The Pit (1981)

Lew Lehman

Sammy Snyders - Jamie Benjamin
Jeannie Elias - Sandy O'Reilly
Laura Hollingsworth - Marg Livingstone
Laura Press - Mrs. Benjamin
Andrea Swartz - Abergail

Genre - Horror/Psychological/Cult/B-Movies

Running Time - 96 Minutes

Score - 3 Howls Outta 4

While it's sometimes hard to be a pimp, I think it's even harder to be an outsider within a small community. People of all shapes, sizes, and ages picking on you for being different. You have to make your own friends because no one wants to play with you. Your parents think you have mental problems, especially when you're forced to talk to your stuffed bear about all the problems that are stressing you out. Sometimes you have to take out your frustrations on these people who do you wrong but tricking them into the direction of a massive pit where troll-like creatures live, waiting and hungry for human flesh. Because after all, karma is a bitch and bad people deserve to suffer.


Um, please read my review for 1981's lost cult film, THE PIT, while I up the dosage of my medication.

My younger years were really hard on me mentally and emotionally. Especially elementary school and junior high.


A 12-year-old kid named Jamie (Sammy Snyders) is struggling with his day to day life in a small town. His parents don't seem to understand him, probably due to the fact that he's mildly autistic. His school mates pick on him. His neighbors call him names. Jamie has no friends and spends his time playing with reptiles or talking to his stuffed bear, Teddy, about his problems. Hitting puberty, Jamie has also become quite enamored with the female anatomy and will do just about anything to get a peek of some nice boobs and poontang - to educate himself of course.

Jamie's parents decide to leave town for a while and hire a young housekeeper named Sandy (Jeannie Elias) to watch over him. Jamie becomes infatuated with Sandy, which begins to creep her out. As a matter of fact, Sandy is just the latest housekeeper that has been creeped out by Jamie, to the point where they've never returned for a second visit. Also, Teddy isn't your average bear as he tells Jamie what to do. And usually these things are not exactly good either. Jamie has also found a pit inhabited by trogs, who he has befriended and struggles to feed meat to due to lack of money. But when Teddy advises him that maybe Jamie can feed the "bad people" to the trogs for mistreating him, Jamie decides that killing two birds with one stone may not be a bad idea after all.

I had never heard of THE PIT until recently, intrigued by the poster and one of my cousin's mention of watching it during the 1980s. The premise sounded intriguing and I had never seen it before, so I decided to take a chance on this lost horror flick. And I'm very glad I did because THE PIT turned out to be a pretty complex little terrorizer for such a low budget B-movie. I was not expecting much and got a whole lot from the film in the process. THE PIT is definitely a winner.

The story by Ian A. Stuart is actually more deep than I would expect from a film like THE PIT. For 96 minutes, there's actually several things going on all at once that nicely connect to one another almost seamlessly. The main issue of the film is really about Jamie and his struggle to live a normal life, but for some reason isn't allowed to in his own way. With many clues in the story, it's obvious the evidence points to Jamie having some form of autism. He doesn't connect with people normally. He says and does the wrong things at the most inappropriate times without really comprehending why they're wrong. He lives in his own little world and feels like a total stranger in the much bigger world. He notices certain things most people probably wouldn't notice. The kid obviously has some sort of mental issue going on. Yeah people don't seem to comprehend that and call him "funny" or "clumsy-stupid" just to make sense of it. At times, you wonder what's going on with him is actually happening or in his head. But nope, they're all real and makes sure to do whatever necessary to keep it that way. It's a pretty smart psychological thing going on here that we don't get from most horror flicks, especially those of the 1980s kind.

Speaking of Jamie, we also get his struggle over his blossoming sexuality. He rents out nude art books and cuts out from their pages. He has some sort of lingerie book under his bed. He tries every sneaky attempt to catch a glimpse of Sandy, going under the table to see what's between her legs. He also watches her in the shower or stares at her sleeping to see her exposed breasts. He even manages to scheme one of his neighbors into stripping for him in a false kidnapping ransom plot. Now I think all teenage boys are probably extremely horny and desperate to spread their seed as much as they can. But this kid really takes it a bit too far yet he doesn't understand what the boundaries are in a way. Jamie is obviously not only autistic, but sociopathic as well. Plus there's some mention of Jamie's mom having a REALLY close relationship with the boy, washing him until he's "clean". There's a huge sexual connotation going on in this film.

Obviously, we can say that this film is Freudian in nature. Teddy, Jamie's stuffed bear, is Jamie's id - telling him to do these things without any sort of moral, conscious center. Teddy does what he wants and doesn't care for the consequences. The pit itself could definitely be a symbol for the vagina. Think about it: Jamie's obsession with the pit doesn't really begin until he starts falling for Sandy, wanting to do everything in his power to please those inside this pit. He begins to feed the Trogs [or as Jamie calls them, Tra-la-logs] and when the meat he feeds them is not enough, things start to get worse as he feeds them human flesh. It's as if the meat represents his manhood, as if a certain amount of meat isn't enough and it needs to be bigger and bigger in order to please these trogs. And when the woman he loves learns his secret and suffers because of her greed to spread that knowledge with others, Jamie begins to lose his mind and decides to let the trogs out of the pit, as if to move on to something else. Hey, I could be reading this entirely wrong and it could just be a pit with trogs in it. But I think it's definitely sexual in nature and proof that the scriptwriter was smart enough to give a horror film some depth.

There are some plot holes obviously in the film that just make the movie more sillier than it probably should be. The whole concept of Teddy's character is never truly explained. Like I said, it could be Jamie's id talking to him through the stuffed animal. But there's one scene where the bear actually turns its head by itself without the presence of Jamie. So is Teddy possessed by evil? What's really going on here?

