Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Slaxx, or: The Wrath of Couture

Not necessarily being a follower of high fashion, I don’t always understand the world of high-profile prestige brands. Luckily, this week’s film doesn’t require any insider knowledge of trending styles, though it does embody the spirit of exaggerations like “I’d die for those shoes” or “kill for that coat.” Maybe a bit too literally. Either way, brace yourself for the first groundbreaking killer jeans film on the Collab (and likely last unless a franchise is born).

The Film:

Slaxx

The Premise:

Just ahead of the launch of a major fashion company’s miraculous shaping jeans, a pair of the pants comes to life, driven by a thirst for vengeance and blood.

The Ramble:

Young tenderhearted Libby is eager to start a job with The Canadian Cotton Clothiers, a trendy yet ethical fashion brand. As they say in the South, bless her heart. Libby is a seasonal worker who has been hired by manager Craig to support the launch of Super Shapers, a revolutionary new product. These jeans are woven from cotton grown in experimental fields in India and promise to use heat-activated technology to mold themselves to the wearer’s shape in the most form-flattering way possible. By no means is this the stuff from which nightmares are made.

With a single-minded focus on the CCC brand and maintaining their own “ecosystems” (the section of the store they are responsible for), Libby’s coworkers are largely vain narcissists who have no time to help the new hire. The exception is Shruti, who is totally checked out of her job and unwilling to assist anyone, but in more of a Daria way than anything else.

Because the clothes at The CCC are on the cutting edge of fashion (and employees are required to buy and wear the brand while on the clock), theft is a major problem at the store. Though certainly the message of the film invites us to question who is stealing from whom. Craig often looks the other way on violations of company policy (particularly when he is perpetrating them), but draws the line when employee Jemma arrives for the launch wearing a pair of the currently unreleased jeans. Instructed to change clothes before the company’s CEO Harold arrives to deliver a stirring motivational speech, it turns out the pants are exactly the kind of fashion statement you would be caught dead in. Because the pants kill her.

Ahead of the launch day, the store will be on complete lockdown, with employees locked in the building and prohibited access to their devices as they prepare the store overnight. The one exception will be a visit from YouTube star & influencer Peyton Jewels, who will be granted an exclusive preview to promote the Super Shapers to her followers. This will allow for 10 minutes total when the lockdown is lifted as Peyton enters and leaves the premises, aka the setup of a classic horror dilemma.

Unsurprisingly, the bodies begin to pile up. When Libby finds the body of Jemma, Craig is determined to cover up the death until Super Shapers have launched. As a result, all hell breaks loose when Peyton visits and begins filming. When Libby and Shruti realize the jeans will temporarily stop the violent rampage to appreciate the sounds of Bollywood musical numbers, they learn the pants have a sort of humanity. Is this the key to declaring the new fashion trend officially over?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I will give this one a lot of credit for originality. Has there ever been a horror film about a killer pair of pants that’s also a critique of fast fashion and the questionable ethics of an industry built on exploiting extremely underpaid and highly dangerous labor? Well, this is the one.

On a technical note, I appreciate the…level of emotion the filmmakers are able to convey through the pants. Is a weird sentence to type. The, uh, green screen actor(?) gives authentic movement to the jeans, allowing them to convey menace and even joy as the scene demands. Lighting and sound effects work together to create genuine moments of suspense (and quite a few gory deaths).

All of this being said, there are some issues with the film’s approach. The short run time and the number of characters whose sole purpose is to die make it difficult to invest in the storyline. I can somewhat root for Shruti, but even she falls a bit flat for me. Libby is our lead and the way her youthful optimism is exaggerated is annoying AF. The majority of the other characters are so awful that it’s clear early on they will die, but none of these deaths really feel like a big payoff. I would have liked the story to focus in on these horrible characters, honestly, rather than trying to have it both ways.

While I always appreciate a piece with some social commentary, this one is extremely heavy-handed. The over-the-top dialogue gets old fast, and a lot of the representation of India and Indian characters comes off as pretty stereotypical. I got a little bit of a kick from the Super Shapers’ SS logo being a very clear nod to the scary Nazi death squads…but only the first couple of times it appeared onscreen. This also got pretty old, as did the lack of nuance or trust in the audience to connect the dots.

No regrets on watching this one, but it didn’t change my life like a pair of Super Shapers or even particularly challenge my participation in morally reprehensible systems of production. Though I will avoid purchasing new clothes for at least a week or two. Probably.

Would my blog wife still be first in line for a pair of killer trousers or refuse to even snag them from a secondhand clearance rack? Read her review to find out!

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Film Reviews

Flying Monkeys, or: We Are Very Much in Kansas

We’re back to high school again for another…er, classic of horror. Fun fact: this is the second film in a row on the Collab where the pizza delivery guy is murdered. Someone please give pizza delivery drivers a raise at least.

The Film:

Flying Monkeys

The Premise:

After a man unknowingly buys a smuggled monkey as a pet for his daughter, it unleashes a reign of terror in small town Kansas. Because it’s a demon. Obviously.

The Ramble:

Ah, smuggling exotic animals: one of the last truly recession-proof jobs. Unfortunately, the hazards of the job include animal bites, zero health benefits, and the occasional chance of being attacked by a monkey that becomes a human-hunting demon at night. You know.

After such a fate befalls two animal smugglers transporting their quarry to the States, their client is less than pleased. Left with only one new animal to sell, he’s determined to make the best of it…until the monkey manages to escape overnight and kill a host of other animals.

A man looks into a cage with a small black and white monkey. The monkey looks fearful as the man holds up his bitten finger angrily.

Meanwhile, in Gale, Kansas, workaholic father James has disappointed his daughter once again, missing her entire high school graduation ceremony. Using demented neglectful dad logic, James decides the clear winning strategy is to buy his daughter Joan a pet monkey. In his defense, Joan has aspirations of becoming a veterinarian, and the monkey is pretty fucking cute.

Naming the little Capuchin monkey Skippy, Joan immediately bonds with her new pet. Skippy turns out to be rather jealous but quite a good judge of character, as he’s not too pleased to meet sketchy boyfriend Jason. As it turns out, Jason is cheating with the sheriff’s daughter…but not for long. At night, Skippy becomes a Xigo, a terrifying winged monkey demon with a taste for human flesh, especially humans who have wronged Joan.

On the roof of a house, a large winged creature bares its fangs in a growl. It resembles a mixture of monkey, human, and gargoyle.

