Remember Me; or Are You Going to Scarborough Fair or What?

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Miniseries Monday, where the scares are spread out over a few episodes. You join your blogger, Lilly, as she tries to wash a shirt in yonder dry well, an impossible task but she’ll give it a go!

Today’s Miniseries Offering: Remember Me

LtX2QOT-show-poster2x3-EPnw9MD.jpg.resize.200x300.jpgLilly: Readers, if you knew the amount of times I have whined out loud about how I wanted to watch some BBC ghost story, you’d know how much I love them. High production values meet with low class trashy ghost pulp fiction and I love it dearly. I mean, that might be obvious with our pick of Crickley Hall.

Remember Me is the story of an elderly gentleman who wants to be moved out of his home, but there is something from his past life that he just can’t shake. It’s also the story of a young careworker who has enough problems as is, raising her younger brother while her distant mother struggles with her husband abandoning the family, and her involvement in the old man’s story. Plus, it has Mark Addy as a tired old cop, my favourite!

But Remember Me brings more than just grim British drama to the table. Oh no. It brings Michael Palin. Michael. Effing. Palin! A Python and excellent actor of his own accord, it’s what I’ve spoken of before–where a talented actor outside the genre is brought in and you forget you even watching horror because they take it so seriously. Which is what you need in your film, I’m here to tell you–you can really tell in any film category when an actor is acting versus when they are telling the story, and man, did Palin tell the story!

And it was unique! It wasn’t another crumbling manor with horrible memories tied to it (sorry, Crickley), it was a row house with bad carpeting and old photographs. It featured a folk song I literally hadn’t thought of for years. And while the whole storyline of ‘having to grow up too fast’ is used a lot in horror (and in British drama), it was at least treated with moments of childish panic and parenting pantomime that you would see in a young woman who was forced into the role. 

Honestly, the one criticism I have for the miniseries is that it was a bit intense at times for a BBC ghost story. It originally aired on Sunday evenings, and it was rightfully pointed out by a loved one that it was a ‘bit much’ for a Sunday night–the ghost was intensely shot, and eerie in its movement, definitely nightmare fuel before your work week kicked off. It also had cases of assumed suicides that were taken a bit too in-stride not to be taken note of–I mean, the NHS runs its workers ragged, but it was almost a given that those who died of mysterious causes likely just offed themselves.

Oh, and another criticism (maybe I lied about the ‘one’ part) was the treatment of Mark Addy’s tired policeman storyline. He wasn’t just tired, he was out and out depressed, and it sort of felt like his depression was painted as pathetic, while the struggles of the young female careworker were worth our sympathies. Plus, his depression and her struggles were sort of wrapped up in a neat little bow at the end because aw, he just needs a daughter to fuss over and aw, she just needs a father figure, and aw. And I hate that. It just feels out-dated and tired. 

I’m skirting the plot a bit because I honestly want everyone to go watch it. Spoilers aren’t going to be a-plenty in this one because it was so atmospheric, so interesting, and so well acted, that I just want you to go, watch, and enjoy!

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Hotel Transylvania 3; or Monsters on a Boat

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Sequel Saturday, where monsters get another chance to menace! You join your bloggers, Lilly and Andy, as they embark upon their exotic cruise full of their favourite fearsome fiends–er, friends!

Today’s Film Offering: Hotel Transylvania 3

Lilly: Eeeeeeeeee

Andy: Lilly, you need to calm down. We need to write a review.

Lilly: EeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEeee

Andy: Lilly.

Lilly: Eee.

Andy: …You don–

Lilly: Eeeeee.

I’m done.

Andy: Good. I–

91QltsyjqNL._SY445_.jpgLilly: Shut up, it’s Hotel Transylvania 3 day, everyone! Finally!

So, in this third installment of the Hotel Transylvania franchise, we start in Transylvania, 1897–the year mother effin’ Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published because these films are surprisingly thoughtful and reverential to their source materials–where we finally get this universe’s version of Van Helsing introduced. He is a bit more bumbling, and way more high-tech than even Hugh Jackman’s go at the character, and we watch as he fails to kill Dracula multiple times, much to the detriment of his own health. The last we see of him in 1897 is when he falls off a cliff into the sea and screams with dismay at yet again being beaten by his adversary.

Then it’s modern day!

Life is hectic at the Hotel, so it’s decided by Mavis that it’s time for a family vacay–which of course includes all the gang! The destination? Why, a Monster Cruise heading to Atlantis! Dracula rightfully makes the point that a cruise is just a hotel on the ocean, but his mood quickly changes when he lays eyes on the enthusiastic/gymnastically talented captain, Erica. With a secret being hidden by the alluring captain, we’ve got our plot!

Readers, I love these movies. We know this. I think it is a fun and campy way to introduce kids to characters that we take for granted as adults as being two-dimensional due to a long history of seeing them on film.  They are funny, they are witty (two different things, believe you me) and they are a decent way to spend an afternoon with a child that won’t bore you to tears.

It’s also surprising how big of a world these films can build. From the monster’s way of falling in love (via a sensation known as a ‘zing’) to the effects of garlic on vampires (it’s compared to lactose intolerance, flatulence included), the Dracula and Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster of this film are set apart from those Universal Monster Magnates. Add in delightful human characters Jonathan and Dennis (or Denisovich, an adorable nickname given to his grandson by Dracula), and you got a great mixture of characters to bounce off each other.

I want to look at two different storylines, then I’ll leave the rest for you to go and enjoy, but SPOILERS. Spoilers. You’ve been warned.

One, I absolutely loved: Dracula in love. For those of you haven’t seen the first film, go and watch that dummy, this is the third in the series! But yes, when you hear about what happened to Dracula’s wife, you completely understand his reluctance to deal with humans. You also come to realize, within the mythos of the film, that he could not possibly expect another ‘zing’ to come along, so he threw himself into work and, of course, loving Mavis, Dennis, and maybe even Jonathan at times. The extra pep in the Count’s step when he finds his second ‘zing’ is adorable and relatable, from his dance moves on the ship deck to his inability to form words around her. It’s a simple act of humanization that again breathes new life into him.

And I hear what you’re saying–but Dracula fell in love in Bram Stoker’s Dracula! And to that I say fair point, but it’s not nearly as adorable! I mean, Dracula’s falling in love in Monster Family was better, even if I have huge, angry opinions about that film that might come out at a later date. In fact, Dracula has fallen in love in roughly a million films (approximately), but has he wore support socks and gotten a goofy Charlie Brown-esque smile in those films? No. Nope.

Second one I absolutely had winces for: the coupling of Dennis and Winnie. Remember how they were adorable friends in Hotel Transylvania 2? Well, in another ‘so human like us’ move, the pair are made out to be that weird ‘awww, they are so cute together, they are dating’ friends that I haaaaate in real life with kids and moreso in films since those at least have a choice to not pull that shit.

