A couple weeks ago we were challenged by Anomalous Host to find a film for him to review. And he suggested, which is what we kicked off November with, Frankenstein & Me; some kind of a family film about a boy who wants to bring to life his own Frankenstein monster. So we thought, “Wouldn’t it be a good if we picked something in a similar vane? Like a family movie? So we thought Hocus Pocus […]
[…] We decided to throw Anomalous Host under the bus by instead requesting that he review Ghost Dad, starring Pills- pills, what pills? Bill Cosby.
You miserable bastards. Hocus Pocus would’ve been fucking perfect, especially with the news story out there about how many millennials are turning to witchcraft to fill the void of Christianity, which will eventually be overtaken by Islam who will lead the next wave of Salem Witch trials where they will stone witches and bitches to death. Plus it would’ve given me an excuse to not just tackle that movie and virginity, but also tackle Nostalgia Chick, who is an obvious influence on you guys. I’ve seen some of her videos, I’ve seen how some of her dialogue is mirrored by you guys.
Normally I’d want to do a dual review in a case like this, but I can’t do dual reviews while drunk anymore (last time I did that I binge drinked and watched Battle Royal 1 and 2, and that endeavor lasted me at least 6 fucking hours; and I’m not doing it!). So I’ll save Hocus Pocus, and Frankenstein & Me, for another time (for all you readers, I recommend both films; fuck the haters, haters suck). So it will just be this film. And as you can tell from the title, I’m not going to be doing this fucking sober. So fuck you guys for making be review a movie I probably can’t get through sober, fuck you for choosing it over Hocus Pocus, and triple-fuck-you for not reviewing Thankskilling 3 for Thanksgiving. At this point, you fuckers deserve that movie.
And one last thing. You didn’t throw me under any fucking bus. I’m the one driving that motherfucker and running these flicks over myself (except for the decent ones I stop for to give a lift). Because this film was released in April of 1990, which suits me just fine considering I needed to watch it for my next entry in my Nostalgia for the 90s series. I guarantee that you hurt me more with that Combat Shock movie.
Edit (11-22-2018): Ok, I got that wrong. Ghost Dad was released in June 1990.
PS: For those not familiar with my drunk reviews, these are reviews I pretty much type out in real-time, without bothering to correct too many typos when I catch them, and don’t really do much in post except add in some gifs and pics and vids. Because I’m pretty sure some visual images are needed to make sense of the incoherent mess you’re about to witness.
Rated: 2.5 / 5
Oh God. Those Universal Studios intro clips. I have a fondness for the last two, the ones from the 80s and early 90s. It’s about as good as the original intro logos HBO used to have.
Wait a minute. The director is Sidney Poitier? THAT Sidney Poitier? What the fuck? This movie better be better than its reputation claims, or I’m going to be sad. And I don’t wanna be fucking sad when I’m fucking drunk! I wanna be either really happy or really pissed, and nothing else!
Strange way they did that title.
“Ok sweetie, it’s storytime. Let’s see. Where’d we leave off last night?”
“With me coming into the bedroom, feeling dizzy, and then passing out?”
“Ah, right. So then I proceeded to–
Ok, the dialogue didn’t happen like that. Goddamnit! It’s so fucking hard to do this without bringing up a roofie and rape joke!
“Never, in the brilliant career of 300 years had the ghost been so grossly insulted. So he decided to enter the twins room and give them a scare–“
Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves here? Cosby isn’t dead yet. I mean, I know it feels like he’s been around for 300 years, and I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the first time he snuck in to a room with passed out twin girls, but shouldn’t we wait a while before hitting him with the dead jokes?
Alright, I gotta stop with this. No more rapist and roofie jokes, I promise. Not unless this movie makes it too fucking easy to pass up on.
The daughter looks bored, heheh. Oh, it’s because she’s listening to a cassette player of her dad reading her a story. Well then fuck this guy. I mean seriously, not only is he not there to tell her a bedtime story in person, but the recording doesn’t even do it for longer than 1 fucking minute! Fuck this guy!
Now this movie just isn’t realistic. It’s a black family with a single father? Thought it was usually single moms that ran black families, with the dad ditching them when the family became too much of a pain in the ass for him. On the other hand, the dad isn’t there much for the family anyway. I take it back, this movie is a bit realistic. I’m going to assume the mother died or something before he could walk out on them.
Goddamnit! Just how much are they going to rub it in our face that this is a dad who puts his work far above his family? We have the, “he’s too busy to tuck them into bed,” routine. We have the, “he’s too busy to remember their birthday,” routine. What’s next? The, “Oh shit, I forgot to pick them up from school!” routine? Or the important phone call that the kids interrupt routine? Come on, what do you have?
He forgets her fucking name!?!? What the fuck, is she adopted or something? Did he take her out of foster care when she was 15? Does he have Alzheimer’s? This is bullshit!
“You take out your own garbage?”
“We pay people to do that for us. Anyway, I wanted to show Danny my new bike.”
“You mean you have a new possession and you actually want to show it off? That doesn’t sound like you Stewart.”
“Yeah. You can’t get this kind without connections. And, uh, it’s a lot faster than Danny’s. But it should be, since it’s about, uh, twice as expensive.”
“You’re a Republican aren’t you?”
Man, they really try to get ya when you’re young don’t they?
“You are so funny?”
“Well I’m not that funny.”
So far, I agree.
Ok, what the hell? I mean, I appreciate the tension with that elevator bit and all, but how the fuck is it that no one in the fucking building seems to be reacting to an elevator that just crashed from the top floor to the bottom floor? Not that this is realistic anyway, because there’s other countermeasures elevators have (which is why it wouldn’t surprise me if some Final Destination movie did that somewhere; I stopped watching them after the 3rd one, so I wouldn’t know), but I’m trying to give the movie some fucking credit here.
“Thanks. I’m trying to quit.”
Ok, now that was a little funny. I miss the days where they could drop the shit-bomb in kid-flicks. You know, like the Monster Squad, or The Sandlot.
Someone’s been playing Crazy Taxi too much. Oh wait, that didn’t exist yet. Oh God, that means this is a legitimate maniac driving the taxi! Aaaaaaaaaaagggggghhhhhhh!!!
Ok, that was a decent bus effect. Though that scene with the cop was just plain stupid.
I just started thinking, which is something I shouldn’t be doing for these reviews: what would make this movie more interesting? If Patrick fucking Swayze showed up. If that happened, we’d have one of the best ghost comedies of all time.
This doesn’t make any sense, this whole thing of him walking on solid surfaces, and then having trouble doing so when he’s in his home. I mean seriously, is the floor ghost-proof or something?
Is that Legends of the Hidden Temple on the television? No, it can’t be, that didn’t show up until 1993. So what is this kids obstacle course show? Seriously, I have a fascination for these things from the late 80s to the 90s.
Wait, so he can sit easily in his chair now!? Ah fuck it. Ghost movie logic.
Speaking of which, his kids can see him when the room is dark, but not when it’s lit up. Hmmm. Wonder if that would still happen if the ghost was a white guy?
Astonishing. The film actually has it revealed early on to the children that their dad has become a ghost. Usually films like these have 20 minutes of bullshit shenanigans before making that reveal, but this film just does it early on. I’ll give it kudos for that.
Bhahahaha! Ok, I’m not sure if this film was trying to be funny or not, but seeing his children celebrate that he’s a ghost is one of the funniest fucking things I’m probably ever going to see in films. I seriously doubt this film is going to top this moment in terms of segments that made me laugh out loud. But it’s exceeded my expectations a tad so far.
Heh, it’s also kinda funny hearing Cosby do that “ghost talk” in a manner only Cosby can do.
“Stick these on your forefingers.”
Oh my God, he’s giving him a Scientology test.
“I sensed a disturbance in the spirit ether.”
Oh, is that what they’re calling the Force now?
Aha! I called it! The wife died.
I’m actually liking this little twist on the ghost story. How people can become ghosts because heaven “misplaced paperwork,” or something like that, so sometimes people stay on Earth temporarily in ghost form until heaven gets their shit together.
Whoah whoah whoah whaoh whoah! A fucking lightsaber sound effect? Alright, now I’m pissed that these motherfuckers refer to the Force as a “spirit ether.” Hacks. Fuck you. And fuck Kathleen Kennedy too.
Ok, come on. They’re dragging on the whole “Edith is a girl’s name” joke too much, and it wasn’t funny the first time.
Well, this actually has a decent heartfelt moment. He has a good excuse for putting work over his children. Because the wife died, he used up his life-insurance funds to try and help her, and mortgaged the house too to do the same. He’s been trying to work hard and get enough funds to put himself and his family back on track. Kudos again, for not making him a 2-dimensional “job first” character.
“I’m talking about the fact that I want to concentrate, and the view and the sunlight is distracting.”
“… Ok, I’ll buy that one.”
Hah! I could imagine that line being used a lot in the screenwriter’s room.
Health inspection for life insurance. I just know this is going to contain some bullshit. X-Ray portion: bullshit. Checking your heartbeat: bullshit. Bunch of incompetent doctors. … Then again…
Ok, come on. Now this movie can’t decide if it wants to be a movie about a ghost or about an invisible man.
Lady attempting to have sex with the Bill Cosby ghost. Come on, you can do this. You can make it through without doing another rape/roofie joke.
Jesus, they are making that Stewart kid into a real (republican) dipshit. Spoiled, semi-rich, blackmailer who has no intelligence (seriously, your plan is to blackmail an “alien”? Why not tell Batman you’re planning to rob him while you’re at it?). He does have one of those cool glowy phones though.
“Put the bitch on the phone!? Put the bitch on the phone!? The bitch!?”
Those 3 lines need to be put on a T-shirt.
Ahhhhhhh, Jesus. All the shit that’s going on, and it’s going to pull the whole “kids are disappointed in their father at the end of the 2nd act” routine? You know, I really shouldn’t be bitching about something like this, considering what I was expecting out of this movie. But this film dared to show me some moments of potential to indicate that it could’ve been good. But a combination of cliches and eye-rolling moments, and leaps in ghost logic (which I’m pretty sure means fuck-all to just about everyone except for me) just keeps bringing this film back down to the level I was expecting. And that fucking pisses me off even more. Come on movie, be good. BE GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDD!!!!!!!
Man. So for the magic trick this kid is planning on doing. A black kid has himself in a straitjacket, while wrapped around in chains, and locked in a magic box? Good thing this isn’t the 1700s or someone would think he’s about to go up for auction. That’s 1 of 2 reasons (though I’m sure there’s more) as to why the teacher shouldn’t allow this stunt to happen, but he does anyway. I do like how much more lax the 90s were.
“How am I doing?”
“You’re getting an A.”
How the hell did this guy from London track down Cosby’s location? Ah fuck it, he’s got a lot of science shit that probably acts as a compass, and some computer tech, and all sorts of made up Star Trek bullshit that probably makes it logical somehow in this universe.
Fuck you for bringing up the “girls’ name” joke again.
So he’s not dead, but in some coma, where his spirit has temporarily left his body. Whatever you say to give this a happy ending.
“Let’s check the riverbank!”
Bullshit! Check the fucking hospital you dumbfucks!
Phahahahahahah!!!!! Oh my– Hahahahahahahah! Ooooohhhhh my God. I take it back. I thought them cheering when they learned he was a ghost was the funniest moment in the movie. It’s not. It’s when the daughter slips on the skates left by the dumb cunt littler daughter, rolls down the stairs, and somehow flies out far enough to smash into the television (or microwave) and stool. I mean, I know it sounds fucked up to laugh at something like this. But, Jesus Christ, that little build-up moment they had to this at the beginning of the film, and that it happened at that moment, and just how fucking far she had to fly from where the stairs were to smash into all that stuff. I’m fucking dying here. It was worth watching this movie just for that moment that brings me endless joy (well, maybe not endless; just for the next half hour or so). I don’t care how shitty the rest of the film was, it was worth it just for that.
