Posts Tagged ‘ocean

12
Jul
15

JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987) This time it’s Meh…

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a Primal Root written review

“Oh, shit.” – Michael Caine as Hoagie in JAWS: The Revenge (1987)

The protective drive of Motherhood is a very powerful thing. The lengths a Mother will go to to protect her young, to save her own, is the stuff of legend and a tale as old as time. There is one sequel I can think of that gets this right, that perfectly illustrated the bond between Mother and child and the deep-seated maternal instinct to protect their blood at any cost. That film is James Cameron’s Aliens (1986). A really shitty example of this is is JAWS: The Revenge. The piss poor 4th and final installment in the long beleaguered killer fish franchise.

JAWS: The Revenge starts our promisingly enough with a dark Yule Tide return to Amity Island where we catch up with The Family Brody. Turns out Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider)  died of a heart attack some time ago, his wife Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gray) is still in town and his youngest son, Sean Brody (Mitchell Anderson), is now an incredibly whiny deputy on the island. A couple days before Christmas a great white shark plants a large piece of driftwood on a channel marker to lure Sean Brody out on his boat and then proceeds to eat the guy by way of really shitty quick editing that leaps from a bloody yellow slicker to close ups of phony shark teeth and footage that repeatedly switches from day to night. Obviously, the production could not afford to create an on screen struggle between man and beast, and instead must rely on these means in a vain attempt to make it appear a horrific attack is occurring.  Poor little ol’ Sean screams for help all along in the dark as several hundred feet away a group of high schoolers sing Christmas carols totally oblivious to the man munching taking place just behind them in the dark water off Amity Island. It’s a brutal, nasty, promising way to start a JAWS film…but it’s all down hill from there.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Ellen Brody, deeply traumatized to the point she laughs her ass off at her own son’s funeral, who is buried in a full size coffin despite the fact you could fit what was left of him into a Happy Meal box, heads to the Bahamas to spend some time screaming at her oldest son Michael (Lance Guest, The Last Star Fighter) and his family to “GET OUT OF THE WATER!” As she is convinced a great white shark is systematically killing off the Brody lineage. That fucking crazy thing about it is SHE’S RIGHT! There is some fucking great white shark out there with a death wish for The Brody Clan. Now, the family relation between this great white shark and the man eating death machines who starred in the previous franchise entries is never revealed, but this beast can somehow hone in on individual members of the Brody bloodline, create elaborate set ups in order to have them in the right place at the right time to attack and can, in fact, teleport and/or travel at warp speed around the earth’s oceans in order to accomplish it’s mission of eating everyone who had something to do with the death of those other killer sharks.

Everyone dies sooner or LADDER! Wokka, wokka, wokka!

Everyone dies sooner or LADDER! Wokka, wokka, wokka!

It’s sheer lunacy and makes not a lick of sense whatsoever, and I am a guy that can suspend my disbelief pretty goddamn far. Anyhoo, this great white shark manages to travel from the cold December waters of Amity Island all the way to the warm, crystal clear waters of The Bahamas in a matter of days to pray upon Michael Brody and his colleagues as they study the migration and mating habits of conchs. It’s really riveting stuff as Michael and his partner Jake (Mario Van Peebles sporting a ridiculous island accent) banter back and forth about how one another’s work sucks. Before long our vendetta shark shows up and starts lunging and chomping as only the most lackluster of animatronic sharks can. The crew decides to keep this news quite as not to alert their worried wives and mothers to the fact a killer shark is trying to settle a score and is after them all. Beside, Ellen Brody is falling madly in love with a pilot/drug smuggler named after my favorite sandwich, Hoagie (Academy Award Winning Thespian Michael Caine, collecting a pay check and soaking up the rays) and is trying to keep her weird sharky sense that causes her to stare intensely towards the ocean and hear bizarre tiger noises to a minimum.

