The Ash From Another World
1.25.2003 by , every Thursday.
Can't get enought Ash? You should be reading Pulp!
I’m proud to announce that, starting with this week’s column, there is going to be a change in Tales From The Crypt. I’ve been getting numerous complaints lately, sent via the handy feedback option at the bottom of this page. Not that I don’t often get numerous complaints for the stuff I write. I get tons, usually involving the plethora of racial slurs and hate-mongering present in each and every column. It’s just that usually the complaints are baffling incoherent, ranging from a length diatribe denouncing me for not liking Bleeders (aka Hemogoblins) to a confused rant accusing me of being a card-carrying member of ZOG. To respond briefly to those two readers, Bleeders is indeed a very bad film, and I’m nowhere near rich enough to be in ZOG. But lately, I’ve getting some letters from confused fans who seem to have a problem deducing whether or not I actually like or dislike the movies I’m reviewing. Apparently, the fact that I haven’t given anything a good review since Birth Of A Nation seems to confuse people as to whether or not the films featured in Tales From The Crypt are any good. I guess people need more guidance when deciding whether to rent Halloween 3 or The Driller Killer. So, in response to the sad few who can’t seem to make their own qualitative decisions regarding how good a movie is, starting this week I will be providing a handy star rating system, giving each film a rating ranging from one to five stars, as explained below. Oh, and for the record, go with The Driller Killer.
Ash’s Rating System:
***** Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
**** Not Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
*** Decidedly not Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
** Really not Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
Monday, January 6
Orange County *
This lamely predictable teen comedy tells the story of a precocious youth whose ambitions to get into Stanford lead him on the prerequisite wacky road trip. The twist is that the film contains jokes about sex, drugs, and bodily fluids, which is as hard to find in these movies as a flamboyantly gay character in a sitcom. Plus, you get the added joy of a cast made up entirely of SCTV rejects and sons of celebrities, including Colin Hanks and Jack Black, who is either a direct descendent or a clone of Chris Farley, only not quite as loud. Schuyler Fisk, the female lead, troubles me on two levels, however. One, she is quite ugly, leading me to believe that she is related to either Sissy Spacek or Shelly Duvall. Secondly, what the hell kind of name is Schuyler? Why would you name your child that? Is it supposed to be a joke? Because if it is, a la Orange County, it isn’t very funny. It’s just kind of strange and cruel, like April Fool’s gags that involve feces and Joe Millionaire.
This movie kind of exemplifies why horror movies sucked in the late 80s. Anybody who had any good ideas used them up Nightmare On Elm Street sequels and then got hooked on coke, giving free reign to director Steve Miner and the rest of his Friday the 13th cronies to run wild with crap rip-offs. Plus, the advent of video apparently gave every special effects guy the opportunity to watch all the Toho Godzilla movies in a row one afternoon, convincing the entire industry that rubber monsters would terrify audiences rather than remind people of those little goblin finger puppets every grade three boy collects. This particular waste of 90 minutes deals with the guy with the afro from Carrie, who has grown up to be both a respectable horror novelist and a really bad actor. He moves into an old house to complete his latest book, apparently not having seen The Amityville Horror. Soon after he gets settled, he is quickly menaced by several has-been TV stars, including George Wendt and Bull from Night Court. Either this is a heavily allegorical message about the menace to society posed by specialty channels and the satellite TV invasion, or it’s just a really bad premise. Either way, I’d rather be watching Deja View.
Tuesday, January 7
First, allow me to insist that this is the original 1975 version of the film, not the atrocious remake. While I have seen the new version, I’m not far gone enough to admit it in public. Suffice it to say that although Norman Jewison’s original film is less action-packed than John McTeirnan’s new version, it has considerably less Chris Klein, which, unless you’re into the mongoloid look, is a good thing. Rollerball, for those of you lucky enough to have avoided both films, is about a dystopian future where corporations rule the world, war has been abolished, and everyone’s aggressions are worked out by watching Rollerball, which is like professional wrestling but with rollerskates. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble taking any sport involving rollerskates seriously, thus invalidating the bitingly accurate satire of the film. The future shown to us in Rollerball is, all told, not actually that bad. Sure, you have to put up with James Caan and suspiciously 70s based attire, and the fact that there are both sports and foreigners in the film prove that I haven’t been elected president by 2010, but there’s no such thing as war, which means that there’s no such thing as peace rallies, which means that there no such thing as pot, tie-dye, or Phish anymore. Plus, we’re all ruled by corporations, leading to a culture so consumer based I can probably finally find a copy of Cannibal Holocaust on DVD without flying to Japan.
Wednesday, January 8
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari *
Every time I see this film I’m amazed by its fascinating outlandishness. I can’t even picture making a movie with such demented sets, bizarre performances and insane plot structure today. It would be like, well, a Terry Gilliam movie, I suppose. But unlike anything that blotter-headed freak makes, this movie is actually good, in a way that can be enjoyed without psylocibin. The basic plot involves a traveling sideshow exhibit featuring a hypnotist, Caligari, and his somnambulist subject, Cesare. Naturally, since this is a German film, any sort of medical or technological advancement must be used for rape and murder, so Cesare is soon put to work killing villagers and abducting nubile fraulines for Caligari’s nefarious purposes. These purposes, although never revealed, no doubt involve either live sex shows or the production of videotapes called Gush Pee Fist, if my extensive knowledge of German culture is to be trusted.