Somewhere in China, two descendants of a family sworn to destroy the Xigo explain all of this backstory and more–and it’s quite generic, honestly. Teaming up with a group of poachers, they are determined to find the only two remaining Xigo and kill them. However, only their ancient mystical weapons can destroy the demons. All other weapons–say, guns for example–will merely cause the Xigo to multiply. Because gun control is such a ubiquitous fucking problem in the States, even shitty B movies feel an obligation to have social commentary about this. And guess who the Xigo ringleader is? Of course it’s Skippy (not his official demon name, tragically).

A man and woman walk through a clearing in a forested area, looking determined and carrying weapons.

After the deaths of Jason and the sheriff’s daughter, Joan is despondent. Adding to her stress is that Skippy doesn’t seem interested in any kind of food whatsoever…as far as she knows. Secretly, Skippy is off murdering livestock and people left and right, and only multiplying as unsuspecting townsfolk aim the inevitable “get off my property” shotgun in his direction.

When the monkey mayhem becomes all too apparent, the local people seem doomed as their default reaction is to shoot each of these creatures on sight. Can the demon hunters save the day before the only residents of Gale are the winged monkey variety?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Largely because the monkey is so cute. (And their eyes look like my eyes.)

A small black and white monkey stands outside a window, looking in and pressing its hands against the glass.

There’s not much else to recommend this film, sadly. The plot, characters, dialogue, and visual effects are all poorly conceived. At this point, the word “monkey” was thrown around so many times that it doesn’t feel like a real word. What’s more is that the monkey actor is really carrying the film here, and when I think about animals as actors I often feel somewhat conflicted. Like child actors, I wonder if this is the life they would really want, given the choice.

Worse are all the references to China being the source of this demon monkey, which has some unfortunate parallels with Covid-19 (as well as SARS and other diseases). Along with some offhand remarks made to the characters of Asian descent, there are some really problematic and racist ideas at play here. I also don’t love the unnecessary shower scene we get from of one of Joan’s friends, and the jokes made about the demon monkey watching her. There are a lot of problematic approaches here is what I’m saying.

Less infuriating but still there are the extremely lazy references to The Wizard of Oz. These are so badly done that I actually wish we’d had zero references and then just been disappointed by the missed opportunities.

As an aside, I had a lot of questions about monkeys as the film went on, including whether Capuchin monkeys can be kept as pets. Apparently they can in 15 states, Kansas being one of them. Not that this is the kind of film that stands up to rigorous fact-checking anyway, but it does beg the question of why the dude from the beginning of the film had a whole monkey smuggling ring, and seemingly a backroom where all of the questionably legal animals were kept. Maybe we’re in the odd legal territory where it’s legal to own a monkey but not sell one in Kansas. I forget everything from Tiger King that could have had at least some informational value.

I will give a little bit of credit to the actors who had to repeatedly make the serious, dramatically urgent demand “Where’s the monkey?” But most of the time I was fairly bored.

Would my blog wife train this one to jump on her shoulder or promptly strike it down with an ancient mystical weapon? Read her review to find out!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Carnival of Souls, or: Ghosted

Watch Catherine Deneuve delightfully sing and dance in a French New Wave classic, they said. Finally cross off a classic sitting on the watchlist for years. Too bad UK/French relations are at an all-time low when it comes to streaming The Umbrellas of Cherbourg for a reasonable rental fee. However, our misfortune turned around when we opted for another classic of 1960s cinema this week on the Collab, and it’s the best kind: a cult classic.

The Film:

Carnival of Souls

The Premise:

Following a tragic car accident and her subsequent move to Utah, a young woman is haunted by a ghostly carnival figure connected to an abandoned pavilion on the outskirts of town.

The Ramble:

When a random 1960s dude challenges you and your crew to an impromptu car race, what’s a self-respecting woman to do but press her elegant stiletto heel to the pedal? As it turns out, this is a fateful decision–the driver turns out to be rather nasty, bumping our ladies from a bridge into the depths of a river below. One of the passengers, Mary, is the only survivor as her two friends die in the accident. As is to be expected, the two men in the other car blatantly lie about the events and walk away scot-free. A search team attempts to retrieve the remains of the wreck, but odds seem low as the muddy waters leave only the classic hook on a rope technique available. This feels so old-fashioned, but I’m honestly not sure our search and rescue technology has advanced significantly in the intervening years.

A woman looks distressed as she is wrapped in a blanket, looking at the river she was rescued from. A group of men stand behind her, impassive.

Though Mary seems understandably in shock, she is determined to carry on with her pre-crash plans to relocate to Utah for a job as a church organist. Upon leaving the institution where she learned to play the organ, she bluntly tells those wishing her well that she appreciates the sentiment but she’s never coming back. What’s more, despite the expectation that music should be her passion, it’s just a job to her. As a person with an abiding yet unfulfilled desire to disrupt polite social conventions, this speaks to me on a fundamental level. I have an extreme amount of love and admiration for our girl Mary.

Unfortunately, Mary’s expectation that she can start over with a clean slate is doomed from the start as she begins seeing the chillingly pale face of a man virtually everywhere. As she drives into town, she notices a grand empty pavilion that has seen better days…just before its closure, as a carnival.

Mary will be living in a house overseen by Mrs. Thomas, which is home to only one other lodger, John…who we will certainly spend some time on later. When the pastor welcomes Mary to town and to her new role within the church, she dodges the offer of a reception by asking if it’s absolutely necessary. No, Mary. It’s never necessary. As the pastor shows her around town, Mary asks about going into the abandoned pavilion. The pastor declines as the building has been closed off to the public for so-called health and safety reasons.

A man and woman sit on a sofa, drinking cups of coffee. The man leans forward slightly, smiling, while the woman leans away.

Shortly after, Mary get to know her neighbor across the hall, John, better. When she opens the door in a towel, expecting Mrs. Thomas, she changes into a robe…with John creeping on her. Initially rejecting John’s advances, Mary reconsiders after another disturbing encounter with the ghostly pale man. When John brings her coffee in the morning, Mary learns that he may have a problem with alcohol, but this doesn’t prevent him from considering himself a happy-go-lucky ladies’ man.

Mary’s plans to acquire a new (gently used) wardrobe are disrupted when, upon leaving a dressing room, she suddenly hears nothing and seems to be invisible to those around her. Understandably upset, Mary has a bit of a breakdown and encounters a doctor, who advises her that hysteria solves nothing. Solid advice right from a groundbreaking medical research study of the 1960s. The doctor is surprisingly helpful beyond this, attempting to dissect the reasons for Mary’s visions. Channeling David Rose to explain that she doesn’t want to be close to people, Mary is relatable indeed.