I also don't understand how such a large pit was unnoticed in such a small town for so long. You can't honestly tell me that Jamie was the only one who knew there was a pit there that had trogs living in there. How did those trogs manage to live for so long if they weren't fed by anyone? Not only that, but when Jamie would trick some people to fall into that pit, it was like they couldn't even see it and just fall right in blindly. It's not like the pit was in Jamie's mind because others saw it too. I guess it's just a question of stupidity.

Also, we never know the extent of Jamie's and his mother's relationship. It's brought up and pretty much implied, yet it never goes further than that. Things like that bug me because I feel what's the point in mentioning something serious like that if you won't bother to follow it up.

The direction by Lew Lehman is interesting because he pretty much takes the seriousness out of much of the story, turning it into some sort of campy flick. While he does do an effective job to show Jamie's struggle within his community and the abuse he takes [justifying his actions later on in the process], the way he does it is pretty bizarre. Instead of looking like a misunderstood autistic child, Jamie comes off as some sort of deranged pervert who murders old ladies [in probably the funniest moment in the entire film] and drags live cows in order to feed them to the trogs. It doesn't help that the music is almost something you'd hear from The Waltons, really making serious scenes seem sillier in the process. But Lehman does play the film mostly in a straight-forward manner and never tongue-in-cheek, which does help benefit the film greatly. All the technical stuff is done really well and the film looks great for such a low-budget B-movie from 1981. While the clothes and silly dialogue seem dated, the direction keeps the story timeless. I don't know if Lehman has directed anything else, but THE PIT is definitely a highlight.

Like I mentioned, there are cases of female nudity in the film, mainly breasts. Plus we get some gore at the end when the Trogs begin to feast on some human flesh. It looks convincing enough and is pleasing to the gorehound's eye. Plus the Trog costumes looked pretty good. You don't really see a lot of them really but when you do, they didn't look like vertically-challenged actors dressed in furry costumes. No TROLL 2 bullshit here.

The acting wasn't all that great really, but I felt it actually added to the charm of THE PIT. Sammy Synders is definitely the best actor of the cast as Jamie. He comes across both creepy, yet sympathetic as well. Viewers will either relate to him or think he's the littlest bastard in the world. I honestly related to the kid, even if the things he did were a bit extreme. What ever happened to Synders? Jeannie Elias was good as Sandy, Jamie's object of affection. She played it kind and was convincing in her evolution of realizing that Jamie wasn't exactly the most normal child out there. She had nice chemistry with Synders that bordered on both sweet and extremely awkward. The other actors were either awful or okay, but they were supporting characters that pretty much ended up cannon fodder anyway. So it wasn't too horrible.


- Jamie asked Freddy if he could join his club, but got punched in the face instead. I guess Fight Club isn't looking for new members. Who bloody nose?

- Someone cut out a nude body of a woman out of a photography book. Okay look - I needed something to look at while I was in the bathroom for a long period of time. Educational purposes again, of course.

- Jamie has imaginary friends. Don't we all? I don't write these reviews. Billy does. And Jimmy plays Guitar Hero and Brian does the schoolwork. People say I'm crazy but my friends tell me I'm not. They wouldn't lie to me. They know better...

- The psychiatrist tells lovesick Jamie that their relationship wouldn't evolve into anything more because she's twice his age while washing him in a bathtub. Is this really about Trogs in a pit or the autobiography of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore? I'm just sayin'...

- Jamie tried to literally pull a cow towards the Trog pit to feed them. Well that answers the question of "Where's the beef?"

- Jamie pushed a wheelchair bound old lady into the pit. I guess Trogs will eat anything, even if it's past the expiration date.

- Don't ever engage in playtime with a girl you just met. It'll just lead to pain in the end. And I'm not talking about being eaten by Trogs. I'm talking about marriage. Both are like the same thing, but marriage is more painful. Remember that, kids.

It's been quite a while since I've had real fun with a film, but THE PIT definitely met the quota and deserves the attention of every horror fiend out there who is willing to take a chance on a pretty subliminally deep flick. What should have been a more emotional story is turned into a silly piece of fluff about Trogs and a really perverted and troubled kid with an evil teddy bear. Sometimes, that's all we need in our entertainment. THE PIT is one film worth jumping into.


Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia (2009)

Tim Matheson

Joe Manganiello - Lt. Sean Macklin
Ken Anderson [Mr. Kennedy] - MCPO Carter Holt
Channon Roe - CPO Kevin Derricks
Yancey Arias - Alvaro Cardona
Keith David - Commander Scott Boytano
Jennice Fuentes - Nicole Jenkins
Steven Bauer - General Manuel Valez
Tim Matheson - Carl Dobbs

Genre - Action/War

Running Time - 95 Minutes

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - The third installment [why?] in the BEHIND ENEMY LINES franchise, BEL: COLUMBIA is about a group of Navy SEALs staying in Columbia to investigate some shady business. Even though there's some sort of attempt of peace between FARC insurgents and Columbian military officials, that ends when Alvaro Cardona (Yancey Arias) loses his wife and child in a massive bomb attack. Cardona wants revenge on everyone involved in the peace summit, blaming them for losing his family. Commander Scott Boytano (Keith David) sends Lt. Sean Macklin (Joe Manganiello) and Chief Carter Holt (MMMMIIIIIISSSSSTTTTAAAAHHHH KENNEDY)...(KENNEDY) to find a way to not only save their captured comrade (Channon Roe) and get the hell out of Columbia, but to also clear the names of those at the peace summit of any wrongdoing. Things get turned around when the Columbian government claim that the SEALs are responsible for the attack, with the CIA backing them to keep things diplomatic. Sigh...gotta love the government.


STORY - I've seen the original BEHIND ENEMY LINES with Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman years ago and that was alright. Never saw the sequel, AXIS OF EVIL, and really don't plan on it. I honestly just watched COLUMBIA for WWE Superstar Mr. Kennedy, curious about his first acting role in a major feature. The plot of the film is actually interesting and I wanted to know what would happen. I mean, it has some government treachery, political dissention, and war action. Can't be bad, right?


