"Terror in the Flesh"
Starring Rider Strong and Jordan Ladd
Directed by Eli Roth
When a bunch of whiny college graduates go off into the woods to stay at a
cabin they are slowly infected by a flesh eating virus that pegs them off one by
one in an increasingly bloody way.
It all ends with a sunset bluegrass jamming session where rednecks and blacks bond together and drink lemonade whilst playing the banjo together in racial harmony. No really!
What isn’t? The film follows a bunch of whiny ignorant vacuous teenagers as
they act as stupidly (and as badly) as possible in the face of danger. It’s one
of those films where no one acts as anyone would do...ever.
You accidentally shoot a man in the leg whilst out hunting squirrels (“Be vewy vewy quiet”) and find him with pus filled lesions gibbering like a madman about getting to a hospital. Do you A) ignore him and not tell your friends and then act surprised when he shows up at the cabin later trying to kill everyone. Or B) anything else at all to help the poor bastard.
Or later on when trying to find a cabin with a phone...You’re peering through the bedroom window at a sleeping woman then get caught by her irate husband who sends you packing for being a peeping tom. Wouldn’t it make sense to tell your friends (or for that matter warn the couple about the deadly virus!) when you got back that there’s another cabin a mile away with a truck so they could go and seek medical help? No instead our ‘hero’ keeps schtum and has sex with someone else’s girlfriend, whilst his girlfriend lies rotting in a locked shed.
Anyway I digress...
The script is also gash, I mean I’m no prude or anything, but simply putting the word ‘Fuck’ into every sentence isn’t big or clever. Sure it can be used as an effective cinema tool (crikey just look at Tarantino or Scorsese!!) but this just seems a way of padding out the running time in between T & A shots and pus filled lesions. Plus there seems to be an unpleasant homophobic feel to the dialogue. As the characters use the word ‘Gay’ as a derogatory term “I’m gonna shoot all those squirrels as they are so gay!” (I’m guessing they weren’t using Gay in the Flintstones sense of the word either).
There is also really bad continuity, as the director seems to miss the point of having ‘cut aways’ so we can see which of the several infected cast members is being shot at.
Plus it has no real conclusion or explanation, and then ends with a banjo jamming session...
The direction is ok, if a little flat, and the cinematography is pretty good. There are some nice gore effects. At least the comedy sheriff, basically a stoner trying to get in with all the teens’ drunken parties, livens proceedings somewhat.
I thought it sucked. Plus it’s clearly trying to emulate the Evil Dead without the talent or skewed humour. Although it has got some good reviews and has been rather popular so maybe I’m just not getting it...Man that’s so gay of me!
There’s a nice visual gag when an infected hippie dies with a harmonica and his death rattle squeezing out the last note.
Production values – Not too bad. Decent lighting and score. Plus the effects are good but sparingly used, although I get the impression there is a gorier ‘directors cut’ out there. 5
Dialogue and performance – Weak on both counts. The script is more pungent than a rotting corpse and too many scenes end with the actors just screaming expletives at one another. 17
Plot and execution – Whilst the story starts well, the characters soon become annoying (say after 10 minutes in!) as does the plot which unravels in more and more ludicrous and far fetched ways. Plus some bad continuity throws the narrative all over the show so you have little to no idea what is happening. 17
Randomness – Characters simply disappear; others just show up and randomly get killed. A kid does slow motion kung fu. There’s a banjo hoe-down and the ambiguous jokey ending is totally out of context with the tone of the film. Kung fu kid shouting “pancakes”? I mean really? 20
Waste of potential – I think the producers (who were also the directors and scriptwriters) fancied this as the next Evil Dead but it’s just too shambolic. A nice idea (a modern update on the teens in the woods get possessed and chased by evil things plot) but it is badly handled and becomes really random near the end. Don’t worry, it’ll take more than a bunch of bratty teenagers swearing to take the crown from the mighty Bruce Campbell. 19
Directed by Steve Boyum
Starring Jason Scott Lee and Thomas Ian Griffith
After an initial, and highly unscientific, explanation of how time travel is
possible (“Time travel is easy...We’re all doing it all the time...into the future”)
we are introduced to Ryan Chan, the precursor of Van Damme’s ‘Timecop’. He’s in
1940’s Berlin to pretend to be a Chinese ambassador for some reason, when all of
a sudden his rival Brandon Miller shows up and tries to take a pot shot at
Hitler. Chan being highly moral and ethical about the abuse of time and the
damage to present and future does the noble thing and saves Hitler’s life and
shoots Millers girlfriend instead.