Oh, Jesus fuck! That’s not how you carry a patient from one hospital bed to another! You don’t pull on her fucking head! Christ, as if this wasn’t funny enough.
Superfast recovery once the ghosts get back into their bodies. Too fast, especially for the daughter who should be in a fucking neck brace right now.
Ok, this is also kinda funny. Cosby finds that lunatic Satan-worshiping driver again (who somehow isn’t arrested by now), and basically tells him to commit suicide. And he drives off, leaving the audience under the impression that’s exactly what he’s going to do. Man, that’s got to be a first for a “family” movie.
And the movie ends just like that. With Cosby happy, back from the dead, but jobless, poor, and likely to live a life with a minimum-wage job for the rest of his life, unable to support his children. And he’s pissed off his rich Republican neighbor kid. He’s fucked.
It’s honestly not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Aside from some swearing, some sexual innuendo, and convincing a lunatic to commit suicide, it’s not a half-bad family film. On the other hand, families should loosen up a bit and let their children enjoy shit like this, because it’s not as if they aren’t going to here the words “shit” and “bitch” when they’re at school, or anywhere else for that matter.
Plus it has these two hilarious laugh-out-loud moments, one of which may be intentional, the other of which is definitely unintentional.
But I don’t think it was bad enough to qualify for a drunk review. Couldn’t muster up anything that drunk-type-worthy for this film. Ah, whatever.
Ok, some disclosure before proceeding here. I’m generally not a fan of rap and hip-hop, but I can’t ignore something that reached platinum status (and later quadruple platinum; that’s not a joke in case you were wondering, that’s a real thing apparently). So Bill Biv DeVoe released an album titled Poison that was a huge hit. Not my kind of music, but for those who are curious to know and are interested in that style of music. I’ll be sticking with my metal and rock. Also worth mentioning is Salt-N-Pepa: Black’s Magic, Digital Underground: Sex Packets, Above the Law: Livin’ Like Hustlers, Urban Dance Squad: Mental Floss for the Globe. The rap and hip-hop wave was out in full force. For those electronic lovers, there’s also The Beloved: Happiness. As for the rock & roll genre, I’ll give an honorable mention to The Fall – Extricate, and to Nitzer Ebb: Showtime.
Tribe: Here at the Home
The song “Outside” would later be featured in the game Rock Band. Personally, I’m more akin to the song “Rescue Me.” The band never made it big and only released 3 albums and disbanded in 1994. It had its fans; I wasn’t one of them (a casual listener at best). But the songs are decent enough. Plus I’m a bit biased with this particular selection, considering some band members would go on to get involved with the creation of the videogame Thief II: The Metal Age. And System Shock 2.
Borghesia – Resistance
So this is an electronic band, which usually isn’t my thing. But I have to admit, I really dig the beats on this album. It sounds epic, yet not overdone. I mean, just the opening track is incredible. The downside is that it’s in a foreign language that us English speakers won’t be able to understand, but that’s ok, because I usually have a hard time listening to lyrics in general anyway.
Robert Plant: Manic Nirvana
Interesting rock n’roll stuff. It’s groovy. Stand outs for me were Tie Dye on the Highway, Anniversary, Watching You.
Depeche Mode: Violator
You know this band from the song Personal Jesus.
Definitely one of the best female bands that has ever existed. But there’s only one song for me on this album. Wild Child.
Social Distortion: Social Distortion
It’s one of the most famous rock bands with their debut album. I have to include this just on principle alone, even if these guys are pricks. You’ve heard the songs “Ball and Chain” and “Story of my Life.” I think the band is just ok, but one can’t ignore their fame.
I’ll give an honorable mention for a film called Side Out. The film itself is just so-so at best, but it does have, “that’s so 90s” feel to it, and many do consider it the greatest beach volleyball movie ever made (some competition that genre’s got; I still say Top Gun is the best one, and it’s not even a beach volleyball movie). So, with that out of the way, there were some fairly good picks for this month.
A film to capitalize and promote the lambada dance craze, which never really took off as well as many hoped it would. In fact, in the same month, another lambada film was released titled The Forbidden Dance. Let’s just say it’s not even in the same league as this film. But whatever, this is a prime guilty pleasure film, with great cheese and ridiculous moments. Such a guilty pleasure for me that I enjoy it more than Dirty Dancing (you can’t hit me, I’ll lambada dodge all those beer bottles and bullets coming my way). This is one of the definitive, “that’s so 90s” films. Though I have to admit, that chick in the poster is a bit of a bitch in the movie, in ways that, well, just don’t happen in movies anymore, at least not in the context of this movie.
Joe Versus the Volcano
First it’s a dystopian future film about a guy who hates his desk job. Then it turns into a road-travel-romance flick. It’s interesting, and a bit of a cult classic (this month’s films have plenty of those). What would you do if you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal disease and only had a few months to live?
Last of the Finest
So it’s mainly a so-so cop action-thriller, but I’m a bit of a sucker for this movie. Especially because of the bitchin’ shootout during the finale. Also known as Blue Heat in the UK, which is a better title.
This is a pretty damn fun thriller that moves along at a brisk pace which never lets up once you get about 30 minutes in. James Earl Jones literally chews the scenery, Stan Lee makes a cameo, and there’s some fun stunts served with a decent dose of cheese. This film flies under the radar of many, but it’s a great under-appreciated popcorn flick worth checking out.
A cult classic. It’s no Zatoichi, but it’s the best American-made blind swordsman movie we’re ever going to get.
Found it difficult to get into until the 2nd half kicked in (though I do believe I should give that portion a second chance). That second half alone makes the film worth seeing. Great down-to-earth characters and moments; some good laughs; and one of the best endings ever. A true cult classic, the kind that Superbad wishes it could be.
This was the #1 highest grossing film of the year. It also skyrocketed Julia Roberts film career. And… it’s not bad, for a dream scenario of a rich guy going out with a hooker and making her life better and saving her from it (I’ll take it over 50 Shades anyday). Richard Gere and Julia Roberts work well together, and would team up again in a future romantic comedy film.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Come on, you know this movie! You know this franchise! The most financially successful independent film of that decade. And you bet your ass it’s the best live action TMNT film ever made.
The Hunt for Red October
Arguably the best film of the month, at least as far as popularity from today’s perspective goes. Also arguably the most famous Tom Clancy novel-to-film adaptation ever done (though not my personal favorite; that one comes later on).
I’ll give brief mention to Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs, just because the Kid Kool franchise was known well-enough during the time period. But this game is too fucking irritating to recommend playing. Fuck you, and your Mario Bros. rip-offs.
Baseball Simulator 1.000 (NES)
No, I’m not a fan of sports games. But this one is remembered by anyone who played it during that time period. That’s all I’ll say.
Burai Fighter (NES)
Now this is more like my kind of side-scroller shooter. This is fun, but like most of them, hard as hell.
Abadox: The Deadly Inner War (NES)
Yep, another fun side-scroller. Just look at those levels. Aren’t the graphics great? It’s like you’re flying through intestines.
Adventures of Lolo 2 (NES)
Finally. Something that is neither a sports game nor a shooter. A puzzle-like game.
Well what-do-ya-know? Another one that stands out. This time it’s more of a tabletop wargame than it is a puzzle game or shooter. Basically think of it as one of those Avalon Hill wargames from the 70s and 80s put into videogame format, and this is basically what you get. If we had an NES back in the day (I was a Sega Genesis person, didn’t hop over to Nintendo until the N64 came out), I’d imagine my dad would’ve played the hell out of this. He’s a sucker for stuff like this.
Code Name: Viper (NES)
Another side-scrolling shooter, but this time it’s a shameless rip-off of the arcade game (also ported to the NES) Rolling Thunder. However, they did improve on the gameplay, letting it be a bit more forgiving (ie fair).
Al Unser’s Jr. Turbo Racing (NES)
That racing music. The immersion this manages to bring for an NES title. Have to admit, despite racing games not being my thing, there’s something alluring and addictive about this one.
Good luck pronouncing the name of this hack-and-slash side-scroller. Another port of an arcade game (most NES games were).
The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (Game Boy)
Well… Ok, so this game isn’t regarded as good. But it does have a reputation that made it well-known. The first videogame released to feature Bugs Bunny. Puzzle elements. And gameplay that infuriated gamers; including the inability to fucking jump, while you played as a fucking bunny!
Kwirk (Game Boy)
So this is when I usually throw the Game Boy a bone here, because their games aren’t on par with those from the NES and PC. But when the games emphasize puzzle-solving rather than action, then it’s not bad. The hand-held systems weren’t capable of making any decent real-time action games yet. But every now and then… But this is no masterpiece. It gets monotonous. But the fact that there’s a Game Boy game that’s fun which isn’t Pokemon…
Revenge of the ‘Gator (Game Boy)
And what-do-ya-know? Another decent title for the Game Boy. Another pinball game. Quite polished for a Game Boy title.
Well, there were at least 2 memorable ones that go a bit beyond being just cult favorites. Makes it better than last month’s offerings then.
NewsWatch TV (March 1990 – present; AMC Network, Ion Television)
You can pretty much tell what this is from the description. A news series. Well, considering it’s still ongoing; kinda worth mentioning. H.E.L.P. (March 3, 1990 – April 14, 1990; ABC)
I honestly can’t say I know much about this series. What I do know is that some consider it to be ahead of its time, and cancelled as a result. To quote a youtuber: “it was basically Third Watch…but a decade earlier, with some really big names in it.” Also came out before Law & Order, though that would be coming soon. Only ran for one season (6 episodes), and was intended to be a simple mid-season replacement for Mission Impossible. Mainly mentioning the show because it may have inspired others that came after it, particularly Third Watch (which wouldn’t come out until near the end of the decade).
Sydney (March 21 – June 25, 1990; CBS)
A show that was hyped and sort of popular, likely because it starred Valerie Bertinelli. But it was short lived and didn’t go past 13 episodes for 1 season. Never saw it, but I’m aware of the brief popularity it had at the time.
The Outsiders (March 25, 1990 – July 22, 1990; Fox)
There are a lot of mixed opinions about this show. On the one hand, the pilot episode ended up being one of the highest watched and rated series premieres of all time during that time period. On the other hand, the ratings fell sharply after that, thanks to 60 Minutes and Married With Children. Some revere the show, others think it is a borderline disgrace to the famous film it acts as a sequel to. Main reason it has its haters is largely due to the cast, which many felt were inferior to those who were cast in the 1980s movie. The show only ran for one season and was cancelled, but from what I understand it didn’t end on a cliffhanger either; so it can be considered more-or-less complete. You be the judge, if you ever decide to watch it.
Equal Justice (March 27, 1990 – July 3, 1991; ABC)
The show had its cult following, which were outraged when the show got cancelled after 2 seasons. From what I understand, just about everyone who watched the show loved it. Great cast and writing. But it never built up a big enough audience (like others); probably because many dismissed it as an LA Law ripoff. Plus the early 90s was loaded with courtroom drama and police drama shows already, and Law & Order hadn’t even aired yet. So if you like your Pittsburgh D.A. shows, well here’s another you might like. Bagdad Cafe (March 30, 1990 – July 27, 1991; CBS)
As if The Outsiders wasn’t enough, now we have another series made that is based on a film (and may more or less act as a sequel to it). I wouldn’t have given this sitcom much thought if not for one thing. It stars Whoopi Goldberg. That should be enough to convince some to give it a watch, even if it did get cancelled midway through season 2.
Carol & Company (March 31, 1990 – July 20, 1991; NBC)
Only ran for one season, then got cancelled (though there was some sort of spin-off which some would consider season 2, which also didn’t last long). An anthology series without any ongoing character development or storyline. So it didn’t leave any threads dangling when it got off the air. Anyway, some people love the show. I was never a watcher.
Alright, so enough with the petty shows only some fanatical fans remember. Now for the 2 big tamales.