Pro tip: Stop pretending like little kids are dating. Stop it. It’s weird. When she leans to give him a kiss and Dennis yells ‘I’m only six!’ and is flustered and runs off, I know it’s played for a laugh but shit, didn’t he hit the nail on the head! Why is it we are so keen at putting that bit of adult behaviour on children? Gross gross gross.

And it is heteronormative bullshit playing houses or else little boys and little girls who hang out with their little boy and little girl friends would get the same nonsense. Also, what sort of weird nonsense standards does it set when we’re like ‘aww they are nice to each other, they are dating’. I’ll tell you what it sets, it sets a world where men and women thinking being nice to each other = dating, and if you aren’t dating, why bother being nice, and whoops, if you are too nice, they’ll think you want to date them, so better be a jackass and fuck. That. Shit.

Sorry. Sorry, this is a review for a kids film, but like. Seriously? Seriously.

Hotel Transylvania 3 is a fun film. Rant aside, I love the tone of it, the plot of it hitting home when it comes to a parent dating and what it feels like as a child watching that really rang true to me. Being torn between familial responsibilities and true love is another fantastic theme that is treated thoughtfully. Plus, there is loads of dance scenes, one of which involves so many injuries being sustained by Dracula but yet somehow is romantic.

I highly, highly suggest these films. It’s as simple as that. Go, watch, and enjoy!

Andy: Sorry, had to pop to the kitchen, are you ready to start the revie–oh.

The only thing I wanted to add was something I noticed about these movies generally that I really really like. A group of main characters are essentially middle-aged men who have a variety of family and work situations yet despite that, they all really like each other and respect each other’s choices, and none of those choices are treated as more or less legitimate. When Dracula ‘zing’s, for instance, they encourage him out of a sincere belief that he will be happier, not because they need him to pair off.  Heck, one of their number, Blobby, apparently even reproduces asexually. It’s a really nice undercurrent of passive tolerance in a group of men that you just don’t see that often.

So yes. Go, watch and–

Lilly: Shut up and let them go watch the film already! Go! Go!

Jaws; or Cello Music Cue!

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Sharky Saturday, where the films feature actors who chew the scenery and animals that chew the actors! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who will find it for three, but catch and kill it for ten.

Today’s film offering: Jaws

268x0w.pngAndy: You may have seen Jaws a hundred times (I know I have), but if you ever get to experience it on the big screen, do it without hesitation. It remains the summer blockbuster, an impossible standard to which all others must be measured. It’s still the most effortless movie I have ever watched, an editorial masterpiece and a fascinating character study into the ways men interact with each other in the world. It’s really, really good.

Lilly: Readers, he married that film.

Andy: I’m setting a mood! Shoo!

Lilly: Of course, of course–back in a bit!

Andy: Anyway. It was really good. But I was not prepared for the difference watching it on the big screen.

Consider the opening scene. A girl swims out to sea in the middle of the night. She swims out as far as a buoy, looking back to see if anyone else will join her. The legendary score kicks in.

Lilly: Nuuuhna.

Andy: Suddenly, something grabs her.

Lilly: Nuuuuuuuuuuuhna.

Andy: The music gets louder.

Lilly: Nuhnanuhnanuhnanuhna–

Andy: She screams and screams for help that will never come, before suddenly

Lilly: NUUUHNA

Andy: … silence.

This is how it starts, one of the most famous in film history, and I settled into my seat with a massive grin on my face and waited for the lights to dim.

The difference a theatre’s speaker system can make is one that should never be underestimated. Her screams are harrowing enough through the tiny speakers of an old CRT television, which was how I first experienced Jaws at the age of 8. Here, her screams bounced off the inside of my skull, and my grin at the title was replaced by an almost panicked reaction, as those two terrible chords got louder and louder and LOUDER like an ICE PICK in my CHEST before suddenly … silence. And a small, child-like part of me was filled with relief that the shark had got her, and not me, as he had done every time before.  

I finally understood why people had been afraid to go back into the water. Holy shit.

Lilly: It really was a wholly different experience, seeing a classic film in a room with strangers, who all are there for different reasons. Some had seen it before when it first hit the big screen, some where there with their film junkie friends, and some were kids whose parents thought why not scare the bejesus out of our kids just as beach season is at its height. It was fantastic.

Obviously we love this film. It’s silly to even wonder our opinion on that. It’s a fantastic narrative with a mixture of gravitas and comedic relief (the mayor’s suits alone deserve a love letter), practical effects and brilliant acting.The fear Brody feels is relatable, and the joy of the sea Quint exhibits is palpable. Watching the three men compare scars is one of the best bit of characterization I’ve seen in any film, and you can feel the fear Brody and Ellen have building as main-landers just getting their heads around the reality of the situation of a man-eating shark in their backyard (which happens to be the ocean). The shots are atmospheric, the score is atmospheric, and anyone can get emotionally invested in the hunt Quint, Hooper, and Brody end up on together because there is something for everyone–the rugged adventure-seeking hunter/drunk who sings at random, the nerdy rich guy who has a passion for the sea and a chip in his shoulder about authority, and the earnest, honest water-fearing man of the law who is worried about the town he is serving and his sons. Heck, you can even relate to the shark, an intimidating force that plays with its prey! There’s something for everyone.

Which might explain the audience we got to share the experience of seeing it on the big screen with. Everyone was there, and it was something.

Go, watch, and obviously, we enjoyed!

Monkey Shines; or Home Care Needs More Oversight

Welcome back to Mixed Bag Friday, where Lilly and Andy just review something that interests one or both of them. This week, you join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they wonder how many monkeys can be considered a problem.

Today’s offering: Monkey Shines: A Study in Fear

Andy: Hey Lilly! Wanna come watch a movie about an evil monkey?

Lilly?

Lilly: I am NOT encouraging this.

Andy: Her loss. I’ll just get my helper monkey to help me. Isn’t that right, Blanche?

Blanche: EEE EEE

Andy: There’s a good girl. Have a dorito.

download.jpgThe evil monkey genre is one that I feel is severely underrepresented. They’re smart, quick, dexterous and small, which makes them a perfect horror movie adversary. They’re also genuinely evil in real life – monkeys drove the Deputy Mayor of New Delhi off a balcony to his death in 2010. Seriously.

They’re also cute, so nobody likes the idea of hurting a monkey, which may be why: it kinda puts the kibosh on the whole triumphant fightback that would happen if the humans were to stand a chance.