Miller gets sent to the ‘World Penitentiary’ for trying to sabotage the fabric of time for his own purposes whilst Chan gets suspended in 1880’s America as a punishment.
When Chan has run out his sentence in New York, he heads back to his office at the T.E.C (Time Enforment Commission) only to find his fellow co-workers being unceremoniously wiped from time. Who could be doing this? Well it’s either a glitch in the time space vortex...Or a rogue agent who’s gone back in time and is killing the families of the TEC. And it just so happens that Brandon Miller has escaped from prison last week (you would have thought someone would have been told?)
Chan nips back a week in time using what looks like a souped up dentists chair (as opposed to the high powered jet being fired at a brick wall approach to time travel from the first film) to prevent the crucial scientists and doctors of TEC from being wiped from history, thereby preventing the invention of time travel (but without time travel Miller couldn’t go back in time and kill them to stop them inventing time travel so he can go back in time to kill...Oh I’ve gone cross eyed!)
Chan is on strict orders not to fail his mission because A) the fabric of time will unravel and life will implode on itself and B) the TEC will have to shell out and hire new admin staff if he does.
He arrives at the world penitentiary in the middle of a riot and has to drop kick a few baddies before finding Miller just as he hops back to the past, so Chan grabs onto his vapour trails (!) and is sucked through time. The last twenty minutes involves Chan chasing Miller through time as Miller tries to kill Chan’s great grandparents, then his grandparents, then his parents (basically the same scene three times in a row with the actors wearing different period costumes waiting around in vain for Chan to push them out of the way of a bullet.) You see Miller isn’t going after the workers of TEC, but in fact the smug Timecop with the girlie hair who killed his girlfriend.
It all ends with a showdown in the past with little boy Chan and “grunge teenage” Miller watching their future selves kick each others asses.
Chan saves his younger self, kicks Miller about until he submits and promises never to muck about in God’s domain again. Then returns to the TEC for a juicy promotion and is about to ask out his sexy doctor (something he’s been ‘hilariously’ doing in several timelines and she always says No) and as she’s about to say yes there’s a siren noise “Time space continuum breech!” screams the tannoy. Cue techno music and the end credits.
The time travel scenes jump all over the place with no directorial control,
the script makes no sense, is totally implausible and really confusing. Chan
nips around in time, and different realities, with absolutely no narrative or
cohesion. There’s a bunch of subplots and plot holes that aren’t explained or
even mentioned. I wasn’t even sure when the present was set. The first film was
set in 2004 (ahh the future where time travel and Jean Claude Van Damme
understanding the laws of physics are possible!) but in this one it isn’t clear,
occasionally a monitor would flash 2060, but sometimes 2056 or 2042. They also
kept mentioning “a great 21st century war!”
The effects are pretty hokey, and the soundtrack is bizarre...There were these crazy elastic ‘twangy’ noises just before a fight scene or some pounding techno in the Wild West. Weird.
Thomas Ian Griffith can at least emote (or sneer very well depending on your views!) so he made a half decent bleach blonde villain (although he’s clearly been employed as Rutger and Bruce Payne were busy!). Jason Scott Lee is an okay lead, although his L’Oreal hair was very irritating. And there are a couple of decent fights.
It’s very confusing and quite goofy, but it’s watchable without being actively painful, but that’s about as higher praise I can give.
There’s a decent fight with Chan against three Irish cops.