"I'ma fuck you up, Mother Mother Ocean. "

“I’ma fuck you up, Mother Mother Ocean. “

Romance blossoms between Hoagie and Ellen, much to the chagrin of Michael aka: Oedipus, as Michael’s research team tracks the movement of the killer shark, study it, and get attacked and chased around by it in astoundingly silly sequences where the shark moves with the speed and agility of a retarded sloth. These scenes, much like the majority of the film, are an embarrassment to watch and feel like they belong to some half assed movie of the week as opposed to an installment in a cinematic franchise based upon one of the greatest horror films ever made. It is only after the shark cannot seem to wrap it’s JAWS around Michael in a mind numbingly slow chase through a sunken vessel, that is decides to head after Michael adorable little daughter, Thea (Judith Barsi, RIP) as she cruises the waters on the back of a banana boat during the unveiling of her Mother’s modern art piece entitled “Tourist on the Loose.” Thankfully, our Punisher shark decides to take out little Thea and despite all this intricate planning, the shark beyond supernatural ability to target these family members, manages to fucking miss Thea entirely and devours the stunt woman on the back of the banana boat right behind Thea. WHAT THE FUCK, SHARK? I and others have come to a belief, that your heart is not in this. That you don’t have the belly for it.

Fucking sharks...

Fucking sharks…

After this moment of terror where a woman we don;t know is crunched up into chum, Ellen decides to head out to see and kill that bitch shark once and for all! As the ridiculous tot he point of awesomeness ad line says, “This Time It’s PERSONAL!” Ellen makes way out to see before Hoagie, Michael and Jake find her via small air craft just in time Ellen to spout a half assed retread of Martin Brody’s incredible line from the original JAWS, then it was “Smile you son of a BITCH!” only now it’s “Come and get me you son of a bitch.” which made my eyes roll so hard they nearly fell out of their sockets. Hoagie crash lands the plane into the ocean, everyone swims to the boat and they decide to agitate the shark by shoving some doodad down the shark’s gullet and then trigger the doodad with something thingamajig that makes funny noises. I’m not sure what the fuck is going on for sure, or just what the fucking Hell the plan is, but Jake ends up sticking this thing the shark’s gore hole before getting eaten himself. Michael hits the agitator cycle and Ellen steers the sailboat right into the shark which is in mid-leap into the air for some reason. It’s an incredibly lucky shot of Ellen as the sailboat stabs the Revenge Shark right in the self destruct button and the shark actually explodes. Yes, you read that right. The shark gets impaled and then blows up into a huge spray of blood and meaty chunks without having an explosive device of any sort within it’s body. The film then cuts to stock footage from the original JAWS as the carcass of the decimated monstrosity sinks to the sandy bottom of the ocean floor.

What the fuck am I looking at, here?

What the fuck am I looking at, here?

Even less believable, after being last seen almost entirely within the mouth of a great white shark and pouring blood out of numerous deep wounds caused by the crushing jaws filled with razor sharp teeth of the enormous great white shark that is eating him, Jake swims over to the other survivors, spouts a few witty quips as he bleeds tremendous amounts of blood into the ocean…and survives.  Cut to Hoagie flying back to Amity Island as all the survivors smile and wave. The End.

I'm fine.

I’m fine.

JAWS: The Revenge has the kernel of a cool idea and start off promisingly enough with that cool and mean spirited return to Amity Island. But the ridiculous concept that a shark is on some kind of quest for retribution against those who have wronged it’s species sinks the film under it’s own stupidity. I honestly enjoyed the brief glimpse of Amity Island during it’s Christmas celebration and seeing some familiar faces amongst the Islanders, even the oddly staged death of Sean Brody is pretty nifty. For all it’s countless flaws, JAWS: The Revenge has it’s heart in the right place even if nothing else is.  JAWS: The Revenge desperately wants to be every bit the worthiest of sequels to the original masterpiece, JAWS, evidenced by all the goddamn homages and sepia toned flash backs to the original film that constantly take you out of JAWS: The Revenge and makes you wonder why you aren’t simply watching the far superior JAWS.

Too serious for it’s own good and never campy enough to be enjoyed as a B-Movie, JAWS: The Revenge is a pretty slow and dreary affair when it’s not being totally batshit insane as is the case with the film’s ending. However, JAWS: The Revenge is the one film in the franchise that did what none of the others managed to do; kill off the JAWS franchise once and for all.

That is, until JAWS 19 which should be coming out later in 2015. In holovision, no less.