But there is one movie with an evil monkey, and it is deeply, deeply weird. For a start it was George A. Romero’s first studio movie, released a full two decades after his breakthrough with Night of the Living Dead. It also has a sympathetic portrayal of disability combined with a romantic relationship, which is a LOT rarer than it should be. But I get ahead of myself.

Our plot begins with an athlete, Allan, who is immediately hit by a truck and rendered quadriplegic. Ouch. After failing to adjust to his condition and becoming suicidal, his scientist friend reveals that he has been experimenting with injecting a ‘smart-serum’ into Capuchin monkeys. I wonder if this was the same drug from Deep Blue Sea 2?

Dorothy: EEE-eee-EEE-Ohohoho-EEE

Andy: “Capuchins and bull sharks are genetically different enough that the chance of their brains processing complex chemicals the same way is very small. Also Deep Blue Sea 2 sucked.”

You’re probably right Dorothy. Have a pringle.

Anyway, he offers one of the modified monkeys called ‘Elle’ to Allan as a helper, and the two soon become really close and his life improves. At the same time he meets Melanie, a specialist in his condition, and a romance blossoms between them.

Trouble is, Elle is the jealous type, and has also apparently become a telepathic receptacle for all of Allan’s sublimated rage about what happened to him. Monkey killing spree time!

I really like this movie. The quadriplegia is treated respectfully and realistically, and Jason Beghe really sells the emotional toll this sort of injury can take, and his interactions with Elle are really well done. It’s also a fascinatingly terrifying idea: something that much smaller than you that you are utterly dependent on slowly turning on you and those around you. Creepy.

The whole thing is played very straight, which also helps, because it is, ultimately, a movie in which someone is killed by a monkey pushing a toaster into a bathtub.

Go! Watch! Enj-

Lilly: ANDY.

Andy: Yes?

Lilly: Sophia was marking her territory in the upstairs lounge, and then Rose beat the shit out of her and shit in the shower. Also I’m pretty sure Rose is a dude.

Andy: Ah.

Lilly: Also Blanche and Dorothy are getting fat. Are you feeding them chips again?

Andy: …No.

Lilly: Blanche is literally holding a bag of doritos. And she’s wheezing. GET RID OF THE MONKEYS. FOR THE LAST TIME. PLEASE.

Andy: …

Blanche: …

Dorothy: …eep?

Andy: No, I don’t want you to “do something about her”.

Go! Watch! Enjoy!

Winchester; or History Ghosts

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another #ThrowforwardThursday, where the films are newish and the reviews are wittish! You join your bloggers, Lilly and Andy, as they have a nice cold pint, and wait for all this to blow over.

Today’s Film Offering: Winchester

Andy: History Time!

Lilly: Are you sure? Because Andy-led History Time seems to last 3 – 6 hou…

Andy: HISTORY. TIME.

Winchester has one of the coolest settings for a horror movie ever, and it’s a place that actually exists. The Winchester Mystery House was the home of Sarah Winchester (widow of William Wirt Winchester of Winchester rifles fame) who kept adding rooms and wings to it on and off for 38 years, until her death in 1922. The result is a huge, sprawling mansion filled with dead ends, maze-like corridors, elevators, disconnected toilets and staircases that lead nowhere. They are still finding rooms today.

Winchester_(film).pngLilly: Widows, am I right? Also, disconnected toilets really are nightmarish to me, because what if you need to go and that’s all that is nearby and oh gosh awkward.

Anyway. Any idea why she did that totally normal thing that people do, building a house with umpteen thousand rooms and corridors and nightmare bogs?

Andy: The non-supernatural explanation is that it was a way for her to cope with her depression and isolation in her later years (her infant daughter had also passed away early in their marriage): it always gave her something to do and plan for the future.

Lilly: Ah, somewhat understandable.

Andy: The other explanation is that her house was haunted by the ghosts of those killed by the rifles that had made her fortune, and that the constant building was an attempt to either appease them or ward them off.

Lilly: And as we at Hallowfest, while not diminishing the struggles of mental illness in reality, don’t often go for movies about that subject in our horror film choices, you can guess which direction 2018’s Winchester took. Ghooooooosts! (Thank goodness.)

I think the most important thing to be said about this movie is Helen Mirren is in it. Helen. Mirren. She is a Queen not just in casting, and she proves it in this role. She plays a widow who decides to build on her husband’s legacy literally, to bury it in scaffolding and walls and rooms, just to make sure those ghosts his work had made would rest. I’m frankly disappointed that she wasn’t the only player in this–I’d take a prequel movie in a minute, the one that tells the tale of how this arrangement came to be and the first few attempts at first trying to seal any spirit away. Let’s get on that. Helen Mirren still playing the widow, of course–none of this trying to pass off someone like Jessica Chastain as the younger version nonsense, either. Helen or nothing!

Andy: I’m here for this–regal horror actors is a long standing tradition. Look at Christopher Lee!

Lilly: Oh MAN, is she going to become the next Christopher Lee? Is this like Doctor Who, where Christopher Lee has regenerated into Helen Mirren? I’m sold. I’m so sold.

Dear Hollywood–make this film. Thank you. Love, Lilly.

Andy: And Andy.

Lilly: Unfortunately, Helen Mirren aside, Winchester didn’t have nearly as much excitement as one would hope. It had less spark to it than Andy just now when he got to talk about history. I kept checking the time throughout it, and found myself waiting for things to happen. And when they did? I felt a bit of disappointment, since it meant there would be another little while before I got to be engaged again.

We watched it not that long ago, readers, and I had to look up the plot on wikipedia. And I still am not sure I remember what I’m reading. It isn’t all bad (or boring), though! The colour tones of greys and greens and browns are reminiscent of some sort of Victorian photograph seeped in tears and the ghosts are scary. It’s got an interesting little story with the gentleman who comes to deem the widow Winchester sane or not, but it takes a slightly dissatisfying personal turn near the end that leaves you feeling like you were tricked into the whole thing to watch some man make peace with his dead wife. Listen, I came here to see Helen Mirren taking charge of a haunted house and struggling with her grief for a problematic husband! More of that, less of everything else, PLEASE.

I’d suggest watching it since it will really set the scene for the Widow Van Helsing film we’re working on where Dame Helen plays Ada Van Helsing, a slightly batty and very bold vampire slayer/one-liner slinger. Just sayin’. But if you aren’t into Helen Mirren, well. I don’t know what to tell you since I don’t think you’re telling the truth, how can you NOT love Helen Mirren so I won’t deal with liars, thanks.

Andy: A mixed review, in other words. Go, watch, if you like!

Sisters of Death; or Worst Slumber Party Ever

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Walmart DVD Wednesday, where the films are worth approximately 1/12 of $5! You join your blogger, Andy, as he settles in for a mysterious initiation process that will either end up with death or a fate worse than it–becoming a member of a sorority.

