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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dark Night of The Scarecrow

It's been a crazy week here, Dudes and Dudettes! First, I had my Netflix account accidentally canceled on me(a family member received an email about a Netflix charge, and thought it was theirs, even though they had already ended their account...), so that sent me scrambling to figure out if I could continue doing this. Then, I somehow managed to get strep throat, so I've been sick as a dog for a few days now. What else could happen?

Anyway, supposedly Netflix is working on reinstating my account, so this week I'm watching the last video they sent me before everything went wacky: Dark Night of The Scarecrow, a made-for-television slasher(!) from the early 1980's. It's about a group of vigilantes who kill a mentally disabled man because they mistakenly thought that he had assaulted a child. In the aftermath of the killing, a mysterious stalker dressed as a scarecrow begins to go after them....Gee, I wonder if they live? As always, it's Howdy SPOILY time!

So, the movie starts out in a field of tall grass and flowers. I'll bet there's a little house somewhere on this prairie! The not-yet-dead disabled man, Bubba(played by Larry Drake, of Darkman), is picking flowers and singing along with a little girl named Marylee. He shows her one flower that he plucked, but it was accidentally crushed in his gigantic Manbearpig paws. Oh Bubba, you flower-wrecking rascal you!

After Bubba becomes the Flowernator, Marylee shows him how to properly pick a flower, then sends him to find another one. He gives her the intact one, and she shows him two leis she made. She puts her lei on, then helps him to wear his, then she insists that they have to kiss.

Okay, hold the phone! Was this movie written by Michael Jackson??? A young child playing with a large man in his 30's is already sort of creepy to begin with, and now they're sharing a kiss? And it's the girl's idea? Forget going after Bubba--the angry mob should lock her up. Not a single horror movie moment has occurred yet, and I'm already weirded out by this film. I can't wait to see what's next...

Yup, it got weirder. As Marylee gives Bubba a peck on the cheek, the local mailman is peeping on them with a pair of binoculars. I have a feeling that I may want to sterilize my hands after touching the DVD to put it back in its sleeve.

The mailman, Otis, decides to pay a visit to his buddy Harless, who is busily throwing large tree branches into an even-larger woodchipper. Harless switches off his noisy machine, and he and Otis express their displeasure at seeing Bubba always playing with Marylee.

When Harless suggests beating Bubba up(and a reference to having done it many times before), Otis disagrees. He compares mentally disabled people to unfumigated stink weed and cutworm, and calls Bubba a blight. Wow, very enlightened people existed 20years ago.

Anyway, Otis implies that the best way to deter Bubba from playing with young children would be to kill him. Harless replies that he'd definitely rough the guy up, but not kill him, as long as he's committed no crime. Otis just hands the farmer his mail, then drives away.

As Bubba and Marylee walk home together, the little girl spots a fountain in a neighbor's backyard, and pries some boards loose in their fence to get a better look. She tells Bubba that she's going into their yard to look at the fountain up close, but Bubba doesn't want to follow her, fearing that he'll get in trouble again.

Marylee goes into the yard by herself, as Bubba watches through the fence. As luck would have it, the family dog shows up, snarling at Marylee. She tries to remain calm as she calls out to Bubba to save her, but that only agitates the dog further. Bubba then bursts through the fence to save Marylee. As he fights off the dog(offscreen), about 9,000 lawn gnomes witness the attack, and seem stunned.

Okay, movie. You just showed a montage of "reaction" shots of garden gnomes. All is forgiven. Keep the crazy batshit stuff coming on a regular basis again.

The next scene is equally epic in its kookiness: we see a housewife in her kitchen, and there's a knock at the door. She answers it, to find Bubba on her front step, holding Marylee's limp, possibly lifeless body. Both of them have blood in their clothes, and Bubba is crying. The housewife screams at the sight, as Bubba sobs, "Bubba....didn' it!" If this was where the film ended, I'd give it 5 killer trees, just for the giggles it gave me.

Alas, no...there's more. After the housewife screams, Harless hauls ass over to the post office, to tell Otis that Bubba killed Marylee. God, just reading these names all together like that gives me a headache. It's like the cast of a redneck soap opera. As the Trailer Turns.

Anyway, Otis is told that everyone in town is going to be at the courthouse to see Bubba get charged, and Otis opens a drawer in front of him, where he keeps a gun. See? even 20 years ago, "going postal" had the same definition that it has today.

Otis tells Harless that they'll take care of Bubba themselves, then they stop by the local gas station to get some hunting dogs. Um, why? Since Bubba's already turned himself in, and everyone is headed to the courthouse or jail to see him, what do these dingleberries need to hunt down?

Their next stop is some kind of granary, where they fetch a guy who makes Otis look like he's anorexic. No name is given, of course. Then we see Bubba trampling through a forest, so I guess he somehow avoided being captured and arrested after that housewife saw him. Yeah, giants covered in blood are really easy to miss.

Harless drops off the 3 other men at the entrance to the woods, then drives around to keep Bubba from escaping from the other side. Bubba isn't exactly making great progress in his escape either, tripping over branches and rocks every 5 seconds or so. Oh, but the large guy now has a name: Philby. No first name, no last name. Just "Philby". Like "Madonna", except the exact opposite of her in every possible way.

Anyway, we then get the name of their 4th group member, Skeeter. After learning that, we see Bubba arrive home. His mother meets him at the door, and he briefly fills her in on the dog attack, and how it ended up with him getting the blame. Mama tells Bubba that they need to play "the hiding game". and they run off together, away from the house.

A short time later, the vigilantes also arrive at Bubba's home. Mama meets them at the front door, and informs them that her son isn't home. Then she reminds them that they have no legal authority to do anything to Bubba, and she shuts the door again. HA! Score 1 for someone with a brain in this movie!

The dogs pick up Bubba's scent again and get agitated, so the group decides to see where the dogs go. They arrive in a field, where the dogs lead the group directly to a scarecrow. Gosh, where could Bubba be hiding? I wonder if the title will give me any hints....

So, the rednecks look around a bit, and then get ready to leave. Unfortunately, Otis decides to have a closer look at the scarecrow, and sees Bubba's very frightened eyes behind the sack "head" of the scarecrow. Whoops!

Very slowly, Otis, Skeeter, Harless and Philby back away from the scarecrow. As Bubba whimpers, Otis lifts his gun and then hesitates, even after the other 3 men lift their guns. When Bubba quietly cries that he didn't hurt the girl, Otis fires 2-3 shots at him at point blank range. The others also start shooting, and Bubba gets at least a dozen new openings in his body.

After a few seconds, Harless and the others hear a CB transmission coming from his truck. They learn that Marylee is not dead, and that Bubba saved her from the attacking dog. To cap it all off, this was all discovered a half hour earlier. Nice.

Upon hearing the news, a creepy-sounding wind starts to blow, and Otis walks back to the truck. He grabs a giant pitchfork from the truck bed, and positions Bubba's corpse in such a way as to have him holding it by his side. The wind gets stronger and stronger, until eventually, it makes Bubba start to sway to and fro.

The movie then delivers us to a courtroom. All four men are on trial for murdering Bubba. As the prosecutor insists that Bubba was helpless from his position, the defense attorney holds up the pitchfork to show that he wasn't defenseless at all. Wow, who knew that Otis could be that clever? Not I....

The prosecutor responds that a single pitchfork is still no match for four men armed with guns. Then Otis makes up some crap about giving Bubba several chances to surrender and firing several warning shots into the air, at which point the prosecutor yells that Bubba had 21 bullet wounds all over his body. Ouch.

The judge calls both lawyers to approach, and tells the prosecutor that he doesn't think that the case against the vigilantes is strong enough. Say what now? 21 bullet wounds doesn't seem a little suspicious, or an attack of 4 against 1 doesn't raise any alarms in their heads? Geez, remind me to stay the heck away from THAT town!

So, yeah, Judge Dumbass finds all 4 men innocent. That causes Bubba's Mama to totally lose it. She stands up and declares that all of them are murderers, then makes a cryptic statement that there are "different kinds od justice", which sounds pretty ominous. Hey, wouldn't it be a hoot if she somehow got a posse together to kill the 4 of them, then another vigilante group sprung up to take her group out, and on and on and on...? It'd be like the Moebius Strip of slasher films. Someone start writing that script, please.

They all leave the courtroom together, and quickly start cheering and giving each other and the other townsfolk high fives. Then the prosecutor pops up to tell Otis that if he eventually does find the evidence needed to execute them, he'll see that it happens. Otis, being Otis, makes a stupid remark about fried chicken, then leaves with his buddies.

At the local hangout, Otis and the others have their beers and fried chicken, and laugh about the prosecutor's last encounter with them. None of them realize it, but just outside the restaurant, the same weird wind that was blowing when Bubba died is blowing again. Is there a restless spirit arriving in town? My guess would be yes.

We see Marylee in bed, as an older woman(her aunt? grandmother?) watches her sleep. The woman then tells her husband, Frank, that she never had the heart to tell Marylee that Bubba died. Frank tells her to keep it a secret for as long as she can. Wow, this is a really dysfunctional town, huh?

Marylee wakes up after her folks have gone to bed. She senses Bubba nearby, and calls out his name a few times, to no avail. She puts on some slippers and a robe, then decides to climb out of her bedroom window to go looking for him.

Marylee arrives at Mama's house, where she sees a light on in his bedroom. She knocks on his window to invite him to play, but he doesn't answer her. Being a total nutcase, she decides to try to break in. Hell, I'm more afraid of this weird kid than 10 Bubbas. I kinda hope that she's the killer, even though she's too small to wear the scarecrow outfit.

Anyway, Marylee explores the lower level first, and finds a lot of his things around the house, but no sign of him. Heck, she even finds the lei she made for him. I could use a good lei. Take the edge off, you know?

So, when Marylee heads upstairs, Mama finds her. She demands to know why the little girl is in her home, and her demeanor softens considerably when Marylee tells her that she wants to see Bubba. They go back downstairs together, and Mama tries to explain that Bubba isn't coming back anymore. Maryann doesn't let that stop her: she insists that she can sense that Bubba is somewhere close, probably hiding or playing some sort of game.

The next day, all 4 of the killers are back in their daily routines. Otis is delivering the mail as usual, only stopping when he spies some porn mag that he wants to look at before the owner gets to have it. Harless is busy trying to figure out what's jamming up his chipper. Quick, wave goodbye to the arm that he's about to lose....pretty soon he won't be able to!

His wife joins him in the field to mention that they were invited to some dance. She loses her train of thought though, and asks Harless if he's planting his crops early. When he says no, she then asks why he put up a scarecrow in the field. Uh oh....

Harless drives over to the local diner, where he meets up with Philby and Skeeter. At first they are happy to see him, but the mood soon changes when they see how angry Harless is. He tells them that someone put a scarecrow in his field, and they all get pretty nervous about what that could imply.

They pay a visit to Otis, who is now living in what looks like some kind of very run-down boarding house.. When they tell him about the reappearance of the scarecrow, he plants the idea in their single group brain that they all share that it's some kind of threat from the prosecuting lawyer. Then Otis suggests that they go home, and never visit him again.

That's followed by Harless driving his truck home, then taking a swig or two from a drink outside. Instead of going inside his house, the farmer decides to stagger around his property with a flashlight for a bit, which is always a smart idea when you're drunk, alone, and someone dressed as a scarecrow is stalking you.

There's this weird squeaking sound, but the scene is so dark, I can't tell what exactly is making it. Harless finds a large cross on his property, exactly like the one where they found Bubba hanging like a scarecrow, He kicks it over, then turns to head back to his house. Wanna bet that he doesn't make it that far?

When he turns, Harless sees the woodchipper turn on, so he decides to go examine it up close. Smart fella, or fart smella? Anyway, he somehow manages to switch it off without getting killed(damn...), then starts yelling for Sam(the lawyer) to stop fooling around. Then Harless puts down his flashlight and picks up a small scythe.

What happens next makes no sense whatsoever....As Harless climbs up to the hayloft to search it, he thinks he has found where "Sam" is hiding. He approaches a shadowy corner of the loft, then hears a noise below. When he leans over the side to look, the chipper turns on, causing Harless to startle, then fall out of the loft and into the chipper. Awesome, but also epic in its stupidity. And entirely bloodless.