A man sits at a desk in his office, looking expectantly at a woman sitting in a chair nearby. She looks down towards the ground, her expression pained.

Finally unable to resists the allure of the pavilion, Mary explores the structure at last, finding her life becoming increasingly surreal. Falling into a trance-like state while playing the organ, Mary begins playing music deemed terribly offensive by the pastor, who fires her on the spot. Meeting up with John, Mary is distant and miserable but afraid to be alone with her visions, real or imagined. After John gets fed up with Mary’s neuroses and she spends the night rearranging the furniture, Mrs. Thomas contacts the doctor. However, Mary is disinclined to seek help; rather, she’s utterly determined to leave town. But as unfortunate circumstances arise at her every attempt to escape, it seems Mary may be inexorably guided back to the pavilion. What horrors await her there?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Achieving cult classic status, our film is an impressive achievement, and its influence is massive. Many of the techniques and themes feel quite contemporary. There are a lot of moments where this feels like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone, and I do not at all object to this. Things are legendarily low budget for this film, so we are relying heavily on empty spaces, close-ups, and quiet moments of dread (as well as dramatic organ music) to create a highly atmospheric tale. One scene where Mary’s doctor turns around to reveal himself as the ghost man is not the most surprising for its existence in so many subsequent films, but no less effective. Perhaps due to the low budget and lack of prestige, I can see how this film was easily overshadowed by Hitchcock in its time. We’ve got many of the same elements that make for a suspenseful watch, and star Candace Hilligoss looks so much like a Hitchcock leading lady.

Personally, I find the complexity of the film’s themes and thoughtfulness of its messages most compelling. There are a number of ways to interpret director Herk Harvey’s film. First, it’s an effective exploration of post-modern existential dread and isolation. Mary both seeks out and fears being alone–when she’s around other people, Mary is limited by their expectations and assumptions. As something of an outsider, she experiences a great deal of anxiety to essentially conform or die. At the same time, there are a lot of instances in which being around people is the only thing between Mary and truly terrifying thoughts and experiences, and this tension is highly effective in creating suspense. There are more specific anxieties to unpack as well, including those around mental illness, gender roles, and workplace expectations. I find Mary’s relationship to the supposedly passion-driven field of music refreshingly honest–if a bit depressing that it’s been so long that we’ve been telling ourselves the lie that work is a thing we should love.

I will say there were some limitations that prevented me from bumping up this rating a bit higher. First, there are times when the low budget does become noticeable…particularly in the acting department. Mary’s wide-eyed stares of horror carry a huge amount of the film, but some of the performances are less than convincing (except my love for the director as lead creepy ghoul will never die). I also hoped some of the elements and themes would be fleshed out a bit more and create more cohesion–there is a sense that the production ran out of money and rushed to the dramatic twist ending at a certain point. And the amount of screen time John gets is effective, but I still wish he had been written off earlier or met with a more gruesome ending. The men who do awful things in the film walk away largely unscathed–which I do feel makes a surprisingly forward-thinking feminist argument…but is still frustrating.

On a side note, I thought it was quite progressive that Mary shopped for secondhand clothes–I can think of virtually no other films where characters thrift shop for clothes unless it’s to make a point about how cool and quirky they are.

Overall, even though I love to be a contrarian, I can’t argue there’s a very good reason this film has a reputation as a well-loved cult classic.

Would my blog wife follow this one to a creepy abandoned pavilion or drive off without looking back? Find out in her review!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Happiness of the Katakuris, or: Born This Clay

It wouldn’t be the Blog Collab if we weren’t pressing play on a horrible mismatch of genres that shouldn’t work. Horror, musical, comedy, claymation? Surely these elements can never combine in satisfying cinematic harmony. But we’re not necessarily seeking perfection here so much as that certain B-movie je ne sais quoi.

The Film:

The Happiness of the Katakuris

The Premise:

After an unlucky family covers up the suicide of their first inn guest, things…escalate.

The Ramble:

At a hotel restaurant in Japan, a young woman finds a horrible surprise in her meal: a little demonic creature that thinks her uvula looks like a delicious snack. After leaving the woman for dead, the creature undergoes a very quick life cycle, coming full circle as it’s snatched up in a crow’s beak. When an elderly man kills the crow, bringing it down mid-flight, you know ominous events are about to unfold.

A claymation woman screams as a small winged demon pries open her jaws.

The aforementioned man is our narrator’s great-grandfather Jinpei Katakuri, the head of a rather unfortunate family. His son, Masao, laid off from his job, made the seemingly sound decision to buy a remote property sure to transform into a popular tourist destination after the construction of a major road. Major setback to this plan? The road has yet to be built.

Masao’s daughter Shizue lives with the family, along with her brother Masayuki and daughter Yurie, the narrator. Shizue is divorced and falls in and out of love too quickly. Masayuki has a violent temper and is attempting to leave his criminal past behind. Yurie herself is a child but old enough to realize her family is leaning heavily on the dysfunctional side of the scale.

Four members of a family stand outside, looking unhappy and facing away from each other.

Just as the family is prepared to give up on making a living from the inn, they finally welcome their first guest on a dark and stormy night. Unfortunately, their guest is extremely depressed, ultimately dying by suicide when he stabs himself with a hotel key. When the family discovers the body, they decide to cover things up, fearing their first guest’s suicide will doom their business.

Four people in a dark room pause in the middle of a dance. They react in distress to the discovery of a body in the room.

Soon after, a man claiming to be a member of the British Royal Navy arrives, and Shizue is instantly smitten. It becomes increasingly clear that the man is not who he appears to be, especially as he makes ever more outlandish claims about his connections to the royal family. After he leaves, Shizue receives a call implying he has died…but is that the truth?

When a somewhat renowned Sumo wrestler arrives at the inn with a teen girl, it’s not long before both end up dead. Because of the suspicious number of bodies piling up, the family starts to believe Masayuki may be responsible due to his criminal past.

Add a few musical numbers to the mix, a plan to finally begin building the long-promised road, and some reanimating corpses, and you’ve got…a rather surreal experience.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

The premise is irresistible, but the loose structure of the film itself is confusing and often frustrating. I appreciate the musical numbers so much, especially the extremely dark ones that discuss hiding the body of the first guest and discovering the exhumed bodies have become zombified.

