Posts Tagged ‘hunted

09
Oct
16

The WNUF Halloween Special (1987-2013)

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“This is not some Halloween prank. The grisly evidence of the supernatural is real. – Frank Stewart,  The WNUF Halloween Special

a Primal Root written review

This day and age everything we want is right at our fingers tips. All the information (and misinformation) we need is jut a key stroke and a mouse click away. Movies are on demand, Netflix streams their tiny list of titles right into our living rooms…but not long ago we had to dig. A younger generation will not know of the struggle it once was to locate an obscure title or horror film, a rare bootleg of a strange, grotesque, bizarre television occurrence or to pay exorbitant amounts of cash to purchase a copy of something you’ve heard such tall tales of that your expectations are sky high, only to pop in the VHS tape and realize you’ve totally been had. Sure, it was a kind of dark age of horror cinema geekdom, but for every tape you watched that was absolute dog shit, you would come across some absolute gold. Even some strange, unlabeled tapes from the local thrift store, flea market or Goodwill that left you wondering just what the fuck you witnessed and had your grasping desperately at what was left of your Taco Bell and Mountain Dew fueled teenage sanity.

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However, in 2013 some innovative and intelligent filmmakers decided to try and recreate that exact same vibe with The WNUF Halloween Special, a feature film intended to look and feel like a lost, legendary 1980’s local news Halloween broadcast that went terribly wrong and has become the stuff of Urban Myth. The film begins with the all too familiar bright blue VHS screen we all recall from the era, a white triangle with the word “PLAY” pop up in the top corner as an audible click is heard and we are transported back to a simpler time, a crappier time perhaps, where audio was spotty, video quality was always poor and everything was tacky and damn proud of it. Of course, those living at the time had no idea and it was embraced in all it’s clunkiness.

Our news anchors at WNUF, dressed as a witch and Dracula respectively, are just as cheesy and goofball as you might expect, only going serious face when the story calls for it, like a story about local tragedy where an asian boy dressed as G.I. Joe when to a Vietnam veterans home and was gunned down. It’s a dark chuckle, but a damn good one, none the less. We are also told repeatedly to stay tuned for The WNUF Halloween Special at 7pm, right after the 6 O’Clock News where the ultimate ham and local news anchor, the mustachioed  Frank Stewart, played by the dead pan and hilarious Paul Fahrenkopf, will host a stunning exploration into the supernatural and unexplained phenomenon occurring within the walls of the infamous Webber House,  the site of ghoulish murders. Frank enlists the help of a famed Husband, Wife and Feline psychic team as well as a local Catholic Priest to accompany him on this journey into the horrifying, the macabre and the unknown…

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It’s just as cheesy as it sounds, folks.  But it all works in the movies favor, because for the most part, if you can suspend your disbelief just a little bit, it doesn’t feel staged.  It all feels pretty damn real thank to the very natural, often improvised performances. What also lends a lot of credence to the proceedings are the fantastic fake local commercials that keep interrupting the action after our perilous reporter looks into the camera telling us, “We’ll be back RIGHT AFTER THIS!” There are some truly wonderful ads created for the fictional but very nostalgic local haunts like Tokens arcade and pizza parlor as well as late night horror movie shows to broadcast later in the evening and even political attack ads! It goes a long way to making the whole film feel more like genuine lost relic of a bygone era than your typical found footage genre entry.

Much like The Blair Witch Project over a decade earlier, it began building hype via word of mouth. Once the Halloween Special was completed filmmaker Chris LaMartina started getting the word out by dubbing the film directly to VHS, hand writing labels with Sharpie and dropping it off without anyone noticing at VHS collector conventions for people to stumble upon. I’ve even heard they drove around Baltimore tossing VHS copies of their movie out the car window in the hopes of people picking it up, sliding it not the VCR’s and getting rumors and copies circulating.  I can only imagine how awesome it must have been to be one of the lucky ones who tumbled across one of those original VHS tapes before it became common knowledge that this was all staged and wondering just what you had come across. It must have a been the most wonderful kind of mind fuck.

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Sure, we all know it’s fake now, but I cannot heap enough praise on The WNUF Halloween Special. It has a lot of fun transporting us back the days that folks like us used to look forward to dressing up in costumes, going to Halloween carnivals with our parents and trick or treating around the neighborhood with our friends. The WNUF Halloween Special brings back those feelings of just how special Halloween night was to us as children, sure, it’s still special to us know, but as a child in meant something even more. I for putting so much effort into creating that reality for us, once again, WNUF should be commended.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but by film’s end we see another nightly news broadcast five days after the fact with our original two news anchors discussing with us whether or not what we witnessed on screen during the WNUF Halloween Special was a hoax or not. They mention the disappearance of certain people…then put on their best smiles, forget about that bummer and move on full force into discussing Thanksgiving and Christmas season! Its crasstastic, pitch perfect in it’s dark humor and mocking the attention span of the typical television viewer. But, you know as well as I do, that it’s only one year before Halloween comes round again… The WNUF Halloween Special takes place in 1987…who know what happened in 1988?