Today’s Film Offering: Sisters of Death

MV5BMjc0M2NkNzItOGFlMS00NTA5LWIxMDgtYThmNTNhNGQ1MDgyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQ2MjQyNDc@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_For our second Walmart DVD Wednesday, we looked at the ominous list of titles on the screen, and obviously we went for the one called SISTERS OF DEATH. Made (surprisingly) by neither Amicus or Hammer, this 1976 movie belongs to a weird subgenre I sometimes think of as ‘Proto-Slashers’, a collection of movies that follow the basic slasher plot, but before those became really huge when Michael, Freddy and Jason came along. They have a distinguished pedigree in the Italian Giallo genre (which you can read about on our post from Monday, or last year’s review of Bay of Blood) but the first of the big hits of this type stateside was the amazingly terrifying Black Christmas from 1974.

Look at me, dancing around the issue. Dance-y dance-y.

What I’m getting at is that 1976’s Sisters of Death (starring NO ONE YOU KNOW, coming soon to NO THEATRES NEAR YOU) had potential. It’s plot is pretty full of potential too, and I’ll give you the quick recap:

Things start off strong. We open on a weird ceremony straight out of 60s Hammer, but here it is revealed to be relatively benign – just a fairly involved sorority hazing. The final part of the ceremony is that each pledge has to have a gun loaded with blanks pointed at her head, and hear the trigger pulled.

Unfortunately, someone has replaced the blanks and one of the girls is shot in the head. Oops.

Nine years pass, and our merry band of sorority sisters get a mysterious invitation to a reunion. Each of them assumes another has sent it, but when they arrive and are whisked off by two drivers (who are very much in that “70s Probably Charming on TV/ 2018 Sex Crime Waiting To Happen” camp of actors from the period) to a mysterious ranch in the desert, it’s clear that someone wants them dead. Someone with a connection to the dead girl. And of course the mystery remains – who replaced the bullets?

See, I feel like I’ve just done a pretty good job at selling this movie, but there’s a significant problem here. They get to the ranch, they party for a bit, those drivers don’t leave and instead hang out, and the man watching them from the windows has been revealed.

And nothing else happens. Seriously.

In this 1 hour 27 minute movie, in which we are supposed to feel like these girls are in terrible danger, the body count at 1 hour and 11 minutes is as follows:

1) Aforementioned sorority girl is shot in the head
2) One girl gets strangled
3) A tarantula gets squashed

Don’t get me wrong, there is only one person left standing at the end, but good GOD is it interminable for most of its length. I was nearly late for work this morning because I kept hitting snooze and then had to run around like an idiot for 10 minutes. This movie is like if someone pointed a camera at me and made a movie of that 10 minutes preceded by an hour of me vaguely dozing.

Then again, it does have its moments. One poor victim gets chased by an German Shepherd into an electric fence, and his goofy death combined with the fact that we have NEVER SEEN OR HEARD THE DOG BEFORE IT APPEARS is my favourite moment. Likewise, the spider’s dedication to just wandering around not harming anyone is pretty endearing, and I have got to admit that his booting elicited a lot more sympathy than most of the other victims. Oh, and someone plays Russian Roulette with a Gatling gun, which is hilarious in concept, at least.

There’s also a couple of cool, subtle characterizations. The sorority clearly did no time for the accidental shooting (I think in the UK they call that “Death by Misadventure”), but it has affected them. Two of them are implied to be functional alcoholics, and a third has fallen hard into a kind of hippie spirituality.

At the end of the day though, I’m saying this stuff because I always like to try and point out things that work in any movie, but there are way, way better ways to spend an hour and a half than this. I already gave you two suggestions in the review already: Black Christmas and Bay of Blood, as well as either of the Argento movies we reviewed on Monday.

Go, watch something else, enjoy that!

Tenebrae & The Bird with the Crystal Plumage; or Italian Night at Hallowfest

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Twofer Tuesday, where it’s double your trouble for your boil and bubble! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they slap on some black gloves and whack on the synth soundtrack.

Today’s Film Offerings: Tenebrae & The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

220px-Tenebrae_-_Film_1982Andy: A woman looks out her window, as Goblin’s fantastic theme kicks in. Outside, the camera prowls upwards, and at the moment you expect it to cut, or the leitmotif to fade into something else, it just … doesn’t. Instead a 4 minute crane shot accompanied only by the soundtrack prowls over the building, looking into other apartment buildings, before a pair of bolt cutters appears, and a window on the far side is broken…

It’s a colossally pointless technical exercise and stops the movie stone dead. It’s also one of my favorite things in a horror movie.

———-

Well here we are again, Dario. Did you miss me?

Dario Argento is a director I’ve always appreciated more than loved. His beautifully shot, gaudy, gory extravaganzas deserve their place in the horror pantheon, but I’ve never felt that immediate connection I feel with, say, John Carpenter, Guillermo del Toro, or his contemporary Mario Bava.

Tenebrae though, is real good. My first unqualified recommendation.

Dario Argento first cut his teeth in the giallo genre, the twisted, Italian forerunner to the slasher genre, but very distinct in, er, execution. His first four features are all giallos, but then in the late seventies he began work on his Three Mothers trilogy, of which Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980) are the first two parts. Everyone assumed the third part was next, but instead we got his fifth giallo, Tenebrae.

For fans of his supernatural stuff, this must have been disappointing, but when the results are this good, how can we really complain?

The plot (haha Italian horror plot summary) concerns a horror author called Peter Neal, who arrives in Italy on a book tour. On his trail are his embittered ex-wife, his agent and his assistant. Oh, and someone who claims to have been inspired by Neal’s books to go on a killing spree. Bugger. And apparently it’s based on a real experience of Argento’s, so that’s creepy.

The plot is pretty standard at this point if you’ve seen any thrillers, police procedurals, slasher movies or, yknow, anything with a plot, but as always with Argento, the key is in how it happens. There’s all sorts of cool themes bubbling away under the surface here, mainly to do with how much responsibility an artist has in the response his art gets.

Personally, I can’t get over how well shot this film is. It’s gorgeous to look at, and made by a man at the height of his powers and clearly enjoying himself. The crane shot above is just one of many such ‘tricks’ in the movie. It all seems to have been shot in some kind of modernist nightmare landscape, where everything consists of concrete, sharp angles and ultra-bright lights. This motif continues inside as well, where every character has some kind of abstract art instead of depictions of humans, all metal instead of wood or paint. It’s a hell of an aesthetic.

It’s just really, really good.

Usual caveats still apply, however. If you’ve never found Italian horror to your liking, this one’s unlikely to change your mind too much. It’s bloody and occasionally nasty, so bear that in mind. Don’t show this one to the kids, whatever you do.  

———

Anyway, about that tracking shot. Why did I like it so much? Well, it finally let me ‘get’ Argento. His movies almost always feature brutal, almost operatic deaths (and Tenebrae is no exception), buuut here we are, still watching. Watching someone else be killed is associated with absolute extremes of hedonism, especially in Rome. It’s indulgent to our worst impulses.

And do you know what else is indulgent? A four minute long tracking shot of a building set to Goblin’s music. Awesome.

Lilly: Let me just step over the puddle of gush Andy’s left here to get to my review of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.

91iPRh8ZMxL._SY679_The film kicks off quick with our man, Sam, an American writer on vacay with his model girlfriend in Rome. He’s out for a night walk, as you do, when he finds himself in a ridiculously strange scenario involving being trapped between two glass doors, on one side of which is a gallery where a woman is being attacked by a mysterious figure in black gloves (giallo!) and a raincoat. He can’t help her, and he can’t get help, either, trapped in his glass cage of emotions.

Luckily, the woman survives and it turns out, she is the wife of the gallery owner (workplace drama, amirite?) and Sam decides he’ll stick around Rome to be a help in solving the case, somehow, since writers are great sleuths in most fiction! Murders continue to happen, women are being killed, and there is something relevant about a painting of someone in a raincoat murdering a young woman…

Welcome to Italian slashers!

the-bird-with-the-crystal-plumage-help.jpg
High…Five…Don’t leave me…Hanging, man.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage starts with one of the most ‘huh’ inducing moments of opening menace in a horror film I’ve seen. Loads of films in this vein open with a murder, a creepy moment that you cannot imagine what you’d do if it were you being hunted in the night, but Sam’s predicament takes it to a new level. I mean, if you’re the victim, you honestly have two options–survive or die. But with Sam, he’s left with no option whatsoever, just trapped and made to witness without action. Much like the viewers at home, honestly, which is why I keep coming back to this film.

It’s the way Argento plays with the audience in this film that I enjoy. There is one series of shots that I noticed echoed in Halloween, where someone is in bed and looks down at the bedside table, to then look up at the door and back down again. As this is a POV shot, the audience is made to do the same, and the second time they look up, you know there is something about to happen but yet, much like Sam, you have to just wait and watch. Then, standing in the doorway on the third glance upwards, is a shadowy figure–not a dude in a sheet, whoops!–and just. I love it.

Oddly, I’m not the biggest Dario Argento fan, to be honest. This is my favourite of his, and maybe it’s because it has yet to feel overly creepy in its treatment of female characters/actresses. It doesn’t feel as exploitative–not every woman was naked or leered at with the camera yet, which I appreciated. The violence wasn’t overly sexualized (up until the end, anyway, where it got weird, I admit) and it didn’t make it out that the camera was undressing the actresses. There was no chats in towels, for example. That was nice. You don’t need that in films unless the film is about being in a locker room, like all the plot happens there so there would be no reason not to be in towels. And even then, open your lockers and get changed! Seriously.

I want you to check this film out, I really do. It’s a neat murder mystery, it’s got some good and weird dots that get connected neatly until the finale, where we all are left shocked and going ‘wait, what!’ Plus, one of the clues is a bird. What even. And, as Andy said, it’s well shot. Like.

Go, watch, and enjoy!

Stephen King’s It; or Beep Beep, Harry from Night Court

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Mini-series Monday, where you can tune in next week at the same Hallo-time on the same Hallo-channel! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, while they decide to head back to the small town they abandoned years ago after a cryptic phone call about a dark thing’s return.

Today’s mini-series offering: Stephen King’s It

It_1990_Promotional_PosterAndy: For two such radically different adaptations of the same book, it’s curious that both this and the 2017 movie solved the time-jumping nature of the narrative in the same way – namely put the first half of the story, when the characters are kids, in the first part, and the part thirty or so years later in the second. I mean, it makes sense.

I feel like this mini series coasts by on reputation among people my age. It came out in 1990, and seems to be the version the children of that decade were traumatized by. Which is weird, because as an adult, this miniseries is oddly toothless.

Lilly: As someone who had never seen it until just now (well, like a few weeks ago), I definitely am late to the game on this and likely missed out on the tie to nostalgia that gives this mini-series it’s power. But! Let’s get to the plot!

Andy: So we’re back in Derry, Maine, for another round of demonic clown vs. band of kids/adults, and this time Tim Curry is doing the honours as ol’ Pennywise. There’s a real difference here between him and Bill Skarsgard (I promise the comparisons will stop soon). Tim Curry has a lot of fun here, and it’s a legendary performance for a reason, but he never become truly, inhumanly terrifying in the same way 2017’s Pennywise effortlessly transitioned between clown and monster, never really fully human, but with Curry, there’s a disconnect between the more supernatural and terrifying aspects of It, and, well, Tim Curry dressed as a clown.

Lilly: It was a lot of Tim Curry dressed as a clown for me. He did that Tim Curry pout a lot when taunting the kids. I get it–a lot of people who love this saw it when they were either too young to know (or care, sorry Mr.Curry) about Tim Curry, but I come from a long love affair with the man (I have an album of his on my ipod–Biting My Nails is a jam, guys) and while it was a great performance, I just. Wasn’t scared by him–I was actually more scared of the balloons, but honestly, how can you not be afraid of balloons.

Andy: There is one important structural change. Here, the kids’ story is told as a series of flashbacks by the adult characters, which I feel does a disservice to their story. There’s a duality present in the novel, the idea of a cycle repeating itself, that weirdly lets the 1950’s story feel as real and threatening as the adults’, even if we know they must ultimately survive. In this, it comes across more like “Hey guys! Remember when we were kids and fought a monstrous demon?”.

Lilly: It comes off a bit ‘romp’ish, and that isn’t helped by the fact that one of the adult kids (or adults, as most people would say) is played by John Ritter, and another is Harry from Night Court. It’s like a weird Three’s Company spin-off, and I know, I know, John Ritter can act serious and who doesn’t love Harry from Night Court, and he was definitely cast well for Richie and all, but. It was also off-putting, much like Tim Curry trying to eat kids. And while I can accept television actors in films, and actors I love in different roles, it just didn’t click with me here.

Andy: It gets even weirder in Part 2, because Part 1 ends the kids’ story, but they keep flashing back anyway, bolting random scenes onto what is essentially a closed arc.

Lilly: It does at times feel a bit like talking to that one friend who tells you a story that lasts half an hour and only in the final two minutes of it mentions that, oh, by the way, one of the people involved is actually a talking tiny horse–didn’t I mention that, I thought I mentioned that, anyway, back to the story! And while I realize that it was some sort of representation of the memories of Derry coming back to the adults the longer they spent there, it sort of also felt like someone was trying to trick me into being interested in their stories when I already was. Like I get it, Sally, you don’t want me to lose interest in your tale, but you can’t just add in that, oh, by the way, there was a murderer in the back seat the entire time! No, there wasn’t, you’re lying, I hate this, move on.

