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 – Who What Where When Why How – 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

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

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

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

Congo Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Dutch Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Skulls Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Sex and the City 2 Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Boo! A Madea Halloween Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sklogs