Ugh, I don't know what happened here. While the idea was cool, the execution was majorly poor. While there was some nice character development and decent logic in the proceedings, I almost fell asleep watching this film. Instead of explaining things for those who may not know about the FARC or Columbian life, it just tells you and leaves it at that. That's nice but why would I care if I don't know anything about this stuff? BEL:C shows how RAMBO was a much better film, since it actually explained the backdrop and why it was integral for the entire movie. We don't get that here and I blame lousy screenwriting and research on that.

And even with the decent character development, I still didn't really care about any of these people. The villain, Cordona, is still that stereotypical guy who lost his family and feels he needs to act like a terrorist in order to make sure that misery loves company. Yeah, that'll help your situation, dickwad. Even our heroes don't have much depth. They're all macho. They all can shoot guns and kick ass. But other than that, there's no way of connecting with them. You could replace them with different actors and you would still get the same result. Pretty bland stuff here that you've seen in other films like this - and done better in those films too.

DIRECTION - Tim Matheson, who is a fine actor, doesn't leave much of an impression as a director. For an action flick, BEL:C feels really dead. Sure there are explosions and gunfire, but aren't those things supposed to send your adrenaline pumping while you watch them? And the cinematography just looked bland and generic. I was actually bored with the visuals. It wasn't a terrible directing job but there was no energy behind the project to make you care about the film. Everything felt like an afterthought and I just felt "blah" to everything. And when the material isn't all that strong to begin with, it just makes the director guilty for not compensating in order to bring a more interesting film in the forefront. I won't say no to another Matheson directed flick, but this didn't do him any favors.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - For a R rated flick, it felt more PG-13. Sex and language were tame. We do get tons of violence though and people dying here and there [it is a war flick after all]. But it just felt "ho-hum" for me. The faint of heart can watch this without problems.

ACTING - The acting, actually, wasn't so bad. Joe Manganiello, who's probably known for being in SPIDER-MAN and on One Tree Hill, isn't too bad as the lead of the film. He doesn't have much of a presence to be quite honest but he handles dialogue well and has the physical attributes to carry the part. Ken Anderson, or Mr. Kennedy to WWE fans, surprised me by not being horrible as Carter Holt. Anderson brings more of the comic relief to the film while showing off his guns in tank tops to please the ladies I guess. Kennedy is a pretty good wrestler on the mic, so I'm not surprised he was good here. I would like to see him do more films. Hey, if Hulk Hogan can make tons of films, so can Mr. Kennedy. Yancey Arias, Steven Bauer, and Keith David all do decent work as well, although their roles are short compared to Manganiello and Anderson. But if I had to pick the strongest aspect of this movie, it would be the thespian work of those involved.

MUSIC - Your standard military action score. Not much to discuss here.

If you haven't seen BEHIND ENEMY LINES or aren't into war films, you probably shouldn't bother with this. I say only fans of Mr. Kennedy should rent it and check it out. Just don't expect excitement or a story to really bite your teeth into. BEHIND ENEMY LINES: COLUMBIA is as generic as they come, waiting in the wings to job to Triple H at the next Wrestlemania. That big evil nose is capable of anything-uh...

Get Smart (2008)


Steve Carell - Maxwell Smart
Anne Hathaway - Agent 99
Alan Arkin - The Chief
Dwayne Johnson - Agent 23
Terence Stamp - Siegfried
Dalip Singh - Dalip
Masi Oka - Bruce
Nate Torrence - Lloyd
Ken Davitian - Shtarker

Genre - Comedy/Action
Running Time - 110 Minutes
Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - Based on the 1960s television show of the same name, GET SMART is about Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell), who is a top data analyst for a spy agency called CONTROL. Max wants to be a field agent but never gets the opportunity because he's just that good as an analyst. However that changes when some rival agency called KAOS attacks CONTROL headquarters and manages to get hold of a list of all the field agents in order to kill them all. The Chief (Alan Arkin) recruits Max as a field agent [since he's not known] and puts him together with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), who has a surgically altered face.  The two unlikely partners head to Russia to stop KAOS from carrying out its mission with nuclear weapons. But since the two partners are total opposites, hilarity ensues.

STORY - GET SMART is just another in a line of television shows turned into a film. Thankfully GET SMART leans towards THE ADDAMS FAMILY and THE FUGITIVE rather than BEWITCHED and THE AVENGERS (1998). However, it's one of those films that feels like "been there, done better". The script by Tom Astle and Matt Ember is decent but doesn't do anything that makes GET SMART stand out. One, it feels like a bunch of sketches put together to look like an overambitious plot that fails on both originality and a decent payoff. Two, the film was too long and pretty contrived through much of it. Should have been shorter. Three, was this an action film with humor or a comedy with action? I could never tell with this one and how to react to it. And then there's the fact that the AUSTIN POWERS trilogy have already spoofed this spy genre and a whole lot better too, making GET SMART seem weaker in comparison.

Besides that stuff though, the screenplay was feasible and funny at times. I liked the homages such as Agent 13 (played by Bill Murray) being in a tree, the shoe phone, and the stupid cone of silence. And surprisingly, there was a decent amount of character development, especially with Max and Agent 99, who probably had more depth than they deserved. The villains were kind of weak though and never felt like a threat to anyone. A decent screenplay on paper but felt kind of empty and soulless when translated to film.

DIRECTION - Peter Segal, who directed the remake of THE LONGEST YARD and ANGER MANAGEMENT, doesn't really do well in making GET SMART feel or look fresh. The pacing is off at times, as Segal doesn't seem sure if he should focus on action sequences or comedic bits to propel the running time. Besides, the action stuff isn't all that exciting anyway, though they're filmed nicely. I think the problem visually was that scenes just took way too long to get to the point, as if overbloating the point instead of making it simple and subtle for us to understand and laugh over. Less is more, dude. Listen to the cliche.

I will say the film does look really nice and the editing and other technical stuff were nicely done. But he needs to become an engaging director if he wants people to remember bits from his films. To be quite honest, I don't remember much about GET SMART now that I'm writing this. And the film came off more like a Steve Carell vehicle rather than a homage to GET SMART. Not a good sign.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - The language was very tame. There is some sexuality involved but it's pretty tame as well. A lot of violence but nothing that will disturb anyone. Typical PG-13 action/comedy hybrid.

ACTING - The performances here were actually very good in GET SMART. Steve Carell is always fun and likable to watch. Watching him play Maxwell Smart is no exception. He tries to mimic Don Adams at times but also makes the character somewhat his own as well. Too bad the script really gave him dumb things to do. That airplane bathroom scene in particular...what the hell was that about? And why was it too long? Carell is a great comedic actor though and I liked him here, regardless of the material. He also had nice chemistry surprisingly with Anne Hathaway. She plays the Agent 99 thing a bit more seriously than Carell does Maxwell Smart but it balanced out their chemistry in their scenes. She's a great actress, no matter what film she's in. Hathaway also looked pretty hot in this film too. So that was a plus. Alan Arkin was pretty funny as The Chief, but doesn't get to do a whole lot until the end. Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock, is pretty cool as Agent 23, although I felt he was underutilized in much of the film. It felt like he should have been a bigger deal for the story to completely work, but it never materialized for some reason. But Johnson does well due to his knack for comedy and his charisma. I felt the other actors were kind of a waste though, especially Terence Stamp as Siegfried. It felt like he didn't give a crap and just sleepwalked in every scene he was in. Maybe he read the script or something. And Dalip Singh, a.k.a. WWE's The Great Khali, was okay as well. Nice cast that needed better material.

MUSIC - We get the classic GET SMART theme song. We also get "Take A Chance On Me" by ABBA, "Ain't No Other Man" by Christina Aguilera, and even "4 Minutes" by Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Timberland. Weird soundtrack really for a spy comedy, but I like the songs so I can't complain.

GET SMART is nothing more than a popcorn film you'll want to rent on a Friday or Saturday Night. Other than that, it's not as smart or as funny as the AUSTIN POWERS films and the story seems to be suffering from schizophrenia. Plus it's too long and feels kind of empty when it comes to investing the audience into the film. But I laughed and it entertained me. So it wasn't all that bad. GET SMART "missed it by that much."


Bikini Bloodbath Carwash (2008)

Jonathan Gorman
Thomas Edward Seymour

Debbie Rochon - Mrs. Johnson
Rachael Robbins - Jenny
Robert Cosgrove Jr. - Chef Death
Phil Hall - Professor Shipwreck
Dick Boland - Dr. Zartan

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 73 Minutes

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4

Sometimes, I feel like I'm missing out not having a driver's license. No, it's not because I want to drive the newest automobile. It's also not about having the freedom to drive anywhere within the Continental United States. What I'm really missing out on is...


Oh man, I would die and go to heaven to sit inside a car and watch a hot chick use her boobs [the real or the real expensive kind] as sponges to wipe away the dirt on my windshield. And if it's a real hot day and she has to hose herself down to stay cool? Can you say "massive boner"? Sure, I'd probably be a witness in their murders due to a resurrected French chef, but the view would be more than worth it.

Wish I can say the same for BIKINI BLOODBATH CAR WASH, the first sequel to BIKINI BLOODBATH - a film I disliked very much. Surprisingly, the sequel is actually better than the original flick. But it's not alot of progress and is still lacking in what it wants to do for its audience. Still, I can't say that BIKINI BLOODBATH CAR WASH bored me. So that's a positive, right?

The plot is pretty similar to the original. The characters from the first flick are back [how some of them survived being killed in the last one is never explained - not sure if I care to begin with], but this time they're in college and working at a car wash run by proud lesbian Ms. Johnson (Debbie Rochon). The girls, who are highly unintelligent and somewhat annoying, use their T and their A to raise money for whatever reason. Anyway, they have some sort of slumber party and end up doing a seance. This act revives the once-dead Chef Death (Robert Cosgrove Jr.), who plans on finishing his human stew by getting revenge on those he murdered in the last one. Riiiiight.

So Ms. Johnson invites the girls to a party where she pretty much tells them to shut up and fetch her beer to quench her thirst for beaver. Some of the male college students show up [I know this because they have "COLLEGE STUDENT" on their T-shirts] and the party is on. Well, that is until Chef Death crashes the party and begins killing the idiotic cast one-by-one in the least thrilling way possible.

is not a great film at all. For a horror film, it's not remotely scary or even thrilling. There's like 15 minutes of filler to make the film longer [and it's only 73 minutes long!]. It's pretty much the same crap as the first film, but this time the production values are a bit better. Also, the screenplay isn't a total disaster. So while it's not much of an improvement over the last one, at least it shows the makers of BIKINI BLOODBATH CAR WASH are taking steps in the right direction if they want to keep this franchise going.

Like I mentioned before, the screenplay is a bit better than the original. The story is still simple. The characters, unfortunately, are still as paper-thin as one would expect. As a matter of fact, most of them are still annoying and hard to root for. Especially the killer, who doesn't even matter much in these films. He's just another dude, as far as I'm concerned. What's the point in doing a horror film of any kind if you don't build up your characters or your villain? It just boggles my mind at how lazy the filmmakers of this film are. Sure, looking at hot chicks jiggle what they got is great. But we also want a solid, concrete plot. We want content, not 7 interludes with characters dancing to really horrible rock music. Just a little semblence of a story would be nice. I gave this a break in the first one, but it just irritates me in the sequel.

I will say that the dialogue in the film has been greatly improved, as I actually laughed WITH the characters this time instead of laughing AT them. Some of the lines were actually pretty funny. I think two of my favorite ones were "hand-fisted cunt" and "fuck me hard in the ass". There was a great use of double entendre and sexual innuendos that no one will miss. The dialogue definitely made this film more than bearable. Too bad [besides Ms. Johnson] all sounded the same.

