Wednesday, June 15, 2011

in the mooth of shiteness.

Yellowbrickroad (2011).
Dir: Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton.
Cast: Michael Laurino, Anessa Ramsey, Cassidy Freeman, Clark Freeman, Crying Freeman, Alex Draper, Laura Heisler, Sam Elmore and Tara Giordano.

“We have the opportunity to take a legend and turn it into recorded history!”

Once upon a time in the olden days (1940 to be precise) the entire population of Friar, a sleepy town in New Hampshire popped on their Sunday best and kissed their pets goodbye before proceeding to walk briskly up a woody mountain trail, never to return.

The end.

No, not really otherwise it would be a really short movie, tho' that probably wouldn't be a bad thing.

Anyway a few weeks later the good ol' US Army, having nothing to do because they hadn't decided what side to be on in WW II yet, whilst investigating the mystery discover the remains of over 300 of the towns residents littering the path; many had been killed, some had frozen to death and many, many more were still unaccounted for.

The government, worried that the lack of logical answers would scare the public decide to cover-up the whole event and rebuild the town.

No, still not the end I'm afraid.

Flash forward to the modern day times (last Wednesday week if you like) where whiny writer and Eddie Munster alike Teddy Barnes (Laurino who once played Jesus), his lantern jawed, beady eyed wife Melissa (Ramsey from the upcoming Footloose remake) and there bearded pal Walter (Draper looking like a young - and scarily not dead - Richard Liberty) have decided that rather than spend their pitiful and empty lives listening to crap jazz, drinking wine and doing, gulp a 'proper' job like teaching that they should try and solve the mystery of Friar, write a book about it and become obscenely rich along the way.

Enough to keep them in cheap plonk, shit jumpers and pretzels forever. 

"It was covered in hair and hopped, like a kangaroo straight up Diane Keen's arse".

Luckily for the plot the government have recently declassified all information pertaining to the events in Friar so Teddy, armed with the exact co-ordinates of the trail and a new Paddington Bear style raincoat prepares to re-trace the towns folks final journey along the so called Yellow Brick Road.

As well as Walter and Melissa our mystery busting buddy has enlisted the help of cartography cousins (well siblings but that doesn't scan) Daryl and Erin (Clark - Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 - Freeman and Smallville's Cassidy Freeman), forest ranger Cy Banbridge (Elmore, nope me neither) and the high socked, sweet stealing, ginger-licious intern Jill (the scrummy Giordano).

Marked for death one and all.

Or at the very least a damn good kicking.

Tara Giordano: milky white thighs suitable for ski-ing down not shown.

The trail bizarrely enough begins in the lobby of the local cinema (giving Laurino ample opportunity to give us his patented confused face as the usher asks him if he wants to buy a ticket) where our merry band meet the multi-talented and Lego haired Liv McCann (Heisler from some other stuff) who, alongside being able to serve popcorn apparently knows the full history of the town thanks to her grandfather once owning the cinema.

Offering to show Teddy her dusty projection booth, Liv explains how she once found a mint copy of Gone With The Wind in a cupboard and that on the day of the mass exodus the locals had been watching 'that Oz movie'.

What? Mad Max? Patrick? Razorback?

Oh hang on, she must mean The Wizard of Oz so why not just say it?

Surely they haven't chosen to base the movie's mystery and iconography around a film that they're not allowed to mention by name?

No-one is that crazy.

Especially when everyone knows I'd have been willing to let them use the Anne Frankenstein script for a packet of cigarettes and a Yorkie. 


So did the Judy Garland classic inspire or even, gasp, possess everyone who saw it that day to escape the great depression for a new life 'over the rainbow?'

There's only one way to find out.

Leading the group out the back door, taking a second right by the bins and a sharp left at Sainsbury's, Liv soon has everyone on the right track and heading down the (luckily signposted) yellow brick road.

Within hours tho', the teams groovy gadgets start going crazy;  Their walkie-talkies begin to crackle and their trusty GPS is convinced that they are really on the sunny Pacific island of Guam.

If only, then at least the camera work and lighting might be brighter.

So between endless scenes of the team travelling along happily chatting, Walter's psychology tests to make sure that too much fresh air isn't driving everyone mad and finding hats in the bushes whilst waiting for something (anything) to happen it's not too much of a surprise to find tempers beginning to fray.

And as a mere viewer your arse going numb.

But don't worry because this is when things start to finally happen.

"I cannae hear you son, mah heid is full'o fuck!"

Yup, someone in the distance begins to play a warped and wobbly best of the crooners album.


Walter, having a beard and some small amount of acting ability and charisma is the first to get freaked, so freaked in fact that he begins to quote from Jaws.

“I think we need a bigger boat,” he confusingly comments.

I mean why the fuck would you need any size of boat in a forest?

Surely he'd have been better quoting The Evil Dead.

Or at the very least ringing his agent to see how he got into this sham in the first place.

"Ayeeee! Mah BCG!"

Determine to find the truth, Teddy and his posse decide to move ever deeper into the woods (well, the clearing behind his house) but as one by one the band fall prey to the creepy crooning he realises too late that it might not be a lovely pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Or even a horse that can change colour.

Tho' that would be nice.

Same shit, different smell.

Low on budget and brains and with all the style of a home-made vasectomy video, co-writers, directors and backdoor lovers (possibly) Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton's debut feature is an overly pretentious, cancerous cows arse of a movie, dripping with a stale "aren't we clever?" fluid that leaks from the poor animals creative udders soaking the ground with the unmistakeable stench of stale, warmed up and long abandoned ideas causing delusions of artistic endeavour to those poor souls involved.