Instead of blood, the scene switches to breakfast at the boarding house. One of the old farts tells the others(including Otis) that he heard a lot of commotion during the night, and that Harless was found dead. When Otis joins the crowd to watch the authorities take care of the dead man's widow, Sam turns around to give Otis the ol' stink-eye.

Later, Otis, Skeeter and Philby meet to discuss the horrific way their friend died. When Otis suggests that it's Sam who killed Harless, the other 2 men disagree. Then Otis decides that it was all an accident, until Philby asks who turned the machine off after the deed was done. D'oh!

The three men decide to examine the chipper, and discover that it was, indeed, switched off. Then Otis has two tense encounters, one with Marylee(who runs off when she sees him), then another tense chat with Mama. She implies that all of the spooky crap happening and the death of Harless is simple, Biblical vengeance. Mama also warns him to leave Marylee alone, then shuts her front door in his face.

We next see Philby by himself, so I guess he's next to die. His pigs are oinking like crazy, and he spots a scarecrow out in his field. He runs over to get a closer look, which just confirms that these 4 are the biggest lunkheads that ever lived.

Philby gets right in front of the scarecrow, then drops to his pudgy, stupid knees. Wow, do these guys have a suicide pact going that they forgot to mention? On an even weirder note, the scene just abruptly ends right there. Does Jabba live or die???

The next scene opens on a Halloween skeleton decoration. It's the town's big party, I guess. As a group of children(including Marylee) play a game of hide and seek, Otis wins the award for Pedo of the Year when he peers through a window in at them, using the eyeholes of a skull decoration. Creepy guy.

Marylee counts while the other kids hide, then she turns and has the world's creepiest encounter with Otis. He keeps trying to sweet-talk her into approaching him, then she tells Otis that Bubba told her what the 4 men did to him. She runs off before Otis can get anything more specific out of her, and he looks pretty nervous.

During the dance, Otis grabs a drink. His partners in crime find him, and Philby claims that he actually saw Bubba outside. He brings Otis to the spot, but of course, Bubba's not there at that point. When Skeeter suggests telling the sheriff, Otis tries to talk him down. Philby gives Otis an ultimatum: either figure out a way out of their jam, or he's going to the cops.

Mama makes some tea, and her house is as quiet as a crypt full of mimes. Otis assaults her, and warns the old woman to stop scaring him and his buddies. When he removes his hand from her mouth she screams, so Otis clamps her lips shut again, He tells the frightened old lady that he won't hurt her if she keeps quiet.

When Otis removes his hand from her mouth again, Mama has suddenly died. He backs away, then nearly dies himself when her tea kettle starts shrieking. Always thinking, Otis takes the kettle off of the stove, then cranks up the gas oven, hoping that with the fireplace going, the explosion will be a great way to cover his tracks.

The house explodes with a friggin' mushroom cloud of fire. I shit you not.

While Marylee is outside playing, Sam investigates the cause of the explosion. He's told by the gas guy that the elderly always forget to turn off the gas, or even turn it down. Yeah. Even Sam doesn't buy that.

In the next scene, Philby hears his pigs acting up in the middle of the night. He goes outside to investigate, then he fixes a loose chain. He sees a light go on in his house and gets in his car, but it won't start.

Philby starts feeling chest pains, so he takes his pills, then gets out of the car. He thinks that he hears someone nearby, so he decides to run and hide in his grain silo. Genius. When the noises stop, Philby tries to exit, but the silo door is jammed shut. As the old farmer panics, the silo starts to fill up with grain. Philby screams and flails around for a minute or so, then drowns in his own grain.

The next morning, Otis finds the gas station almost empty. He sneaks up on Skeeter, and assaults him. He tells the younger man that it was Otis who killed their buddies, and promises to prove it to him. They head out that night, prepared to dig up the grave that Otis was buried in, only to discover that he's still in his grave after all.

Skeeter runs away with a case of the screaming meme's, then Otis tackles him to the ground next to the open grave. as the younger guy blows about a metric ton of snot out of his body, he begs Otis to go to the police for protection. The mailman gets him even more worked up when he suggests that their stalker is actually maybe Marylee.

A little girl? Really? Is this some kind of blooper reel I started watching?

Nope, he's serious. When Skeeter refuses to aid him in murdering a little girl, Otis decides to change tactics. He calms the blubbering gas station employee down, then leads him over to the open grave. As Skeeter puts the lid back over Bubba and starts rambling, Otis bashes him from above with the shovel. Hilariously, the cap Skeeter had on even sticks to the shovel. Then Otis re-packs the grave, burying Otis and Bubba together,

As he careens around on the dirt roads, Otis nearly runs his mail truck right into Marylee. He runs out of the vehicle to hunt her down, and finds her within a minute. She screams, as he insists that she's the person who killed his friends.

Then the creepy-sounding wind starts up again. A bulldozer that is driving itself chases Otis, even though Otis thinks that Jack the prosecutor is driving it. Is there anyone in this movie who hasn't made his suspect list yet??? He stumbles through a field, half-drunk, then collides with another one of those scarecrows. Otis staggers back, and we see that the figure held a pitchfork that stabbed Otis in the gut in several places,

Otis falls to his knees, then dies. As the camera pans up, all of the machinery and lights that were on shut off simultaneously. Damn, I was sort of hoping for a flesh-and-blood killer. Still, the scarecrows are creepy as hell to look at.

Anyway, back to Marylee, for some reason. She's still hiding in one of the fields, among the pumpkins. The scarecrow lurches in her direction, and hands her an intact flower. She accepts it, then tells Zombie Bubba that she's going to teach him a new game the following night: the chasing game. Rut roh! THE END

Pretty awesome stuff this week. Some good kills, a simple story to follow, and people who could act. Not bad. I give it 4.5 killer trees out of 5, with half a point lost for the way the pace slowed down in the middle for awhile. But not bad at all.

And what did I learn from Dark Night of The Scarecrow?

-There are a lot of customs about flowers that should only be practiced by consenting adults.

-It's incredibly hard to convict old rednecks of murder, especially if they offer to buy beers for most of nthe town after the trial.

-Zombies can teleport from their graves, put on costumes, commit several murders, remove the costumes, teleport back into their graves, then reappear to give their friends flowers. Yup, that all sounds like sound reasonable thinking!

Next up: A film called The Initiation, starring Daphne Zuniga. See you then!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Uncle Sam

Another week, another goofy-ass slasher flick. This week, we have one of those "holiday" slashers to watch, a 4th of July-themed film called Uncle Sam. Let's get to it....and, as always, there will be SPOILERS up the wazoo! I hope you all remembered to clean out your wazoos before the film...

Okay, so the movie starts out with 2 schlubs riding around in a jeep. A couple of helpful subtitles inform us that they're in Kuwait, and it's June 14th. They pull up to a wreckage in the road, and it's revealed that an American chopper crashed. The ranking officer tells one of his men to check the body in the helicopter for his dog tags, and the soldier reads that the dead man is named Sam Harper. Gee, I wonder if Sam's an uncle...

Before he can do much else, the poor grunt is shot by Sam, who sits up and fires away. Then he also turns the officer into Swiss cheese. Before the scene ends, Sam tells the corpses, "Don't be's only friendly fire!" And then we get the opening credits, set to fireworks, patriotic music, and images of Uncle Sam(not the killer...the character on the recruitment posters).

When the story starts up again, we're told that it's now taking place in "Twin Rivers, USA". Boy, my US maps must be waaaaaay out of date, because, I don't see a state with that name anywhere on 'em! I hope Sam has a good GPS device. Wait, maybe I should be hoping that he doesn't have one? I'm confused...

We see a little kid in bed, and he's having a nightmare. Nightmares must be expensive,because his looks like it primarily consists of public domain war imagery, mixed together with a photo of a soldier saluting. The kid knocks the picture over as he sleeps, and the glass in the frame breaks, waking him up.

The boy cuts his foot on the glass fragments, and hops on over to his mother's room. As she gets some items to treat the cut, he tells her that he was dreaming about his Uncle Sam, marching in the Independence Day parade. His mother tries to tell him that he's much too young to remember her brother, but the kid insists that he does. Okay kid, whatever.

Okay, so let's stop here for a sec....Uncle Sam--the undead soldier we just watched kill some of his comrades in the opening sequence--is just hanging around somewhere? Is he buried? Walking around? Running around as a politician named John Kerry for his cover identity?(come on, you KNOW that guy's a zombie!)

Anyway, the next scene has a police officer dropping his date off at her house, She is Sam's widow, and it's been 3 years since anyone has apparently heard any news about him. A member of the military has been waiting on her front porch to let her know that Sam's body was finally recovered. Hey, I have an idea! Let's start saying character names out loud, how about that? We're 3 scenes in, and I can only name 1 character thus far. And his name is in the title.

Anyway, the army rep tells Sam's widow that they can bury him at Arlington, but she's adamant about having him in the family plot, near her. He gives her Sam's dog tags, tells her the motel he's staying in(the anonymous soldier, not Sam), then he leaves.

Then we finally meet someone who has a name:Jed, a former Sergeant. He's played by the late Isaac Hayes. Chef! Jed's trying to button up his uniform, but years of junk food have made that nigh impossible. He seems to have a flashback, and picks up an old photograph. This movie must have been funded by a camera company....everyone has an old photo near and dear to them.

The picture looks like a group of guys standing around a Chain Chomp(from the Mario games), and Jed remarks that he's the last of the folks from his army unit still alive. Don't you worry, Jed...I have a feeling you'll be having a reunion with your buddies sooner than you'd think. Do the Mario!

We then get treated to the most awkward scene transition in recent memory, as we go from a shell-shocked war veteran, to that little kid from a few scenes ago, reading a war-themed comic book that he created. The kid's mom calls him Jody, and they apparently live together with Sam's widow. Great, so now we know 4 names. At this rate everyone should be identified by, oh, I'd say the 3rd sequel. Uncle Sam: Electric Boogaloo!

Whoops, gotta get back to the film! Oh, and I cheated by pausing the film to look up who that actor was playing the soldier who was talking to Sam's widow....Bo Hopkins. He's been a steadily-working actor in television and movies for a loooong time. Genre fans probably recognize him as the sheriff in the second From Dusk Til Dawn movie.

Anyway, sorry, got sidetracked again, didn't I? So the whole point of Jody making his own war comic book was that he sees Sam as a heroic figure, but I get the impression that the adults in the family have a different opinion. Sam's widow tells her sister that his body was found, and is being shipped home.

At this point the Netflix DVD keeps skipping and stuttering. Luckily(...?), the movie is also available to watch streaming. So, now the widow has a name: Louise. Boy, now we're cooking! As Louise and her sister discuss how abusive Sam was, and how stressful making arrangements for his body will be, Jody is seen eavesdropping by the stairs. He goes back to his bedroom before heading off to school, and grabs a heavy-looking green metal box.

At school, Jody tells his teacher, Mr. Crandall, that his uncle's body was found. He also reveals that there was a rumor that the chopper was shot down by American soldiers. As the teacher explains the concept of "friendly fire" to the class, Jody brings out the green box, which holds all of Sam's combat medals.

Mr. Crandall reveals that he was a protester during Vietnam. Jody calls him a coward, but clarifies that his uncle was the one who told him that. As he returns to his desk, Jody vows to join the army himself someday. Heh, instead of "Son of Sam", we get "Nephew of Sam"! I crack myself up, I really do.

There's a very brief sequence showing Sam's coffin arriving, then Jody gets home from school. Jody sees that the coffin is sealed, and asks if he can put the medals in with his uncle's body. Sgt. Twining(I cheated again...) tells Jody that he should keep the medals himself, until he's old enough to enlist. Wow, nice thing to say in front of the widow: "Hey kid, we killed your uncle. You're next!"

As Louise shows Sgt. Twining out, Jody tries fiddling with the seal on the coffin. Louise sees him, and tells him to stop, then fixes the flag over the coffin again after he leaves the room. Inside the coffin, we get a good view of Sam's rotting hands, but nothing happens. Not even a twitch. Damn.