Tribes (March 5 – July 13, 1990; Fox)
Ah, this show. One of the High School soap operas that made its mark alongside other shows like Degrassi and Edgemont (the latter of which would show up during the next decade). It was created precisely for the timeslot it occupied, so that high schoolers could catch an episode when they got home before doing their homework. Unfortunately, despite the popularity and cult following this series had, it was cancelled after 1 season of 95 episodes. Fox hoped the series would reach Syndication, but it never happened. Oh well. Thanks for the memories.
Road to Avonlea (March 5, 1990 – March 31, 1996; The Disney Channel)
Heard good things about this Emmy Award winning series from Canada. Ran for 7 seasons. Technically, the series started airing in Canada in January 1990, but made it’s way to American televisions for this month. But watch out for those alternate titles and versions. To quote Wikipedia, “In the United States, its title was shortened to simply Avonlea, and a number of episodes were retitled and reordered. When the series was released on VHS and DVD in the United States, the title changed from Road to Avonlea to Tales from Avonlea.” It’s a family show that takes place during the very early 1900s. And this could very well be the top show of March 1990, and one of those series many hold in high reverence. I should check it out sometime.
Fair warning, there will be spoilers for all 4 films. I strongly encourage you to watch at least one of these Body Snatcher films first before reading this review; preferably the 1978 version.
What True Horror Is
When people talk about horror, about films that scare them, I think back years ago to a Bravo special where they listed the top 100 scariest movie moments of all time (pretty sure AMC did something similar at some point). But the list can also be equated to the top 100 most terrifying films of all time. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was listed among them, because of the boat trip where they saw disturbing imagery. Up in the top three was The Exorcist, and Alien. After those two came and went in 2nd and 3rd place, I was left wondering, “Well what the hell could first place be?” It ended up being the film Jaws. And thinking more about it a few hours after that was listed, I realized they had a point. Jaws was a film that not only terrified some people when they washed it, but it made people terrified to go swimming in the ocean. You know, because once that film came out, people figured it was 50/50 odds of getting ripped apart by a great white shark, even if those odds don’t match the actual statistics. But in any case, job well done. The film played on a fear that many already had to some extent, amplified it, and made many film-goers more paranoid about the potential real-life situation that could happen.
There’s a reason why films like Jaws, The Exorcist, Alien, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Blair Witch Project, among others, are classics that withstand the test of time in-spite of anything that does come off as dated (the shark in Jaws, the cliches and stereotypes some of these films started, etc). And there’s a reason why others are quickly forgotten. If there’s anything I despise about most horror films, especially those of today, it’s the overuse of the JUMP-scare. And you always use caps when spelling out the JUMP in JUMP-scare because it’s almost always punctuated by a loud music cue. Or if music is unavailable, throw a fucking cat into the scene, because people are scared of cats. But no matter what, always make sure there’s a hot chick in the film. Whether she’s the last survivor or one of the victims during the first 3/4ths of the runtime, all that matters is that she’s in it so this shit can be sold to the horny male teenagers and lesbians who want to bang her; but they can’t bang her, so they just fantasize about her while banging their real girlfriends. The main movie I think of when it comes to relying on nothing but JUMP-scares to get people to watch it is The Unborn from 2009. “What’s that movie?” you may ask. To which I reply, “Exactly.”
That’s not to say JUMP-scares can’t be utilized effectively, as each of the above films have at least one moment that executes the technique. But the classics tend not to lean so heavily on that crutch. Because JUMP-scares are a quick-fix. No real lasting impact, as their intention and execution is a dime-a-dozen among horror films ever since the 80s (the 70s had it, but to a lesser extent). Just something to make people content until they have the urge to go out and see the next piece of shit horror film out there that also relies heavily on the use of jump-scares, to the point where they break that crutch with their fat lazy bloated weight.
The point is, JUMP-scares are not scary. They are not horror. They are not terrifying. They are startling. Know what else is startling? Someone who walks up behind you without you being aware, and then says something calmly; something like, “Hey, you planning on doing the dishes?” There’s nothing terrifying about that unless you’re scared shitless of being near some family member or significant other. On that note, if one were to establish that the family member was deeply disturbed, and you had a very good reason to keep away from him/her, that you don’t know for sure what would happen should they get close to you, then you have something going for horror. The creeping dread. The mounting tension. The dwindling candlelight of hope.
Alfred Hitchcock stated it best when talking about a hypothetical scene in a film. If people were having a conversation at a dinner table, but then an explosion happened that killed a good number of them, then you would be startled, but the tension eases off quickly after that. But if you take the same sequence and show the bomb hidden beneath the table at the very beginning, counting down, and then focus on everyone talking at the dinner table, then you have mounting tension. As you get to know the people through dialogue, you may begin to relate to some, sympathize with others, and hope they somehow get away from there before the bomb goes off.
Because this is a fundamental element to what makes all, I repeat, all horror films work. Tension. The same thing that makes thrillers work is also what is needed to make horror films work. Tension. But tension alone isn’t enough, because the whole point of tension is the buildup of dread, the buildup of worry. Dreading what? Worrying about what? If it’s buildup to an inconsequential JUMP-scare like most of those found in the film The Unborn, then it’s not exactly that great of a jump scare to say the least. Even in Alien the jump-scares meant something. Like, “Oh crap, the Alien is behind him! He’s going to die!” Or, “Oh shit! It’s on the escape pod! How will she survive now?” You know as opposed to some scare that’s a fake-out scare, or a repetitious scare like the last half-dozen that came before it which doesn’t evolve the character or the plot in any way.
In most cases, the fear comes from worrying about what will happen to someone. Otherwise the only thing you’re likely scared of is dying from a heart attack (which is one way to face your fear). Or because the film contains something that represents what you yourself fear. So if a film contains well-written and relatable characters dealing with something that is related to something you fear happening, then you may have just come across your own personal favorite horror film. Since it’s usually difficult to make something that relatable to such a large number of potential customers, especially in this day and age when just about everything has been done in the past, the best course of action to take (one would think) would be keeping things simple.
By simple, I mean, “Fear of the unknown,” style. Not revealing very much about the antagonist, the creature, the thing, it, etc (oh God, not the etcetera!). For example, with John Carpenter’s The Thing, we never really know the true identity of the creature, or how many forms it can take, how many planets it has wiped out. With Ridley Scott’s Alien, we have vague knowledge of the Alien’s origin; that it may have been an experiment, a species created by the Disc Jockey, or perhaps something the Disc Jockey was transporting elsewhere before something went wrong. Either way, it’s implied its a monster that is capable of killing other alien species with technology far more advanced than humans, thus begging the question, “If they died, then what chance do we have to survive?” Plus the implied devious/sexual nature of the creature, which can be unsettling.
Nowadays most film-makers have the desire to explain away as much as possible, because they can’t have the audience pondering and thinking up their own conclusions; no, that would encourage creative thinking. And unfortunately, Ridley Scott isn’t immune to this, with all the harm he has caused to the Alien franchise with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Fear of the unknown is an outdated concept in Hollywood now, as well as a concept they seem to shun for some reason. Maybe they’re terrified of critical thinking audiences.
There is another element of fear that has not lost its touch ever since the concept first made its way to the screen in 1956. Fear of each other. Paranoia. Just how well do you know those around you? Just how well connected are you with your neighbors and the community you live in? Would you be able to tell the difference if something had changed? Would you be able to do so before it was too late? Sometimes it’s something as innocent as new hip trends that the new generation wants to get into (one decade it’s Dungeons & Dragons, the next it’s uncensored perverted Japanese videogames). Other times it’s something more sinister.
On March 21, 1947, President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) issued Executive Order 9835, also known as the Loyalty Order, which mandated that all federal employees be analyzed to determine whether they were sufficiently loyal to the government. Truman’s loyalty program was a startling development for a country that prized the concepts of personal liberty and freedom of political organization. Yet it was only one of many questionable activities that occurred during the period of anticommunist hysteria known as the Red Scare.
“There’s no emotion. None. Just the pretense of it. The words, gesture, the tone of voice; everything else is the same, but not the feeling!”
The first film, like many films from the 50s, and 60s, and 70s, and 80s, played on the fear of Communism spreading into the United States. The Red Scare. Of course Hollywood wasn’t going to pass on the chance to have someone else to target, along with the Nazis which plagued many Hollywood films as the main villains (hell, I’d say they never went away; I dare you to come up with 1 year where there wasn’t some Hollywood film that had some Nazi villain, released during the 50s to the present). Communists, socialists, those who threaten our capitalist republic government and lifestyle!
The takeover is done rather well in this film. It’s a subtle thing at first. Some people act differently. They have the details and features that humans should have, but they started out without character, without features; implying that they are featureless, characterless beings which disguise themselves to contain more. They’re no longer human (because communists/socialists < human). They are aliens, planning to take over. And they are starting with this small town, and will work their way outward from there. Like the domino theory.
However, this film doesn’t settle for something so simplistic. There’s more to it than just capitalizing on the Red Scare. There’s also a focus on psychiatry, which the main protagonist specializes in, and how those seeking psychiatric help can lose themselves.
“From my practice I’ve seen how people have allowed their humanity to drain away, only it happened slowly instead of all at once. They didn’t seem to mind.”
“But just some people Miles.”
“All of us. A little bit, we harden our hearts, grow callous. Only when we have to fight to stay human do we realize how precious it is to us.”
The Body Snatchers aren’t just a metaphor for communism and socialism. It’s also a metaphor for those who have lost their sense of humanity. How easy it is to do so. Psychiatrists working with people, trying to help them to get back on their feet and learn how to deal with their emotions responsibly. However, many would rather learn to deal with their emotions by trying not to have any at all. Booze-drinking, pill-swallowing, the latter of which is something a psychiatrist recommend. Despite their intentions, they too share a responsibility for others losing their humanity. Too difficult to go on, so they give up rather than keep on fighting. Better to take the easy way out and not care at all. Life would be simpler that way.
“So that’s how it began. Out of the sky”
“Your new bodies are growing in there. They’re taking you over, cell for cell, atom for atom. There’s no pain. Suddenly while you’re asleep they’ll absorb your minds, your memories. Then you’re reborn into an untroubled world.”
“Where everyone’s the same.”
“What a world.”
“I love Becky. Tomorrow, will I feel the same?”
“There’s no need for love.”
“No emotion. Then you have no feelings. Only the instinct to survive. You can’t love or be loved, am I right!?”
“You say it as if it were terrible. Believe me, it isn’t. You’ve been in love before; it didn’t last. It never does. Love. Desire. Ambition. Faith. Without them, life’s so simple, believe me.”
“I don’t want any part of it.”
“You’re forgetting something Miles.”
“You have no choice.”
So the film opts to tackle a threat that is external just as much as it is internal. Why try love when it risks you becoming broken-hearted (or when it results in your significant other divorcing you and taking half your shit)? Why have desire when you can’t have what you want? Why have ambition when it ultimately leads you nowhere? Why have faith when it lets you down numerous times?
Such themes touched upon, but the film doesn’t go far enough with them in my opinion. And to be honest, I never expected it to go far enough, considering the time period it was made it. Thankfully, the other films that followed would dive more heavily into such themes, but it can be argued that a couple of the later adaptations dive too heavily into such themes.
Other than taking issue with the method on how the film tackles these, uh, issues, there is one moment in the film that I can’t make much sense of. The film established that the pods eject lifeforms which take on the form and shape of an individual, and the lifeform replaces the individual. They leave it completely vague as to what happens to the previous body (something the 70s and 90s version doesn’t shy away from), but one would have to assume the other body is disposed of somehow so that the replica can take its place. Otherwise what would be the point of creating a replica? So I’m wondering what exactly happened to Becky’s body during those brief couple minutes that Miles left her alone in the cave for. Was some pod hidden there that managed to break out, take form, replace Becky, put on her clothes, and then lie there waiting for Miles when he got back? That’s a lot to take in, especially given the time limit to achieve such a convenient feat. It’s executed better in the 70s remake.