L’Age D’Or *
I watched this Luis Bunuel surrealist picture solely because I once read an article, the gist of which has completely escaped me, which put the title of the film in the same sentence as the phrase ‘vagina dentate’, meaning ‘vagina teeth’. Thusly, I fully expected a scene featuring Spanish porn stud Nacho Vidal being eaten crotch first by Monica Sweetheart’s gaping toothy organ, or at least something resembling the abominations I used to make in grade 4 by melting together Barbies with some of the more distressing Ghostbusters toys. While there were plenty of scenes in the film that would upset some, what with bleeding eye sockets, infanticide, and several people who appear to be of mixed racial ancestry, I was nevertheless let down by the lack of castration, forcing me to re-watch I Spit On Your Grave yet again.
The 25th Hour *
This picture is the latest Spike Lee joint, following Bamboozled, a Spike Lee bong, He Got Game, a Spike Lee eightball, and Girl 6, a Spike Lee load of crap. Unusual for a Lee film, this movie contains a cast of almost entirely white people, which means that either Lee is tired of playing the race card, or he’s been killed by the Klan and replaced by Martin Scorsese. Like his previous effort He Got Game, this film is a structuralist movie, focusing on jump cuts and various other filmic techniques which incessantly remind us that Lee watched a lot of Godard movies in film school, except in the movie’s bar scene, where he remembers that he’s seen Mean Streets. Also like He Got Game, this movie has one of the stupidest premises ever. In it, a man convicted of dealing heroin is sentenced to 7 years in prison, and we focus on his last day of freedom before he reports to jail. I’m no lawyer, but I wasn’t under the impression that they let you just hang out at home for a bit before you go to jail for a felony crime. I figured they just took you straight from the court house to prison once you’re convicted, not that you get to have a few days on the outside first. Do they make you pinky swear to come back to prison, or do they keep your driver’s license to make sure you don’t leave the state? Anyway, the film stars Edward Norton, the Colin Farrell of 2000, and Anna Paquin, who was once cute but is now starting to look more and more like David Letterman as the years take their toll. The film also features Phillip Seymore Hoffman, who has the distinction of playing a pedophile in at least 3 films so far, an unfortunate bit of typecasting that’s unlikely to get him a date with anybody but Karla Homolka for the next few years.
Thursday, January 9
Charming little Mickey Rourke vehicle penned by noted poet Charles Bukowski. If you’re not familiar with Bukowski’s work, just think Tom Waits but without the music and much less lucid. Bukowski, I’m convinced, spent much of his career trying to forge a note from his mother excusing himself from a grade 11 biology class, but it kept coming out as artful gibberish due to a bad case of the DTs. Rourke plays his character as a mix of Bruce Willis and Marlon Brando, only more sober than Willis and less obese and rambling than Brando. Rourke plays a gifted writer who never washes and divides his time between drinking heavily and fighting with Frank Stallone. I am unsure where reality ends and fiction begins, thought I doubt that Rourke can spell well enough to be a writer. Along the way, he meets up with Faye Dunaway, who regardless of her age has always given me the impression that she’s had her face ironed on and stapled beneath the hairline. They drink some more, pick a few more fights with Frank Stallone, and then either they drink themselves into blissful black oblivion, or I fell asleep and the tape ran out.
Friday, January 10
Oliver Stone has always angered me to no end. A man who does enough drugs to voluntarily make a film about Jim Morrison should barely be able to stand, let alone consistently raise the funds to finance major motion pictures. For some reason, his inability to coherently shoot and edit his films has most critics deceived into believing he’s some kind of experimental, non-traditional filmmaker, when in reality he’s mainly just passed out in a puddle of cocaine-induced nasal drip while an ill-trained monkey makes his pictures. U-Turn stars Sean Penn and a young, pre-diet Jennifer Lopez, chunky thighs, ethnic hair and all, in a cheap knock-off of David Lynch’s Lost Highway. It’s kind of hard to tell if Stone is trying to add to Lynch’s surreal post-narrative oeuvre, or if he just forgot that he’d seen Wild At Heart and thought he was being ground-breaking. In any case, the pudgy little fellow is probably convinced that the fact that he made a movie with jump cuts and bizarre characters has elevated him to auteur status, instead of just relegating him to the ranks of directors whose films only get watched by 16 year old kids trying out their new bongs.
Sunday, January 11
Blue Crush *
Finally, the female surfing movie the fans have been demanding has arrived. Not fans of female surfing, of course. There aren’t any of those, naturally, since the only fans of female sports are the women actually on the team and lechers. The fans demanding this film are that narrow demographic of post-pubescent boys old enough to feel vague stirrings in their nether regions but too young to rent Shannon Tweed movies. Yes, Blue Crush has all the bikinis, wet T-shirts, and slow motion running of eight episodes of Baywatch put together. Plus, it teaches us the valuable lesson that women can do anything men can, so long as it doesn’t involve any math and they are allowed to compete in a separate category. The women in this film are strong, independent, and self-sufficient, just like Jem and the Holograms, only in skimpier clothing. The men are sexist and menacing, indicated by black swimming trunks. Which is a lot like life, if you think about it. Men tend to function on the assumption that just because women can’t drive, open jars, or read anything longer than a Cosmo article about dieting, they are inferior to males in some way. This is, of course, faulty logic. You can’t base such a sweeping generalization solely on a few tasks in which men tend to function better than women. You have to base it on all the many different tasks in which men tend to function better than women. Like not watching Sex And The City, for one thing. It’s really not all that hard, ladies. Most men can often get through entire days without either watching or taping an episode of that godforsaken show. Women, on the other hand, can’t seem to perform that simple task, occasionally going so far as to insist that certain men not watch The Outer Limits so that certain women can find out whether or not Carrie hits it off with that guy from Office Space in the latest episode. It’s a wonder they can find any time to surf at all.