Andy: We sound like we’re dumping on this a lot (because I am), but it’s not bad.

Lilly: It’s not the worst.

Andy: It’s just probably not as good as you remember. It’s a TV movie, with a TV movie script, budget, editing and sensibilities.

Lilly: Not to mention soundtrack–it was two notes and maybe an octave away from Murder, She Wrote at times.

Andy: For what is possibly Stephen King’s most, well, horrifying story, there’s been a hell of a lot stripped out. There are descriptions of mutilated bodies, for instance, but not a lot else. Most of it is in implication, and it’s not really well-written enough to pull off the old Jaws/Alien/Haunting of Hill House trick and getting away with it.  

Lilly: As Lilly-come-Lately to this adaptation, I really expected more. I was tricked by sleepover viewing nostalgia and memories of a creepy clown amped up over the years by The Simpsons and Kramer from Seinfield. I don’t even think clowns are creepy! The scariest part for me was when I worried about Eddie because Lilly, you need to stop under-dogging it because look at him, do you really have hope? I mean, it was dumb enough to have high expectations for Mike! Which, don’t even get me started on the weird vibe I get in my bones when the story is about a black dude who has to hold off a systemic problem until a bunch of white folks come back to town to help out and be heroes. Like. Is that not…awkward? In today’s climate? In any climate? Guys?

I’m not going to say I wouldn’t recommend this because I would! I would. First off, Harry from Night Court is so worth watching as Richie, he has the right tone and attitude and I love it. Second, there were some cool effects (and some hilarious effects). Third, it’s a messed up story and even if I wasn’t scared, I was left thinking about it, and that is more than can be said about a few movies we’ve watched over the years. And sometimes its weird television vibe plays well, in a sort of Are You Afraid of the Dark? way, where it is gentle and menacing but also when are the commercial breaks. It’s my least favourite of the three options we have to consume It, from 2017’s film version, this, and the book (audiobook, let’s be real).

Andy: And I would agree with that.

Lilly: So…go, watch, and…just…watch?

Alien Resurrection; or Andy Has Words

Hello and Hallo-welcome to Sequel Sunday, where the films are back with a vengeance. You join your blogger, Andy, as he settles in for a long adventure in space with kooky alien friends.

Today’s film offering: Alien Resurrection

MV5BMTdjYzU0MzAtZGMzOC00YTYwLWJhMTEtNDE4ODQwMDY2NWM1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAyODkwOQ@@._V1_.jpgAndy: Ooh boy, there’s a lot to unpack here. I’ve rewritten this introduction three times in order to try and even approach this movie, one that I am increasingly recognizing as my least favorite movie of all time. Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein was unbelievably bad, but I told people about it afterwards with a grin on my face. Land of the Dead is a movie that makes me angrier every time I see it, and it’s descendant Survival of the Dead is by far the worst thing Romero’s ever done. But nothing can approach the cool, seething contempt I feel for 1997’s Alien Resurrection.

A bloated, overwritten mess of a movie, tonally inconsistent even within itself, it takes a franchise I value for its thematic depth and erects a huge circus tent with nothing inside it. It’s a $75 million Seth MacFarlane cutaway gag, a photocopy of a photocopy of something once great and powerful and meaningful and HAAATE.

Sorry. Let’s treat this review as an exercise in plotting, tone and consistency. I will attempt to remain, if not objective, then dispassionate. First off, the plot.

So Ripley’s dead, having thrown herself into a lead furnace at the end of Alien 3 in order to kill the alien queen growing inside her. Unfortunately, some blood samples have found their way into the military’s hands, so 200 years later, Ripley is cloned along with the queen, which is then removed surgically. Ripley seems to have inherited some traits of her parasite, having faster reflexes and a better sense of smell, as well as dark fingernails and mildly acidic blood.

The Queen grows up lays some eggs, and the pirate crew of the Betty brings a hijacked ship of passengers in hypersleep to act as hosts. Soon enough, a dozen or so fully grown aliens are being studied in special cells, until they do what aliens always do and escape to cause havoc. The crew of the Betty, teaming up with Ripley-clone, a soldier, and one of their impregnated kidnap victims have to make it back to the Betty and escape before the military base returns to Earth because that’s where it’s programmed to go in an emergency. Meanwhile, the scientists have done something to the queen’s DNA, and a new hybrid emerges to stalk the survivors before being blown into space and they escape. The end.

Oh and there’s a scene where Ripley-clone finds all the previous ‘attempts’ at resurrecting her that everyone talks about in reverential tones, that I find mildly gratuitous and an absolute pace-killer. It’s like that deleted scene everyone talks about from Alien, where Ripley finds Dallas and what’s left of Brett. Cool, but unnecessary.

‘Contrived’ doesn’t really cover the scope of this nonsense. This is a top secret bioweapons research facility designed to return to Earth at the first sign of trouble, when surely the best thing to do would have it, I dunno, stay exactly where it is? It’s other emergency procedure seems to be to evacuate all of the armed personnel as soon as a breakout occurs. There’s only just over a dozen aliens on board. I’m pretty sure Apone’s squad in Aliens accounted for more than that in their first encounter, and they were ambushed!

There’s also the weird timings of everything. The crew of the Betty arrives, delivers their ‘cargo’, and are allowed to hang around (this top secret facility) long enough for the hosts to be impregnated, the aliens to emerge, grow to adulthood, figure out their surroundings and escape. Meanwhile, one of their poor victims still has his baby alien inside of him when their trying to escape, ready to emerge dramatically several in universe hours later near the end of the movie and literal days after everyone else.

It’s almost worth recommending the novelisations by Alan Dean Foster, who also wrote the novelisations of the other movies, because you can actually spot the moments he has to paper over the cracks in the narrative. The movie is absolutely rife with garbage like this, and I can easily pick out half a dozen more. Another example – why didn’t they acid-proof the cages the aliens were in?

Onto the characters. Besides Ripley-clone, who proves once and for all that Sigourney Weaver should not be underestimated, we have a treacherous scientist, a soldier who managed to survive by ignoring the evacuation order (lol), our aforementioned unlucky bastard, and the crew of the Betty. I’m going to talk about the out of universe problems in a bit, but you should know that this script was written by Joss Whedon, so the crew is literally Firefly Crew v0.1. You can actually map the characters directly onto the Serenity, in many cases.