Oh, and one last thing. Of course, the film was remade numerous times due to the popularity of not just the first film, but also of the 1978 film that followed. However, I’m thinking there’s another reason they wanted to remake this, given this dialogue by the psychiatrist protagonist to this little boy named Jimmy:
“All right Jimmy. Open your mouth. Shut your eyes. In the words of the poet, ‘I’ll give you something to make you wise.'”
Hollywood pedophilia alert! I guess pills can also be a metaphor for something devious.
Under pressure from the negative publicity aimed at their studios, movie executives created blacklists that barred suspected radicals from employment; similar lists were also established in other industries.
So let me get this out of the way. This is my favorite horror film of all time. When I first saw this film, it terrified me to the core. I mean, the moment when the loved one crumbles away; plus the final moment of the film. Kinda scarred me as a kid (so did the 90s one for that matter, but I’ll get to that later). Watching it again, it still holds up very well. Because this is THE film that absolutely nails the element of growing tension and growing sense of isolation. It truly knows hot to make the audience as paranoid as the main characters. And on that note, Kevin McCarthy, the main protagonist from the last film, manages to show up in a great (albeit depressing) cameo in this film. He spent 30 years trying to warn us…
But anyway, like the last film, this movie still builds on the paranoia of the second Red Scare, which never fully went away, given the Cold War that was still ongoing. But in all fairness, the Red Scare died down a bit since the 50s film. In any case, communism and socialism were still big red targets. And like the last film, it doesn’t just focus on how one should be wary of the subtle rise of such a society, with people continually losing their humanity, giving up the fight, and just serving the hive mind. Psychiatry still plays a significant role, though that’s not the role of our lead protagonists; that role goes to Leonard Nemoy. It’s only logical.
Rather, the protagonists we get from Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams are Department of Health inspector and botanist respectively. Also reflective of the sign of the times, given that the 70s had a Green Peace wave of its own kind. Which makes the invasion of the pods all the more ironic, as they are portrayed to be plant-like, but are parasites. Like mistletoe.
“I think it’s a grex.”
“G-R-E-X. That’s when two different species cross-pollinate and produce a third completely unique one. And listen to this. Epilobic. From the Greek epi: upon. And lobus: a pod. Many of the species are dangerous weeds and should be avoided”
“In the garden. See? Look how quickly it roots. Their characteristic rapid and widespread growth pattern was even absorbed in many of the large, war-torn cities of Europe. Indeed, some of these plants may thrive on devastated ground.”
Now that dialogue description of the pod plant, that bares resemblance to the rise of Nazi Germany. A country devastated by war, still suffering economically. Fertile ground for the rise of socialism and fascism; for the rise of Hitler. So yes, that theme is still in these films. But they go a little further when it comes to talking about the plants.
“Nancy, shut the music off.”
“It’s for the plants, Stan.”
“Screw the plants. I hate the music.”
“It’s wonderful for my plants. They just love it. Plants have feelings, you know, just like people. It’s fascinating. This type of music stimulates the growth of the plants.”
That dialogue exchange takes place at this bathhouse. Well, more of a mud-bathhouse, which I guess is metaphorical for us being like plant seeds in the soil. In the bathhouse, some cheery music is being played for the plants. Contrast this to when Amazing Grace is being played near the end at the shipping docks for the pods. Music for the plants, signifying a funeral for mankind.
The film’s arcs stand out in a significant way. First is the invasion, where we see the town operating as normal before people start getting replaced by pods. We see the takeover happen from the beginning, as opposed to the first and third film where we pretty much enter into the story while it’s going on. We see the relationships people have with one another, and how it’s not all peaches and roses. Then the 2nd act, people are changing. The protagonists begin to feel isolated from the community. Then the 3rd act, the protagonists are right in the middle of an alien society, trying to run, trying to survive. It’s this third act where we are dropped into a George Orwell 1984 situation. Trying to live in a society where any hint of emotion is a death sentence; how trying to remain strong in such an environment is impossible, as you will eventually wear down. Then the last act, where the takeover is pretty much complete, and we see how lifeless this new life is.
“You’ll be born again into an untroubles world; free of anxiety, fear, hate.”
“Your minds and memories will be totally absorbed. Everything remains intact.”
“I hate you.”
“We don’t hate you. There’s no need for hate, now, or love.”
“Don’t be trapped by old concepts.”
“We came here from a dying world. We drift through the universe from planet to planet; pushed on by the solar winds. We adapt, and we survive. The function of life is survival.”
Because as parasitic beings, the pods aren’t capable of sustaining themselves. They thrive only where there is life. During the last few minutes of the film, Sutherland, now a pod person, wanders around aimlessly in the city. Sure there are others around, and he does the same stuff he did prior to being a pod person (sitting around at work; cutting out pieces of newspaper). But he has no emotion with his actions. He has no purpose. There’s no feeling to anything he’s doing. Incapable of being bored, incapable of being happy, incapable of being sad, incapable of any emotion. There’s nothing to motivate him, or any of the other pod people for that matter, other than replacing all humans with pods. And when there’s no humans left? Then eventually the world dies like the last one they were on, and they eventually move on to the next one.
Just as they look like people but aren’t, they also looked like plants but aren’t. It would be dangerous to treat them as something they’re not. And this comes back to the threat of socialism. The society can thrive for a while, but is destined to die off if it doesn’t change/evolve. Because having emotions, ambitions, love, hate, sadness, happiness, something to drive an individual is what can allow one to sustain themselves, and others.
Which brings me to the other aspect of the film. Like the first film, it’s not just about the threat of communism/socialism. There’s also a psychiatrist element to it, among other 70s culture aspects that differ from that of the 50s. In the 50s, marriage was considered sacred, and husband and wife were never to divorce under any circumstance. With the free-flying 70s, they began to change their opinion on marriage, that it shouldn’t be considered so sacred. Divorce rates rose. Relationships suffered (more or less). Many sought aid from psychiatrists, put their complete faith in them, hoping that they would fix things for them.
“People are stepping in and out of relationships too fast because they don’t want the responsibility. That’s why marriages are going to hell. The whole family unit is shot to hell.”
“David, you’re not listening to what she’s saying.”
[David turns towards Matthew] “Matthew, please stay out of this.” [He turns back to Elizabeth] “You see? That’s the point. I’m listening to you, but he doesn’t think I am. Why? Because he doesn’t expect me to bother enough or to care.”
“How did you feel about what you just saw? You were probably shocked. You wanted to shut your feelings off, withdraw, maybe make believe that it wasn’t happening because then you don’t have to deal with it.”
“I wanna deal with that poor woman in the bookstore.”
“Why? … Do you identify with her?”
There’s also the idea of failing relationships in this film. It’s evident early on even before Elizabeth’s husband is turned into a pod person, how he cares more about the sports on tv than being intimate with her. When he does become a pod person, what little intimate feelings he still had for her disappeared, and he becomes more closed off from her than ever. One could say their relationship was going down that direction in the first place, but the pod invasion accelerated the process. Thus a callback to that line of dialogue from the first film, “From my practice I’ve seen how people have allowed their humanity to drain away, only it happened slowly instead of all at once.”
So what’s most important is our relationship with one another. The closer we are to someone, the more we know about each other, the more emotionally connected we are, the more quickly we can identify when something is wrong. And possibly take precautions to overcome the trouble before it rises too high. Because many were so closed off from one another, because so many relied on psychiatry rather than on themselves, it made it easier to be conquered by the invaders. Because say what you will about the hive-mind, their interconnections can be a strength too, a strength that can overwhelm us in spite of our own strengths, and in spite of their own weaknesses.
With the dawning of the new anticommunist crusade in the late 1940s, Hoover’s agency compiled extensive files on suspected subversives through the use of wiretaps, surveillance and the infiltration of leftist groups.
The information obtained by the FBI proved essential in high-profile legal cases, including the 1949 conviction of 12 prominent leaders of the American Communist Party on charges that they had advocated the overthrow of the government. Moreover, Hoover’s agents helped build the case against Julius Rosenberg (1918-53) and his wife, Ethel Rosenberg (1915-53), who were convicted of espionage in 1951 and executed two years later.
“Where you going to go? Where you going to run? Where you going to hide? Nowhere. ‘Cause there’s no one, like you, left.”
This film is a little rough. It’s not as good as the first one, let alone being a far cry from the 1978 version. But it does bring enough interesting moments to the table to still make it a worthwhile watch.
Anyway, this film is more blunt than the previous two on where its metaphor priorities are. With the Cold War over and the bashing of the commies being so 80’s at that point, what is the threat of a pod invasion supposed to represent at this point? What should the socialistic hive-mind represent now? The military, obviously. No longer is the threat foreign (metaphorically speaking), it is domestic. No longer is it the Ruskies, it’s the American troops. To be fair though, there are some decent opportunities to be had with this direction. Soldiers all have to dress the same, act the way their superiors demand, and don’t ask questions when taking orders. Conform.
While there is a psychiatrist in this film, played by Forrest Whitaker, keeping with the tradition of the previous entries, he takes more of a backseat here, only showing up in two scenes (from what I recall). The emphasis is put more on the Environmental Protection Agency (the next step from Department of Health role of Donald Sutherland’s character from the last film), a role taken by the dad of the family unit who moves into this military complex temporarily (basically a small town near/within a military base). He has been ordered to the military base to check on the water in the river, to see if there’s any sort of strange pollution going on. Well, that is where the pods are found (unlike the last film, we know they came from space, but aren’t shown the actual space travel). So I guess there’s a connection here between the military, pollution, and an overall threat to every American. Well the Green Peace movement is still ongoing from the 70s it seems, but you would think we would’ve learned that plants suck at this point.
But he’s not the main protagonist; that would be his daughter. And here comes that secondary theme these films tend to have. This family unit, composed of the EPA dad, the 17 year old (almost 18 and legal) daughter, the elementary son, and the wife. They’re not the most well-kept family, at least as far as the daughter is concerned. She can’t wait to be free of them and do her own thing, especially when her dad is restrictive of her at times. She wants to be free and independent, and get a boyfriend, and get laid. Well, she gets 1 out of 3 in this film, and makes out with the military boyfriend she just met, so I guess that makes it 1.5 out of 3.
The father and daughter don’t listen to the son when he talks about strange things going on at the base. And the dad doesn’t take his daughter’s concerns seriously. Some failure to communicate, once again providing some compare and contrast between the humans and the aliens. But there’s also this decent scene at a school where all the children do finger-painting, and the paintings all look exactly the same, save for the painting done by the new kid. Of course, this was done to show how far gone the town is and the methods used to determine who needed a good podding. But this also acts as a metaphor for brainwashing the youth in school; to make them all think alike; to make them ready for the hive-mind, to be conformed.
To further the film’s credit, it also has what I consider to be the best “alien reveal speech” out of all the films. You know, that speech where they state they come from another world, that they wish to remake this one so that there’s no emotions, no conflict. And it’s delivered by Full Metal Jacket sergeant himself, R. Lee Ermy. But he’s not delivering it in the over-the-top, “Do what I say or I’ll get the Looney Tunes to rape your mother!” type of dialogue that we’re all familiar with (or we should be; if you’re not, go watch Full Metal Jacket right now!). Rather, he delivers the dialogue in a calm and soft-spoken manner, which ends up being more unsettling.
“Look what your fear has done to you. Can’t you see? When all things are conformed, there will be no more disputes, no conflicts, no problems any longer.”
“There are hundreds, even thousands of us here. We have traveled light-years throughout the universe, always surviving, always growing stronger, because we’ve learned it’s the race that’s important, not the individual.”
“The individual is always important.”