Twining gets on the phone with one of his co-workers, and implies that the whole reason he took the job of delivering bad news to war widows is because he wants to bang 'em. Classy guy. He giggles and hangs up, drunk and goofy.

At the house, Jody's mother greets the deputy at the front door. He offers to take her out, but apparently it's just her and Jody in the house, and she doesn't want to leave him alone with the body. Given how he tried to break open the casket, can't say that I blame her. Jody's got some screws loose, if you ask me. And where is Louise? And why is the deputy having dinner with his girlfriend's sister instead of his girlfriend? This movie hurts my brain. I can't keep track of half the names, who's dating's like a bad soap opera.

Deputy Dork bores them with dinner chat about how the sheriff's department finagled a ton of money from the government. What a douchebag this guy is. After he explains to Jody how he cheated the IRS out of money, he asks Jody if he wants to ride up on the July 4th parade float with him. The deputy's going to be dressed as Honest Abe...excuse me, I think I just threw up in kmy mouth a little over the slimy nature of this guy. I hope Uncle Sam kills him first.

Jody asks to be excused, and the deputy(named Ralph) tries to cozy up to Jody's mother. So wait, is he dating both women, or was the aunt dating a different member of the sheriff's office? And who the hell writes this many subplots into a damned slasher flick? Seriously. A slasher flick shouldn't require Cliffs Notes to watch it.

Up in his room, Jody is playing with his army men. He names one action figure "Ralph", then runs it over with a tank. Wait, are they trying for a Child's Play vibe here, where we're supposed to wonder if the killer is either Jody or Sam? I swear, if that's the twist, I'm going to be majorly pissed.

In the middle of the night, Jody sneaks downstairs with the box of medals under one arm. As he attempts to break the lock on the coffin, Sam's hands begin twitching. Jody says something about how lonely death must be, then gives up on the lock and goes back to bed.

The next day, Jed shows up to pay his respects. He sees Jody staring at him, and brings him out to the porch to see the artificial leg Jed wears as the result of a war injury. Then Jed does what anyone would do around a child: he tells Jody that his dick is still intact, then fills his head with amputee horror stories. Funny, that never came up with Chef on South Park....

When Jody expresses an interest in joining the military, Jed starts to bad-mouth nthe military life. Jody doesn't believe him, but the old guy at least tries to dissuade him from wanting to enlist. Then he tells Jody that he took Sam hunting as a young boy once, and Sam seemed to derive pleasure from killing. Yikes! Keep Jed away from kids!

Jed tells Jody that only dangerous lunatics look forward to battle, then he goes back home. When Jody goes back into the house, he overhears Ralph saying that the war in the Middle East was stupid, and Jody lashes out at him with an insult. That gets Jody grounded, even from the holiday festivities. D'oh!

Jody reads the last letter Sam ever wrote to him, then goes to bed. As the clock strikes midnight, we see Sam in his coffin. Despite zooming in on his rotting face, nothing happens. Maybe that should have been the title for this one: Nothing Happens....The Movie! They could call the sequel Still Nothing!

A group of teens show up at the graveyaed, defiling the headstones with swastikas. They douse an American flag in lighter fluid, then light it up. This somehow wakes Sam from the dead, despite the fact that he's in a different part of town. Logic? Who needs logic? This film sure doesn't.

Sam gets the lid open, and sits up. He creeps upstairs to Jody's room, and takes back his various medals, then we get a gruesome montage(MONTAGE!) of Sam pinning the medals to his bare chest, before buttoning up his uniform once more. Ouch. Then he visits his wife's bedroom, and nothing happens. You're as shocked as I am right? Yeah.

Sam decides to do a little peeping before his killing spree, and he somehow found an Uncle Sam costume and mask to wear. Then what the hell was the point of wearing his uniform over his medals??? How many layers does a zombie need to wear on an average July night? He's not exactly going to die from catching a cold....

Oh well. The good news is that the blond he's spying on is pretty damned hot. She completely disrobes, and it's revealed that the guy outside is a different Uncle Sam. He's one of those guys who wear the costume while on stilts, which is a cliche I've never really understood. Is it traditional to get your neck broken on Independence Day?

The woman puts her clothes back on, then leans out the window to yell at the perv. He's busy, in the meantime, making the slowest, most awkward escape ever filmed. A police vehicle nearly hits him, yet he still gets away. This is like the most useless police force in the history of law enforcement. Next to these guys, Boss Hogg's deputies seemed like rocket scientists.

Uncle Sam(ours this time!) shows up, and begins stalking the stilt guy. We see the killer take out a sharp pair of shears, and the one on the stilts starts to panic. He looks over his shoulder to see if the zombie is still following him, and gets a direct hit to the face by a thick tree branch in his path.

He hits the ground, and Sam takes his mask. After killing the guy, Sam cuts the pants of the Sam costume to a normal length, then puts it on. Okay, same criticism as before: is he wearing the costume over his uniform? Seriously, wouldn't the mask be a sufficient disguise?

Whatever, let's go check in on the vandals. They use Sam's open grave to get rid of their empty beer cans, then 2 of the guys start to leave. The 3rd guy stops first to pee over the gravesite. Again, very classy.

Uncle Sam pops up from out of nowhere, and sprays the peeing guy's face with one of the paints the hooligans used earlier to deface the graves. The guy passes out, and wakes up with a red, white and blue face. He snapped one of his legs falling into Sam's open grave, and the bone is sticking out of his pants, looking pretty gory.

Uncle Sam watches the young man try to pull himself out of the grave, leg injury and all, but it's too deep. He waits for the guy to notice him standing over the hole, then starts to shovel in dirt to bury the vandal alive. Nasty way to die.

The guy's 2 friends discuss going back for him, but only one does. Nice friends. A brief shot of the buried-alive victim shows his fingers poking up through the dirst, waving weakly, but Uncle Sam covers them with the last of the dirt. He sure seems to be breathing heavy, for a guy who doesn't need to breathe anymore. Why would a zombie get winded?

The doofus who went back for "Rick"(the vandal's name) keeps calling his name, and wandering through the graveyard. Uncle Sam gets a cord around the guy's throat, and begins to hoist him up a flagpole. As the struggling guy is raised higher and higher, "Taps" begins to play. Near the top, his neck snaps.

The following morning, Mr. Crandall, Jody's teacher, is setting up for some kind of patriotic pageant or something. He goes back to his classroom to fetch a part of one child's costume, and we can see Uncle Sam hiding in the room with an axe in his hand.

Outside the school, Ralph asks where the teacher went, and is told that Crandall went back inside to get an axe. Then we see the axe buried in Crandall's forehead. Ow! On the bright side, he'll never lose track of it!

Jed fires a cannon, and a group of folks dressed as soldiers march by a small crowd of spectators. Jody can hear all of the festivities from his bedroom, and decides to sneak out to enjoy the holiday. As he looks under his bed for the box of medals, he realizes that it's now missing. He thinks one of the adults did it, and gets pissed. My money is still on him as some sort of killer. The kid is creepy...

Speaking of creepy kids, there's a brief scene depicting a couple bringing their blind child to the parade. The kid, wheelchair-bound, has disfiguring scars on his face, and it's implied that his injuries were caused by something that some of the townspeople did in the past. Really? Really movie? We need yet another plot thread in this overstuffed turkey? What, are you trying to remake The Towering Inferno or something??? And what's a blind kid going to enjoy at a fireworks show and parade? "Gee, the smoke smells good this year!"

Anyway, the injured kid, Barry, was a kid who was friends with Jody, so Jody walks over to talk with him. Barry doesn't acknowledge him at all, at least at first. When he finally does speak to Jody, Barry's mother breaks up the reunion, and pushes her son's chair away from Jody. Apparently, Barry had some kind of accident with fireworks, and his mother blames all of his friends for the accident, whether they were there or not.

The mayor tells the crowd that a local teen will sing them the national anthem, and we get a quick glimpse of Uncle Sam killing someone for some reason. Then the teen gets on stage, and starts doing a thrash metal version of the anthem, screaming the lyrics like a castrated bull. He finishes by mooning the audience, and Uncle Sam is watching from a distance. I think he found his next victim. Either that, or he's an ass man.

The mayor tries to salvage the proceedings by leading the audience in a real version of the song, and there's an extreme closeup of Barry for some reason. Uncle Sam suddenly cradles the blind boy's face with one hand, and Barry is understandably freaked out. Uncle Sam then tells Barry that he will punish the crowd for him. Barry asks who he is, and Uncle Sam responds that Barry knows the answer to the question already. Freaky stuff.

Jody, who was busy getting something to eat, turns around and spots Uncle Sam speaking with Barry. Uncle Sam moves through the crowd, waving and interacting with children, and Jody keeps watching him. Then Barry's parents bring him a plate of food, and he asks them who the man was. The folks don't seem overly concerned. Dumbasses.

A black car shows up, carrying a politician and his bodyguards. Jed makes a comment about the politician, and Abe Lincoln(Ralph) tells him that not everyone who marches in the parade can be a war hero. Then Jed complains about the kid who screamed the national anthem, and Ralph replies that it's a dumb song that no one ever remembers.

Jed gets angry and limps away, straight into the path of Uncle Sam. their eyes meet(Sam's are glowing yellow), and Jed gets a serious case of the willies. Sam stares him down, then walks away.

At a barbecue grill, a young woman uses a meat cleaver to cut a rack of ribs into sections. She puts down the cleaver to go take a smoke break, and lights up a joint. another deputy surprises her, and confiscates the drugs. When she returns to the grill, the cleaver has gone missing. Big surprise, huh?

Did Uncle Sam become a pacifist? Where are all of the killings? Believe it or not, we have to sit through a freaking potato sack race next. Swear on a stack of bibles, a potato sack race! One teenager cheats by running behind other contestants, then tackling them to the ground, Jody included. Is a sack race actually that important to the youth of today?

The stupid teen eventually stumbles down a hill, into what looks like the local junkyard. He hops past a few rusty vehicles, and a couple is seen making out in one of them. Then the kid finds himself facing Uncle Sam. Finally!

the kid compliments the costume, then hops away. Past the next set of trees, he sees Uncle Sam reappear in front of him. Neat trick. The teen gets scared, and hops away a bit faster, this time into the waiting arms of the killer. Sam grabs the boy with one hand, then raises the cleaver with his free hand. With one swift chop, he decapitates the kid. He was sacked!

Back at the festivities, Ralph and Louise are talking about their relationship. *yawn* Ralph offers to buy her an ice cream cone, and Sam is seen lingering behind them. Ralph even guesses that Louise is uncomfortable dating him because of all of the recent news about Sam's body being discovered. To cap off the scene, Louise gets a popsicle instead of ice cream. Ice cream, popsicle, same crap movies and classic films. Same diff, right? Or aspirin and rat poison. Or chickens and humpback whales.

Uncle Sam tries his hand at a shooting gallery game, then steals the gun when the guy in the booth turns his back for a few seconds. Louise finds Ralph at a dunking booth, sitting in the dunking chair, and discovers that he's been shot. Hmmmm....who did we just see get his hands on a rifle?

The scene of the crime is blocked off, and Louise asks why anyone would want to murder Ralph. Jody suggests that it was because Ralph was a crrook, which revives my earlier theory that Jody could be doing these killings. We'll just have to see....

At the urging of the mayor, the celebration resumes. Wow, an homage to Jaws? The body is carted away by paramedics, and Uncle Sam watches them without being noticed. Apparently, an outlandish costume and mask give you stealth abilities. And, given that Sam is undead, wouldn't the smell of his rotting flesh be kind of hard to ignore?

Jody tells his mother and aunt that Uncle Sam would have caught the killer faster than the police could, and they both respond that his uncle was a lot less heroic than he assumes. They tell Jody that Sam was physically abusive, and that he wanted people to fear him, on an extreme level. Jody's mother verifies the story, even saying that she was relieved when he got married and moved out of her house.

She goes into some of the details about the abuse they all suffered under Sam's dominance, and Jody begins to realize that there was a side to his uncle that he never let himself see. Then he asks both women why they took the chest of war medals from his bedroom, and they don't know what he's talking about. A police officer interrupts, and asks Jody to go play for a few minutes, so that the adults have a private discussion.

After Jody leaves, the officer announces that the decapitated kid's corpse was discovered. then we abruptly shift the action back to the pot smoker at the grill. She hears something sizzling under the hood of the barbecue, and finds a severed head cooking. Uncle Sam suddenly grabs the back of her head, and makes the girl part of the main course.

The mayor interrupts the live music to announce that the dead body is taken care of. That leads to Barry telling his father that there are more bodies waiting to be found, and of course dad doesn't believe him.

The mayor tries to calm the crowd down, but he seems to have the opposite effect on people. He tells them that the politician who arrived, a congressman, will be making a speech, but no one can find the congressman. That's because Uncle Sam is busy preparing the politician to be murdered.

The mayor refers to the tragedy that happened the previous year, and people in the crowd stare uncomfortably at poor Barry. Then a spotlight turns on, and the crowd gasps when they see the congressman tied to the fireworks display. Ooh, this is gonna hurt...

The politician tries to scream, but he can only make muffled noises. Uncle Sam hits a switch on a control panel, and some sparklers placed in the congressman's chest light up. The investigating officer moves in for a closer look, and is thrown off his feet by a barrage of fireworks that surround the congressman. The lawman rolls down the same hill that the teen did in the sack race, and Uncle Sam impales him when he lands.

Blind Barry asks for a description of what's happening, and his folks prepare to run back to their car without him. Good parenting. Jody shows up to help Barry, and is told that the guy in the costume is his dead uncle. As they debate whether it is him or not, Jed arrives to bring them both someplace safe.

The boys tell him about Sam's return from the dead, and Jed at first remains a skeptic. But when he remembers the feeling he had when he locked eyes with Sam, he knows that the story is somehow true. They encounter Barry's folks, and the folks let Jed take their son with him and Jody. Yup, great parenting.

The trio go to Jody's house, to see if Sam is in his coffin. When they open the lid, they discover Twining's body instead of Sam in there. That convinces Jed that the kids were telling the truth.

Jody's mom comes home, and demands to know why Jed was in the house. After Barry suggests that Sam will likely go after his wife next, Jed leaves the children with the frightened mother, and decides to stop Sam by himself. The mother enters the house to get something, and the kids take off after Jed the second she leaves.

The kids meet up with Jed, who has managed to grab a pistol. They tell him that Uncle Sam won't harm them, and that they would ensure Jed's safety by going with him. Oh yeah? Well what about Mom, you little dipwads? who's going to protect her from Sam?

They enter the house again, only to nearly die at the hands of Louise, who has a huge kitchen knife. Jed gives her his gun, then wanders into the kitchen to call the police. As he dials the number(on a rotary phone! Do people even still have these anymore?), Jed spots the Sam mask nearby. He turns to face the undead killer, and they accuse each other of being bad soldiers.

As Louise and the kids wait for Jed to finish his call, his body comes flying into the living room. He's still alive, and Jed gets out of the way to watch as Sam confronts Louise. After he tries to get her to admit to infidelity, she shoots the zombie several times to no avail.

Jody urges Jed to get the cannon, and Jed leaves to set it up. Before he leaves, though, he suggests that they get to safety and find "Sally". Who is Sally? Wait, is she Louise's sister? With about 10 minutes of film left, did we finally discover her name? Wow.

Jody is left alone in the house to confront his uncle. Sam tells the boy that he came back from the dead to be with him, but that Jody would need to die to be like him. As Jody continues to talk to him, the scene shifts back to Jed, who attaches the cannon to the back of his pickup, and speeds back to the house with it.

Jody tells Sam that he worshipped him as a hero, but that was before Sam started murdering other Americans. The zombie replies that they all needed to pay for his untimely death, and that his cause is just. Blah, blah, blah. This dialogue is just as bad as the melodramatic motives that the killer had in Scream 3.

When Jed and Barry return with the cannon, Jody lures his undead uncle out of the house. He tells Jed and Barry that he wants to be with Sam, and Barry encourages Jed to light the cannon's fuse. At the last moment, Jody leaps out of the way, and is knocked off of his feet by the fiery explosion caused by the impact of the cannonball hitting Sam.

They all look back at the flames and wreckage(from 1 cannonball?!?), and Sam keeps on coming their way. Jody tries to crawl to safety while Jed loads the cannon again. The fuse refuses to light at first, but he eventually gets it working, just as a charred and blazing Sam reaches for his nephew.

The second blast from the cannon takes Sam completely off of his feet. He flies backward into the house, and a series of explosions catch the place on fire. Great. Jody went from being stalked by a zombie, to being homeless. Great plan! Barry and Jed both celebrate their victory, but Jody doesn't seem so sure that they finished Sam off.

In the aftermath of the fire, Jody throws out most of his army toys, into a burning trash can. His mother watches from the porch. He burns the last of the war toys, then turns and stares at his mother with an odd expression. As he gives her an evil smile, the image shatters like glass. During the credits, a creepy poem is read, then the credits end with the guy on stilts in a blooper scene. THE END

Well, I've seen worse....that's damning it with faint praise, huh? It would have been interesting to see what they could have done in a sequel. Maybe a female in the military could have been killed, and Uncle Sam could have made her his own "Betsy Ross" or something. Like the suggestion for a sequel to Dr. Giggles would have been "Nurse Giggles". Come on Hollywood writers! Start getting those scripts written!

Also,they should have had Sam use more military- and holiday-themed one-liners when killing his targets. Stuff like, "Drop dead, and give me 20!", or "War isn't Hell, I am!" would have given the film much more personality. Oh and 2 trees out of 5, mostly for the late kills, which were fairly decent. But it

And what did I learn from Uncle Sam?

-Zombies breathe a lot, especially when chasing their victims.

-Zombies can mingle with crowds of people, and only children will notice. Especially blind kids.

-Cannons are a zombie's only weakness. Well, that and the thought of banging their widows.

My next movie is one that scared the crap out of me as a kid, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, See you next week!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mind Hunters

Today's SAW sounds like it should be great....several recognizable stars, plenty of action, a director known for fun action films...what could possibly go wrong? Ladies and gentlemen, I answer that question with 2 simple words: Mind Hunters. Time to get SPOILED....

The first scene shows us a woman drowning and screaming. The water then becomes rain, which is running down the glass of a car window. A blond woman is sleeping in the car, as someone furtively approaches the vehicle. He runs his gloved hand over the frame of the car, then draws trails on her window with his finger. Luckily she wakes up at this point, and he(Christian Slater) cheerfully asks for a ride.

They're both in law enforcement. He was questioning an old couple about some missing girls, and she was searching for clues under her own eyelids. Clever, these two. As they go over the details of the case, they spot a remote house that they hadn't noticed before, and decide to check it out.

There's a brief but amusing bit where Slater's character starts imitating some bobblehead dolls out of sheer boredom. This time, the female investigator gets to ask questions. Yay. No one answers her knock at the door, but she finds some spray paint cans and a car that matches the vehicle of the suspect around the side of the house. Hmmmm....

She rushes back to her partner to report that they have the case nearly solved, then they both hear a bloodcurdling scream from the house. They call in for back-up, then decide to go in alone anyway. The female cop finds a room filled with the hanging corpses of many animals. Mostly dead cats, but I also spotted a horse head(bookend?...go watch Student Bodies to get that joke... :) ) and a dog or wolf ), and other animals in the room.

The Christian Slater character(why don't they have names at this point?) scares the willies out of his partner, then they hear more noises coming from further down the hall. They head down a staircase and find corpses in the basement. They also find evidence suggesting that the killer might have shot himself, just as another tall figure rushes in behind them. He raises a knife over his head and stabs the female cop in the shoulder, while the male cop tries to save her. She dies, the male cop dies, and the suspect also gets killed in the mayhem. Wait, was this a 5 minute film?

Then, after a momentary pause, things start to buzz, lights come up everywhere, and they all sit up. It was a roleplaying simulation. Sheesh. The killer tells them that he thought they would never arrive, then tells someone named Harris that he's hungry. It turns out that they're all Feds.

"Harris" refers to Jake Harris, played by Val Kilmer. He's in charge of the "mind hunters", a slang term for the F.B.I.'s profiler division. Both of the agents we met earlier were on a training exercise, and now have names: Sara and J.D., which makes this the second or third time a Christian Slater character has had that name in a movie. Weird. Is he going for some kind of world record?

Anyway, Harris lectures them about being more vigilant and aware of their surroundings, and tells Sara that the perimeter isn't secured until they're driving back home. Harris even goes a step further, listing all of the details about the second killer that they missed seeing. Then JD implies that roleplaying exercises are pointless.

Back at the FBI academy, Harris delivers some fun facts about killers: For example, most murders are committed by people that know their victims, and most murders that are not solved in 48 hours are often unsolved.

As he wraps up the class, Harris tells the young profilers that he's taking them to an island called Oneiga, where they will be tested as a team. As the class wraps up, Sara asks how she and JD could have possibly saved the "hostages" in their last training exercise. Harris responds that they couldn't have, the simulation was designed to get them used to failure.

That night, most of the trainees decide to go out drinking, before their big journey in the morning. At a nightclub, they make a game out of trying to profile various party goers. The first trainee, Bobby, makes up a story about an attractive blond at the bar, based on nothing more than her appearance and the items sticking out of her purse. Another trainee, Nicole, adds a detail about cigarettes, but the group votes her down, on the basis that she recently quit smoking, giving her some bias.

Then Bobby and a fellow student named Lucas place a bet over how long it would take to get the blond girl's phone number. As Bobby heads to the bar to make his move, the profiling game continues. A British student named Rafe sees a well-dressed man at the bar, and guesses that he's a hit with the ladies. This is disproved when the man's boyfriend arrives, and they kiss.

After the profilers finish laughing at how wrong Rafe was, and Bobby wins the bet, Lucas reveals that he paid the blond to go along with whatever Bobby said to her. Yet another trainee, Vince, is busy drawing on a napkin. He seems to be angry about the way Harris keeps putting them these roleplaying simulations, then he tells Sara that he saw a note in his file that implied that Harris wasn't going to pass him for the course. Vince also tells Sara that Harris failed her for the course. Whoops!

The next morning, the students find a helicopter waiting for them. Harris welcomes them, then introduces one more guest for the island: Detective Gabe Jenson, played by LL Cool J. He's a cop from Philly, not an agent, so his presence is somewhat of a mystery.

As the copter approaches the island, Harris reveals that Navy SEALS use it for training during the week, but that he gets to have access to the facility on the weekends. Harris then tells them all to prepare to be dropped out of the chopper on wires, but that it was a joke. Wow. Hilarious.

The island is set up to look like any American city, as long as it's a city from 1955. Harris refers to the mock city as Crimetown, USA. As he shows his students the layout of Crimetown, Harris also mentions that one more guest has to arrive: thew killer, known as The Puppeteer. He's "killed 2 people already in Crimetown, and there's soon to be a third victim. But he wants them to have the night to themselves first, then start their search in the morning. Oh, and he promotes JD as the team leader.

They decide to go looking for the living quarters, and pass by several enclosed tanks of water. Gabe asks what the Navy uses them for, and is told that the tanks help divers assimilate to Arctic temperatures. Then they find several rubber duckies left behind by the Navy. The ducks have nerdy glasses drawn on their faces, and are marked as "FBI". Boy, I sure hope I don't die from my sides splitting with laughter. Or boredom, from the complete lack of ANYTHING HAPPENING.

Inside, they are shown state-of-the-art computers and lab equipment to use during the weekend. Gabe asks Harris what the point of putting them on an island is, and Harris replies that, by being isolated, they'll be able to think like the killer. Then Harris abruptly leaves.

That evening, they prepare a huge feast, and generally just have a party. Rafe comes out of the elevator in a Hawaiian shirt, claiming that he was told to "dress for an island". Boy, those writers sure know a good joke when they see one. I just hope at least one they saw got into the script.

