The 2nd MoFo Hall of Infamy : Son of Infamy

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28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Brendan Schaub: You'd Be Surprised

You all got that friend that constantly tells jokes because they think they're funny, but you always roll your eyes and groan at the dumb delivery. I've seen my fair share of stand-up specials and this one is legit the worst one. It's just unfunny. Bad delivery, bad set-ups, bad jokes...I mean...did no one tell him this wasn't funny?

I had no idea who this guy was and was confused as to why this was nominated. After finding out that he is most certainly NOT a comedian, it made sense to me. Yet, I can't help but feel the fact that this is just a special, factor in my ranking. As bad as this was, I don't expect it to place high on my poop list because of that.
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"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Airplane Mode

I hate Logan Paul, I feel he is the epitome of what is wrong with the internet social media culture of today. Unfunny and offensive and make tons of money.

This movie looks cheap, feels cheap and has a bunch of people I had no idea who they were. A truly annoying film that was racist, sexiest, and homophobic.




Bane (James Eaves, 2008)

I guess the first thing you notice about the film is that its shot on a potato and that is easily the least bad part of it. It looks terrible and the version on Tubi is cropped weird but there's some bits that look accidentally interesting while trying to do things that look cool in other films. Often something like that could be a big positive for me but its not doing it for me here, probably because of how mind-numbingly dull the film is and how much of a non-starter that initial premise is. They spend a lot of time on the whole "you're gonna die at this time" gimmick and it feels so irrelevant and underdeveloped, which I guess makes sense since its a red herring anyway but wow is it boring to sit through. Films with this narrative structure where everything hinges on a silly fake out reveal are always crap but especially when both what you're lead to believe is the story and what is actually the story are dumb as hell. At least what the film turns into in the last 25 minutes or so is a bit less boring even if its equally dumb (though lets be honest there was no bouncing back from the most boring 80 minutes of a movie I've ever seen in my life). While nothing is worse than the script, everything else is v. bad too. The lame Saw ripoff editing, the acting, the score especially, the scary surgeon guy carrying around what I'm pretty sure is a dollar store scimitar toy that was in every shop. Figured this would have been an appropriate last film to watch before scheduled spooky month viewings begin, being the one horror movie nominated, but gosh do I wish I just watched another Barbie movie instead. As of now I think this is the worst thing nominated in either of two halls we've had so far.



A Talking Cat


OOOOOHHH hoy. This was a really good choice for the HoI. This was less funny than Loqueesha and Loqueesha wasn't funny. And I freakin' HATED the cat effects when he was talking. The whole movie was front loaded with the most obvious family movie tropes, and in the end I didn't find myself liking any characters. Hell, Susan's family just plain annoyed me. And let's be honest: magic collar that only allows a cat to talk to a person ONCE? In other words, it's not even a movie ABOUT a talking Cat. And Roberts performance was nothing more than a half-assed Garfield impersonation. Probably worse than the new Marmaduke.


0/10



10 Foreign Language movies to go


The Legend of the Titanic - 1999

Directed by Orlando Corradi & Kim J. Ok

Written by Clelia Castaldo, Orlando Corradi & Loris Peota

Starring Gregory Snegoff (voice), Francis Pardeilhan (voice) & Jane Alexander (voice)

We've all heard those stories about the sinking of Titanic haven't we? The way the band took a whole lifeboat to themselves and saved their own lives - everyone else be damned? The way Captain Smith was saved at the last minute when a pink octopus threw him to safety? The miraculous fact that absolutely nobody died? If all of that sounds crazy and disrespectful to the memory of those who died when RMS Titanic sank, you haven't heard anything yet. I honestly don't know where to start with The Legend of the Titanic. It sticks more closely to James Cameron's Titanic in principle plot to start with, but it also gets far more crazy than the other animated film about Titanic released just a year later. It doesn't riff so much on Disney films, but it does bear some striking similarities to An American Tale regarding the many animated mice in it. The animation is a little better than the other one, but still falls short in many areas.

Basically, Elizabeth (voiced by Jane Alexander and our Kate Winslet character), daughter of a wealthy passenger, is engaged to be married to the no-good, dastardly Maltravers (voiced by Gregory Snegoff and our Billy Zane character) but instead falls in love with poor gypsy passenger Don Juan (voiced by Francis Pardeilhan - he's our Leonardo DiCaprio). Maltravers wants Elizabeth's father, who controls global access to the oceans, to sign a waiver that will allow his ships to commence whaling operations, and after failing to win his daughter's hand in marriage he forces him to sign at gunpoint, and devises a plan to sink the ship. His muscle communicates with sharks, who go on to fool a giant octopus named Tentacles to heave an iceberg into it's path. When realising what he's done, Tentacles manages to hold the ship up and keep it from breaking long enough to allow everyone to be saved.

