Posts Tagged ‘twin peaks

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

05
Dec
10

Two Moon Junction: The Perils of White Privilage or These are the Problems You Want to Have

a Primal Root review

You know, I always wondered what the way to a gorgeous, sexually repressed, southern debutante’s heart would be. How in the world could I ever get such a woman nekkid and in the sack or living room carpet? Well, believe it or not, the path is easily traversed. All you need is a cute dog and penchant for breaking and entering.

That is, if the 1988 soft core sexploitation flick Two Moon Junction is to be believed. Written and directed by the mastermind  behind The Red Shoe Diaries, Mr. Zalman King (remember his awesome acting skills in such Trash Cinema greats as Trip with the Teacher and Galaxy of Terror?), Two Moon Junction is the tale of a gorgeous  blond, nubile, southern bell named April (played by the supernaturally gorgeous, Sherilyn Fenn of Twin Peaks fame) who is being married off in a kind of arranged marriage to some white bread, yuppie guy mere weeks after they both graduated from their posh, exclusive deep fried southern university.

April lives in a world where everything is white. The houses, the walls, the clothes, the cars, and just about the entire populace. With the exception of the hired help who are all black. Did I mention this movie takes place in modern day 1988? Anyway, April is complacent in her little world of white privilege and arranged nuptials, but she ( of course) yearns for more as evidenced by a buck naked steamy shower at the exclusive gym where she reveals not only her remarkable and perfect bosom but a hidden peephole that leads over to the fella’s side of the showers that’s far too well hidden for us not to assume she hadn’t known about this thing from previous experience. It’s like that scene in Porky’s but in reverse and trying to sell it as a meaningful moment, when really, we just wanted to see some nekkid people. She takes a look at the swinging wang doodles, rubs her Raspberry pop-tart and the Circus comes to town. Literally.

Alice takes her tweenage sisters to the bargain basement traveling fair where she is hit on clunckily by a shirtless, greasy, pockmarked carny hunk by the name of…Perry. The guy is kind of a jerk but he is a hard working, blue collard muscle head  who wants to stick it to April so they exchange the obligatory sexy looks, Perry mocks her fiance, and thenPerry stalks her down and breaks into her house to take a shower while April’s family and fiance are away. Yes, he BREAKS INTO HER HOUSE and takes a shower. At first, April does what any human being with an ounce of smarts would do and threatens to call the cops. He counter-threatens to run out the front door nekkid.  What? She did ask him to leave, right? How is this a threat? Now she’ll have a free pair of smelly acid washed jeans!

Needless to say, after Perry mocks her lifestyle, busts out a video camera and talks a little dirty carny to her she’s just aching for this guy to shake her dust. It’s knees to the sky and the two embark on a whiny, manipulative, vapid, depressing love affair that will have you begging that these two just pull a Romeo and Juliet and end this damn thing.

Now, I am not saying the love scenes aren’t hot. Most of them are. And the ones that work are all due to the ravishing beauty that is Ms. Sherilyn Fenn. Sure, Ms. Fenn gets completely buck naked in Two Moon Junction, but she’s the kind of woman that you can look at fully clothed and still melt. Just look at her face and into those eyes. Hell, just look at her in Twin Peaks. The woman is in a sweater and a long skirt and she still just oozes temptation and sexuality.  She is, really, the only strength Two Moon Junction has. Sadly, she can’t get a bit of chemistry going with her leading carny, Perry, played with very little lunk-head charm by the meaty Richard Tyson. He looks like a romance novel cover come to life and is just about as fulfilling and cliche ridden as the novel itself. Long story short (too late) the guy stinks.

Okay, now that I am thinking about it, the film has one other thing going for it. There are some seriously cute dogs hanging out with Perry. *SPOILER ALERT* Don’t get too attached to the first dog. Booze fueled angry carnies and defensive canines never ever mix. Ever. Especially in soft core porn.

So, does Alice go through with her marriage to her filthy rich, clean shaven white boy or does she choose the rugged, womanizing, bourbon swilling, unemployed carnival worker? Will Alice’s family execute Perry Creepshow style ( it’s hard to say he was a deer when he’s behind the wheel of a Mack Truck)? Will there be a sex scene in the film that doesn’t end with Sherilyn Fenn sobbing her eyes out (is this a turn on to someone? Hell, I’m sure it’s got to be.)? How does beating the hell out of a truck shut down the power to an entire carnival? Does Perry ever get his bourbon? You’ll just have to check out Full Moon Junction and see for yourself!

For whatever reason, I felt incredibly depressed when the movie was over. And I think the ending was …happy? I dunno. You kind of get the sense that Sherilyn was kind of uncomfortable doing this flick which she was told would be her big break. Nope, that came a couple years later thanks to David Lynch, Mark Frost, and the murder of Laura Palmer.  And she didn’t have to take a stitch of clothing off to prove her star power.

It’s a female driven southern sex fantasy with plenty of soft focus, oiled man chest, and unchecked lust, and naked women. There’s not a lot of joy to be had in the proceedings. None of the key players here ever seem entirely happy with any of the options their lives have. Even the ending seems questionable.  It’s the perfect sleazy, soft core movie date for you and that special trashy someone in your life. Especially if you love hearing your lover ray after you have sex.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root

07
Nov
09

The Fourth Kind – The Owliens are not what they seem…

4th poster

a Primal Root review

Watch out Nome Alaska! You are being besieged by evil Owliens who are attacking you in your sleep, taking you to spaceships, probing you and erasing your memories. For what purpose? I guess so you can kill yourself and your family? But that doesn’t matter! This is some scary shit and  it’s ALL REAL and we have tons of audio and visual footage to support this case!

