I, Da Ca$hman's Movie Reviews

U Can't Beat Me Man!

How will the reviews be organized?

Chronologically. You will see Batman Returns under Batman Begins.

Requests

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Rating System

Ratings tend to not be the best indicators of opinions - for a better understanding read the entire review. However, ratings are also quick. So here is a quick legend of what these ratings might mean. Note that if there are multiple options, these options can merge in the hurricane that is my mentality.vAll ratings are made with both objective quality of the movie and personal opinion in mind. Reviews are made looking for all aspects of the movies, however seeking the positives as a priority over the negatives. If my rankings were chosen with a different method, this list would be entirely different.

0/5 - Nothing going for this movie. Example: A.V.P.:R.-Un:R[4.0]]{BETA}

1/5 - Barely anything going for this movie. Example: Batman & Robin

2/5 - Option A. Overrated. Example: The Amazing Spiderman. Option B. Had a lot of potential but it didn't fall through. Example: Alice in Wonderland (2010) Option C. Nothing new, nothing special, and synthetic. Example: Dolphin Tale. Option D. At least they tried. Example: Alien 3

3/5 - Option A. Cheesy and Fun, the best and worst of Popcorn Entertainment. Example: Piranaconda Option B. Good, Okay, but nothing that I even recommend by any stretch of the imagination. Just check it out if you're bored to death. Example: Highlander

3.5/5 - Very good, enjoyable. It's a fun time, and I recommend it, but don't rush out to the theaters. Something you would rent on Netflix. Example: Dracula 2000

3.8/5 Close to awesome but just great. Example: Iron Man

4/5 - Awesome but not perfect. Example: Batman Returns

5/5 - Between 90% done overtly well or 95% done well. Example: Batman Begins

5.5/5 - 95% Done overtly well or 100% done well. Example - Return of the Jedi

6/5 - Beyond Perfection. 100% done overtly well. Example: Cloverfield

All decimals represent a space in between these ratings.

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The Hobbit: Part One: An Unexpected Journey: The Movie: Take Two (2012)

This is less a proper review and more a rambling of relevant-ish stuff.

You know, it's funny. Life of Pi and The Hobbit were announced around the same time. I was not looking forward to Life of Pi, but I was so psyched for The Hobbit. But by the end of the year, I found myself eagerly anticipating Life of Pi and snickering (on the inside) at people looking forward to Peter Jackson's next flick. I thought about it this morning, the day I finally was going to see this movie, and I realized exactly why I didn't give a damn by the time this movie came out. Because I thought I knew exactly what I was going to get into. It was going to be an amazing movie, and I wouldn't give a damn in a month.

Viewing the Lord of the Rings was, and still is, one of the most confusing movie experiences for me. It goes up right with Contagion. The visuals are amazing, the themes are intricate and infinite to discussion, the actors are awesome, and the story is fantastic - even if adapted. But it was a chore for me viewing the movies the first time around, I was falling asleep by the end of the first one. And it wasn't because it was long. Same guy, same length of time....when I was ten, King Kong kept me amazed and enthralled throughout the entirety of three hours and seven minutes. 

I've tried to make excuses like "I'm not in the intended crowd" or that "I should have seen the director's cut." But that doesn't make much sense to me. If I'm not in the intended crowd, then how come I've grown to find stories about the soviets more interesting than stories dealing with Middle Eastern terrorism? How come my 6/5 section includes both Freddy vs. Jason and Salaam Bombay? And as for the director's cut thing - when a movie like Fantastic 4 or Daredevil comes out and stoinks, and then the director's cut is praised, that's one thing. But when Lord of the Rings comes out to ultimate love and the director's cut is just loved more, shouldn't I get something from the original?

Now let's look at The Hobbit. Another movie clearly well made...actually, freaking excellent...and yet I looked at my watch throughout the last hour of this movie, waiting for it to end at the conclusion of every scene. Again, it' can't be that I don't like long movies. Some of my favorites are King Kong, Scarface, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Nosferatu the Vampyre...Here, I think we've got a case of a great movie made with poor choices. In fact, same with Lord of the Rings. These are movie series made by a fantastic movie director that went through some majorly unknown Hell during production, and the end result is superior yet lukewarm.

Here's the first thing: 48 fps. Everybody is talking about it. Some people hate it, some people are like "it's good, but it's strange." Yeah, they definitely have their right to think that. Obviously a new speed is going to be extremely hard to adjust to for people. A scene where a YouTube video of good quality is seen in a movie is one that messes with our heads. That's an extra SIX frames. Let alone FOUR TIMES that that. The effect is strenuous on our heads, and makes the movie much more comedic. The fact that they look like they're in fast forward brings back memories of Abbott and Costello or The Three Stooges. NOT serious fantasy fiction.

Here's what I would have done if I was in charge of some of this stuff in Warner Bros. I would have tested this out in a light hearted flick. Take a musical, take a kids movie, take a romantic comedy. New Line released Rock of Ages, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and New Year's Eve this year. These movies would have been perfect testing grounds for The Hobbit - especially Journey 2. Or, if that's too recent, you could have also tried plenty of the other movies. My point is that immediately going to a big hit would not work. Hence some of the negative reaction to this movie.

There is one way this could have worked. If the movie was entirely non-comedic, and all either serious or sweeping. But we didn't get that. There is arguably more comedy in this movie than all other three LOTR movies combined. You've got villains with pimples and mega-chins, you've got the Brown Wizard who is retarded, loves animals...essentially, a skinny version of me...you've got dwarves eating everything and singing unoriginal songs. So now you've set up a situation where, between the speed and the tone of the movie, you could never bounce back and make the select serious moments actually tension filled or philosophical. Every bit of positive discussion on the plot you could do after seeing this would have been done just as well beforehand.

The pacing of this movie is so off. A movie this long that's going to end in a cliffhanger HAS to end in the middle of an action scene. There were plenty where this could have ended, it felt like it dragged on an hour over. You need to end on a high note of tension so that anticipation can build for the next movie...and besides, the ending, like the rest of this movie, was cliche and stale....You know what? This entire movie is stale and cliche. It should have gone beyond the creative confines of the original Lord of the Rings movies (well, sorta originals.) But instead, it not only stays within those boundaries, it backs out of giving the audience anything challenging. And I blame the audience. I blame you. I blame my friends.

We as a society have super tight and fragile comfort zones. Look at what just happened. Go to the Wikipedia page "2012 in film" and look at the list at the top of highest grossing films of the year. The first NINE OUT OF TEN are franchise films. And only TWO (4 & 5) got any widespread criticism - and only the expected criticism. While The Avengers (a series with 6 movies to it's name) The Dark Knight Rises (a character with 11 movies to his name) Skyfall (a series with 26 films to it's name) were all praised as legendary movies - acting as if Josh Wheden was Stanley Kubrick. 

This society likes repetition, because it means less change. This society is afraid of change because of deep rooted beliefs that "if things change, I die." There wasn't a single movie this year that didn't rely on a famous novel, a famous character, another famous movie, a famous actor...people need familiarity. So if a brand new director made a brand new movie with actors nobody knew of with infinite source material to the point of no big name - it would be trashed and canned because no studio would pick it up. Even if it was the next Shawshank Redemption

It is only us we have to blame. We have bought into such a comfort bubble of few franchises - James Bond, Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings could summarize the entirety of Nerd culture. We have bought all the spin-off books, all the original books, all the movies, all the video games. We have done it so that studios give us what we want - a life safe from change, never changing, never stimulating. The companies are happy to do this for us, because they get a lot of money for it. Thus, creativity goes out the window. I do whole heartily believe that Peter Jackson can take partial blame. 

Peter Jackson wanted this to be three movies. Peter Jackson made the decision for 48 fps. He made the decision to back a Hobbit movie. And I do believe, cross my heart hope to die, that despite what you might think - Peter Jackson is the first filmmaker in history to make excellent films for an audience he believes is content, boring, dull and frankly retarded. Between his horror films that were champions, between adaptations of novels that were inflated into the market to the level of Lucas productions, between movies with philosophy that we've seen ten dozen times...he really does not have any faith in his fans. He abuses the money he makes to make moving pictures of New Zealand, and mails in everything else he's required to do. Even King Kong could be thrown into this category.

Congratulations, Bilbo. Your movie has successfully made me turn on Peter Jackson. Viewing the movie on it's own would be a mere 3/5, but it's getting marked another star for heavily contributing to a quickly growing disease in American cinema. A lack of imagination. Final Score: 2/5. How funny. This movie is about addiction to money and drugs, trying to focus in on one thing and not seeing the world around you. And yet, that's exactly what this movie encourages. Maybe that's the irony in it all.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Sorry, but, the prospect of seeing The Sandman vs. The Boogeyman was way too much for me to skip.

Hell, since we're in the mood...

What we're looking at in Rise of the Guardians is a movie that pretty much is what The Expendables was for adults or The Avengers was for teens. Now all we need is a movie for senior citizens - let's say Orson Wells, Boris Karloff, Elvis Presley, Shirley Temple and Charlie Chaplin on a World War 2 mission in Nazi Germany. This movie has Santa Claus (Alec Baldiwn), Jack Frost (Chris Pine), Easter Bunny (motherfuckin' Wolverine), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), The Boogeyman (Jude Law) and The Sandman himself......damn. The cast itself could be considered super ensemble level.

Since we're already going in that direction, we should start talking about the characters. The Boogeyman was easily the guy I was looking forward too most. I'm always a villains guy - don't know if that makes me pretentious or psychopathic, but definitely one of the two. If not both. Jude Law was pretty much ideal casting. Look at him. Go to Wikipedia right now, look at his picture. He practically is a villain. Actually, I'm wondering if they just gave him some of that Sandman dust, hypnotized him into believing he was The Boogeyman, and recording the results. Sounds fairly realistic to me. 

The dude is intelligent yet short sited and stubborn. His goal is well but he can't see another's goal despite it's own merits. He's clever yet blunt. He's a guy who likes to get to the chase, but knows how to do so in a sophisticated manner. The best part of his character is his cleary sadism. (in a non-sexual way you dirty bastards.) He loves watching kids having nightmares, not because he has had any real success, but because they are experiencing failure. He loves watching people feel pain, he loves seeing misery, and he knows exactly how to do it in the most intimate and subconscious levels. After all, he's the damn Boogeyman, he has control over kid's dreams. Really, deep inside, you can tell he just wants to distribute his own suffering.

I could talk about The Boogeyman in this movie for a very long time, but I'm just going to end the discussion with this: Freddy Krueger in a kids movie. End. Of. Story. We get onto some of the other Guardians, let's talk about Sandman. The other guy I was looking forward to the most. Aaaaand....he gets killed in the first act. So early it's not even a spoiler. That kind of pissed me off. Fortunately it's pretty sick, it's during the only one-on-one fight he has with The Boogeyman, despite the fact that they're prime for fighting each other. Not just because I'm a wrestling/metal fan, in the movie they're pretty much sun and moon, light and day, opposites but exactly alike.

Santa Claus is like the grandpa of the movie. He's a giant, Russian bear hunter (or so he seems) who has a heart of gold and enough experience to understand what is going on in the minds of people who are younger than him - which is, emotionally, everybody in the damn movie. You really couldn't have done Santa Claus another way unless you wanted me to retract my disbelief. His elves, not the matzo. Like half-bit rip-offs of the aliens from Toy Story, or copies of the minions from Despicable Me but not nearly as annoying. The reindeer I thought were super badass, but too bad they're not even side characters in this movie. They should have gotten more focus.

Easter Bunny. Is. Wolverine. I don't need to say another damn thing. HE'S HUGH JACKMAN. C'MON GUYS. The Tooth Fairy might be one of the weakest links in this movie. She seems like a person who interacts well with other people, has a ton of friends and for many good reasons. But if she was left to her own thoughts...I'm worried she wouldn't have any. She's smart as far as making decisions in the moment, but don't expect her to go writing essays. I guess what I'm trying to say is that she is like the coolest baby sitter in the world. You get what I'm saying?

I know I'm pushing talking about the characters, but this IS an ensemble film. And besides, I haven't even talked about the main character yet. Jack Frost. This character gets the most focus and for good reason. While every other character will either be relatable to kids or parents, Jack Frost finds a happy medium. He's a kind hearted teenager. This guy not only brings in an otherwise untapped audience, but he also allows there to be a better connection between adults and kids. Kids will understand teens better than adults because they're still under the influence of parents, but adults will understand teens better than kids because they might have a better world view....actually, I'd be sad if a 18 year old had a worse world view than a 8 year old. So there's this bridge built between the entire audience, which is pretty much necessary in a kid's movie.

This guy is the trouble-making teenager who doesn't listen to authority. Isn't that such a giant cliche? But I think it's fresh here. You've made him kind. Most of his actions against authority are for the benefit of kids and fun, and in this movie DON'T backfire on him all the damn time. That annoys me so much in bad coming of age films. Doing the right thing backfires ALL THE TIME? That's maybe more realistic, but it gives the wrong message. This movie has it where he is tempted by evil, and that backfires on him - big time. That does it right. Boogeyman is a lot like Satan in this movie, but if I start up on that we'll be here all day.

So now that we're done with the cast, let's move to something different. The visuals are not terribly great. The human models look like the stuff of the early 2000's and the detail is few and far between. But the movie is trying to go for a more cartoonish look and it succeeds in that respect with exaggerated details, bad anatomy and bright colors. Seriously, the colors are great. Easter Island (or so I'm calling it) looks like a lush jungle that could be further explored, the North Pole feels like a big tundra landscape, the Tooth Fairy's lair looks like something in between Heaven and Venice, Italy. And Boogeyman's layer...now that's what you call depressing folks.

The writing for this movie works, plain and simple. They do a lot of little things right, such as the recurring "seatbelt" joke in the movie. The quiet moments are thought provoking but not clashing with the rest of movie. It does get annoying in what was admittedly my favorite scene, the filmmakers felt like they just had to have a completely random fight just make sure the kids didn't get bored. So the tone of this movie is a little more high-pitched and childish than it needed to...but c'mon. This is a kids movie after all. Not every kids movie has to be Toy Story 2.

So is this movie high art? No. Does it do some stupid stuff to appeal to kids? Absolutely. Is it clever? Mostly, but not always. Is it entertaining? HELL YEAH. Does it deliver on what you expected? More so than. You're going to see the characters, and you get all your moneys worth and then some. There are some movies for kids, some for teens (although those tend to be crap if they don't have Bill & Ted in the title) and there are some movies for adults. But rarely does a movie come along that's for the adult that understands the movie is for kids. If that doesn't make sense, good, because I don't either.

4/5.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Life of Pi (2012)

...It's impossible.....they.....did it.

When I first heard about this movie, I vaguely knew anything. I didn't even know it was based off a book. I just remember reading it as an in-production title in IMDb. Then I heard that our LA class was going to read Life of Pi. Except...we didn't. Unlike every other class that got to read the book, we had to practice making resumes. (This is an example of why I, Da Ca$hman.) Over the summer, I took it upon myself to read the Yann Martel novel independently. At that time I was vaguely aware of the incoming cinematic adaptation. (I was also a big fan of Towelback at the time.)

I grew to love the novel. You can read all about it in that review in the Book Reviews section. (Every damn time I say I'm going to start doing reviews of books again...) After reading the novel, I became extremely confused. How in the Blue Hell were they going to film this? Apparently everybody else thought the same thing. Its been common literary knowledge than the book is "unfilmable." The book is mostly interior dialogue, a heavy focus on Pi's thoughts. But up to yesterday, I was gradually becoming more and more comfortable about the idea of a movie adaptation. I became fully excited for a movie I still thought impossible when I heard that the LA department was going to rent out a showing of the movie at the local theater for the students.

(And still we don't have a German class...)

At the theater, using my mind-reading senses, I was fully aware of the emotion floating across the dark cinema. I think we all were having these thoughts, but at such an undetectable level that nobody really brought them up. And then the movie started. It was a beautiful introduction to the film. A shot of every animal in a zoo, silently and subtly comparing each animal to one another, with harmonious music playing. It was a magical illustration of how the entire animal kingdom was intimiatly connected in pure life-giving harmony, despite all of our various and interesting differences. It felt like watching the opening of The Lion King in live-action.

The next thing I was shocked at (in a good way) was the casting. Irrfan Khan plays Pi Patel as an adult, and he is so damn good. He is so clearly Indian, without being offensively or blatantly Indian. (Part of this comes with the fact he IS Indian.) His ability to play a calm, contemplative, imaginative, thinking, emotional character in a realistic manner - despite his experience mainly being in Bollywood - is so incredible that I did not think he felt like people I knew in real life, he WAS somebody I knew in real life. There was no Irrfan Khan. There was only Pi Patel, and he was not a character in a movie, he was Pi Patel.

I could say these same things for every character in the movie. Rafe Spall plays the perfect intelligent, well-mannered yet awkward and sheltered white writer, to the point where I feel like I could meet him on the street. Every actor who played Pi was spot on, the ability to direct children to this degree is a feet Ang Lee could never receive enough praise for. The priest in the Church, I felt like I was looking at Jesus and he lived a mile away. But despite it all, the adult Pi was the most impressive. The fact that he narrated the entire story and I was not only not bugged by it, but also heavily enjoyed the narration, is a feat no other actor can claim to.

In the novel, the beginning one-hundred pages were more focused on filling our brains with an idea of Pi's mind. However, in the first hour or so of the movie, you get an idea of Pi's emotional life, what really fascinates him, without going into details that would heavily assist a novel but bring down a film. So, naturally, you don't get to hear about the hunting habits of Giraffapotomuses, but instead you get more of an insight of Pi's crush on Anandi. Instead of contemplating on all the Gods and their patterns, you get more of an insight on what all this stuff means to Pi. This is clearly a decision that elevates this part of the story.

I won't spoil too much, but I'll try to go into the writing a little bit more. There's a ton of witty dialogue, when it's appropriate. During the happier part of Pi's life, you get tons of ironies and one-liners. In the first days of the wreck, Pi spits one or two more jokes. It illustrates his mind attempting to defend himself from reality, slowly deteriorating to face the cruel reality of nature. By this time, the dialogue is so emotional and impactful that...well....you know. Lettuce just say that there are two major "storms" and I came to crying during both of them.

If you're going to talk about anything in this movie, you HAVE to talk about the director Ang Lee. This is impossible. You guys have to understand, we are talking about a guy who's major films are Taking Woodstock, Brokeback Mountain and the 2003 disaster Hulk. Those are two terrible films and a rip-off of Titanic. And then he does THIS. THIS, THIS. This movie that puts Avatar to shame. This movie that attains control of the cosmos and slams it upon the audience, leaving the viewer with perfect serenity amongst the holiest of holes. This movie that has more visual metaphor and symbolism than almost all movies in existence. This movie that one could talk about for hours and hours, discuss the philosophy, the visuals, the implications. THIS MASTERPIECE.

THIS movie gets a 6/5. I promise, one day, I will upload some insane fifty paragraph ramble about how amazing this movie is. Trust me. I saw it twice. And I want to go see it five more times. It brought me to tears. That doesn't happen much, trust me. Go see it. Right now. Give them your money.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012)

(mini-review)

Not sure if Anime: The Movie or Soul Caliber: The Movie.

Let me see if I can set this thing straight. I'm dead serious. This is Anime: The Movie. From A to Z. The first thing you're probably going to notice, if your eye is on similarities to the Japanese art form, is the heavy use of small beams of lights shining from atop a broken roof onto a suffering protagonist. That is the first scene of the movie. Followed by a flashback. Not to mention the introduction to an antagonist that is extremely cocksure, and acts much more attractive than he actually. Naturally, this scene finishes in an action scene that mostly relies on kicks. This entire scene is also performed with a completely unnecessarily epic soundtrack playing in the background.

You also have your mentor, who shows the main protagonist around his village, which he is doing to prepare our main protagonist for a long adventure. He also shows the main protagonist his socially awkward side-kick. Am I watching the first episode of Pokemon? The movie takes a turn in a more Naruto/Dragonball Z spin and has the side character be a fat, simple-minded dumbass who knows nothing about his own expertise. And for some reason they keep him around. Naturally, he's telling all the jokes he shouldn't until he fully pisses off the main protagonist, launching them into an unnecessary fight. The antagonist's goons are introduced in this scene, taking full advantage of seemingly idiotic heroes. Naruto 100% here.

There's also a random scene where they're surrounded by random Tigers, completely calm Tigers mind you, and they completely panic. And there's no resolution to this scene. Just move on. Again, I feel like I saw all this on Toonami. Do I even need to keep going? Think about every scene, and you will feel Anime screaming at you. The climax is the most insane part. It goes full on Dragonball Z in this hood when you have 3 parallel fights going on between 6 characters that have their own parallel characters. The one big "finishing move" in this movie is essentially a visually realistic (and logistically ridiculous) version of a Kamehameha wave.

I...just....don't....even...no. I know it's short, but the review stops here. We're not going to cover anymore of the actors, not the pacing, not the dialogue, nothing. That's not important. Go see this movie right now. It's on Netflix instant stream. Drink every time you see an anime cliche and tell me you didn't just die. 3.3/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Frankenweenie (2012)

DAT WAZ KOOL.

I remember in choir class in the sixth grade, we actually watched the old 1984 short. The teacher had an old VHS tape or something. I presume she was a mom. I don't remember the old short awfully as far as actually seeing it, but it must have made an impact in me. Even before this rendition was announced, if somebody mentioned "Frankenweenie" on the streets I could tell you exactly what the plot was, beginning to end. It must have made an impact on me because, when they redid scenes from the old short into this movie, I recognized them instantaneously.

I also recognized A LOT of references to the stuff. (for a lack of a better term.) I won't spoil too much, but trust me. The movie starts out with a reference to Rodan, and at the tale end of the first act the Frankenstein parents are watching Scars of Dracula. Plus, the kid's name is Victor. I won't spoil any of the other references for you (pm me on FB if you want me to) but trust me. I think I counted at least twenty. This is essentially the kid's version of Cabin in the Woods. If I ever get the opportunity to have a sit down, casual conversation with Tim Burton, I'm sure you'll have to pull me away kicking and screaming because we could probably talk about this stuff for hours.

But enough about me. What do most people know for Tim Burton? Well, I'd say, Nightmare Before Christmas. Sure there's Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Batman, but the stars of those movies are the actors. Tim Burton is the star of Nightmare Before Christmas. And that brings us to the stop motion of this film. You know, you can watch a lot of stop-motion movies like NBC (heheh) or Wallace and Gromit or that one random Jesus animation I saw how many years ago...or maybe that one REALLY disturbing animation where an entire village is destroyed and the universe is nonexistent.........what were we talking about again? 

Mark Twain and Satan, that's what the bugger was called.....yeah, don't YouTube that it'll mess all of your brains up. Anyways! Stop motion animation! It's really good in this movie. You watch other ones and either the texture or the fluidity of the motion is really obvious. A lot of times both. Especially the old Christmas shorts like Rudolph the Red You Know The Title Why  Am I Typing This Up? Here, there were times when I totally forgot that this was a stop-motion picture. There was like one little scene where it was choppy and I can't even remember which one it was. The texture of the characters is purposely cartoonish, you can see slipperiness on the models but I have a weird feeling that it was for effect. If Burton wanted to he could have had his team make them look a lot more realistic. There is expertise here.

I didn't have too many problems with the cast, but they are probably the weakest link. Not that they're not acted well, they really are. It's just that so few of them aren't cliches. Victor, the gym teacher, Victor's parents, Edgar, the little smarky kids with stoney personality, the big fat kid...The only two who feel fresh are the girl with the giant eyes and Mr. Rzhaupkeit. Or something like that. The actors do a really good job, but I just know that I've seen these characters before. Not in the "nice nod" way, more in the "you couldn't get different types of people?" way. Even Edgar rubbed me the wrong way.

But I do say...watch for "The Girl With the Giant Eyes" and "Mr. Rzhaupkeit Or Something Like That." You'll be heavily pleased.

Part of that is the writing. John August always knows when to do something and when not to, even if it means resorting to those cliches that bug me so much. Lil' Johnny and Lil' Timmy capture the essence of not only a loving tribute to the horror film of old, but also just understand what their story really is. Everything in this script feels natural and weird, which is odd to say considering how odd it is. It's a Lil' Timmy movie, what can you expect? There was always a giant grin on my face, there was always really good comedic timing, there never was a time where I said to myself "that could have been done better."

Frankenweenie is...just...great. Not the revolutionary tribute to these monster flicks that Hammer could pull off, but still far above just "good" and a resurgence to Tim Burton's understanding of filmmaking. And can we say "THANK YOU!" I think it's about needing to get away from that Johnny Depp character...what a d***e. But it's also about heart. A lot of his recent movies like Dark Shadows and Alice in Wonderland, I'm betting, were more about taking a job. This was a work of love and labor. Congrats Tim. You re-earned my respect. 4.5/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Lake Placid 4: The Final Chapter (2012)

I dunno about you but I think this is starting to get a wee bit out of control.

(SyFy, get better about your trailers!!!)

