Archive

Monthly Archives: March 2012

Love and Marriage Go Together Like a Horse and PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES STRAPPED TO YOUR NECK

Mimi Rogers' garbanzos sold separately

I’ve never been married. I came really close once, several years ago now, and managed to dodge one heck of a bullet. For years afterward I let the bad experience paint my perceptions of marriage as an institution. I remember driving a girl or two away with my insistence that marriage was antiquated, unnecessary, and counter to the way we as humans seemed to be developing. Granted, I had a pile of divorces that I could point to that also proved my point for me (none of those divorces were my own, but my parents’ is at the top of the list), so that didn’t help my outlook. There was also the bitterness I still feel about equal marriage rights in this country (if two men who love each other dearly can’t get married, then nobody should be allowed to).

Since then I have softened significantly on the topic (I still want equal rights for everyone, though; let’s not forget that), even if I don’t think you need to get married to someone just to prove you love them. I know plenty of awesome couples that have been faithful and loving to each other for years, even decades, without tying the knot. But now I think we might end up straying off topic here a little too much, and I’ve got a damned movie to review, so let’s move on.

Wedlock. Now, this ain’t some newfangled discovery for me, but rather a rediscovery of an old flick I vaguely remembered from my childhood. Of course, back then it was called Deadlock, and my aunt (who I ain’t on speaking terms with anymore for reasons neither here nor there) had rented it from her local Blockbuster one day. She hadn’t returned it yet, and I was stuck at her house for the afternoon for some reason or another, so I watched it. I remember Rutger Hauer. I remember Joan Chen, who at that point I knew of from Twin Peaks. But mostly, I remember ‘sploding heads.

If there were a particular genre that this film should be filed under, let it be ‘Sploding Heads. It might be one of my favorite, if not niche, genres of film, albeit one with not that many entries aside from anything related to Scanners or Scannercop or any other movie made in the ‘80s and ‘90s that had “scanner” in the name (and we should not be including movies with beheadings, which are a totally different genre altogether, and yet can provide just as much anti-cranial entertainment for lowly cheesefest fans like you and I).

As far as ‘Sploding Head flicks go, this one is alright. Not one of the best, but not the worst, either. You really only get a couple of good headsplosions, which I find a little underwhelming considering the premise of the flick in question, but perhaps I am too demanding of my films these days.

The premise, of course, is where we find the twin topics of marriage and blowed up noggins coming together in an unholy union. See, Rutger Hauer is an electronics whiz who specializes in diffusing explosives, and he’s engaged to Joan Chen, and his best friend James “Fake Raiden” Remar has concocted a jewel heist for all three of them to pursue. In usual Westlake-ian fashion, once the job is finished, Remar and Chen double-cross Hauer and leave him for dead. But ain’t time for ol’ Roy Batty to die just yet. Nope, the cops save him, take him in, and the next thing he knows he’s on his way to the Power Rangers’ Command Center, which in the future is now a privatized prison run by Ned Ryerson (BING!), who’s traded in selling life insurance to angry weathermen for being a sleazy, money-grubbing, houseplant-pruning warden of a state-of-the-art holding facility.

In the future, a place that once housed a giant floating head will be used to blow up other people's heads

See, ol’ Needlenose Ned has devised a new kind of technology, something so advanced it will blow your mind (oh shit, I didn’t intend that pun! I swear!): every prisoner is outfitted with a futuristic (by 1990s standards) electronic collar loaded with C-4, called Wedlock (haha, now you know why I was talking about marriage! How clever.). Every prisoner is partnered with another prisoner they don’t know the identity of, whose collar is electronically connected by radio signal to their collar, and if the two of them are too far apart, the collars (and their heads) get blowed up good. If one of them attempts to removed or tamper with their collar, their heads both get blowed up good. If one of them attempts to leave the grounds, both their heads get blowed up good. Which is why I complain about how few heads blow up good in this flick.

See, I’m a busy guy. I have no time to sit around waiting for heads to turn into watermelons at a Gallagher show. I’ve got important things to do, dammit. Heck, if Ned had just used live volunteers to demonstrate for the new prisoners instead of mannequins, we’d at least have two more real skulls popping. Heck, the movie could meet me halfway and have Kim Cattrall from Mannequin get her head blowed up and I would consider that enough. But alas.

