Action Movie Monday Presents: Steven Seagal: Lawman

Because Steven Seagal: Sex Traffiker wasn't quite as catchy

Imagine Dog the Bounty Hunter crossed with one of Steven Seagal's modern STD era 'action' 'movies' and K-Ville, and you essentially get the gist of Steven Seagal: Lawman. If the aforementioned canine Bounty Hunter were to lose all of his hair, eat a few more pies and cruise around in a cop car arresting perps even less deserving, then it'd very much resemble Lawman as it is. Steven Seagal in Lawman is like Eric Cartman in that episode of South Park. RESPECT MY AUTHORITAAAHHH.

As the adverts are so fond of reminding you, Lawman is completely real and not at all manufactured. There's no acting here; as if they need to tell us. Steven Seagal doesn't know the meaning of the word acting. In Jefferson County, Louisiana, we find Steve playing cop. Over the bits of episodes I half-saw, Seagal arrested a druggy, chased a scrawny gangbanger, got rid of an annoying pisshead and sorted out a case where it looked like a kid had been run over but he actually he hadn't. The one common thread that held all these investigations together was the fact that Seagal had nothing to do with any of the policework. From what I saw, Seagal spends a lot of time poking his torch down dingy alleyways, signing autographs and lecturing uninterested poor people about Aikido and the importance of good parenting. All of this is interspersed with lots of footage of Seagal being condescending to black people and calling them "brother" a lot. I like Steven Seagal and his movies, but Lawman isn't a very interesting programme. Like its star, it takes itself far too seriously and is nowhere near as dynamic as it thinks it is. RESPECT MY AUTHORITAAAAHHHH, BROTHER.

Unimportant crimes sort-of foiled, Seagal goes on to visit a hospital for sick kids. Unfortunately, he doesn't punch any of them in the face. He can't even be bothered to get a body double to do it. In fact, nobody gets punched or even nearly punched at all over the course of Lawman. Seagal could obviously use a case of his own Lightning Bolt. Obviously trafficking sex is tiring business, since Seagal looks quite tired as he undertakes his lawman duties. Although since his dodgy doings have been discovered, the series has been cancelled, hopefully giving mister Seagul time to concentrate on one thing at a time. What with the crappy criminal activities, crappy energy drinks, crappy movies, crappy singing and crappy TV series all on the go at once, it looks like it might be time for the big man to chill out a bit. (Maybe the forthcoming and excellent-looking Machete will buck things up a bit). That said, no-one does crappy as reliably as our Steven Seagal. It's quite reassuring in a crappy sort of way. RESPECT MY CRAPPY AUTHORITAHHH, BROTHER.

An exclusive Review Hole exclusive: Psychosis


Director: Reg Traviss (2010)
Starring: Charisma Carpenter, Paul Sculfor, Ricci Harnett, Justin Hawkins
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK (preorder)

If there were a prize for most inventive use of Justin Hawkins in a movie, then Psychosis would win hands down. It would also probably win a trophy for the coveted 'most likely to be shit but actually quite decent' prize. From its trailer and description, Psychosis looks like just another cheap and dull ghost story starring a has-been actress. Psychosis is a little cheap, but not actually dull. And Charisma Carpenter aquits herself surprisingly well. It's a better movie than many a fellow Buffy alumni has managed to date (I'm looking at you Sarah Michelle Gellar, and those shitty Grudges).

Suan (Carpenter) is a successful but slightly nutty crime author who moves to the English countryside with husband David (Sculfor). In her 12-bedroom mansion, she soon begins experiencing visions; a hooded youth playing football, things that go bump in the night, visions of murder and suchlike. Oh, and Justin Hawkins is painting her window frames (not a metaphor). Meanwhile, David is up to some decidedly dodgy stuff and the groundskeeper (Harnett) is a probable rapist and all-around crazy person. Soon, old mental problems begin to resurface and Susan must decide whether she's going cuckoo or experiencing something decidedly more supernatural. Little bit from column (a), little bit from column (b).



I know, it sounds like it should star Gellar or Kristen Stewart and be festering in this Review Hole's own Turd Corner. But I liked it. Psychosis has a few good gore scenes, some boobies, shaggings, a penis and enough of a central story to keep its viewers at least midly interested. It's too slick and too mainstream to be as creepy or properly sleazy as it'd like, but has its moments - most of which involve groundskeeper Peck, the groundskeeper's Pecker and Justin Hawkins. Thankfully not all in the same scene. I'm still not sure why or how Justin Hawkins managed to be in this movie, but I'm glad he is.

The action kinda peters out where it should be really amping up a notch, but the whole thing is saved by a twist that's the direct opposite of what one might expect. It's a minor piece, but go in with low expectations and you might just have a blast. Psychosis is a slick, interesting little Spooky Brew that's about 50% better than it sounds on paper.

A Review Hole exclusive: Mega Piranha


Director: Eric Forsberg (2010)
Starring: Paul Logan, Tiffany, Barry Williams, David Labiosa
Find it online: IMDB, The Asylum

"It wasn't an explosion. It wasn't terrorism. It was Piranha." And what Piranha. The featured nasties get bigger and bigger until a climactic glut of particularly ridiculous scenes in which you see them leaping out of rivers, suicide-bombing buildings and noshing on helicopters. "This is FUBAR." Indeed.

Look, cinema snobs, it's called Mega Piranha and it was made by The Asylum. You know what to expect. Shakespeare verily this is not. In terms of technical quality, it's probably only a couple of steps above Uwe Boll. Every movement is accompanied by a whip-pan and a real loud whooshing sound. Once scene sees a scientist sit down at his computer to the sound of a whoosh and a zoom. It's like a mad cross between Michael Bay, 24 and that Piranha sequel with the flying fish. It's a movie inept on all but one level; and that level is the Eleventh Floor on Irony Towers. Look, it's called Mega Piranha. What were you expecting? Look again, their last movie was Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. To expect anything but (very) mindless fun would be foolish. When all's said and done, I find it hard to bear any ill will towards a movie in which a character recharges a phone battery by sucking on it. You learn something new everyday.