I would have liked a bit more direction here, though, and some idea of what is to come. I expected more horror, but the film is more interested in exploring themes around family and social commentary about success/happiness and the perception of these…as well as just doing whatever the fuck it wants to. Some of these themes don’t work well when everyone in the family is problematic to some degree. I found it difficult to care about the characters and what happened to them as they spent most of their time being horrible, making questionable decisions, and having things go miraculously well despite their incompetence.

Props for weirdness, though. I’m struggling to think of a recent watch as unabashedly strange and visually daring as this one.

Would my blog wife save this one from an unexpected lava flow or bury it along with the other bodies? Read her review to find out!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bounty Killer, or: Stab Me Once, Shame on You

*Spoilers follow*

Once again, this week finds us walking the fine line between B-movie greatness and despair. Rather blatantly stealing from the Mad Max franchise, will this week bring us badassery on the level of Furiosa or is a repeat of Ouija Shark in the cards?

The Film:

Bounty Killer

The Premise:

In a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, former bounty hunter partners compete for kills while unwittingly unraveling a conspiracy. In no way influenced by Mad Max.

The Ramble:

Ah, the future. Is there a single piece of media from the past 10 years where it isn’t a nightmarishly awful hellscape?

This one is no exception; in our film’s vision of the future, corporate interests have escalated into all-out warfare, leaving the world a barren wasteland. As those left behind attempt to rebuild society, the Council of Nine forms some sort of shadow government that people seem to virtually worship. The Council rewards bounty hunters with stacks of cash and fame for tracking down and killing the white collar criminals responsible for society’s collapse. Undisputed queen of the pack is Mary Death, a bounty killer who most definitely has an unspoken past with the aloof Drifter.

A woman leans out of the driver's side of a vintage car, aiming a revolver with one hand.

As Drifter receives the news that the latest warrant is for a friend and informant of his, Jack, a down on his luck gun caddy manages to join forces with the loner. Both Drifter and Mary are keen on claiming the bounty for this kill. When shady associates of the development company Second Sun track Mary down, she suspects they are connected to Drifter. Even more infuriated when she learns that the next warrant is out for Drifter himself because of his white collar criminal past, Mary is determined to kill him herself.

Two men ride across a desert landscape on motorcycles.

However, before bounty killers can take him out, Drifter decides to throw himself on the mercy of the Council. As Jack sabotages Mary’s car, she is left stranded with only her homicidal urges to keep her company. The Drifter and Jack aren’t far along on their journey when they encounter a hostile group of gypsies (regrettably, this word gets tossed around a LOT, and the group is only ever referred to in the most problematic of ways). Blaming Drifter for the escape of Nuri, one of their own, years ago, the duo seems destined to die unless they can get away. Before this happens, though, we’re going to get the entire tragic backstory of Drifter and Mary because spoiler/not really a spoiler, Mary is Nuri.

After assassinating the king, Mary escaped the gypsies and tracked down Drifter, demanding he teach her to be a bounty killer. Once her training is complete, they become both business and romantic partners…until the day Drifter suggests they settle down and Mary responds by stabbing him and leaving him for dead. I support people leaving relationships that don’t work, but it’s probably better to have a conversation rather than risk ending up on Snapped.

A group of three men and a woman are forced to kneel on the ground in front of a line of armed men.

In the present, Drifter and Jack escape, though with some high-speed antics. As they make their way across the Badlands, Mary catches up, only to make up with Drifter. Now a team, the three make their way to the Council to find it destroyed. When they are ambushed by the Second Sun lot, chaos ensues. Can our unlikely heroes compete against the forces that promise to destroy any hope for the future?

The Rating:

2.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I would almost give this a surprise 3, but there are a lot of issues, particularly in the first half. The plot is actually more developed than needed for this type of film, and some of the twists, while not especially shocking, are fun to watch unfold. I wish the storylines had been woven together better as, once the character relationships are more firmly established, the plot is significantly more interesting. Our villain Catherine is extremely one-dimensional, but I would have loved to see more moments of her simply being awful and evil.

Mary Death is the scene stealer here, and she has a stunning if rather male gaze-y appearance. No one in their right mind would think it makes sense to kill people while wearing white, especially when the alternative to being covered in blood is being covered in dust. I can’t help admiring the aesthetic of a woman who has bombs branded with her own logo, but Mary is simultaneously compelling and frustrating as a character. From a worldbuilding standpoint, it makes no sense to me that bounty killers gain a certain amount of celebrity–surely this would just make the job more difficult. Add in the fact that Mary has somehow dodged the gypsies for years while rising to prominence as a bounty killer and the logic is…negligible.

I would say that, in addition to the pacing issues and horrible dialogue, the portrayal of the gypsies and all of the racist nonsense around them is the worst part of this film. It’s so problematic that this group represents the vast number of people of color onscreen too.

I’d like to take this opportunity to register a formal complaint about the horrendous nicknames here as well. The Drifter calls Jack “kid” all the fucking time despite being 2 YEARS older. If anyone pulled that shit with me, I would resign immediately. This pales in comparison to Drifter’s terrible “Fender Bunny” nickname for Mary.

Though this is surprisingly good for what it is, most of the “edgy” social commentary and reflections on corporate greed fall flat. If you want a legitimately compelling examination of similar themes, try the Canadian TV show Continuum. Mostly because I (still) want more people to watch Continuum.

Would my blog wife back this one up as a gun caddy or chase it with a pistol across a desert landscape while driving a classic car with one foot? Find out in her review!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Ouija Shark, or: Exit, Pursued by Ghost Shark

So bad it’s good or so bad it’s…bad? It’s a fine line to walk in B-movie land, and an extremely subjective one.

Except when it’s not. No spoilers (yet), but this week’s film is called Ouija Shark. And I’m guessing there aren’t a whole lot of people in the world who consider it a masterpiece of modern filmmaking.

The Film:

Ouija Shark

The Premise:

After summoning the angry spirit of a shark, a group of teens struggle to stay alive long enough to defeat the creature.

The Ramble:

Young Jill is looking forward to a weekend chilling at the pool with seemingly her only friend, Kim. At least, I think it’s Kim. The character names I remember from this film are as follows: 1. Jill.

However, due to her friend’s horrible directions, Jill ends up at a secluded beach. Rather than imagine she may have ended up at the wrong location, Jill jumps into the water for a splash…and emerges with a mysterious Ouija board floating beside her. Obviously she takes the board with her. Obviously.

3 young women sit in a circle on a grassy lawn. A Ouija board is in the center between them.