One of the key themes of this movie, aside from flying brain matter, is just how painfully stupid Rutger Hauer’s character is. This is a man that consistently makes poor decisions, particularly in regards to the women he chooses to sleep with and/or trust, and what makes it worse is that we as viewers can see every swerve coming from several million parsecs away. The only guy that might be dumber in this movie is James “Dexter’s Ghost Dad” Remar, who doesn’t think for a second that Joan Chen, who was more than willing to shoot the man she was going to marry in order to obtain a shitload of diamonds, wouldn’t do the same thing to him. It’s just like when a woman cheats on her boyfriend with you and then every friend of yours keeps telling you, “if she can cheat on him, then she’ll cheat on you, too,” and you don’t listen, because you think “she’s different; I mean more to her than that; you’re just bitter because somebody cheated on you; etc.”

Yeah, it’s like that. And yet, Remar jumps right into it and never thinks, “Oh, she’ll shoot me for those diamonds.” Idiot!

As for Hauer, he keeps getting approached by another prisoner who thinks they’re secret Wedlock partners. Lucky for him (but not for us since there’s no skin in this flick) it’s the ever chesty Mimi “Let’s Forget I Was Married To Tom Cruise” Rogers. She wants to escape. The future Hobo With A Shotgun declines her advances, partially due to his distrust of women and partially due to the fact that one of the other prisoners has threatened to murder the shit out of him if he even looks at Mimi Rogers. Oh, it’s just like high school!

Let’s see… distrust of women… death threats if he gets together with one… yeah, it pretty much sounds like all the reasons I was trying to avoid wedlock when I was young, too.

But, and stop me if this sounds familiar to you, Mimi doesn’t give a shit and keeps throwing herself at him. Typical, right? And then the alpha male prisoner challenges Rutger to a fight in the courtyard the next morning. During the fight, Hauer shows off that he actually is smart by pulling on Alpha Male’s collar until it detonates, giving us our quota of bursted tomatoes. Also, it gives Mimi and Rutger a chance to escape, and then it’s all downhill from there.

Now I know you’re gonna say, “Well, ‘Stached One, Rutger didn’t choose to get involved with Mimi Rogers. And so far things are turning out better than expected, to boot.” Well, finish watching the goddamn movie, goddammit. Now they’re on the run, and they don’t trust each other, and in bad movie fashion they start to trust each other and get closer and then he bangs her a couple of times (which we don’t get to see), and then, as we were all predicting, and that turns out to be a poor decision as well.

Listen, all you need to know is that this movie will show you:

  • Exploding Heads
  • Basil Wallace urinating on Rutger Hauer’s face
  • Stephen Tobolowsky maniacally trimming the leaves and branches on his collection of houseplants
  • The Power Rangers Command Center (or Camp Khitomer from Star Trek VI)
  • Mimi Rogers running around in skintight pants
  • Grand L. Bush as a beer-brewing surfer dude
  • An exploding helicopter
  • An exploding Chinese actress
  • Rutger Hauer in a bad western coat (looking like a Sedona local)
  • The props dept. getting the last name of the female lead character wrong when printing up a newspaper headline

Verdict: See it, but only if you’re a fan of ‘sploding heads and/or James Remar (because let’s be honest, the guy really doesn’t get enough work).

Advertisements

“What’s in the bag????”

Like Brad Pitt in the climax of Seven, I howled those words while sitting in the passenger seat of the Lady’s Honda. It is with the same anticipation that I sit down to write this.

Let’s go back. We’ll go back to where it starts, as I stand in line at the local Dollar Tree with a stack of comic book “value packs” in hand (we’ll be visiting those in later posts). I gaze out at the store at the various racks near the registers. The one nearest is loaded with various trading cards and stickers, most of them outdated (which sometimes makes them awesome, like when I picked up some 1989 Donruss baseball cards, packs filled with Will Clarks and Ricky Hendersons), which at this point have little of interest aside from Dinosaur King cards (dude, a card game devoted to making dinosaurs fight? If I were still 9 and had friends that were into that thing I’d be all over that; hell, I will occasionally buy them just to have cool spinosaurus bookmarks). But I look further down the row and that’s when my eyes meet with the mystery. There they sit, in neat little rows: brown paper bags emblazoned with “GRAB BAG” and announcing on their fronts, “A Surprise for a BOY.”