Agent Fitch (Logan) is in Venezuela, investigating the death of an American diplomat. An explosion? Terrorism? An animal attack? Very much the latter. It's all the fault of American scientists, led by 80's pop sensation Tiffany. Her character has a name and stuff, but to most everyone, she's just Tiffany. I'd complain about her questionable acting skills, but heck, I'm just happy to see her. Talking of which:





Yes. She sings over the end credits too, which is nice. Here's hoping we get a duet between herself and Debbie Gibson in the upcoming Mega Python vs Gateroid (no, I haven't a clue what a 'Gateroid' is either. But it sounds painful). Anyway, Tiffany and some disposable scientists join Fitch in trying to stop the Piranhas before they get any bigger. The movie can't seem to decide just how big the Megapiranha are, but they's big enough to impale themselves on lighthouses and chew up whole submarines. And also, rip off that one scene from Deep Blue Sea. Twice.

The acting is naff. The script is 50% cliche, 40% hyperbole and 10% bizarre. The CGI is terrible. But purposefully so, and it's all loveably done. They don't make nearly enough movies like this nowadays, so I'd say that Mega Piranha deserves all the viewership it can get. Heck, at the very least it'll tide us over nicely until Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3D comes out.


(As ever with such things, at least one of my Scream Queens is screaming ironically).

Since when did Two-Face wear a stetson? JONAH HEX


Director: Jimmy Hayward (2010)
Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender
Find it online: IMDB

Strike another one for DC. Batman related cinema and animated features aside, ol' Stan Lee and his buddies at Marvel have been knocking the ball outta the park with their movie releases. To be fair, DC haven't really been trying so far. Jonah Hex is their first real character piece since The Dark Knight. Hopefully this will all change soon; there's a Flash, a Green Lantern, a Nolan-supervised Superman and another Batman on the way. I'll believe a Justice League when I see one, but so far we'll have to make do with BatBale and, um, Jonah Hex.

Brolin plays the half-faced cowboy, disfigured by a villainous John Malkovich (to be fair, when is he not being villainous?) and lookin' for revenge. Brolin is passable enough, although he's not given nearly enough to work with. Sure was kind of the fella to take that bullet for Thomas Jane. If the horrible script wasn't bad enough, he has to share scenes with Megan Fox and her personal portable quality/charisma/watchability vacuum. She's terrible, in her usual nasal and vacant way. Obviously she's the worst actor in the movie, closely followed by John Malkovich. Even phoning it in, he's better than Megan Fox. Saying that, I think I saw a cactus that's better than Megan Fox.

I'm not as down with the Jonah Hex mythos as I am with other characters, but I know it can't be as bad as this movie. An R rating wouldn't have gone amiss (think Punisher: War Zone) or howzabout making the thing actually look like a Western? My ideal Jonah Hex would've been a cross between The Proposition and The Dark Knight. There are some great modern Westerns out there (Brolin's own No Country for Old Men, the aforementioned Proposition and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada) but this is more like an unintentionally funny version of Wild Wild West, Shanghai Noon or Daredevil. You'd be better off playing The Proposition or rewatching the Two-Face bar scene in Dark Knight.

As a fan of comic books, Westerns and purposefully cheesy nonsense, I really wanted to like Jonah Hex. (Jonah) heck(s), I even tried to ignore the fact that Megan Fox was in it. But no, even aside from the across-the-board bad acting, Jonah Hex is a dull movie. It has its moments, but nowhere near enough of them. I honestly think that replacing one of the tertiary characters with comedy-sidekick Owen Wilson or Jackie Chan would've improved this movie; or at the very least made it a slightly more tolerable brand of bland.

RANDOM LISTS: Movies not to eat your breakfast by


A list of movies that are sure to ruin your appetite. And let's face it, if your horror habits are anything like mine, you're sure to be shoving sweets & beer down your neck as you tuck into the latest Friday the 13th. These are movies (or at least scenes) best avoided when in the proximity of food. Warning: here be more gross-outs than One Night in Paris or Sly Stallone's porn movie.

10. Monty Python's Meaning of Life - Not horror, but a classic bit of British comedy from the Pythons. Most of the movie is relatively popcorn-safe, but those with a low tolerance for onscreen vomiting would be well advised to avoid the Mr. Creosote scenes. John Prescott-alike Mr. Creosote arrives in a swanky restaurant and promptly begins stuffing his fat face. Then this happens:






9. Supersize Me - A clever idea I had once: "Oh dude, you know what'd be hilarious? If we totally brought us some Large Big Macs (you can't get 'supersize' in the UK) and watched Supersize Me." Yes, I speak like an idiot. And also, those fucking liposuction scenes almost made me lose that Big Mac all over the cinema.

8. August Underground/Salo - I'd recommend no-one watch August Underground or Salo at all. But if you really must, I'd also recommend that you don't consider eating anything for a few days before watching it. Unless, y'know, you're less iffy about the thought of chewing on turds than I. If you just can't get enough of that sort of thing, then there's also Divine eating doggy doodoo off've a pavement in Pink Flamingos. Also: I hope you're gonna brush your teeth afterwards.

7. Se7en - Nomnomnom, lovely dinner. I wonder what's on TV? Nomnomnom, oh look, Se7en is on. Oh look, it's Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. All a bit dingy, isn't it? Nomnomnom. That was a lovely dinner I was eating. Well, up until they found the 'Gluttony' victim. Not quite so hungry anymore.

6. The Shining - A different kind of gross-out horror here, but nontheless quite off-putting if you're tucking into a plate of something tasty. It's a universal fear, is it not? You're making out with a total hotty and halfway through she/he turns into a wrinkly ol' granny, complete with saggy tits/ballbag. I think I'll leave that second helping of beef jerky, thanks.

5. Cannibal Holocaust - Thinking of giving Cannibal Holocaust a go? Set down the kebab meat first. If all the violence (and there's a lot) and nudity didn't put you off first, there's a whole lot of (literal) animal guts splayed out everywhere; enough to make even this hardy corpse-chomper consider taking up vegetarianism.

4. 90% of Takashi Miike's cinematic output - Something to disgust everyone here. You got spoons stuck up a man's ass, lactating grannies, abuse of chip fat, the abortions in Imprint, most everything in Ichi the Killer and a whole bunch of other bits and bobs you really don't wanna see while tucking into a tasty nosh. To be fair, if you consider anything Takashi Miike does to be 'popcorn entertainment' then you deserve to lose your dinner, silly person.