The SyFy Channel strikes again! I can't seem to get away from these guys, can I? I don't know exactly what happened between 1999 and 2007, but somehow the SyFy Channel got the rights for these movies from 20th Century FOX. In typical Friday the 13th fashion, they've titled their sequels 2, 3, and The Final Chapter, even though there's still room for more in the plot. I bet you money we will see Lake Placid 5: A New Beginning, and no later than next year. Think about it, there was a three year break between 2 and 3, a two year break between 3 and 4, we'll see the next one next Halloween Season...in fact....it's about that time isn't it? Mwuahahaha.

This is a far cry from their latest epic Camel Spiders, one of my favorite SyFy Channel pictures. The characters are back to the drawing board. You have your nerd who's only memorable because she's reading Heart of Darkness, you have your greedy villain who's only memorable because he's Robert Englund, you have the nerd's mom who's only memorable because she's the chick from Law and Order, you have the pervert who's only memorable because of one really weird scene where he pisses in front of two girls about a decade younger than him, the token black guy who doesn't die first thank the lord, and the dead bitch at the bottom of the stairs.

Sounds like a pretty complete roster of slasher villain stereotypes. Did I mention that in addition to Black Lake and Lake Placid, one of the names for this LAKE is CLEAR Lake? You know?...CRYSTAL Clear? As if this wasn't already the Friday the 13th of the animal kingdom? Except a lot worse, considering you don't have the strong emotional backstory of Jason for these alligator flicks. And I think that's another problem. They're just alligators. Slasher movies are so good because their heels are so compelling. Well, here, it's just a hungry beast. And since everybody is just a bunch of dumb stereotypes who don't think helicopters or machine guns help...why should I care?

There's not even that much good gore. It's all CGI gore, which looks like the quality of SyFy blood 2-5 years ago. There's a couple good shots where we see people with no heads, but at this point you've figured out that looks more like soup than it does a real flesh wound.  The alligators themselves have no natural reactions to the air when they move, have the texture of the first of three War of the Worlds released in June of 2005, I mean...they look damn fake. Again. When we talk about bad CGI, the worst is Sci-Fi Channel CGI, now SyFy CGI, and this is a pretty damn good reason why that is.

The movie also doesn't change location mostly. You almost always have the lake in the background, and it's always the same area. There's a couple scenes in the house, but in the end, you start to lose interest if the entire movie is in the same location. (Unless it's The Cyclops.) Just looks boring. I mean, I could go on and talk about shit...such as people yelling random crap instead of actual words of screams....but when you get down to it, the difference in these types of movies is, oddly, the characters. The good guys are always going to be simple and the bad guys are always going to feel overused. But it's the little things that count. If the good guys really are wonderful people, or if the bad guys are emotionally conflicted and compelling, then these types of movies can succeed. If they can't, they don't even make it to the bargain bin.

This movie is a little better than Lake Placid 3, but not by much. It's obvious they tried, but nonetheless, it doesn't have the charm of either ridiculous terribleness or honesty in their characters. I'm just wondering, why don't they get some of their TV producers to work on their movies? Because there is a stark difference between their TV shows and their movies in quality. Aw well. 2.5/5. If you liked Friday the 13th Part VI, then you'll probably enjoy this. If not, you can forget about it!

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Camel Spiders (2012)

At this point the SyFy Channel is probably pulling random words out of Roger Corman's hat, and that's how they're getting him labeled as "executive producer."

We've seen A LOT of movies by the SyFy Channel and their best buds, The Asylum. They've almost all been either bad (2 Headed Shark Attack) or bad to be awesome (Sharktopus.) The idea of a film being genuinely good and originating from this station makes the word "rare" look pathetic. It's pretty much never happened. They've definitely had a lot of great TV shows, and they've listened a good chunk of good movies from other studios. I've seen Piranaconda, I've seen Supergator vs. DinoCroc, I've been through Leprechaun's Revenge, I've Battled through Los Angeles...and, friends and neighbors, with all due respect to past incarnates, I think we might have hit a threshold.

I wouldn't call this a wholly rounded good film by any means. I think my preference would be to clear through the negatives early. CGI has ALWAYS been a problem for the SyFy Channel. Whenever I talk about bad computer generated effects, I always use this station as the stereotype for the worst of the worst. That can still be said. The spiders here seem to change their weight whenever they want like laser projections, their texture is plastic and digitized, and the blood in this film could have been ripped from a later generation Nintendo Sixty-Four video game.

But I kinda like the creature designs. I was wondering how in the Hell they were going to mix camels and spiders. I was surprised. It's still mostly a spider, but they've given it "humps" like some spiders do with camel colors and furs. They actually come off as legitimately creepy. I mean, if you had that thing in your house, small or big, you'd be freaking out. There are much more preferable spiders. I also think they move really well. Their jumping is something left to be desired, but the way their legs moves perfectly captures how to make a small little bugger fucking creepy. Having arachnophobia kinda helps.

There's a couple other things I didn't really like in this movie. The soundtrack is a complete joke. Most of it feels like it came from Mission Impossible or some form of modern espionage. Sometimes they bring in Jazz riffs or bits that would belong in a loud black and white comedy. There's also the editing. They completely cut away two days and a plane trip from Afghanistan to the Southern USA, without even establishing that they've moved. The first sign you get is a police car, and I guess that's sufficient. But I just feel like if you hadn't read the OnDemand plot synopsis or something to that extent, you would get more of a dislocation than in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. And yes, I just associated this movie with TGTBATU.

I think the real strength comes in the cast. I would never, EEEEEVVVER, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-VEEEEEEEEEEER.... before this moment have said that I would be giving legitimate compliments to SyFy actors. But I find this cast so strong. Everybody is relatable. They're a bunch of stereotypes, yes, but not in that lazy kind of way, more in that Stephen King kind of way where stereotypes are used as warm familiarity. It's rare when, in any sort of apocalypse movie, pseudo or not, that people still remain good. Completely unrealistic, sure, but so are most superheroes. But we look up to superheroes.

The unrealistic protagonist is never credited what it's worth. Sometimes, I want a little hope in humanity restored. Sometimes, I want to be able to look up to the protagonists, not choose the villain because he's smarter and they're both evil. Sometimes I want to say "if I was stuck in this situation, I'd want to be with these people." A complete lack of logos, sure, but pathos is strong even when simple. This movie succeeds in that. You've got one bastard in this movie. In a world where everybody twelve and above is fully convinced that everybody's a shit eating asshole, I'm very happy to have an overload of legitimately good people.

Not to mention, the actors are actually pretty convincing. Not all of them, some of the teenagers are kind of dull. The older they get, though (and there's a lot of old people in this movie) the more natural they seem. These guys are absorbing their roles, they're swimming in it, they've having as much fun with it as long as they can seem convincing. They seem real. They don't feel like "the blonde bimbo, the stupid teenager, the redneck" they feel like real people. I think that's whats the most natural here. I can't drive this in further. In this situation, I want people who I can trust. And because these guys are so awesome, I feel a real sadness when they get eaten...or bitten...or sucked on...whatever those nasty bastards do.

Camel Spiders is such a pleasant surprise. While the editing and directing department probably don't have their heads on straight, an enthusiastic cast and an insightful script - though painfully simple at times - give me new respect for the possibility of low-budget TV monster movies. For the first time ever, I'm giving a SyFy Original Movie a very strong rating. A rating that does not just imply decent entertainment, but an actually well made film. A valiant effort to evoke a legitimate emotion. And hey, it's  getting brownie points for using a monster from real-life. 

4/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

We’re close to the end folks!

SECTION ONE: AFTERMATH OF THE MUMMY RETURNS

When The Mummy Returns came out, it got slammed much worse than the previous film. It has 8% less on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as various negative reviews. Ebert, who had given the previous film 3 starts, only gave it two this time around. He said "The mistake of The Mummy Returns is to abandon the characters, and to use the plot only as a clothesline for special effects and action sequences." James Berdanelli, who we’ve seen before, said it was a  "hollow, lightweight [movie] —not unpleasant, but far from the summer's definitive action/adventure flick.” Joe Morgensten said it "has all of the clank but none of the swank of the previous version." Charles Taylor said it was "everything the first Mummy was fun for not being."

Few positive reviews raised. Kenneth Turan, who I believe we’ve also dealt with before, liked the  "constant plot turns, cheeky sensibility and omnipresent action sequences." Todd McCarth praised "the nonstop action of the final hour, [it] bursts with visual goodies.” It appears to me that critics were giving The Mummy Returns the review they know they should have given to The Mummy…whether or not which one was better, which is far more subjective than critic psychology. They were less reviewing this version and more compensating for the fact they gave the last one a half decent review when it really didn’t deserve it.

Or I’m being a pretentious douchebag.

However, it was not with its financial successes. Brendan Frazer and The Rock pulled a major tag-team victory. It worked on a budget of $18 million more; gaining the original gross of the first movie plus an extra $18 million. However, due to a more star-studded cast, Universal expected the movie to do better – especially with slight inflation. So, technically, it made barely less profit than the last movie, even if it’s a minor difference. So, Stephen Sommers, in an interview about a possible third movie said “There is a demand for it, but most of the gang would only be up for it again if we could find a way to make it bigger and better." Universal proceeded to make the next two Scorpion King movies.

A couple of years after the first Scorpion King movie, Stephen Sommers was interviewed about a third movie once again. He said that the cast members wanted to do the movie full on, “bigger or better or not” but he did not have the energy to do it at the moment. After all, he was experiencing the time of your life where you tour the universe – 42 years old. In December of 2005, Alfred Gough (Spider-Man 2, Lethal Weapon 4) and Miles Millar (Shanghai Nights, I Am Number Four) reviewed the script and released details relating to ancient Chinese dynasties. Thus, Stephen & Co. were pretty much like “well, dammit, we pretty much have to do it now.”

In March 2006, Oded Fehr, who played Ardeth Bay in the last movie, released a statement than Sommers was directing a new movie. However, he said only the Frazer and Weisz characters were returning, none of the other cast members. This rose suspicion as it meant Oded could not be aware, as well as contradicting the previous statements about an eager cast. Universal Studios continued to contradict Oded’s statements by offering Joe Johston (Star Wars IV-VI, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Wolfman, Captain America) a directing role. Later in the month, Weisz expressed “desire” to be in the next movie. Thus, everybody forgot Ardeth Bay ever existed.

SECTION TWO: THE TOMB IS FORCED OPEN

In January of 2007, Universal officially announced Stephen Sommers would not be anywhere near the next movie. Or, at least, they would hope, as they set up turrets along the premises. After Joe Johnston declined having a role, Universal looked to Rob Cohen, (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, The Fast and the Furious). Later in the month, it was announced the story would center around Frazer, Weisz, and their adult son (and Ardeth Bay was last seen gorging on a five-pint tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream from the local creamery.) John Hannah was set to reprise his character Jonathon, and Universal next set out to cast Alex O’Connell. (Weisz and Frazer’s kid.)

When Robert received word that Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li were going to be in the movie, he made it a mission statement to run around California like a lunatic yelling “WE GOT ‘EM!” He fought loose yetis that may or may  not juggle and dance while I braid clowns, he fought dinosaurs and wooly mammoths, and he even roundhouse kicked Chuck Norris. That was an accomplishment. He was last seen getting shot up by the turrets attached to keep Stephen Sommers far away, and he would be in the hospital for 4 months before he was finally revived by some unknown force.

On April 1st, Brendan Frazer said that he was quitting the movie, but then he was like “APRIL FOOLS!” and not anything of value was gained. Weisz, on the other hand, left after Brendan pulled his stunt, proceeding to slap him in the face, yelling something about their green baby with tentacles, and proceeding to shoot a dinosaur in the face. With the turrets. Afterwards, it was realized that the turrets were not powered by batteries, but instead Rachel Weisz’s womanly anger. They proceeded to get Lars Ulrich and Dave Mustaine on set for the rest of the production.

The film crew proceeded to Montreal and China (because those are perfect equivalents, Wikipedia.) The first BETA title for the movie was released, now titled The Mummy 3: Curse of the Dragon. Luke Ford was cast, known for absolutely nothing to this day. Maria Bello (ER, Secret Window) was cast tor replaced Rachel Weisz about a month later, and they completely botched the character. They admitted it. In newspapers. Shut the fuck up. “Rob Cohen has 'created a new Evelyn ... in the first two Mummy movies she was all actiony and lovely, but this Evelyn might be a little more ... forceful in terms of her martial art skills and shooting skills.’” She said. Or, in other words, “we have no idea what the fuck we do here.”

Rhythm and Hues Studios (Lots of stuff) did part of the SFX, notably the Yetis (naturally) and the Dragons. One shot, a pool of water that resembled diamonds, took R&H a year or so to complete. They software Massive, known for Lord of the Rings, was used to create the zombie war scenes. Imaginary Forces, the other SFX team, got the much more boring stuff. Opening credits and dashing up on the shitty sets. That kind of crap. They were also known for playing Okami during production, but the brushstrokes accidentally went into the movie, and they were allaike “fuggetaboudhet.”

You know what sucks? Hollywood. When they don’t do ethnic sounding scores for movies in different places, it feels overtly Americanized. But when they do have ethnic sounding scores for these kinds of movies, you feel like they just did that to appeal to a certain audience…or maybe fool white people into thinking their “culturally aware.” They listened some songs from bands nobody ever heard of even though they’ve all heard it. Take, for example, Two Steps from Hell or Pfeifer Broz. Or maybe Vampire Hunters or Lakme.

SECTION THREE: TOMB OF DA CA$HMAN REVIEWER

Oh God. This is bad. This is very…very…very bad. This is some sort of parody or something question mark. God this movie is immature. You have plenty of scenes where people repeat what was already said and obvious, just to make sure the imaginary retard in the audience understands what just happens. When you don’t have action scenes, you have immature jokes. Somebody is lit on fire and naturally this just leads to “SPANK MY ASS! SPANK MY ASS!” You have those “haha, he snored, it’s funny” jokes. What is this, kindergarten humor? This movie’s rated PG-13 and I feel like somebody half my age would feel insulted by this movie. An eight year old would feel offended by this movie. Think about that.

God, and, speaking about the insulting aspects of this film, take the music for example. You’d have to find every Cartoon Network show, every bad rip-off of Indiana Jones, every bad Disney sequel, and a dash of Spongebob Squarepants to get something this unoriginal. I hate when a soundtrack signals when to feel emotion. When the soundtrack tells you to laugh, when the soundtrack tells you to get excited. Instead of the soundtrack getting you excited, getting you to laugh.

No, seriously. I’m mentioning it again. Fucking exposition. Can you believe it? This is worse than the endings of an episode of Scooby-Doo. Who writes this shit? TWO PEOPLE. Remember those two people who wrote the review of the script? They’re actually doing the script. Two people. Two people who wrote this script. How the Hell did they get Spider-Man 2 right? Because look at that shit. This is the action version of Hannah Montana: The Movie, which is significant because MILES ACTUALLY WROTE THAT DAMN MOVIE. Baloney man. There have been Disney Channel shows with less condescending exposition.

The visuals are disgustingly pretty. New way to express visuals for you. The vivid colors mix with a complete lack of detail and a joke of realistic movement or weight. That’s like taking a really delicious pomegranate and putting it in a blender with a bag of sand and a plastic zip-lock bag. IT DOESN’T WORK. I’VE TRIED. Clearly, there was not the same effort put in this movie. Oh, and did I mention the soundtrack is absolutely terrible? Did I mention an eight year old would be insulted by this picture?

Hey, I don’t mean to be racist or nothing, but I’m being racist right here and saying why the Hell aren’t there subtitles? Am I the only one seeing this? When people speak in Chinese or, in one case, Sanskrit, there don’t appear to be subtitles. The ONE time it would be a good idea to help us understand the script…and NOPE. Who made these decisions? Where’s the cartoon cat? Was somebody high? Was Lloyd Alqhuist giving out heroin? Why is there an Irishman involved in this? Why is there an Irishman eating Ramen in the middle of the Himalayas with a bunch of English people who are fighting a Chinese due? Is this a punch line? Three English people, an Irishman eating Ramen, and a Chinese walk into a door. The yak belched.

You know, you really can’t blame anybody but the actors. They’re the last guys who the dialogue goes through. The writers make it and the directors approve it, tweak it, but without the actors it wouldn’t exist. The actors are the one things aside from the originators who can destroy it. They don’t say it, it doesn’t get spoken. And guess what, lampposts and jellyfish? They don’t just say it. They don’t bother to improve on it. In fact, they make it worse. It’s a fucking GAME, trying to make the dialogue as bad as possible! AAAAAUGH. WHO? WHAT? HOW?! CAN?! I?! AM?!?! POTATO.11K-[421JN4IKM OF;LAKNDNDSAAA;A;;AA;A;A;A;ALSDIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINLAKNAP41PKKKK3NL4LHITN50T0H[8

ERROR 404: DA ₡₳$h₥₳₦ DOES NOT APPROVE.

I’m going with Rotten Tomatoes and giving this movie a 0.65/5

SECTION FOUR: WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

So after I ticked a bowl of tastey, I calmed down

What happens to The Mummy now? I’ve heard a million rumors. They made a third Scorpion King movie, which I will be reviewing. A few months after the last Scorpion King flick was released, Universal Studios announced that they were going to do a Mummy reboot. I’ve heard a lot of suggestions, but the best I’ve heard is a return to horror. Honestly, what else could you do with it? I understand the change because, frankly, Mummies aren’t scary anymore. But clearly, they also aren’t very THRILLING.

The supposed crew right now for this next movie (set to release in 2014) is simply a writer and producer. The writer is new, but he’s already made a decent filmography. The cheesy but original The Darkest Hour, and the AWESOME Prometheus. (Don’t let anybody tell you different.) The producer is Sean Danier. He has an okay filmography. He did The Wolfman, which, coming from a longtime fan of the old movie, was awesome and definitely worthy of a spot on the UMM list. He also did Tombstone, which I know nothing about, but I heard was good. But…he also did the movie I just reviewed. And The Scorpion King. Not the matzah.

Later it was announced that Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman will be producing as well. Their filmography is also okay, not to mention exactly the same, but a little worse than what we’ve seen so far. Look at Mission Impossible III, Cowboys & Aliens, The Legend of Zorro and the first two Transformers flicks. However, he does have some good things under his belt, such as Eagle Eye and Watchmen. I really hope he’s good, because not only is he doing this, but he’ll also be doing Star Trek 2, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ender’s Game and a reboot of Van Helsing. We need good hands for these projects.

Very recently we got the announcement that Len Wiseman was attached as the director. This is probably the scariest part. He did three Roland Emmerich films, four Underworld flicks, Live Free or Die Hard, Total Recall and Hawaii Five-0….Look in the past. Only 50% of the Universal flicks of the B&W days are good, and only one is good to the most objective eye. None of the Hammer flicks are definite “classics,” and one or two are crap. The entire new series is shit. This franchise has taken so many hits. Possibly the worst string of classic horror movies ever, and that’s saying something. And yet…why are we so fascinated, even though we’ve had such a string of bad luck?

Because the myth, the story, the atmosphere…the original…is just that good.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior (2008)

The sequel prequel that's a prequel to a sequel prequel spin-off to a sequel to a remake.

I remember the first day I met you. I found a small path of dirt, sprinkled across my brown (previously white) floor, leading into my bedroom. Inside there was you. You had found my fake palm tree and were snacking on it. Your salivating teeth were slowly caressing the plants before ripping them to shreds and solidifying your dominance. I attempted to get your off the palm tree, firstly I would attempt to rip you off, then I would bribe you with meat, but nothing that would entice my canine would ever tempt your furry ass. So I decided to entertain you. Nothing electronic stroked your fancy, so I did all I knew. I juggled. And, by some miracle, you started dancing.

The next day at the barber shop, we had an entire customer base of Killer Klowns From Outer Space. I talked about many subjects with them. There was the occasional base of politics. I would talk about the mad cow, and how the audience began to clap, until somebody sold him. Then, believe it or not, they would have him stuffed. Like that old Water Buffalo, stuffed. The other Klown would probably talk about how Ahmed knew who done it in the lounge, but I'd counter that Ahmed didn't know. Those Klowns specifically I ended up sharing a beer and extra pretzels with, and we began to talk about how I lived at home. Basically, wool slacks, a gerbil with lice, a crazy Asian chick, and a few hogs, and I typically spend my days watching LOST all the time.

I came home about a day late because of how many Drunk Klowns I had been talking with, and I attempted to comfort you a little more. I looked around the palm tree, and I couldn't find you. I looked in my room, my Asian chick's room, all the rooms, THE ROOM EVEN! I couldn't find you. I looked outside the window where I saw that ghost child staring at me, begging for some sort of sweet sauce...and I saw you running. I fell on my knees, then fell backwards. I mumbled about how I should have called you, but now you had run to the forest. It was too late. My dear sweet Yeti had run to the forest.

My and the Asian Chick attempted to find consolidation. We figured that, you having no documents or papers, it would be better to let you go. We could not deal with the National Guard and International Caucasian Extremists (ICE) ringing at our door and killing us over a stolen, stuffed Yet. We attempted to get Matt's opinion, but all he had to say on the matter was that he had recently been to a shop somewhere and found a picture. He knew who was in the picture. It was Mormon Judy. And Cow People. Besides, all the moisture trapped inside of your furs would have us in an unsanitary environment.

And Funky.

And now for a brief message from your friends Will Gallafuckunus and Zack Attack. "You let me keep some precious jug okay? Some bobble's like a Frenchman. Socks and BONES AND SKELETONS...and now you know." "You shouldn't bite the stork. ACHOO EXCUSE ME!" "GOLD. IRAQI GOLD. JUST TOUCH IT AND YOU'RE GOOD....and once you get inside the x-Rated Bear, I'll have you soapy all night." "Uuughh..." "With a fire engine." "Okay, thank you." "Grandle looked like a changling. In the likrach shorts." (The previous message was made possible by absolutely nobody.)

Eventually I came to resist the crazy Asian chick. I figured we could make you tame. You were currently exotic, covered in Pooh-man. I came to the most opportune, inexpensive, efficient and logical conclusion. We would give you a wig, and hope that everybody would forget they just saw a Bigfoot holding hands with a bald heteroflexible man on Main Street. I'd attempt to save money at the barber shop, and eventually give you money to pay for rent at a separate apartment and a 12 pack of Coca-Cola every week. Just what a Yeti needs. I'd make sure we could do whatever we wanted together, especially hiding away in the morning's forest dew.

Over the years we grew further and further apart. We began to get in fights. My money was dwindling, I was fueling the fire of a Nepalese Bigfoot. At the same time, my crazy Asian chick was also getting in arguments with me. She wanted....actually, she needed me to buy her a pony. But I wouldn't have been able to, even if you weren't here. Nevertheless, she blamed it all on you. I couldn't stand any more of the stress. I ended up yelling at your, calling you a fat bastard, taking away all of your cows and chickens. Too disgusting to see (myself) you eat yourself to death. You're (I'm) a bad disease. 

I hope I can find you one day. I will run into the forest, fighting all the tigers, the wild bears, the wild boars, the disease run rodents, the flightless fuckers, and everybody else. I will find you one day, and we will live together, in our love forest. Away from all the Klowns, away from the crazy Asian chicks, the gerbils, the lice, LOST, Coca-Cola, the corporate sponsers, all the pigs...just us. Except for the champagne. Gotta have the champagne. I'm floating.

....Dude, this movie's shit. 1/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Corporation (2003)

₡₳$h₥₳₦’$ Back

SECTION ONE: RAMBO-ING

Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦’$ feeling revved up to be back. While I was gone I took it up with myself to look at the world around me. The movies are good and all, but you gotta sometimes smell the stars and look at the dandelions if ya know what Ca$hman’$ talkin’ bout. And something happened. I been talkin’ with friends o’ mine, and we arguin’ Obama vs. Romney. Most of the guys here at my school all been up with the Demos, but the Rippers still sneak in. And when we got down to it, the main backer of Mittens waz allaike “are you a communist?” And I said, “yeah, I guess.”

I said this because of his imaginary version of communism, where the actual word refers to anarchy or pure capitalism. What he was thinking of was crazy socialism. The rest of the class period was not Give a Ca$hman a Hug day. And I was like “am I gonna get called a Godless Jew too?” The funny thing is, the guy who was bashing my socialism/communism was a Jew. And I figured that if you’re not born into righteousness and intelligence, you’re brainwashed for the lowest common mindset.

The lucky ones are born into a family against the grain and they have the mental power to discern their legitimate opinions from those that are unfounded and relying on corporate media sponsors. They can blossom into understanding---hopefully, if their will is strong enough to understand the consequences of realization. People that day said that communism was about hating the first class. Well, I don’t care for most of them, but it ain’t because I’m  jealous of their money. It ain’t because they have money. I don’t see it as a sin. It’s because if we have billionaires, Hell if we have millionaires, then our country has a problem.

Socialism is not about making no big winners; it’s about making sure there’s no big losers. So if we have millionaires in our country, yet there are people who don’t have a house or a blanket, then it is unbalanced. Then somebody said that “you can’t take away a disproportional amount of money from people.” And I’m like “’course you can, if you have a disproportional amount of money, you should be able to give a disproportional amount.” People think they’ve earned their fortune. But really it’s more a situation of them being lucky enough to have the opportunities that allowed them to prosper. Capitalism’s theory is not reality. And what it really has allowed is those who have the most luck and those who have gained the most money from that luck to superficially overthrow the government and take control without being the faces of the nation. How many people actually know what The Rothschild Family even is?

