Best of Schlock 2003
BY G. NOEL GROSS | December 26, 2003
Now that Santa's split town, the readers of CineSchlock-O-Rama have tallied a list of naughty and nice of their own. Congrats to director Danny Boyle and Fox Home Video for 28 Days Later having devoured all other noms to be voted CineSchlockers' Choice for THE top DVD of 2003!!! Sure shootin' it's high among MY yearly ranking of fringe cinema standouts:
1. The Hills Have Eyes|
(Read original review)No odoriferous packaging. No "limited" sardine can. Just an impeccably thorough, truly special edition that's a crowning reminder of Anchor Bay's extras-earned royalty among genre fans. Wes Craven's deliciously depraved kissin' cousin of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows an extended suburban family of vacationers who, despite fevered warnings, wander down the wrong desert road and find themselves subject to the cannibalistic amusements of a HIGHLY inhospitable band of neo-Neanderthals whose ancestral tree don't quite fork like it oughta. Once stranded, the city folks' sudden and terrifying isolation rapidly devolves into abject hysterics upon the realization that -- they're not REALLY alone! Among the eyes in them thar hills is towering CineSchlocker idol Michael Berryman, as the pointy-noggin'd Pluto, who along with his planetary kin, revels in skillfully taunting his prey in fiendish and increasingly grisly ways. No breasts. Seven corpses. Pornographic dirt doodling. One rattlesnake necktie. Human puppetry. Canary slurping. Mars licks his jagged chops: "Baby's fat. Youuuuuuu fat. FAT 'N' JUICY!"
(Read original review)The astonishing clarity of its transfer. Writer/director Jeff Lieberman's cornball confessions of "mass wormal genocide." Yes, even the restoration of a long excised areola. MGM surely pays its winking respects! Rural Georgia is savaged by wriggling hordes of slimy worms driven from the earth with an electrified lust for human flesh. Isolated feasts build toward the flick's memorably monstrous finale featuring a two-story farm house oozing floor-to-ceiling with a FLOOD of positively DISGUSTING nightcrawlers. Though there's terrifically titter-worthy scenes throughout such as when a redheaded belle strips for a quick shower, turns the faucet, and unbeknownst to her, worms gurgle slowly from the showerhead, only to return through the miracle of reverse photography when she turns off the water. It's also among the early films of famed FX Oscar hog Rick Baker who crafted the subdermal face-munching of a reluctant worm farmer that's become such a classick of critter cinema. One breast. 12 corpses. Killer worm cam. Southern inhospitality. Copious invertebrate closeups. One-woman staging of The Glass Menagerie. A lovelorn redneck howls at his yankee interloper: "YOU GONNA BE SPOILED!!! YOU GONNA BE THE WORM FACE!!!"
(Read original review)Easily the year's most memorable 5-star surprise was Lucky McKee's charming yet grim fairy tale about a lazy-eyed wallflower looking for love in all the wrong pieces. Even the flick itself is a patchwork: a wry slice of Frankenstein stitched to Taxi Driver's socially-challenged Travis Bickle, vaguely informed by Italian giallo guru Dario Argento. May's only childhood companion was a creepy doll whom her daft mama insisted remain locked behind glass. This sad little girl begets a sad young lady until fate steps in when May (Angela Bettis) timidly spies a boy she fancies, Adam (Jeremy Sisto), whom she considers to have glorious man hands. Determined to be pawed by said mitts, she ditches her spectacles for corrective contacts, sews a nifty red number that clings to her best assets, practices girly smooches under her dear dolly's cold stare and then commences stalking, er, arranging chance meetings with Adam. L'amour somehow blossoms amid these encounters despite May's penchant for PROFOUNDLY odd behavior. Soon after, as in any romance, there are pitfalls -- to couch it kindly. No breasts. Five corpses. Blind kiddos in peril. Veterinary hilarity. Lesbian petting party. One pussy popsicle. Tragically, it's much too late to stash the cutlery before May recalls her mama's fateful words: "If you can't find a friend. Make one."