3. Dumplings - Nomnomnom, Chinese takeaway. Nomnomnom... remember that film I watched once... what was it called, Dumplings? Fried balls of dough will never be the same again if you've ever watched Fruit Chan's Dumplings. In that movie, the secret to good skin appears to be deep-fried foetuses. Because you're worth it.

2. Megan Fox Braindead - A movie to put you off've custard for a very long time. Trying to keep up appearances for her posho dinner guests, zombie Vera is in attendance for evening dinner. But she doesn't quite notice her ear drop into the custard before her. Yum. Nor does her dinner guest notice as zombie Vera pops a zit right into his dessert. "Lovely custard." Indeed.

1. The Human Centipede - This could've been dumped (HA, dump - geddit?) in with the rest of the scat stuff at no.8, but The Human Centipede is so much more than a bit of poopie porn; it's poopie porn dragged out to feature length. It's far from the most disgusting thing on this list (kudos to director Tom Six for managing to be so restrained) but the potty scenes are truly revolting.

*Nomnomnomnom*

The Astronaut's Wife


Director: Rand Ravich (1999)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

A sexy Charlize Theron plays the eponymous Wife of Astronaut, with an even sexier Johnny Depp on Creep duties as the aeronautically inclined husband in this, a fluffy and slightly erotic update of Rosemary's Baby.

It's a minor and somewhat inconsequential piece, but The Astronaut's Wife makes for passable viewing. Whilst playing at Star Trekkin', Spencer (Depp) drops out of contact with his spaceship for two minutes. In that time, he and pal Alex Streck are attacked by something. When they're brought back down to Earth, neither man is quite what they were before. Me I thought they'd just gone all Brokeback Mountain up there, but it turns out something more sinister is at play. Streck dies during a massive stroke and all is temporarily forgotten. And then Jill (Theron) falls pregnant with twins. Chestburster twins? Perhaps. And apparently Johnny Depp is evil now, although he's still damn hot, so we can forgive him that. And he owns a pair of hella awesome aviator glasses. Thanks to the combined lovely forces of Depp, Theron and those aviators, one can easily forgive the fact that not much actually happens in this movie.

What does happen is occasionally titillating. Theron and Depp quickly transcend their silly haircuts to make a believable, lovely little couple. Neither bares enough flesh, but there's at least a half-mast boner or two to be found dotted over the two hours' runtime. There are shades of Lovecraftian extraterrestrial horror, but it's not really touched on by the screenplay or Rand Ravich's direction. This is primarily a movie about the lead couple's relationship and the psychological horror of what might be. Perhaps it'd feel worth an extra Scream Queen or two if everyone involved had just moved out of that Rosemary's Baby shaped shadow a bit. Even Charlize Theron's haircut is on loan from Mia Farrow. As it stands, this is a mildy diverting if derivative little sci-fi thriller that gets by on a bit of steamy eroticism and the star power of its leading couple.

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)


Director: Mier Zarchi (1978)
Starring: Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

The greatest romantic comedy of all time, and a dramatic tonal departure by director Woody Al- Oh, wait, Camille Keaton. Silly me, I was thinking of Diane. Along with a certain house on the left, I Spit on Your Grave (Day of the Woman) is amongst the most famous of all the rape/revenge subgenre movies made in the seventies. It follows writer Jennifer Hills (Keaton) as she takes a quiet holiday in small-town America. Only the local neanderthals don't take too kindly to Jennifer and her sophistications, and decide to bring her down a notch or two. Systematic, repeated gang-rape follows. The movie sort of justifies its alternate title by having Jennifer wreak bloody revenge afterwards, but not really as much as you'd like.

See, the trick to good revenge drama is having the revenge be worse than the initial crime. And whilst Jennifer's various vengeances are fairly nasty, there's not much Zarchi can have her do that even nearly approximates the level of evil levelled at her in the movie's first half. She's repeatedly gang-raped by these fellas, and the best she can do is run one of them over with a fucking boat? Sure, she lops off her fair share of manhood, but it's in a climax that comes far too early and doesn't have anything like enough emotional clout.

Like a great many of the infamous video nasties, I Spit on Your Grave is horrible but largely undeserving of its UK ban. Until you start banning movies for being shit, this is one that should be left alone. Claims that it glorifies violence against women are unfounded - needless to say, the violence and rapings are appalling, and Zarchi actually seems to view himself as some sort of feminist messiah - I can even see how one might see it as a 'feminist' horror movie. Day of the Woman though? Any afternoon in which some poor lady gets raped for an hour's screentime is hardly liable to be a 'day of the woman'. It's like declaring Hostel 2 a feminist masterpiece because Lauren German gets out at the end. I generally despise rape/revenge movies anyway, but I Spit on Your Grave is just a terrible, shoddy piece of filmmaking, redeemed in my eyes only because it managed to piss Mary Whitehouse and The Daily Mail off quite so much.

Cannibal Holocaust


Director: Ruggero Deodato (1980)
Starring: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Say what you will about the movie itself, but Cannibal Holocaust has one of the best opening tunes I've ever heard. It's hard to believe that a piece of music so beautiful could accompany a movie so infamously horrible. For your ears' delectation, that opening piece of snyth is reproduced in the youtube viddy below. And worry not gentle readers, there's no violence or animal abuse depicted within should that sort of thing worry you.








Lovely, isn't it? Thereafter, Cannibal Holocaust becomes as gruesome as you'd heard it was. The movie tells of four documentarians who travel deep into the Amazon rainforest to film indigenous tribes. They don't return. Later, anthropologist Monroe (Kerman) follows in their footsteps, hoping to find them. What he does find is the missing filmakers' documentary footage. It doesn't make for happy viewing.