It’s also a bit interesting to see that it’s a white guy delivering this line to a black guy, about the race being more important than the individual. Granted, he’s speaking more in terms of human/alien race rather than race of color, but that’s all the more reason to make me think it was intentional. How one of the disputes and conflicts caused by humanity has to do with racial disputes. One would think this subject is given more attention at the start of the film when the daughter becomes ambushed (sort of) by a black soldier in the bathroom, who doesn’t have any ill-intention towards her, but is terrified of others who are after him. But this could very well play on the assumption that white people tend to distrust black people more, and how blacks fear white because blacks are the minority. The film isn’t blunt on this subject in any way, shape, or form, even to the point where I could be reading too much into it and the casting just ended up accidentally allowing for such a message to make its way into the film. I’m going to go on the assumption that this theme is intentional, especially when considering that the only scenes where black and white people seem to be getting on just fine is when they are all pod people, completely conformed. If this theme was intentional, I’ll applaud the film for doing it so subtly and naturally.
This film also marks another element that may have been hinted at in the previous film, but goes full-on here. How alluring and borderline seductive the pod people can be when it comes to convincing others to join them. This isn’t really done by having the pod people seduce the humans per-se; rather in the subtle nods, and in the unique camera style the director employs. How the pod wife is giving her husband a back message to relax him before making him the next victim. The way Ermy delivers his speech to Whitaker. How the slightly underage girl presents herself to the soldier boyfriend when in pod form (a bit of a callback to that one scene in the 70s film).
Plus, the pod people aren’t shown once to be using any weaponry in this film, as opposed to the humans who use weaponry any chance they get to defend themselves, or commit suicide. Come to think of it, the pod people didn’t use any weapons in the previous films either. This offers contrast to the way they conquer vs. the way humans conquer. The pod people prefer being subtle, conquering the world as calmly and non-violently as possible. While the humans, we like to take a more blunt approach towards defending ourselves and taking over other countries. One is violent, one is more peaceful. Both don’t give a damn about what the individual wants that they are annihilating. But the film pulls back a bit on showing the downsides to the pod people winning. Yes, it does admit the individual is lost to the hive-mind; and it does show the horrific way humans become assimilated; but it’s less blunt than the previous films when it comes to stating the downsides of the benefits of having no more conflict or emotion. This is a trend that will carry on, more heavily, into the 2007 film. But at least this film tries to even-handedly show the faults in both the humans and the pods.
The main issues I had with this film is that the acting was spotty in some places. The scope of the film felt too drawn back compared to the others, even for a film that is meant to convey a sense of isolationism. The ending could potentially be open to interpretation, about who the real monsters are or something like that; but I took it to mean that all the stuff that happened on the military base was also happening in other parts of the United States, or even the world, and so the protagonists were screwed. Who knows for sure? The finale felt too rushed no matter how you look at it.
As the Red Scare intensified, its political climate turned increasingly conservative. Elected officials from both major parties sought to portray themselves as staunch anticommunists, and few people dared to criticize the questionable tactics used to persecute suspected radicals. Membership in leftist groups dropped as it became clear that such associations could lead to serious consequences, and dissenting voices from the left side of the political spectrum fell silent on a range of important issues. In judicial affairs, for example, support for free speech and other civil liberties eroded significantly. This trend was symbolized by the 1951 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dennis v. United States, which said that the free-speech rights of accused Communists could be restricted because their actions presented a clear and present danger to the government.
I expected to hate this film more than I did. Make no mistake, this isn’t a solid film. In fact, watching it made me hold greater appreciation for the 1993 version. That being said, there are signs that this film actually had some decent potential. That also being said, a 2.5 is the rating I would give this on a good day, so my rating will likely be lowered if I were to rewatch this again. Because if you thought the 1993 Body Snatchers film was too blunt with its messaging about the military and conformity, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
So the first film had things focused on occupants of a small town. The 70s film upgraded the scale to a major city. The 90s film pulled back a bit and kept it focused on a small town, inside a military complex. Well the 2007 film opted to make it 70s in scope again. But what would the focus be on now? The Cold War is over, and the franchise already dealt with the military. So what else could be used as a metaphor for the dangers of hive-mind conformity and socialism? Apparently, rich corporate assholes was the next prime candidate, because nothing says conformity and socialism like rich corporate capitalist men in Wall Street suits. Then again, I believe the point the film is trying to make it how much better the world would be if the rich corporate and political assholes were more like socialist assholes. Throw in some nods about toxic drinking water (something hinted at in the 90s film; the 70s had some indication that there’s something special about the water, but more in an ironic way with how plants and humans use it), messages about how efficiently countries like Japan and and Europe can deal with virus outbreaks due to their protocols which are superior to that of the U.S., and a solid dose of the international scene regarding the war on terror, and war in general. So in other words, it takes shots at the George W. Bush administration, which was a popular target at that time period, and continued to be until around 2013. Then you can see where this film’s priorities lie. It’s going to be more critical of the U.S. than the 90s film was, and…
…you know what, fuck it. Just thinking thinking about this, I’ve decided to lower the rating to 2 / 5.
New rating: 2 / 5
Look, I don’t have much of a problem with films that are critical of the United States, because one is usually critical of the place they live so that it can be made to be a better place. Like how one can be critical of the rich fucks who fund the political fucks you don’t agree with. But the way this film goes about doing it, at the expense of how the first few films went about it… I had a feeling it was going to be bad once that dinner scene happened with the Russian ambassador (don’t worry, this isn’t returning to the Red Scare stuff; actually, maybe you should worry). It became pretty obvious at that point where the film was heading. About how humans suck and are doomed to wipe themselves out, while ignoring the alternative aspect regarding the existence of humans who manage to resolve issues/conflicts peacefully. Very pretentious.
So the film does a bit of a return to form by making the main protagonist a psychiatrist again, only this time played by Nicole Kidman. And the film does something I had hoped it would do. It brings sharper focus on what it is many psychiatrists do. How they usually prescribe pills to people to keep them emotionally stable and functional. And implying that this has downsides, something hinted at in the 50s and 70s version.
“You give people pills to make their lives better. How’s that different from what we’re doing?”
Unfortunately, the film really dumbs this aspect down with dialogue like that, how they ask the question of how taking pills is any different from what the pod people are doing. I can think of several differences, such as how people can make themselves stop taking pills, how pill-swallowers can still be independent and emotional, that being a pod person has worse side-effects than the pills you were taking, among other things. In fact, the film dumbs down things a lot when it comes to portraying the downsides of the hive-mind. In that it tries to avoid mentioning it altogether. The only time it really gets into the downsides of being a pod person (except there aren’t any fucking pods in this fucking movie, it’s all done by CG cell effects now) is by throwing in another bullshit situation.
“My baby boy is immune to the pod disease! All you pod people can suck it!”
That’s more or less what’s revealed. The film does what none of the others did, create a deus-ex-machina to save the day by having some people immune so that a cure can be made which will reverse the process. It’s at this point I’m starting to think this movie is full of shit in its depiction of pod people. These aren’t fucking pod people! These can hardly even be called body snatchers (which is probably why they removed those two words from the fucking title). They aren’t taking bodies and replacing them with their own, they’re altering cell structures somehow (try saying “Cell Snatchers” 5 times fast), which somehow allows them to have minds of their own and… it just seems stupid to me. They can say what they want about how scientifically plausible this is; but all I see is just one more example of lazy writing to come up with a plot contrivance for some bullshit oh-so-convenient ending; because they don’t have the balls to make the film dark and serious. That, and it’s also a way of saying, “Well that kid from the first film got podded, the kid on the swings from the 2nd film likely got molested by Catholic Priest Robert Duvall, and the kid from the 3rd film got the shit killed out of him; let’s have the kid survive this time and take a significant role.”
By the end of the film, in-spite of the pukers (they don’t deserve the name “pod people;” and since one of the ways they transmit this disease is by puking slime on others, or in their drinks, I’m just going to refer to them as pukers from here on) stating that they will kill anyone immune to their 28 Days Later disease, the film tries to make them sympathetic by the end. Through the first half of the film, there are newspaper headlines and news programs discussing the war and casualties happening throughout the world. During the latter half, these headlines are replaced with stories of conflicts ending and peace being made, indicating that the pod people are putting a stop to all this violence. But once a cure is found and all pod people revert back to being normal, the wars start up again. So the film ends on a note of, “Did she do the right thing? Would it have been better if the pod people took over?” There’s some problems with this message, outside of it being politically blunt as fuck.
“Look at yourself. Is this who you are? Is this who you want to be? You were wrong to fight them.”
“You wondered what it would be like if people could live more like those trees. Completely connected with each other, in harmony.”
“Have you seen the television? Have you read the newspapers? Have you seen what’s happening here, what we’re offering? A world without war, without poverty, without murder, without rape; a world without suffering. Because in our world, no one can hurt each other or exploit each other or try to destroy each other, because in our world there is no other. You know what it’s like Carol. Deep down inside, you know that fighting us is fighting for all the wrong things. Carol, you know it’s true. Our world is a better world.”
So outside of having the pukers wanting to kill a kid immune to their virus, the film implies that they’re not so bad. There isn’t any focus on the consequences to be had for losing your individuality, your emotions, your independence. It could’ve worked if there was more emphasis as to how valuable family/personal relationships are, but this film isn’t made/written well enough to take advantage of that. The only real thing we get is, “Momma loves her son,” and that’s it. You can say what you want about what her relationship with Daniel Craig, before he became a British secret agent not named Christopher Steele, entails. You can say what you want about the relationship with the dad who divorced her and what that entails. But the fact of the matter is that these aspects come off as cold and emotionless before any of them had to deal with the pod people. The only one that doesn’t come off as cold is the mother-son relationship, but even then it’s played by-the-numbers. So the film sucks when it comes to showcasing the advantages and disadvantages of personal relationships (unlike any of the predecessors).
“What we believe is that the way the entity plugged itself into our brain was so different from how we’re actually wired, that the mind interpreted the alien experience as a form of unconsciousness. Which explains why those who have been cured have no recollection of recent events. They experienced everything as if they were asleep.”
“Pick up the newspaper. For better or worse, we’re human again.”
Not being so bad for ending wars. Well that only works if they rule everything everywhere. And assuming they do manage that, then what? What happens after they take over? What will life be like then? If the film is going to go in a direction like this, it would be nice to have some list of pros and cons. But it shies away when depicting the cons of being a pod person. Why? I mean, most of the people who do wind up as pod people are usually businessmen, rich men, Wall Street dudes, anyone who is of the upper-class. There’s even a feminism message in this film with regards to a few lines of dialogue given by Nicole Kidman’s character, and further indications the film wants to go along with said feminism message by having her get in a scuffle with her ex-husband (while he’s a pod person), and by having most of the pod people be white rich guys.
“All I am saying is that civilization crumbles whenever we need it most. In the right situation, we are all capable of the most terrible crimes. To imagine a world where this was not so, where every crisis did not result in new atrocities, where every newspaper is not full of war and violence. Well, this is to imagine a world where human beings cease to be human.”
“While I’ll give you that we still retain some basic animal instincts, you have to admit we’re not the same animal we were a few thousand years ago.”
“Read Piaget, Kohlberg or Maslow, Graves, Wilber, and you’ll see that we’re still evolving. Our consciousness is changing. Five hundred years ago, postmodern feminists didn’t exist yet one sits right beside you today. And while that fact may not undo all of the terrible things that have been done in this world, at least it gives me reason to believe that one day, things may be different.”