When Jill finally meets up with Kim and a group of friends housesitting, it seems Jill is something of the odd one out. It doesn’t take long for shared interests to unite the group: daydrinking and lounging around the backyard pool. In a subplot that has little (i.e. zero) relevance, one of the girls takes an interest in the neighbor washing his car and disappears for most of the film’s proceedings.

Meanwhile, the other girls have found it necessary to pace themselves on the daydrinking, shifting gears a bit to bring out the Ouija board. Though most of the group is skeptical, it takes only a few questions about the spirit’s intentions for the girls to be properly creeped out.

Jill later realizes she may have taken things a step too far with the summoning spirits thing when she has a shark-themed nightmare. After calling her dad, he solemnly vows to look into the shark dream and let her know if it’s connected to the Ouija board spirit. To his credit, he actually does do research on this ranging from internet searches to tarot readings, and even consults a medium about it. And, I mean, I’m sure mediums have gotten some odd requests, but communing with the spirit of a shark must be one of the more extreme.

A man sits at a table in the kitchen, looking intently at a laptop screen as he researches. A stack of articles related to sharks and the occult sits next to the computer.

Things escalate pretty quickly from here, with people falling victim to the ghost shark left and right. As the girls fail to make proper use of the buddy system, the shark…eats them? De-materializes them? There’s a lot of murder but very little blood is all I’m saying.

A young woman sitting at the edge of an outdoor swimming pool looks in surprise at the ghostly figure of an oversized Great White Shark.

As the police get involved with the disappearances, Jill’s father offers the sage(?) advice that she must stop denying her family’s history with the occult(?) and find the original owner of the Ouija board(???). You know that, whatever happens, Jill means business as she gets a black leather wardrobe change and acquires a shotgun. But, even when dressed in significantly more badass attire, does she stand a chance against a rather poorly defined spirit shark?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

That’s being generous, honestly. This film is extremely low budget, and it shows in everything from the script, pacing, sound/picture quality, acting, to the special effects. A nonsense plot only becomes more absurd as the film goes on. Mercifully, this film’s runtime is just over an hour.

I can’t really say this is so bad it’s good, but I will give the film some credit. I appreciate when people do make truly small budget indie films, especially given that the landscape for anyone not making a blockbuster looks so tough at the moment. The setup here is not the worst, and could have actually been reasonably interesting with better characterization and exposition. It’s nice to see something unpolished, including a cast that appears to all be wearing whatever they already had in their wardrobe.

While none of the cast here are getting award nominations, I have a special place in my heart for the performance of Jill’s dad onscreen. I get the impression that he’s the parent of one of the filmmakers and only appeared as a favor to his child. Legitimately, I did enjoy some elements of his scenes with the medium and the ghost shark.

One thing I overanalyzed: if you got eaten/dematerialized by a ghost shark, would you ever be declared legally dead or just missing forever? Would people keep looking for you? And would shitty insurance companies use the absence of a dead body as a reason not to pay out any kind of accidental death payment to your loved ones?

Chilling, right?

Finally, because I collect bad movie dialogue, here are some highlights:

  • “Dreams can be a doorway to the unconscious mind; I’ve told you that before.”
  • “Is that a shark or a ghost?”
  • “Thank god [the shark]’s going after him first.”
  • “Why would anyone want to summon a shark?”
  • “It’s unnaturally cold.”
  • “Oh no, I’m dead!”
  • “I’ve got to use my occult training. Mystic shield!”

Would my blog wife summon this one with a Ouija board or track it down, armed with a shotgun she casually keeps in her car (at all times apparently)? Read her review to find out!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Grease 2, or: Go Back to High School

Given this month is dedicated to good/bad B-movies, the time feels right to revisit another…classic? Though not one of my favorites, will a rewatch help change my tune, especially considering the intricately choreographed musical sequences and rather ’80s interpretations of early ’60s fashions?

The Film:

Grease 2

The Premise:

When English exchange student Michael falls for Pink Lady Stephanie, he adopts an alter ego as a cool biker to impress her.

The Ramble:

The gang’s all here for a sequel to the hit musical! If the characters from Grease you’re most invested in seeing again are Frenchy, Principal McGee and the secretary, the football coach, that one really dweeby guy, and the rival Scorpions gang member who’s an asshole for no reason.

Everyone else who’s back to school makes up an entirely new senior class, from the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds to the jocks and cheerleaders, and everyone in between. Geeky English import Michael has the misfortune to be the new kid just in time for senior year, though the recently reenrolled Frenchy has got his back. After all, Michael is cousin to Rydell High icon Sandy, who apparently had great things to say about the school? I guess if your high school experience ended with a literal ride in a flying car, you might look back fondly.

Michael, a teenager with hair styled in a pompadour, leans against a fence. On the other side of the fence, Frenchy, a young woman wearing a pink jacket, follows his gaze to an offscreen Stephanie.

I guess because he’s polite and wears sweaters frequently, Michael is immediately labelled a nerd and is bullied by the T-Birds. When Pink Ladies leader Stephanie checks on the new kid after an incident, he’s smitten. Unfortunately for Michael, independent Stephanie has recently broken up with T-Birds leader Johnny and will (famously) settle for nothing less than a cool rider. Also, it’s apparently a critically important rule that Pink Ladies only date T-Birds–so important that it never came up once in the first film.

Johnny, a teen with slicked-back hair and a black leather jacket, leans an arm against a wall close to Stephanie, a blonde teen wearing a pink jacket. He smiles, while she looks irritated.

After an innuendo-laden song about bowling, Stephanie is determined to demonstrate her freedom from Johnny, who has yet to accept their breakup. Boldly declaring she will kiss the next guy who walks in, Stephanie locks lips with Michael. Now (hopelessly) devoted to Stephanie, Michael vows to do everything in his power to join the T-Birds and become the man of her dreams. Too bad he’s just made a mortal enemy of Johnny and doesn’t know the first thing about motorcycles.

Making use of his nerdy reputation, Michael begins to write essays for his peers in exchange for cash. Eventually, Michael earns enough money to buy a fixer-upper bike and somehow learn to ride so well that he can do a motherfucking sidekick while driving by Scorpion leader Craterface just in time to save one of the lesser T-Birds from a rumble. Stephanie is extremely into this, especially when the mysterious cool rider eludes the cops and returns just in time to light her cigarette. Even as she proclaims her love to the unknown biker (after they’ve spent maybe half of a day together), she’s utterly uninterested in real life Michael.