I award The WNUF Halloween Special 3 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

06
Jul
15

JAWS 3-D (1983) Shitty Day at Zzzz World

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a Primal Root written review

“If he wouldn’t have pulled that old crotch trick, he never would have won.” Lea Thompson as Kathryn Morgan, JAWS 3-D

Man, the 1980’s were the golden age of franchise slasher flicks. Paramount pictures struck gore soaked gold with the all night escapades of Mr. Jason Voorhees, New Line would redefine bed pissingly terrifying nightmares with Wes Craven’s greatest achievement, A Nightmare on Elm street even gents like Michael Myers, Aliens Norman Bates and Leatherface caught their second wind in the 1980’s to varying degrees of success. So, how in the world could the third installment to the massively popular and overwhelmingly effective thrill ride that was JAWS fair in the decade of excess? The elements are all there, the setting is Sea World where there is a plethora of victims to choose from! Tourists, water skiers, assholes in Shamu costumes, other aquatic life like dolphins and orcas…Men, Women and Children of all varieties are ripe for the picking! Not only this, but this flick is in THE THIRD DIMENSION! So the action, the terror, the blood, the snaggle toothed gaping black hold of death will come floating right at us! How could this fail?

The Answer? Spectacularly.

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The flick opens with some undersea footage of fish swimming about, minding their own business, when all of a sudden red dye is released into the water and a bizarre munching noise is heard. We are then treated to an extended shot of a decapitated fish head as it’s head reflexively tries to gasp for air…IN 3-D!  It’s just as underwhelming and odd as it sounds. Once this little mystifying bit of stupefyingly mundane cinema is out of our way, our carnivorous friend follows a group of water skiers, led by absolute fox Lea Thompson (Back to the Future, Howard the Duck) into the lagoon around the world’s largest aquatic amusement park, Florida’s Sea World! Before you know it, an engineer goes underwater to chains the gate connecting the lagoon to the ocean shut and mysteriously vanishes. Well, we know he’s dead, as we witness some goofy editing, munching noises and a hilarious 3-D severed arm floating into our face,  but we gotta wait for the characters to catch up. Very late in the film the dead body of this guy floats into view of the tourists in the brand spanking new Sea World underwater kingdom. In the film;s one truly outstanding moments, the dead body comes bobbing into view in one of these underwater observation windows. The young teenage girl who spots him begins screaming her head off and tries to run away, when out of nowhere, a person who remains nameless and faceless, grabs her by the shoulder and shoves the terrified girl’s face against the window so that she is eye to eye with the guy’s gnawed up, water logged corpse. It’s a moment of unintentional dark comic gold and is probably the only thing I can recommend about this JAWS 3-D.

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Sorry, got off track there. Back to the story at hand as it is. The Brody Boys from JAWS and JAWS 2 are back. Sean (John Putch), the younger one, understandably, inherited his Father’s fear of the ocean while older brother Mike (Dennis Quaid) is an engineer at Sea World who designed and constructed and entire undersea kingdom attraction to bring in the tourists. Mike is living in sin with marine biologist/ animal trainer, Dr. Kay (My So-Called Life’s Bess Armstrong). It;s the eve of the grand opening of the undersea kingdom and Sea World owner/reckless idiot, Calvin Bouchard (Academy Award Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr)  has hired prized game hunter and and world renown wild life photographer Philip FitzRotce (Simon MacCorkindale) to come photograph his water skiers.  Soon, the bodies start piling and our film;s scientists and engineers decide to capture the shark and raise it in captivity as an attraction. Against Dr. Kay’s orders and without her knowledge, Calvin decides to open the attraction about six months early before the great white is ready, and all the attention ends up killing the poor murderous, man eating shark. Unbeknownst to the crew at Sea World that just let their prized exhibit and living creature needlessly die in front of about 200 hundred drooling tourists, this great white was just the baby. Big Mama is now headed to Sea World and there’s going to be Hell to pay!

QUE THE BLOOD DRENCHED CARANGE!