Not exactly making a good case for humanity there, considering that postmodern feminists suck. But that’s another thing about this film. I’ve stated in previous blog entries that I believe 2006 was the year things began to go downhill in the entertainment industry. Not quickly, but slowly and subtly, via subliminal messaging (not as subliminal as in They Live, but with the way dialogue is spoken, with the way various groups/sexes/races/countries are portrayed in the media, etc). This film is one of those during the early days the trend became noticeable to me that contains many of the aspects most SJWs/NPCs (whatever you want to call these thin-skinned pussies). A couple lines about feminism encouraging the makings of the ideal strong independent woman that came more into fruition when films like Atomic Blonde, the new Star Wars trilogy, Wonder Woman, etc, came about in more recent years (as of this writing). The downplaying of how bad socialism/communism actually is. Growing ever more-critical of the United States. Hell, even a vague notion on how bad guns are makes it into this movie. Whenever she has a gun, she tosses it away soon after using it, ashamed that she decided to. “Guns are bad, but I needed to protect myself and my son, but they’re still bad.” This film contains most of the preachy traits I despise that at least half the films released nowadays in theaters contains.
So at this point I find this 2007 adaptation to be more of an interesting case study than anything else when it comes to the history of film. The cultural/political messages contained within it, and how the same messages grew and spread from there to other films as the years went on. And how one-sided they make the issues they tackle out to be. How ironic. When you think about it, it’s a perfect analogy for this whole Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario. It starts out as a small seed. Not so dangerous, doesn’t seem like a reasonable threat, so let it grow, let it spread, let it multiply, like weeds in a garden, while they sing propaganda on how the weeds have just as much of a right to live as the fruits and vegetables they suffocate. Let the teachers in schools teach about how to take the cultural/political lessons found in film; teach students how to interpret such message. Let the media do the same. Let the schools, media, films/shows program them all like the NPCs they are.
“The veneer of civility hides our true self-interests.”
The film did show signs of potential. There were indications that it could’ve been better than what we got. The impact on a relationship when a divorce happens; how terrible the world seems; one losing their humanity when they become a cutthroat businessman. And how it could all make one seriously consider ending it all because they can’t take it anymore, and the pod invasion being a metaphor for how willing people would be willing to give up their rights, their independence, their emotions, for the sake of blindly following a cause that could lead to a better world, while being oblivious to the downsides within that other world. But the film wants to keep the existence of those downsides hidden about as well as a politician tries to hide their lies. Which I treat as an insult to my intelligence. But hey, at least it had a scene where she knocks out a kid. And there’s one bitchin’ car chase sequence. Other than that, this isn’t a film I can recommend.
Americans also felt the effects of the Red Scare on a personal level, and thousands of alleged communist sympathizers saw their lives disrupted. They were hounded by law enforcement, alienated from friends and family and fired from their jobs. While a small number of the accused may have been aspiring revolutionaries, most others were the victims of false allegations or had done nothing more than exercise their democratic right to join a political party. Though the climate of fear and repression began to ease in the late 1950s, the Red Scare has continued to influence political debate in the decades since and is often cited as an example of how unfounded fears can compromise civil liberties.
Well, you know Hollywood is eventually going to remake this again, like how they continually try to remake history. Seems like any film that had some amount of popularity is due for a remake every 10-20 years. Considering it’s been over 10 since the last one, and considering they’ve used up the title “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” twice, and used “Body Snatchers,” and used “The Invasion,” I figure it’s only natural they use the only other noun left. Funny enough, a videogame has already taken the title, and it’s about a detective in the cyberpunk future tracking down and killing robots who have taken over human identities. Yeah, that sounds like the direction they would take the plot nowadays.
Personally, I think there’s a better way to deal with a remake to make it relevant in today’s age. But no robots; fuck that. If they want a movie about robots replacing people, it better not be called Body Snatchers. What they should do is have pods invade again, and they fall into Hollywood. Where the ground is very fertile because of how well society was doing (like a reverse-socialism disease; whereas socialism tends to take root in poor places, SJWism takes root in rich places). From there it spreads to Los Angeles and San Fransisco (where the 70s version took place), and have them make movies and ads promoting these new plant pods that everyone should have for a very reasonable price (like that movie The Stuff). And since the film is titled “The Snatchers,” naturally, the pods should take people over by being shoved up people’s snatches. And since we’re in a day and age where the new fad is encouraging people to be anything but straight, and convincing men to transition into women, it becomes easier to find snatches to invade (men have been convinced to have their dick and balls chopped off and replaced with a cunt, which they can then act like). It becomes easier to win because those trends cut down the amount of reproduction humans are capable of, while increasing the rate of reproduction the pods are capable of. And anyone who becomes a pod person is interconnected with all other pod people about as well as they’re connected on FaceBook and Twitter (but not Gab, because those Silicon fuckers decided that’s too big of a threatening competitor to tolerate), so they’re able to stay up-to-date in the hive-mind regarding what they should be doing. And anytime they see anyone who isn’t one of them, anytime they see an independent, or a conservative, or God forbid an intelligent well-mannered straight white masculine male who is attractive as fuck and has a six-pack and loads of testosterone and a giant bulging cock which has banged hundreds of chicks who can’t get enough of him, the NPCs point and go REEEEEEEE!!!!! RREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! The sound that attracts all other NPC SJW cunt-pods who want to cut off his dick so that he will no longer be capable of shoving it up their REEEEEEEEE! The podway, or the highway. “If I don’t get dicks, no one gets dicks!”
So yeah, the potential is all there. This Body Snatcher concept is arguably more relevant today than it was during the 70s if used in the right way. But if Hollywood remade it now, I guarantee you it would portray the SJWs as the good guys and all Trump-supporters as the pod people, somehow, even if they have to write them out-of-character to do it.
Which brings me back to why I find the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers to be the most terrifying horror film of all time (just a personal opinion; what people are scared of is entirely subjective). Many say they are afraid of the unknown. I say everyone else is afraid of all people they don’t know. They don’t know what everyone around them will do. They don’t know if they’re going to be the next suicide bomber, mass shooter, rapist, Hollywood turncoat, conservative speaker, spy, gold-digger, or just a plane annoying asshole. And that terrifies people. They are more willing to be pessimistic and terrified of all the bad others can cause rather than be willing to consider the good people can do. Someone could be the next loving companion, the next friend, the next drinking buddy, the next person actually capable of giving a good lay, the next person who enjoys the things you enjoy, the next person who shares some of your views, the next person you may have plenty in common with. But we’re encouraged to be divided by things that are both subtle and blunt. Fake news media, liberal teachers, online bloggers. On that last note, how would you know you could trust me? The same way you could figure out if you can trust the other asshats you listen to and trust more easily than me. Be an independent, don’t be a blind sheep, do some fucking research (the good kind; get information from those who have different perspectives, and don’t just rely on Google search engines to do it; never rely on just a small number of sources, let alone just 1).
The fear goes both ways. Good people are scared that they will let their guard down for bad people, yet they have to let their guard down for someone else lest they become too lonely and isolated. Bad people are scared that there will be enough good intelligent people out their to ruin their plan, and must wipe them out as subtly as possible at first so as not to be discovered, then as quickly as possible when they inevitably are discovered, at which time they may have enough numbers to accomplish their task.
There’s also the fear that someone you know and love changes for some reason, and the thing that changes affects your love for them. They don’t act the way they used to, they don’t believe what they used to believe, they stand for something you never imagined and never hoped they would stand for, etc.
The fear that people will destroy something you value, something that may or may not be tangible. The fear that the only way you may be able to go on is to become just like them.
PS: On the note of the Red Scare and communist influence in Hollywood during the McCarthy era, I strongly recommend checking out the video below. You’d be surprised how much rewritten history you’ve been subjected too.
Criminals often attract their intellectual inferiors and manipulate them into abetting their crimes. […] As the murderous dictators of history have noticed, a good smattering of “revolutionary” politics helps motivate followers to do terrible things — all in the name of helping the less fortunate.
— Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer
So thanks to Twitter user Christian Toto (please tell me this guy lives in Kansas; actually, it would be better if he used to live in Kansas), who apparently noticed my Twitter account and also hopefully my website, he invited me to see an early screening of the film Gosnell (full title is Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, but I’m not going to type all that shit, not even for the title; especially when it could refer to the size of his belly rather than the number of babies he butchered [though he probably did butcher a bunch of fried Chinese chicken with his diet]). And I gotta say, when I saw the trailer and a sneak-peek clip of the film prior to seeing the actual film, it just looked like a glorified Lifetime/Hallmark film in the same vane as Michael (that 90s movie with John Travolta). So I wasn’t expecting too much, in spite of the controversy surrounding the film (which I’ll get into later).
So the past few weeks I’ve been struggling to find something to write about. There’s a few things I’ve been wanting to get to, but being a spur-of-the-moment kind of guy, I just couldn’t summon the willpower to get to them. So first I’m thinking, “Hey, I’ve recently got through the original Star Trek series? Why not review that and joke about how The Last Jedi pissed me off so much it made me into a Star Trek fan?” But then I thought, “Oh Christ, it’s going to take me forever to point out which episodes I liked and why, which episodes sucked and why (and why some episodes from season 3 didn’t just plain suck, they sucked cock), let alone find some gifs that I want to use to highlight these moments.” Then I thought about posting up an old drunk review I made a long while back on Friday the 13th. Because it’s October. I even got about halfway through finishing it, but then I thought, “It’s such a pain in the ass to find the gifs I want to use for this; I wish I still had the fucking thing (illegally) downloaded onto my computer from way back when so I could do it with ease; now I gotta track down gifs from other sites and youtube videos to help make my point; which is making me put in more effort than when I reviewed the damn thing; fuck it, I’d rather stop this, get drunk, and watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and then play Thief II and Quake.” And then I started getting stressed out and worried that I’m not going to get through that book Gosnell in time to make a review about the movie I saw in an early access showing of it, which made me worry that I won’t get the review up by October 12 or 13 (I still don’t know if I’ll be able to do that), especially when I’m dealing with the death of my aunt and have to go drive out to the coast with my other family members to toss her ashes out to the sea during that time period. At one brief point, I started just thinking, “Fuck all this and fuck the blog, if I don’t feel like doing it, I’m not going to do it. I’ll just slack off for the next month or so and say to hell with all the viewers I’ll lose in the meantime.”
But then suddenly, one day, I manage to watch a film that finally lights a fire under my ass. A movie I was driven (not by a vehicle or anything like that) to see thanks to some negative reviews I read about it. So for those of you who follow this blog, sorry for keeping you waiting, and sorry for slacking off.
Rated: 3 / 5
So I saw this had some negative reviews (to say the least) on letterboxd.com, and at first I didn’t want to think much of it; even though I don’t trust most reviews on that website anymore (for reasons I won’t get into, at least not for my review of this film). But after reading one review which mentions the guy catching the hockey puck, at that moment I knew I had to see this. Not exactly because I wanted to see that moment per-se, but because I realized this is one of those films from my childhood I caught a glimpse of (my mother was watching it at the time) that never really left my mind. And that, and the few minutes following it, are the only scenes I really remember from this movie (which basically spoils it for me, because that all takes place in the last 20 minutes, though they foreshadow the shit out of the ending, so it didn’t really matter). So it was the nostalgia that drove me to seeing this.
And, as I suspected, the negative reviews weren’t trustworthy for my experience, because I enjoyed this film. But it is worth addressing some of their points.
1.) The big one being that Christian Slater’s character Adam is a stalker, a creep, and the film makes an attempt to make him seem like a great guy in spite of this by having him rescue Marisa Tomei’s character Caroline from an attempted rape.
2.) That last note would be the other major strike many have against the film, using sexual assault and the rescue from it as a plot device to get their relationship started, and to make the creepy stalker boyfriend less creepy.
Regarding point #1, if that was all the information we were given regarding Adam’s actions and motivations, yeah it probably wouldn’t be much more excusable than that of Mr. Grey (but horny bitches still love the 50 Shades films, let alone the books, both of which are of lesser quality than this film, so…). However, that’s not the only information given. It’s clear that Adam is retarded, literally. He’s had mental and physical issues during his early years, which prevented him from having a normal life, and kept him as a social outcast for most of his life. He’s more of a child in an adult’s body. And on that note, let’s just say children have been known to do stuff like that, following around other girls/boys they have an attraction to. Their intentions aren’t devious, they’re innocent. It’s adults who view it as devious and creepy because they know that adults who do this generally tend to be creepers will ill-intent. They don’t even bother considering that ones intentions could be anything other than bad. Growing up and losing one’s innocence sucks.
So in a sense, you could see the polar opposite of Adam with those 2 guys who attempt to violate Caroline. Men who are the same age as Adam, more fully developed mentally, but far less innocent. Just because one grows up and learns of the bad things that can happen in the world doesn’t mean one should let go of that blissful feeling innocence and naivety can bring. It can reap heavy consequences for letting your guard down like that. But the rewards one can gain in spite of the risks (whether because they take a chance knowing the risks, or are unaware of them) is something magical, something this movie strives to show.
So while Adam does follow Caroline around unbeknownst to her, and sneaks into her house to watch her at night (this all happens off-screen), it’s because of a childlike fascination, curiosity, and adoration rather than for lust. Obviously most adults aren’t like this, but due to biological circumstances, Adam tends to be the exception to the rule. And that’s another thing some people reject, or at the very least ignore, when it comes to faulting Adam. They act like this movie is promoting the idea that it’s ok for men to follow women around without their knowledge because they enjoy that sort of thing. No. This movie is saying that in this case one should accept an exception. Because Adam isn’t like other people. And Caroline learns this the more she gets to know him.
Point #2, sexual assault as a plot device, the event that causes Adam and Caroline’s relationship to start after he rescues her from the perpetrators. Some take issue with the fact that the film uses such a device in this film, considering it tasteless. I say anything can be used as a plot device and make it work. It just depends on the context, if it ties into some theme/character/story that’s in the film and fits within it to keep it cohesive rather than just jutting out like a pimple on the nose. In this case, as pointed out above, one of the reasons is to offer contrast between innocence and sinful. Not to mention Caroline’s downward spiral with her luck in life (if you can call it luck), with her choice in boyfriends of the past, and eventually having one of her past acquaintances coming to do her harm. She wasn’t seeing much to be happy about in life, and experienced much that would eventually make her as much as a sourpuss as many around today. That is until Adam showed up and became a bigger part of her life, a sort of savior who shows her how wonderful life can be, what joys can be found by the naive.
And because of what those 2 perpetrator assholes represent, it was only inevitable they would come back to do harm to Adam later on, showcasing that sooner or later, innocence would be tested. Such childhood innocence is bound to die out one way or another, whether due to actual death at the hands of the sinful because of their naive innocence, or because they lose that innocence when they see how terrible the world (ie people) can be at times. So when this other form of physical assault happens, done for hatred rather than lust, it inevitably leads to the hospital where the foreshadowing comes in more heavily from then on out.
Indicated by the title Untamed Heart (as opposed to the originally proposed title “Baboon Heart”), Adam is one who won’t be tamed. And by tamed, that means the taming of his innocence, of his childhood ways. While that does keep him to be the angel Caroline comes to adore, it also means he is destined to die by the end of the film. Being naive, after all, does have its downsides.
So by the end of it, I didn’t take issue with either of those two points. Now that being said, this film isn’t perfect. There are some elements I do have issue with. The film didn’t have the talent necessary to make the last act work, where Caroline is expressing how much Adam has changed her life for the better because he made her aware of how wonderful life can be with love; true love; innocent love. The film couldn’t figure out a good way to express this, so it stumbles with the last few lines of dialogue. In fact, you could say the last act, the third act, is when the film is at its weakest. It doesn’t do anything to ruin the entire film, but it doesn’t do anything to bring it up another level. It doesn’t do enough to bring everything together in an impact way. And it goes a little too hard with the foreshadowing of Adam’s death, when it thinks it’s being smart and subtle about it. Like Adam, the screenwriters seem to have a hard time expressing themselves here.
But for what it does provide, it’s a nice charming little love story, showcasing a relationship built on a love only childhood innocence can provide. The highlight of this is when Adam and Caroline become romantically involved for the first time. It doesn’t go down the way you would think, but the way it does happen I found to be emotionally powerful and perfectly fitting for Adam’s character.
So yeah, don’t listen to the haters. Give this film a chance. It’s no “greatest romance movie of all time” or anything, not like Frankie and Johnny; but it’s good enough to be worth a watch.
PS: Oh yeah, and be wary of the DVD version. It has apparently edited footage from the VHS version. I’m not sure which version I ended up watching, but I intend to find out at some point.
So I’ve been curious to see this movie after watching the trailer. The trailer actually made me laugh, plus I was curious to see how Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves would work together again, considering how long it’s been since Bram Stoker’s (or Francis Ford Coppola’s) Dracula. Unlike that time, Keanu doesn’t speak with an accent in this film, though I do wonder if it would’ve been more hilarious if he did.
Unfortunately the film wasn’t playing at any theater near where I lived. Figures, considering it’s a small budget indy film (though that doesn’t mean the film suffers for it, it still looks great). So I decided to put it off and wait and see if it will be on the rental shelf of my local library a few months from now.
That was, until I read a single-sentence review of the film.
What’s this, a film that makes tranny jokes? Well now I was more curious to see it than ever. But being the smartass I am (more emphasis on the “ass” than the “smart” in this case), I decided to make a joke in the comments section of this review. Bit difficult to resist, considering she took a John Wick assassination jab at Keanu’s character in this film.
Unfortunately, despite my inner warnings telling me I should take a snapshot just in case, my comment was deleted a couple days after being made, and after having several people remark on it. From what I recall, the comment went something like this: “Nah, he’s off shooting trannies and pansexuals.” I was tempted to add on to that, “You know, because the pansexuals raped his dog and the trannies shot it.” You know, in an attempt to consider this a shared universe where John Wick and Destination Wedding can coexist. But I didn’t want to go that far, so I just stuck with the first sentence. Had to show some restraint after all. As for the replies I got…
So first of all, it probably would’ve been more appropriate if my name was Donny.
Second of all, they obviously didn’t see that I gave favorable reviews/ratings for Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and The Crying Game (though I do still need to see Bound and rewatch Boys Don’t Cry).
Third of all, now I realized how sensitive they all are. Probably should’ve known better, considering the author of the review stated in the comments section that she walked out of the film after the film made its pansexual and transphobic joke. But now I knew for sure just how uptight their assholes really are. You probably couldn’t even stick a chopstick up there. It’s no wonder their so pissy all the time, they probably can’t even get laid the way they want because there’s no one in existence with a dick small enough to penetrate that region of their anatomy. And on top of that, they probably don’t even remember the last time they squeezed a turd out of their ass, considering they’re so uptight they’re incapable of doing so. They’re so full of shit they spout out this pro-outrage culture bullshit while virtue signalling, which inevitably happens when you get so backed up the shit starts to seep into your brain. They make themselves and everyone around them unhappy. People who are this pissy and this full of shit need to sit on the toilet for at least 20 minutes, learn to relax, and remember what it was like, how blissful it is to have that turd just slide out of you. They might actually be able to walk around more normally in society without feeling like someone’s jammed a broomstick up their ass.
In other words: STOP BEING SO UPTIGHT AND POLITICALLY CORRECT!!! Learn to take a joke for Christ’s sake. Oh wait, they may not believe in Christ. Let me rephrase that: Learn to take a joke for fuck’s sake. Hell, according to Zack and Miri Make a Porno, being less uptight so you can get fucked in the ass while congested actually helps.
But I digress. That whole incident made me want to see the film even more, which I eventually did, after seeing that it could be rented on the Playstation Store. And it didn’t take long before I realized I was really going to enjoy this movie. Aside from the nice laughs provided early on, it had this dialogue exchange (for the record, the whole movie is basically just Keanu and Winona’s characters conversing with each other), starting with Keanu:
“What do you do anyway?” “I prosecute companies and institutions for culturally insensitive actions or speech.” “You’re the politically correct police.” “Pfft, no.” “You parse what people say and do and then accuse them of being racist or misogynist or otherwise horrible. You destroy lives and reputations for money.” “Uh, no.” “Is that what you dreamed of, a career in reverse fascism?” “I can’t remember dreaming.”
It’s at this point that I’m starting to realize why it is the film didn’t get a mainstream release, outside of the fact that it’s an indy film, aside from the fact that it’s made differently than most rom-coms (with emphasis on the “com” in my opinion) by having the entire movie stay with these two protagonists who pretty much only converse with each other throughout the runtime.
Ah, but I know what you must be thinking. “What was that transphobic pansphobic joke that was made earlier?” I’m glad you asked.
“Why is the minister in a seersucker suit?” “Because he’s not a minister. He’s Keith’s friend from college.” “Levy, I think his name is.” “Kaplan?” “Kaplan, right. Is he wearing makeup?” “Always. Usually the Nars Radiant Creamy.” “If memory serves, he’s gay.” “The correct term is ‘Effeminate American.’ And actually, he’s pansexual.” “What does that mean?” “He’s attracted to all genders, gender identities, and sexual orientations.” “Come on.” “I’m telling you.” “How’d he get the gig?” “He fucked the bride and the groom.” “Which was like no big deal.” “Vanilla.” “I mean, because he would fuck, for example, a man who believes he’s a woman?” “Absolutely.” “Or a straight woman who believes she’s actually a gay man?” “Not a day goes by.” “What about hermaphrodites?” “You’d have to think.”
So in other words, it’s a joke about pansexuals who take it to trannies and pannies in the fannies.
But in all honesty, I don’t see what the big deal is. People make jokes all the time about how straight cisgendered men are pigs who always want to fuck the next straight hot female they see, yet you can’t joke about who or what trannies and pannies want to fuck because… they’re underprivileged or underrepresented or misrepresented or something? Well what the fuck makes you think straight people who are steadfast in their sexual orientation and are confident that their gender matches their DNA and what they were born with aren’t being underrepresented or misrepresented either in numerous cases (nevermind that there are plenty of white people who are underprivileged; go see American Heart for an example). Because that’s the hill they want to die on. And I can’t help but laugh and treat it as a joke. Because it is a joke. That’s why stand-up comedians from pre-2005 were taking jabs at that sort of shit all the time. And make no mistake, it’s ok to joke about everything and everyone. Jokes are universal and gender-neutral, and I’m not talking about the watered-down kind.
Which brings me to the point of this movie. Yes, with all that talk of trannies and pannies (I’m lazy and I prefer using less syllables and less letters, regardless of how blunt and anti-PC it is) and assholes and shit-talk I’ve been doing, there’s actually a way to come back full-circle and tie that in with this movie. And for the record, that dialogue exchange quoted above is the only instance I could find of the film making a joke about sexual orientations.
The two protagonists are individuals who have built walls around themselves throughout a good portion of their life, whether due to their upbringing, a failed relationship, or a combination of both. They resist any attempt at having a relationship with others to avoid feeling that pain again. This resistance comes in the form of bickering, both to and about each other, and about everything and everyone around them. They are pessimists to the extreme. Anything that can be viewed in a positive light they always find a way to look at in a negative light. From the petty things such as airplane food, massages, various locations hobbies and trivial things; to more significant things like relationships and an overall outlook on life (and the afterlife to a small extent). It’s done primarily for comedic effect, but it can be taken in that serious manner as well, especially during the last act of the film. The film does have it’s traditional 3-act structure similar to most rom-coms by having the couple starting out by hating each other, to finally having sex with each other and developing a friendly (at the least) relationship, to the (sort of) break-up and ending with the (potentially) getting back together at the end. But it does this by having the characters talk to each other like the writers from The Social Network wrote the script for them (they didn’t, it was just one guy named Victor Levin, who also directed the film, who is mostly experienced with writing for television shows rather than full-length feature films; but the fast-paced dialogue reminded me a bit of that). And they don’t beat around the bush during the third act, they straight up tackle the subject of long-term relationships head-on. They are aware that it is highly unlikely that it would ever work out, they weigh the pros and cons (primarily focusing on the cons). They don’t treat their chances any differently than the chances of the couple who’s wedding they attended (who they also bad-mouthed and said they would likely turn out miserable later on in life). Because while opening oneself up to such a passionate relationship can feel great at the start and for a while, there’s a good chance you can be hurt and become miserable and bitter for a long while afterwards. The protagonists know, because they’ve been through it once before.