JD and the others try to ask Gabe about what he does as a cop but he clams up, so they decide to profile him instead. According to their observations, Gabe is a guy who has issues with his parents, difficulty with relationships, and a need for everything around him to be in order. Gabe replies that their analyses tell him more about each of them than vice versa. Fun group.

Later that night, Lucas finds Sara sitting out by the "duck pond", looking all glum. She warns him not to push her into the cold water, and he replies with some nonsense about feeding the ducks. When she reveals that she won't graduate with the rest of them, Lucas tells her that his parents were both killed when he was 10. He reveals that it hardened him, and he took up, smoking, drinking, fast cars, and even faster women. Then he ruins the moment by saying, "Then I turned 11..." Stop trying to be funny, movie. It's just getting sad now.

Anyway, his story about his parents had a point. You don't get over your worst fears, you just continue to face them head-on. Deep, man. Which fortune cookie was that in?

The scene ends, and we see someone inside moving through the dark hallways, as Christian Slater is showering. Great, our first nude scene, and it's Christian Slater. was this thing directed by David Decoteau, by any chance? No? Good, then let's move on.

JD hears or senses the person walking around and turns, but no one is behind him. As he starts to relax, sexy Nicole pops up on his other side, revealing that they have a discreet relationship going on. Oh, and then they start screwing like bunny rabbits after Easter. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but shower-sex always seems like it would more dangerous than sexy, what with all the soap and slippery porcelain. Now TUB SEX....that sounds like a fun time for everyone!

Where was I? Oh right....Mind Screwers. The next sequence showcases some of the characters displaying their own hangups...Bobby, for example, sees the light over his bed flickering and buzzing, and can't resist tinkering with it. And Rafe is seen bouncing a rubber ball into the wall over and over again, in an annoying way. Oh, and Gabe, who already seems pretty isolated from the others, is seen out by the dock, just standing around in the dark.

Oh, and here's another nitpick I have with this frigging movie: Cats. They're everywhere. I'm assuming that they're all stray, but it's a FUCKING ISLAND!!! What, did they all don little kitty swim trunks, or scuba wetsuits, or something equally dumb? Seriously, when you see cats shoe-horned into a movie like this, it only means one thing: there's going to be a stupid jump-scare, probably involving a cat leaping out of the shadows at someone. You know what? This movie is starting to make some of the clunkers I've seen look fairly decent.

The following morning, Sara sees a dead cat hanging in the shower, nearly scaring her to death. So wait, just to be clear: She failed to notice the thing when she entered the bathroom, and even started brushing her teeth before seeing a dead cat? I think this movie is giving me dain bramage, as punishment for trying to make any sense out of it at all.

The others hear her screaming, and they all rush in. Good thing she wasn't on the crapper! JD moves in for a closer look, and finds a broken watch in the mouth, with the time showing 10 o'clock.

They all ponder over what it means, and decide that it's their first clue. They also speculate that the watch could mean 1 or 2 things: It's either a sign that something will happen at 10, or the killer has a thing for watches and/or time itself.

They get dressed and head outside to begin exploring for more clues. JD tells them to split into pairs, and make some noise if anyone finds another clue. Bobby and Rafe are the first pair shown, and they head into the local coffee shop. Once inside, Rafe immediately plays around with a mannequin, calling it "Little Bobby", and proclaiming him to be an all-American. As Bobby tells Rafe that he is warped and should seek help, Rafe whispers to the mannequin that he doesn't need a shrink, but someone in the group definitely does. Interesting...

The next pair consists of JD and Lucas, who are exploring a mocked-up house. There's rotting food on the table, as well as worm-covered mannequins. Their scene abruptly grinds to a halt, and we next see Sara and Nicole as a team, then Vince and Gabe, who each seem to desire to be working as individuals. When Vince passes by a window, he sees another clue, and shouts for everyone to check out what he found.

It turns out that he found a crime scene. There's a dead woman(mannequin), bloody in several areas of her body, and with wires through all her limbs. I'm going to go ahead and boldly predict that this is the work of The Puppeteer.

They all come to the same conclusion, which leads me to believe that I should apply to be a profiler. JD starts describing the crime scene into a tape recorder, As each team member is assigned to a different task, a radio starts up, and begins blaring some kind of novelty song for kids. JD moves to turn off the annoying tune, and sets off a chain reaction: dominoes start toppling, wires get triggered, things turn on and get the idea.

The chain reaction ends with a tank of liquid nitrogen being turned on, turning JD into a cop-sicle. As the others watch in horror, he dies pretty much instantly. Of course, everyone freaks out, and accusations are thrown in every direction.

They bring JD's body back to the lab, and discover that someone has been there, and has left them 2 new clues. One is a book, the other is another broken watch, with the time reading a half hour from the current time. Plenty spooked, they rush to the boat to leave the island.

As they get onto the dock, the boat explodes. Sara is unlucky enough to be thrown into the water by the blast, and she goes into some kind of catatonic shock. Lucas dives in after her, and pulls Sara out, resisting all offers to help.

Back on dry land, Gabe lets his cop instincts kick in, and starts to question them all about Harris. While they all agree that his simulations and tests are pretty kooky, they also have a hard time believing that he would actively try to kill them.

As Gabe continues to push his theory, Vince "pulls a gun out of his ass". as one character puts it. Vince tells them that he carries his weapon at all times, especially since being confined to a wheelchair.

They head back to the main building, and break out some infrared goggles to scan the island. Meanwhile, Sara stays behind to stitch up some of the wounds Lucas received, because he was the closest to the bomb when it went off.

That evening, everyone except Lucas has gathered to share their theories about who wants them dead. The chat quickly becomes heated, as everyone seems to be accusing everyone else of murder. They all whip out their guns, then Lucas runs in, holding a bunch of papers.

The papers turn out to belong to Gabe. Not only does he have maps of the entire island, but he also has dossiers on each and every member of the team. As Gabe tries to explain himself, Lucas points his gun at Gabe's face, and a few of the other guns begin to point at both of the men.

Gabe stands up, then crashes to the floor. One by one, the others do the same, even Lucas. Apparently, the coffee was tainted with a strong sedative...but how did it affect Lucas, if he was searching rooms while the rest were drinking the stuff? Hmmm.....

They wake up many hours later, groggy and back in the mode where they all bicker like old ladies and accuse each other of doing stuff. Well, everyone except Rafe, who still seems to be passed out. As they sit him up, his head stays on the table, but his body continues the trip. Yup, the British goofball was decapitated. Oh, and completely drained of most of his blood.

That leads into the group suddenly noticing a series of numbers on the wall, written in what is probably Rafe's blood. Also, there are 2 watches left behind this time, implying that 2 people are soon to die. Now THIS is starting to shape up to feel like a good slasher flick!

Still wary of Gabe, they bring him into a bathroom, and cuff him to a toilet, near the floor. While they question him, Gabe confesses that he's not really a cop from Philly, but actually an agent with the Department of Justice. He claims that he was given the cop identity as a cover, and sent to investigate claims that Harris was a loose cannon with his training methods.

Obviously, they have a hard time buying his story. Lucas decides that they should look for the next trap, since it's set to go off in 15 minutes. He leaves Vince in charge of guarding Gabe, and both men just sit and glare at each other.

Sara and Bobby are left to examine the numbers and figure out what they represent, while Nicole and Lucas head out to look around the fake town some more. This leads to a montage, showing everyone tearing apart the town to look for anything out of place. Light fixtures, cigarette machines, stored food items....nothing goes unnoticed.

Then we go back to the stupid numbers. Sara theorizes that they could represent a measurement of something, but everyone else draws a blank. Then it hits her: since the killer is obsessed with time, the numbers must have something to do with time. They examine the numbers again, and Bobby announces that one set of numbers seems to be the speed of light.

Being the kind of dumbasses who know that the killer likes to set elaborate traps, they conclude that they should switch off the lights. Again, dumbasses, with a capital DUH. Turning off the light reveals nothing at first glance, so they use one of those UV light-thingies to see if anything glows in the dark.

Bingo! On their backs the killer has painted letters. The team has trouble making any sense out of it, perhaps because they never thought to check to see if Gabe or Vince had any letters written on them. If I were Harris, I'd flunk 'em all at this point.

Anyway, this whole scene is pretty much pointless. Thus, we head back to check in on Gabe and Vince. They both hear a noise down the hall, so Vince draws his gun and decides to check it out. Good for him.

He sees 2 of the light fixtures begin to spark, then both fall toward the ground, dangling on their cords. At the same time, a water pipe bursts, and the floor quickly becomes electrified. Vince manages to grab an overhead pipe and hoist himself out of the wheelchair, just as the water reaches his location. Good thinking, except that now he's dangling right over the water, with no easy escape route.

Gabe asks Vince to throw him a gun, and points out that Vince and he are both likely to die if he doesn't do it. After a brief dispute, Vince gives in. He tosses his gun to Gabe, who shoots the chain on the handcuffs, then shimmies along a ceiling pipe to the doorway. So far, so good.

In the doorway, he aims the gun in the direction of Vince, but ends up shooting evenly placed holes in a nearby wall. Using these newly created holes for his hands and feet, Gabe starts to make his way over to Vince, like a rock-climber. By this time, the others have heard the gunshots, and are on their way as well.

Gabe slips a bit here and there, but gets close to a fusebox. Vince, for the most part, is slowly slipping from the pipe he's been holding on to for dear life. The group upstairs finally get to the basement, just as Gabe finds the power and shuts it off. He and Vince both fall onto the wet floor, unharmed. Then Gabe and Lucas have a brief staring contest, and exchange a few less-than-friendly words.

With everyone safe once more, Bobby sees how it was all rigged together. As he reaches the mechanism to switch off the water and explain how it works, he triggers another trap. A steel-tipped arrow flies at Bobby, going right into his neck.

Lucas moves forward to examine the body, then becomes enraged. He turns to the group, daring any one of them to try to kill him next. Nicole speaks up, claiming that Lucas had earlier announced that he shut off the water supply. He counters with an accusation that it was her who neglected to do the task.

Anyway, everyone goes back to the lab to decipher the letters. With all of the letters now in front of them, they all take a stab at guessing what the message could be. Vince finally announces that it spells "CROATOAN", a word that was found after an early American settlemernt on Roanoke Island mysteriously vanished. Okay, time for another rant.

Vince has to explain that story to the entire group? With the exception the British guy and possibly Nicole, the rest should know the story. It's basic US History 101. Gabe even declares that he's troubled that Vince would know the story, as if it's some deeply covered-up incident or something. Which it's not.

The basic legend, for those of you who have never taken a 3rd grade US history class, is simple: A group of settlers formed a colony on Roanoake Island, and a small contingency went back to England for more supplies. When they returned, the entire colony had vanished, some even leaving uneasten plates of food out, implying that their disappearance was almost instantaneous. The only clue was the word CROATOAN carved into a nearby tree.

Anyway, this legend about mass disappearances has no bearing on anything else in the friggin' movie, so forget the last couple of scenes. I already have. Instead, the investigators break open a bunch of evidence kits, and start playing CSI....Crude, Stupid Investigation. Then we get one of those pointless "evidence collecting" montages that are in every single episode of CSI. Think it's dull to watch actors dust for print and tap keyboards on television? Try watching the same thing in a movie.

Anyway, the montage finally thuds to a halt, and the Inspector Clouseau Squad decides to get blood samples from everyone, to try to match some dried blood that was discovered under a corpse's fingernail. That gives us a "blood sample" montage! Okay, so every time they pad this movie with a montage sequence, drink some Red Bull. If your heart hasn't exploded by the end of the movie, congrats!

So they sit around while the blood samples are analyzed by the computer. Nicole whines about wanting a cigarette, then Gabe and Lucas decide to throw more accusations at each other. Can't we all just get along??? As the test is finishing up, everyone puts their gun on the table. Even Vince has his taken away. When the results come back, the fingernail sample turns out to belong to...


Yup, Sara.

The others all snatch up their guns again, and Sara is forced to lay on the ground. She insists that the killer is someone else, and Lucas questions what her motive would be for murder. Vince reveals that she wasn't going to graduate, and the others all decide that she decided to kill out of a need for vengeance.