Against the backdrop of an orange sunset, Stephanie leans close to Michael. He rests against a motorcycle, wearing all black leather and a dark helmet and goggles.

Meanwhile, the school talent show is on everyone’s mind, largely because the entire student body seems to be involved. Logically, the winners of the talent show will be crowned king and queen of the end of year luau, so the stakes are high. Stephanie’s main interest in the show is the opportunity to see her cool rider again. However, things take an unexpectedly tragic turn when the T-Birds chase off the biker, who takes a plunge from a cliff. Convinced she’s lost her love before even knowing his name, will Stephanie somehow see the mystery man of her dreams at the talent show, maybe in a dance sequence that’s not quite on the level of “Beauty School Dropout?”

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I enjoyed this a lot more than I remembered, but I’d still say the magic wasn’t quite there for me. Watching the sequel to Grease makes it even more apparent that the original musical/film was leaning so hard on its catchy AF soundtrack. There are a couple of reasonably memorable songs here, but they don’t hold a candle (or a lighter) to the first film’s songs.

Wisely, the film does get us the closest we will likely ever get to a Rizzo-centered sequel. Stephanie is very much a Rizzo type, living by her own rules and taking shit from no one. She’s such a feminist icon, dismissing the idea that she exists to be someone’s trophy. On the other hand, the Pink Ladies in this film don’t feel as much like a ride or die crew as those in the first film. We don’t get many of the bonding scenes that we did in Grease, and honestly the original one probably passes the Bechdel test more comfortably.

For better or worse, the comedy is played up here. Some of it falls flat, but we do get a more clear-cut criticism of the T-Birds and their ludicrous macho posturing. Johnny almost always looks like a complete tool, and the rest of the T-Birds are approximately on par.

I did make an intentional effort not to over-analyze this film, but the plot is stretched too thin to make much sense. The talent show gets almost an entire 30 mins–there’s that little going on here. And I feel even less of an understanding of motorcycle gangs as a result of this film. What is even the point of a motorcycle gang? Is it to be a man in your mid-30s (at a minimum) who exists solely to laugh intimidatingly and ruin teenagers’ parties? Because that’s the only thing the Scorpions do.

I will give credit to this film for the nonsensical but momentous return of Michael at the luau (though the luau itself is pretty cringey). I wish the rest of the film had been on the same melodramatic level, but I found most other facets not quite absurd enough to get invested in. On a side note, I don’t understand why the fuck Michael still wants to be a T-Bird by the end of the film, especially when Johnny and his friends psychotically pursued him to the point that they believed they were responsible for his murder (or at least manslaughter). If it had been me in Michael’s situation, I would have very quickly become a horror movie villain.

Possibly my favorite element of the entire film is that people treat Michael like he’s a complete alien who doesn’t know how to relate to people…all because he’s English. Obviously one of the more realistic plot points.

Would my blog wife buy a motorcycle to impress this one or shrug off its leather jacket with disdain? Find out in her review!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Tammy and the T-Rex, or: My Friend’s Brain Is in That Dinosaur!

Over the course of 6+ years of the Blog Collab(!), we’ve watched quite a few really great films that I’m so pleased have come across my radar. As much as I’ve enjoyed these, we tend to have a lot more fun with the Collab when our films are about as far from critical and commercial success as it’s possible to be and still get a movie produced. I’m thrilled to say this month is all about luxuriating in that campy, trashy, B-movie world that we would live in, without hesitation, if we could. And we’re kicking things off with a robot T-Rex brain swap.

The Film:

Tammy and the T-Rex

The Premise:

After an attack leaves her boyfriend in a coma, teenager Tammy is reunited with him…when mad scientists transfer his brain to a robotic T-Rex’s body.

The Ramble:

Tammy (Denise Richards) is a cheerleader who is happily dating her dream guy Michael, a very young Paul Walker who wears cut-off sweatshirts and bites the heads off of flowers. Not a euphemism. Though her best friend Byron wholeheartedly approves, Tammy cuts short the romance when she believes Michael is in danger from her unhinged ex, Billy. Spoiler alert: she’s not wrong.

Tammy, a teen with dark blonde hair, smiles as she introduces her boyfriend Michael, a tall white boy muddied from football practice, to her friend Byron, a black teen wearing colorful African-inspired garb.

Perhaps a minor grievance compared to…virtually every other plot element, but I find it so difficult to believe that there’s never been an intervention for Billy or a string of arrests when he is an actual gang leader whom other teens refer to as “boss” and fully grown adults are legitimately terrified of him. But that’s what we’re led to believe, at least until Billy, who still considers Tammy his girlfriend, picks a fight with Michael. Apparently the cops are clued in enough to realize Billy exhibits all of the tendencies of a spousal murderer, so he’s the one arrested when they break up the fight. However, Billy vows revenge against Michael. Uh-oh.

Meanwhile, in a mad science lab…mad scientist Dr. Wachenstein and his assistant Helga scheme to bring a robotic T-Rex to life. For murky reasons related to investors, and I guess what else do you do as a mad scientist. Though brainy henchman Bobby insists he can build a computer powerful enough to drive the machine, the doctor has his own plans in mind to acquire a human brain for his invention.

Guess who may be about to get another chance at life as a robotic dinosaur? After Billy learns that Michael has sneaked into Tammy’s bedroom at night, he furiously marches over to catch them in the act. Tammy encourages Michael to flee, but it’s not long before Billy and his actual gang of teens ok with being accomplices to murder catch up. When they dump a beaten Michael in a wildlife park that has the lowest number of security measures ever, he’s severely mauled and is comatose in the hospital.

In a hospital room, Tammy leans over Michael, who is comatose. Byron stands in the background, looking upset, while Michael's uncle sleeps in a chair against the wall.

As Tammy mourns, Byron is a suitably supportive best friend. Because both teens are quite naive, they’re easily manipulated by cartoonishly evil Dr. W. and Helga. The doctor declares Michael legally dead, stealing the body for a truly gruesome brain extraction. Apparently powering your robot dinosaur with a human brain is the easy part, as it’s not long before the Michael dino is awake, chomping henchmen left and right after the trauma of seeing his own dead body without a scalp. Surprisingly, Michael is pretty quick to connect the dots and realize that his brain is now powering a robot T-Rex body, even mastering dialing a pay phone with relative ease.

Dr. Wachenstein dressed as a surgeon prepares to remove a deceased Michael's skull along a bloody perforation. Helga assists, dressed in scrubs.