And neither does Cannibal Holocaust as a whole. It's an unflinchingly cruel movie, almost as much so as you heard it was. There's something to offend everyone: cruelty to animals, extreme gore and cannibalism, rape, a bit with a rock and a vagina, and a lot of lurid leering at the various atrocities on show. Indeed, it's not so much the atrocities listed above that make Cannibal Holocaust such difficult viewing but rather the leering ways in which they are viewed. It's like a really nasty Bruce Parry adventure. Or that episode of South Park where Cartman goes to the jungle and hits things with a stick. Actually, the South Park comparison is pretty apt even if I do say so myself. Animal lovers will be well advised to find a copy of the movie that bypasses the gory animal bits. The bit with the turtle is one of the most stomach-churning things I've seen in a very long time. It's things such as this which make Cannibal Holocaust a hard movie to defend. It's a piece designed to be an experience; not entertainment.

That said, there is a really sweet scene in which Monroe bathes naked with the female tribe members. It quickly gives way to some typical nastiness, but it's a nice touch and one that goes largely unmentioned in other descriptions of the movie. It's easily hidden amongst the more grotesque stuff. But there are a few of these surprisingly tender moments dotted here and there, usually accompanied by Riz Ortaloni's beautifully haunting score. It's almost a waste really. I don't think the movie deserves Ortaloni's musical interludes, and I doubt I'd appreciate it even half as much without it.

I didn't expect to like Cannibal Holocaust - and I don't really - but it's an undeniably powerful movie, nowhere near as unwatchable or shit as I'd expected it to be. Perhaps it helps that this is the first real Italian Cannibal movie I've ever watched (no, Zombie Holocaust, you don't even nearly count) and was therefore starting at the top. Or bottom, depending on how you view its artistic merit.

It indicates the nature of the beast that I feel I need to justify the following rating. Heck, I feel like I'm gonna be put on some sort of register simply having watched it. I give Cannibal Holocaust 4/5 of my screamy Scream Queens because it's well-made in its own way, and undeniably a large part of horror history. I didn't enjoy watching it, and I certainly don't like it, but that shouldn't stop one from admiring it for the things it does well. It defies description or even reviewing. Listen to the script, and most of it stands as a pretty good description of the movie itself: "It's unbelievable. It's horrible. I can't understand the reason for such cruelty."

Quite.

30 Days of Night


Director: David Slade (2007)
Director: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon

Even before they started sparkling, vampires were in trouble. Unlike the humble zombie, going through a career resurrection at the time, our bloodsucking friends seemed to be stuck in a state of permanent thrombosis. Let the Right One In wouldn't come for another year, and it seemed that vampires had nothing but the occasional Blade flick and a neverending stream of Gothy emo nonsense to their IMDB credit. Don't get me wrong, I like dark romanticism and subtextual sexuality as much as the next person, but the recurrent themes are as old as Dracula hisself. Shake it up a bit, y'know?

Enter 30 Days of Night, which does away with any subtext, pathos or romance and simply has its vampires act like complete bastards. It's not as revisionist a movie as I might be making it sound - vampires have been portrayed like this many times before - but it's just refreshing to not have to see them making long, overwrought speeches and acting all lonely like. Based on the Steve Niles/Ben Templesmith comic book of the same name, 30 Days of Night has its vampires visit the small town of Barrow, Alaska, where the sun can stay set for a whole month. This gives the vamps a whole month to party hard. And hard they do party.

A noticeably unawful Josh Hartnett plays the humans' leader, Sheriff Eben Oleson. Looking at that name, and at Barrow's location, I really don't think Eben was a character concieved as a white American chap. Still, I don't suppose there are that many Inuit Leading Men out there that Hollywood would be happy marketing their movie around. Melissa George plays his estranged wife, Stella. I'd whine about her casting too, but I'm a little bit in love with Melissa George. And when I say 'a little bit', I mean 'a lot'. Ahem, anyway. The creepy Ben Foster kid from off've Pandorum shows up and breaks all of Barrow's phones and dogs. Because vampires are really scared of phones and dogs. Eben arrests him, but it's too little too late. The phones and dogs have already been trashed. And the vampires attack.

And they don't let up one bit. As soon as the vampires arrive in Barrow, the movie hits the accelerator and doesn't slow down until the end. In fact, the vampires are so effective in their killins' that you don't really buy that the slaughter could last a whole 30 days. The whole movie could just as easily take place in one night, and you wouldn't really notice. Although it would sacrifice that brilliant title. Really, the shonky handling of the timescale is my biggest problem with 30 Days of Night. Director Dave Slade does a better job of making you feel it than Niles/Templesmith did in the comic book, but it just doesn't feel like a full month of action. The characters get wearier and harier (although I could grow a better beard than Hartnett's in a week, let alone 30 days) but not to 30 days' extent. But that's just nitpicking.

The action is truly outstanding. Slade delivers the goods again and again - most notably in a fight with a little girl vampire, an explosive set piece with a truck, and finally with an axe and a wonky head chopping. The antagonists are scarier than vampires have been for a long time, whilst the protagonists have Melissa George to distract from the occasional bit of wooden acting. I'm no fan of Josh Hartnett, but he's better than you might expect here. It has its flaws, but 30 Days of Night is a blast of a movie. It delivers scares, action and gore likely to please most horrorhounds, and best of all - no whingeing or sparkling. I'm not gonna say that it bodes well for Slade's Eclipse - the source material is that shitty - but y'know, I might be inclined to hate it just that little bit less.*


* Well, no, probably not.

Pitch the Lamb: Washed Up


Director: Uwe Boll (ETA 2011)
Starring: Steven Seagal, Adam Sandler, Martin Lawrence, Anna Faris, Verne Troyer
Find it online: Well, not yet.

In association with the LAMB's neat little Pitch the Lamb feature (this month's theme: Buddy Flicks), the Horror Review Hole brings you a glimpse into the future, with our hitherto unseen plot synopsis of Washed Up, the buddy movie as written by yours truly. Adam Sandler and Steven Seagal star as Harry and Leslie, a pair of old schoolfriends who are reunited in the latter's hour of need. Leslie, once a slick, mean ex-CIA agent turned expert Hitman has become a fat, old, washed up mess. He reaches out to his only friend in life - Harry - in the hope of redemption. That's if he can survive the dangerous gangster (Lawrence) who's after his head... zany hijinks ensue.

WASHED UP
0

The movie opens with a prologue. Kids in a schoolyard. Meet HARRY; A stereotypical nerd-type sits alone at a table, reading a comic book. Over comes the school bully and rips his comic to shreds. Harry starts crying. The bully is about to beat the motherlovin’ turds out of him when JOHN LESLIE intervenes. He wears a long leather jacket and a ponytail. Using some cool Aikido moves, he beats the bully to a pulp. Harry smiles. He and John Leslie shake hands. And so a friendship forms.

ACT ONE

Twenty years later. Harry (Sandler) is a neurotic businessman type, married to a lovely wife (Faris) with kids. He’s still geeky, but vaguely contented. He has ambitions of one day becoming a partner in his company, but hasn’t the money. One day, the telephone rings. He answers. “You owe me! Remember that.” What? Drunkenly: “I think the walls are moving…” Harry gasps, realising who it is. LESLIE. He leaves a motel address, repeating the sentence “you owe me.” Harrytries to ignore it and goes for dinner with his wife. He’s awkward and miserable all night. In bed, he dreams of the past; Leslie coming to his defence time and time again. In the middle of the night he leaves.

ACT TWO

Harry finds the motel. It’s a dodgy-ass area, and he gets mugged. Just as the mugger (a cameo from Rob Schneider) is about to stab him… a figure smashes the mugger over the head with an empty vodka bottle. “Did we forget something? You never let anyone push you about, pard’ner. You remember nothing I taught you?” It’s LESLIE. Older, fatter and played by Steven Seagal. He grabs Harry by the collar and pulls him into the motel bar. Drinks. Leslie's already off his tits, but he orders a bottle of whiskey and begins downing it hardcore style. Harry asks him what happened. Leslie tells him how he’s a Hitman now, only he fucked it up (he doesn’t say it, but we can assume it’s because he’s now an alcoholic and a fatty) and he’s on the run from serious gangsters. Talking of which… “Well look who just walked in.” Mobsters. They haven’t noticed Leslie yet. He and Harry try to sneak out, but he loudly drops the whiskey bottle on the floor. Shit.
Fight scene!! The Mobsters (probably played by John C. McGinley and a Wayans Brother) attack. Leslie tries to fight back, and does quite well… but the Wayans Brother shoves him up against a wall and is about to shoot him when… Harry cracks a pool cue off’ve his head. He drops Leslie and the mobsters break out laughing. “Goddammit,” Leslie shouts, “remember what I taught you.” Almost gingerly, Harry punches the Wayans Brother in the throat. Or tries. Wayans punches him through a window. They join him on the sidewalk and are about to kill poor Harry rather violently when… Leslie runs them over in his truck. Harryclimbs in. They drive away. “Road trip!”

ACT THREE

Harry demands to be taken home. He’s bloody and battered. His suit is a bit of a mess. He’s had enough. But Leslie begs for his help. Pleads. “You know I would do the same for you.” Harry looks at him, knowing he can’t say no. He reluctantly uses his Cellphone and calls his wife, telling her he’ll be at a business meeting for the next week or so. “Alright,” Harry says, “what do you need?”
Cue ‘hilarious’ road trip antics. On the first night, they hire a motel – but they only have one bed! Epic LOLZ. The second day, Leslie decides he needs a gun. So they go to a GUN DEALER (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Cue training montage in which Leslie hilariously fails to use a gun and shoots Mintz-Plasse in the foot. Then, they go to Leslie's old dojo so he can touch up on his fighting styles. Leslie's master is now dead, and the place is run by a bad tempered dwarf (Verne Troyer). The dwarf beats the shit outta Leslie, whilst a mad old man (played by Leslie Nielsen) sits in the corner laughing and drinking his own piss.
They sit in their truck, nursing their wounds. Leslie holds a bottle of whiskey in his hands, preparing to give it all up. Harry sits with him, they talk. Harry makes his old friend realise that he is loved after all, and he’s not so alone: “you’re my best friend. I love you, man.”
And then the car door opens, and there’s the mobsters pointing guns at them. Leslie beats the hell out of them, spurred on by the knowledge that he got a friend!
Training montage! Set to "Best Friend" by Queen. Harry and Leslie train. We watch as Leslie improves his marksmanship, then returns to the Dojo and kicks Verne Troyer in the face. At the end, they hug.

ACT FOUR

Chicago. In a tower block, Gangster HARVEY MAGUFFIN (Lawrence) is mightily angered at his goons, who are battered and bruised from their encounter with the newly empowered Leslie. “What am I paying you for?” Standard villain shtick. The intercom goes. “Mister Maguffin, you have some visitors to see you.” He asks who it is. “A mister Leslie, sir.” There’s a gunshot. The elevator in the corner of the room begins to rise. All guns point to it. The doors open. Only HARRY. “Surprise!”
While Maguffin and his goons are distracted, Leslie bursts through the window, having jumped from the roof of the opposite building. Being a fat bastard now, it’s quite the impact, and he crashes through Maguffin's mahogany table. “I’ll kill you extra hard for that, motherfucker!” Maguffin fights with Leslie. The goons attack Harry, who shoots one of them dead. He tussles with McGinley’s character (what, I can’t think up names for everyone) and, in his ultimate moment of manliness, throws him out of a window.
Maguffin and Leslie fight. Leslie is old and fat, and Maguffin is just useless, so it lasts a while. Leslie (well, a body double) high kicks him in the face, so hard that it breaks his neck. Exit MAGUFFIN.
The two stand side-by-side, weary but happy. In the corner, a safe full of money. Harry remarks that there’d be enough money in that safe to take over his company completely. Leslie smiles. “Who’s going to know?”

EPILOGUE

One year later. Harry lives in a really big, really nice house. He's having a barbeque. His kids play happily on their enormous trampoline. His wife (still played by Anna Faris) reclines by their hu-uge swimming pool. Harry smiles, flipping the sausages. At his side, Leslie, tucking into a fat hamburger.
As the credits roll, 'All-Star' by SmashMouth plays. Sandler, Seagal and Lawrence dance over said credits.