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I award JAWS: The Revenge ONE and a HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

21
Jun
15

JAWS 2 (1978) The Sacred Art of Self Immolation in Times of Crisis

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a Primal Root Review

“Get out the blankets, I’m getting black and blue marks all over my butt, and my moms starting to get uptight about them!” Tina, JAWS 2

Okay, let’s get this out of the way right up front,  Spielberg’s 1975 summer killer fish movie, JAWS, is a masterpiece. It truly is a fantastic piece of entertainment. Thrilling, fun, horrifying, populated with human characters we grow to care about and monster based in our own reality. Every time you hop in the ocean to frolic in the surf with some naked beach bunny looking to snorkel your wang-doodle, there’s a possibility that a 10 ton aquatic death train of razor sharp teeth and an appetite of destruction is bearing down on you with every intent to turn you into pulled pork and leaving nothing behind but a few buckets of human V-8 juice. Being a Florida native I was practically raised at the beach. Once I saw JAWS, I never looked at those waters the same way again. What’s so incredible, is that this 40 year old master class in how to make a fantastic horror film still holds up phenomenally well to repeat viewings. It’s been parodied endlessly, knocked-off and imitated, but no killer great white shark film will ever top it.

Then there’s JAWS 2. Taking place a few years after the events of the first film we find our star and sherif of little Amity Island, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) patrolling the beaches again. Taking care of children karatying the picket fences and what not. Until, one day, a pair of scuba divers go missing, Brody knows in his guts that it’s a great white who has made it’s way to the warm, calm, inviting waters of Amity Island which has suddenly become a favorite feeding ground for these black eyes, large mouthed death dealers.  As the narrator in the trailer for JAWS 2 explains “In all the vast and unknown depths of the ocean how could there have been only…ONE?” Sure, I can believe in there being more, but holy shit! To come back to the same little piece of turff that Bruce once went on a rampage through? I dunno, I’ll let it slide. After all, stranger things have happened, I guess.

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Brody’s concerns go unheeded by his wife and the Amity Island board of rich assholes, but soon a water skier gets munched into oblivion and her friend who was captain of the vessel towing her when she got gobbled gets so goddamned terrified that, in a moment of sheer bonkers, off the wall violent brilliance, she pours a can of gasoline all over herself and then blows herself up with a flair gun as our shark is gnawing her boat into splintery chunks. It’s absolute lunacy for about 45 seconds of screen time and, in this viewers opinion, marks the absolute high point of JAWS 2. It’s sad, pathetic and hysterical beyond measure. I’m not sure what her plan was, but it really went the Wile Coyote route. But it does end up giving shark 2 a really mean looking burn scar to make it look super touch and cool. It doesn’t really work in achieving this, but Freddy Krueger would take this exact same concept and run with it a few years later to much greater affect and acclaim.

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Now, before you start thinking this is a film concerning adults, I need to clue you in to the fact that the bulk of the movie centers on a group of interchangeable, unlikeable teenagers who enjoy sailing together all day every day. JAWS 2 was looking to tap into the dead teenager slasher market but never really has the stinky shark gonads to follow through. The two Brody boys are among the group of doofy after school special teeny boppers and end up being the focal point of our news blood lusting great white. In the final action set piece that goes on and on and on for what feels like an eternity, our human scarfing shark manages to kill only two of about a bakers dozen worth of teenagers. And the only likable teen happens to be among those eaten. It’s a group of teenagers stranded in the middle of the unforgiving ocean on tiny catamaran sail boats with tarp bottoms. Bruce was able to crush The Orca in JAWS, what the fuck is this sharks issue? There are all these screaming, flailing, dumbass teenagers ripe for the picking and our shark can’t handle it? He manages to eat a helicopter (Oh yes, it does occur, true believers) but can’t rip apart a few flimsy pieces of plastic and tarp bundled together by cheap rope. Man, fuck this shark.

But, I digress, there is a rather nifty kill when a one young man falls over the side of his little dingy and gets pulled through the waves in the clutches of the shark. Also, there a pretty inventive nasty moment when a scuba diver, surprised and terrified by the sudden appearance of the shark, shoots up to the surface and suffers a horrendous case of the bends for his scramble for survival. Its vicious and damn good stuff A little bit more of these kind of scenarios would have gone a long way as opposed to extended scenes of teenage prayer groups on stranded sail boats. Where’s Hooper and Quint when you need them? Oh, that’s right, Hooper won and Oscar and Quint got eaten. We’re shit out of luck, Gang.  Also, there’s a nice tip of the hat to the far superior ORCA: The Killer Whale aka: Death Wish for Fish in the form of a dead killer whale which is discovered by two horny teens frolicking amongst the dunes. How these kids did not smell this baking in the summer sun dead whale carcass a mile away, I will never know.

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Roy Scheider does his best to bring back the charm of the original film and plays Brody honestly, staying true to the character. Portraying the man as someone struggling with PTSD after the deeply traumatic events of the very first film. I’m not going to lie to you, I would have probably been more impressed in there were no shark in JAWS 2 and Brody were just delusional and terrified that something was happening again out in those waters. But, people want to see fins gliding through the water and people running out of the ocean, so that’s not going to sell any tickets.

Of course, by the end of the film Brody is vindicated by a killer shark actually eating people, dons his super tiny Dad shorts, heads out to find his kids, save their friends and ends up the chef of the Friday evening fish fry as he shoves the towns submerged power cable (Huh?) into the sharks gaping maw. There’s no “Smile you son of a bitch!” awesomeness, but Brody mutters something like “Dinner is served!”, “Come and get it!” or “This is going to be a real SHOCKER, wokka, wokka, wokka!”, but the electrified shark death is kind of fun in the same way watching sparklers are. It;s like sparkler, but coming out of a cheap rubber sharks eyes while black smoke billows out of it’s pie hole. Fun, but not as fun as it was when Brody shot that fucker and blew meaty red chunks through the sunny blue Amity Island sky to the delight of the theater patrons and seagulls alike!

Often times the best way to avoid a shark attack is to simply blow yourself up.

Often times the best way to avoid a shark attack is to simply blow yourself up.

JAWS 2 is pretty bland shit. There are some moments of pure fun, but there are 10 times as many halting trips through dullsville. It’s cool seeing the residents of Amity Island again and seeing a bit more of the town itself, but it’s never as fun or electrifying as that fist trip to Amity. It’s certainly the sequel closest in tone to the original JAWS, but it’s also the least retarded of the lot, which makes it kind of a ho-hum entry. It’s sequel business as usual but it’s never downright goofy and awful enough to be enjoyed for it’s badneess like Jaws 3-D or Jaws: The Revenge. It had potential and a cool enough set up, if they had been more daring and bold with what they had. Perhaps making the film darker and meaner than it’s predecessor, which had no balls to not only kill of pretty teenage girls and innocent children, but the holy grail of audience appaling deaths…a dog.

Hey, at least we learned what to do if a shark starts eating your boat. Just explode yourself! If sure as shit can’t touch you now that you’re a crispy critter. Might as well have explained that in the vast and unknown depths of sucker cinema goers wallets how could we not turn this remarkable film into and tepid franchise with a handful of horrible sequels?

I award JAWS 2 TWO out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

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05
Oct
14

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972)

children-shouldnt-poster

a Primal Root written review

Before the man ended up tackling truly awful films like Baby Geniuses and Karate Dog, late filmmaker Bob Clark made some well loved and enduring films. Hell, they play his film A Christmas Story at least 700 times on every cable station from November to New Year’s Day, and his horror film Black Christmas is held up beside John Carpenter’s Halloween as one of the most suspenseful and horrifying slasher films ever made. The deeply unsettling Vietnam era horror film, Deathdream He even created the legendary Trash Cinema Classic, Porky’s back in 1982! The man proved he could do it all and with pizazz. For my money, one of the man’s finest and most under appreciated works is one of his very first. the 1973 horror/comedy Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things.

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is the tale of a troupe of hippie thespians who travel out to a secluded burial island off the coast of Florida for an adventure at the witching hour.  Their leader and owner of the theater company is Alan (Alan Ormsby) a complete megalomaniac who take much pleasure in putting his friends down, sexual harassment and has a penchant for loud clothing. He leads his troupe to this island with the promise that he will raise the dead. The gang catches on quick and thinks it’s all a ruse to scare the shit out of them, which proves to be the case as they are attacked by two ghouls that turn out to be fellow actors in pancake makeup. However, soon after this bit of fun, Alan ends up ordering his thespian clan to dig up an actual corpse, that of a deceased fellow named Orville, before actually promising to call up a curse from Satan himself and bring the dead back to life.

After several false starts, the magic incantation actually does work and the undead residents of the island cemetery rise from their graves to devour the usual rag tag group of acid casualties, witchy women and squares in bell bottoms, but this doesn’t happen till nearly the end of the movie. In fact, the majority of the film is spent highlighting the petty power struggles and squabbling that takes place between this group comprised of hand picked members of the Flower Power/Free Love community. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things peels back the facade and takes a long, hard look at the hippie dream of peace, love and community and how this counterculture failed on delivering it’s idealistic vision of a better, new society. Power games, sexism, and sadistic threats are what dominate this unpleasant and corrupt group of young people. In short, this is no longer a utopian world of change, but an exact replica of the society they we seeking to be an alternative to.

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Just beyond the caustic satire of the counterculture is a dark sense of melancholy and despair which is fully embodied in the character of Alan. The villainous Alan does not believe in traditional Flower Power, but espouses on the pointlessness of our very existence, “The dead are losers. If anyone hasn’t earned the right for respect, it’s the dead…Man is a machine that manufactures manure.”  Alan takes great pride in devaluing those around him. Calling his leading man a “slab of meat” and mocking Satan himself in his incantations. Alan lives in a world without value or truth. He even states that he will take Orville home to feed to his dogs and then use his bones as Christmas ornaments. Sure, he might be saying this all for shock value, but from the reaction of those around him you get the impression this is not an act, but who Alan really is.  So, in the end, after Alan spends so much of the film waxing his nihilistic poetry, exposing the pointlessness of life and the non existence of God or Satan, it makes a kind of deeply sick sense that the dead should return to life. Rising like malfunctioning machines comprised of rotted flesh and old bones, moving about as a parody of the living’s pointless, expendable existence.

Instead of embracing these walking dead as the ultimate substantiation of his empty, nihilistic beliefs, Alan does everything in his power to save his own ass. In one of the film;s most memorable moments of absolutely shocking and comical pessimism, Alan and a female friend run up the stairs for safety, followed closely by the flesh hungry dead. Alan, in a moment of complete selfishness, pushes this woman down the stairs and into the arms of the flesh eaters coming for them. The actions stops for a moment as the woman and zombies alike stop in their tracks and stare at Alan, as if astonished at his loathsome cowardice, before taking this young woman off to be eaten.

This is where that vision peace and love got us. Not the most cheerful of thoughts to consider.

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Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is one brutal in it’s sick, drastically dark satire, but it’s still a fantastic comedy. Filled with quirky performances, snappy dialog, and some fantastic one liners.  On a near non-existent budget, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things manages to be both completely entertaining and utterly engrossing  while reminding you why you dread running into those kids you used to hang out with in drama club back in high school. The thespians are all very real, very human characters and the zombies, in cheap makeup and thrift store clothes, are vivid, nasty customers with facial expressions registering rage and hate rather than the typical benign indifference of a Romero zombie. After being rudely awaken,  these dead folks are back to settle a score.  The makers of this film use their limited budget to their advantage and deliver an intelligent, bleak look into a counterculture that never did take, died,  and simply rotted away like flesh from the bone.  In the end, it’s Death getting the last laugh.

I give Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things THREE AND A HALF Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

13
May
11

Tantacles or Who I Ripped Off on My Summer Vacation

a Primal Root written review

In the summer of 1975 there was this little movie directed by a no name filmmaker about a particularly blood thirty great white shark. You might have heard of it. It’s called JAWS. Yeah, the awesome horror flick that, along with Star Wars, ruined movies forever more because everyone wanted to make a blockbuster action movie. Fast forward decades later and we are gearing up for Transformers 3. Anywoo, the more immediate side affect of JAWS was onslaught of late 7o’s sub-par carnivorous water dwelling creature pictures.

And not to sell them short right out of the gate, to be fair, there were some really cool flicks to come out after JAWS trying to chomp the same chum.  Joe Dante’s excellent killer fish flick, Piranha (78).  Humanoids from the Deep (80) and even Alligator (80) re all unique and interesting spins on the JAWS formula and awesome Trash Cinema flicks in their own right that make for great summer time viewing.

And then there are the really bad knocks offs.greasy, lame-o copy cats who try to take the exact same premise and throw it back at the audience. Most notoriously, the Italian film ‘Great White: The Last Shark’ (81), which is the tale of a great white shark that terrorizes a small island community. Sound familiar? Universal thought so too and they sued the pants off those guys and had the movie withdrawn from theaters. Till this day it’s tough to track a copy of that sucker down.

But there is one films that ripped JAWS off properly. Remove the damn shark entirely and add a totally different vicious sea creature so no one can sue you for directly stealing the premise of the Speilberg’s blockbuster epic! That’s right, the 1977 film ‘TENTACLES’! The story of a blood thirsty GIANT OCTOPUS that terrorizes a small island community. Now we’re talking!

The movie begins with several mysterious attacks around the beach. First off, a 10 month old infant is snatched from it’s stroller when Mom isn’t looking and is promptly gobbled up. Later, at a marina, a scruffy man with a peg leg swabbing the poop deck is yanked from his work and chewed up post haste only to explode up from the depths all chewed up in front of some guy double tasking while he fishes and sucks face with some scantly clad 400 pound girlfriend…we later see him wrapped in a blanket starring into the distance with his mouth hanging open. I think he’s supposed to be in shock from witnessing Peg Leg Pete surfacing like a rocket from Hell, but in all honesty, it could have been because he envisioned his make-out partner in the nude.

No one is quite sure what could have done this. It was no motorboat, and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper and it sure as shit wasn’t any shark. The body of the womb fruit and the old geezer are found with flesh completely stripped off the bone. The local newspaper reporter, Ned (John Huston), begins to to think this might have something to do with the rock excavation being done by Trojan Construction (I can only assume they construct prophylactics as well.) which is headed by Mr. Whitehead  played by Henry Fonda, who has no scenes with any other cast members and vanishes half way through the movie.

And, believe it or not, Shelly Winters also shows up for this thing. She plays the aging, seductress (?) and single mother, Tillie. She also happens to be the sister of our roving reporter Ned. Her son is about 13 years old and we are introduced to her as she has some adorable, good natured banter about how she mashed fuzzies with one of the local bartenders last night. These are mental images far more troubling than anything those tentacles could ever hope to accomplish.

Shelly Winter’s main purpose is to wonder around this town in a silly, giant sombrero (not making this up) and look on in mock terror as her bastard son and his buddy are attacked by the killer giant octopus during a sail boat race.During the attack the kids are scene laughing their asses off (method acting?) however, only one of them makes it back to shore alive. This attack on the sailing race might be my favorite sequence in the film simply because it’s so ridiculously awful. It’s basically a bunch of sail boats toppling over without a single tentacle in sight. The editing used in this sequence is a hack job. I assume they wanted it to look like things were frenzied, but the end product, looks like some 6 year old was given several feet of film, a cleaver and a tub of rubber cement…yes, it’s that bad. But it’s also pretty amusing to watch. Especially when they cut away to the “hysterical” Shelly Winters…

The only hope this small town has is a street smart marine biologist named Will (played with deadpan accuracy by Bo Hopkins), his two trained killer whales and his his wife whose name might as well be Fish Food. She’s gorgeous, but don;t get too attached. Her death sequence, I assume, was meant to be the big high point of the movie. Her boat is charged by the octopus in the middle of the night and a tiny model is blown to bits by the impact. She tries to swim from the wreckage but is hoisted up and spun all over the place by the Octopus tentacle. Again, it’s edited together so haphazardly it gives the entire moment a comic appeal I don’t believe the filmmakers were aiming for…

This all leads to a climactic showdown between Will, our mean streets marine biologist who doesn’t seemed phased at all by the horrifying demise of his gorgeous and concerned wife, and the killer octomonster who wield the evil tentacles of the film’s title. Luckily, Will get by with a little help from his killer whale pals, Summer and Winter. As Will tells the story, he met his wife in Summer and proposed to her in Winter.  Not many romances spring up the belly of a whale, let alone two separate whales, so it’s really a shame she met her demise in such an untimely fashion and in a way so many anime school girls have gone before her.

I don;t want to spoil it for you, but the action packed finale features a dead octopus purchased from some fish market and two killer whale sock puppets purchased from Sea World. Oh yeah, it’s gotta be seen to be believed.

Tentacles is one botch after another. It’s so bad it’s beyond such trivial labels. It’s really a one of a kind aws cash-in, if there can be such a thing…where the filmmakers behind i lost the point entirely of what worked, stole all the elements that seemingly made Speilberg’s film so popular (underwater shots of flailing legs and shrinking crotches, water logged body jump scares, the death of children, enjoyable real world banter, greedy rich people more concerned with losing money than losing lives, etc.) and then fail miserably to deliver. The most egregious error is not giving the octopus it’s own enigmatic theme music. I imagine the filmmakers sitting at the premiere and looking at each other as they realize how they completely forgot to rip-off the score to JAWS.  There’s not a single drop of blood in the PG rated monster movie! I mean, even JAWS had some graphic content (Quint- Soft on the outside, crispy crunchy on the inside!) and managed to hold down a PG rating. I guess they needed to use that money to secure the rubber tentacles and octopus stock footage…

Tentacles is worth a look. I found myself chuckling through the whole damn thing and slapping my palm against my forehead in disbelief several dozen times as I witnessed the film’s numerous failings. Tentacles is Trash Cinema to the extreme. A rare bird that few have seen and, in all honesty, probably shouldn’t exist.  I am glad it does, though. Because these films are what those adventurous movie renting evening of yesteryear were all about. Grabbing that crusty old VHS tape with the awesome cover you knew would never deliver what it was promising but would certainly deliver the laughs.

Those were the days… Have an excellent summer, Gang! Be safe and keep watching the ocean!

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root

04
Aug
10

Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes a Boat Ride

a Primal Root review

Space is a giant vacuum of suck for any slasher franchise to deal with. It’s the fish out of water scenario that doesn’t work for characters so deeply rooted in their mythology.  Jason Voorhees never stood a chance in space because no one takes the guy seriously. Now Manhattan circa 1989? How in the world could this forest dwelling zombified mentally ill-equiped boogieman make it on his own in the Big Apple? Believe it or not, surprisingly well…that is, when he FINALLY arrives.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was the final Friday the 13th film produced by Paramount Pictures. The series had an excellent 8 entry run that proved remarkably profitable for the company who kind of viewed the franchise as an (albeit profitable) black sheep. By the end of the 80’s creative teams kept trying to come up with new gimmicks that would make Jason and his exploits interesting again. Part VI: Jason Lives added a bit of a humor element, PArt VII: The New Blood added and telekinetic teenage spaz girl to battle Jason…what else could they try? Why not a trip to Manhattan?

Honestly, the idea is a winning one. How awesome would it be if the film really was just Jason stomping around Manhattan’s seedy, dark alleyways splattering thugs and punks all over the pavement. Shoving hot dog vedors into their carts and rolling them down the stairs. Crashing the stock exchange and hacking away at day traders. Throwing some schmuck off the top of the empire state building…really, the possibilities are endless.

Even Jason thinks gentrification sucks.

Sadly, the major detractor of the film was the fact they don’t get to the Taking of Manhattan till the last 20-30 minutes of the film. And then when J-Cool gets there he doesn’t so much take the place as just borrow it for a little bit and then hand it back only slightly soiled.

Instead, for most of the film’s running time, we are treated to Jason taking an aquatic journey (after commandeering a teenage couple’s boat) on an old, dilapidated cruise ship named Lazarus which is filled with high school teeny boppers and school faculty members on a graduation trip to New York.  No, it’s not what we were promised by the title but I still get a lot of kicks out of Jason Takes a Boat Ride.

Unlike the previous two entries I’ve reviewed for the 13 Days of Friday the 13th, Part VIII falls squarely in the ‘So Bad, it’s Good’ category, as does just about every entry in the series. The flick itself doesn’t make a lick of sense. For one, when did Jason learn how to man a boat? After killing off two kids on one of their Daddy’s boat he takes it for a spin. But not just in circles and then scuttling it onto dry land, but he actually maneuvers it all the way down some river connected to the lake which then feeds into the Atlantic Ocean.

Excuse me?

Not only this, but Jason climbs off this boat and onto the decrepit cruise ship Lazarus to join a group of recent high school graduates and faculty members on a trip to Manhattan. What is Jason’s motivation to commandeer a boat and take a trip to that Atlantic? What prompted this? Did he need a change of scenery? A vacation?

It’s a film that doesn’t make a lick of sense. Jason can teleport in this movie. You read that right, the guy can be one place and the, without moving, pop up somewhere else. This is not some kind of editing mistake, this was done on purpose. I guess they were trying to establish that Jason was kind fo like a ghost or something. A bit misguided, but it is something different. Even if it is kind of…wacky.

"Let me just check your Lymph Nodes here..."

Then there’s the matter of our final girl’s  little Jason hallucinations. Where do these come from?Does Rennie has a history of tripping out? If so, it’s never established in any way, shape, or form so it kind of comes out of nowhere. Could it tie into the Jason as a ghost concept? Is the ship now haunted because Jason is on board?

And why in the hell does Jason activate the fire alarm after killing the A.V. geek? Did Jason decide to play fair this time around or something? Did he set A.V. Nerd on fire, see that it was growing out of control and then fear for the rest of the teenagers’ safety? Come on, movie! What are you doing?

Better give those kids a heads up. It's the right thing to do.

Better give those kids a heads up. It's the right thing to do.

In these moments, I wish the filmmakers could have spent a bit more time trying to clarify just what the crap was going on. These scenes are quirky and kind of humorous because of how outlandish they are and I’ve grown to find them rather endearing. I can’t help but smile when Jason knocks Julius’ head off, then goes through the trouble of collecting it and placing it inside a police cruiser as if it were a decoration.

Once Jason and the survivors of the Lazarus disaster make it to Manhattan it’s kind of touch and go. One can’t help but feel a bit of a rush watching Jason react to seeing Times Square for the first time or knocking a young man’s head off from the top of a tenement building and into a dumpster down below. There are some fun moments to be had here it’s just a shame we don’t get to spend more time with Jason in Manhattan tearing apart some local color.

And that ending where the sewers of New York flood out with a raging rapids of toxic waste every single night at the stroke of midnight and Jason gets completely soaked and…transforms into a pudgy little white kid in a pair of swimming trunks? Not even a rotten, nasty, dead kid…a regular looking little boy who looks like he’s taking a nap. Is this purely symbolic or are we supposed to buy this melting into a child scenario they just shat onto the screen?

There are some fun performances here. The stand-outs are V.C. Dupree as boxer Julius who turns in a funny, over the top, badass performance. Veteran Actor Peter Mark Richman as Principal McCullom is one of the greatest assholes to ever grace the series–he gives Dr. Cuise from Part VII a run for his money. Kane Hodder returns for his second portrayal of our favorite undead mama’s boy, and brings out all the rage and single mindedness of the character. Whether you love or hate what Kane does with the character you cannot deny he gives all his when behind that mask. And, of course, there is the young Ms. Kelly Hu as the brainy, geeky, asian girl. Yeah, she went on to bigger and better things. Well, certainly bigger, I guess. (Scorpion King, X-Men 2)

Hellooooooooooo, Kelly Hu!

It’s no wonder this entry is possibly the most universally hated by Friday the 13th’s most die hard fans. It doesn’t really deliver on the promise of the title, it’s pretty much bloodless, there’s only one bare female breast and it’s side boob, the plot holes are big enough for Killdozer to drive through, and the lead character’s performances are as stiff as my dick.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is no masterpiece, that’s for goddamn sure, but it is still a stupid good time if you watch it in the right frame of mind. If you read the title to this one and then take the premise seriously you will no doubt be disappointed. The best way to approach Part VIII is with a good group fo friends, a case of brews and a good sense of humor. It’s one of the worst films in the series for sure, but it is still a whole lot of fun.

Trash Cinema Gold!

28
Jul
10

The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews presents Malibu Beach

malibu beach

Hey Gang,

Well, it’s the middle of summer and I wasn’t planning on even doing a Rotten Review this month on account of how beautiful it is outside and I wanted to put in some quality beach time. However, after my trip to the Gulf of Mexico got a little too sticky for my taste I decided maybe we should stay at home and enjoy the 1978 classic, Malibu Beach.

This flick is an easy to swallow summer time treat with not plot to get in the way of  the story. Tons of lovely ladies in bikinis, boys up to no good, and perverted clothes snatching dogs. It all take place on Malibu Beach! A place where EVERYTHING can happen.

Hope you’re having a great summer!

Stay Trashy,

– Root




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