I’m cheap. This is something you will learn about me, despite how much of a snob I may seem to be. I love a good deal, even if that good deal isn’t so good in the end. I could make an off-color remark about how it’s from my Hebrew blood, but in reality it’s because I’ve spent most of my adult life dirt poor. But I like treating myself, perhaps a little too much.

But they grab me, these “grab bags.” At just a dollar apiece, I can’t help but wonder what may lie within their brown paper wombs. What surprise might I, a BOY, find inside? Could it be baseball cards? A Batman hand towel? Plastic ninja stars? Cheaply made luchadores? For only a dollar, I could learn the secrets of the ominous GRAB BAG!

At this point the bag is krackling with mysterious Kirby energy for me. I step out of line and pick up the first one on the rack, front and center, and toss it on the conveyer belt with my sure-to-be-disappointing polybags of 90s Superman and 80s Justice Machine comics.

When I get back home, the Lady begs me to open the mysterious bag. She knows I plan to write about it, so she apologizes for her impatience, but I can’t blame her. The BAG has me in its MYSTERO-GRIP! I must discover its contents! For the sake of all mankind!

Funnily enough, the bag is only “sealed” with three measly strips of scotch tape. A poor seal for a man such as I (and I can only imagine the animalistic little boys that I’m sure run around the store on any other day easily busting this open and throwing their unearned prizes all over the shop).

But I open it. I peer in. What do I find? It’s hard to tell at first. I see an open blister card…

I reach in and find these items:

First, a whoopee cushion. Not too bad, right? I’m a jokester like any good manchild, so this could be of use, especially in the office. But then, upon closer inspection, I discover…

A HOLE IN THE WHOOPEE CUSHION.

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Okay, okay, okay… perhaps this first prize is about as bad as we all imagined getting coal in our stockings would be when we were kids. I’m sure Prize #2 will be better.

Second item: a plastic periscope. Ripped from its package, but still in one piece and functional. I’m sure I’d at least have gotten a good afternoon of fun out of this when I was kid, before dropping it on the cement in our back yard and shattering it, cheap plastic strewn about the patio.

And it works, to some extent. It’s not particularly great (as you can see from the view through the scope, it’s a little distorted and limited in its scale, barely giving a full view of the official Mustachiosaurus Mascot, Prof. Redford von Puggins). But hey, it’s at least not broken.

And what else? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Honestly, I did end up with two $1 dollar items for the price of one, but both items were unpackaged, and furthermore, one of those two items was of no use since IT HAD A HOLE IN IT.

Now I wonder if all the “mysterious” grab bags at Dollar Tree are like this. I know, I know, what should I expect from a dollar store? Well, you know, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect toys that aren’t ruined already. Call me crazy!

Imagine if you’re a kid. Imagine you’re at the Dollar Tree with your mom, and this is your special treat for being a good boy or girl. And then you get a useless whoopee cushion. This is a crime against not just childhood, but THE ART OF COMEDY.

Alright. That’s all I got. I am going to fight the urge to go back to the store and buy ALL of the grab bags to see if they all suck. And you know, I’ll be okay, because ONE, I’ve got plenty of comic book “value packs” to sort through (for entertainment purposes, and I don’t mean enjoying some good comics), and TWO, because, well, it’s a fucking dollar store. What should I expect?

Until then,

Keep on mustachin’

CSG

Life, the Universe, and L.A. Streetfighting

L.A. Streetfighters

Corwin's Note: Poster Much More Awesome Than Actual Movie

Now, the Lady and I have been discussing making a big move out of state. We’re both growing tired of humdrum Arizona. Surprisingly, we’ve been thinking a lot about Los Angeles. I know, right? Me in L.A.? But I promise you, this ain’t a hoax or an imaginary tale right here. This is what we’re looking to do (unless we decide we’d rather live boring, normal lives somewhere more vanilla, like Phoenix). Being the big smart guy that I am, I decided that maybe I could do some research on the city of L.A. through one of its chief exports, film. Instead of sitting down with, say, L.A. Story (which a friend of ours swears is a great representation of life in Los Angeleez), I found myself sitting down with a relatively obscure flick called L.A. Streetfighters, from ACTION BROTHERS PRODUCTIONS. Frankly, you could just put ACTION BROTHERS on the cover for any movie and I’ll probably buy it. I like the mental image of a pair of kung-fuing Italian plumbers.