SECTION TWO: REVIEWING THE CORPORATION

Interviews, brother. This film illustrates why interviews are such a vital part of informational programs. You watch a lot of History Channel shows, and look at their credentials. They’re pretty much professors who have an opinion. Yeah, that’s nice, but look at what this movie brings. Sure there’s a few  college professors but you also got guys like Michael Moore and most importantly, people who are involved in this situation one way or another. You don’t just have people who know information, you get people who have had a lot of personal experiences dealing with these issues. M&M talked about how he had talked with people who felt like corporations were more like people. One guy talked about an experience he had where he witnessed firsthand the overuse of desperation labor. Another guy had a big box of reports on cow hormones delivered to his office. Doesn’t this sound better than a simple observer?

Especially for those who are less attentive, the narrator is the first thing anybody notices. Nature movies are most palatable with narrators who are peaceful and older, hint hint Morgan Freeman. Now, I’m not 100% sure how political documentaries are supposed to go, and I know this is really not the biggest issue but….why is the narrator trying to seduce me? I don’t know. It feels very odd when that whisper is talking to me in a voice that elongates every single syllable. Takes away from the experience a little bit and I laugh at parts I really shouldn’t. Good thing she doesn’t talk a ton and it’s mostly interviews, as many documentaries go.

Talking to a lot of people about these issues, they seem to act like the corporations themselves. Thinking about the bottom line. People often analyze what they’re doing, and use that as their argument. When you’re trying to decide whether they’re doing good or bad you don’t just look at what they’re doing but why. You look at not just what and why but when, where, how, all the questions you gotta ask. The majority of people who think they’re anti-corporate often only think in one direction, in a similar fashion to the criminals we are trying to prosecute. In the end, the situation is much more complex than this.

I give a lot of props to this film for looking at absolutely everything it could. It ended up running at two and a half hours and had it not been for the fact that they wanted to get this message out to a lot of people it could have run two to three times that length because there is so much to cover. They give a subtle address to this issue in the first and second fifth of the film. When, where, why, how, what, who, all this, is all covered here. And you gotta love the unbiased nature of this movie. They cover both sides and bring in a lot of guys from every point of view (as I stated before) to explain the situation in every way. But here’s the key thing that makes this impressive and not numbing: they’re not lying. Everybody is being completely honest. And when everybody is completely honest, truth is told. And truth slants in a certain direction.

The Corporation is an eye-opener. A film that removes as much fantasy and manipulation as possible from the film, leaving only specks of these elements to keep the film interesting to the subconscious as well as the thinking part of the brain. It is probably more than you will learn in most pre-college school classes. Probably the most professional documentary produced that remains emotional and opinionated. You can wash a brain, and you can wash a T-Shirt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get those things dirty again. Dirty with truth.

The Rating? 5.8/5

SECTION THREE: AFTERMATH OF THE CORPORATION

Michael Moore’s closing words talked about how a lot of big business television studios and movie companies back his movies, even though that’s exactly what he’s against. He talked about how the companies don’t believe that his films can make a change even though they’re sensational successes. Michael Moore said that he was completely convinced of the reverse, that his movies make a difference, they make people get active in politics. The same can be said for this movie. I remember, back in the early days of Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦ persona – about a year into it, to be exact – one of my big things was to follow in the likes of popular figures against Capitalism (M&M being the guy first coming to mind) and speak out against it whenever I could.

And all the damn time, when adults were around to hear my rants (I have a feeling if I had a tape of those things they’d put a giant grin on my face) they would talk about “Bheema, have you seen The Corporation?” “Bheema, I think you would like this movie called The Corporation.” Something to those extents. I never got around to it. Then I’m sitting around during my hiatus this year and thinking to myself “what should be my return movie?” I considered a lot of things. Maybe a re-review from a long time ago. Maybe finishing the Star Wars marathon. And there’s probably a dozen good ideas I can’t even remember at this time. But I thought about something. This isn’t just Bheema Bachus’s Movie Reviews. ‘DIZ SHIT BEIN’ DA ₡₳$h₥₳₦’$ MOVIE REVIEW$. And Da Ca$hman has a mission statement. To take down big corporation, to bring the money, the Cash, to the people. Naturally I chose the IRS as the ultimate enemy. If there’s one movie that characterizes my…character…(need thesaurus) it’s this one.

Zeitgeist Films, ironically not named after that other awesome documentary, picked up this film like a lot of independent movies. This includes such hits as Poison and Jellyfish. Salt addiction raises concerns amongst some mothers. The Corporation is their second biggest hit, at a worldwide gross of $4.6 Million. So if each movie ticket cost $10, which means that 460,000 people saw it. At least. Considering part of the ticket goes to the theater it’s probably closer to seven hundred thousand. And of course, that doesn’t count it’s DVD Sales or anybody who saw it through free legal download – public domain material ladies and gents.

It’s on YouTube, Internet Archive, etc. I’m sure it also got attention for awards from the Sundance Film Festival  and the IDFA. It has 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic (typically the negative between the two by a far margin) has a 73%. Magazines like Variety and Chicago-Sun Times (translation: Roger Ebert) gave it very favorable reviews. The Economist had a few nitpicks, but it was mostly “they needed to cover ALL THE BASES!!!! [even the ones that aren’t relevant!!!!!]” C’mon guys. The movie’s already two and a half hours long. Robert D. Hare, who’s analogies were used in the film, had a few harsh words that his way to diagnose corporations as psychopaths was misused. He seemed to also want the film to say “oh, but, this isn’t 100%. Not EVERYBODY is bad.” Well duh home slice. Everybody who’s intelligent enough to watch a documentary knows that.

TVOnatrio had the film made into an extended edition that was separated into three one hour long parts. Awesome! The DVD had a ton of deleted material, let’s say, 17 deleted scenes, 165 bonus clips, commentaries, Q&As, the works.

And, like I said, people are talking. So I think I need to say something before I log off. That ad up there. That one. Probably advertising Google or Netflix or something about it. Don’t click it. Ever. Go download Adblock for Firefox or Chrome or whatever you happen to use and never view an ad for a corporation on the internet again.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

The last round of the M32

A NEW MILLENIUM

In 1985, despite some tribulation, The Return of Godzilla was released. Known as Godzilla 1985 in America, and just Godzilla in production, it was the first Godzilla flick that Japan had seen in nine years. In America, it was the first time a Godzilla flick had been released in seven years for some…but for the average person, it was the first time in thirteen years. That’s a long time for hardcore G-Fans. (Boy, don’t we know it? Eight years and the modern fan is foaming in the mouth.) The film was essentially a modern tribute to the original flick, as it was first conceived in 1977 to be a remake of King of the Monsters. It stars Raymond Burr, now just Mr. Martin, because the actor Steve Martin was popular.

It got panned. Hard. The American dub version was universally hated by critics, receiving blasts of hate from Roger Ebert, Vincent Canby, so and so forth. The film did make back its budget and then some, but it was spread too thin between distributing and production companies that nobody really got a legitimate paycheck. It became slightly profitable for the American dubbers through the VHS tape, but that’s about it. So when Godzilla vs. Biollante was created, it was restricted to television and VHS tapes in the USA. It became a cult classic, but was the last Godzilla film to be released in America in the nineties. The entire Hesei series would be ignored here. Even though we got some pretty good flicks.

In 1995, Godzilla was killed. This was done for the reason of making room for the American version, which was already delayed. It was supposed to be released in 1993 alongside Jurassic Park, where Godzilla fought a Griffin that was reminiscent of King Ghidorah. The news broke everywhere. Everybody was in panic when Godzilla supposedly died. Like when Superman supposedly died. Everybody was shocked. Even though they didn’t get these movies in America, it was a cultural icon that everybody had come to know and love. The time for mourning had begun…and the land of the rising sun would be New York.

THAT MOVIE SUCKED.

So when the Matthew Broderick movie sucked massive reptilian testicles, Toho quickly stroke back. Godzilla 2000 was released, a movie that ignored all continuity ever, and introduced not only a more Americanized Godzilla (way to go Toho) but also the alien thingy called Orga. This film had much more success than the predecessor fifteen years ago. It has a Certified Fresh rating with top critics at 71%, and the profits were much more considerable. That said, the general audience took disdain because they expected a sequel to the shitty action blockbuster they had gotten a couple years ago.

Toho decided to remain humble (a poor decision) and only release their movies theatrically in Japan. Their next films would include Godzilla vs. Megagirus and Godzilla X King Ghidorah X Mothra: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. These films completely obliterated continuity in the series, only acknowledging the original Gojira flick. Between the two, GMK was far more successful, showing that established icons were more palatable than new opponents. So Toho would bring a brand new but familiar face to the fray.

REVIEW

I typically don’t talk about plots and set-ups. I find those to be tedious and redundant. But this…this is something you gotta hear. Especially if you don’t know the story. The previous Millennium films (aside from Godzilla 2000) established that there was just the first Godzilla movie before this. But this movie establishes that not only did Godzilla attack in 1954, but also in 1966 and 1999. However, these attacks are clearly NOT Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster or Godzilla 2000, as there is no mention of Ebirah or Orga nor do the stories match up. So they’re entirely new stories.

Apparently, we’ve also suffered attacks from Mothra and Gaira (Frankenstein’s kid) but nobody else. Not even Frankenstein. Most sporadic Kaiju attacks in movie history. Make me eat my words, I dare you. Then, they are able to find Godzilla’s skeleton (nearly 50 years later) and construct a robot around the [nearly 50 year old] skeleton. But they don’t just built it with ones and zeroes like normal computers, they use ALL FOUR BASES OF DNA! YIPPIE! Then they also implement an absolute zero beam in its chest, using all sorts of science destroying goodies. Finally, it’s established that DNA brings back memories (hello Assassin’s Creed) and Kiryu (aka “Not Mechagodzilla”) remembers being Gojira, so it goes “FUCK ALL YOUR SHIT” and runs bananas.

Bringing in Kiryu to the series was a highly influential decision. While maybe Mechagodzilla was more popular long-term, Kiryu got a giant boost of popularity in the short-term. Not just a cult classic like Megalon, I mean he became the next King Ghidorah in a matter of weeks. Instantly he replaced the Hesei model of Mechagodzilla in Destroy All Monsters Melee. A lot of it goes to his look. Like if you took the shine of the Hesei model, the rough and edgy feel of the Showa model, and gave him a Godzilla sized shot of steroids. But equally the cause is his look, his backstory, and his powers. The guy shoots lightning out of his mouth, like King Ghidorah, yet makes it his own so well. He shoots ICE BEAMS out of his fucking mouth. He can shoot missiles out of his arms! Yeah, the old one shot missiles out of his fingers, but that was Power Rangers level artillery. This is what every Call of Duty player would orgasm playing as. He is a pure badass, and possibly the best monster of the Millennium series.

Godzilla has gotten a major upgrade. In Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs. Megagirus, he was everything Godzilla would be if he was shot in the back with realism and steroids, but his green skin and orange fire made people remember the Matthew Broderick flick. In Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah, he returned to the classic model with an upgraded fire beam that’s essentially a Kamehameha wave, but he was the skinniest he’s ever been and let’s face it those Undertaker eyes are pretty cheesy. Now he’s a fighting black beast from the underwater underworld, ready to blast your ass – but clearly still Godzilla and not a cheap knock-off. Fans who grew up with flicks like Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S., Final Wars, and all the tie-in DVDs remember this model of Godzilla, and for very good reason.

“Adults say they think life is important, but they don’t mean it.” – Sara

When it comes to the moral or message in Godzilla flicks, the majority of the time there is absolutely no subtlety. They spell it out for you at the end of the movie without attempting to illustrate it visually in the previous remainder. Around the turn of the twenty-first century, Toho began to step-up their writing staff in acknowledgement of the original product that started this franchise. (And one of merely two franchises that got them famous.) No, it’s no Lord of the Flies caliber story, but it has a lot of moments. There is a clear visual parallel between the Sleeping Plant and Kiryu’s skeleton. It’s hinted at A LOT but it’s never fully spelled out.

Kiryu as a robot takes on more of a life than many organic monsters in the series’s past. The ability to show emotions without speech or changing the facial structure of a creature is impressive for a studio that once produced The Mysterians in the same cannon. The most blatant thing they do in these scenes is change his eye color. Plus, a lot of the stuff that is told and not shown is so rarely talked about in monster movies – or Hell, movies in general – that it doesn’t bug me nearly as much as before. Bottom line, if you could cherry pick five of the deepest Godzilla films, this movie would be on that list.

Probably some of the drawbacks come with the human characters. I know Sony was extremely lazy with the subtitles, but that’s the only option available in America aside from the DUBBED version. The fact that we see lines like “GO GET HIM! IMMEDIATELY!” from military generals is very distracting. I don't think the Japanese language could be that different due to the closeness of the dubs and subs in time. The actors themselves are bland. At this point in time (if any) it’s not expected that serious actors would want a Godzilla role. But you could at least hire people who care about it. Instead, you get wannabes who are thinking about how they should have gotten a more esteemed role. The actors seem distracted, they seem to shoe-horn it in, the only person who this doesn’t apply to is probably the little kid Sara, and she’s probably off in her own little world anyways.

But let’s get back to the fun stuff. Monsters destroying cities? Hot damn, do we have it. But we don’t just have it, we got the prime-rib and cut off the fat. We didn’t waste time making Godzilla slow, making him flap around like an autistic child. Instead, he basically shoots rapid Kamehameha waves, moves as fast as a beast this damn big could, and kicks some major ass. He doesn’t destroy that damn pagoda, no he goes where it hurts and makes a big fight with the G-Force. (Or so they’ve been dubbed by fans.) There’s even this amazing scene – which I won’t spoil – that references a scene from Gojira. It’s done in a way that a casual fan probably wouldn’t get, but if you’ve seen the original enough times you get it. Even Kiryu has his own little rampage. And what’s that? You wanna talk about the fight scenes? You wanna talk about The King of the Monsters vs. The King of the Mechas?

 …Well….it’s okay…I guess. It’s kind of like if Hulk and Superman had a fight. A very slow fight with a lot of high spots. There are three types of attacks in this fight: Beam attacks (you just know that they were making a video game this year), really retarded body attacks, and the most absurdly powerful throws I’ve ever seen in my world. If this fight was a mere seven throws the entire county would be dead. Undead, possibly. Maybe even deader. It feels like good material to make a custom AMV that would mix with other Godzilla flicks, but this final fight on itself is kind of weak. Sad for a movie that could have been so much. You sacrifice all the cool human moves when you start using giant puppets.

Overall, this film is a lot of fun, but with too many big errors to be considered a highlight or awesome. While it has excellent monster design, really good city destruction, a well-made visual spectrum and [relatively] deep themes, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla gets held back by a cheesy score, a 5x more cheesy cast, a 50x more cheesy script and a lackluster fight scene. 3.8/5....So what happens next? I can’t really do an AFTERMATH section. Talking about just Tokyo S.O.S. and Final Wars wouldn’t be fulfilling. I can tell you I plan to continue this marathon of marathons next year, but it will be a meek. Trust me, in the future, there is something happening. Something big.

HAIL THE KING.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off. M32 signing off.

The Scorpion King (2002)

The King took his head. – Motorhead

PART ONE: THE ROCK DON’T COOK NO MORE

In the year 2000, the WCW had expired their entertainment with their last great moment – Psycho Sid drop-kicking off the second rope and breaking both of his legs. There were many rumors as to who was going to buyout WCW, as WWF had officially beaten them, and Ted Turner had shown no more interest in the product. Ted, however, was still rich, and was in charge of Time Warner prior to the merger with AOL. Eric Bishoff would make a bid, and the general opinion stated that WCW would continue. However, when one of WCW’s main backers dropped out of the project, Eric was rejected by Ted.

Behind closed doors, WWF was talking with soon to be new in-charge of Time Warner, Jamie Kellner. When he gained full control, he deemed WCW to be an out-of-date product for the company’s image, and cancelled all WCW programming on their channels. WWF then proceeded, with a much lower buying price, to purchase WCW and ECW combined. Vince McMahon was able to purchase all trademarks, video libraries and a few contracts. The original WCW company was left open as Universal Wrestling Corporation, but its only purpose to deal with old contracts that technically still existed.

At WrestleMania X-Seven, where we ended last time, a wave of attacks by WCW superstars began in the storylines. First was Lance Storm, followed by Hugh Morres (Bill DeMott), but these were simply debuts of heels. When Booker T came in and attacked Vince McMahon from the back of the head with a scissor kick, J.R. screamed “THE BATTLE LINES HAVE BEEN DRAWN!” And the Invasion angle officially began. On July 23rd, 2001, Stone Cold Steve Austin continued his heel turn. He joined the Alliance, separating from McMahon yet staying heel, going with the invading team. He cited Kurt Angle being groomed as the next WWF Champ as reason, along with his friendship with the WCW/ECW Alliance. Vince McMahon would also call up The Rock on the phone behind Austin’s back to show up to RAW ever since he had been indefinitely suspended by Steve Austin and Triple H.

On July 26th, 2001, Mr. McMahon extended the invitation to The Rock. At the end, The Rock returned, as he had filmed the weirdest Mummy movie ever. (I saw the ’69 movie.) The Rock was then assaulted by the McMahon family, each of them bribing him to join their respective team. He would give a Rock Bottom to Mr. McMahon, and give a People’s Elbow to Shane. He announced that he was with the WWF. He then fought Booker T for the WCW Championship at SummerSlam, giving one of the most important moments that buried WCW forever. He looked at one of the biggest stars for WCW, and mouthed “who are you?” Bam. That’s why Sting didn’t join the WWF…The Rock would retain his championship for two months. On a RAW, Y2J would attack The Rock from behind, citing himself as The Rock’s friend. They fought backstage. The feud built up to No Mercy, where The Rock lost his belt.

On November 5th, The Rock would regain his title belt against Y2J. He joined a winner take all match at Survivor Series, which was a long fought battle, but put an end to the WCW/ECW Alliance once and for all, after Steve Austin turned face again and eliminated Chris Jericho. The years passed with Chris Jericho continuing to feud with The Rock. Their feud would have its final battle at Vengeance 2001, where Chris Jericho would beat both Steve Austin and The Rock to gain BOTH the WCW Championship and the WWF Championship. He would become WWF’s first Undisputed Champion.

He lost his rematch with Chris Jericho at 2002’s Royal Rumble, and would go on to have very short random rivalries. He would face off against The Undertaker at No Mercy, and would challenge Hulk Hogan to a match at WrestleMania X8. He would feud with the original three members of the New World Order (those being Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.) This ended in an Icon vs. Icon match at WrestleMania X8, where Hulk Hogan would do the job for Dwayne Johnson. He would leave the WWF again to film…his new movie…

SECTION TWO: THE KING IS CROWNED

You know, I had a little trouble during this movie. Could somebody explain the plot to me? I got about this much: There’s this dude, and he’s a bounty hunter for some sort of clan. He was hired (by who?) to kill somebody (why?) but would rather have her alive (why? Because she’s hot?) He meets a crazy professor who’s clearly a combo rip-off of Albert Einstein and Dr. Emmet Brown (or so I’d like to believe) and a villain who wants him dead because…I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t know, it’s kind of late at night, but, I figure if it was this hard to figure out what was going on for me in a cheap action flick it means that there was a major lack of plot.

The Rock is pretty damn cool. He gives off the signature vibe he did in the WWF, yet he's still able to do so without being "The Rock" that people know from pro wrestling. He’s more of a Mathayus played by The Rock, rather than The Rock playing Mathays. He’s damn good at movie action, which is actually easier than wrestling, like The Rock said. With the crap material he’s handed, he attempts to merge his body movements and vocal tones to the best of his ability. Too bad his face is in that eternal “I’m The Rock and I’m looking at something ten miles in front of me” stare.

Everybody else is pure crap. There’s a comedic side character that has 10x less potency than Porky Pig. At least he’s not racist, thank the Goddamn evil Devil. The lady character has some decent stuff (being damn merciful) but she’s really just there to be a pretty face. If the fact her debut scene is her wet, hot, naked and (not) willing doesn’t say something, than I don’t know what would. There are a couple of random kids that are featured in their own bits so prominently that you assume they’ll be major characters, but NOPE. Just there to fill time, maybe foreshadow to some sort of sequel they plan[ned] to do. Oh, and probably the third most important character is a Goddamn Camel. And, unfortunately, it’s not The Great Lesbian Camel in the Sky.

The villain is probably the second best part of this movie, as far as people go. I’m not sure how they thought an English person would fit in the Middle East, but then again, The Rock is half black and half Samoan, let alone the fact that he was born and raised in the USA. Yeah, Hollywood makes a lot of sense. Steve Brand is the main antagonist, his character’s name Memnon. And you know, as cool as Steven Brand is, I just didn’t give a damn. I think that’s the biggest problem we’ve got here. I don’t give a damn about the characters. I look at The Rock, and I look at Steven Brand, and really I think I look at everybody in this movie and say “these are well-trained actors. They can do stuff.” The problem is that the stuff their script is made out of is more cliché than a Brendan Frazer monster movie and a Universal Studios theme park ride mashed together.

Anybody who’s alert and typically watches any sort of movie could probably call every line and event in the entire movie with ease. It’s really damn stupid sometimes. The action scenes are kind of cool, though. No, they don’t have any real chemistry. Stand-offs are extremely unrealistic and ridiculous, and physics are broken left and right. But if you would like seeing an Egyptian castle being blown up by a chain of non-existent bombs, than you might enjoy the climax of this film. And, unless I missed it, there isn’t any real showing of SFX to be critiqued. I kinda see this as a plus for this movie, because the first two Mummy movies were heavily dated with their CGI.

The music is probably the best part of the movie, outside of The Rock. John Debney, known for movies like Spider-Man 2, Machete, Iron Man 2, Dream House, Predators, End of Days, and some other cheesy action movies, brings to us an appropriate soundtrack filled with clichés and conventions that, refined for the modern connoisseur, has the potential talent to be something legitimate and celebrated as the years go on. And besides, they got fucking Godsmack to do the theme song. That’s pretty Goddamn cool. Yeah, that’s about it. Throw away action flick, nothing special. See the Godsmack music video if you really want to cut to the good stuff. 2.8/5

SECTION THREE: THE ROCK IS NOW DWAYNE JOHNSON

Returning to the WWE, The Rock would earn his seventh WWE Championship, which set a record for that single title. He would successfully defend his championship at Global Warming against Brock Lesnar and Triple H. Dwayne Johnson, who previously was the youngest WWE Champion, would lose the title belt to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2002, making Brock Lesnar the youngest world champion. Again, passing the torch. He would again take a hiatus from wrestling in order to work on his “movie.” (This time The Rundown, aka Welcome to the Jungle.)

The Rock would come back, full heel, criticizing Hulk Hogan and blasting the fans, acting like a smug sellout, showing that the WWE was not his primary focus anymore, as his Hollywood career took off. He would go on and defeat Hulk Hogan at No Way Out 2003. The Rock would then feud with newcomer The Hurricane and have fake concerts making fun of the cities they toured in. He would feud with Steve Austin after losing a WHC No. 1 Contenders match, which lead up to WrestleMania XIX. After Steve Austin won the last two matches, The Rock was finally able to beat Steve Austin at WrestleMania. This was Steve Austin’s last major wrestling appearance in his main career.

The Rock would then be attacked from behind by Bill Goldberg, making his WWE debut, then next night on RAW. They would feud and The Rock would do the job to Goldberg at Backlash 2003. The Rock would take another hiatus in order to work on Walking Tall. He would come back only for one night only appearances, having single day feuds with people the likes of Chris Jericho and Christian. The Rock would then attempt to assist Mick Foley, and they would re-form the Rock N’ Sock Connection. The Rock’s final match of his major career in the WWE was at WrestleMania XX, which was Mick Foley and the Rock vs. Triple H, Ric Flair, Batista and Randy Orton.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Mummy Returns (2001)

ENTER THE ROCK.

PART ONE: AFTERMATH OF THE MUMMY

In the wake of the 90’s resurgence of classic monsters, we had Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Wolf, An American Werewolf in Paris, The Pit and the Pendulum, House on Haunted Hill, House of Frankenstein, Nadja, Body Snatchers, From Dusk ‘till Dawn (vampires), Night of the Living Dead, Frankenstein Unbound, Psycho IV, and this marathon’s very own aborted review, Tale of the Mummy. The majority of these films weren’t very good (save a couple of classics) however they brought significant success and raised new interests in their classic counterparts.

But now we enter The Mummy in 1999. This film becomes the exception to the rule. Despite being not very good like the others, it creates some massive financial success and only helped to bury it’s UMM counterpart.  The story had been completely re-invented, lacking any detail good or bad from the original films. Anybody watching Lugosi’s Dracula after seeing F2C’s Dracula found similar themes in a very different time, where here anybody who was a fan of Brendan Frazer and watched the Boris Karloff movie would be bored out of their minds. Very, very, unfortunately.