4. Silent Night, Deadly Night|
(Read original review)
They're STILL protesting this gloriously fiendish malignment of jolly ol' Saint Nick! Young Billy's life-defining night arrives Christmas Eve when his nutzoid gramps terrifies him with tales of a vengeful Mr. Claus who PUNISHES naughty boys and girls. This nightmare is realized when the tike's family is accosted by a Santa-suited maniac who blows away his daddy and gleefully rips off his momma's blouse before slashing her throat. Billy's doom-filled years under the whims of a sadistic nun (Lilyan Chauvin) and holiday taunts at an orphanage virtually assure Robert Brian Wilson's psychotic meltdown that bloodies the final reel -- such as when B-queen Linnea Quigley is impaled on deer antlers for being exceedingly NAUGHTY atop a pool table. This deeply subversive gem wrung fresh blood from the then sequel-worn slasher genre and deserves, if not the utmost respect, at least another look by all good little CineSchlockers. Anchor Bay scores again by cobbling together the most "uncut" version thus far alongside a phone interview with its apologetic director. Seven breasts. 12 corpses. Decapitated snowman. Multiple dead Santas. Nunspolitation. Rampant axe wielding. Mother Superior snarls: "Punishment is necessary. Punishment is good!"
5. 28 Days Later|
(Read original review)
Great movie. Lousy ending. How the latter doesn't negate the former is a tribute to the other 95 percent of this Romero-enthused zombie rave. As during its boffo theatrical run, this lack of a proper ending became a surefire marketing hook with THREE showcased on the disc. Cillian Murphy is a London bike messenger who wakes from a coma, nekkid as a jaybird, in a world gone mad. Literally. Yet, in his misadventure's most arresting moments, Jimbo wanders from chillingly vacant hospital halls, into vacant streets, past various silent landmarks -- Big Ben, Parliament -- before reaching a church with a less than charitable congregation. It all started 28 days prior with lab monkeys forced to watch grisly old melees from "The Morton Downey Jr. Show." This coupled with ill-advised scientific tinkering led to an outbreak of "rage" in the unlikely form of virulent cooties passed within 10-to-20 seconds of exposure. Soon all of tea-sipping England is projectile puking plasma and mighty CRANKY about it. Jolly good, indeed! Two zombie breasts. 1,008 corpses (give or take 58 million to 6.2 billion). Untethered wangdoodle. Ol' flat tire at the worse possible moment gag. Thumbs to the eye sockets. Angry amputation. Sgt. Farrell is an apocalyptic philosopher: "If you look at the whole life of the planet ... man has only been around for a few blinks of an eye. So, if the infection wipes us all out, that IS a return to normality."
6. Blown Away|
(Read original review)Eighties sitcom siren Nicole Eggert, desperate to shed her goodie-goodie image, strips and sizzles in this after-school Basic Instinct as a psycho nympho who snares an ever gap-jaw'd Corey Haim in an extremely torrid web of teen lust and murder. This gal is SO batty and SO sexed up that she manages to get Haim thrown in the hoosgow and THEN tries to hike up her skirt to diddle him right there in the police interrogation room. Keep this babe OFF her meds! Corey Feldman also stars as our breathless hero's older, wiser brother who pirouettes and emotes like he's in My Fair Lady. But the real story is that Ms. Eggert's salaciously brave turn can be beheld in its most artful form as Artisan's R-rated disc is IDENTICAL -- frame for fiery frame -- to the Unrated VHS release worn weary by freeze-frame perverts for a decade.
Two breasts. Five corpses.
Rip-away lingerie. Rampant Haim hiney. Unsanctioned use of giant stuffed duck. Megan coos: "Talking isn't my best sport!"
7. Hard Hunted|
(Read original review)Where other than an Andy Sidaris flick would a scrawny Japanese villain from the preceding film get REPLACED by the tall, hansom son of 007 royalty (R.J. Moore) who also gets to canoodle with the last guy's smoldering sidekick (Carolyn Liu)!?! What screenwriter would have coded messages panted over the airwaves via barely-undercover-federal-agent Ava Cadell!?! Who'd stage a breathless surface to air shootout between twin-torpedo'd heroines and a heavily-armed GYROCOPTER that looks like the passionate product of a lost weekend between Airwolf, Blue Thunder and a Subaru!?! Or dream up a pair of bumbling assassins named Wiley and Coyote to then write dialogue for 'em such as "SHE WILL BE SINGING THE SONG OF DEATH! AND LUCAS WILL APPLAUD HER FROM H-E-L-L!!!" Who has his leading lady (Dona Speir) brained into temporary amnesia, diddle a bad guy surfside by the light of a stunning Hawaiian sunset only to have her wake the next morning in a fury snarling: "I FAKED THAT ORGASM!!!" Oh, Andy, your artistry knows no limits! 14 breasts. 13 corpses. Exploding footwear. Slow-mo bikini frolicking. Gratuitous shower scene. Exploding "ACME" hovercraft. Aught-3 also saw the release of the MOTHER of all page-turners in Bullets, Bombs and Babes: The Films of Andy Sidaris, plus the six-flick, extras-oozing Andy Sidaris Collection Vol. 1 boxed set.