Production values – It all reeks of TV movie, competent but bland yet the editing is a barrage of manic jump cuts and headache inducing cutaways. The lighting isn’t too great, the sets are really sparingly used, and the soundtrack is somewhat inappropriate. 14
Dialogue and performance – Whenever the script raises something vaguely thought provoking (admittedly not often) it follows it up with a ham fisted clump of reeking dialogue it deflates anything resembling intelligence. Jason Scott Lee is a fairly decent lead and has some sense of delivery and is good at the kung fu scenes. Thomas Ian Griffith just sneers and acts all ‘DTV baddy’. 13
Plot and execution – We the audience are thrown around the decades like a Bee in a fan factory. According to the Timecop ‘Mind Doctor’ frequent time travel causes brain haemorrhages, body paralysis and mental breakdowns. Somehow I know how the Timecops feel. The director works about three or four story arcs into the film yet struggles to handle just one. 18
Randomness – The time paradoxes don’t stand up to scrutiny, the plot changes track mid way, a load of stuff is mentioned then contradicted or simply ignored in favour of more slow motion hair tossing from Jason Scott Lee. 19
Waste of potential – Whilst the first Timecop wasn’t much (time) cop, this one tries to be too clever for its own good and just becomes a bit of a jumbled mess. Maybe they should get it back to its comic book roots (or simplify the story) 14
"YOUR NEXT STEP... IS HELL" (I feel strongly this should be 'next stop' but the IMDb says step - The Prophet)
Directed by Dick Haas
Starring Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman and James Marshall
When residents and employees at the newly opened Millennium building in New
York start dying in lift related deaths the chairman of the company hires Mark,
a “maverick” lift engineer, to look into it. Despite Mark’s assurance nothing is
wrong with the elevators soon more obnoxious characters are getting killed. A
blind groping man drags his cute guidedog down the shaft with him as he thinks
there is a lift waiting for him. The lift doors decapitate the alcoholic peeping
tom security guard and a rollerblader gets sucked into the elevator at the
ground floor, then promptly ejected at high speed off the roof. The President
soon gets wind of the situation and immediately assumes that all these clues
point to a terrorist attack and sends the army in with guns and Stinger missiles
However Mark, with the help of irritating investigative journalist Naomi Watts, suspects that there is more to the deaths. They eventually deduce that German scientist Michael Ironside is evil and has fitted the lift with ‘Bio-chips’, computer chips based on living human tissue that regenerate causing the lift to develop a mind (and a heart!) of its own and start killing people for no good reason. Well wasn’t it obvious!
It’s a film about a lift made of living tissue that kills people. Need I say more? Okay if you insist. The acting stinks, normally good actors like Ron Perlman and Dan Hedaya simply read the risible script from cue cards. There is no chemistry between the leads. James Marshall gurns at the camera as if his life depended on the audience seeing his smug irritating grin every ten minutes; and Naomi Watts delivers lines like: “I’ll pee on them” and: “look out! Libyans!” with an embarrassed look as though she’s really hoping she’ll get that call back from David Lynch. Some scenes play out like comedy, others straight drama...None of them work.
James Marshall’s oozing charisma never failed to impress the ladies.
There are a couple of entertaining death scenes and some unintentionally amusing bits. But apart from that and with the plot getting more ludicrous as it goes on the whole affair soon becomes tiresome.
With a couple of classically bad scenes it’s almost compellingly...Almost.
“I’m so damn enraged I can’t even point straight!”
Probably the aforementioned scene in which a Ska8er boy (hey that’s the Chapter heading!) is sucked into the lift at ground level and the propelled out at the top floor to plummet to a bloody death (splattering his Ska8ing buddy!)
“So you’re saying if I watch this tape, I’ll be dead in a week?”
Production Values – Not bad as a whole, some slightly goofy effects and the lighting is a bit lacklustre. 8
Dialogue and performance – The script is very poor, and all the acting is phoned in. 16
Plot and execution – A killer lift made of living tissue I ask you! 17
Randomness – Even the initial premise is random, plus it isn’t clear what the building actually does...Why Naomi Watts would be attracted to James Marshall and what is with the random rollerbladers? 19
Waste of potential – A living breathing psycho lift story doesn’t bode well, however with a bit of effort (or David Cronenberg attached to the project) maybe something could have been made of this. Maybe. 7