There's also a homage to G.I. Joe in this film. One of the perverted professors is named Professor Shipwreck, even wearing a sailor's cap like the cartoon character does. We have an appearance by Cobra Commander [or known as Community College Commander] that was more annoying and a waste of time than anything. Talk about pushing a joke too far. Even Ms. Johnson is kind of dressed like The Baroness. It's obvious Jonathan Gorman and Thomas Edward Seymour are huge G.I. Joe fans. I thought it was cute, even if it didn't totally work.

What didn't work were those 7 interludes where characters just danced to music. I didn't like it in the first one and I sure didn't like it here. Thank God for the fast-forward button on my DVD. The only one that worked was the "Beat It" segment with Debbie Rochon and another actress having a mock knife fight at the car wash. I thought that was pretty funny since the cast pretty much imitated the Michael Jackson video to a tee.

I also had beef that the much of the film doesn't exactly take place at the car wash. No bloodbath there whatsoever. Huh?

The gore SFX here were pretty bad. Really fake looking stuff and CGI that makes Super Mario Bros. [the original 1985 NES game] look realistic. Not that there was a lot of BLOODBATH in this film anyway.

The direction by Jonathan Gorman and Thomas Edward Seymour was actually better here than it was in BIKINI BLOODBATH. The pacing was a bit better and the editing was tighter. It was still your typical point and shoot fest here to compensate the lack of a major budget, but it visually didn't look horrible. Still no tension or suspense though. And barely any boobs either. Small steps. Small steps.

The acting was still pretty bad. It's supposed to be, obviously, so I can't take points off for that. And the cast is obviously having fun again here. I will say that Debbie Rochon is the highlight of the film as Ms. Johnson, the butch lesbian owner of the car wash. Her delivery was very good and she had the best dialogue out of everyone. I was pretty much chuckling at some of the things she would say or do. Nice to see her in a much larger role compared to the original.

And the music was pretty crummy in this film. I did like the one about "Don't Bust My Fuckin' Balls". Those five words were the only lyrics in the entire song and I laughed when I heard the dude singing it over and over again. But it's basic generic hair metal rock that not even Bret Michaels would touch.


- Professor Shipwreck wears a sailor's cap on his head at all times. You have to admire a man who enjoys sea men and isn't afraid to show it.

- Some chick received a grade of "FUCK YOU" on an exam. Mary Kay Letourneau did the same with her students. And look how THAT turned out...

- Some other chick doodled "I Heart Cock" by drawing a penis and hairy balls. Judging by the size of that penis, she's only into Asian men.

- Girls who wash cars do better at shaking their asses than cleaning automobiles. Judging from their work ethic, none of these ladies have any broken headlights.

- The "College Students" did some break-dancing at the carwash. I'm not sure about the dancing but something was definitely broken in this segment.

- "Sodomy upsets Jenny." I can't say the same for Clay Aiken.

- Dr. Zartan told one of his students that he had a "six inch surprise" for her, which she thought might be a squirrel since he mentioned it involved nuts. Obviously neither one is Asian.

- Dr. Zartan likes to roleplay and act and dress like a little girl. He better rub the lotion on the skin or else he'll have to get the hose again!

- Some bimbo was murdered while peeing on the toilet. She was one sandwich short from being Elvis Presley.

Slightly better than the first but still lacking in alot of areas, BIKINI BLOODBATH CARWASH wasn't a total failure and better than I was expecting it to be. Debbie Rochon was pretty cool in the flick and the dialogue was mostly worth chuckling at. But the interludes, the lack of decent gore, and the one-dimensional characters still bring the film down. Let's see if this year's installment, BIKINI BLOODBATH CHRISTMAS, improves on some of these things. I'm not sure if I'll be seeing it though. No one wants that lump of coal in their stocking.

Friday The 13th (2009)

Marcus Nispel

Jared Padalecki - Clay Miller
Danielle Panabaker - Jenna
Amanda Righetti - Whitney Miller
Travis Van Winkle - Trent
Aaron Yoo - Chewie
Derek Mears - Jason Voorhees
Julianna Guill - Bree
Arlen Escarpeta - Lawrence
Ryan Hansen - Nolan
Willa Ford - Chelsea

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 96 Minutes
Score - 1.5 Howls Outta 4

I know a lot of horror fans are still having an uproar with the whole re-imagining of beloved horror flicks and I used to be one of them. But recently, I finally resigned and realized that it is what it is and there's nothing we can do about it. As a horror fan since I've been five-years-old [I turn 28 on the 25th of this month], it hurts me to watch my favorite films get turned into a shadow of their former selves just so teenagers can gush over how cool they are. But as a business standpoint, I totally understand it. Horror films can be cheap to make and create a huge profit for your studio. Believe or not, money does make the world go round.

I think the real issue with remakes [besides being pointless on many levels] is that most of them are horrible. Let's mention the good ones: THE THING (1982), THE FLY (1986), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990), DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004), THE RING (2002), THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003), THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (2005), HALLOWEEN (2007 - yes, I still like this film), and recently MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D (2009). I'm sure there are others but the point is that it's easier to list the DECENT horror remakes over the bad ones. That's the problem with this new era of horror.

Now we have FRIDAY THE 13TH, the 2009 version, going on to become the most successful film in the franchise and obviously setting up more installments due to the huge profit both New Line Cinema and Paramount are gonna make out of this remake. While I like this franchise, it was never really my favorite [I prefer the HALLOWEEN and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchises more], but you can't deny how successful, simple, and all around fun the FRIDAY THE 13TH films are. I didn't think the original needed a remake [still don't] but it was inevitable and I would save my thoughts until I saw it. The previews were actually pretty cool and piqued my curiosity more than I had wanted it to. And yes, I paid for a full price ticket for this movie just like a lot of people this past weekend.

Now that I've seen the film, I feel a bit cheated out of my money. When I leave a movie theater feeling LESS than how I came into it, that's not good. Let's see why FRIDAY THE 13TH isn't all that lucky.

PLOTThe film begins with the death of Pamela Voorhees (Nana Visitor), who is beheaded by a surviving camp counselor after Pamela butchered the rest of her friends [the ending of the original FRIDAY THE 13TH] back in 1980. We cut to present day and we watch a group of idiots camping out at the infamous Camp Crystal Lake, who are pretty much there to find some marijuana to sell for a profit. Like in PART 2, we have someone tell the story of Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears), who is claimed to still be alive, and having watched his mother getting killed, is out for revenge. Jason appears and kills them all but Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who kind of looks like Jason's mom and decides to keep her around a while.

A few weeks pass and some rich prick named Trent (Travis Van Winkle) and his friends vacation at his father's lake house, which just coincidentally happens to be on Camp Crystal Lake. On their way, they meet Whitney's brother Clay (Jared Padalecki), who is posting flyers and asking the townspeople about his missing sister [taken from FRIDAY THE 13TH - THE FINAL CHAPTER]. While Trent is a jerk to Clay about the whole situation, Trent's girlfriend Jenny (Danielle Panabaker) sticks up for Clay and ends up helping him. From here on, Travis and his friends end up partying up with sex, drugs, and naked water-skiing. That is, until Jason decides to crash the party and celebrate his birthday the only way he knows how - by murdering stereotypical teenagers and finding his trademark goalie mask [FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3-D]. Yep, it's FRIDAY THE 13TH alright.

I wasn't expecting much out of this remake but I'm disappointed it wasn't better. When the trailer for the film is better than the actual film itself, something is definitely wrong. FRIDAY THE 13TH '09 left me numb and cold. How does a horror film leave a person feeling numb?
The story, written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift [who also wrote the light years better FREDDY VS. JASON from 2003], is pretty average as far as I'm concerned. Let me get the good stuff out of the way first:

I like that the screenplay took elements from the first four FRIDAY films and didn't totally do them in a way that they were all that similar to the original source. It made the film familiar to older fans who appreciate this franchise while still bringing something new to them along with the modern audience. The remake never felt like a remake, thank God. Honestly, it felt like an installment of the franchise that was never told until now. In other words, a lost sequel. I was totally cool with that.

I also liked that the script played it like your regular FRIDAY THE 13TH film. We have stupid stereotypical characters who each have their own role to play in the movie before Jason chases them down and murders them one-by-one. That's all I look for in a FRIDAY THE 13TH flick. These films were never known for their character development to begin with - and Shannon and Swift continued the tradition. Much appreciated.

However, I felt the narrative was very disjointed. It felt like three movies in one for me and there were certain plot holes in the film that just made me scratch my head. Plus a lot of the dialogue was pretty bad and just made me roll my eyes most of the time. And what was up with all the pot activity in this film? Drugs are a big part of this franchise but it just seemed like the main focus of these characters most of the time. Look I know Michael Phelps looks cooler with a bong on his mouth, but one or two potheads in a horror flick should be the limit. It became redundant after a while.

The murder scenes written into the film were pretty weak too. I thought the death scenes in the original were more violent than the ones in the remake. And that was 29 years ago! C'mon! Very generic stuff, although I did like some of them. The arrow death is always cool to see, plus I thought Willa Ford's death scene at the pier was pretty awesome just because I didn't expect it to happen like that. And the sleeping bag over the campfire was very nice and probably the most memorable one in the entire film. But it was disappointing to watch and I thought they weren't written well enough in the script.

And I won't even mention the ending. How lame was that? Totally predictable and not even in a good way.

I think the problem with the story was that the filmmakers INTENTIONALLY decided to cut out 25 minutes just to sell an Uncut and Extended Version of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray. Apparently they wanted the viewers to be confused in order to get the answers to their questions when the DVD is released. Nice business movie, but the filmmakers can still go fuck themselves. No wonder the pacing was off. Assholes.

Speaking of the death scenes, where was the gore? Did the MPAA cut some stuff or did the filmmakers do this just for the DVD? I mean, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D pretty much gave it all to us and I appreciated it. But we just get a lot of stabbings and throats being sliced, which is nothing new. Even Mrs. Voorhee's beheading wasn't even shown in its entirety. It looked like she had her throat slit when she really had her head cut off. It was a bit too tame for a FRIDAY THE 13TH flick, as far as I'm concerned. Very disappointing.

The direction by Marcus Nipsel was bland. It was like watching THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake [which Nipsel directed back in 2003] but with a different cast and Jason replacing Leatherface. What's sad is that the TCM remake is better than this film is. Yeah, the film looks great and beautifully polished with its murky colors. The editing is good and some moments, like the Willa Ford scene where she's stabbed on top of her head and pulled up to reveal her beautiful breasts before dropping into the lake again, were actually well done. But I thought the pacing was off [The title card within 20 minutes of the film? I thought that was the funniest part of the movie!], the tension and suspense weren't effective enough, and the death sequences way too predictable [and repetitive] and almost similar to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake. And what was up with that loud music every time Jason would pop up to kill? Very distracting. How about this - why not SURPRISE us when Jason kills someone? Oh right...that might scare alot of people. Too logical, sorry. Nipsel has style and the visuals weren't horrible at all, but he doesn't bother trying to update or reinvent the series. Instead, he just follows and regurgitates what's been done before. The whole point of a remake is to bring something new to the table. In that case, Nipsel fails completely.