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Eh, of let’s just watch some water skiers fall over before getting rescued. The some bumper boats topple over before their occupants get rescued. Then watch in terror as a raft is ripped apart holding a dozen or so people…and then watch them swim away unscathed. It’s honestly the most bloodless, boring, anticlimactic quest for vengeance featuring a mammoth, human crushing, flesh gnawing great white shark I’ve ever seen committed to film.  The only casualty is Lea Thompson’s thigh, which gets a three inch cut in it. It’s pretty goddamn underwhelming. Things get moderately more interesting as our Big Mama shark decides to bust up the Undersea Kingdom a little bit, flooding the underwater tubes filled with victims. Do any of them die? Not a one. They all survive. Still, watching a bunch of crotchety old people and young actors who suck at this profession scramble for a safe room and then try desperately to out act one another as panicked Florida sight seers. You want to be entertained? Just keep your eyes on the extras in the background.

Our big game hunter, FitzRoyce, devices a plan to trap Big Mama in an underwater tunnel and trap her there. The plan goes along swimmingly as Big Mama takes the bait and has a top speed of about 1/2 MPH. However, FitzRoyce turns out to be a total spazz and somehow finds himself alive inside Big Mama’s stomach. The editing is pretty fucking sketchy there seems to be a moment missing as he is one moment swimming away from the slow, mechanical  shark and the next shot shows him alive floating within Big Mama’s body. He is completely unchewed, but cannot make his way back out from inside of her. IT;s really awkward as Big Mama jus keeps flapping her jaw around and we watching as FitzRoyce flails about. Eventually, Big Mama somehow crunches FitzRoyce to death inside her belly and his blood pours out of her gills. Huh… That’s certainly a new spin on an old trick. It’s like trying to eat a piece of sushi by popping the piece inside your mouth and chewing it with your tongue as opposed to your teeth. But why in the wild world of sports would a shark do this? I mean, sure, it is surprising, but only because it’s so fucking strange.

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FitzRoyce does happen to show up in the final scene, still bobbing around in Big Mama’s mouth, as if lodged in her throat unable to escape. His dead body holds a grenade clutched in his cold, blue hand. Big Mama, in a slow motion scene so unintentionally comedic, so bat shit stupid it will leave your jaw on the floor, busts into the underwater control room to finally eat some people. Big Mama gets stuck in the window, but does manage to eat one of the black guys in the room before slowly moving her head side to side to allow time for Mike Brody to pull the pin on FitzRoyce grenade which blows Big Mama to bits, spitting out another lack luster 3-D effect in our face, this time, Big Mama’s chunky, bloody, recently blown out of her body’s jaws. It’s a ludicrous climax to a terrible and half hearted entry in the soon to be dead JAWS franchise.

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The technical flaws in JAWS3-D are a dime a dozen. Literally, scene by scene, shot by shot, the least never stops, from their trouble between night and day scenes, to terrible green screen effects and toy sharks with mouths fixed in place being rammed into miniature sets, it’s a movie of magnificent shittiness. By the end you’ll be wondering why Universal would even bother releasing something of such piss poor quality. The 3-D process makes the film look murky, the effects are scrapping the greasy bottom of the bargain basement, and there’s not a single likable, relatable character in sight. Also, one wonder just what in the world Sea World was thinking when they signed the contract to allow their theme parks be used in a a movie where the owner is an incompetent moron who risks the lives of visitors, employees and animals alike and portrays the park as a place completely incapable of keeping the guests safe. I’m sure their Public Relations lead didn’t was one of JAWS 3-D’s first casualties.

JAWS 3-D is possibly the most poorly crafted and executed major releases I have ever seen. One wishes Universal Pictures would have gone ahead with the spoof comedy sequel John Hughes and Ted Carrol from National Lampoon’s wrote, “Jaws 3, Humans 0″would have been green lighted instead. It would have been directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling, Piranha) , too, and would have probably been fucking awesome. Instead, Universal shoveled this load of shit into cinemas and the rest is, as they say, history.

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What we are left with is an often boring, sometimes comically misguided sequel to a franchise that never should have continued past the original, let alone JAWS 2. It’s entertainment value is based solely on whether or not you;re the kind of person who can crack jokes and laugh through the non stop barrage of lameness. It’s worth watching simply to bare witness to the incredibly plummet from grace. It;s fascinatingly terrible to the point you cannot take your eyes off it/ You cannot imagine the film could get any more laughably bad, but then the next scene arrives, and they trump the previous moment of absurdity in spades.  It;s a perfect suckage machine, it’s really a miracle of filmmaking. JAWS 3-D is possibly the most astoundingly bad  sequel of the 1980’s. And that’s saying something.

I award JAWS 3-D ONE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.  Watch with booze. PLENTY of booze. And strong friends with a penchant for  the dregs of trash cinema.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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