Lucas keeps insisting that she couldn't be the killer, and Vince continues to goad her with the gruesome details about the murder of her sister(which supposedly warped her into killing, I guess). Gabe puts an end to it by having her brought to a secure room for an interrogation, as the rest look for the next trap. Seriously, Sara can't be the killer. The killer is supposed to be some kind of genius, and I can barely picture Sara chewing her own food without assistance of some kind.

Gabe asks Sara about the next trap, but she keeps insisting that she doesn't know anything. THAT I believe! Nicole rushes at her and delivers a nice, melodramatic slap across the face, and Sara accuses her of being the killer.

Nicole grabs a gun, and announces that she's going somewhere to get away from the group. After she makes her kooky exit, Gabe tries to question Sara again. He points out that that the FBI does rigorous screenings to weed out potential nutcases from training, then wonders if her specialized skill is fooling everyone into thinking that she's sane.

Sara suddenly has a flash of inspiration, based on what Gabe said. She realizes that each team member has a specific personality trait, and that each victim died as a resulkt of that trait. JD, for instance, was always the leader-type, and was killed simply because he was in front of the others at the first staged crime scene. Bobby's death came about because he always had to tinker with and fix things. Rafe supposedly died because of his weakness for coffee(although since they all got knocked out in that scene, the logic is a little iffy.), and so on.

As you might expect, this scene ends abruptly, just as we're finally learning something about the killer. We see Nicole next, getting frustrated at a vending machine. She sees a pack of cigarettes that apparently fell out of a vending machine, and decides to grab them.

Sara and the others all list their various strengths and weaknesses, and Sara suddenly realizes how Nicole is about to be killed. We see Nicole light up a cigarette. She takes a puff or two on it, then it burns up rapidly, causing her to gasp in pain and drop the cigarette on the ground.

As Nicole stares down at the cigarette, she also sees that the burn caused her hand to bleed. When she puts her finger to her lips, she sees that they are also bleeding. The others find her, but now her face is bleeding, and smoke is coming out through her neck as the corrosive substance in the cigarette burns through her lungs and flesh.

After witnessing Nicole's painful death, the last few survivors return to the lab. They all start to accuse each other of being the killer, then the intercom system kicks on. After some feedback, they all hear Harris asking, "Are you having fun?"

That sends the four of them into an uproar. The handcuffs are removed from Sara's wrists, and they devise a plan to split up, to try to find Harris before he finds them. Gabe, being a total dick, handcuffs Vince's wheelchair to a desk. Before she leaves the lab, Sara tells Vince to find a remote place to hide, and to not reveal it to her. Then she also leaves. Oh, and to cap it all off, Sara gave Vince an empty gun. Y'know, just for this scene, I hope he ends up as the only survivor.

Harris continues to tease them, but just keeps saying the same stuff over and over again. Then we see Vince crawling along the floor, until he reaches the freezer where the previous victims are being stored. He manages to get it open, and crawls in to hide at the far end of the tiny enclosed space.

He finds Rafe's body, and takes his gun. Instead of just using the other man's gun though, Vince removes the ammo clip and pops it into his own gun. Geez, talk about doing things the hard way! Just use another guy's's not like he needs it back! Plus all that stupid fiddling with the guns gave the door time to swing shut, effectively trapping Vince in the freezer.

Gabe, Sara and Lucas all apparently decided to stay together, which makes them even bigger a-holes for leaving Vince behind. I hope the stray cats eat 'em all. They walk into the diner where The Puppeteer's first victim was found, and Harris seems to be getting louder. They somehow discover a large trapdoor in the floor, and it seems that the voice is coming from the room within.

They find Harris, and he's waaaay past dead. He's been hung up just like the first "puppet", and he was apparently recorded by the killer before he died. That explains all of the repetition, as the recording must be on a loop.

As they approach the body, they see a videotape playing the last words of Agent Harris. Right behind him, you can clearly see Lucas watching him. D'oh! I think we just cracked the case, Columbo!

Another dumb novelty song starts up, and Harris begins to "dance", as the wires holding him up pull on his limbs. They shoot the player to shut down the music, then Gabe and Lucas aim their guns at one another. As they try to psyche each other out with about a hundred cop movie cliches, the lights go out.

All three of them rush outside, then have the silliest shootout in movie history. The blow away mannequins, street signs, car name it, these 3 shot at it, thinking it was a person. Apparently, gun owners don't need to have a high IQ to carry firearms.

Lucas shouts a warning to Sara, and Gabe implies that what he said made no sense. After several more inanimate objects are needlessy slaughtered, Sara screams at the 2 men to stop shooting. They do, but when Lucas steps out of hiding, Gabe fires a round into his chest.

Gabe walks past Sara's hiding place(under a car), and stands over Lucas, who is struggling to breath. Gabe says something like, "That's the price you pay for being fearless," then watches Lucas take a final gasp.

Gabe then remembers Sara. He turns around, calls her name in a creepy singsong voice, and begins to hunt her down. He sees a bus nearby, and enters it to search through the mannequins. He spots her jacket, but she placed it over a dummy to create a diversion, while she took off back toward the lab building.

Speaking of that building, Vince is still in the freezer. He has managed to push Rafe off of the metal table he was resting on, and Vince has hoisted himself up on that same table. Using the butt of his gun, he manages to hit the lever for the freezer door, and it swings open again. Yay for the smart guy everyone abandoned!

He crawls through the hallway, stopping every so often to listen for signs that the killer might be around. Then Vince makes his way to the elevator, which apparently works even in a power outage. He drags himself into the elevator, then goes down to the basement level. Nope, nothing there.

He then crawls back into the elevator, but the door remains open. As Vince waits for it to close, he hears someone approaching, then sees their shadow looming on the wall. As the elevator door starts to slide shut, Vince fires his gun. The gun jams, and the chamber mechanism flies backwards, going through his face. Farewell, Vince.

Sara finds Vince, and then Gabe scares the ever-loving crap out of her(and me)! They once again try to out-psyche each other. When that proves to be pointless, Gabe just lifts her and throws her through some glass. He then starts whaling on her, until Lucas leaps out of the dark to whack him with a cane or stick. Turns out he was wearing a kevlar vest.

They crash through every door and window imaginable, before Gabe finally gets the stuffing knocked out of him. Lucas limps his way back to Sara, who immediately begins to treat his various wounds.

As she applies first aid, Sara tells Lucas that she tricked the killer. she went through the building and moved all of the clocks back by 15 minutes, just to see if he would notice and change them back. Lucas asks her how they can ever prove that it was Gabe, and she reveals that she covered the clocks in the same luminescent substance the killer used to leave them the letters earlier.

She lifts one of Gabe's hand, and runs the UV light over it, but there's no glow. Nothing on the other hand either. Puzzled, Sara backs away from the unconscious man, and sees one of Lucas' hands glowing.

He tells her that the story about his parents was true, but that he killed them. When he got away with it, he decided to continue killing, making the deaths more and more elaborate. When he made the choice to join the FBI, he saw an opportunity to study his classmates, learn their weaknesses, then kill them with their weaknesses as the catalyst.

Sara tumbles down some stairs to escape, and there's a brief chase. Lucas catches her, of course, then throws her into the pool that was used by the Navy. They fire guns at each other underwater, and the chase resumes. As they both swim back to the surface, Lucas gets the idea to hold his gun out of the water, and wait for Sara to come up for air. She does the same, and they wait. Apparently the guns are waterproof now.

Lucas resurfaces first, and fires a shot at where Sara should be. But she stayed underwater, and while Lucas's bullet misses, she gets a hit on him.. The both scurry to exit the pool, only to have yet another face-off, which would make another good drinking game for this movie: Drink whenever they have a montage. Drink whenever someone draws a gun on someone else. Drink whenever the movie attempts to have a sense of humor. We'd all be dead, or in comas.

Anyway, Lucas tells Sara that he worked meticulously to pin the murders on her. Blood and hair samples, using her gun to match ballistics, her fingerprints left at very crime scene. Then they see a watch get thrown in their vicinity.

It;s Gabe! Somehow he survived, and decided to rescue Sara instead of murdering her. He fires a bullet into Lucas's forehead, and they watch the killer die. Then they get rescued, and Sara hopes that she'll someday still get to be a profiler. THE END

Wow, I haven't seen so many good actors in such a bad film together since, I don't know, the Nightmare On Elm Street remake? The Prom Night remake? What a waste of a potentially interesting idea. Horrible. 1 killer tree, just for at least having a few good actors in it.

And what did Mind Hunters teach me?

-Well, if you have a dominant personality quirk, expect a serial killer to come after you.

-Best place to conceal a weapon? Your ass.

-Cats love to swim.

My next film is a slasher called Uncle Sam, about a disgruntled soldier zombie. It sounds like a John McCain biography. See you!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dr. Giggles

This time, we have a classic from the early 1990's, Dr. Giggles. It's a pretty vicious movie, and I was always amazed that they never did a sequel or follow-up of any kind. Anyway, get ready for SPOILERS, and let's watch this one together...

The movie begins with a pretty nifty credit sequence following various blood cells through a body. It's similar to the same opening credits for Jason X....anyone out there know if any other slasher films do something like this in the opening?

Anyway, there's a muffled voice speaking as we travel through someones bloodstream, and then an incision reveals Dr. Giggles looking into a man's open chest. He's describing what he's doing as he performs his "surgery", and the patient is revealed to be a corpse in a suit, who was apparently killed so that Dr. Giggles could "perform" surgery. Pretty demented, right off the bat. He goes on to point out that the patient just died from a heart attack.

Some real doctors show up, revealing that Dr. Giggles is a genius, but also a maniac. By the time they find the body he cut open, Dr. Giggles has already moved on. He has, in fact, moved to the lobby, where he sneaks up behind a pretty nurse/receptionist to rub her shoulders. She thinks that he's the dead man, Dr. Phillips, until she turns and sees that Dr. Giggles was using the severed arms of the doctor to massage her. She screams, he giggles, and the whole thing goes out over the PA system.

The real doctors prepare to leave the surgical area, but they hear more giggling. It turns out that Dr. Giggles released all of the patients, and several are watching from the observation deck above the surgery. As the staff reacts in horror, the loony patients laugh even louder at them.

Then Dr. Giggles turns on the microphone for the intercom system. He announces in a soft voice that "laughter is the best medicine". then we see a doctor leaving the facility. He takes out his employee card to swipe it at the electronic security gate, but Dr. Giggles grabs his arm from outside of the car. He then swipes the card with a bloodstained glove on his hand, and there's no sign of the doctor he stole the card and the car from.

A map shows him heading to a town called Moorehigh. Then we see the town itself, which looks like something out a film from 1950. Teens are swarming out of the local high school, including 2 of our main characters, Jennifer Campbell and Max Anderson. She's played by the rather fetching Holly Marie Combs(best known as one of the sisters on Charmed), and he's portrayed by the late Glenn Quinn, who we watched in that RSVP movie a while back.

They kiss, and Max tells Jen that she landed a job for the summer at the local paper. When they lock lips again, their friends show up to discuss a summer party they're all going to attend. There's another familiar face in the cast now....Doug E. Doug, a pretty funny actor who has been in numerous sitcoms and films. He was the only thing I enjoyed in Billy Cosby's last sitcom, the guy just makes me laugh.

As they leave school grounds, Max swoops in for a kiss, but Jen gives him an abrupt brush-off, leaving him looking hurt and confused. Then Jen goes to an appointment with her doctor. Jen apparently has a heart condition, but the doctor tells her not to worry too much about it.

Then we see a decrepit old house, washed out and grey. Inside, Dr. Giggles breaks down a wall with either a lug wrench or a crowbar, revealing that the wall was built to hide a doctor's office. Strange....

Jen walks home, and glances up at the old house Dr. Giggles is in. She walks a little bit faster, then hears Dr. Giggles hammering away at the walls inside the house. The distraction nearly makes her collide with her nasty neighbor Mrs. Henderson, and her small dog, Cheap Jump-Scare.

Mrs. Henderson starts to get nosy, asking Jen about the little heart monitor she has looped into her jeans, asking if it's a radio. Jen decides to be vague, and continues to walk home. Mrs. Henderson makes face, and I swear that she looks like one of the guys from The Kids In The Hall, playing one of their drag characters. Yeesh. She's the gorilla my dreams, I know that much!