It’s not long before Michael’s goals become apparent: 1) find Tammy and 2) seek revenge. Not necessarily in that order. Michael crashes a high school party and does his fair share of chomping. When a frantic Byron is spared, he is mystified but doesn’t complain too much. His father, the sheriff, investigates the carnage at the party, disbelieving the multiple witnesses who claim the culprit is an actual T-Rex. Honestly, this is one of the only plot elements I accept as realistic.

Sitting against the wall of a barn, Tammy huddles in fear as a robotic T-Rex offers a yellow rose to her.

Since Michael has found revenge on the teens responsible for his murder, he visits Tammy, who is understandably petrified. I presume because their love is so true, their soul connection all too real, it’s not long before Tammy realizes the dinosaur is none other than her beloved Michael in a different body. Rather than question her sanity like a normal person, she schemes with Byron to steal Michael’s body to return him to his true form. But if there’s anything Team Mad Science has, it’s schemes of their own. Who will survive…and in which body?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Whoa–there’s a lot packed into this film’s short runtime. As a work of B comedy/horror, it largely succeeds. There is certainly a lot of humor that misses the mark (believe we’ll get into that), but the silly premise works. I legitimately got a lot of laughs from the Dr. Wachenstein character and Helga, who couldn’t be more transparently evil and out of place, yet the vast majority of characters have a straight-faced reaction to them.

While the plot mostly makes no sense, the film’s oddness kept me engaged; I was certainly never bored. For what initially feels like a breezy ’90s teen comedy, there is a lot of gore, along with some extremely unconvincing special effects–though that’s a large part of the charm here.

Not so charming: all of the homophobic jokes at Byron’s expense. Though he is something of a stereotype, I found him more of a fleshed out character than expected. But of course we can’t just let that stand; there has to be a ton of ridicule to go along with that, and very much the kind of tone that suggests the audience is meant to find all of this hilarious. I hoped after the first couple of times we could move on, but the two comic relief(?) cops frequently made truly awful jokes about Byron, and it was pretty difficult to move past those at times.

If you can get past that–and I recognize that’s a pretty big if–I can’t deny that I enjoyed the ludicrous, camp, and frequently grotesque experience of watching this film. I will likely lay on my deathbed with the awful dialogue still echoing in my brain, but I’m not even that mad about it, honestly.

Would my blog wife bring this one back as a T-Rex or shut down its evil plan before it could even locate a bone saw? Read her review to find out!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Troll 2, or: The Family That Summons Together

I’m quite happy to skip most media that reliably generates memes, especially since becoming a meme or a gif seems to be an end unto itself. As loyal readers of this blog know (all…3.5 of you?), your Blog Collab writers are deeply resentful of films like Sharknado that exist exclusively for the social media buzz. So even though I’ve seen Troll 2 appear on its share of top 10 B-movie lists, I’ve largely ignored it since I’ve seen a boatload of memes from the film. I’ve gotten all of the highlights, right?

How wrong I have been.

The Film:

Troll 2

The Premise:

While vacationing in a small, rural town with his family, a boy sees visions of his grandfather warning him of the imminent threat of goblins.

The Ramble:

As far as bedtime stories go, Grandpa Seth spins a yarn that ranges from disturbingly dark to…even darker. Cautioning young Joshua Waits about the very real dangers of goblins, he warns that goblins may disguise themselves and will encourage humans to eat foods that will turn them into edible plant people. The moral of the story is that goblins will fuck you up for no reason–a refreshingly post-modern theme for a children’s tale. Making matters worse, Grandpa Seth has been dead for months, properly freaking out Joshua’s mother as her child continues to have conversations with the man.

A close-up on grandpa Seth shows an elderly man with a beard looking intensely into the distance, a child in pajamas reclined on a bed in the background.

Hoping to enjoy time away together in the countryside, the family is swapping houses for a month to stay in the idyllic small town of Nilbog. (And just in case you didn’t catch it, don’t worry–our film will dramatically reveal the shocking surprise that “Nilbog” is goblin spelled backwards.) Added bonus here? The trip should distract troubled Joshua and remove older sister Holly from the influence of “bad boy” Elliott. As far as a I can tell, Elliott’s reputation comes from the fact that he does nothing but hang around with his friend gang all day. This is a point of contention between Holly and Elliott, and apparently a good reason to throw around some casual homophobia. Our film is from 1990, but it’s still pretty jarring.

Though Holly invites Elliott to vacation with her family, she makes it clear that his friends are not welcome to come along. As it turns out, Elliott and his friends have rented an RV and plan to surprise the Waits family by meeting them in Nilbog.

A group of goblinshuddle over their victim. The goblins are short human-like creatures with white hair covering their faces, large noses, and oversized pointy ears.

When the Waits crew arrive at their vacation home, the family who live there eerily leave without saying a word. However, it’s not long before the Waitses feel at home, especially since there is a delicious (albeit oddly green) meal ready for them to enjoy. Grandpa Seth warns Joshua that the family must not eat the meal, so Joshua devises a disgusting plan to intervene, though points for creativity. Joshua’s father pulls the ultimate “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed” power move with a lecture about how he grew up in poverty legitimately going hungry many nights.

Meanwhile, Elliott’s buddy Arnold, the face that launched 1,000 memes, notices a young woman running through the woods in terror. When goblins catch up to the two, Arnold confidently tells them to get lost, presuming they are a group of costumed weirdos. This seems to pay off initially…until a goblin lobs a spear his way. Fleeing the goblins again, the pair winds up in a creepy church that is now the home of iconic druid queen Creedence. Though it seems Creedence will be an unlikely savior, she in fact has a sinister hidden agenda…oh my GODDDDDDDDDDDD.

Arnold, a teen with blond hair and large glasses, screams with a sweat-soaked face. There is a housefly on his forehead.

The next day, the group of guys and the Waits family are in need of provisions. On the way to the town store, the sheriff offers one of Elliott’s friends a GREEN SANDWICH, which he eats without hesitation. It feels like a major sign of privilege that this dude automatically thinks any food proffered by law enforcement will definitely be safe to consume, even if it’s fucking GREEN. At the shop, the only thing available is special fortified Nilbog milk, which is suspiciously free of cost. The extremely helpful and friendly locals relay a message from Arnold that essentially boils down to “Meet me in the creepy house in the woods.” Sure sounds like Arnold!

Creedence, a woman with dark eye makeup and oversized glasses, gestures dramatically over her shoulder as two worried teens look on.