Look out for Washed Up. It'll be coming soon to a cinema, DVD, television, streaming site, dustbin or nothing near you very soon. Or not at all.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation


Director: Kim Henkel (1994)
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Jacks, Idiots.
Find it online: DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE

Every longstanding horror franchise has its missteps. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Happens to the best of 'em. Freddy had that time where he died, Michael got Resurrected and Jason Went to Hell. But whereas most of those pieces had their mostly ironic moments (the return of Johnny Depp, Kung Fu Busta Rhymes and, heck, I like Jason Goes to Hell) Leatherface's biggest fuck-up stinks on every single level. It's an utterly unenjoyable, horrible movie which makes me feel actually quite furious whenever I attempt to watch it.

But for you lovely readers watch it I did again last night; an experience so traumatising it made me completely fuck up that last half-sentence in way of Yoda proportions. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1994 is the single worst Next Generation since Insurrection. This is a movie so irredeemably shitty that even Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey are (probably) embarrassed to list it on their already excrementally-inclined CVs. McConaughey is bad, but Zellweger is so terrible that it makes you wonder how she managed to get any sort of acting job anywhere after this. Marilyn Burns she ain't. Fuck, she's not even in Jessica Biel's league. The only people likely to enjoy Bridget Jones in this movie are randy foot fetishists, thrilled by the fact she never wears any shoes.

Renee is a virginal young stereotype out on her school Prom Night. Somehow she ends up in a car with some annoying friends. The annoying friends crash their car down on a Texas backroad and find themselves harrassed by Leatherface and his idiotic family. Now, Renee and her friends are annoying, but Kim Henkel and Co manage to find a collection of people even more annoying than that. Even Leatherface is relentlessly mind-blowingly grating in this movie.


Wherein the screencapture says more than the review itself ever could

But not nearly as much so as Matthew McConaughey and his remote-controlled leg. It's the singlemost horrible performance ever delivered by anyone in the history of anything, ever. Literally every moment Matthew McConaughey is onscreen is a moment is a moment I wish I was either dead or deaf. And he's onscreen a lot. His character is like TCM2's Choptop, only amplified by ten and multiplied by the terrible acting of Matthew fucking McFuckingConaughey. Scratch what I said three sentences ago - every moment Matthew McConaughey is onscreen is a moment I wish HE was either dead, dead or dead. And he can take that awful version of Leatherface with him too. "I know what would make The Texas Chainsw Massacre better - if Leatherface was shit and dressed like a woman." It's a version of the character in which he gets told to shut up by Rene Zellweger and actually does. At that precise moment I wanted to throw my television outta the window. Or even better, at her stupid head. Or even better than that, at Kim Henkel's head. Kim Henkel is apparently to Chainsaw Massacres what George Lucas is to Indiana Jones. This is his Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Substitute Shia LeFuckingBouf for Matthew McFuckingFuckaghey. You know what would make this movie better? Illuminati men with big nipple rings.

Well yes, it gets better from there. No wait, worse. A lot worse. Because the family are actually employees of the Illuminati or whatever, chosen specifically to scare the hell out of people. Yes, you read that right. But at least by then you won't have the energy left to give a fuck, because toothless Leatherface and his twatty new family will have sapped it all out of you. Matthew McConaughey being hit on the head with an airplane should elicit cheers, but it's a moment full of unintended bathos and as about as bullshitty stupid as the rest of the movie.

Likewise, cameos from Marilyn Burns, John Dugan and Paul Partain all fall flat thanks to the preceeding 90-odd minutes of pissing all over their legacy. The Next Generation is a horrible entry into a previously excellent franchise, a horrible horror movie and an all around horrible movie in general. I've watched a lot of foecal movies in my time, but none have ever made me as all-out angry as this lazy, insulting excuse for a movie.

CYRUS: MIND OF A SERIAL KILLER


Director: Mark Vadik (2010)
Starring: Brian Krause, Danielle Harris, Lance Henriksen
Find it online: IMDB

LOL JK. You Hannah Montana fans will have to look elsewhere for your tween kicks. This is actually a review of something considerably less horrifying - the serial killer thriller Cyrus. This one stars Lance Henriksen and has his gruff, mysterious character as interviewee in a documentary about titular serial killer Cyrus (not to be confused with enjoyable serial killer Cyrus of Con Air or anything Billy Ray either). His narration bookends the movie and is intercut with vivid murder scenes in which the killer does his stuff.

If only Cyrus was played by an actor with as much chops as Henriksen. Brian Krause does fine, but his serial killer shtick comes across as a bit stereotyped and without nuance. He's pretty much your standard quiet, creepy murderer ala Steve Railsback's Ed Gein or Kane Hodder's BTK. Do we really need another dungarees-wearing My Name Is Earl trailer-trash serial killer? He remains mostly quiet throughout, but when he does get to speak, ol' Cyrus comes across as a bit whiny. Always rattling on about his achey breaky heart.

But Henriksen's narration and faux talking heads keep things snappy enough. It also helps that Cyrus is a lot quieter than your average STD serial killer. The few lines he has don't exactly seep menace. In fact, much of the movie's menace and tension comes from Henriksen's gravelly Texan narratings. Lance makes a lot of crap nowadays, but his work in Cyrus is solid. He's too old, but I'd much rather have seen him play Cyrus hisself.

After he murders his wife, Cyrus murders a car full of cut-n-paste youths and kidnaps the cutest amongst their number. He takes her home and makes her breastfeed his imaginary dead baby. Yes, you read that right. Most disturbing breastfeeding scene since The Hills Have Eyes remake. Sadly it's accompanied by a whole lot of whining and daft behaviour from Cyrus. Serial killers, when will you learn that bleating about your mommy & daddy issues is just unattractive.

But for all its issues, Cyrus is watchable enough. The story is more compelling than one might expect, and there's enough going on to prevent boredom from setting in. Course, it has Lance Henriksen to paper over the cracks. And if you squint your eyes/turn off your ears, you can pretend that you're watching Sam Worthington on screen. A much more annoying, simpering Sam Worthington. And it has the most unintentionally hilarious car crash this side of a Final Destination. The ending though, is entirely unpredictable. In fact, even with no more facts at your disposal than provided by this review, you can probably guess the 'twist' straight off've the bat.