Finally arriving at her house, Jen tells her father about her appointment, and her dad tries to assure her that her eventual heart surgery will work out fine. We also learn that her mother died, and she hates her stepmother. Gee, that's original. If I had to drink a beer while watching every movie made to see if anyone LIKES their stepmother, I'd be sober as Hell.

Back at Casa de Giggles, our maniac enters the now-revealed office. It was his father's office, a Dr. Evan Rendell. Okay, wait, I'm pausing the movie for a sec...So Dr. Giggles is the son of a doctor Rendell, right? And the shrinks at the facility where he was staying knew about the father....sooooo, why don't they know Dr. Giggles by his real name at the beginning? I mean, sure, maybe for some reason his first name was some kind of mystery, but just call him Mr. Rendell or something. I hate mistakes like that in movies, it's just sloppy writing that would have taken 2 minutes to rewrite.

Rendell finds a picture of his father in a lab coat and carrying a medical bag. That takes us to a flashback, showing the elder Rendell coming home from work one day. He kisses his wife, who whispers to him that their son is in the den.

In the den, Dr. Giggles(Boy Giggles?) has set up a make-believe doctor's office, complete with a crudely made plaque bearing his name and a teddy bear being cut open. As bizarre as this movie is, it's also a frickin' riot-and-a-half. When the boy sees his father standing in the doorway, he rushes over to him and announces that he wants to grow up to be a doctor too. Then, as they leave the den, the camera pans around the room, revealing that the kid has cut open at least 10-15 other stuffed animals, and then sewn them up again. This kid should have been cast as Pugsley in those Addams Family movies.

As the flashback ends, Rendell wipes tears out of his eyes, and promises to get revenge on the townspeople for what they did to the elder Rendell. I hope they eventually tells us what that was.

The happy teens pull up at the Rendell house, planning to have their party inside. Boy, that sounds like a great idea! The party consists of the Doug E. Doug character, Trotter; a drunk party animal named Stu; Leigh, Trotters's girlfriend, and Dianne, Stu's girlfriend. No sign of Jen or Max yet, which seems kind of weird.

So then Trotter starts to tell the story of Dr. Giggles. His dad, who we already saw was a local physician, apparently used a lot of unorthodox and deadly treatments on his patients. After numerous deaths, the town formed a lynch mob, Freddy Krueger-style, and stoned the doctor to death outside his home. The story ends with Trotter claiming that no one ever found his son, which again seems like bad writing. I mean, SOMEONE must have been able to connect the dots between a maniacal doctor's missing son, and the new asylum patient with a violent streak and delusions of being a doctor, right? And again, how do a bunch of local kids know that Dr. Giggles is actually named Evan, if the doctors at the mental hospital couldn't figure it out?

Anyway, Stu begins rapping on the walls, telling the others that Rendell had secret rooms and passages built throughout the house. As he gets Trotter and Leigh to help him find the hollow wall, both Stu and Dianne sneak out to the jeep, after locking the other couple inside the old house. Nice, they just left their friends to die. Jerks.

Trotter injures his shoulder trying to break down the door, and Leigh accuses him of pulling some kind of prank on her. Shen then suggests that if he can get them out, she might have sex with him later. Yeah, right. Get it in writing, Trotter.

When we next see Dr. Giggles, he has on a suit and a lab coat, To complete the look, Giggles also finds his father's pocketwatch and medical bag.He admires himself in the mirror, then promises to make the townsfolk of Moorehigh pay for killing dear ol' dad.

In the dark, Trotter and Leigh hear Dr. Giggles moving from room to room, but assume that Stu must have returned. They call out Stu's name, but when the doctor lets out his trademark giggle, they realize that he isn't Stu. Duh.

They see someone standing right outside the door, so Trotter walks up to the door, and looks through a small opening in it. Trotter then screams, and puts his hands over his eyes, When Leigh rushes over to help him, he shows her that he's was just a dumb prank.

Well, Leigh didn't find it funny, and neither did Dr. Giggles. The killer pushes a long needle through the keyhole, and injects Trotter with some kind of poison. As Leigh accuses him of playing another prank, Trotter coughs up blood and keels over.

The Doctor then enters the room, and draws another syringe of the stuff he injected into Trotter. The sound of Leigh screaming draws the attention of Mrs. Henderson and her attack poodle. She decides to take the dog for a walk, and marches right up to Rendell's front door. You go, man-girl!

She tries yelling at the front door, which achieves nothing, then attempts to look through a boarded-up window to no avail. As Mrs. Henderson turns to leave, she hears someone in the house giggling. I can't imagine who it might be.

She turns back to the house, and freaks out when she sees someone staring at her through a small peephole in the door. She runs away, dragging the dog with her. Dr. Giggles watches her leave, and does nothing but say, "Hmmm...)

The next scene shows us a carnival in full swing. The camera backs up, revealing that the carnival is a ways off, and that a group of teens are parked in what I assume is probably a popular spot for making out. This is where Max and Jen have been all night, swapping spit. As Jen scolds Max about drinking, the local cops arrive to break up the party. Officers MacGruder and Reitz watch and laugh as all of the cars peel away in 90 different directions.

As the cops head out on patrol again, they get a call about a disturbance at Mrs. Henderson's house. MacGruder tells Reitz that most of the 911 calls they get come from her. For her part, Mrs.(Why the "Mrs."? She clearly lives alone....unless she married her dog.)Henderson is in her bathroom, preparing to go to bed. she gets a sleeping pill and a glass of water ready, but hears that damned dog barking again, and decides to check out the commotion first.

After letting the dog into the house, Mrs. Henderson returns to her pill in the bathroom. She doesn't notice it, but the pill changed from a red one to a green one. You would think she'd notice something like that.

She swallows the pill, and jumps into bed, where her throat closes up. As Mrs. Henderson is gasping for air, she falls to the floor and calls 911. She meets Dr. Giggles, who sticks a tongue depressor into her mouth, then shoves a long probe up her nose and into her brain. It pretty much kills her in an instant.

MacGruder and Reitz pull up to the Henderson house, and cautiously walk through the front door. MacGruder tells Reiz the rest of the story about the Rendell family. It seems that the elder Dr. Rendell had a wife with a heart condition. His murder victims were all young women, in the hope of discovering a way to replace his wife's ticker with a healthier one.

The two cops split up, and Reitz fails to hear or see a door just behind him opening up. An old ironing board comes crashing out, giving both men a serious fright. when MacGruder comes running back to the other man's position, they briefly discuss the whereabouts of Evan Rendell Jr., AKA Dr. Giggles, but MacGruder doesn't want to have any in-depth discussion about him.

They approach a staircase, and Reitz claims that he can detect the scent of alcohol. On their way outside, Reitz finds a torn piece of fabric that he thinks is interesting, but MacGruder wants to leave, because he needs to take a whizz.

Back at the carnival, Max convinces Jen to ride the Ferris wheel with him. As they ride, she finally tells him about her heart condition. After Max tells her that he loves her, Jen reveals something else: her mother died in a hospital. Ever since, Jen has had a phobia about hospitals.

After the ride ends, she tells Max that she needs some time by herself. She walks home in the dark, and finds her dad and stepmom screwing like rabbits upstairs. Frustrated, she removes her little cardiac monitor and flings it into a nearby fish tank.

Dr. Giggles approaches her house, but Stu noisily arrives a few houses away, so the killer decides to take him out first. Stu and Dianne sneak past his younger brother, who is in a stupor playing Dr. Mario. A nuke wouldn't distract him.

In his bedroom, Stu hands his girlfriend a slinky negligee. she returns the favor by giving him a condom. As they each start to undress in different rooms, Dr. Giggles walks through the front door, right past Kid Nintendo. Then we get the all-important "dressing up for sex" montage.

Stu drops the condom in the toilet while trying to put it on, and uses someone's toothbrush to fish it out. As he's doing that, Dianne decides to check herself out in a bedroom mirror. She loudly announces that she's ready, but Stu is still busy trying to get the condom. I feel sorry for whoever uses that toothbrush.

Dianne starts to feel cold, so she leaves the bedroom to check the thermostat. As she adjusts it, Dr. Giggles attacks her. He pushes Dianne against the wall, and rams a thermometer down her throat, then calmly wipes his face when her blood sprays on him.

Stu finally gets the condom back, but throws it away after seeing how soggy it is. He then returns the toothbrush to the holder it was in, puts his cap on backwards, and heads back to the bedroom.

The light are out, so Stu climbs right into the bed. Under the blankets, he comes face to face with Dr. Giggles. The killer brings out a scalpel, and Stu screams loud enough to make even his zombie brother take notice. Then we see Stu's corpse in bed, with a spreading red stain on the sheet covering his crotch. As Dr. Giggles passes the kid playing video games again, he pronounces him, "Terminal", then leaves.

Jen is sitting in her living room, looking at old photo albums. She sees pictures of her parents in happier times, then sees a photo of her prom night with Max, and realizes that she shouldn't keep pushing him away. She grabs her jacket and decides to head back to the carnival to speak with him. The second she exits the house, Dr. Giggles enters through another door. Doesn't anyone in this town believe in locking doors?

Jen's father hears the second door, and assumes it to be his daughter coming home. After his new wife makes some catty remarks, he decides to go check on his daughter. He doesn't find her in her room, but he does find the monitor in the fish tank.

Worried that Jen might be in trouble, her dad starts to get dressed. The new wife makes several bitchy comments about Jen, but that only strengthens his resolve to find her. The evil stepmother stomps into the kitchen to eat something fattening.

At the carnival, Max meets up with a couple of girls who are trying to drive a wedge between him and Jen. they mention a party, and Max decides to go with them to check it out. I'll bet nothing goes wrong.

Jen's stepmom takes her bowl of mystery goop to the bedroom, and begins to smear it all over her vanity mirror. Then she sees the medical bag on her bed, and Dr. Giggles grabs her. He gags the surprised woman, then gets his hand on a tube among his medical equipment. it turns out to be a liposuction hose. He removes her gag, then shoves the hose down her throat. After he removes fat from her body, he cranks the suction, and the tube starts filling with blood.

At the "secret" party, Max is showing one of the girls from the carnival how to play a saxophone. After he explains how it all works, he suggests that she give it a try. She apparently has never seen a musical instrument before, because she gives it a blowjob instead. When she does manage to play a note, it sounds like a rooster in a blender. On the plus side, I suddenly want to be a saxophone.

Stupidity must be sexy, because soon Max finds himself kissing this chick. The other girl who was with them glares at the two, then leaves. It's reassuring to know that at least one person in this movie has standards.

Dr. Giggles goes looking around the house, and discovers the waterlogged heart monitor. That leads to a flashback to his childhood, to the day his mother died of heart failure. His dad sat at her deathbed sobbing, then covered his face and began giggling. As his laughter sounds more and more unstable, the young boy joins in. The flashback ends, and Dr. Giggles vows to save Jen's life. So wait, now he's the hero?

Jen wanders around the carnival, until running into the girl who left the party. Seeing her chance to screw her friend over, the girl offers to show Jen where Max is. Jen interrupts the makeout session, and tells him off, before going back to the carnival.

Dr. Giggles is also at the carnival. He examines a picture of Jen, then scans the immediate crowd. Jen appears and looks scared, but it turns out that she spotted her father in the crowd. She quickly runs into a funhouse to hide for a bit. And then Max shows up. anyone else want to pop up at the carnival? Cujo? Waldo? Bigfoot? Yup, one more person showed up, the girl who lured Max to the party. Oh, and I remember her name now: Coreen.

Jen finds herself in a mirror maze. Max calls her name, but she won't respond at first. Coreen sees Max and tries to get his attention, but she crashes into a glass wall, possibly breaking her nose. Dr. Giggles shows up at her side and giggles.

Jen hears Coreen gasp, and tries to locate Max. She finds a door with an arrow on it, and enters a new chamber. The door, which has a revolving mechanism, revolves to a closed position again. As Jen walks away, the door swivels again, revealing the other girl attached to the door with some type of yellow adhesive.