The acting won't win awards but I didn't hate anybody's performances. Jared Padalecki had the strongest performance as Clay. Didn't know much about the character but I liked Padalecki alot. He made a good male lead and was definitely the bright spot acting-wise. Amanda Righetti and Danielle Panabaker were both hot and did nicely as the female leads. Travis Van Winkle played a good asshole character in Trent. I hated that character for the right reasons. Winkle did a good job. Aaron Yoo was funny as Chewie. He was the only character who got a reaction from the sold out audience I was sitting with. Pretty funny role and I could tell he improvised a lot of his stuff. Willa Ford had nice boobs. Thanks. And Derek Mears was decent as Jason Voorhees. I still prefer Kane Hodder, to be honest, but Mears wasn't so bad. I just didn't feel threatened by the guy though. But it was nice to see pre-Zombie Jason back on the screen again. I would have preferred unknown actors, like in the original franchise, but what can you do?

And before I finish up this review, where in the fuck was the "Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma" sounds in this film? I heard them like twice in the entire movie! What's a FRIDAY THE 13TH film without that in the background? Nice move, guys.

- Don't ever listen to Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" while peeing in the woods. You'll wish you were motoring while you'll die to know what's the price for flight by some masked killer with mommy issues.

- Amanda was hung over a campfire while trapped inside a sleeping bag. I know Amanda was hot but that's being a bit too literal, don't you think?

- Chelsea actually placed herself in front of a motorboat, thinking her dead boyfriend would stop for her, causing Chelsea to have a headache from the impact. Do I have to tell you she was blonde? No? Okay then.

- Chelsea got stabbed through the top of her skull while she was hiding from Jason. That's what you get when you wanna be bad.

- Chewie is the Wood Wizard, but not for his masturbation skills. Yeah, because that title is already taken by me! Ha! Oh wait...uh...that's just a rumor! Yeah...

FRIDAY THE 13TH '09 just didn't feel like a FRIDAY THE 13TH film for me. Hopefully the DVD Extended Version will be a more complete film and actually be an improvement on the theater version. Let's see if the next installment [and there will be one undoubtedly] will get back to what made these films so fun to watch to begin with. But this version just left me "blah". Color me unimpressed.


Max Payne (2008)

John Moore

Mark Wahlberg - Max Payne
Mila Kunis - Mona Sax
Beau Bridges - BB Hensley
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges - Lt. James Bravura
Olga Kurylenko - Natasha Sax
Chris O'Donnell - Jason Colvin
Amaury Nolasco - Sgt. Jack Lupino
Donal Logue - Detective Alex Balder

Genre - Action/Video Game Adaptation

Running Time - 99 Minutes

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - Based on the video game, MAX PAYNE is about the title character (Mark Wahlberg) being haunted by the murders of both his wife and baby daughter to the point where he's obsessed in finding out who murdered them. On one of his leads, he meets some slutty future Bond Girl named Natasha Sax (Olga Kurylenko), who takes to his apartment. Kicking her out after she tries to get all over his Funky Bunch, Natasha is found dead the next morning. Detective Alex Balder (Donal Logue) notices that Natasha shares the same winged tattoo that one of Max's wife's killers sported, putting two together - that is until he's found dead too. The police, especially Lt. James Bravura (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) believes that he's the prime suspect for both murders and begins to follow him. Searching for the real killer, Max is joined by Natasha's groovy sister, Mona (Mila Kunis), finding out that the winged tattoos are the mark of the Valkyries - no, not that chick from Guantlet, but the angels of the battlefield in Norse mythology. Apparently the victims end up seeing these Valkyries by taking some messed up drug called Valkyr, created by some pharmaceutical company called Aesir to create super-soldiers. Apparently Max's wife was involved in the project, bringing Max closer to the truth behind his family's murder.


STORY - I've played the Max Payne video games and liked them alot. The "bullet time" technology and the story of revenge grabbed me to the point where these games were actual cinematic features all their own. It just surprises at how difficult it really is to take a concrete story like MAX PAYNE and pretty much butcher it when it comes to a film adaptation. We've seen it countless times before. Why are video-game-to-film adaptations so damn hard to get right? I'm still waiting for that video game flick that's gonna top MORTAL KOMBAT. And that was almost 14 years ago, Hollywood!

MAX PAYNE's weakness is definitely the story. There are so many plot holes in this flick that I almost fell to my death trying to connect the pieces together in order to make sense of it all. What should have been a simple revenge flick, like DEATH WISH, is turned into a supernatural mess involving drugs and Valkyries. Now I love that kind of stuff, but it just didn't feel all that right to me in this film. Plus in an action flick, I'm expecting wall-to-wall action. Nope, we barely get action sequences going in this film. I dunno, the supernatural stuff and the revenge story never seemed to add up the way it should have. I wasn't sure what this film was trying to be. Are you trying to be DEATH WISH? Or are you trying to mindfuck me like JACOB'S LADDER? Which one is it?

Also, the characters were really used horribly in this flick. What was the point of the Sax sisters in this film again? Okay...they're hot bangable babes. But other than that, they just seem to be in the film just to be...there. They really didn't add all that much in the end, now that I think about it. And the mystery of the film was so predictable that I ended up being almost bored for the film to actually reveal it. Too much exposition, not enough action, and a film made with style-over-substance makes MAX PAYNE a very mediocre flick when it should have been a lot better.

DIRECTION - Well here's the one area where the film mostly succeeds. John Moore really gave MAX PAYNE a visual flair, as I bought the film noir-ish elements in the film. The cinematography was beautiful. The Valkyr effects were really cool. I liked the use of "bullet time" during certain scenes. Nice angles, edits, and style all around. Too bad the pacing could have been a bit better because I was expecting more action than I was let on. But the film looks fantastic and I can't really complain about this area of filmmaking at all.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - For such a violent and edgy video game, MAX PAYNE was given a pretty tame film adaptation. The unrated version shows a bit more but it's still barely an R rating. We have the standard foul language. We have a lot of violence involving Valkyries, gunfire, and other stuff. And there are certain sexual situations but nothing to really talk about. This type of film could have used more edge, I thought.