The Mind of a Serial Killer, as posited by this movie's subtitle, is a bit of a dump. Lesson learned: under Lance Henriksen's gravelly monotone, even an utter bitch moron like Silly Ray Cyrus can pass off as cool. If only we could all have the luxury of The Henriksen narrating our most dipshit mind processes.

ASS: THE MOVIE


Director: David S Goyer (2009)
Starring: Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Cam Gigandet, Idris Elba
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Not since Demi Moore's derriere graced the VHS covers of I Spit on Your Grave has one girl's ass made such memorable marketing for a horror movie. Indeed, the film's repeated use of Yustman's arse almost rivals that of Twilight's abdomens in terms of harnessing the Sleaze Audience. I suppose it's a remarkably clever way to get people to watch your otherwise mediocre movie.

Ass aside, I think there might be a plot buried there somewhere. The Unborn isn't, but it feels like an American remake of something J-horror. It's use of the mundane (and The Unborn is very mundane) and grey cinematics is very reminiscent of The Grudge or that one with the drippy ceiling. Casey (Yustman) is plagued by visions of a ghostly child. Her unborn twin brother, as it happens. Little bastich ain't too happy with being dead, and wants to be born. In order to do this, he murders Casey's black best friend (and I thought this was supposed to be 21st Century filmmaking. Bad luck, black best friends; you're destined to remain knife-fodder for a while yet) and harrasses a house full of old people. Forgive me, I forget most of the plot mechanics. I was too busy focusing on Yustman's ass.

Upon discovering that the ghost brat is a figure of Jewish folklore, Casey hunts down Rabbi Sendak (Oldman) and asks that he exorcise Ghost Jew Boy for her. I have no idea what Gary Oldman is doing in such a movie, but he gives the whole thing a sense of (highly undeserved) gravitas, and makes it a mildly more watchable affair. Even during the scenes (both of them) in which Yustman's ass isn't facing the camera. What follows is a very silly but still midly watchable exorcism in which Casey is strapped down to a gurney and muzzled with a very BDSM-looking gag contraption. Also present is Casey's boyfriend (Gigandet) and a Priest (Idris Elba). As Gary Oldman screams into a wind machine, Casey struggles on the table and the Priest gets himself somehow killed. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, fake happy ending, pre-credits shock, THE END. The Unborn kinda resembles how Drag Me to Hell might have turned out if it'd been directed by a hack with an ass-fascination.

That said, The Unborn isn't as fully terrible as one might imagine it to be. It's even mildly watchable, amusing in an unintentional sort of way and vaguely arousing for those who appreciate tightie whities and the female form. The peformances are neither great nor horrible. Yustman is like a more tolerable version of Megan Fox, Gigandet will keep the ladyfolk in the audience semi-interested, and the combined forces of Oldman and Elba add the actorly factor - even if they're both just blatantly phoning it in. Meanwhile, Goyer's directional style keeps things snappy and watchable, although it does feel like a particularly assy music video at times. You keep expecting Jason Derulo or Justin Bieber to show up and slap Yusterman's butt whenever it's onscreen. And it's onscreen a lot. Go back and count how many times I've used the word 'ass' in this review. That's nothing compared to the amount of times it must have been used in the script. Which is pretty apt, I suppose. The Unborn after all, is a load of ass.

Dead Set


Creator: Charlie Brooker (2008)
Starring: Jaime Winstone, Andy Nyman, Kevin Eldon, Davina McCall
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Ah, summer. Lovely summer, at least until something that comes along and ruins it all. Picture the scene. I'm at home, overheated and bored. I text a friend, wanting to visit a beer garden or the like. Okay, I don't have any friends, but if I did they'd repy with this: "sorry chum. Watching the football/Big Brother." This year I get not only the World Cup, but the grand finale of Big Brother too.

Football, you suck. But that's hardly an appropriate topic for a horror blog. Nor would Big Brother be normally, but more on that later. Big Brother. Never have two words made me so unfairly hate a piece of popular literature so much. George Orwell's 1984 is arguably one of the greatest books ever written. What Channel 4 did in its name... not so much.

For me, Big Brother the literary villain has become regreattably overshadowed by Big Brother the shitty TV monster. Every summer, around 15 zany fuckheads and imbeciles are piled into a luxury mansion and tortured live on television for around three months. Over the seven or eight years it's been broadcasting, Big Brother has brought us race rows, the proliferation of Stupid Celebrity, bullying, bottle wanking, Jade fucking Goody and a truly bizarre moment with a Scottish MP in a catsuit. Nothing is garanteed to make me turn my telly set off faster than the words "Day ten-hundred-and-fifty-seventy in the Big Brutha Hooo-ooose. Becky is smoo-oking a cigarette" (re-read that sentence out loud in a Geordie accent). Just typing those words made my brain seep a little bit inside.

To my count, precisely three good things have come out of Big Brother. (1) Kerrang Radio DJ Kate Lawler (2) Russell Brand on Big Brother's Little Brother and (3) Dead Set. Dead Set, created and written by telly critic and journalist Charlie Brooker is to my mind, the greatest piece of genre television in recent memory. Over the course of five episodes, Brooker sculpts the finest piece of zombie cinema (and it deserves watching more like a movie than TV series) since 28 Days Later. It's everything a good zombie movie should be; terrifying, grotesque, funny and socially relevant.

Dead Set takes place in the Big Brother household, during a fictional series of the programme. On the outside, there's only a bloody zombie apocalypse on. Britain is very quickly overrun. Only a few survivors remain. At the TV studio, a disparate group of ex-housemates, friends and producers pile into the house and join the perplexed, oblivious housemates.

As anyone familiar with Charlie Brooker's work might expect, the writing is sharp, scathing and funny. His Big Brother housemates are at once recognizeable, grossly caricatured and sympathetic. It also has the perfect villain in Andy Nyman's Patrick - possibly the most unpleasant character ever committed to TV. It's to the series' credit that they actually managed to create an individual more unlikeable than the programme's real-life contestants. But there are so many great characters in Dead Set that it's unfair to pick Patrick as 'best' by any means. I also enjoyed the sympathetic chav, Jaime Winstone's sympathetic Kelly, hippy Joplin and especially Zombie Davina McCall. Its character work is perhaps the series strongest point.