8. Jackass: The Movie|
(Read original review)Paramount harped way too much on the flick's formidable, yet limited "CAN'T SEE THIS ON TV!!!" content. But what they can't BEGIN to over hype is how freaking HILARIOUS this nuevo-Flying Circus of the cerebrally challenged proves to be. Evel Kee-Knoxville and his motley crew head-butt the big screen with a rapid-fire onslaught of pranks, stunts and wholesale juvenile delinquency that clearly bests even their very worst MTV calamities. A rental car returns in less than cherry condition after finding its way onto the crash derby circuit. Steve-O tight ropes it across an alligator pit with raw chicken dangling from his hiney.
Unruly pandas go berserk in Japan. The latter day Stooges' pee-pee d'resistance? Mining comedy from the sphincter of one of their own. CineSchlockers, however, will leap from their sweat-stained couches with applause for the riotously epic fireball finale. Even the disc itself is so crammed with gut-busting goodies it must've required numerous tubes of personal lubricant. No breasts. Way too many untethered wangdoodles. Gratuitous urination (with ingestion).
Gator to the nipple.
Inflate-a-Dates in peril. Best reference wasted on most of the gang? Caked in geriatric makeup, Mr. Knoxville yelps, "I WAS LON CHANEY'S LOVER!!!"
9. Predator 2|
(Read original review)
This oomph-less disc rates Top 10 status on movie merit alone by delivering EXACTLY what most fans wanted -- plenty more face time for ol' snaggle puss. The interstellar malcontent takes its homo-sapien safari to Los Angeles. The city swelters in 109 degree heat. There's open warfare between drug lords and police. Prime hunting conditions for our 8-foot Rastafarian who mangles a coke baron mid-diddle and SKINS a half-dozen other goons just out of sheer MEANNESS! In lieu of Ah-nold, Danny Glover is the woefully ill-prepared cop who draws the big guy's attention. Thus begins the sporting and what some postulate is an allegory for man's brutality toward animals, which lends an amusing subtext to those climatic meat-packing plant scenes. Regardless, there's oodles of really nifty Pred-O-Vision footage, groovy glow-in-the-dark space alien blood and oceans of the garden variety red stuff. All of which leads up to a real jaw-dropper of a final reel, from which a single shot launched the hit Alien vs. Predator video game and comic franchise due to come full circle as a feature film. Two breasts. 48 corpses. Cajone crushing. Razorblade Frisbee to the gut. Extraterrestrial taxidermy. Coitus interruptus with extreme prejudice. Gary Busey mugs: "Lions, the tigers, the bears -- Oh my!"
10. Beyond Re-Animator|
(Highly Recommended. Complete review next issue.)In by hair of its undead chinny chin chin due to a December 30th street date. Producer turned gorteur turned Barcelona-based studio mogul Brian Yuzna credits the DVD boom with, ahem, re-animating the franchise after a full decade of financier indifference. Who'd have guessed SPAIN would usher Dr. West into the new millennium? Jeffrey Combs' marvelously mad scientist continues his research from the pokey where he's spent the last 13 years since the unfortunate romantic entanglements of Bride of Re-Animator. This, frankly, is an IMMENSELY more fruitful venture filled with reverence for Stuart Gordon's classick, buoyed by Mr. Combs' ever-delish deadpan doc and greased with glorious grue. In fact, yours truly would argue Yuzna doth protest MUCH too much during his commentary: "It isn't as violent and gruesome as the first movie, and I have to admit, I kind of would've liked to see the movie a bit more extreme in the gore department. ... I think, today, the gore has to be a little cleaner than what was acceptable back in the '80s."
Three breasts. 23 corpses.Projectile innards.
Nipple, ear, arm and rat munching.
Two-fisted ass whuppin' by zombified torso.
And penile/rodent fisticuffs. Yep, you read that right!
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.