ACTING - While the characters were pretty lame in this film, the acting wasn't all that bad. Mark Wahlberg looked the part and had the presence for the role, but I've seen him do better than this. Maybe the script didn't live up to Wahlberg's full potential. He was good though. Mila Kunis can act but she's just paid here to look hot instead. Pretty sad. Chris "Ludacris" Bridges tried but I couldn't buy him as a cop. Bad casting I thought there. Beau Bridges did okay although his arc was overly predictable. Amaury Nolasco did good but wasn't used enough. And I liked Chris O'Donnell in his short role. Still doesn't erase BATMAN & ROBIN, but he did good. And was that really Nelly Furtado in one of the scenes? Wow...

MUSIC - Marco Beltrami created a nice score for the film. It matched the bleakness of the film very well. Probably made the atmosphere of the film better than it should have been.

While no MORTAL KOMBAT, MAX PAYNE isn't STREET FIGHTER either. Pretty average flick that should have been edgier and better in general. The film leaves it open at the end but I hope this is the end. Lack of action, a convoluted story, and poorly written characters hinder MAX PAYNE. Watch it for the fantastic visual style but not much else.

Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971)

John Hancock

Zohra Lampert - Jessica
Barton Heyman - Duncan
Mariclare Costello - Emily
Kevin O'Connor - Woody
Gretchen Corbett - Girl
Alan Manson - Sam Dorker

Genre - Horror/Psychological Thriller/Supernatural

Running Time - 89 Minutes

Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH is about a woman named Jessica (Zohra Lampert) who has been recently released from a sanitarium. Escaping the big city and the paranoia and claustrophobia that comes with it, Jessica, her husband Duncan (Barton Heyman), and their friend Woody (Kevin O'Connor) decide to pack up and move to a quiet neighbor in a small town. Even though the town seems beautiful and perfect, Jessica begins hearing voices calling her name and the figure of a young girl haunting her. She tries to keep quiet about it so Duncan and Woody wouldn't think she's crazy again, but the trauma becomes too much and both men begin to worry about her mental state.

Things get more complicated when they encounter a woman named Emily (Mariclare Costello) staying inside their new home. Jessica, Duncan, and Woody are very hospitable and let Emily stay with them as long as she wants. Jessica is taken by Emily at first, but soon becomes more unstable when Emily sets her sights on Woody and then on Duncan, who both are very tempted by the seductive Emily. Jessica becomes more insecure and unstable at Emily's actions. But things get weirder when Jessica comes across an old photo of the family who used to live in that very house, with one of the family members looking exactly like Emily. Is she a ghost? A vampire? A zombie? Will you have to patience to sit through this really slow flick to find out?


STORY - LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH is one of those old horror films that I had wanted to see for a while. A lot of people told me it was one of those last great horror flicks before DELIVERANCE and THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT pretty much changed the rules. So finally sitting down and watching, I couldn't help but ask myself: "I waited years to see this?" It's not that LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH is a bad film. On contrary, it's an interesting and slightly creepy film. It's just that it's so slow moving that it almost makes you lose your patience while you watch it. I don't mind subtle films that like to build up the plot of the movie, but when it never reaches its point, I start to lose interest. Maybe it's my short attention span or that I'm just used to watching films that get to the point quickly, but LET'S SCARE TO JESSICA TO DEATH didn't really resonate with me all that much.

I will say that the script is well written and the ideas that are being presented are engaging. The idea of Jessica being mentally unstable and then watching her hear and see things that may or may not be there makes one a participant in this mystery of "Is she crazy or are these things really there?" Honestly, I was never really sure what was up with Jessica. A part of me believes the supernatural aspect really did happen, but sometimes we see what we want to see. So who's to say that what Jessica really did experience was actually on the level? Not many films manage to do that these days and that's probably why so many people like this film.

I just wish the payoff was more evident because it seemed to give you the answers without really satisfying your curiosity. And things like that bug me. Here is one of those cases where the idea of the film is much more interesting than the execution. Oh well.

DIRECTION - John Hancock did a nice job directing this film, I thought. Though it was slow paced [maybe for its own good], Hancock visually gave the film a sense of instability and fracture, reflecting Jessica's mental state. There were a lot of POV shots, extreme close-ups, different types of editing, and even the nice of use of sound and voiceover. Definitely a competent film directed by someone who knew what he was doing. I had no issues with the visuals at all. They were really nicely done.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH is a pretty tame film. There is some violence, but it's pretty rare. As a matter of fact, Hancock pretty much shoots away from it, although the aftermath is seen. The language is pretty clean. Some sexual situations but no one shows any flesh.

ACTING - The acting was okay in this flick. Zohra Lampert was pretty...I guess you can say "interesting" to watch as Jessica. I thought she did a good job but at some moments, her acting didn't really seem to reflect what was happening. It was just really weird to watch. I'm not sure if it was intentional due to the instability of the character but there were times where her mood would change without anything leading towards it [which could have been due to editing]. But she convinced me that she wasn't all there. That constant smiling she did unnerved me. No one smiles that much. Not even The Joker. Nice schizo performance, I guess. Barton Heyman as Duncan was good. He really didn't do much but play a moody asshole at times, but I was convinced. Kevin O'Connor didn't do much for me as Woody. His 70s porn star facial hair left more of an impression. Why was he in the film again? Mariclare Costello as Emily was probably the best actress in the film. I never knew what he real deal was but I knew it wasn't good. The quiet bad girl act worked for her, I thought. And I probably would have been tempted by her wiles too.

MUSIC - There was a guitar song playing every once in a while. It set the tone and mood of the film I guess. Some creepier score played as well. Plus some songs that Jessica heard was a bit distorted as well. Wasn't great but not too bad either.

I think if I had watched LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH when I was younger, I'd probably be more effected by it. But since I didn't, the film is just an above-average supernatural thriller in my opinion. I appreciated the subtlety and emphasis on atmosphere and mood, but the story really didn't get going until the end and didn't even reach much of a satisfying conclusion. I heard this one may get an update [a.k.a. remake] soon and I wouldn't mind one to be honest. Could have been better but I've seen a lot worse.

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