In the end, they realize how much it sucks to be alone. How could they not? They’ve been reminded of what it’s like to have a significant other. As protected against such emotional attack can be when you’ve closed yourself off and stay isolated, looking for any and every excuse to not get close to anyone else again by having such a pessimistic outlook on everyone and everything; you’re never truly happy by being alone. So, to take a chance. To take a chance by lowering your guard and to be optimistic for at least a moment, which may lead to more moments. Chances are it could end badly, and thus lead to one becoming just as bitter and pessimistic and closed-off as before (if not more-so); but then there’s the off-chance that it won’t. It is uncertain. Such is life.
PS: Thank you lauren for giving me that push to shell out money to see this flick, and for providing me with enough content to pad this review out to a length that satisfies me. Here’s to you; may you learn to be every which way and loose, and find happiness in your future.
Edit (11-16-2018): So Letterboxd may have shown its true colors (either that or my account on that site got hacked; but I doubt that considering they only did 1 thing as far as I can tell). They took down my review of this film, which I had already redacted considerably, removing any mention of names of site users like lauren who has such a hard-on for pansexuals and trannies that she easily takes offense at any joke made at their expense, but had no problem making a joke at Keanu Reeve’s expense. I also removed entire paragraphs of this review just to keep it safe from censors. Well, not good enough they say. And like the last two times, they removed it without warning. Well that’s fine. Now I’ve got no problem not holding back on any of my reviews I make on that site from now on. I’m looking forward to them burning me. I’ll lose much, but I’ve learned that digital friends and family are easy to replace. They have nothing on friends and family that you can socialize with outside of the digital realm.
So here’s some images that tell of the story, from when I became aware of it yesterday:
So having watched Babylon5 and Farscape, I’m left wondering what else there is that is considered excellent among the best sci-fi shows ever made (ones that are live-action, have an actual ending, and isn’t Star Trek, because Star Trek is the default sci-fi show to fall back on in every situation). I heard about this one, so figured I’d check it out. After watching the first episode of the first season, I immediately purchased the whole series on eBay for roughly $20, a pricetag I thought was worth it just for the first episode alone.
The first episode of this series is a masterpiece if I ever saw one. Mind-bending, confusing, unique, different, dark, unpredictable. It contains a lot of elements that I hope to find in the sci-fi genre. You are dropped into the middle of a story with no background or information given; next thing you know the series jumps thousands of years into the future where we’re dropped into yet another setting with no information given. A dystopia planet where all but the high classes are slaves in a harsh slave-labor-intensive environment where punishment is harsh and common. Then a whole bunch of shit happens involving love slaves, undead assassins, talking brains, hellraiser-inspired shit, escape, and a ship capable of destroying planets with ease. I mean, good lord, the first episode set the bar so high for this franchise I wondered if it would be matched or raised in later episodes.
Well, for season 1, which only consists of 4 episodes, each 90 minutes in length (originally a Showtime series with a movie per episode), episodes 2 and 3 are largely filler episodes that do little to progress the story, but to allow viewers to become more familiar with the main cast of anti-hero protagonists, and they are fun in their own way. But episode 4 is when it starts to reach back to the heights of the first episode, adding up to a decent finale. The crew of 3 (plus a robot head) on a planet destroying ship going up against the Shadow (or the Divine Shadow). The fate of the universe is at stake. A crew of anti-heroes who honestly could be considered villains if you read into it enough, going up against a being who is most likely more evil than them.
Themes related to Brazil (the movie, not the country), rebelling against authoritarian rule, potentially being just as bad/destructive as those you are trying to overthrow (leaving nothing but destruction in your wake, while at least something existed under their rule), becoming independent, and how even the most powerful can become too arrogant and make mistakes leading to their downfall. Similar traits shared by all.
The first of the 4 seasons is a rock solid entry into the sci-fi genre. I dare not spoil who the protagonists of the series are for those who haven’t watched it. Just take my word for it, you have to see the first episode, if nothing else. The first episode is easily a 4/5 for me, maybe even higher upon repeated viewings. And if the franchise ended on that first season, and if it didn’t have a bit of a cliffhanger, I would say it’s one of the greatest sci-fi series ever made.
But then comes the next season, season 2. It starts out fine (even though it now resorts to be standard 40-50 minute runtime episodes), though you begin to realize that the captain of the Lexx is as big of a dunce as the first season implied. He becomes very difficult to root for much of the time. I’m pretty sure that’s the point, as the series wanted to do something different by having the main protagonists be those whom no one would want as a role model. They fuck things up, sometimes try to do good, but ultimately cause destruction usually doing more harm than good. It’s not a bad idea, but it needed a better script to make it work. That, and a little more budget. Seasons 2-4 don’t have the same quality as that of the first season when it comes to special effects and set design (though Season 4 does make the Lexx ship look its absolute best). But that’s the least of their problems. They opt for a more light-hearted goofy tone as opposed to a very dark and grim tone with some moments of humor thrown in here and there. It’s tonal whiplash from the first to the second season.
Aside from the first few episodes of season 2 (which does come with a shocking moment I honestly didn’t see coming), the first half of the season is a bit of a drag. Stand-alone episodes with only vague hints to an over-arching story, and many of them just aren’t that great in my opinion. But once the latter half of season 2 comes, the episodes become less stand-alone and begin to progress the plot episode to episode. And, to my amazement, it actually pulls off something that I normally despise, but makes it work. There’s a stage-play musical episode that delves into the backstory of one of the protagonists. As much as it sounds like this shouldn’t work and make it one of the worst episodes in the entire series, it’s quite the opposite. The episode is fantastic, somewhat emotional in its own way, and does its job in getting the viewer pumped for the finale. And the finale is actually quite good. So despite the bullshit that is most of the first half of season 2, and the overall decrease in quality, it actually feels worth it in the end. And it offers a more satisfying conclusion than that of the first season.
Themes of admitting one’s own faults, owning up to them and trying to turn things around, before you’re past the point of no return. And being courageous in the face of destruction.
If the series ended there, it would still be good, though flawed. A 3.5 / 5 rating. But it doesn’t end there.
Fuck this season in it’s dull monotonous boring as fuck asshole, with a sandpaper condom with cactus pricks glued onto it. While the first couple episodes may be interesting, and the season has every episode progressing the plot with no stand-alone episodes, the pacing is motherfucking slow! The crew gets continually stranded on the same 2 goddamn planets (while in the last couple seasons they usually visited a different planet each episode), where it becomes the same old shit over-and-over again. I wanted this season to end by the time I got to episode 6. But noooooooooo. They just had to drag it on for 13 fucking episodes. Here’s how each episode goes:
“We need to leave!”
“Let’s go to the planet to deal with so-and-so.”
“We did it, let’s get off the planet.”
“Let’s deal with so-and-so.”
“Ok, we’re back on the ship, let’s go!”
“Fuck you and fuck me and fuck everything and fuck this fucking season! GHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
This season should’ve been half as long as it is. But it isn’t. So it’s a slog to get through. I’d honestly recommend just watching the first 3-4 episodes, then skip to the last 2. You’ll be able to pick up enough information to get a general idea of what’s happened between that time. You’re not missing much, trust me.
Themes of what one can look forward to in the afterlife, facing punishment for all the harm one has done, or facing reward for all the good one has done. Yin yang with good and evil, though this aspect isn’t put forth anywhere near well enough.
This season drags the show rating down to a 2 / 5. But there is one more season.
Ok, yeah, it’s better than season 3. And on-par with season 2. But seasons 2-4 pale in comparison to season 1. The main reason to watch this season is to get to a more definitive end for the series, even if it doesn’t tie up every loose end (I think this is intentional for some thematic reason regarding the fate of this other group of people who aren’t the main protagonists). In this season, the Lexx gets to Earth, in the present day (though it’s sort of an alternate reality version of Earth; at least that’s my theory, otherwise it’s possible to drive rocket ships as easily as you can drive a car, sometimes with a joystick). There are some tidbits dropped here and there that link back to the lore setup in season 1 (which isn’t really developed at all in seasons 2-3). But these tidbits, in hindsight, aren’t satisfactory. This season acts as satire for the U.S. and its stereotypes and capitalism and politics. Some of the satire is great, some is so-so. But I can’t say I ever got completely bored with it. It does have some build-up to the finale, but season 2 had better build-up for its own finale compared to season 4. On the other hand, season 4 has a greater amount of entertaining episodes compared to season 2. Pros and cons, but at least neither are season 3. When it does get to the final episode, it does end by giving the best character in the series the ending he deserves (without this one character, I would’ve stopped watching the show long ago). So despite other protagonists still being around, who gives a shit? Once this guy ended, the series ended, and that’s fine by me.
Aside from the ending, there is a stand-out episode I rank up there with the stage play episode from season 2. The episode where these two guys are playing a chess game on some inter-dimensional plane. And it shows the full chess game with every move, with nice commentary between the moves. And the tension is high throughout, making you wonder if the protagonist is confident for a reason, or is being overconfident.
Themes of destruction and rebirth. A society doomed to fall, but hopefully has accomplished enough to carry on from the ashes. How love can cause one to do things terrible as well as things that are wonderful. The things we do for companionship.
At this point, I’d give the series overall a 2.5 / 5, which pains me because there are some great moments to be had here and there. It’s just that they get spread too far from each other after season 1, and are practically nowhere to be found in season 3.
The first season is the one and only season that takes the premise and the content seriously and doesn’t ever really get tongue-in-cheek with it. That all changes for the worse with the other seasons, though they each still have some great moments in them (though season 3 only has a few, which isn’t enough to justify its 13 episode length, which is practically half the number of episodes in seasons 2 and 4). Seasons 2 and onwards gets quite pervy at times. I’d say the perviness goes a little too far in season 2 where every other episode is perverted in some manner. They ease up on it with seasons 3 and 4. Would’ve liked the show a lot more if the captain of the ship was a less annoying and more like-able character (though that might defeat the purpose, as the series wants anti-heroes as protagonists whom the viewers are supposed to get frustrated with at several points in times).
If there is any show that could use a reboot, it would be this one. And honestly, the timing is just about perfect for it. SJWs are prime candidates for satire, but the show can also get away with having a lamebrain wimp of a male protagonist who represents everything feminists and PC people despise to even things out. Hell, I think the series could do with a stronger female protagonist (aside from season 1, she didn’t really do all that much other than be naively innocent in her view of the universe and with her view on getting laid, despite her strengths and what she is capable of, which never really amounted to anything significant). The show can take shots at everyone, but should also take itself more seriously than the original version does (save for season 1). There is still potential within this series that has remained untapped due to the lack of good creative writing.
So despite the 2.5 / 5 rating, I can give the first season a rock solid recommendation, season 2 a cautious recommendation, but the rest I would advise watching at your own risk. The later seasons are good only for having a fitting end for one of the main leads (well, I guess a fitting end for 2 of the leads if you think about it). And even then, you have to slog through a lot of bullshit to get to the good parts.
PS: Oh, in case you were wondering, Babylon 5 and Farscape are leagues beyond this show. I’d recommend those for anyone who wants to get into live action sci-fi series (and Star Trek TOS and TNG, of course, which should be assumed to be included to any list such as that by default). From what I’ve researched, nothing else really comes as close as these when it comes to sci-fi shows to recommend, though Stargate SG1 and X-Files aren’t half-bad either. As for Battlestar Galactica, the old series was never finished. The Sci-Fi remake/reboot, however, turned into ass by the end, so I can’t in good conscience recommend that.