Jen doesn't scream, but she does back away, unaware that the killer is behind her now. Dr. Giggles scares her, then tells her that the tape over Coreen's mouth is "ouchless". Jen is startled enough to stumble into one of the glass walls, and she crashes through it.

As Jen recovers, Dr. Giggles takes out a syringe with a needle the size of a schoolbus. Max comes to the rescue, but he and Jen have a glass wall between them. She runs to get away from the crazy doctor, but the emergency exit she finds won't open.

As Dr. Giggles gets closer, Jen finally manages to force open the exit. She takes off running, then stumbles toward some trees, and falls into a ditch. She seems unconscious at first, but gets up when the killer gets within a few feet of her position.

She finds herself close to the Henderson house, but of course we know that Mrs. Henderson is dead. Jen doesn't know that though, and she wastes valuable seconds knocking and trying to get in. As Dr. Giggles narrows the gap between them, Jen runs into the street, where a police vehicle nearly demolishes her.

At the police HQ, both Max and Jen explain that a maniac dressed as a doctor is after Jen. Nobody believes him except for Reitz, who proposes that the killer is the presumed-dead son of Dr. Rendell. None of the others cops buy his theory, and he gets demoted to desk duty for the time being.

Out in the hall, Reitz confronts MacGruder about not backing him up. Max hears their conversation, and takes in all the details. The 2 cops move the chat to the locker room, where MacGruder pulls out a bottle of liquor and prepares to launch another flashback our way.

The flashback goes back 35 years, to the night after the elder Rendell was found to be a murderer. The angry vigilante group had already murdered Dr. Rendell, and MacGruder was posted in the morgue, to guard the bodies of all of the victims, Rendell included.

Anyway,in the middle of the night, the cop hears a noise coming from the morgue. He grabs a flashlight to check it out, and hears the sound again: giggling. And it's coming from one of the covered bodies.

He removes the sheet over Mrs. Rendell's corpse, and stares in horror when he sees the dead woman's stomach begin to wriggle and swell. A knife bursts through the corpse's torso, then a pair of bloody hands pop out. Rendell Junior sits up, covered in blood. MacGruder fainted, and the boy was gone when he woke up. The boy even cleaned up the blood, and sewed his mother's stomach together again. The old cop tells Reitz that he kept it to himself, because he knew that no one would believe him.

At Jen's house, the chief of police leaves an answering machine message, letting the family know that Jen is in his custody, and not to worry. He leaves his phone number and details in his message, and Dr. Giggles hears it all. Whoops....

Jen's father arrives home, and goes from room to room, trying to find either his wife or daughter. Or both, I guess. He hears the message on the answering machine, then dials the number the chief gave him. While it's ringing, he hears a message from Dr. Giggles, telling him that he's the new family physician, and that he's standing in the kitchen.

When Dad turns around, Dr. Giggles cuts him with a surgical saw, then makes a crack about sending the family his bill. As he prepares to finish off Jen's father, someone comes in through the front door. It's Macgruder, looking for the family. He calls out their names, and eventually discovers the body of Jen's dad in the kitchen.

Dr. Giggles also finds him though, and stabs him from behind. As Macgruder starts to fall over, he manages to shoot the killer before dying, hitting him under the ribs on the left side. Dr. Giggles wavers between crying and giggling, which is kind of awesome to watch. You gotta give this movie credit for one thing, it's pretty damn funny.

At the hospital, Jen's doctor is running a test. He tells her that it takes about 40 minutes, so the scene switches back to Max and Reitz. The cop turns on his computer to see if he can get any other info about Evan Rendell Jr. Max pulls up a chair to watch.

Dr. Giggles finds a quiet area, and decides to perform surgery on himself. He cuts open the wound, picks up something call a retractor, then uses a suction device to clean up the blood. The entire time he's laughing like a loon. He manages to remove the bullet, then sews himself back up again.

Reitz is still searching for information about the killer, then remembers the piece of cloth he found earlier. digging it out of his pocket, he sees a partial name on it, and connects the cloth to a local mental hospital. Then he finds an APB that was issued 2 weeks earlier, about the maniac killing 3 hospital workers. He rushes to follow up this new lead, and tells Max to stay behind. A second after the cop leaves, Max does likewise.

Posing as Jen's dad, Dr. Giggles calls the police station.He gets them to tell him where Jen is, then heads for the hospital. There, Jen is still having the test done. The machine starts to flatline, and Jen panics. The doctor comes in, and tells Jen that they need to operate immediately on her. Then he turns into Dr. Giggles and exposes her heart with a swift slash of his scalpel.

Dream sequence. Jen wakes up screaming and crying, and her doctor tells her that she was just having a nightmare. He checks the results of the test, and Dr. Giggles stabs him in the back. With the reflexes of a panther, Jen jumps off of the table.

Jen's real doctor crawls a short distance, then stabs Dr. Giggles in the leg. Then the 2 men have a wacky duel, using medical equipment instead of swords. Dr. Giggles wins the brief fight, then wraps a blood pressure cuff around the other man's neck. He pumps it up until the real doctor is dead, Jen hurries away while her doctor is being murdered, but Giggles catches the girl and injects her with a sedative.

Reitz enters Jen's home, and finds her dad still alive. He confirms that the attacker was a doctor. Then Reitz calls 911. Good idea.

In an empty operating room, the lunatic prepares Jen for surgery. While he's "examining" her, Reitz comes to the rescue. In record time, the cop manages to find the once-hidden office in the basement. He should be the hero in every slasher flick. Of course, then they'd only be 5 minutes long, but still...

Where was I? Oh yeah, so after Reitz finds the secret office, we see Dr. Giggles take the lid off of a metal pail, revealing it to be containing a fresh human heart. It's the size of a Buick. Seriously, it's like he harvested it from King Kong. Oh wait, it's more than 1, that's why.

Reitz finds a door marked WAITING ROOM, complete with a sign proclaiming "The doctor is in"...which reminds me of something. When this movie came to theatres, there were a couple of variations of the teaser posters. 2 that were the most memorable were "The Doctor Is In...sane!", and "The Doctor Is Out...Of His Mind!". Those always cracked me up.

Anyway, the waiting room is filled with corpses. They all have big, gaping wounds where their hearts were removed, and there's a pretty good sight gag, where Trotter's corpse is holding a magazine open. a joke about the amount of time spent in waiting rooms, I'm sure. Cute. This movie needed more sight gags. The condition of the bodies, as well as the odor, makes Reitz barf. Reitz crosses the room to another door, and finds himself in a mockup of a hospital corridor.

Dr. Giggles shows Jen some contraption his father built, and promises to let her be the first patient to try it out. She doesn't exactly look thrilled by the news. As Reitz continues to open doors as slowly as he possibly can, Dr. Giggles is telling Jen that he needs to stop her heart before he can replace it. Yikes! To add to Jen's terror, his machine begins to throw out a shower of sparks. This could get ugly...

True to his word, the mad doctor electrocutes Jen. Damn. The machine causes the lights to go out, but then they kick back on after a second. Reitz sees the light on in the O.R., and rushes in with his gun drawn. Dr. Giggles tosses one of the spare hearts at the cop, which makes him recoil with disgust. Giggles uses the distraction to short out the lights once again, and makes his escape before they come back on.

Reitz sees a door swiveling, and follows Dr. Giggles. When he finds no sign of the killer, he returns to Jen, and blocks the door the killer used with a heavy shelf. Then he resuscitates Jen while Dr. Giggles declares that he's going to "do what docrors do best", ehich leads to a view of some golf clubs. Hey, another funny gag! Why couldn't the whole movie have been filled with this stuff?

Anyway, Reitz gets Jen breathing again, then tells her that she needs to lie still while he goes to get help. The minute he leaves, Jen sits up and tries to go after him. She distracts the cop, and he nearly has a heart attack himself when Max pops up from out of nowhere.

The trio pass through the waiting room with all of the bodies, and Jen sees Dr. Giggles emerge from a hiding spot. He uses the golf club he selected to give Max a good whack, then takes a swing at Reitz. Fore! As the cop and the doc spar, Jen grabs the gun Reitz dropped, and starts to load bullets into it.

She fires a wild shot, and it hits the door. Dr. Giggles gets the pistol away from her, and she pushes him, making his shot go astray as well. Reitz uses the confusion to get up, then makes the maniac chase him.

Jen goes to Max, and helps him to his feet. they start to climb to the first floor of the house, but the old stairs collapse. Meanwhile, the doctor searches for the cop, and finds him hiding behind a table filled with various bottled chemicals. Dr. Giggles fires a shot that manages to spill some of the bottles on Reitz, then sparks a fire that engulfs the unlucky cop.

Dr. Giggles attacks him, and pushes Reitz up against a stretcher. That seemed to be a good idea, because it put out the fire on the officer's back. Let's hear it for bad aim! Hurray!

As Jen and Max decide to see if they can climb the loose wood from the stairs, Dr. Giggles and Reitz strangle each other. Giggles takes out his little saw and plunges it into the other man's back, until blood starts flowing out of the cop's mouth.

Max has managed to get to the ground floor of the house, and he helps Jen by pulling her up. In typical slasher fashion, Dr. Giggles grabs Jen's feet to try to drag her back down. She manages to kick his hands away, and Max gets her the rest of the way up.

Dr. Giggles runs through his underground lair(which is now an inferno), giggling all the way. there's a not-too-subtle view of some oxygen tanks nearby, and the young couple upstairs escape the house just seconds before it blows up.

Jen is rushed back to the hospital, where she now needs the heart surgery because of all the strain she put on her ticker that night. As she gets prepped for surgery, an ominous-looking stream of blood is seen flowing underneath a nearby door. A nurse sees the blood and decides to investigate, leading her to a dead doctor in the hallway. Dr. Giggles grabs her, presumably to steal her scrubs.

Sure enough, he slowly limps into the operating room. When the surgeon asks who he is, Giggles removes his surgical mask, revealing that his face is covered in blisters and scorch marks. He opens his charred bag, revealing several surgical implements that look like medieval torture devices. He then kills the surgeon with one that shoves several prongs into the man's face.

Jen rips away her oxygen mask, and stumbles out of the room. Didn't we do this already? Did I accidentally rewind the movie to the previous sequence? I guess not. Jen hides in an eqipment room, the sees some heart paddles and gets an idea. She backs away from the door, allowing the killer to enter the room and approach her. She then throws several bottles of alcohol at him, and uses the heart paddles to electrocute Dr. Giggles.

Jen walks away from him like she doesn't have a care in the world, which is how you know he's not dead. I swear, they do this in every damn slasher movie. Whatever happened to rushing to a safe place? It's not exactly shocking when he grabs her ankle.

He somehow manages to stand up, and tells her that he doesn't feel well. She replies by telling him to take 2 and call her in the morning--the "2" being a pair of trident-like blades. In yet another funny bit, Dr. Giggles looks into the camera and gasps, "Is there...a doctor in the house?" Then he keels over. Awesome.

In the next scene, Jen is back in a hospital bed, looking a lot like Neve Campbell in the first Scream. I think I just might have a teensy-weensy crush on Holly Marie Combs now. Her dad is at her bedside, also a patient in the hospital. He makes sure that she's okay, then lets Max have some time alone with her. Hands off, Max! She's mine bubba.

Max sits next to her, and they share a kiss. He makes a crack about how it's a heck of a way to spend the summer,then they kiss again. The heart monitor blips a few times. THE END

Well, in spite of a few lapses in logic, this was very entertaining. There was a ridiculously high body count(17, according to the IMDB website), a good group of actors, impressive gore, and some funny material towards the end. All in all, I'm giving it 4 killer trees out of 5. Now get going on a sequel or two. Or 12.

and what did I learn from Dr. Giggles?

-Contrary to popular opinion, laughter is not the best medicine. Laughter kills, man. Laughter kills.*cue up the NBC "The More You Know" logo*

-Liposuction should never be administered orally. Yuck! Same goes for rectal thermometers.

-Nintendo games are a dangerous threat to suburban families. Beware!

Next up is either Mind Hunters or Uncle Sam. This should be a fun week. See you soon!