There’s plenty of kung-fuing going on in L.A. Streetfighters, and while the two main dudes aren’t brothers, at least one of them has a mustache. That’s gotta count for something.

If there’s one thing I can take away from this movie, it’s that I might not want to raise my children in the public schools of Los Angeles. Our heroes, Young and Tony, attend a high school where you’d be hard pressed to find a student under the age of 30. You know when kids make their own movies, and you have that funny, cute thing where a 12-year-old is dressed up in an ill-fitting suit, pretending to be some middle-aged detective? L.A. Streetfighters is like the opposite of that.

I’m going to have to start training my kids in kung-fu straight out of the womb if I have any hope of them surviving high school. I suppose I should also expect them to be stuck in high school and living with me well into their adult years. Says a lot about public education in California, I guess.

There are plenty of things I’d love to tell you about the action (both with the chicks and in the titular street fighting), but I spent 90% of the time not sure what was going on. I think there might have been a part where Tony makes out with his girl, but frankly you’d have an easier time following the action in a scrambled porno on cable than you would figuring out what’s what in this movie. Why is that? Because the vast majority of the action takes place in pitch darkness. It’s as though the people responsible for the film didn’t want to run the risk of the audience realizing the movie sucks.

There’s a scene when our heroes (and their friends) are leaving a party (where they’ve been working security) and encounter a gang of thugs (led by a pot-bellied, blonde version of Gallagher in a half-shirt). The thugs bust out their baseball bats and start doing… well, something. I think they were hitting Young’s car with their bats, but for all I know they could’ve been putting on an impromptu breakdancing performance or giving an elephant a prostate exam. Fucked if I know.

At least I can tell you that you’ll know when a fight is starting, because nearly all of the fights start like the beginning of the video for Beat It, and there’s a pretty kickin’ tune that starts up each time.

But this movie isn’t just about 30-year-old teenagers fighting with wooden sticks in the streets of Los Angeles. It’s also about the human condition. See, life isn’t easy for the kids in Young and Tony’s group. Early in the movie we witness a birthday party (in what appears to be an abandoned building) for one of their friends, who breaks down in front of his macho brothers and admits that he’s never had a birthday cake before. Meanwhile, Young has his own problems living with his divorced mother. In a page straight out of the Hasselhoff family handbook, Tony meets Young’s mom when she arrives home intoxicated and accompanied by some random oily bohunk. As Young says to Tony later in his most Wiseau-esque delivery, “Mom’s always drunk. I don’t know what to do with her.”

In the urban jungle of L.A., it’s either kung-fu or be kung-fued. When you’re not getting whacked repeatedly in the face with a wooden sword, your car is getting pissed on by fat, shirtless latino gangbangers. Or you’re being called racial slurs by women that might or might not be actual prostitutes. Or you’re getting pushed around at school by grown men whose shirts are tailored by the same guy Lando Calrissian goes to. Just because you’re still living with your parents and have a mullet or a mustache.

Young wants to be free, man. He wants to live his life, and it’s been tough since he came to America. Tony wants to live the American dream. But it’s hard out there when greasy, stereotypical Italian drug dealers are after you because you stole their briefcase filled with money while they were too busy sexing up small-breasted chicks in bathtubs to notice. And then they hire Karate Champion Bill “Superfoot” Wallace to kick your ass (along with some ninja dude who has a mustache identical to yours and a penchant for only wearing one sleeve).

Clearly, the Action Brothers have brought us the Great American Novel as kung-fu cinema.

In this movie, you will see:

  • 2 Asian dudes with mustaches
  • A gang of thugs featuring a guy with a giant flute
  • A toga party
  • Kung-fu
  • Hookers (and some women that might or might not also be hookers)
  • Poor fashion decisions
  • Stereotypes
  • Drug use
  • Simulated underage drinking
  • Mullets
  • 1 set of naked breasts
  • Lots of bad dancing
  • 1 billboard for Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the only film I can think of right now that’s less coherent than L.A. Streetfighters

As for how this has informed me on the city of Los Angeles, I have to say it has only made me more intent on moving there. I’m already placing a bulk order on woodenfightingstickshop.com.

Final word: See it, but only if your brain has been pumped full of a decent mix of legal and illegal substances.

%d bloggers like this: