"Have you been tongue baptized yet?" - Anastasia
Here are a handful of facts about direct-to-video release The Cook--a wannabe horror/comedy hybrid that comes across more like one of those awful early '80s boob movies--to help you wrap your mind around its plot and tone:
- The box proclaims: "Sorority Babes: The Other White Meat."
- The sorority housing the victims is ΛEZ...or Lambda Epsilon Zeta...or LEZ (get it?!).
- Included slow-mo sequences include a pillow fight and suggestive Sloppy Joe eating (actually, it's Sloppy Michelles, but more on that later).
- Scenes with bare breasts: three.
- Bubble bath masturbation sequences: one.
When most of their Southern California sorority sisters head to Cabo for Spring Break, eight coeds stay behind and are soon joined by the "substitute cook" (Mark Hengst). None of them seem to mind that he apparently can't speak English...but hey, we'll overlook that for the sake of setting up the fun to come, right?
The eight women fit typical stereotypes: the brain, the Bible beater, the dumb blond...although most of them seem to be sluts. And one of the running "jokes" is that most of them have lesbian tendencies. (And good luck telling some of these women apart, especially the interchangeable Pam and Brooke, who do body shots with Autumn in one of the more softcore lesbo moments.) Soon, the sole straight gal gets her throat slit after offering the cook a blowjob, then takes a trip through the meat grinder before finding her way onto the dinner plates of her former sisters for a few meals.
Dinner (aka Michelle) is served.
Hengst always speaks in (apparently) Hungarian, with another running "joke" being that he will tell his soon-to-be victims that he's going to kill them (only they don't understand it, which is what makes it so funny!). His portrayal is like a Saturday Night Live sketch that overstays its welcome, and he comes off like a cross between The Swedish Chef and Borat (especially when he utters his catchphrase, "Ooo Kaaay!").
If only Autumn could read...
A recurring side story has edgy girl Anastasia trying to get into the pants of religious Kristen. It's an incessantly boring subplot that features four repetitive sequences where Kristen angrily knocks on her tormenter's door to argue, which eventually ends up with her bound and blindfolded in a BDSM fantasy involving chocolate sauce.
The filmmakers have also chosen to use way too much loud music to try and cover up for the script's deficiencies. One scene (after knock #1 above) has three different musical shifts in a 60-second span. It's also fun to count the seconds during some pauses between line readings, like it's built in "laugh time" that never materializes (maybe the gals just couldn't remember their lines, and the editors did the best they could).
I have no problem enjoying camp or crap, but this effort isn't even bad enough to be good. The actresses aren't so laughably horrible to make it any fun...they take it just seriously enough to make it boring. It certainly won't please slasher fans--this is an attempt at comedy first. The effects are cheap (unless you think close-ups of chopping pig guts are cool), and all of the kills are edited so we just see the "after" shots of the carnage: a chopped off hand, a split skull, a slashed throat, a severed head. The kills aren't even clever...the set-up would at least suggest some fun ways to dispose of victims (a vast array of culinary devices would seem to work...how about a garlic press, a cheese grater, a salad spinner?). Instead, we get a variety of knives and a corkscrew (yawn!).
And the script--inexplicably credited to three writers--is devoid of any laughs. Let's see if any of this makes you chuckle (children, cover your eyes):
- "All I need is my beaver whistle to keep me satisfied."
- "The only thing you need to cram is a big cock in your box."
- "I'm going to the frat house for a cock run."
- "If you can tell me what it is, I'll let you touch my tits."
- "Give me a buck, I'll give you a fuck."
- "Who do you have to blow to get something to eat around here?"
- "What's the difference between 5 times 3 and 3 times 5?"
- "I know some frat guys who are always up for a good gang bang."
Laughing yet? There's also Lance, who lusts after Bunny, and talks to his own penis (named Frank), then "shakes" with it after making a deal ("What is it with you, Frank? We're not going into her special place yet!"). Another "joke" is uttered twice, with characters laughing after finding out the cook is from Hungary. Get it? The Hungary Cook?
Wait, Cameron...shouldn't that be "Hungarian Cook"? Why yes, loyal reader...it should. "But neither is funny," you declare. I agree, my friend, I agree.
Presented in 2.35:1 video enhanced for widescreen, this effort is a mixed bag. The overall quality looks like it was intended for direct-to-video land, and looks like it was shot directly on tape (we're guessing digital, but it sure ain't film). Many of the scenes are perfectly fine, although some of them have a tint to them that makes it look like the entire screen got a spray tan. But a few problems creep up: watch out for any scene involving bright light from outside, which drowns out the image (one kitchen scene becomes nearly invisible, although the filmmakers suggest that was intentional), and a few instances have some serious color saturation problems (a mistake alluded to in the commentary).
Go into the light...
You can opt for 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Surround options. With all of the music forced down your throat here, a few spots make it hard to clearly hear the dialogue. There aren't a lot of cool effects coming from the rear speakers, and the kill sequences are usually the only ones that shake things up. Not bad, but not memorable.
There's a feature-length audio commentary with Nicholas Bonomo (executive producer, editor, writer) and five of the actors: killer Hengst, Makinna Ridgway (Amy), Kit Paquin (Bunny), Nina Fehren (Brooke) and Brooke Lenzi (Kristen). It can be slightly more entertaining than the actual film at times (just slightly), but is mostly memorable for some of the proclamations: after one of many genitalia-referencing jokes, one actress chimes in (with zero sense of sarcasm): "The dialogue is amazing!" Bonomo also mentions that the story was initially short but expanded for a film (shocker!) and that having four writers work on one script is something "no one should ever do." Still, it's fun to hear them all acknowledge some of the mistakes and head-scratching moments that happen on screen.
There's also a short behind-the-scenes featurette (4:34) in full-frame, most memorable for someone behind camera telling Paquin to sit up "just so we see a little more of your chest."
Also included is audition footage of Hengst (2:41) in rough full-frame video as he reads some cook lines.
Trailers before the film are for Wrestlemanic (another classic!), Hatchet, Spiral and Behind the Mask.
While not an extra, the closing credits feature some bloopers that are, unfortunately, not funny (the never-ending takes of Hengst reading the line "Buona sera!" in exaggerated Italian are a chore to sit through).
If Maxim is your idea of top-notch entertainment, and you're a 12-year-old boy in search of some cheap thrills, this may be for you. Others would do best to avoid this failed attempt at comedy and horror that munches its horny lesbian jokes into the carpet a little too hard. Skip it.