the screen. (Whaaaaaaaa?)

Erika Christensen took cello lessons for three months prior to filming. (WHAAAAAAAA?)