Yeah…

I really don’t know where to begin…the obviously faked “real” footage? The terrible performances? The sloppy script? The hackneyed editing? The strange decision to break some segments up into layered four framed split screen? The Fourth Kind is the kind of Trash Cinema it just hurts to sit through.

4th Milla Open

What I saw did disturb me. Probably not in the way the filmmakers intended.

The film opens just like the trailer with Milla Jovovich looking into the camera and spinning around the woods informing us that what we are about to see is 100% real and based on real accounts by real people in the real town of Nome Alaska and you will be “really” disturbed. She fails to mention that her acting skills are completely fake.

Milla - Serious

"I Has Serious Face."

The Fourth Kind features Milla (Resident Evil) Jovovich as the allegedly “real” psychologist, Abbey Tyler. Abbey’s husband was murdered sometime before the beginning of the film and she is left a widow raising their tweenage son and little daughter who went blind after Daddy kicked the bucket. (Huh?) Through her clients Abbey begins to uncover some kind of  epidemic of really scary owl spottings through hypnosis sessions which she video tapes. These tapes are used to annoy the shit out of the audience during split screen segments featuring the “real” footage and the reenacted footage. Sometimes featuring four shifty frames alternating between shots and moving all over the screen. I am all for edgy editing but, man, when one shot is just a shot of a patrol car’s lights flashing how do you justify this decision?  This is just poor filmmaking.

Anyhoo, soon after one hypnosis session goes hilariously awry (Freak out and hoping over the couch breaking a table)  the patient promptly goes home, murders his family and himself in a standoff with the police. Abbey’s professional, rational, intelligent explanation? The Owliens are responsible. That’s right…Owls from outer space… And she ain’t gonna stop till she gets to the bottom of it, by golly!

fourth06rvt1

Abbey harming one of her many patients.

So she puts some more patients through horrible hypnosis sessions where they end up either dead or scarred for life. Soon she is contacted by an Owlien and has no recollection of it other than what she taped on her hand held tape recorder that I am sure she was planning to send to Diane over at FBI headquarters to inform her that “The Owls are Not What They Seem.”

4th Peaks

I get the feeling someone was watching their Twin Peaks box set when they wrote this sucker.

So, uh, we eventually find our the aliens speak Sumerian and really have no agenda other than abducting people and scaring the shit out of them. Abbey goes through her own gut bustingly funny hypnosis session in the hopes to get her daughter back from the evil Owliens. Abbey air humps off of the couch, unhinges her jaw and starts shouting Sumerian about God and the truth. Be warned, the footage of Abbey going all whacky is screwed up and hardly visible. Which is a shame because it looks highly entertaining. The Fourth Kind has the irritating habit of building up to something really cool and then cutting to the “real” footage which is all messed up and hardly visible. See, at least the Demon in Paranormal Activity knew not to fuck with the tapes! These Owleins are just assholes!

4th Milla probe

Speaking of assholes, the Owliens have some probing to do! Abbey, meet my friend Ben Dover.

By the film’s end there are no answers, which is fine with me, but after two hours there’s no real conclusion either. The film just kind of stops. The scariest thing in the film is the face of the woman who is supposed to be the “real” Abbey Tyler who is interviewed throughout the film. I laughed through this entire movie but anytime the movie cut to the “real” Abbey and quieted down I got scared. Her face is horrifying and I kept waiting in suspense for an Owlien to rip out of her face or something to give us one final jump scare. Alas, she is just creepy looking and that’s all.

4th owl2

"I need to find a better agent."

The Fourth Kind actually resembles something one might create out of scrapped pieces of film found in a dumpster. There are some talented people involved here including character actors Will Patton and Elias Koteas but they are given next to nothing to work with. Koteas plays one of Abbey’s friends and fellow psychologists by the name of Abel Campos. His main purpose in the film is to set up the compact little Sony camcorder, look smug and be skeptical. Patton plays the local Sheriff  who realizes all this Owlien stuff is complete bullshit and Abbey is just totally crazy. I got the feeling the Sheriff is meant to be the villain figure of the piece but I couldn’t help but root for the guy. Abbey is obviously two nuggets short of a Happy Meal and an endangerment to her chilrden and her patients.

4th screenshot1

Some of the "real" footage.

But no amount of supporting cast talent could save this film. It’s just terrible. Maybe if the filmmakers had decided to go with either all filmed footage or fake “real” footage the movie would have been better than trying to fit both into one feature film. The result is muddled, confusing and pretty boring. The Fourth Kind is a film that not only falls short of hitting the bullseye, it flies past the board, off the brick wall and impales itself in the eye of the audience. It’s a vehicle without a map and a completely shit faced driver behind the wheel. It’s inept, stupid, pointless, plotless and has as many redeeming qualities as Spider-Man 3. Seriosuly. It’s that bad.

4th owl

The Eyes of the Owlien.

I cannot recommend The Fourth Kind to anyone but the bravest and most tolerant of us Trash Collectors. I’ve seen more than my share of poorly made Trash Cinema and I can find redeeming qualities in just about all of them. But in the case of The Fourth Kind it simply feels like a cheap, half hearted attempt at making something similar to The Blair Witch Project and we had to endure one of those already this year. I got a few chuckles out of the melodrama and the goofy abduction scenarios but I spent most of the movie looking at Jess and wondering how much longer could they possibly drag this movie out? Will this ever end? Is this real life?

4th o_rly

The Fourth Kind is a failure of the First Order. None of it works, none of it sticks, it’s not mindlessly fun, and it’s not even worthy of being called Trash Cinema. This is just pure cinematic monkey spunk.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root

4th Milla Nude2

Milla Jovovich. Much hotter than The Fourth Kind.




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