This is the definition of a gushing review, but there's so much to love about Dead Set - especially when approached from the perspective of a horror fan. The amount of gore and violence on display is a shocker when you consider this was broadcasted on national TV - and the action easily rivals that of 28 Days Later or the Dawn of the Dead remake. And in a grotesque sort of way, the ending is just beautiful; the perfect ending to such a story and the perfect peice of commentary on our Idiot TV Nation.

This year, as I've done every one since 2008, I won't be tucking into the final series of BB. I daresay it'll be back in some form sooner or later, like the proverbial bad penny it is. No, I'll be showing the zombie apocalypse some love with Charlie Brooker's Dead Set. I always hoped there would be a jungle-set riff on I'm a Celebrity/Zombie Holocaust sequel. Until that happens, I'm Dead Set on re-watching this outstanding little piece of genre TV.*

* Shi-iit. That makes this the third post in the row ending on a title based pun. This place really does suck.

Action movie Monday presents: Half Past Dead 2



HALF PAST DEAD 2

Ever wonder what a (modern) Steven Seagal movie would be like without even Steven Seagal to laugh at? The answer is Half Past Dead 2 (Rotting O' Clock or A Quarter to Deader, surely?) a movie so terrible even Seven Seagal or Ja Rule wouldn't star in it. Instead wrestler Bill Goldberg handles Big Hardman duties, with rapper (so they tell me) Kurupt as his sidekick. I've literally no idea why this movie exists, but there was nothing else on and this column needs writing.

If I remember right, the first Half Past Dead had Steven Seagal as an undercover FBI agent trapped in Alcatraz with (c)rapper Ja Rule as his sidekick. The plot consisted of some ugly terrorist types trying to find the location of some hidden gold via a soon-to-be-executed convict. Like the Shawshank Redemption really, except uterlly not. It was to be the last Seagal movie with a cinematic release (at least up until this year's Machete) and heralded the arrival of his Straight To DVD era. Even for a late Seagal curiosity, Half Past Dead is a stupid, boring movie. Like the Rock except without any of the humour, excitement or Good. See, you're practically getting two reviews for the price of one here. The more I write on HPD2's predecessor is the less time I have to spend thinking about the terrible sequel.

Kurupt reprises his role as 'Twitch', a mouthy annoyance character. I don't remember him being in the first one, but there you go. The less I remember about this franchise the better. Anyway, this time he's transferred to an even harder prison than Alcatraz, where he meets Santa Claus Burke (Goldberg) and finds himself in the middle of a gang war between rival gangs. Like Prison Break, except without good actors, good storylines or, well, anything Good. There are some perfunctory fight scenes and explosions, but it's as worthless a sequel as one could ever expect to find. Why anyone would ever write, make or watch this waste of DVD disc/airtime is beyond me.

Prison movies always have the potential to be good, but usually just end up being a lazy excuse for half-arsed action, stupid tough guy dialogue and charicature villainy. Not only does HPD2 check every single one of those boxes, but it creates a bunch more. It's boring, slightly mysoginistic and crap to boot. This is one franchise that should have called it a day at the chime of Dead O' Clock*.

* Shit, two posts ending with crap puns on movie titles in a row? This review hole is really starting to stink.

Up shit creek


Director: Greg Mclean (2005)
Starring: Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips, John Jarratt
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Torture porn is a phrase, as a rule, you won't see much of down in the Review Hole. Us horror fans get enough bad press without the implication that we're "getting off" on said torture, our hands fiddling about in us grundies as an Eastern European crook sticks a hook up some poor girl's nose. Torture has its place in cinema, but for me, it can't just be there for the sake of it. I'm generally quite uninteresting in watching torture guff unless there's some overriding point, rhyme or reason for it. Either throw in a good storyline (Martyrs), do it well (Takashi Miike) or torture Danny Dyer (Severance). Otherwise, I'm not interested. We'll just have another Grotesque, Hostel or - BeJebus Forgive - Craptivity on our hands. Nice as torture is, it wears its welcome out fast.

Wolf Creek was amongst the first of the modern lot to do torture. But that didn't stop it from feeling like something we'd seen a hundred times before. Mostly because there's next to no storyline there. Liz, Christie and Ben are backpacking through the Australian outback when they become stranded at the eponymous Wolf Creek. Stereotypical Ozzie bushman Mick Taylor finds them and offers the unlucky youths a lift back to his camp. Before you can make a racist joke about Fosters, shrimps or barbies, he's strung the three of them up and makes busy with the torture.

Like an evil Crocodile Dundee, Mick locks poor Ben up in a shed (torturing guys mustn't do it for him), ties up the girls (not very thoroughly in Liz's case) and sends the phrase "head on a stick" tumbling into the modern horror lexicon. It's unremittingly grim stuff. The movie's first hour lets you get to really know and like its protagonists. Then, when Mick Taylor arrives, it spends the remainder of the running time bullying the shit out of them. They even have the the cheek of making the most annoying character (bloody Ben) be their only survivor.

Having Ben survive feels like a move designed to infuriate. And not just because Nathan Phillips is a really irritating actor (see the similar but far superior Dying Breed for Phillipsness at its worst), but rather because he really doesn't deserve to survive. He completely disappears for all of the horror scenes, bypassing his share of the torture and violence. I'm no feminist, but it really does feel like the movie is as uninterested in watching Ben as Mick is in torturing him. That said, I get the feeling. I'm completely uninterested in Wolf Creek. The first hour is pretty dull, whilst everything post-Mick is dull in an entirely different way. It's a very self-consciously provocative move for a very self-consciously provocative movie.

So see gentle readers, here we can see why the term "torture porn" - especially when applied to a movie such as Wolf Creek - is an inaccurate and silly one. After all, pornography titillates, not encourages an early bedtime. Wolf Creek is dull, smug, humourless and cruel in a very artificial sort of way. Well made and directed as it is, it's one of the most overrated horror movies of the past ten years. Like Haute Tension and The Devil's Rejects, it's a movie I've rewatched and tried to 'get' many a time. And repeatedly I've found myself unable to get past the pointlessness of it all, blinded by the grotty cinematics and almost banal violence. Up Wolf Creek without a paddle, if you will JOKE DELETED FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMOUR.

Ahem, anyway: