Posts Tagged ‘rob

30
Sep
13

The Return of the Living Dead Part 2 (1988) Should Have Stayed Dead

If only this movie were half as cool as it's poster.

If only this movie were half as cool as it’s poster.

a Primal Root written review

“I feel like we’ve been here before. You… Me… Them!” – Thom Mathews as Joey in “Return of the Living Dead Part 2”

1985’s “Return of the Living Dead”  was a cynical, bleak, hilarious gory, nihilistic balls to the wall reinvention of the living dead zombie tropes,  “Return of the Living Dead part 2” is not a step back in regards to quality and creativity, but a disastrous leap backwards over a cliff onto a landfill full of busted whiskey bottles and used up ideas .  “The Return of the Living Dead’s” horror began with a shambling, rotten, corpse pleading for “More Brains!”, which is exactly what the film delivered. An intelligent, fresh and uncompromising vision of what the living dead could be when you break free from all the steadfast rules and restraint set in place by George Romero in his  1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead.”  Return of the Living Dead is fierce, brilliant and everything you could ever want from a horror film of it’s breed. It’s a one of a kind and to make a sequel would be pretty goddamn tough…especially with the ending it delivered.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned such a horrendously bad, wet fart of a sequel than “The Return of the Living Dead Part 2.” Rarely has a cinematic follow up missed the mark so widely, it’s pretty astounding. Long gone is the wit and dark sense of humor that poured forth from the original, in it’s place are lame jokes, Three Stooges Gags and cast members from the previous film, James Karen and Thom Mathews, returning  as grave robbers with nothing to do but recite their funniest lines from the original film and literally succumb to the same fate they did on the first go round. These jokes were great and worked the first time we heard them, but when you lift the best material from the first movie and reuse it line for line, it’s stale and depressing.

That's what the original "Return of the Living Dead" was missing! A plucky pre-teen protagonist!

That’s what the original “Return of the Living Dead” was missing! A plucky pre-teen protagonist!

Here’s the low down, there’s a little ginger kid named Jesse (Michael Kenworthy who also appeared in the excellent 1988 remake of “The Blob”) who lives in a developing suburb that looks eerily similar to Questa Verde from Tobe Hooper’s “Poltergeist” or that suburb where Elliot lived in Speilberg’s “E.T.” Anyhoo, the kid is chock full of quips and one liners which he unleashes on some neighborhood bullies who he ends up getting picked on by and, eventually, discovers one of those  “corpse in a can” barrels the military likes to lose all over this great nation of ours., which has come to rest in a sewage runoff near the local cemetery. Noticing a decomposing body through the barrels glass lid initially has the kids running for their lives, but as you and I both know from “Stand By Me” young boys cannot stay away from dead bodies and the lure of this corpse barrel proves to be the undoing of the two bullies picking on Jesse. Two head back later that day, bang on the barrel a little bit, and for their efforts are greeted with a nice juicy blast of 2-4-5 Trioxin, the reanimation juice introduced in the original, when the canister opens spraying the boys right in the kisser. hold on to your brains, ’cause we all know just where that leads, don’t we?

As night falls in our little hamlet, the Trioxin makes it’s way to the nearby cemetery and, as if Mother Nature is in on the joke, the sky opens up and a downpour begins soaking the soil and the corpses it contains, priming these cadavers for a night of brain skull cracking and brain slurping. Also in the cemetery are, as I mentioned before, a couple of grave robbers who happen to be the two very talented character actors, James Karen and Thom Mathews, who are for the most part just going through the motions and spouting their greatest hits for the run time and earning their paychecks for appearing in such lazy bullshit. Well, the dead come back to unlife right on cue, but this time they rise from their tombs to a goofy, Looney Tunes style score and are prone to slapstick and pratfalls as they try to pull themselves out of their graves. It’s all painfully unfunny, uninspired, and far from exciting.

Stay in school if you want Brains! Wokka, Wokka, Wokka!

Stay in school if you want Brains! Wokka, Wokka, Wokka!

Soon the movie gets into the scream-a-thon where in place of the originals frantic, insane pace and sense of panic, director Ken Wiederhorn decides to just have the characters scream nonstop for about thirty minutes. Again, this is tedious and boring. As the core cast goes on screaming and wailing, on and on and on, as they run around the suburbs, peel out in a cherry red convertible and freak out as a disembodied hand wiggles around in the back seat is enough to make you start wondering just where in the Hell you put your handgun. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a lobotomy and the epitome of shitty film making.

As you can guess, Thom Mathews and James Karen both turn into zombies and Thom manages to seduce his girlfriend into letting him eat her brains in an awkward scene where she appears to get some kind of sexual gratification as her boyfriend’s teeth crunch open her skull…Just as this occurs and ROTLDp2 dangles the possibility of getting interesting in our face, it unceremoniously yanks it away from us and we find ourselves stuck with Jesse, his sister (whose bouncing breasts during her workout routine early on hypnotized me when I was in third grade) and the dashing cable repair man (played by Dana Ashbrook from TV’s Twin Peaks) as Jesse solves every problem and saves the day…that’s right, an 8 year old kid halts the zombie apocalypse.  In a matter of hours. By luring them into a power station and then simply electrocuting them all…Ooooh, I don’t know…

A visual representation of how I am affected by allergy season.

A visual representation of how I am affected by allergy season.

I cannot express enough just how unfunny and uninspired this shitty Speilberg wannabe hunk of shit is. Replacing bold social satire, dark humor and genre innovation with claptrap kid’s movie nonsense  is a disgrace to the former film. It’s pointless, dull and only succeeds in being exceedingly forgettable. This series is, as of 2013, five films long and every single sequel manages to completely miss the point of what made the original so special. I understand that ROTLDp2 has a kind of cult following, but for the life of me, I cannot find a single person who genuinely likes this movie. If you do, I would honestly love to hear what it’s appeal is because I just can’t figure it out.

The acting is serviceable (Everyone, scream a lot! Little kid, say something sarcastic and obvious that sounds like a screenwriter wrote it as opposed to a child speaking naturally!) , the punk soundtrack and excellent score has been replaced by bargain basement hair metal and a score that would not be out of place in a Woody Woodpecker short, the set pieces are fittingly cheesy and crafted to be as comical and none threatening as possible, and the film and the story itself are lacking any teeth whatsoever which is truly saddening when considering the source material.  At the end of the day, trying to follow up “The Return of the Living Dead” with a worthy sequel is a fool’s errand. Still, to see it spawn something so half hearted, unimaginative and shockingly boring really left this fan of Trash Cinema feeling disappointed and frustrated.

Life Imitates Art: I made this exact same gesture to the television screen as soon as "Return of the Living Dead Part 2" ended!  Woooooah...

Life Imitates Art: I made this exact same gesture to the television screen as soon as “Return of the Living Dead Part 2” ended! Woooooah…

If “The Return of the Living Dead” is lightening in a bottle,   “Return of the Living Dead Part 2” is more like poop in your pants.

I give this shit smear 1/2 out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.  Approach with caution.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

30
Mar
10

Friends, Family, Chaos and Magic Squirrels : The Hot Tub Time Machine


a review by The Primal Root

Wow, did I just completely throw away my youth? I mean, I had fun and everything…but what about all the shitty decisions I made? The friend I screwed over? The one that got away? All the times I took the easy way out…and how would my life be now if I had the opportunity to do it all over? These are the questions asked of us and our main characters in the straight forwardly titled and beautifully executed film, Hot Tub Time Machine, a midlife crisis movie teaming with raunchy laughs, 80’s nostalgia, amputations and a surprising amount of heart.

Our story begins with Nick (Craig Robinson) digging his fingers into a dog’s sphincter to diagnose a butt itching problem at the posh animal spa he’s employed at. We are then introduced to Adam (John Cusack) who’s girlfriend just ditched him and is living a soulless, self centered existence despite having found wealth in his professional life. Also living with Adam is his nephew, Jacob ( Clark Duke) who spends his days playing Second Life in Adam’s basement but is otherwise aimless. But the ultimate screw up in our band of heroes is Lou (Rob Corddry, finally finding a role he can sink his teeth into) who is hospitalized after nearly asphyxiating himself in his garage while sitting in his running car and singing along to Motley Crue’s Home Sweet Home.

Upon hearing the news Adam and Nick arrive at the hospital to check on their old friend. The doctors are afraid it might have been a suicide attempt, although Lou adamantly denis it, and recommend that the old friends spend the weekend together in order to keep an eye on Lou to make sure he’s okay.

Our three friends bring along Jacob and head out to their old stomping ground a once prosperous ski resort town. Once they arrive in the hotel where they lived some of the greatest moments of their youths, the immediately realize the place stands a a metaphor for their lives, it’s run down, smelly, tired old wreck. They check into their suite where the commence a sad sausage fest game of quarters…in the face of such desperation the four stumble upon the impressive hot tub on their back porch. A hot tub time machine…

Male Bonding in the Hot Tub Time Machine

After a drunken night of male bonding our guys wake up in 1986. The exact year when Adam, Lou and Nick vacationed there and made decisions that would shape all their lives forever. And Jacob? Well, he didn’t yet exist…but that existence plays a crucial role here.

It's the 80's! Do a lot of coke and vote for Ronald Reagan!

Hot Tub Time Machine isn’t the kind of film you pay to see expected anything besides vomit jokes, possibly some boobs, and good amount of belly laughs. I can report back that Hot Tub Time Machine delivers all of these and more in spades. But what I Wasn’t expecting was the amount of emotional weight the film managed to pack in amongst all the stabbings and awkward threesomes. The film is obvious wish fulfillment for all of us whose young and stupid years are slowly becoming prologue to a life that might not be exactly what we had in mind and our constant meditation is, “What could I have done differently?” It’s a bitter sweet theme dipped in pathos and capturing that often saddening thought that maybe our best years are behind us and just maybe we wasted them.

Mammoaries of a wasted youth.

Through the portal of the Hot Tub Time Machine Adam is given a second chance with the one that got away after she stabbed him the eye with a fork, Nick has another shot at his music career that went bust after a performance at a bar at the ski resort, and Lou gets the opportunity to stand up to some ski instructors that kicked the shit out of him when his friends didn’t show up for the fight. While Jacob must get the Hot Tub time Machine up and running again so they can make their way home…if he can track down the magical Hot Tub repair man played by Chevy Chase in a bizarre cameo.

Traveling through time in search of his career, Mr. Chevy Chase.

Speaking of cameos, and one that steals the entire show at that, is Crispin Glover who plays an disgruntled amputee bellhop in the present who lost his arm sometime in the winter of 86 when he was a happy-go-lucky bellhop eager to please the guests. His performance is hilarious and goofy in typical Crispin fashion and manages to generate some suspense as our main characters keep running into him in situations that could lead to him losing his appendage. This role could have been the stuff of general shrugs and disinterest in the hands of any other thespian but Crispin makes the role a stand out. Good work, sir.

Our hero, ladies and gentelmen!

Hot Tub Time Machine is nothing profound. It’s a damn good time and an excellent party movie. One that doesn’t get too caught up in all the science talk and ramifications of the time travel equations of which all their knowledge comes from films such as Back to the Future, The Butterfly Effect and The Terminator. They do change their fates and even the outcomes of several events oin 1986. Some deirectly…and some through a magic squirrel… The time travel aspect of the film is just the vehicle to bring us a great piece of trashy comedy about the importance of the relationships in our lives, those of our close friends and our family and these bonds are often more important than we can possibly fathom. The universe is ruled by chaos and we are at it’s mercy. We cannot always control who comes into our lives or what happens to them but we do have a choice in how we treat those we care about.

I’m not going to lie, Hot Tub Time Machine is funny as shit. But damn it if there weren’t a couple moments strewn through the proceedings were I got something in my eye. And I don’t mean jizz or vomit.

your pal.
-The Primal Root

Here's to good times, good friends, and good booze!




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