Any chance of suspense and mystery beginning to develop on screen are dragged out and shot in the face like a small dog whenever they rear their cute little heads, any chance of interesting characterisation taking place was obviously cut from the script early on and quickly replaced by a random selection of tired and clichéd dialogue that, although probably meant to sound profound and intelligent just comes across as so much droning noise.

Holland and Mitton don't do themselves any favours by making the audience suffer thru' one of the most clumsy and banal use of allegory in a film ever committed to celluloid.

It'd have been subtler to just dress Teddy up in gingham and pop a small dog on his arm and have done with it.

Tho' saying that he is paired off with Anessa Ramsey for most of the film so I guess that'll do.

Laura Heisler finally realises what she's appearing in.

It's a shame that such an admittedly great concept is just thrown away by a pair who either don't have the imagination or just don't care enough to see it thru' meaning that what could have been a macabre, multi-layered mindfuck of a movie ends up as enjoyable (and making about as much sense) as the drunkenly random ramblings of a myopic tramp in an antique top hat and waders waiting for a night bus.

Oh, and another thing, if you want to give your film a creepy WTF? style ending come up with an original one, don't just reshoot the climax of John Carpenter's In The Mouth of Madness (with added shite CGI) like they've done here and hope no-one will notice.

Because they will.

And they'll hate you for it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

celebs that look like scifi creatures (part two).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

if i had a hammer.

The Ward (2010).
Dir: John Carpenter.
Cast: Amber Heard, Lyndsy Fonseca, Mamie Gummer, Sussana Burney, Danielle Panabaker and Jared Harris.

"Sorry, I don't converse with loonies".

It's another normal day in dust covered rural Oregon way back in 1966, the birds are singing, the sun is shining and batty blonde bombshell Kristen (snub nosed Mandy Lane herself, Heard) is busying herself by burning down a farmhouse.

As one does.

Picked up by the fuzz (not as painful as it sounds) and dropped off at the local mental asylum, Kirsten is left in the care of the enigmatically ginger Dr. Jerry Stringer (Harris, still paying his penance for Resident Evil) whose new anti-madness treatment is known to work wonders on fairly hot nubile teens.

Denise Van Outen, up the casino, 2002....YESCH!

With no memory as to how (or why) she came to be sitting outside a burning house and getting a wee bit of hassle from the hatchet faced Nurse Lundt (video voice vixen Burney) for refusing to take her anti-mad pills. our klepto cutie decides to introduce herself to her four fellow maddies.

As in mental patients not McCann-alikes.

That would be sick.

John Carpenter points in vain as the remnants of his once great career fades into the distance.

First to say 'Hi' is the incredibly pointy faced Emily (Gummer, daughter of St. Meryl Streep) followed quickly (and shakily) by the teddy bear obsessed Zoey (the almost dwarf-like Leigh).

But it's not all happy families (or even a bit lesbo-teen touching) as queen bitch Sarah (Friday The 13th's rude sounding Panabaker) isn't too impressed by our toothsome tottie whilst bespectacled beauty Iris (Kick Ass' Fonseca) just sits and quietly draws stuff.

So far so Sucker Punch.

"Did I hear someone say 'mooth shite-in'?"

It's not long before Kristen discovers that not only is the ward haunted by a vengeful ghost with bad teeth (and cunningly disguised it seems in a cheap market Halloween mask) but that this spooky spectre has already off-ed one patient in the movie's pre-credit sequence.


With the metaphorical clock metaphorically ticking Kristen and co. attempt to discover the spirits secret shame whilst dodging the dippy doc's gingerisms before time (and viewer patience) runs out.

And the fact that the ghost is invisible until the maximum scare moment can be achieved doesn't help.

Will the lovely ladies (and Emily) survive or will they all be butchered in a variety of hospital based ways?

Will Kirsten recover her memory?

And more importantly will john Carpenter regain his dignity after a run of frankly rancid shite disguised as classic cinema?

No matter what happens tho' lets hope that ten minutes before the end, the whole film isn't ruined by Dr. Stringer turning up and explaining the entire plot with the help of some ven diagrams, handy flashback sequences and a smooth voice-over.


From the highs of Halloween to the lows of Memoirs of an Invisible Man, no director alive today seems to garner as much goodwill and forgiveness as John Carpenter.

Maybe it's our age, or the fact that The Thing is still the greatest body horror movie ever made but whatever awfulness he's let loose over the last decade or so we sweep it under the carpet and still love him.

Except of course for The Village of The Damned remake for which he's still owed a fucking good beating.

So is The Ward a return to greatness or a final nail in the coffin of a once illustrious career?

Well thankfully it's not the shite-fi failure that was Ghosts of Mars but then again it's not even Prince of Darkness.

What we have here is an entirely unspectacular (and totally predictably) plotted ghost story made watchable thanks only to the skill of the director.

Screenwriting siblings Michael and Shawn Rasmussen must have found some really dodgy photo's of Carpenter and his dog to get this gig as I can see no other reason he'd decided to make it otherwise and, whilst nowhere near as bad as the cinematic abortions shatted out by Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson (we know where you live) you still expect even the most novice of writers to treat someone like old JC with a wee bit more respect.

"Fiona! Where's mah lunch?"

After the horrendous failures that were his last few movies tho' (Escape from LA excepted) perhaps this was all that was on offer to the great man.

Which would be a crying shame seeing as folk like Gabriele Albanesi never seem to be short of a few bob.

But if that is the case then it's promising at least to see the great man easing himself back into a genre he knows and loves. 

Well I've missed him at least.