The majority of people saw the movie as a fun, lower class B-Movie, okay but not great. (Which meant they thought it sucked.) Critic Roger Ebert brings one of the more honest approaches to this opinion. "There is hardly a thing I can say in its favor, except that I was cheered by nearly every minute of it. I cannot argue for the script, the direction, the acting or even the mummy, but I can say that I was not bored and sometimes I was unreasonably pleased." He ended up giving the film a 3/4 in his review entry in the Chicago Sun Times. Mighty high for something that only made you smile, ain’t it, Bobby?

Another critic who seemed to saw the light but gave it a misleading rating was Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly. He gave it a B-, yet went on to say "The Mummy would like to make you shudder, but it tries to do so without ever letting go of its jocular inconsequentiality." Jeez. I thought B- meant above average. Bob Graham would give the film high marks for the acting and special effects, fair in argument (though I’d counter) but he seems to avoid any other points in his ratings.

These confused reviews have given The Mummy a bit of a false impression as a legitimate classic instead of a cult classic to many cinematic consumers. On Rotten Tomatoes, It holds a 55% from the critics, which is higher than it really deserves, and holds a whopping 75% from the general reviews. But when you go to the top critics, the movie takes an 11% downfall, going to 44%. I think the best critic of this film of them all is Stephen Holden from The New York Times. Here’s what he had to say:

"This version of The Mummy has no pretenses to be anything other than a gaudy comic video game splashed onto the screen. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark with cartoon characters, no coherent story line and lavish but cheesy special effects. Think Night of the Living Dead stripped of genuine horror and restaged as an Egyptian-theme Halloween pageant. Think Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy grafted onto a Bing Crosby-Bob Hope road picture (The Road to Hamunaptra?) and pumped up into an epic-size genre spoof."........Damn, he went even harder than I did.

The Austin Chronicle and The Dallas Observer would attempt to give The Mummy a clean name along with Stephen Holden, talking about a lack of a coherent storyline and how it relied so heavily on SFX. Jump Cut felt that ILM’s massive hold on the movie proved to be its ultimate downfall. USA Today and BFI would criticize the stereotypes in the film. USAT would say that "If someone complains of a foul odor, you can be sure an Arab stooge is about to enter a scene. Fraser, equally quick with weapon, fist or quip, may save the day, but even he can't save the picture.”

In conclusion to this section of this review, it can be simply stated that the film ruined the dark mood of the original to make a theme park attraction. Both in the movie, and at Universal Studios.

PART TWO: CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE SCORPION KING IS COOKING?

Oh. Fuck. Yes. I. Get. To. Talk. About. Wrestling. On. This. Website. Let’s. Do. This.

In 1996, Rocky Malvia debuted in the WWF. He began as a babyface, dressed in colorful attire, and was the blandest piece of shit the company had seen since Lex Luger. Chants of a crowd that still had a smigen of hope that wrestling was real would be mostly “DIE! ROCKY! DIE!” Down South, The WCW, with characters like Sting, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, so on and so forth, was beating the shit out of the WWF. Vince McMahon’s company was still largely kid friendly, which lost the attention of grown fans. Those grown fans would show their kids a company that they enjoyed, which was a company that went all out. Cages on top of cages, explosions, one hundred man matches. Not to mention, ECW was the biggest underground company at the time, and they went insane. P.M. Me on Facebook and I’ll share a video with you.

So in 1997, the WWF had finished re-dressing. The arena was no longer pinkish and blue but black and red. Personalities like Kane had debuted, DX had formed, Mike Tyson was getting involved, and The Undertaker had went Goth. In 1997, The Montreal Screwjob happened, which would make Vince McMahon the major villain of the company. Stone Cold Steve Austin, the rebel, would rival with the most power-hungry character in the business, forming the companies second most important rivalry. In addition, The Nation of Domination, now headed by The Rock, was going nuts. The Nation of Domination would merge with The Corporation, which would feud with Steve Austin and The Ministry of Darkness, and The Rock was officially a heel. And, oddly enough, that’s what got him over. He was so Goddamn cool as a heel that people couldn’t help but cheer for him.

In the heated rivalries between the WWF and the WCW, the WCW would often spoil taped broadcasts of the WWF on their own live television show. They would be able to do this with having certain insiders in the business. On January 4th, 1999, Tony Schiavone of WCW announced on their television program that Mankind was going to win the WWF Championship from The Rock. He then added sarcastically, with full confidence in the main event of Hulk Hogan vs. Kevin Nash, “that’ll put a lot of butts in seats.” It did. WCW Monday Nitro never beat Monday Night RAW in the ratings again.

In the year 2000, Vince McMahon was beginning to look towards the future. Triple H had been separated from the Corporation, and as he got older, his character evolved to appeal to a more hardcore audience. The Rock would do the job to Triple H at WrestleMania 2000, and from there Triple H became the biggest star in the business from the years of 2002-2007. The Rock would win the WWF Championship at Backlash, the month after, but still that’s a much smaller stage. Plus, he only won with intervention from Stone Cold Steve Austin. Triple H won the title again at Judgment Day in an Iron Man Match, with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee, and Undertaker interfering. The Rock won his fifth reign in a six-man match with him, Kane, The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Triple H. Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Triple H.

The Rock would lose the belt to Kurt Angle early the next year, and he would pursue the tag team championships before entering another six-man match with Rikishi, Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Triple H and Steve Austin. Kurt Angle would retain, but would eventually lose the belt to The Rock at No Way Out 2001. He would feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Championship, and their feud would have exhibited their final collision at WrestleMania X-7. Triple H would come down, promising to aid The Rock, but instead aiding Stone Cold Steve Austin. Steve Austin and Triple H would become the two-man power-trip, turning them both effectively heel and partnering Steve Austin with Vince McMahon. (A bad decision if I ever saw one.) The Rock was storyline indefinitely suspended by the two-man power-trip, so that The Rock could “film his new movie.”

PART THREE: THE MUMMY RETURNS…AND HE’S NOT ALONE

(SPOILERS AHEAD, BE PREPARED)

Okay…so…ummm….I umm….I don’t even…Okay, you know, it was all fine and good in the beginning. Kind of a rushed backstory, but a creative one, even if inspired. The Rock does good in the opening scene. The special effects are kind of crap this time around, I mean, they’re worse than the previous one, which is not a good sign no matter what kind of movie you’re doing. The fact that this movie just kind of admits that Anubis is a full time real player in this whole thing is kind of a shock, but then again, haven’t we had enough Egyptian mythology to go through that?

You get to Brendan Frazer, and he’s doing good, he’s more original in this movie, although occasionally you’ll get moments that are even worse at imitating Indiana Jones than in the first one. His love interest is much better in this movie. She can handle herself better (though not entirely) and most of her feminine stereotypes have been removed. The ones that remain are a result of her motherhood. The kid’s crap. He’s everything that Hollywood wants you to believe is annoying about children. Least it isn’t as annoying as real children…Jesus Christ. Do you some of the stuff, man? Any parents out there?

Imhotep is vastly improved. I am very pleased! First off, the name of his love interest is a much more present factor in the film, and this made me happy as a fan of the classic films. Not to mention, the whole reincarnation storyline is actually used in this movie, even if it’s twisted and rearranged. Imhotep is still unnecessarily evil, which was a problem I had in the last movie. But now he’s a lot more cunning, and all of his actions are done for reason. He’s not just a creature (he is referred to as a creature once, but only once) but more of a greedy, plotting emperor. He feels much more like a human than a bear.

Then things start to get weird. It starts off with a black stereotype named Izzy, who may or may not have been in the last movie I don’t really remember. He apparently would shave the hair off of his entire body, Hell have it waxed, for a golden spear. Granted, I would really like a golden spear, but I would pass if my hair was at stake. Then again, I do live in that Boulder Bubble….but Hell, it gets weird. So now he has a hot air balloon because “airplanes are old news” in 1933. (ONE YEAR OFF YOU IDIOTS.) So they take off, and it makes remote sense, granted a million potholes, but it’s okay. I can handle. Then they’re in space. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they’re in outer space. No helmets, no gear, just they’re flying in a hot air balloon in space. What the actual fuck.

Somewhere along the way they get chased by a giant wave with a face, and I was thinking “GOD DAMMIT WHY DIDN’T THEY PLAY RAGE OF POSEIDON!?!?” but then I realized that that song hadn’t been made yet. Then there’s a bunch of skeleton gremlins who are apparently natives to the oasis’ of Egypt and I’m allaike “yeah, this is racist alright.” Then there’s like, these clouds, that like, they’re allaike, they make the ground like frozen lava or some shit when they’re over, and then the frozen lava turns into giant Anubis’s and I’m allaike “whaddafuq….” But then there’s like a giant pyramid that looks suspiciously like the one on the one dollar bill and I’m allaike “would’ve been better if it was offdah three dollah bill, y’all.”

So then The Rock comes back to life, and he’s alliaike “CAN YA SMELLLLAH WHAT THE KING IS COOKING?!?!” But then I’m allaike “Nothing?” And then you guyz are allaike “no, man, we no get your Metallica references.” The Rock is allaike a giant scorpion and I’m allaiek “NO, DUDE, THAT IS THE FUCKING STUPIDIEST THING THAT HAS BEEN IN ALL THESE MOVIES. OOH, HE’S A SCORPION KING, LIKE, LITERALLY. FUCK THAT SHIT MAN. FUCK THAT SHIT.” So then Brendan, Imhotep and The Rock have a final boss fight and I’m allaike “Dude…We have a fake Indiana Jones, The Rock, The Mummy, Ardeth Bay, Poseidon, a million Anubis’, and Zombie Gremlins. THIS IS FUCKING AMAZING!!!”

You know, I’m not really sure about this movie. It’s pretty damn imaginative, I can say that much. It feels a lot more like a Hammer movie, taking place in England. I swear to God you can see the police officer that gets used over and over in the old Universal monster movies in a half-second shot. You know, with the overdone mustache and all that good jazz. Some of the shots are stylistically straight out of the Hammer flicks. It’s sort of entertaining. The script’s biggest problem is that the first half of the movie is talking and the second half is action with little variation. That’s not good pacing.

All in all, I have no fucking idea. But I guess if you like action movies that feel like video games, or if you want one of the weirdest accidental mega-crossovers in cinema history, then you’ll probably enjoy it. I know I liked it much better than the first of this new series. The Rating? 3/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Mummy (1999)

IN MANY FORMS SHALL WE RETURN

PART ONE: RESURRECTION

After the Hammer Mummy films died off in 1971, there weren’t very many living mummy movies. There were random ones, The Awakening, The Tomb, Legend of the Mummy, Tale of the Mummy, Scream of the Mummy, but these were all throw-away 3 week popcorn flicks that may or may not have sustained a cult following today. Tale of the Mummy is probably the most notable. Nobody has heard of these movies unless they do extensive research, or they actually saw them in a BlockBuster or – GASP! – a movie theater. The character had become extremely stale.

Next to the sheet ghost made uber popular in E.T., The Mummy made out of toilet paper has become the most popular Halloween costume. Something wrapped in bandages, possessing less strength than a normal human being, this wasn’t scary anymore. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have been scary in the first place, had not the Egyptian curse been associate with it. Long since did everybody know those kind of things were hoaxes, and the original King Tut curse had vanished from public consciousness. These kind of things, along with hunchback zombies, living knights, ghosts, and others, were no longer the subject of serious horror but instead kids shows like Scooby-Doo.

But was that a good thing?

Merchandise and material aimed at children became associated with the classic monsters. Films like Transylvania 6-5000 and The Monster Squad brought new consciousness to their existence. Kids were becoming obsessed with these creatures, Halloween marketed these things to the umpteenth degree, it was a little out of control. Universal re-released all their classic monster movie features on VHS around the late 80’s/early 90’s. Each cost about fifteen bucks, and they gradually released more and more until it would take up an entire bookshelf to feature all those flicks. The commercials targeted children heavily, using an enthusiastic and parodiacal (new words fuck the world) narrator, along with a gradual showcase in a list-like format with colorful icons. Works every damn time.

James Jacks. He’s an important player. In 1992 his filmography read “Raising Arizona.”  Listen, I like Nicolas Cage and all, but that’s not exactly what I’d call hitting the jackpot in Hollywood and all. However, what was probably way more important at the time was Bram Stoker's Dracula. Along with The Bride and An American Werewolf in London, this was by far the most recent in a slew of movies making the UMMs serious and cool again. So, he approaches Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment with the proposal to revitalize The Mummy for a modern audience. The companies gave him the green-light, on the condition that the budget would remain under ten million dollars. The idea being that it would be a low-budget horror franchise in the style of Hellraiser or Child’s Play. To give you an idea, today that money would be a slight increase to $15,787,842.40. While something as simple as Wayne’s World would have double the dough in the same year.

Lil’ Jimmy would then recruit Clive Barker, ironically, known for Hellraiser. Clive wanted to make the movie a gore fest spectacle for the ages, centering around an art museum director who is secretly attempting to bring bodies to life. According to James, it also featured plenty of sex and voodoo shit. Or so I paraphrase. Jimmy and Clive brought the film up to Universal and Amblin Entertainment, and they rejected it because they had lost interest. They parted ways, flipping middle fingers as they went. George A. Romero would step into the gauntlet, promoting a bloody zombie film, but Universal was allaike “dude, remember we make money here.”

Then you enter Joe Dante, known for Piranha, The Howling, Gremlins 2 and Amazon Women on the Moon. Perfect guy for the job, right? A cultish, monster movie fan who would do for a tenth of ten million. The kind of guy that almost got flesh eating scarabs in the movie. But then you enter Daniel Day Lewis. You know? Lincoln. Gandhi. Gangs of New York. Somewhat….oh, I don’t know….SOPHISTICATED movies? Maybe? Sorta kinda? Not a monster in sight, I think? This guy who played almost all serious dramas was almost cast as Imhoptep ladies and gentlemen.

Joe would bring in John Sayles to bring in mediation. He worked on Joe with a lot of his films, but he was also a novelist and worked on films like Apollo 13. They would co-write the script, and would set the movie in modern times incorporating love stories and voodoo shit. Sounds like we’re getting on the right track, Universal. Hint hint wink wink. Taking those hints and winks, Universal upped the minimum budget to 15 million bucks (now $22,409,360.13) and rejected Joe’s script.

Mick Garris, spinning this movie down the cult drain even farther, was attached. This guy was known for such eloquent projects as unnecessary sequels to good movies (Psycho IV) and butchering perfectly functioning novels (The Stand, The Shining) as well as sequels to cult horror flicks (The Fly II, Critters II.) Freddy Krueger would soon slash his ass, and Wes Craven came to the rescue. Craven would soon leave to bring back his main dream God for the umpteenth time (and boy were we glad) and Stephen Sommers would emerge from the dark corner he was hiding in all this time.

PART TWO: ENTER STEPHEN

“[You know, I want this movie to be] as a kind of Indiana Jones or Jason and the Argonauts with the mummy as the creature giving the hero a hard time". Said Mr. Sommers with a confident grin and devilish eyes. He saw the original movie when he was 8 (approximately 1970) and wanted to take the things he liked about it and explode them beyond comprehension. He had wanted to do this since Jack had been attached, but he never really got an opportunity to speak his piece. He wrote an 18 page treatment to Universal, and begged day and night to be attached to this project. He finally got his wish, partially after Universal was falling on hard times…there most recent production being Babe 2. They were so happy with the idea that they increased the budget from fifteen million to 8 MILLION DOLLARS. That is a modern difference of $89,017,583.90 ladies and gentlemen.

You ought to think some of that money would buy you a trip to Egypt, egh? Well, they tried, but they quickly came in contract with an actual living Egyptian Mummy. Because they were as stupid as most characters form the 30’s and 50’s movies, they could not out-run the limping meanace and left the camera back in the car. Thus, they moved out, and we have no proof. Brendan Fraser was last seen in Egypt throwing a stick of dynamite at the Mummy while holding his middle finger and doing his best Tony Montana impression. They wound up in Bum Fuck, Morocco, while they were trying to run away from The Mummy.

Filming there lasted nearly something under half a year. They moved into the desert later, hopefully avoiding all ghost coyotes and previously encountered living mummies. They did not, however, avoid all giant, sentient forty foot tiger heads made of sand. They ventured into this giant tiger head, found a flying carpet, a bunch of gold (so that’s how they were able to raise the budget…) and eventually a magic lamp. They then had to use the flying carpet to avoid The Wrath of Hades. Finally, when they escaped, they rubbed the lamp (if you know what I mean) and wished the genie for a magical drink that could keep them from becoming hydrated in the middle of a damned desert. Didn’t taste very good though….

After the tiger head finally melted down, a ton of excess sand was flung into the air, and sandstorms become a regular problem. Looks like they might have stumbled upon some sort of curse after all. One of the crew members wished for companionship from the genie, and he got a pet snake, scorpion and spider. These were also asexual reproducers, so naturally they become swarms. A few crew members actually got bitten, and their corpses were thrown into the Atlantic Ocean. Some other cast members were kidnapped by The Lord’s Resistance Army, which is secretly allied with Gannondorf, and thus were recruited as hypnotized slaves to take over all of Hyrule for the raping.

…This story I’m about to tell is, surprisingly, not a fabrication of a bored Bheema. Brendan Frazer nearly broke his neck during the scene where his character is hanged (early on in the movie, no spoilers here.) "[Fraser] stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated." Said cast member Rachel Weisz. Now, back with the insanity. Upon finding a volcano, Brendan Frazer came up with the bright idea to have a city hidden inside a volcano. I do not exaggerate. His words are completely as follows, I swear on The Devil’s name:  "A city hidden in the crater of an extinct volcano made perfect sense. Out in the middle of the desert you would never see it. You would never think of entering the crater unless you knew what was inside that volcano." Unfortunately all the dinosaurs they brought with them from Brazil died scared to death by the memory of the volcano.

I think the body count for the construction of this film is somewhere in the forties now. Man, worse than Hurricane Sandy.*

*Get it?

The original fifteen million dollar budget was spent on special effects, leaving the other sixty-five for random crap. Ten of the fifteen million dollars was used bribing George Lucas to let the studio use his special effects company. Industrial Light and Magic reenters the fray! The producers expressed that they wanted to keep The Mummy from looking like any incarnation of Imhotep or Kharis, so that they wouldn’t be compared to earlier Mummy movies. This was a process that took a season and then some. Just like counting votes in Florida. Again, no exaggeration, the request for the appearance of the Mummy was "to be mean, tough, nasty, something that had never been seen by audiences before".

So, naturally, they used the most overused special effects technique as of 1998-forever. CGI was implemented, and The Mummy was filmed using motion capture. This did not stop John Andrew Burton Jr. (or JAB Jr.) from making tons of makeup. JAB Jr. would be quoted in saying "When you see his film image, that's him. When he turns his head and half of his face is missing and you can see right through on to his teeth, that's really his face. And that's why it was so hard to do." Andrew Voodoo, who was essentially the guy cast as The Mummy, described his experience with good humor covering his true anger. "They had to put these little red tracking lights all over my face so they could map in the special effects. A lot of the time I was walking around the set looking like a Christmas tree."

PART THREE: REENTER IMHOTEP – REVIEW OF THE MUMMY

You know, I remember, back when I was younger…somewhere in latter Elementary School I think. Maybe even as young as the 3rd grade. I would look around On Demand, and see titles like Dracula and The Mummy. This was, of course, by the time I had fully established a loving of these classic Universal movies. To my surprise and then disappointment, they were the 90’s movies. I remember watching Bram Stoker’s Dracula and lasting up until he got on the train and started writing in his notebook. Nowadays, I love that movie, and place it in the higher arks of Dracula films. When I would watch the 90’s Mummy, I tried it twice. The first time I made it until Brendon was “hanged.” The other time I made it until just before The Mummy was about to come to life. Unlike Dracula, however, it’s still a piece of crap.

Let’s talk about the good first. Boy, does this film ever have the sure stamp of approval from ILM. Considering this came out in the decade of A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, Men in Black, or even The Matrix, this is REALLY impressive. Possibly the best example of “being ahead of its time” since Jurassic Park. There are some shots where it has that plastic-like feeling, sure, but they are few and far between. Most shots look at least somewhat natural. Not of this world, mind you, synthetic yes, but not jarring in comparison with the rest of the environment. I especially love the shots with sentient sand. The motion of these effects is the least desirable side effect, however the sense of weight is much improved. This makes The Phantom Menace look like a computer game, and it’s THE SAME YEAR with THE SAME SFX TEAM. And less of a budget nonetheless.

Brendan Fraser is a badass. Granted, a by-the-ear rip-off of Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones. But yet, even that must improve his performance. He has plenty of memorable witty lines, especially when he is in jail or on a boat. He feels natural in the situation, or at least as much as the material allows him to be. Basically, I would absolutely love having him as a history teacher. Smart, funny, charming……….am I being a little too….you know? Ah vell. One of the things that holds back Brendon is the dialogue in this movie. It’s choppy, stilted, wooden, and I swear 65% or more of it is exposition. This is extremely condescending from the writer to the audience, it makes it feel like this was meant for a dumber person, and it makes us want to be attached to it less and less. Thus, it becomes more and more boring. There’s a lot of stupid jokes ehre too. Brendan gets the good side of the comedy, but the rest are “HA HA! THEY’RE DUMB, GET IT!??! NO? LET ME SHOW YOU HIS BUCKED TEETH AND HIS ARABIC FACE.”

Yeah, this movie is really damn racist. All the Egyptians are either villains or dumbasses, and all the protagonists are English people who grew up in Egypt. Except for the main character though, he can’t be anything but American. Even though he grew up in Egypt and all, and as far as we know he has no white American lineage in character. This is like 40’s Disney level racism, and it’s in a movie in 1999. Hot damn, I’m blown away that James Cameroon didn’t co-produce this son of a bitch. Doesn’t help that the actors are bad either. One of the things that makes me like Brendan is that he takes crap material and attempts to lift it to his own level. The other actors degrade themselves purposefully to fit the roles, not only lowering the potential quality of the film but also forming content. I don’t like content. OR conformism for that matter. It’s bad enough when the script implies racist, sexist, classist, species-ist stereotypes, but it’s another thing when perfectly capable and liberated actors/actresses conform to them.

The action in this movie is stupid. Granted, it’s flashy and would work in an AMV with Drowning Pool’s Bodies. But is that what we really want in cinema? Material for a music video? Or a video game for that matter, that’s how a lot of this movie feels. Drones, minions, small insect grunts, and a final boss, with tons of stages and plenty of different weapons. With a few puzzles in between. Damn, I’m weirded out that the video game isn’t more popular than the movie. More evidence that these things were added just for the sake of a video game is that they come out of nowhere. You have to have exposition for the action scenes, whereas it should at least be the other way around if no relation. The action scenes should be the result of the conflict that is the result of the exposition. But you throw out the conflict and everything becomes pointless. I mean…there is technically conflict…

Which brings me to my next point. The character of Imhotep is ruined. His motives are so simplistic and gratuitous; Godzilla makes him look like Jason Voorhees. Remember the dialogue in the first movie? Or so? The reason Imhotep was buried alive was because he wasn’t fit for death or life, so they put him somewhere in between. But the flesh eating scarabs in this movie are just there for shock value, it doesn’t have any logic behind it. Not to mention, any possible explanation for his living is completely left out. When he rises, he shit-storms on everybody. The original Imhotep wouldn’t do that. He was a smart, non-malicious thinker who was confused about love and wanting to live in the past. Imhotep in this movie is an evil, revenge filled murderer. A simplistic antagonist if I ever saw one. Damn, at least they got the Ananka name right.

…You know, I was totally up for revisiting the series in a new way. I knew it would be more action oriented and it wouldn’t really be my thing. But, damn. This is like Indiana Jones: The Video Game: The Movie with hateful parody of the original Mummy movie. It’s script feels rushed, amateurish and painfully conventional, it’s actors are deplorable in their efforts (aside from good ol’ Brendan), its dialogue is stilted and artificial…but the SFX and music are kinda nice. I hate to give this movie such a bad review. After all, it did bring The Mummy back into light. All of my friends love it. I typically agree with my friends on movies. Other movies all my friends love are Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Young Frankenstein. Hell, it’s not uncommon to hear my high school friends talking about Casablanca. My friends also hate Avatar and Titanic. But this…I just…I disapprove. 2.3/5.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Sayonara Jupiter (1984)

The Final Entry in Toho’s second Space Opera Trilogy

XTRA STUFF

Latitude Zero cashed in on stuff like Star Trek, James Bond and 2001, and the material in that movie exhibits it. The War in Space cashed in on pretty much all that stuff and Star Wars, and the material there shows it off. Sayonara Jupiter is now cashing full-on Return of the Jedi and 2010: The Year we Make Contact. However, this movie, like the 2001/2010saga, was also adapted from a then popular novel of the same name. Like Mothra, not many have read the original novel, even though it is highly considered better and more of an epic. Before we begin the opinionated section of this review, I would like to pay tribute to a valued actor.

Akihiko Hirata was born in Kyogo, South Korea on December 26th 1927. He was Born into a wealthy family who had been previously educated at Tokyo University’s School of Interior Design. His education began in a kindergarten founded by a war-time Japanese Imperial Army. He continued through a university which was Tokyo’s answer to West Point. Completely changing course, he pursued a career in entertainment. He started in acting, his first roles being Embrace and The Mighty Shed Tears. He also experimented in still photography, which would give him experience later for being an assistant director.

He caught Ishiro Honda’s attention. He tasted him in his 1954 Farewell to Rabaul. Honda, being impressed, casted him in one of the most iconic roles in film history: Dr. Serizawa. His performance was so amazing that he earned respect amongst all Japanese directors at the time, everybody being absolutely pleased to cast him. He was also loved by all actors who worked with him. Basically, employee of the month for twenty-five or so years straight. He would go on to have a gigantic filmography. He would be cast in the second and third Samurai films, Rodan, The Mysterians, The H-Man, Mothra, Gorath, Sanjuro, Atragon, Ultraman, Latitude Zero, Prophecies of Nostradamus, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Ghidrah the Three Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla. In other words, Toho would not be an empire if it weren’t for this man.

In Bye Bye Jupiter, he can be seen watching Ghidrah the Three Headed Monster, featuring a much younger version of himself. He helped promotion with what would usher in a new era in kaiju films, The Return of Godzilla. His career was born with the beginning of the original Showa era of monster films, and he would die with it. On July 25th 1984, Akihiko Hirata died after along battle with lung cancer, unable to begin filming Godzilla 1985.

R.I.P. AKIHIKO HIRATA, aka DR. SERIZAWA, DECEMBER 26 1927 – JULY 25 1984, AGE 57.

REVIEW

One of the first things you can notice in this movie is the score. The two major themes of this movie are essentially the opening to 2001 and the opening to the Star Trek TV series. But it’s classy. It’s got that charm that says, “yeah, we’re ripping off these movies, but we also know that you know we’re ripping off these movies.” They don’t expect it to pass as its own material, it’s almost like a tribute in that way. The rest of the soundtrack is mostly MIA, but randomly you’ll have a few songs with vocals that are more or less reducing the subtlety. Despite some of their preachy lyrics, they sound very beautiful and have not you paid attention to what it’s saying you can really get into eat.

The peachiness in the entire movie is really toned down. Aside from the songs there are a couple moments where the debate is flat-out explained, but there really is a sense they tried to up the subtlety here compared to their usual fair. There’s actually some symbolism in this movie, some foreshadowing, some metaphor, and some things which I can’t even decipher. Even when they’re being preachy, which is really rare, most of these scenes are freaking cool anyways. One example is a scene where the main protagonist and his love interest have sex in space. Sex being loosely defined.

I love the look of this movie. Space looks beautiful and expansive when it needs to be, and other times it feels confined and comfortable for the sake of bringing it back to home. It’s no Star Wars…but it’s actually kind of close. I love the scenes taken straight out of that franchise where we get the long viewing of the spaceship as its orbits through space, Hell the spaceships themselves are pretty fantastic. Some even more original than you’d expect. One of those spaceships is the Jupiter Ghost, which, in terms of size, is this movie’s Death Star. It is this big, “lifeless” mass that just sort of hangs out in the planet. It’s big, it’s black, it’s detailed, it looks like an imperial star destroyer, but it’s just so mysterious. It’s meditative in and of itself. Jupiter itself is gorgeous, they got it right down.

The physics make absolutely no sense, but that doesn’t matter when you basically have a made for IMAX documentary playing in your living room. The orange clouds and violent storms on the planet are absolutely gorgeous; it feels like the final frontier. Yet they also analyze the fact that the final frontier for us is nowhere near the final frontier for everything, more or less subtlety. And hey, Earth exists, doesn’t it? They chose one beautiful beach for this movie…and that’s the beginnings of some of the negatives. There’s not a lot of different scenes. The movie runs at a slower, calmer pace, which makes perfect sense. But if you want to do that, change it up a little bit. I think I saw that one beach twice more than can count, and that was the only Earthly location. C’mon. None of eighteen billion people live in the mountains or the desert or the wetlands?

Akihiko plays Eiji Honda, an obvious but still charming and affectionate tribute to Tsuburya and Ishiro. He, unfortunately, is probably one of the lesser entertaining characters. He is very stone-faced throughout the movie and his vocal expressions do not change to any legitimate degree. But I can forgive him, because, let’s face it, when you’re battling lung cancer you’re not exactly going to play an Oscar winning performance. Maria in this movie may also be considered lackluster. But everybody else is really good. They are real, but also flawed. You have your genius child in Carlos, but he is still emotionally attached to what his minds have convinced him should be manipulated.

I kinda wish his storyline was explored more. Peter is the founder of the Church of Jupiter and he feels very real, very down to earth, like that sort of guy could really exist but he’s also way too awesome to be abundant. The Church of Jupiter is a nice metaphor for other religions in how they betray what they worship in order to attain what they believe is morally valuable. The Church is probably the most abundant with symbolism of anything else in this movie. There’s also Eiji’s close friend from the very beginning, he feels like that best bud you know from college who hasn’t turned into a total douche. He just feels so…real. Man, if I was going to say something about a virtually unknown Toho film, it probably wouldn’t be that it felt so REAL.

And…you know, I think I’ve about covered it. In short, Sayonara Jupiter is both a loving tribute to the material that was going on at the time and Toho’s history; but it is also a clever and philosophical space epic that is probably still relevant today. I highly recommend it to anybody curious. But for it’s flaws, I cannot give it what I wish I could. But yet, what I can is still to be wished for. 4/5, in other words.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The War in Space (1977)

No. No. I will not. I know you want me to. I won’t.

POINT A TO POINT B

In the 1970’s, Godzilla was virtually on his last leg. Godzilla is viewed as the Superman of Japan; likewise Godzilla vs. Megalon is viewed as the Superman IV. After that, we got a couple of cult classics in a finale duology of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla. You ought to be surprised those flicks made it into the cinemas. Sort of. But, like twenty years before, in 1975 Toho gave Godzilla the indefinite pink slip and moved onto their own projects. You know, to branch out. To be original. Right?.....Whatever.

In 1975 Toho had already created some of the highlights of the nine year Godzilla hiatus. Submersion of Japan was released in 1973, and both Evil of Dracula and Prophecies of Nostradamus was released in 1974. 1977 was probably the height of this hiatus, seeing the critically acclaimed experimental film House. If you don’t know what that’s like….YouTube it. You’ll fuck me later. In keeping with doing knock-offs of popular names (Dracula, Nostradamus) it was time to venture into the Science-Fiction genre once again.

Toho has been extremely experienced in the Sci-Fi genre, and this was the second film in their second Space Opera trilogy. So, technically, Toho did the space opera trilogy first. But there’s no question as to the origin of this flick. Star Wars had just been released, becoming then the highest grossing film of all time, and still on the Top 50. That’s power. Naturally, the only smart business decision would be to capitalize on it. Everybody from Jim Henson to Bum F. Nobody would be cashing in on the success. Even Steven Spielberg would have his accidental tie-in with Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

However, like many other companies ripping off Star Wars, they knew they couldn’t really do Star Wars. Or else they would be sued. (Especially today, yeesh.) Instead, they took what may have been the precursor to Latitude Zero, Atragon, and redressed the story into space. They also took many elements from their anime series Space Battleship Yamato. The marketing announced that the film would be a sequel to Battle in Outer Space. Well, close enough I guess. And…just one last thing. This would be the last film to be directed by Jun Fukuda. Ever.

REVIEW

OH CHRIST THIS WAS HORRIBLE. I remember falling asleep in this movie, until my pop showed up. I checked how far I was in the movie and I was only halfway there. First, lettuce enter the incredibly sloppy and rushed pacing. This story feels like it was puked by an amateur onto a paper without any proofreading from himself or any of his coworkers/companions. The entire story is crammed into the first half of the flick, which is mostly exposition, and one scene which involves UFO fighting. That one scene is also crap not only for the usual 1970’s Toho reasons but also because they overlaid two scenes that do NOT mesh together aesthetically. The second half is all the final battle, Hell you could say the last half is the final boss. It’s not exciting though. It’s mostly relying on nonexistent tension and the STALEST, MOST UNORIGINAL MUSIC YOU WILL EVER HEAR IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.

The actors are wooden, stale, unoriginal, boring, uninterested, unemotional, JUST VERY BAD. And I swear to God the edition we have in America is a result of Japanese actors being dubbed by English actors, their faces being manipulated to look like they’re speaking English, and then over-dubbed again with new Japanese actors trying to sound like old Japanese actors AND IT’S THE WORST ACTING YOU WILL EVER SEE IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE….maybe not that bad….but it’s bad. The movie looks terrible also. It has the budget of 1/10th of the 1931 Frankenstein (you know, the one with painted backgrounds?) and costumes that look like they were prepared for an elementary school play. What a load of crap. You guys can do better than that.

At least the end is pretty cool. Lots of fucking explosions. If you remotely enjoyed yourself during the final half an hour of Revenge of the Fallen then you may want to check this out. But otherwise, this flick is the epitome of a cheesy wanna-be with no budget, an awful combination rip-off of James Bond, Star Trek, Star Wars and Flash Gordon with hints of pornography. And this is coming from a guy who really, really liked the movie I also reviewed today.

The Rating? 1/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Godzilla (and Jet Jaguar) vs. Megalon (and Gigangirus) (1973)

Could it be…THE WORST?

"anybody that hates jet jaguar fuck you" - 1234orga

SECTION ONE: BACKSTORY…I THINK

One of many attempts to create a Godzilla film in 1972 was called Godzilla vs. The Space Monsters: Earth Defense Directive. The film was essentially the most pathetic version of Destroy All Monsters that you could conjure. There were only two past monsters here, Godzilla and King Ghidorah. They would bring in several new monsters, one never used since its inception, Majin Tuol. (familiar?) He was essentially what existed before King Ceaser. He was a God who rested in the mountains who wielded an incredible power, this being his sword. The film also brought in Gigan, The Godzilla Tower and Megalon, now staples of the series, but then being introductory monsters. The Godzilla Tower and Gigan would be brought over to the final product in Godzilla vs. Gigan. However, unlike Majin Toul, Megalon got a second chance.

NOT in a Godzilla film however…at least not yet. While Godzilla vs. Gigan was having it’s run, Toho had a costume amongst youngsters to create their own robot…superhero….transvestite…thingy. An elementary student who created something out of Ultraman and Mazinger Z called his drawing “Red Arone” and submitted it to Toho. He won. Toho renamed it Jet Jaguar so that copyrights would be easier gained, and they attempted to launch Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon. However, testing with the audience showed they were disinterested with the character. And ugh…little personal opinion here…OF COURSE THEY’RE GONNA BE DISINTERESTED. You have barely introduced him yet. Nobody cared about The Rock or John Cena on their first nights, but they became the faces of the WWE. Nobody cared about Universal Studios when it was first formed by a farmer. Likewise, a monster will not be uber popular on its first run. But, they were worried about the bottom line, and stopped the presses.

They gave the project new life with Godzilla and Gigan. Godzilla was added for market value, and Gigan was added to make it a “fair fight.” Now, this alone you would think would take a lot of time…but guess how long it took to make the entire movie? Six months. In fact, the suits were made in just a week. Its budget was $760,000 1973/$3,687,247.60 2010. That’s not a horrible budget, but considering they were working with four different monsters and crazy SFX costs, you can imagine they didn’t spend too much on actors and editors. It’s ugh….yeah….I don’t know what to say. Let’s just review it.

SECTION TWO: REVIEW

Most people know this as the worst Godzilla movie of all time. Well, it’s up there. Remember, guys, as much as we wish it didn’t, All Monsters Attack still exists. But, like the majority of the 70’s Godzilla flicks, it’s one of the weirdest. It starts off with a young boy in inappropriately short shorts riding three dolphins that noses look like dicks. One word:……JAPAN!!!!.....No, seriously, Google it. All those jokes about Japanese pedophiles and the reverse aging in Anime have ground. There’s much more pedophilia in Japan than in most other developed countries. But, whatever. There’s more to this movie.

Like gay couples. Yeah, imagine that. The kid has two dads. In 1973. I don’t know if this is awesome or really uncomfortable, but I’ll just its awesome so that I don’t have a bunch of Boulderite super-blue teenagers making Facebook pages with starving African kids protesting me hating alien babies. The villains I suspect to also be two dads, even if they don’t have a kid. You know. The (Earthly) villains are a duo comprised of an Asian Severus Snape and William Shakespeare with a manly man’s beard. They don’t do much, just shoot people everywhere that doesn’t do damage and do the absolute worst job of tying people to chairs stolen from preschools.

The (Underground) villains are comprised of the Greek Gods with a techno upgrade and a bunch of seductive Klu Klux Klan members. Their deal is that they don’t like the loud music caused by  nuclear tests, so they send up their pet Mega(lon) Beetle that shoots lightning out of its metal antenna. He also hops like a retarded combination of a rabbit with broken ankles and Quasimodo. This made me laugh. Hard. For some reason he’s become an icon. He’s just a giant cockroach, his powers are unoriginal and he hasn’t been in any other movie. But people love this crazy man. He’s been in video games, had tons of action figures, and may even have plans for the future…

“And besides, all else fails, WE HAVE GIGAN!” – Said no alien race ever.

Aside from Angirus and Godzilla (who both appear not nearly as much as they should have) we naturally have our new monster. Jet Jaguar. He is…well…he’s um. Okay, imagine this. Imagine if the head is a pyramid with a chin, and the eyes and mouths are straight from Hell’s oven. His suit is that of a female swimmer, and even though he’s a metallic robot he has tons of fat hanging out of his suit. He flies, can shoot lazers out of his hands, does lots of poses, and knows Kung FU. Naturally, he is a rip-off of Zone Fighter, which is a rip-off of Ultraman. All three of these would be ripped off in Inframan, which would eventually lead to The Power Ranges. Think about that 90’s kids. You would never have your precious Mighty Morphine Power Ranges without this Goddamn movie. You’re f’ing welcome.

The action is super far apart and only twice occurring. But they’re fucking worth it. First is a car chase. It starts off with some guy just doing random laps around on about ten feet of a one-lap street. Somebody starts chasing him, and the chase-e is joined by his friend. The enemy turns into a guy on a motorcycle out of Bum Fuck Egypt. I tuned out for the boring parts, so I can’t quite tell you everything. But by the time I tuned back in, they were chasing each other on stairs that look thousands of years old, down inclines that look hundreds and feel thousands of feet steep, finally crashing through a stable where one car makes it out fine, one dies (with less to get in his way, BTW) and the guy on the motorcycle crashes and gets covered in bull jizz from the sky.

^I legitimately did not make that shit up.

The other scene worth watching is the fight scene. Megalon and Gigan make Jet Jaguar look like a fucking baby, and even Godzilla is easily defeated. Funny, because I remember Godzilla and ANGIRUS fighting a pretty good fight against Gigan and KING GHIDORAH. There’s a circle of fire, there’s recycled blood, and finally at the end there is a flying dropkick that defies all lines of logic, physics, and cinematic dignity in existence. Not to mention, the motherfucking Jet Jaguar song. The meaning of life, James. I would recommend cherry picking this movie for the good scenes, and I give it credit for inventing two main staples of the Godzilla franchise. So credible are they that they can be staples without appearing in any other flicks. However…it’s boring, shit, worthy of the MST3K commentary that it got. The Rating? 2.73/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off. Next time: WE GO TO WAR.

Daigoro vs. Goliath (1972)

Don't make him hungry. You won't like him when he's hungry.

BACKGROUND

1972 was a weird year for both Toho and their spin-off, Tsuburya Productions. Spin-off as in one of their current employees had founded it, not that it was part of their family. Eiji Tsuburya created this company which resulted in both good and bad things. It meant less involvement in the company and the gradual degrading of several monster costumes, to the point where Godzilla became The Cookie Monster, his son was the Pillsbury Doughboy and King Ghidorah was a puppet. Toho had tossed around a few ideas for a movie set to release in 1972, the third was a project called Godzilla vs. Redmoon.

This was Eiji Tsuburya wanting to do a joint production between Toho and his own company to celebrate TP’s tenth anniversary. The film would bring in a monster from the moon named Redmoon, who looked like Baragon with a derp face and dragon wings….Could probably say the same thing about Gamera except he already has a derp face and he would lose his turtle shell…While this would be his main enemy, two other monsters would be introduced in this “proposed epic.” Erabus, a monster from a faraway island, is somehow a female of the same species as Redmoon. I don’t know how since they look completely different. Thus, she births Hafun, their child, and Godzilla must fight all of them. I gave a side-by-side comparison of these monsters in the Godzilla vs. Gigan review, along with most of this useless information.

Toho gave this movie a greenlight, some of the budget and the Godzilla suit. Noboru Tsuburaya and Toyowaki Awa were recruited as producers, Shokei Tojo as director and Kazuo Sakawa as the Special Effects director. Not much is known about what happened during production, but it went through development Hell and was heavily altered and repackaged beyond recognition. And now…I don’t know what in the holy hell just happened but…we have it…

REVIEW

Look at the 2012 Presidential Election in the USA. What are people talking about? Big corporations, mostly. Jobs being exported to China? Maybe even abortion here or there? Yeah, but, what’s the big issue in this movie? Is Daigoro well fed? Apparently the only thing people see as value for their taxes is making sure their resident giant animal has enough bowls of food, even when he’s getting too fat. Animals starving in abusive zoos? NAH. People starving in undeveloped countries? NAT EVEN CLOZE. We gotta make sure we feed our giant rubber hippopotamus…dog…walrus…thing…better if I just show you:

Daigoro is the counter-part of Hafun from Godzilla vs. Redmoon, and you can really see it when he’s an infant. I’m not even sure what the goal of this costume is. Is it supposed to be cute? Those eyes are threatening, his fingers look like they came off a giant troll, and his legs look like the uncomfortable kind of AC/ID trip. So is he supposed to be threatening? Maybe, but he’s so short, pudgy, and he has those little whiskers. He looks like what most people see in giant retrads. Am I supposed to feel anything for this little guy? Maybe if I was a 50 year old single mom who’s kid has moved out of the house…but….ugh…he’s just….BLAUGH.

You know, I don’t often figure that the narrative of a film would be anything to be brought up in one of these movies, especially one that feels a lot like THE ONE WE WILL NEVER MENTION AGAIN. But yet…there’s something to be said here. I see a lot of these monster movies that try to appeal to kids and they’re acting like they’re putting on a preschool show. It’s all about the flying bikes and the songs and the retarded yelling and the……FUCK YOU PEE-WEE. It’s never about telling the story, it’s all about appealing to the kid’s ears with the most annoying crap ever because they assume kids are addicted to sensory involvement.

And here, you can’t even do one thing without a character constantly explaining what’s going on. It’s like they even think kids will forgot the name Daigoro if they don’t say it over and over and they’ll forget why he’s important if they don’t repeat it over and over. Well maybe that’s your goddamn fault movie! Maybe you chose something that was so unoriginal and unrealistic that nobody would bother to remember it! But Hell, you can’t even tell the backstory right. You need to start off the movie with the conflict already advancing instead of developing it, and whatever happened beforehand will be explained by a narrator.

…But the backstory is actually kind of cool. It seems like a bit of a predecessor to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, what with the Rodan and Godzilla Jr. thing. It involves Daigoro’s Mom, who I will continue to call Erabus since she is never named. She attacked Tokyo back in the day, and it is pretty much a carbon copy of the Godzilla story. She even breathes fire. It’s ridiculous. But she left off a little baby – who looks nothing like her BTW – who was completely innocent, and the government decided to keep him alive on an island. Though none of this makes sense, it’s the one tantalizing taste of darkness…both in terms of the light and the tone. It’s the one little tantalizing piece of real fear in the monster’s, and of course, one of very few scenes of something we all paid (or didn’t pay) to see. Monsters stomping the city!

Erabus herself is…weird as fuck…? In a nutshell, Gamera without his shell, a devil dog face, and long flowing blonde hair. Yeah. Because Japan is that sexist. Moving on.

So, we’ve talked a lot about Daigoro and even his mom, but, Hell, there’s another monster here, isn’t there? Yeah…he might just be in the title. It takes for-freaking-ever for Goliath to show up. It may not be the first time, the same year Gigan took a really long time to show up in his movie. But in Godzilla vs. Gigan, Gigan was always an intricate part of the main plot. From since the introduction of the Godzilla Tower and the “peace park” Gigan was clearly present and his debut was inevitable. There wasn’t a part of the movie unaffected by Gigan, except for maybe the side-plot at the very beginning.

Here, Goliath’s inception is really sudden. Sure, it connects to something that happened in the beginning of the movie, but it was all centered on Daigoro.  You could tell me that the fundraiser had nothing to do with Goliath and I would have believed you, but if you told me the Godzilla Tower had nothing to do with Gigan I would be like “foo watchoo talkin’ ‘bout?” The real reason he’s there is brought up about five minutes before he shows up. And I was constantly thinking, “okay, okay, when is he going to show up?” Until 45 minutes it’s pretty much a childish drama about a hungry monster, then suddenly WHAM! Remember that other thing you paid to see?

Once Goliath shows up he doesn’t do much. You get half a minute of him destroying the city, him resting, but really he’s a huge non-factor. He’s only there to be Daigoro’s opponent. That said, it appears as if every cloud has a silver lining. Goliath, once he shows up, feels like the most impressive thing in the whole movie. I wish this movie was about him, it would have been waaay cooler. But apparently they couldn’t carry the movie without a good-guy monster. I just feel like having a bad guy in the movie after all the happiness and loud, obnoxious xylophone music is really refreshing.

Look at this guy! I mean, he’s not the greatest thing in the world. He looks comically big. But let’s say they toned him down a little bit he would be a legitimate menace. Like somebody took Baragon, Gamera, and Godzilla and put them together with a derp face. He looks classic! I love when he destroys the city too. It’s only a thirty second clip, but when he does it’s something that hasn’t been done in most other monster movies. He must have set off a chain reaction of ground mines or something because there’s no space between explosions. It’s just constant massive fireworks towering at fifty feet tall throughout the thing. Most monster movies have space between each explosion, and that makes more physical sense, not to mention emphasizes the seriousness and reality of the situation. But here, let’s just have some fun and blow shit up!

The music, as I already touched on, is ridiculous and built for a preschool show. And it’s even weirder if you’re not from a similar culture. The actors are all completely forgettable or characters you wish you forgot. The fat guy is this movie’s Jar Jar Binx. I just can’t stand it. The more you watch this movie the more you’re reminded that you shouldn’t watch this movie and that people have purposely kept you from watching this movie. It sucks. It’s a historical curiosity, but an insult to monster movie fans, children around the world, governments, and anybody who is attempting to keep health. The fact that this hasn’t had an official release in America should really come as no shock.

1/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Godzilla (and Angirus) vs. Gigan (and King Ghidorah) (1972)

Oh yeah. This is where the shit really hits the fan.

SECTION ONE: MAKING GODZILLA….AGAIN

Toho must have done something wrong because this is one of the most insane falls from grace that I know about in movies. Maybe not in my own view, but damn, just think about it. Already they had postponed Ishiro Honda’s resurrection of the Space Opera Trilogy, (and just before Star Wars you friggin’ idiots) and they had moved him to do the weirdass oddity Space Amoeba. I enjoy that movie but that really shouldn’t have been Honda’s swan song. Then Godzilla vs. Hedorah happened. And let me tell ya, when Godzilla vs. Hedorah happens, then Godzilla vs. Hedorah happens.

I won’t go over the whole story, but basically, Yoshimitsu Banno was accused by Tomoyuki Tanaka to have ruined the Godzilla franchise. He attempted to fund two more movies, Godzilla vs. Hitodah – a version of Hedorah in the form of a Starfish – and Godzilla vs. Hedorah 2 – this taking place in Africa. But Tanaka was a powerful force in the company and he made sure Yoshimitsu never directed another movie for them again. Then YB went to become super rich off of several versions of the IMAX screen. Sucks for ‘em.

So then they went on to try to find new material. The first was a project called Godzilla vs. Redmoon. This was Eiji Tsuburya wanting to do a joint production between Toho and his own company to celebrate their tenth anniversary. The film would bring in a monster from the moon (familiar?) named Redmoon, who looked like Baragon with a derp face and dragon wings. Could probably say the same thing about Gamera except he already has a derp face and he would lose his turtle shell. While this would be his main enemy, two other monsters would be introduced in this “proposed epic.” Erabus, a monster from a faraway island, is somehow a female of the same species as Redmoon. I don’t know how since they look completely different. Thus, she births Hafun, their child, and Godzilla must fight all of them. Here is a side by side comparison of these animals that are supposed to be part of the same species:

The film would go into development Hell and be remade beyond recognition in Daigaro vs. Goliath. I’ll be reviewing that one next.

So they went on to try out different things that look a lot more like what we have in Godzilla vs. Gigan. The first thing they did was a project called Godzilla vs. The Space Monsters: Earth Defense Directive. (familiar?) The film was essentially the most pathetic version of Destroy All Monsters that you could conjure. There were only two past monsters to be introduced here, Godzilla and King Ghidorah. Those two should duke it out on their own if they’re singled out. The film brought in Gigan and Megalon, now staples of the series, but then having no drawing power. There is also evidence that the Godzilla Tower, practically a meme of the Godzilla vs. Gigan fandom. They would also bring in a monster that has not been used since its inception, Majin Tuol. (familiar?) He was essentially what existed before King Ceaser. He was a God who rested in the mountains who wielded an incredible power, this being his sword.

This project was scrapped, but they tried something very similar later. A film called The Return of King Ghidorah, the King was the monster to beat instead of Gigan. Gigan himself had a spiked ball and chain of his hand, where the other still had his scythe. There was also a dragon like creature called Mogu which would fire projectiles from his mouth. Godzilla, Rodan and Varan were their justice league, and beyond that the plot is exactly the same as the final product. It was merely a matter of budget why certain monsters were cut out and certain details were removed.

So we land at their fifth attempt to make a movie in 1972. Who do they call? Of course. Jun Fukuda. We’ve covered him before. Aside from being an AD for Rodan and a writer for some Zone Fighter episodes, he’s mostly known for making the movies that G-Fans typically refer to with condescendence. Under his belt are such things as Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and this movie. Not to mention, you have no sign of Eiji, Honda or Akira (aside from stock soundtrack). This is a crew that, in comparison to the original trinity, goes in blind to this material. Not to mention, this guy has cheap ways of making movies. Stock soundtrack and footage was used ramming up the ass, they pretty much sampled everything from Ghidrah the Three Headed Monster, Invasion of the Astro Monster, King Kong Escapes, Atragon, Frankenstein Conquers the World, Destroy All Monsters, so on and so forth.

Godzilla was cast for the twelfth and final time as Haruo Nakajima, one of Toho’s most prolific monster actors. In addition to Godzilla, he also played Gezora, Ganime, King Kong, Gaira, Baragon, every monster in Latitude Zero, Matango, H-Man, Moguera, Ultraman, and a ton of cameo roles in these same movies.

SECTION TWO: GODZILLA FIGHTS GIGAN

Okay, if I came off as condescending in that last couple of paragraphs, ignore it. This movie’s freaking awesome. Not joking. I went into this movie thinking it was going to be complete bullcrap, thinking it was going to be one of the most boring movies I’d ever seen. Not true. I mean, at this point, what can you expect? It was really good for what kind of environment the G-Crew had been put in. The characters, sure, are unnaturally good or bad. Not a ton of gray. But I covered this with Camel Spiders. Sometimes, in life, we just need protagonists we can get behind.

We want to say “if I was in this situation, I would want to be with them.” Often in art it’s demanded that the feeling would be “if I was in this situation, I would act like this.” But this isn’t high art. It’s fun. And you gotta look at it like that. And it’s not like they feel unnatural. They feel human. They make mistakes, there’s a very healthy level of slapstick, and they’re legitimately intimidated by the situation. They’re not impossible to become, but they’re probably better than most of us. It’s a really good balance. The actors themselves seem to just be having fun, they’re not taking anything seriously; they’re just trying to exploit themselves…innocently, of course. Gives the movie a sense of honesty. They’re not trying to fake something that the script doesn’t have, they’re just doing what feels right.

The villains are also pretty cool. I mean, at the time, they must have felt very stupid on the surface. Something straight out of a 1950’s Sci-Fi movie. Like Godzilla. But look further. What has come out since? I’ve seen a lot of movies on YouTube about a Reptilian invasion from a nebula from space, using human skins as disguise. They Live, the 1986 Roddy Piper/John Carpenter movie, is extremely similar to this movie. Using advertising to control the mindsets of people, aliens under the skin of humans. They’re almost identical to the guys in this movie. Cockroaches from another planet, using a theme park to portray peace, using human reflections.

That’s also really clever. They’re using reflections. So when the lights go off and they need to use a flashlight, you can see what’s actually in front of you instead of the illusion. When they die, they turn back into giant creepy cockroaches. Sure, it’s kind of cheap and not subtle at all, but at least it’s different. And this movie may not be subtle, but at least it gives an effort to portray the message without force-feeding you everything. If they took the time to elaborately show everything, then the movie might have been too long. That would take away from….what the Hell, why are we talking about the human characters in a Godzilla movie?...Well, there’s a reason, but we’re just too damn ignorant to cover it. Let’s get to the monsters.

For the most part, you’ve got a recurring cast. Godzilla and Angirus team up for the first time (Destroy All Monsters takes place in the future.) Angirus looks fine, in fact, he looks the best he’s yet. He looks meaty and ready to fight. Godzilla though…yeah…they let the suit fall apart. They’re here to fight two alien monsters. One is King Ghidorah, not yet killed in Destroy All Monsters. When he’s standing, he looks alright. He’s definitely got the Bat People effect, you can tell what material the suit is made of. That takes away a lot of realism. But when he’s flying, he’s still and stone. He looks like my half-foot tall Ghidorah action figure that’s sitting on my DVD shelf.

The other is a new guy, Gigan. Gigan is a robot chicken with fish fins and laser vision like that one guy in X-Men. He makes a sound that sounds…well, like a robot chicken. Screeching and blunt. It has the desired effect. He also moves like Ghidorah in space, which is annoying. He has those slicing and dicing things on his body, which are awesome. Honestly, of all the monsters out there, I’d want to fight him the least. He has laser vision, knives all over the place, and his roar would hurt my ears.

The fights don’t happen for a while. We get to see the monsters move a lot throughout the film. But not until about forty minutes into the film do we get what we really paid for. But when we do get it, it’s pretty awesome. Gigan and King Ghidorah start tearing up the city, and they really tear up the city. Buildings explode all over the place, fire rages through the city. There’s some shots that reminded me of the original Gojira, just making the destruction look real and disastrous instead of fun celebration. The camerawork in this movie looks professional for the first time in a Toho monster movie, and it feels like “this is serious business.”

It’s really good heel heat, you really want to see Godzilla and Angirus kick the alien’s asses after what they did to us. Gigan also has a few picks at the helicopters. When GNA do show up, they have one helluva brawl that takes up a good 30-40 minutes. It starts off pretty slow, you know, the overtly long stand-off, the fire breath from a distance. Then they actually start getting in. By the end of the thing you’ve got bodies flying, blood shedding, sweat and tears dropping, Angirus is flying in the air, Godzilla is doing pro-wrestling moves, IT’S AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

Man, this movie’s awesome. Before I go, I want to address one thing I’ve always wanted to talk about. There are a few moments in this movie where Godzilla actually talks to Angirus. These moments have become, let’s say, infamous. In the original Japanese movie, they were speech bubbles. However, the TriStar Release edits American visuals into the Japanese audio. There’s a video of it here:

The other big thing people are asking is, “what the fuck are they saying?” I can answer this. Being that it’s right after Godzilla has picked up on the high-powered frequency from the “tapes,” he is confused. He brings attention to the closest companion in the instant. He says “HEY, ANGILA!!!” Angila, one of Godzilla’s old enemies and a pissed off old man, replies “Whaddya want?” in a voice that implies he’s a smoker. Godzilla replies “something funny going on, you better check!” To this Angirus replies “OK!” In an already angry mood. Godzilla then says “Hurry up!” Because he’s an impatient bastard.

In the ocean, on their way to the island, he says “Hey, angila, c’mon!” As he waves his hand for forward motion. “There’s a lot of trouble ahead! C’mon hurry!” Angirus, again, replies simply, “OK!” People can’t hear this voices very clearly because somebody through it was a good idea to play a fucked up record while they were talking. Good job Fukuda. Good fuckuding job. This movie’s awesome. I don’t get why people hate it. The English translation is really crappy, the dialogue is just really stitlted and forced in that one. Watch the Japanese one and accept it for what it is. You’ll love it. 4/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Night of Counting the Years (1969)

AKA The Mummy (1969)

(no trailer available)

ESTABLISHING IMPORTANCE

I present to you a quote from the San Francisco International Film Festival committee:

“Each year, the San Francisco Film Festival discovers the signs of genius in a new cinema movement, usually in a country where the traditions of local fadism and popular tastes have prevented creative work which can compete artistically and intellectually with international film art. The achievement of a young Egyptian director and set designer, Shadi Abdelsalam, with his first feature, is a joyous event, and this film, The Night of Counting the Years, was highly praised at the Venice and London film festivals last year. It is an extraordinarily beautiful, impressive work indicating that, if encouraged, Abdelsalam may become the spearhead of the Egyptian cinema.”

When you Google search “most important Egyptian movies,” the Wikipedia page for this movie is the first thing to come up. It was Egypt’s entry into the Best Foreign Language Film for the 43rd Academy Awards. Egyptian Critics consistently list it as one of the most important films of that nation. And Hell, that last little detail may be the biggest reason why I’m reviewing it. America made so many Mummy movies and England had their collection. It may not be the same story, but I figure I gotta have at least ONE damn Egyptian movie in this marathon. And now, before I start the review, let me present you with a quote from Samir Farid (translated into English.)

“The first film production in any country -- regardless of its screen duration, the nationality of those involved in its making, or its classification (fiction, documentary, animation) -- is considered the first film in the history of the cinema in that country.”

REVIEW

So, since we’re remotely on the subject of Hammer and Universal monster flicks, I ought to compare this to something. The first movie to come to mind other than another Mummy movie that stayed in my mind present until the end was White Zombie. Both the film that Rob Zombie named his first band after and this Egyptian piece have a hypnotic effect through their sounds. White Zombie did it with having no sound, and was helped by Bela Lugosi’s famous stare. This movie does it with a sound that has been replicated in many “creepy” movies and videos, especially recently.*

*Not implying that this film invented the tactic.

It’s an extremely high-pitched stringed instrument, something I can barely pick up myself (though I presume some of this is due to the crappy transfer on Internet Archive). This creates a very unnerving, subtle feeling, like if the stroke of a large, furry spider could take an audible form, this would be a pretty damn good representation. It’s mixed with a larger, more intimidating string instrument that I cannot identify because I know little to none about music…this makes it feel like that large, furry spider is large as in REALLY FUCKING LARGE but still moves with the same quickness. I see this used in A LOT of creepy pasta, though in a different form.

"Here, you're nothing but grains of sand in the mountains belly."

The visual style of this film is definitely something else. Granted, it might not be the most apparent or innovative thing, but it really creates a different kind of atmosphere. One of the biggest “gimmicks” here is that the higher elevation they are in, the brighter the movie looks. Like as if they’re closer to the sun to a legitimate degree. Underground people are only lit by torches, and all the colors are of flame and stone. At night, everybody is silhouetted. And it really asks a lot of questions when the movie goes whiteout even when somebody hasn’t made that much of an elevation.

Considering the sun is the symbol of God and religion, and Egypt essentially pioneered this version of faith, you’ve gotta assume it’s signaling these people as righteous. You also gotta assume, when the movie gets darker, it’s symbolizing a transition to evil. Even beyond all the symbolism hosh posh tour-de-force hobbit-bobbity, it’s just a really creepy film to look at. The blue nights give a sense of abandonment and the orange and yellows (for reasons undetermined) portray a sense of intimidation. When it turns white, it symbolizes a saving power, but it’s only there for so long, so it’s more like “yeah, you want some help? JAY KAY.”*

*You hereby have the right to kill me for using JAY KAY in a movie review.

“The palm is held around its destiny, which will never be read.”

The plot is, on the surface, simplistic. In fact, in the very beginning of the movie, the protagonists flat out explain their motives and their course of action. And you’re thinking “oh, it’s one of those movies…where everything is spelled out to you.” Well, kinda, but not really. After that first opening scene, nothing is explained beyond what would naturally be said. I gotta give credit to the creative for being able to make the characters seem so natural. There’s always lines in the movie that are either done for marketing or making the dumber audiences feel like they have easier access.

There’s really none of that in this movie, it’s all pretty much realistic. Granted, you might not find the dialogue that way but that’s probably just the translation. So, point is, you really have to pay attention. It’s not a hard movie, it’s not cryptic or anything, it’s just realistic. Imagine you are planning to go somewhere with a friend. Now imagine doing that, but making it convenient for an audience. In very short, this movie cuts some of the fat that we as Americans are used to.

“I don’t need your words to know who I am.”

The Night of Counting the Years, aka The Mummy (1969), is a rare gem of cinema. Its strongest assets are being able to creep the audience in a way that’s more subtle than the majority collection of our cinematic diet.* It gets under your skin, slowly and surely, in a way that isn’t upfront. It leaves you shocked for a while. Its script is straight-forward and to the point, but not thoroughly throughout and detailed. The visual style is endlessly analyzable, and the soundtrack is unique and memorable. Possibly the most chilling aspect of this movie is its dark, unforgiving, blunt, yet thoughtful and complex philosophy. Basically, if you are either in the mood for something rich in the foreign cinematic department, or if you want to see something that’s a combination of James Bond, The Mummy, White Zombie and the typical “who am I?” film with a dark twist, you’re going to like this movie. Besides, how many of us can honestly say, “oh yeah, I saw that one Egyptian movie from the late 60’s called The Night of Counting the Years.”

*Hoggilty-Poggilty haumburg.

The Rating? 4.79/5

Sigh…we enter a new era of The Mummy Marathon. It’s no longer Halloween Month, it’s not a horror movie (technically) and it’s not associated with the original story. It’s the first time this marathon has caught up with the still going M32. What’s next?....It’s bloody.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Latitude Zero (1969)

The Next Generation of “Space” Opera Trilogies

SECTION ONE: BACKSTORY

Hello and welcome back to the Monster Movie Marathon 2 (M32). Today we’re going to diverge off of Godzilla and do something I think is another example of an unexplored Toho Sci-Fi that may not be getting enough attention simply due to the fact that it’s unconnected to Godzilla. Ishiro Honda, having said goodbye to the Big G in 1968 with Destroy All Monsters, set a course for new conceptions. I mean, granted, he was credited as the director of All Monsters Attack, but as I covered in that review he was mostly there for special effects and not having anything to do with the story.

His first new idea was to revive an old series he worked on in the 50’s and 60’s in the space opera trilogy. The first go-round, with The Mysterians, Battle in Outer Space, and Gorath, is well known as obscure alternatives for Toho Sci-Fi fans. This would be the last time he worked with Eiji Tsuburya, who, as I covered before, had started working with his own now unknown film company. The big difference that separates this movie from almost all other Japanese monster movies is the language. Most of the time you gotta watch them in hilarious over-dubs or subtitles which for some (not me yayz) is really tedious.

They had experimented with source English language before in films like Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and Frankenstein vs. Baragon, where American actor Nick Adams did not speak Japanese. In fact, he was overdubbed in Japanese for the home-town release. But Latitude Zero is another beast entirely. The entire cast spoke English. Native Japanese speakers and most of them not efficient in our over-bearing language (consider that Icelandic and English are as common in Iceland) they had to learn their lines phonetically. They remembered them by sounds instead of meaning or context.

However, they were also smart and did get some well-known American actors. Cesaro Romero (aka Joker) Joseph Cotton (Citizen Kane, Magnificent Ambersons) Richard Jaekel (3:10 to Yuma) and Patricia Medina (Mr. Arkadin) were recruited. And, ladies and gents, if that isn’t the most pathetic version of The Expendables put to film I dunno what is....This movie, in addition to a premature goodbye for Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburya, was also the last film written by Ted Sherdemen. You might know him from such films as A Dog of Flanders….ah, who are we kidding, we know him for one of the most influential giant monsters movies in THEM! His career was already waning, after all he was writing episodes of The Flying Nun. He based the script off a 1941 radio serial titled the same as the movie.

SECTION TWO: REVIEW OF LATITUDE ZERO

First thing I noticed in the entire film was the narrator. I think I mentioned this in my review of Zombieland, but I’ll go over it again since that review was a while ago. Half a year ago, if I’m not mistaken. I hate narrators. They are the epitome of catering towards the lowest common denominator. The oldest trick in the book, as they say, is to show, not to tell. Showing will be exciting and interesting, forcing the audience to focus, not only increasing their patience, but also giving them a more solid foundation in the film’s story. Telling them everything will make them tune out and get bored. But when you do both, you make them feel dumb. Fortunately the narrator only appears in the first ten minutes or so, but if that was the extent of the problem I might not be mentioning this.

Perry Lawton, played by Richard Jaekel, is the dumb blonde who asks all the dumb questions and makes all the dumb statements. Whenever the script feels like it needs to explain something, they get Perry to do it. Even though we can clearly see all the fish are going in one direction, Perry feels it necessary to ask about it. He also gets into the bad habit of asking a question right before he answers it out loud. The worst crime is when he brings up the possibility of being under hallucinations. This would be fine if this was a plot point throughout the entire film, where he would try to investigate it for himself and as a result become less trustworthy than he wanted to be. But instead, he just says it because apparently nobody was confident in the viewers to remember it for the final scene of the movie.

The rest of the cast is not memorable. They all feel like they were ripped either from Star Trek or James Bond (hey, guyz, can u tell it was made in 1969?) You’ve got your generic super-villain with his female side-kick (two actually); you got your too-good-to-be-true protagonist who unfortunately never gets questioned, and of course you’ve got the crew. That’s it. I remember that Perry had some friends. And I just got done watching this movie. That’s not a good sign. The stupidest thing in this entire movie though, is the costume design. There are three monsters featured in the third act of this film, and while they are not a huge part of the plot, they stick out like Biollante in a crowd of King Ceasers. The giant rats are the most forgivable; they look like if bears and rats collided. They’re not very realistic, but for a film produced by Toho in the 1960’s, they still look cool.

The Black Moth, the famous monster of this movie, is a hawk and a lion combined. He looks pretty cool from a distance, and if you were to run into this thing in real life, you’d be dead. But up close, his costume looks as fake as the Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz.

But the biggest failure is Batman. There’s three of him. It looks like a PG-Version of The Bat, it’s 100% fake, his facial expression is laughable, his fur looks like carpet, his wings are drapes, they move like humans and have the squeal of a dolphin. I’ve never seen Toho’s special effects department go so far down.

The film has a really hard time moving. Maybe I’m rusty, but it feels like the story jumps instead of flows. Like a stiff elbow, this movie will not rotate but instead click. Between each scene feels like an inadequate transition. “Here’s the happy days SUDDEN EVENT, the new race finds ours, we get taken, city is awesome, ARCH NEMESIS INTRODUCTION, utopia, arch-nemesis submarine, utopia, arch-nemesis submarine, oh hey look it’s climax time, shit happens…” etc. It feels less like a story and more of an exploration. Don’t know if that’s the idea, but it’s kinda stupid. I just think it’s a result of poor editing. This can be seen throughout the movie. Let’s say, a boat rocks. It rocks, and then stops. And then we cut to a scene of the inside of the boat, still rocking. You’re supposed to cut mid-rock.

Is it any coincidence that this film came out in an era where films like Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey ruled the cinemas? Or when things like Star Trek or Lost in Space dominated many American TV Screens? Or when our goals were not to send mere robots to Mars, but to send real people to the moon? No, it could not be a complete coincidence. In fact, this film is retaliation against the common culture. In this movie, you see a lot of lighted tunnels, and you see utopian societies, and you see clear cut morals, a crew, some human and some less so…feels like Star Trek, don’t it?

All the cheesy sets and the similar story format. Yet the movie is almost entirely on the water. And if islands count as water-bound vessels, other than the climax it is entirely a buoyant adventure. It’s attempting to alert us that we are diverging our attention to something that isn’t extremely relevant, why go to space when the sea is still mostly unexplored? Why look into the stars when it is the starfish that matter to us? But they can’t even get this right. Here’s a few good ways to illustrate this: show us how expansive the ocean is, show us why it’s important. But instead, we have a case of being told this, and only at the very end.

This message would dissipate the audience’s interests immediately after the film. A lot of Toho monster movies suffer this fate, but it’s not ever this pathetic. And it’s different. Movies like The Mysterians are made mostly for entertainment. The #1 purpose of this movie is to make a point, and that’s fine, but please do so in the way I know you guys can. You guys have an all-star line-up and you act like The Green Party made a video game.

Latitude Zero is a very interesting experiment that completely failed. Any message it was trying to get across was destroyed in its reluctance to admit to any audience intelligence. It’s visuals are bland beyond reason and ease, it’s actors are even a worse case, and the structure of the film feels far too stiff. Yet another example of a movie that begs for a remake. Let’s do it! Latitude Zero, coming out 2015!...in our dreams. I want to give this movie a good rating for being ambitious, but a boring movie is a boring movie and a movie with little effort is definitely a movie with little effort. 1.5/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off…

…Wait...Ceaser Romero and Batman…

The Mummy's Shroud (1967)

Hammer Morality: Skeletons of century dead pre-teens are okay for double-bill horror flicks.

It's three years since the last film, and Hammer has begun the second cycle. They revamped The Mummy franchise with the last film, they brought back Frankenstein with their versions of the first two Universal films: The Evil of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Created Woman. They brought back Christopher Lee's badass Dracula in Dracula: Prince of Darkness. They produced one of their biggest hits ever, One Million B.C. They began to go into Hitchock territory with such films as Nightmare, Hysteria, Fanatic and The Nanny. They also brought in hits like The Gorgon, She, The Witches, and brought back one of their most celebrated franchises in Quatermass and the Pit

But never let The Sandman be prevented from entering. No longer a puppet to his master, Michael Carreras, Anthony Hinds, and a large roster of newcomers would set upon creating the most Badass rendition of The Mummy yet. The Mummy's Shroud boasts a performance by Eddie Powell as The Mummy. Ironically, the actor of the last Mummy now plays Prem, who is the man who would become The Mummy. Eddie is no longer a slave to any sort of puppet master even in the slightest angle. No, he's just a wrecking machine. He has no remorse, emotions only sadistic, crushing through everything in sight and living up to every promise he ever made with extreme efficiency.

His appearance is no longer just clay and sand held by bandages. He feels like a real human, rotting inside a cast of mummification, yet living even after fifty centuries. His colors are deeper, the materials on his body is more distinct, and he just feels more solid. He feels like a strong presence. Speaking of looking at stuff, this movie really has that going for it. The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb feels like a premature launch compared to The Mummy's Shroud. The daylight scenes are pitch-perfect renditions of what is expected. The tombs are a theatrical spectacle that feel like something out of Universal Studios...in a good way. The colors change to deeper, dirtier, scarier colors as the excitement intensifies. The blood thickens. Brown will gradually change to black, red will gradually change to maroon, the famous camera techniques from Dracula Has Risen From the Grave are present. 

The soundtrack is something else different. Don Banks, known for cult classics like The Reptile, Die Monster Die, The Evil of Frankenstein, Nightmare and Rasputin: The Mad Monk, presents a theatrical and sweeping score that overshadows the rest of the picture. It has the same effect that symphony has on Metallica. It's like a boost of steroids to make it feel 3x-4x more epic. It is a huge improvement compared to what was offered in the last two Mummy movies, and it is really too sad that Donald retired from the movie business right after his climax was reached in this film. 

Oh, it appears as if I've run the ring on the reviewing thing. I have mentally come to the starting line that is not the finish line. I have returned to the actors. Aside from The Mummy, the actors feel like something in between one of the bad Universal Mummy sequels and Scooby-Doo. There's the little pretty girl and the handsome one, but there's also the old professor and the evil fortune teller. Ironically enough, because the script feels like something between Friday the 13th and Scooby-Doo. You have a monster going around killing somebody out of vengeance who is really much younger than he appears, and you also have people using objects as clues and finally "damasking" (technically) the villain at the end.

That's where this movie starts to fall apart. As much as I would like to give this movie a great rating because I recognize all the other positives, I can see that Anthony Hinds and John Gilling are NOT good writers. Maybe it has something to do with Anthony Hinds being a producer, and John Gilling's two most credible entries being the two most ridiculed of the Hammer library other than the Cave Girls series; those being The Reptile and The Plague of Zombies. I kept trying to tune in during this movie because I knew there were a lot of good things going on, but when both the script and actors are such trash you can't help it. It's like their on the edge of being cartoonish, but they're not, and thus they become some of the dullest entertainers I can bear witness to.

Overall, The Mummy's Shroud, like The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, is an example of a movie that could have been great but is only good because of some easily rectifiable mistakes. And as much as I would like to vouch for The Mummy's Shroud over The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, it's clear that the creative backbone is stronger with The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb. Thus, I give it 3.5/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964)

Just couldn’t stick to leeching one of the sequel’s names, could you?

THE SECOND CYCLE BEGINS

It’s been five years since Hammer’s The Mummy. Hammer has experimented with sequels already. They did The Revenge of Frankenstein and Brides of Dracula, both awesome films that did not get enough attention. They’ve also brought new life to other popular materials, such as The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Gorgon. All of these films have gotten moderate attention and have their followings, but not the big hits that their original trilogy proved to be. This was about the time that the H2F team fully understood that the first cycle was complete. It was time to begin the second cycle. The second cycle would begin with a sequel to their third major hit, in The Mummy.

To bring in new life to the Hammer cycle, the crew found a new location. One that George Lucas would use for the biggest movie trilogy of all-time. They went to film at Elstree Studios. In addition to that, refreshing the series was executed with non-Hammer veterans. There is no Terrence Fisher, Anthony Hinds, Peter Cushing, James Bernard, Jimmy Sangster or Christopher Lee to be found. The only name you might recognize would be Reich Frankenstein, and only because they reused the music from the last Mummy movie. It was truly a time to attempt new life.