This is a bit of a problem, because not only are Captain Mal and Pals a complete miss tonally when it comes to the franchise, it also presents us with the problem of trying to sympathise with a crew of people who, onscreen, condemned a dozen people to the most horrific deaths imaginable after kidnapping them. Add on to that Ripley’s weird affinity for the aliens, a question emerges about who exactly we’re supposed to be rooting for here. The soldier? A slice of bread has more personality, and he might as well have REDSHIRT tattooed on his forehead. Winona Ryder? Guy in a wheelchair? Both part of the crew. I dunno. There seems to be a nasty, juvenile edge of nihilism through the whole script, and after 15 years of being online I’ve had my fill of edgy, ‘it’s deep because it’s dark’ bullshit.

The other movies had something to say. The “Crew Expendable” reveal in Alien is shocking because it dehumanises deeply human characters who we’ve come to like. The character work in Aliens is top notch, especially in the scenes immediately after the cryopods open. Alien 3 is an interesting but deeply flawed movie about the ways that secular and religious power intersect when faced with a crisis. Alien Resurrection says…

Well, in the closing at, as they desperately scramble towards the Betty, numbers greatly reduced, Ripley is seized by the aliens. In the hive, the queen is apparently giving birth (as opposed to laying eggs) as part of an additional lifecycle added by those wacky scientists, and what emerges is something that is half alien, half sort-of human, with eyes and everything. This is now our sole antagonist for the rest of the movie.

Firstly, this thing never, ever looks like anything other than a puppet. It’s never shot from the waist down, and it’s face doesn’t so much have expressions as settings. It kills the alien queen, and then bonds to Ripley as its mother. Oh good.

In the best traditions of the franchise, this thing then makes it onto the Betty, kills REDSHIRT, and then gets blown into space, as Ripley looks on in agony at her ‘child’ dying. End of movie.

So then, our message after four movies is that the aliens are closer to us than we realised, as long as our DNA is accidentally combined with them when we’re cloned 200 years later. Land of the Dead pulled something similar 8 years later and it was just as stupid then.

Or is it that Ripley, along with Call, Winona Ryder’s character, who is SECRETLY A ROBOT, are the most human characters after all despite being different? You might recognise this as the same moral as Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

There is a tiny, tiny handful of redeeming features. It’s shot very prettily, and is at least aesthetically consistent. It has a character in a wheelchair who’s treated as an integral part of the crew, which should happen more. The aliens are back to being black, after the weird brass color of 3. But that’s it. I’m done.

Deep Blue Sea & Deep Blue Sea 2; or Baby Sharks Doo Doo Doo Doo DooCHOMP

Hello and Hallo-welcome to Sharky Saturday, where we review films with a bite (radius)! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they approach the research facility out in the middle of the ocean, where nothing could go wrong because there are definitely no super-smart sharks with a grudge swimming around, right?

Right?

Today’s film offerings: Deep Blue Sea & Deep Blue Sea 2

Andy: For some reason, the late 90s was a gold mine of giant monster movies. I think it was the success of Jurassic Park combined with the lowered cost of CGI, but in the space of a few short years we had Anaconda, Komodo, Boa, Mimic*, Lake Placid, and the immortal Deep Rising** None of them are, y’know, good.

I have a soft spot for the genre though, as they fulfilled three vital criteria at the video rental store:

1) They were in the all encompassing Horror/Fantasy/Sci-Fi section.
2) They were cheap.
3) They were usually age rated low enough that 12 year old Andy could rent them without issue.

51Q961700WL._SY445_My favorite though was Deep Blue Sea, a movie we rented for my 14th birthday, an age at which I feel that really bad movies can become formative. I say all this so that you can get a flavor of the perspective I approach this movie from, and see the huge amount of affection I have as well as the tongue I have planted firmly in my cheek.

So then, Jaws: Oh No, They Got Smart.

A team of scientists, working on an old mid-ocean submarine base, have been experimenting on some mako sharks, because apparently, shark’s brains don’t degrade as they age, and if we could harvest some special proteins from them, we could prevent and even reverse nasty diseases such as alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, some unethical genetic twiddling later to increase the ‘yield’ and what we have is some very smart sharks on our hands.

Of course, said genetic twiddling also makes them look nothing like mako sharks, but that’s beside the point. They can also swim backwards, which is like a human becoming smart enough to spontaneously levitate.

Following an inevitable accident (clearly Jurassic Park never made it to theatres in DBS world), the facility starts flooding, and our plucky band of scientists, cooks and ex-con divers (?) must try and survive the onslaught of three sharks that are both very clever and sick of being poked with needles in the brain.

Yes, someone has a ham-fisted “looks like we’ve moved down the food chain” line. You’re welcome.

Anyway, that’s the plot. You know that not all of them are going to make it to the surface, and much of the pleasure comes from watching the various ways they get munched.

There is a lot of unusually clever stuff in here for what is essentially a very stupid movie. Mako sharks actually do have one of the largest brain:body ratios of any shark. The isolated location in the ocean makes a sort of sense as well, as open ocean sharks do very, very poorly in enclosed spaces: in aquariums, their lifespan is generally measured in days. It was believed for a while that sharks don’t get cancer, which was an avenue of scientific inquiry for a while, before someone realised that they do and you don’t often come across it because in the harsh pelagic environment anything that slows a shark down in any way also tends to kill it. Likewise, in the movie, the sharks aren’t the aquatic equivalent of Jason Voorhees. If you’re smart, and use what’s around you, you can probably kill it, as more than one character does. Also the characters sincerely pray at one point. How often do you see that?

Having said that, there is still a lot of very funny, very dumb stuff here. Submarine pens aren’t generally built in the open ocean because they would be extremely vulnerable to attack, especially from the air – here are the U-Boat pens at Saint Nazaire, for instance. They also don’t have massive glass screens three stories down, and if this was installed later I’d really like to know how. People have a suicidally idiotic tendency to stand near or in open bodies of water, and none of them seem to have climbed a ladder before. Plus I’ll give any movie points that kills the gimmicky, irritating animal sidekick, especially if it gives that character a hilarious motive for revenge.

The cast is unremarkable. Thomas Jane plays the character he always plays (guess which one he is from the ‘plucky band’ list above), LL Cool J manages to be a rapper comic relief character who has an actual arc and isn’t utterly hateable and annoying, which is so rare it’s like seeing a unicorn in the wild. Saffron Burrows’ character, on the other hand, is detestable, and actually had her eventual fate changed by test audiences, which in itself is really funny. Samuel L. Jackson more or less cameos, and c’mon, anyone who’s heard of this movie knows what happens to him, and everyone else is largely forgettable, even Stellan Skarsgaard, who has less agency than the freaking sharks.