While in town with his father, Joshua stumbles across a goblin church service, which is sort of a Southern Baptist-inspired gathering with the congregation’s ire focused on eating flesh. Unwittingly drawing attention to himself while snooping, Joshua narrowly misses being force-fed Nilbog ice cream.

That evening, as the goblins tire of biding their time, they hold an impromptu gathering at the vacation home under the guise of folksy smalltown generosity. As Joshua learns, it’s always a good thing to have the spirit of your deceased grandfather around to supply you with Molotov cocktails in case a group of goblins pressures you to choose between a quick death and a slow, violent one.

Will the Waits family manage to defeat the goblin army or will they be reminded that you don’t piss on hospitality?

The Rating:

4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

A purely subjective rating based on my own personal enjoyment of this film. Is this the well-crafted, moving work of art that is Portrait of a Lady on Fire? God no. Is it going to occupy a similar amount of space in my brain? Probably.

Of course, it’s extremely irritating to have homophobia join the party here. And I don’t completely understand the hostility towards vegetarians that seems to be on display throughout the film. It’s also reasonably distracting that a film with trolls in the title is about…goblins. But overall, I did enjoy this one so much more than anticipated. There’s a good reason this is considered a cult classic.

Once I started watching, I couldn’t look away. Things are obviously extremely low budget, and the acting is as stilted as expected. But it’s actually quite funny (more or less intentionally), and some of the effects are surprisingly gross. It doesn’t hurt that the unsettlingly friendly group of strangers becoming increasingly sinister is one of my favorite horror setups.

I haven’t even really given Creedence her due in this review, as she is truly a legend amongst cult classic villains. She is living my dream life, minus the oddly sexy popcorn scene with an actual teenager. But her unhinged maniacal energy along with her preference for plants over people make me absolutely root for her.

Special mentions to Holly’s extremely ’90s Garfield astrology sleepwear, as well as Grandpa Seth’s odd Orson Welles vibe.

TL;DR: if you don’t like Troll 2, you’re wrong.

Would my goblin queen toast this one with a glass of Nilbog milk or conspire to defeat it with a surprisingly violent spirit guide? Find out in her review!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bones, or: Dog Eat Dogg

Renovating an old home can be a nightmare even when your main concerns are restoring the original hardwood flooring, replacing the ugly formica countertops, or finding vintage pieces that perfectly capture a feeling of rustic country charm. But DIY-ing a home haunted by the spirit of a wrongfully murdered man that may hide a direct connection to hell in the basement? Truly a situation where home renovation…can be murder. Which is a missed opportunity for this film’s tagline IMHO, though perhaps lacking some of the dog/Snoop Dogg puns central to this week’s film.

The Film:

Bones

The Premise:

After his mysterious death in the late ’70s, the spirit of local legend Jimmy Bones returns seeking vengeance on those responsible.

The Ramble:

In a once-thriving neighborhood, drug deals go down regularly, cops patrol the streets, and a black dog terrorizes the residents. Longtime resident of the neighborhood Shotgun narrowly escapes the dog’s jaws, but witnesses the dog turn its attention on two frat boys hiding from the cops after a drug deal. Could there be something…supernatural about this dog’s appearance? That’s a definite yes.

A graffiti-ed van is parked on the street in front of a 2-story brick house with a Gothic facade.

The dog seems to operate in and close proximity to the creepiest house around (naturally): an abandoned Gothic-style house that has fallen into disrepair. When young Patrick buys the property in the hopes of transforming it into a trendy nightclub along with his siblings and bff, the group may get much more than they bargained for.

As it turns out, the last owner of the property was one Jimmy Bones, played by none other than Snoop Dogg. In 1979, he was a legend in the neighborhood, even earning a song about his tough but fair protection of his own. What went wrong to leave the house in shambles and the angry ghost of Bones in the form of a dog haunting the neighborhood?

A group of four young people crowd around a spot on the floor of a dark, dusty room.

Though Patrick and his friends remain clueless, they can sense something isn’t quite right about the house. Neighbor Pearl (Pam Grier), a psychic, conceals her connection to Jimmy Bones, warning the friends to no avail while cautioning her daughter Cynthia to keep her distance. Of course, Cynthia pays no mind, especially since she finds Patrick quite charming.

A woman with an afro and a feather boa holds hands with a man wearing a wide-brimmed fedora and pinstripe suit.

When Patrick, Bill, Tia, and unofficial member of the family Maurice announce the big news at home, it doesn’t go over well. Father and head of the household Jeremiah once lived in the very neighborhood of Jimmy Bones but has long since traded it all in for a comfortable life in the ‘burbs. Clearly disdainful of the ‘hood culture he believes has corrupted the old neighborhood, Jeremiah discourages his children from having any association with that part of town. Could Jeremiah be hiding a terrible secret related to the fall of Jimmy Bones?

Meanwhile, corrupt cop Lupovich and drug dealer Eddie Mack seem to have run the neighborhood since Bones has been out of the picture. Do they have an unsavory past to hide as they seized control?

A young man rests on a bed, eyes closed, headphones on, as shiny black hands surround him.

The moral of the story here is that the house holds a secret that no one wants to surface…especially since the body of Jimmy Bones has the power to reanimate as his vengeful spirit dog consumes flesh.

However, the only thing that becomes increasingly clear throughout our story is that Jimmy Bones will be back, and he will very definitely seek out those who did wrong. And he’s absolutely dedicated to dramatic entrances that involve maggots and fire raining from the sky.

Will anyone survive Jimmy Bones’s revenge?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Okay, there were never going to be any Oscar nominations for this film. But it’s so entertainingly pulpy and over the top, with some unexpectedly relevant commentary on Black neighborhoods with a bad reputation. Drug dealers and law enforcement earn our disdain here, but so do members of the Black community who seek middle-class respectability at the expense of their friends and neighbors.

Of course, having a cast that includes the onscreen pairing of Pam Grier and Snoop Dogg, which I never knew I needed, doesn’t hurt. Plus Katharine Isabelle gets a supporting role, and I will never complain about that.

Even though the film is very much a tribute to campy B horror and blaxploitation, it’s truly creepy at times. There are effects that look incredibly low-budget, but there are also genuinely gross scenes with maggots and rotting flesh that are truly horrifying. Director Ernest Dickerson pulls no punches here, condemning several characters to grisly deaths and an eternity in hell.

But in a fun way?

Would my blog wife light a candle in this one’s memory or condemn it to hell for all time? Read her review to find out!