REVIEW

Ah, actors. So important to the film. Execute the script, the characters, a good portion of the sound, and many other aspects of a film. There are so many things that can determine the outcome of a performance, including the strength of the script and the training of the acting talent. A topic I have discussed many a times, and am rambling about now in order to procrastinate my discussion. Yes, acting. Something that has been rooted to the days of stage plays and barbaric reenactments. Excuse me while I listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on my thousand year old record.

The peeps in this movie are kind of weak. They seem to be well trained actors by the visual and facial expressions, but only the anti-villain (aka the greedy bastard) actually has talent by voice. This may have been caused by the flatness of the dialogue. The plot is cliché, naturally, being a Mummy movie. However, the sub-plot is another type of cliché altogether. It’s like something out of a dramatic adventure movie for kids. Probably would have a pet dog. And these actors probably belong in a b-rate Bond film. These two things don’t mesh and they were already kind of crap from the beginning. The script somewhat less, it has real emotions, even if they are ones straight from films as conventional as Titanic.

The visual style in this movie is a very considerable improvement in comparison to The Mummy. I think The Mummy’s biggest visual problem, aside from overt simplicity, was trying to be something it wasn’t. The deserts and the town at night were nearly colorized sets from the Universal films. Now, we have an exhibition of Hammer visuals. The walls are painted light but deep colors in the daylight, but at night times they are in the reverse. Painted dark but less immersive colors. The homes are decorated to the likes of the Frankenstein films that they produced. The outdoor sets have a humble production value yet attain an artistic direction unique and creepy to its creators. If you’re familiar with how Hammer looks, you get the gist.

Ah, but of course, to release oneself of imitation is to bring the attribute to another. Carlo Martelli, only other film of note is The Prehistoric Woman, brings together a composition of score that can only be described as a carbon copy of the Universal archetypes. It’s not even adjusted for the times, I swear he took bits from the old Mummy movies and re-arranged them for the film. The directing, writing, acting, and visuals all are on the same page, but the soundtrack is that one hipster who hates Inception. He doesn’t co-operate with anybody, and thus a determent to the film is caused.

The best parts of the movie is when it’s silent, or there is dialogue. Here we get to see the creativity shine. At about thirty-six minutes in, there’s this one scene that really exemplifies Michael Carreras’s skill as a director. The camera angles are ambitious, the ambiance is frighteningly real, the foreshadowing and emotional exemplifications & keys/hints are often and well placed. I won’t spoil how it goes for you if you wish to view it, but, trust me. This scene takes the movie. Unlike Anthony Hinds who cannot go from financing to creative direction, Michael has produced seventeen Hammer films and understood his productions.

One of the most annoying things for a movie to me is saving the monster too long. It’s also really annoying to see movies give the monster right away. It’s like going to a wrestling event. Let’s say it’s the year 2000. You pay to see Undertaker, The Rock, Steve Austin, maybe even Chris Jericho. It makes sense that you would see characters like The New Age Outlaws, Rikishi, The Godfather, or other socially unknown but key characters in the show beforehand. But if your show is a good 2-3 hours long, you don’t want to hold off until the second or third hour to show them. This film saves any live mummy action until nearly an hour into the film, and the movie’s only 80 minutes. Gives us approximately 20-30 minutes of mummy time and it’s not like he gets a constant spotlight. He makes a slight cameo early on, but it’s not enough. I’m not asking for the movie to be only about the mummy, but it should at least be centered around the character when it’s title and poster promote it.

The Mummy himself is pretty pathetic. He’s the worst thing about this movie. He limps way worse than any other actor, he’s the shortest of all the mummies as of yet, he looks like a clay doll that’s been covered in paper sewn together by stitches….umm….how am I supposed to find this threatening? He’s played by Dickie Owen, who wasn’t an introduction but has had little of significance outside of this series. It shows that he did not make his mark despite the possibilities. The character of the living mummy is actually written real well. The sounds he makes, the implications from vague visual hints, the unforgiving wrath of a thing without a name that should have been present in all of the movies post-1932…

Overall, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb is probably the best Mummy film post-1932. It isn’t anywhere as carefully crafted. While the directing, production value, visual style and characters are all high strong points, the soundtrack, monster, pacing and acting are a detriment. I think this film was a little too ambitious an adventure for its own good. If I was to suggest the production team for this film, I would have kept Michael in all three of his chairs; however have the assistance (but not dominance) of Jimmy Sangster on his script. I would have had either James Bernard or another experienced horror composer for the soundtrack, and not some random dude. I would have had Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in the film replacing two characters, however keeping the other debuting actors so that they can rub off each other. This is still one of very few Mummy films I would recommend to my friends at school, and thus it deserves praise.

The Rating? 3.9/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, signing off.

The Mummy (1959)

WE SHALL LIVE AGAIN.

THE UNIVERSE IS BROUGHT DOWN BY THE HAMMER

After Universal produced their last film with Abbott and Costello where they Meet the Mummy, Universal also concluded its production of monsters born of the 30’s and 40’s. It moved to find new franchise options, creating a library of films based in sci-fi horror. This included concluding the Gillman trilogy with The Creature Walks Among Us,  and making new cult classics like The Mole People, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Deadly Mantis, The Monolith Monsters, Monster on the Campus and The Thing That Couldn’t Die.

Now we move from the fresh swamplands of Florida to the cold, rainy, foggy fields of old England. At the time Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy was released, a little company called Hammer Film Productions was very little known of. While they had produced their fair share of films, none were very successful. The most was a movie called The Black Widow, today virtually unknown. Everything else you question if it even existed. However, when the British adopted an “X” Rating, Hammer seized an opportunity to capitalize on a gimmick. They released the first major motion picture to receive an X-Rating, namely The Quatermass Xperiment. It was an intelligent and well-acted horror film that could easily sell.

They followed this up with X the Unknown. Looking for new material, not to let their X material go so quickly stale, they turned to something distinctly English. Frankenstein. A new film, called The Curse of Frankenstein, was an absolutely amazing film and sold like hotcakes. It’s release in the USA was incredible, and there was only demand for more Hammer Horror films of this unique style. Being in Technicolor helped too. So they made their vision of The Abominable Snowman, and then turned to something else even more distinctly English, Dracula. Hammer’s Frankenstein movies would make Peter Cushing a star, and Hammer’s Dracula movies would make Christopher Lee a star. To make this even more impactful, if it weren’t for these movies we would never have the Count Dooku, Saruman, Dr. Who or Grand Moff Tarkin that they provided.

They made more sequels to their products, such as Quatermass 2 and Revenge of Frankenstein. They also adapted The Hound of the Baskervilles. Their movies sold all over the place, were in color, featured cleavage highly taboo, gore and blood that you wouldn’t imagine had you watched Universal’s previous products, and generally things that would be associated with Grindhouse films without lacking quality…YET. In fact, at the time, there was a massive surplus of quality. With such classic horror and mystery products under their belt, they were ready to adapt something that has been in the entirety of the public conscious from 1922. It was time to unearth the tomb of Kharis, Imhotep, and princess Ananka. They assembled a distinctly Hammer team of Terrence Fisher, Jimmy Sangster, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. All you need is James Bernard and Anthony Hinds!

REVIEW

…Again, all you need is James Bernard and Anthony Hinds! Who the Hell is this dude they got to do the soundtrack?...Franz Reizenstein. You…you…Can I please call you Reich Frankenstein? Thanks. Mr. Reich Frankenstein was actually a pretty good pianist in his own rights, but as a movie composer he had pretty much no experience. He did four films, one was a short, and only one with any common knowledge. This one being that. Instead of taking inspiration from James Bernard and using his classic, awesome style….or, Hell, better yet, use some ORIGINALITY…

He reverts to creating pieces that are stylistically carbon copies of the pieces used in other Mummy flicks from the past. Where you might expect a chilling, solid, heavy, yet embracing and exciting piece from this studio; you get Universal’s signature type of wistful and sensational yet falsely threatening. Considering the point of these movies is to give the characters new flavors and to separate them from what both the studios and the audiences were sick of (justly or unjustly), this is a really stupid move. Was Lil’ Jimmy sick or something? Did he end up like Rey Mysterio with the flu?

Speaking of Lil’ Jimmy, we got one on the roster! Lil’ Jimmy Sangster! He’s awesome. As a writer, he’s done Hammer’s best films. As a director…we ignore that one thingy…But typically he’s great. Somehow, he seems to have slipped up. We saw in movies like The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula that he’s great at structuring his stories. Yet this falls to the same errors that the Universal movies did. Way too much fucking backstory. Here, it’s even MORE of a crime! At least in the old movies, it made sense. Not everybody is going to remember what they saw two years ago.

Especially when they don’t have DVDs to use as referrence. Especially when they go to the movies every other week, 'cuz they naturally don't have that impactful of a memory if they do that activity SO GODDAMN MUCH. (Ynori.) Here, what happens in the beginning of the movie is retold with footage at 40 minutes in! And that’s not even mentioning all the backstory of Kharis, and all the talking they do about it. So much tell, not as much show as they could do. They really had an opportunity to do the long, epic Mummy movie that was supposed to be made. They didn’t do that, unfortunately.

If it’s a consolation, the movie looks really good. Terrence Fisher knows what’s going on. There is that distinctive Hammer feel, and England looks really creepy. It’s like a bleak habitable ice cube, colored black. Whenever it’s daytime, it’s indoors, and you get lovely décor that suits any room from these types of movies. Plus, it takes place in the 1890’s, so naturally you’d get more organic dressing. The scenes in Egyptian themed locations are also something to look up. They are much more powerful than the English themed pieces. Their colors and bright yet light, exemplifying the wealth of the culture that was poured into their “fake Gods.” It doesn’t have nearly enough of the color red, though. That would have made it distinctly our image of Egypt, and with the power of Hammer’s artists would have been gorgeous. But this is still a highly commendable performance.

We enter the characters. First is Christopher Lee, who played The Monster, then The Vampire, and now he plays The Mummy. His Mummy has a great personality under the skin. His visual expressions are genius, wholly human and not character or creature at all. He is a strategic character, but fully aware of his restrictions. His motions, however, are the weakest, slowest, and most injured of all the performances thus far. Not entirely disappointing as his shoulder, back, and ankle were all sprained and dislocated during production of the film. Partially because of injuries outside of the studio, partially because he crashed through a bolted down door like he don’t give a fuck. It’s so interesting to think of the cunning Dracula, the foreboding Dooku, or the all-powerful Saruman, and think that this guy was also a physically mindless mummy.

Instead of Imhotep like in the original movie, he is the sequel’s Kharis. (Who I’m just gonna called Carey thankye very much.) The film follows the plots of Hand, Tomb and Ghost. So you could potentially switch out three hours of three movies and use half the time for one movie. The majority of the plot is from Hand, which makes me happy. Again, though, the structure is a bit unorganized. For all the goddamn backstory the mummy gets, it sucks that Cushing, known as John in this movie, and his dad never get any of their own. They’re pretty much “hey, here’s some random ass explorers in Egypt that got unlucky!”

Oh, yeah, like that’s supposed to get us invested. John’s wife, who’s supposed to be Annaka’s re-incarnate (I’m just gonna call her Anna thankye very much), is not introduced until about an hour in. Considering the movie’s only 79 minutes long…yeah, that’s stupid. She’s the whole reason we’re able to kill the mummy (no real spoilers here if you’ve seen the other mummy movies) and you’re only going to bring her in just when we need her? Come on! Ever hear of FORESHADOWING? Did you expect everybody to see those movies? If you’re going to start the movies over, do them right.

Back to the characters, we enter John, played by Peter Cushing. He feels a little miscast….actually, extremely miscast. Cushing should play somebody who knows all about the current subject and is ridiculed by those who don’t. He is ridiculed about his theories, that’s for sure, but he is lacking so much necessary confidence in his theories to be PETER GODDAMN CUSHING. Instead, it’s “hey, there’s Peter Cushing.” It feels weird seeing him playing somebody who’s supposed to be young, innocent, and discovering. Two years ago he played a college student who knew more than his peers, and the year before he played a vampire hunter who was aged and more knowledgeable than everybody else but the vampires themselves. How did this happen?

And that’s the movie for you. A sloppy script, a score done by somebody who doesn’t do movie scores, actors who are heavily miscast, but a really good visual style. It’s definitely better and fresher than The Mummy’s Hand, The Mummy’s Ghost or The Mummy’s Curse…but it’s sad knowing that it could have been SO MUCH MORE.  Could you imagine the REAL Mummy done by Hammer?....We must have patience my friend.

The Rating? 3.45/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)

Also known as Abbott and Costello: Enter Sandman.

A DECADE AND ANOTHER YEAR

After the duo-disaster of The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse, not to mention Universal losing interest in their horror themed products, Kharis and his surrounding mythology would lay dormant for a good eleven years. Meanwhile, Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man would have a final confrontation in 1945 entitled House of Dracula. After that, Universal would attempt to replace their monster library with mystery films like Strange Confession, Pillow of Death, House of Horrors, The Brute Man, so on and so forth. The closet they got to any other serious monster movies was She-Wolf of London, which was much more mystery than werewolf film. This fad quickly died out as horror-mysteries are not palltable over a long span of time. Nobody is going to watch The Brute Man Strikes Back!

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Abbott and Costello are contracted to Universal and are dominating the comedy scene. While guys like Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges are mostly condemned to shorts and television, Abbott and Costello are having two or more feature films distributed every year. They turn to a new genre that would spark interest for older fans of their success and would span many sequels by combining what has worked before.

Thus, we got Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Featuring main roles by Dracula, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein, played by Lugosi, Chaney and Strange respectively. This film also contained cameos from The Mummy (this one almost impossible to find) and The Invisible Man (this one well known.) This was part of an experiment to see if this type of format would work out. The reception was so awesome, even to this day, that Universal seemed to have no choice but to make more A&C Meet the Monsters movies. Thus, the very next film that would come from the UMM library was Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man.

Abbott and Costello would meet up with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and shortly with The Gillman (Creature from the Black Lagoon) on television. Speaking of Gillman, he was getting a lot of success. Him, Tarantula, Cult of the Cobra, It Came from Outer Space, The Island Earth, and many other pictures around that time proved to Universal that horror films with heavy doses of science fiction were what the market was demanding. By the time we come to 1955, Abbott and Costello are on their last legs, things of the 40’s. So are the UMMs. So naturally, before their contracts ran out, they did on last crossover. The final A&C Meets the Monsters movie was Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.

REVIEW

God I love these movies. I don’t know, these movies have definitely been over copied over the years and the jokes are very obvious…but I still laugh out loud at these movies. The wordplay is simple and easy to understand but it’s still great. Wordplay is the best when it targets things that people take for granted and flips it around like a pancake. Their slapstick is probably the weakest part, it’s just moderate. If you’re gonna do slapstick, you have to go insane with it. That’s all I’ll say. The routines are typical A&C material, which mean it’s freaking hilarious. My favorite little skit they did was the hamburger scene

God the timing in this movie is so good. It’s so tight. You really have to pay attention because usually they don’t give you that little dead time to figure out why the joke was supposed to be funny. I especially love when characters who are supposed to be uber serious start to use wordplay themselves. The soundtrack is probably the biggest reason why it might feel dated; it treats us like we need to be told when the joke is happening. I can’t imagine A&C without this style of score, but it still kinda bugs me.

The Mummy himself is really cool in this movie. No Imhotep, that’s for sure, but he’s much creepier looking than Kharis. Klaris, in this movie, is a much swifter creature than his predecessor, and his skin is charred like a collection of rotten skin. You can’t see it in great detail, which is probably intentional. Obviously marketed to all ages, you only want the attentive to notice the creepy details. He is much smarter in his motions than Kharis, too. Instead of mindlessly choking people like the wanna-be Frankenstein; he’s able to plot, strategize, and even antagonize when he wants to. Klaris is a much more personified creature than Kharis, and I kinda wish that he was in the 4 sequels.

Would have been too funny though. Like a 40’s version of Tim Curry as Pennywise. The only problem with him is that he doesn’t show up until about 45 minutes into a 1:20 movie. The first big chunk of the movie is a “framed on the run” movie starring Abbott and Costello. It focuses much more on the curse than it does the actual Mummy. I don’t know about you, but I kind of find it tedious when anything that we paid money to see doesn’t show up for a long time. Oh well. At least he’s awesome. Besides, there’s a giant hippopotamus sized iguana in this movie. That makes up the time without the mummy.

Everybody else does their job decently. They're not asked to play very eccentric characters, and for that you get what you get. Some of them are pretty racist stereotypes, but really...we're making fun of EVERY stereotype. Even the remote ones. When you think of the dude who plays the flute and makes the cobra come up, at least I think India. That's here. The song at the beginning is the most overheard sort of kind of not really at all Egyptian piece ever. Naturally, there's all the hats, and to make white supremacy a presence in this movie, there's a ton of hobos in Egypt. Also, if you want something REALLY offending, watch for the line "Midget Mummy!"

I do like the visual style in general. All the stuff that's familiar to us is really nice. You got your expansive deserts and you got your camels and you got your hobos and you got the coffins and the tombs and you've got the cobras and Hell you've got some Arabic written on the walls of buildings. Yet, of course, the main villain just HAS to be white. Because that makes a ton of fucking sense, right? This movie pretty much just makes the rich people white. But, you know, it's 1955. As much as I hate it, I can get past it. The production value of this movie, while possibly not executed to it's fullest potential, is really something to look at. Whenever there is something cool to look at in this movie, it's definitely something unique.

Overall, it really is standard Abbott and Costello fare. If you like these movies, than you’d like this movie. Otherwise, you won’t. It just comes to down to being that simple. I want to make this review bigger, but, this is all you really need to know. 3.7/5

The Mummy's Curse (1944)

The final chapter of Kharis’s over tedious journey.

1944 was the final confirmation of the suspected. Universal no longer cared. As opposed to the early thirties where they were cranking out some of the greatest horror movies of all time, all stories debuting in the sound format, with plenty of new and original spins on them. The year 1944 instead featured numerous sequels with stories that had been overdone and final results that nobody remembered. We had a three-way crossover that was the worst of each respective series. We had an unnecessary untrue continuation of a remake of an adaptation. We had such classics as Dead Man’s Eyes and Weird Woman. Yeah. Classy. The only reason we remember The Invisible Man’s Revenge is because it’s on the Legacy Collection DVDs and the VHS tapes from the 80’s and 90’s. However, Egypt’s little franchise might have gotten the worst treatment. The Mummy saw TWO unnecessary sequels, a far cry from the original masterpiece, one rushed and one delayed from release.

I guess my point is…do you care at this point? No, of course you don’t. Especially when most of the mvies I alluded to or listed had storylines that had been used three to five times. They were all familiar, and maybe there was good intentions, but these archetypes had gotten stale in the form which they were being presented. The same is 986.18% true in this movie. You just don’t care. Not only because the entire storyline is predictable, and the only fresh aspect of the movie is that one of the “risen dead” is a female…but also because the actors don’t give a damn.

Everybody is either bored as fuck, giving the 40’s white ass acting that is arguably the most boring cliché of all time, or being a racist stereotype…which is the most annoying cliché of all time. You have a racist Italian character, a racist Mexican character, a sexist old hag character, AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON FUCKING GOOBY. Man, I knew there was going to be a poor n1663r worker but this is fucking ridiculous. Only two years separated from being the same environment from Song of the South, and this shows possibly less dignity despite less volatility.

…Oh, and I almost forgot Kharis.

So anyways, what else is up? The soundtrack is real shit. There’s a few nice tunes from the universal horror library but typically it’s things that would make the year 1944 be labeled across each and every frame of this film. It almost feels intentionally dated. The material would have been stale if nothing else had been similar to it. The musical number at the beginning foreshadows the quality of the movie for the rest of the goings on. The visual style of this movie is useless. Everything is either really nice reused sets that have lost their impact due to overuse, or they’re the most low-budget things I’ve ever seen. My high school can put on a better looking show than this. And what’s this bullshit of having only two scenes at night? Everything else is in broad daylight. That’s not how you film a horror movie! What is this, “attack of the day walkers?” You need a better sense of vulnerability or else you’re gonna feel stupid for being afraid of a monster.

Uuugh…can I just leave it at that? You know what, yeah. If they’re only going to put that much effort in, so am I! The Mummy’s Curse is boring and stale. Its usefulness comes in a showcase of its uselessness to the series. Why it was being made I don’t know. It seems like cheap profits off of cheap movies were better than huge profits off of big movies at the risk of no profit off of bad movies. The purpose of viewing this film is either completism in viewing or refeeference to the current atmosphere of the UMMs.

The Rating? 2/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Mummy's Ghost (1944)

He was talking about leaves, and science...and look where that got him! NOW HE'S DEAD!

Originally meant to be released around Holiday 1943, to compete with money makers of The Song of Bernadett, Titantic and The Outlaw, The Mummy's Ghost is highly stacked with major Hollywood actors. Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, and....wait, that's it?

Riding on the success of the careers of Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine, The Mummy's Ghost was originally meant to compete with money makers like Titanic, Outlaw and The Song of Bernadett in the holiday of 1943. It is a direct sequel to the previous film...wait, no....wait....

Many decades after the events of The Mummy's Tomb, The Mummy's Ghost picks up with the star-power of Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine, hoping to be able to compete with money makers like Titantic, The Outlaw and The Song of Bernadett WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU HAVEN'T HEARD OF THOSE MOVIES?

Fuck thesis. This movie is crap. It reverts back to the strategy that The Mummy's Hand implemented. Take the cliches and conventions that were being used at the time and misunderstand them in your own monster movie. Except, it's not the C&C's of cinema. It's the C&C's of TV. Fuck dat shit. You've got your entirely simplistic mono-emotional character who's name you will never remember, his dog who is more of a major character than all but three or four other cast members, The Mummy who only walks around limping and obeying his master, and the master who would have been interesting if he got as much of the screen time he deserves, but he's only a generic rehash now.

The sets are uninteresting, without flavor, overused. There is nothing extra to give you that UUMPH. It's a visual media guys, you need to add something a little extra. But nope. The most interesting looking thing in this whole movie is Lon Chaney's matted hair. That's got to say something. The plot, I can't even remember. Probably because there barely was a plot. It was basically "hey, remember that Mummy? Yeah. I guess he's back. So let's do something....I guess....OH HEY, LOOK, A ROMANTIC SIDESTORY! THAT'S THE ONLY THING THESE GENERIC HOLLYWOOD WRITERS KNOW HOW TO WRITE!!!!"

The soundtrack is completely overused. Imagine in your head right now the most aged, dated, Andy Griffith-style soundtrack for a movie you can think of. Add some tantalizing sprinkles of the music that we've come to be accustomed to as UMM fans, and you've got your track. And...man...I don't even care.

Here, this is all you need to know: It's forgettable. It will not make an impression in you at all. Imagine a bunch of crackers deprived of taste and thrown in a blender. Now you've got the taste this movie makes in your mouth. 2/5 with Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦ seal of disapproval.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Mummy's Tomb (1942)

3 Tana Leaves to keep him alive...9 to give him motivation

Okay, I have no idea what you people talk about anymore. You guys talking about some shit like The Mummy's Hand was the best of the sequels. You can be labeled bullshit ladies and genteyman. This was a much better film. Steve and Babe, previously a bland rip-off of Abbott and Costello, are now two older gentlemen who are played by Dick Foran (The Petrified Forest) and Wallace Ford (Freaks.) Their performance is miles more sophisticated than the previous entry of these characters. Not super emotional in any one category of acting, but their facial expressions, body movements, vocal expressions, etc., all enhance each other and create a trance of sincerity.

Lon Chaney Jr. plays The Mummy, for the first time out of three, being the only one to play this role multiple times. He doesn't add too much to the last performance, but he moves his body a lot more. When he gets more than twenty seconds of screentime, his body movements feel less like one of a mindless puppet to the master and more like one who is focused on getting what he wants, no matter who he has to annihilate in order to complete his tasks. A lot of it is in the arms, and you know from The Wolf Man that Lon Chaney can use his arms. His visual expressions are deep and wide-eyed, showing a an evil persistence that ignores shock and pain. The best part about The Mummy in this movie is that he's not just waiting to be part of the climax. That's where he gets the time to shine, but he's a constant overbearing threat throughout most of the movie.

I love the soundtrack. It's simple. They're not even trying. They're reusing all the scores and music that got famous in Son of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, the works. Everybody knows these notes now, they used them up through their own productions to Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Universal would even use them in their distributed King Kong vs. Godzilla. You know the ones. I don't even have to explain them to you. If you don't know what I'm talking about then you're probably not even reading this review. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, go watch these movies right now or be subject to my giant mace of doom.

I think the Egyptian sets got kind of overused, especially with all the stock footage that's crammed into the first ten or so minutes. Universal instead said "fuck it" and went back to what they know. It's an England mostly at night, dark and creepy but unfortunately not non-senselessly foggy. They clearly reuse sets from Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Werewolf of London, and The Invisible Man. Maybe a Dracula film or two as well. It has the giant house where the monster is trapped fighting the one dude who is his indirect rival, with the townsmen rushing with the torches and flames. Cemeteries, barnyards, the works. In simplistic terms, it has the Universal stamp of aesthetic appeal.

The rest of the cast do an admirable job too. Believe it or not, the evil priest is not some old white dude. Instead...he's like a...a...black Cuban...of sorts. Don't ask questions. But he's a lot more fresh. He doesn't talk much, but he has this stone look on his face that just says "I don't give a damn about what's going on around me, all that matters is making sure Kharis wrecks some shit." You know that's a guy you don't fuck with, that's the kind of guy who's gonna shoot you in the face without giving himself a warning. That's the kind of guy who always wins in bets, doesn't celebrate, and doesn't take his earnings. He is one sick motherfucker. All from that one facial expression.

The pacing works well. It's only an hour long, give or take twenty seconds. So there's never a slow moment. That doesn't mean there isn't a quiet moment. I mean, the soundtrack is definitely there, but by now we've entered a different age. Once an event finishes, they go on straight to the next major event. However, there is still breathing space, and sometimes those events are dissecting clues from the last event. Basically, it's done quickly, not dumbly. They explain everything out of necessity, but they do it in a way where you still have to pay attention to understand what's going on.

One thing that makes this movie stand out a little more from it's predecessors is the established science. The one line "3 Tana leaves to keep him alive, 9 to give him motivation."  That fully established a scientific rule that you're going to have to stick to, and an easy one to stick to. That is an efficient tool that makes your movie feel 30x more realistic. If a movie doesn't have rules to follow, unless it's purposefully breaking the rules, then it feels less solid and more like pure entertainment then a legitimate story. If a movie does have rules to follow, unless it's the rules of cliche, then it instantly becomes so much more relatable. We have rules in our society, number based or morality based. We understand it better.

You can tell this movie was made after Citizen Kane. Something on both of the previous Mummy films you noticed was the editing. Music might cut off abruptly, there weren't a ton of cool fades (except for the flashback sequences). Now this feels more professional, now it feels more like something tightly edited. Less aged, you could probably say. Or maybe more aged? Since it's more identifiable with a certain time period? I'm not very sure. I can say I'm sure that The Mummy's Tomb is a huge improvement on the previous entry. It's not anywhere near the original film, but it's still a lot of fun as an UMM. The cast is great, the look and soundtrack are perfectly in tune with what worked in horror movies back then, (and not what was cliche at the time), and overall it's a lot of fun. I recommend it for all classic monster and horror fans...but do have a friend and popcorn with you handy.

3.6/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Mummy's Hand (1940)

The first of four sequels that aren’t actually sequels.

A DOZEN CALENDARS AND TWO YEARS*

*why do I have this weird obsession with Abraham Lincoln when I’m reviewing Mummy movies?

When The Mummy came out, Universal was in sort of a prime. In just a four year span, they released legends like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man and The Bride of Frankenstein. Not to mention, the army of UMMs had a strong backbone with flicks like The Black Cat, The Raven, Murders in the Rouge Morgue, The Old Dark House and Werewolf of London. But then something Universal was not expecting happened. A bomb struck. When Universal attempted to send Dracula’s Daughter (arguably better than the original) to England, news came ‘round that the UK had banned all horror films.*Considering that the material they worked with often was of English origin, and that country is a powerhouse (especially pre-war) they decided it was profitless to continue with horror. They finished production on The Invisible Ray and had a three year hiatus on their horror flicks.

*Ironic for a nation who’s ratings system had a “horror” instead of an  “X”

However, in 1938, Universal decided to re-release Dracula and Frankenstein as a double-feature. You could release Conan the Destroyer again and get more profit; a re-release is always a good idea. The audience went ecstatic. It seemed as if these monsters had built up more star power with their absence. So Universal decided to take action. They took less attention to Bride of Frankenstein and Dracula’s Daughter (damn you all) and looked specifically at the two big re-releases. So they decided to create loose sequels to the original films, Godzilla-style, instead of marketing it as a third film.

Their first entry was Son of Frankenstein, ignoring The Bride, and carrying a superstar powered cast. It wasn’t like today where you can rent something on DVD and revitalizes your memory, you saw the movie in theaters and in theaters only. So people wanted a direct sequel to the originals because that’s what was in their consciousness at the time. Son of Frankenstein proved three things: both the characters and the plots were marketable. They continued to cast Karloff, Lugosi and Rathbone in several of their horror films, and remade a lot of their series’. The Invisible Man Returns was released just a year later. In this wave we would see Phantom of the Opera, a new series The Wolf Man, and Son of Dracula, would come.

Of all the films out there, The Mummy might have taken the greatest hit in this wave. At least the Invisible Man movies recognized Griffin, the Frankenstein movies recognized the doctor, and the Dracula movies recognized Van Helsing.  However, Universal would take to creating a whole new series of sequels that had nothing to do with the original films. Imhotep? Gone. The Princess? Gone. Edward Van Helsing? Gone. Jack Pierce? Gone. Karloff? Gone. Now we have Tom Tyler, an unknown makeup artist, drawings done on frame to make the creature look creepier…and…ah…well, why don’t I tell you?

DA ₡₳$h₥₳₦’$ HAND

This movie…Sucks. Hard. Testicular. Sacks. From beginning to end, you see a bunch of clichés and conventions crafted by uncreative creators culminating in complete crap. Early on exposition is executed in blatant banter by a boring teller of tales, telling us the times of a terrible tactic where Da Ca$hman constantly creates consonance alongside his asinine assonance. In other words, unlike the original The Mummy where the telling of the backstory was placed in a logical moment in the story; this movie just gets it over with in the beginning of the movie with barely an excuse.

I’ve always said that a nonlinear form of narrative is the preferable form of storytelling; but I guess we got all the sensationalism to appeal to so we can’t do that? At least, if you’re going to do it, show it in full and don’t have a narrator. If you do have a narrator, don’t make him a character. You’re in an unhealthy balance. You can mix fruits and veggies, you can mix dairy and meat, you can even mix fish and chips, but dammit, you can’t mix all six. Speaking of characters created to satisfy sensationalism, we have here Abbott and Lou I—I---MEAN…. Laurel and Hardy I-I---MEAN….Moe, Larry and Curly I---I…yeah, Abbot and Lou.

Well, their real names are Steve & Babe, and they’re a bad rip-off of those two. They have none of the wits of A&C, they have one millionth of the common knowledge that Laurel and Hardy possess, and none of the screwball honesty of The Three Stooges. It’s even worse knowing that an unfunny couple of comedy morons are our protagonists. A comedy duo can be good as side characters if done right, see C3PO and R2D2. But A.) If they’re unfunny, B.) If they’re the main characters, you’re going to have a very bad time.

The evil priest is worse than a parody of an evil scientist on Cartoon Network. The magician feels so dumb he’s condescending. He actually has some good routines, but his tone and facial expressions make me want to go to school. And you know you’ve done something wrong to make a teenager want to go to school. The lady that insists on being brought along…I don’t need to explain that to you. I’m sure in 1940 she was “revolutionary” being somebody on the adventure and not the damsel in distress….but her actress is rubbing me off as somebody who wants to be the damsel in distress, because that’s how she’s been trained.

This is the movie where we started to see the classic cliché Mummy. The one that always stays in his bandages, the one that walks super slowly, the one that goes around killing people mindlessly. The only consolation is Tom Tyler’s visual expressions, but unfortunately those are covered up by drawings on the film all but two times. And those times it’s because of slip-ups. All the other times the film has been edited so that his eyes are pure black, which is kinda creepy, but not as much as a Mummy who is intelligent. What I would have loved is, if at the end of the movie, Kharis speaks for the first time and betrays his Master, instead Of being one of the Puppets. But even that would have been executed in a uninteresting, conventional manner, I suspect.

The pacing is crap. Nothing happens for most of the movie, it’s just people walking and cracking jokes. When The Mummy finally rises, you’re like “dammit, I was hoping for more of him” not the “Woo! Yes! Finally!” You paid money to see The Mummy, not these annoying side-characters. Despite the short length of not even seventy minutes, I felt like the time could have been spent so much more efficiently and I was kinda waiting for it to end. The soundtrack isn’t very obtrusive, but it’s there. There’s rarely a quiet moment because people are always either talking fastly or there’s music in the background or there’s actually soundtrack, I think I counted one scene where breathing and placidity were present.

There is one consolation. Aside from the annoying as ass cast, you have some pretty nice set designs. These are the kind of things that the camera cannot do justice. I imagine being in those sweeping, dry plains shot on location, or in that giant tomb with the heads of Anubis staring at you like “what the fuck are you doing here, mortal?” I imagine being in these things and I imagine some of the coolest experiences of my life. But that might also be my imagination running wild.

You could probably summarize this picture in the Universal logo that they were using for a long time. Sensational, big budget, pretty to look at, dishonest, foolish, and appealing to the mass audience. A far cry from that little clay Earth with the small airplane. I would not recommend this movie, however I do not warn against viewing if you are a hardcore fan. Just don’t do it more than you need to. 1.5/5

Huh…man, am I being too harsh? Well, considering this is considered the best Kharis film of the 40’s... shit.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

The Mummy (1932)

A love story that has lasted for four score and four thousand years.

WE LIVE TODAY.

"Exit light
Enter night
Take my hand
We're off to never never-land"

- Metallica, Enter Sandman

SECTION ONE: THE COFFIN GROWS OPEN – STORY

Let us set the stage. It is ancient, dry, hot Egypt. Imagine the Super Mario 64 music playing if you like. Dead at nineteen years, the pharaoh of Egypt was buried in a relatively small tomb, disproportionate to his stature and wealth. This was mostly likely done because his death was supposedly sudden, and time to carve a tomb was lacking. It has since been preserved in Luxor, prevented from extra decomposition and removed from his chest. The death of King Tut became miniscule to the Egyptian people and his memory was only a footprint on the longer path which they wished to walk upon. It was raided twice within the first year, and after seventy years was no longer attended. Tut’s location in The Valley of Kings became unknown as scriptures from the time became buried under the line in the sand. By the 20th dynasty these valleys were systematically dismantled and all hopes of finding him were thought to have been lost.

The year is 1922. Modern mankind has recently performed the most famous and arguably important act in Egyptian archeology. We have opened King Tut’s Tomb. Likely, with any interruption or interference with ancient or natural items that have been still for many years, we claim that it was a grave mistake and that some over-bearing force would prevail in punishment and vengeful justice. The Curse of the Pharaohs was created by newspapers looking to gain sales and those foolish enough to believe that The Gods of Egypt would exact their revenge for grave digging….not even grave-robbing, just grave digging!

We have entered the 1930’s. This day and age, Egyptian myth has become so popular, every othe theater was decorated with extravagant golden décor that imitated those lives. Images of Egyptian Gods or other icons were at least once per wall if not more so and a few times in every corner. Enter Carl Laemmle Jr., the producer of all films and products at Universal Studios for ten years, 1926-1936. He was witnessing the mass popularity of these themes and, like all good business  men, concluded to capitalize. He commissioned editor Richard Shayer to find a literary basis for an Egyptian film. Horror film, naturally. Universal had already proven their domination of the horror genre with Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dracula, The Old Dark House and the biggest horror hit of all-time, Frankenstein. Not to mention The Cat and the Canary or The Cat Creeps.

Richard was supposedly unsuccessful the first time around; however, the story is extremely similar to an old Conan Doyle short story called The Ring of Thoth. He then teamed up with Nina Wilcox Putnam and discovered the historical figure Alessandro Cagliostro. They used his life story to develop a vehicle for the horror superstar we have all come to know and love (and if you haven’t by now I will kill your head) Boris Karloff. Alessandro Cagliostro grew up as a poor Italian in the eighteenth century (1700s). He passed himself off as an alchemist and hypnotist, and he claimed to have lived for ‘centuries.’ He became a very notable figure in the aristocratic societies of Italy and became very wealthy through those who wished to see his ways.

The original treatment told the tale of a 3000 year old magician who lived in San Francisco; he survived that long by injecting nitrates. Carl Lam was pleased so much that he hired John L. Balderston to develop a script out of a treatment. He was a playwright who assisted on both Dracula and Frankenstein, those films being closer to their stage counterparts. He loved history, and Egypt was one of his favorites. He also had covered the opening of King Tut’s tomb way back in the 1920’s….well, I guess ten years isn’t that much but….SHECK IT…..He then renamed the main character Imhotep after the famous Egyptian architect who built the first Pyramid. Imhotep and King of the Dead were both working titles of the film. He then retitled the film The Mummy and his transformation was complete.

But aside from gangsters and Egyptians, John Balderstein is noted for subconsciously molding the material to his American play of Dracula. An undead person, strong romantic overtone, etc. And of course borrowing the theme song of Dracula, “Swan Lake.” Even the long, monotone, yet highly interesting speeches were subconsciously moved into this picture. Dracula draws people in from short distance, and The Mummy does so long distance. There are scenes where, if it was Dracula instead of Imhotep, then they would completely change identity. They are so similar.

John was much more elaborate with his movie. The series of flashbacks that is presented in this movie was originally going to be this whole movie. Karloff and Zita were going to go through history, through Ancient Rome, modern day, Egyptian, and so many more locations. It would be interesting if somebody took that old script and made a movie based around it. It would be, what would you say, “an epic.”

SECTION TWO: THE MUMMY IS CREATED – THE DAYS OF WORK

Two days before filming, they hired their director. Something must have been different back in 1932 if that still allowed success. They got Karl Freund, now well-known German director, had made his name in Dracula when he used the mobile camera (not much used even today) to explore Castle Dracula. He reused this tactic in Murders in the Rue Morgue. Because of his visual spectacle in past films, he was granted full creative access – not just visual, but story, acting, and so on. Filming was scheduled for three weeks. His first decision was to rename the film’s star. Not necessarily legally (that had been done before) but in billing. He was now called Karloff the Uncanny. Almost no actor in history has been billed by last name. ALMOST.

Boris Karloff would once again find himself a costumer of the legendary makeup artist, Jack Pierce. Karloff’s intense bone structure and rather large face made it easier for Jack to come up with something convincingly scary. If you’ve read any other material no the universal monsters, they’ll mention that Jack Pierce would often apply makeup for hours and hours unend. It’s not like today where you can go into a computer and the hours can be split up in making the model. Back then, all the work had to be done to an actual, sensory human being, and all in one take. Pierce would begin applying makeup to The Uncanny at eleven in the morning, using cotton, clay, spirit gum and other annoying decorations.

Jack would actually stretch Karloff’s skin in order to make the wrinkles. This all happened multiple times, too, for that matter. Day by day. Every day for a whopping three weeks! The makeup couldn’t even change between days for consistency sake. Oh, and you want to know the kicker? You want to know when he stopped? The makeup was finally completed at SEVEN P.M…..But, oh wait, there’s more. Yeah. You want to know when they finished filming? TWO A.M. Yeah. Yeah, can you imagine that? 8 hours of the day used to sit there and have makeup applied! Seven hours of the day filming in all that garbage? And he would spend another two hours taking it off!!! He couldn’t get enough sleep in that time! It is impossible for me to not understate such a feat.

During the filming, Universal wanted some of the newspaper publicity that we had seen exhibited in 1922. They claimed that Jack Pierce had done detailed research for the film on Egyptian mythology, especially that of Seti I. Imhotep, as I’m sure an Egyptian architect may point out, looks nothing like Seti I. Instead, he looks a helluva lot like Usimare Ramesses III, a much more common figure of the time period. And even then, Boris is NOT Ramesses. Really, when you think of the common image of The Mummy, from both real architecture and pop culture, Karloff isn’t it. You can tell that Universal just liked some of the publicity.

Somebody on stage really, really liked Boris Karloff. The first time she met her, she instantly became sympathetic for him. She could feel a sadness radiating off of her eyes, she claimed that “whatever sadness was in him, it was very deep and very much a part of his soul.” This girl was Zita Johan. At a time when Broadway was still fiercely competing with Hollywood, Zita had been recognized as a megastar in that industry. Her most famous role was as a murderers who would scream to the electric chair as it took her victims. (Yes, you may listen to Ride the Lightning now.) Her way of playing back in the day was to say her prayers, take her vitamins, die of herself and become her character. We could use somebody with that kind of self-hypnosis, eh? But she HATED Hollywood.

The fact that she liked Boris was sort of a half-miracle. I don’t know exactly why she hated Hollywood, probably just a long rivalry in industry, but she was quoted in something I will paraphrase, ‘I have more respect for the horrors on 42nd street than those on Hollywood.’ On set, Zita would actually start acting before anybody started filming because she was so sued to going on stage and not waiting for any Ques. When she came to stage, she would put up an attitude with everybody. EVERYBODY. Even guys like Karl. He actually asked for a scene from the waist up nude, and when she realized he was looking for a scape-goat, she said “sure, if you can get it past the censors.”* She always made smart-ass remarks like that on stage, because she felt so entitled and didn’t feel worth respecting these Hollywood bugs. She would never star in a famous movie after The Mummy.

*I admit that actually made me grin.

Something a lot of people don’t know about ZJ was that she was extremely interested in the occult. She was a devout believer in reincarnation and had claimed to have levitated during spiritual retreat.* Her entire house was decorated in cabalistic symbols and what was then considered fiendish décor. Even yoga was considered voodoo at the time, and she put those exercises and meditations into pretty much everything. She would hold acting courses out of her house, and more often than not focus on self-hypnosis than the actual technique used afterwards. “If you gonna play Madea, let’s call upon Madea!”

*she later added that it was rotten coming down.

In the end, what was her motivation? It was the money. $7500 dollars a week in 1932 was about $121,994.64 a week in 2011. Could you imagine that? A ton of people don’t make that amount of money in a year, and that’s in the world’s wealthiest nation! There was also one really interesting scene with Zita that was cut. It was part of the series of flashbacks of how she had been re-incarnated before, notably fed to the lions in Ancient Rome. They actually got legitimate lions (1932 remember), and she had to walk in to this with no protection while everybody else was completely safeguarded. I can imagine she’d get a little frustrated, you?

SECTION THREE: HE LIVES FOREVER – THE REVIEW

A little unrelated note before I begin: I started this movie on my Blu-Ray player, and out came that old Universal logo. The new one is so bright and shiny, so grand scale, with the loud music in the background. The old logo is a simple clay model with a toy helicopter going around it. No  background music either. The fact that I like the old logo better, even though I am a child of the generation of The Matrix, speaks volumes. When you advance your technological capabilities, you start to show off. You say, “LOOK WHAT WE CAN DO!” But you forgot what you used to do. In the simplest and bluntest forms of making this statement: cinema has thrown away charm for production value.

Now, on with the show. In many other ways similar to Dracula, there is an odd and moody silence amongst the film. Back in 1931, at the very beginnings of sound film, and the beginning of horror sound films, it was believed that spoken dialogue would replace the need for a soundtrack. A year and a half later, it appears as if they’ve already corrected their miscalculation….well, corrected in a technical term. I’m sure the part of me that was eight watching Bride of Frankenstein is a part of this opinion, but I just love it so much better when all I can hear is the plot raging forward and the lake of film reel swimming at its unobtrusive pace. This is here for the most part, but the movie certainly has a score. And, a charming and effective score, nonetheless, suited for the atmosphere. However…greatly aged. Let me say, the sounds of Egypt in 1932 were quite different than how they are now.

Boris Karloff looks amazing. Jack Pierce and Pratt didn’t put in all those extra hours for nothing. Those eyes look old and torn from sights un-seeable, his skin torn from tortures unbearable, his facial emotion disciplined and malicious, hiding a softer, confused side of a man who wants to live in the past. You can see the entire story unfold in a detailed exhibition of makeup genius. This may be Jack Pierce’s greatest work. The Uncanny One does an excellent performance himself. Taking a few hints from Bela Lugosi, Karloff uses an elongated, stoned and serious tone in his voice. His voice would be one to develop inside of the body of a man who has traveled thirty seven thousand years through time for one singular goal. He sounds like a man who is dead inside, has been dead before, but has that last glimmer of life that brings him to his eventual path.

Edward Van Sloan, one of the main dudes in these movies, also is really awesome. It’s funny how he can say a lot of these things that, from then to eighty years later, would be reputed as ridiculous, yet can also be completely convincing. He doesn’t succumb to scrambling or becoming ecstatic, his facial expressions, his tone of voice, even his facial structure, represent a man who is fully convinced of these old myths because he’s right, and he’ll do anything not to prove it, but to prevent the evils and unleash the goods.

Zita Johann is charmingly cliché, but possibly too much for those who are older and unfamiliar with these aged films. She dreams of a time far out of her reach, her entire story-arch is built around a romantic plot…feels like Ariel in the completely opposite environment. She does really good when her emotions are moderate, but when her character is supposed to be scared out of her ass (which is berry nice by the way) or she’s supposed to be really mad or desperate or…emotional…then she kinda has to force it. I don’t know HOW that’s possible, considering she was a STAGE actress. Isn’t it some sort of stereotype that stage actors are completely over the top and over emotional? I don’t know. Maybe it was her stage relationships. She is written really well, her character is like a miniature icon, like The Bride of Ygor or Renfield. But her acting…much, much left to be desired.

Something a lot of people have noted in this movie that is odd for most horror movies is the visuals. They’re a more detailed, light, and clearer visual style. Look at Dracula, Frankenstein, Friday the 13th or The Wolf Man. They all have darker, broader visions of their aesthetics. Willy Pogany, who had worked on other pictures like few other flicks, created the intense artistic direction of The Mummy. In this film we have an exhibition of hieroglyphs crafted carefully with the most devoted labor. We have landscapes of Egypt that are icons in their own right, and we have Egyptian artifacts that are even more convincing than real Egyptian artifacts. And if any of you tell me those are real Egyptian artifacts, SHUSH, I’m trying to make myself look intelligible.

But seriously, this movie is something else. It takes a lot of risks. Probably the first time impaling was shown on screen, let alone a rash of it. The scene at the end, which I won’t spoil for most, but I’ll tell you it’s a lot like the ending of Horror of Dracula. It also gets under your skin, and I just wish that it was in full fruition. Damn censor boards. I just…this wasn’t even filmed fully on location, but you would never know that, because it looks so amazing.

The pacing in this movie might not be its strongest point, but it works. It’s a simpler film, and it was either going to drag out events longer or having to explain every plot point in detail vocally. Since the oldest book in the rule is show, don’t tell, they probably made the right choice. So what we have here is a movie that starts out slow as tar and barely picks up bit by bit, you don’t even notice it, until the very end at the climax you’re at the edge of your seat and cheering for Edward Van Helsing to save our main protagonist.

I want to revisit Imhotep for just one more moment. I’m not sure I can fully put my finger on it, but he’s a guy of his own breed. In Frankenstein or Hunchback of Notre Dame, you get a pretty clear cut sympathetic monster, or in stuff like Dracula or Nightmare on Elm Street, you get a pretty clear cut evil dude. But here, The Mummy feels too bi-polar to be either. His life is full of torture too brutal for anybody to believe. He was MUMMIFIED ALIVE. And that’s only the start. But at the same time, what he wants is equally brutal and selfish and sacrilegious. I cannot cheer for this dude. But I can’t hate him.

You want to kill his face, but you also know if it falls apart it’s going to be a sad day in Egypt. He has worked so hard and through so much pain for his goal, but his goal is so terrifying! Imhotep, like The Joker, is one of the grayest villains in cinematic history. He works wonderfully. And so does this movie. An excellent cast, an amazing visual style, magic pacing, dare I say perfect makeup, and superb writing. I love it. The emotion and story that is uncommon in its genre, it is no doubt one of the greatest horror movies of all time. And, I would dare to say, one of the greatest movies of all time.

The Rating? 5.4/5

SECTION FOUR: HIS MEMORY FOLLOWS – AFTERMATH OF THE MUMMY

“Heavy rings hold cigarettes

Up to lips that time forgets

While the Hollywood sun sets behind your back”

- Metallica, The Memory Remains

The Mummy was made at a time when Egyptian culture was extremely popular, but the actual figure of the mummy was not the prime focus. It was more about the curses, the Gods, the texture; the mummies were seen as only a minor piece of the puzzle. It was more about the souls of the dead, not the dead rising again. That was reserved for Vampires and Frankenstein stories. This movie put it into a new light. They took the biggest horror star at the time – arguably the biggest Hollywood star at the time – and put him in the current zeitgeist of culture flashback.

Now, we had a figure of this culture. Instead of a more spiritual icon, we had a single looming character amongst it all. Amongst the vampires, there was Dracula. Amongst the evil scientists, there was Frankenstein. Amongst the USA, there was the president. Amongst the school, there were the principals and the teachers. Amongst rock and roll, there (would be) Elvis Presley. Egyptian culture had been merged with horror, and we had this. When people talk about classic horror films, even of all time, but especially of this period, this one usually gets brought up. It is an old favorite of horror fans, and is seen as an extremely unique piece. It’s a love story, a mystery, least of all a horror story. Maybe even an adventure film. It sticks out in our mind because, Hell, it’s different, yet at the same time it’s so similar.

But unfortunately, it’s not the mummy film that everybody talks about. He’s not in bandages all the time, he’s actually got a good pace, he’s not malicious or murderous. No…no…that’s for next time. Mwuhahaha.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN SEASON!!!!!!!!

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.