All in all, it’s a fun romp. Unlike Jaws, this won’t keep you out of the water, but it should keep you entertained for its ninety minutes or so. It’s like a bag of cool ranch doritos: edible, tasty, a little bit samey after a while, and leaving you vaguely disgusted with MV5BZDMzZDMwMTgtNjA1Yi00NWJkLWIzMDctNjEwY2EyZDM1ZDMzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjg0NzkwOTk@._V1_.jpgyourself after you finish the whole bag with relish. Love it.

Go, watch and enjoy!

———-

*Mimic is probably Guillermo del Toro’s weakest movie to date, although it’s still head-and-shoulders above all of these, and I never saw the big deal about Pacific Rim.

**I often joke (like I have here) that Deep Rising is one of my favorite movies, but with hindsight weaknesses are clear. Good rule of thumb, if you can overlook the flaws of Steven Sommer’s next movies, namely the Brendan Fraser Mummy franchise and Van Helsing, you’ll probably like Deep Rising.

Lilly: How did I get stuck with the shitty–

Oh hello, readers! Hi. Yes. I’m here to review Deep Blue Sea 2, the straight to video sequel that maybe shouldn’t have been straight to anything.

Let’s get into the “plot”!

We’re back at the oceanic research center/barge/what even is this building I don’t understand is it even the same where are we what’s happening.

Andy: Buddy, breathe. It’s okay. You can do this.

Lilly: Okay. Okay.

So we’re at the place in the ocean, enter hot shark expert, Dr. I-Don’t-Even-Remember-Her-Name-I-Have-to-Look-it-Up (an old family name, I assume). Wait, it’s Misty Calhoun. Because of course it is. I can’t. I can’t–

Andy: Come on, hold it together! Readers, excuse us for a moment.

(Hushed whispers in the hall. Muffled sobs. Firm words. Mainly from Lilly.)

Lilly: I’m back! I’m back. I can do this. Of course I can! I eat reviews of ridiculous films for breakfast! Let’s do this!

Andy: That’s the spirit!

Lilly: So, we are back on the ridiculously placed research center, and smart sharks are still being made because a rich guy wants them to be, and if we’ve learned anything from real life and films combined, rich guys get away with a lot of stupid, potentially dangerous shit. (See also our review of The Meg coming later this month.)

This time, instead of curing alzheimer’s, the sharks are being used to find a way to unlock human potential to learn or something. Science.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Review over. Bye.

Andy: You get back in there, blogger–I reviewed Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein on my OWN last year, you’re DOING this!

Lilly: Damnit.

So, shark expert Misty Calhoun, when asked for her shark expert opinion on why this animals that are being experimented on with no real noticeable moral qualms are acting weird. Dr.Misty reminds everyone that sharks are bad news when pissed off. Or hungry. Or surrounding you in your underwater research center thing. Especially if they have been experimented on. And even more especially if they are bull sharks, the worst shark, according to Misty. She is really adamant about this fact. Bull sharks=bad. She would be down for this gig if it were Great Whites, I guess, but Bulls? More like Bullshit, I’m outta here, sister!

Anyway, I’m rambling. This movie is bad.

Dr.Misty, with one glance, points out that the rich guy’s favourite shark, Bella (because of course that’s her name) is pregnant. Obviously. How did those dudes not notice? Men, amirite? Anyway, this is sort of a problem, because, remember, she is super experimented on so what will she even give birth to?

Answer: the all-stars of this film. But I get ahead of myself.

We then find out that, rather immorally (shock gasp what), the rich guy is taking the brain enhancing drug thing that is melded with shark DNA. I’m going to spoil you now–it doesn’t turn him into a Street Shark, as I had hoped. He did not bite, fight, or stand for everything right. In fact, it was the opposite–when he is informed that the sharks are just not going to work out (how would they?), he declares he will terminate them, cold hearted asshole that he is!

And worse yet, his favourite, Bella, was listening at the window! No seriously. We see her eye darting between the two men, learning of rich guy’s plan before she swims off to maliciously give birth.

640x640_12765540
Wait, what.

This all sounds far more entertaining than it is.

Okay, so obviously everything goes wrong, or we wouldn’t be here, would we? There would be no film. It would be a documentary about the benefits of shark DNA smart drugs. So, echoing Deep Blue Sea, something goes wrong in the wet lab and all hell breaks loose.

Oh, and Bella gives birth.

Yaaaaaay, baby sharks! They are so in right now. This is what that song is about, right? About murderous baby sharks coming to eat everyone while making raptor noises? Right?

Deep Blue Sea 2 then collapses like a flan in a cupboard, becoming a long, long series of shots in colour coded corridors that seem to have no rhyme or reason. Characters are split up into groups, varying from the most disposable (the happy couple who had a slight tiff that should have been way bigger because it involved the complete betrayal and use of one of their life’s work without permission) to least disposable (sexy doctor Dr.Misty PhD in shark things or something and her romantic interest, a pairing based mainly on him having nice arms and her liking nice arms along with the rich guy, who keeps having to stop and top up his shark drugs that, again, it bears repeating, does NOT turn him into a Street Shark or even one of the crime solving Sharky and George duo).

Notably, one of the groupings is Aaron and Josh, the IT guy and the ‘I’m done with this shit job on this shit ocean research center thing’ guy. They get to the sleeping quarters and what follows is one of the best things I have ever seen. In what can only be considered one of the best shark related deaths that also happened in the bathroom, one of the guys ended up being menaced by the baby shark horde through a glass shower door. Then, the little buddies go over the top and we see what I think I must have always wanted but never knew it: a murderous baby shark shower descending upon a disgruntled employee.

I shit you not.

The rest of the film is generously considered the ending by some, but by this blogger is considered a slow dying of a story that never should have begun–a Brundle-Fly scenario, if you will, where the viewer is Geena Davis, trying to look down at her once beloved Jeff Goldblum but instead seeing a monstrous worm-larva-machine that is cool to consider for a moment but ultimately you want to shoot it in its ugly, stupid face. The story ends happily (I guess?) and Dr.Misty and Nice Arms get away to be sexy another day, but should they have? Should anyone have gotten out of this madness alive? Hard to say. Though I will say it: no.

You might have guessed by now, but I’m not going to recommend Deep Blue Sea 2. What I do recommend is just putting on Bob’s Burgers, specifically the episode The Deepening, and you’ll get more of a shark menacing fix with better writing, acting and even effects. Seriously. Watch one of the ‘smart shark drug taking’ sequences and tell me you think they used their CGI budget wisely. They misused it and deserve to be punished.

It’s a big ol’ deep blue miss for me. Sorry, Bella and your babies. You just weren’t enough.

Join us next week when we watch a classic, and see what my opinion is on it (spoiler, I cannot possibly like it less than this film!). Don’t go, don’t watch, don’t enjoy!