I was very much over Titanic cartoons after watching Titanic : The Legend Goes on... and this contributed to my boredom wading through this. Talking mice, and talking dogs? Seen it. Ship-board romance? Seen it. I hadn't seen a young lady learn how to talk to flying dolphins through the magic of moonbeam tears though, and once sharks wearing prison uniforms came into the picture I could feel everything shifting into a very strange direction. Then came Tentacles the Octopus. An octopus with a dog's face who in this is the silly creature responsible for the sinking of the Titanic - but in this it's no harm no foul because everyone is saved. Now, I know it's been many years since this disaster happened, but we're getting pretty disrespectful by this stage. There's absolutely nothing sacred in this animated feature.

The only problem with the animation is that animals and people either freeze, with their mouths still working, or else they'll talk with their mouth not moving. It just contributes to a feeling that all of this is really sloppy, and rushed. Once again we're plagued with voice acting that feels like it was recorded on a crowded elevator plummeting 100 stories, and some lines are hard to decipher - some of the voice actors really tried to sound as silly and nonsensical as they could, and found a moment here or there where they outdid themselves and can not be understood. The rest is either very silly or very boring - although I will give this version credit for not having as much tiresome pratfalling and not as much blatant stealing from Disney. It's not a very good animated movie though, even if you disregard it's lack of respect towards the Titanic disaster and it's similarity to Cameron's film.

There were moments I had fun - seeing the Titanic's band all in a lifeboat by themselves was a first. I never expected to see that. I never expected to see the Titanic's captain survive after being saved by an octopus. Of course, hearing in the prologue that nobody died on Titanic was a surprise. The whole weird vibe surrounding that pink octopus is enough to be fun as well. But other than that, this was 82 minutes where not much else is worth mentioning, and as such I'm going to leave it at that. It's very slow. It's good for a joke or two, but eighty-two minutes is a very long time for all of this to happen - and not much else. Also - all the kudos I would have given the film for having Tentacles sacrifice himself so that all the passengers could survive goes out the window when Tentacles shows up alive and well during the inevitable wedding scene - this film wanting to eat it's animated wedding cake, and have it as well. Go to hell The Legend of the Titanic - you just go to hell. You can't have a heroic death, just for that character to show up alive and well later.


And the band played on to the very end. From their lifeboat. Which they'd taken for themselves, and not allowed anyone else on.

This was slighter better than the other Titanic animated film, albeit far more crazy - and much harder to write about. Nothing can accurately describe how boring and silly it is.

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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

Latest Review : Adaptation (2002)



Watching the first Leap to prepare for the second one. It amazes me that these late teens and twenty-somethings are part of a biblical study group and don't even know basic biblical knowledge like the mana story. This is all stuff I played church trivia with when I was a kid.



Watching the first Leap to prepare for the second one. It amazes me that these late teens and twenty-somethings are part of a biblical study group and don't even know basic biblical knowledge like the mana story. This is all stuff I played church trivia with when I was a kid.
the first one looks way better based on the handful of clips from it that show up in the sequel.



the first one looks way better based on the handful of clips from it that show up in the sequel.
I'm not so sure. This tries to paint itself as a thriller with shit stunts and no plot other than typical youth group activity. It feels more like an overlong school project than anything. If the second's worse, it better be so bad it's hilarious.



Oh my God, I'm three minutes in the second and the acting, direction, camera quality and cinematography, mood and storytelling are already better. Not by much, but still. I won't finish it tonight, but I'll absorb what I can just by soaking of the joy of any kind of improvement.



Leap: Rise of the Beast

OK, like I said in a previous post, I watched the first Leap before watching this, and I absolutely hated it. I meant to upload this sooner, but I've been binge-watching a show. Even now I'm typing this while watching it.

So, the first movie had some of the worst acting I've ever seen, tried to paint itself as a thriller but had NO thrills, and was basically a bunch of teen youth activities with crappy direction. This was different. Yeah, it was a very predictable movie. But the preachiness level has gone down like 70%, the acting is way better, the action feels like action, there's a plot and the music and atmosphere are improved. I mean, this movie's still very flawed with bad to meh acting and an obviously low budget, but this is a way better movie than the last. Ueno, you better nominate the first movie for the next HoI. If you don't, I will.

25/100

Anyway, Moya's split into four dimensions and one of them is hell on Chiana's brain. Fourth episode of the day.



Ugh, I still need to watch the standup special. Do not want. (Mainly because I do not want to start a streaming trial then have to remember to cancel it.)



I've got Carnival of Souls, Kinky Coaches, Wild 90 and Petrified World left. In keeping in line with my directors rule, I did want to check out another Norman Mailer movie, Tough Guys Don't Dance. Even though I'm aware of the ratings, it's my kind of plot. I guess I'll watch that with another Farscape tonight.



Wild 90

Uuuuuuuugggghhhhhh... This is one of the most boring things I've ever seen. I couldn't make out more than half of what they were saying, and their wild drunken behavior didn't reach me at all. I honestly learned to hate when Mailor speaks on this movie because he's just dicking around without any sense of filmmaking whatsoever. This is nothing short of a dumb fun movie that they made just so they could say they made a movie and they're cool because of it. We have now found a movie with the same mindset as the album I'm Not a Fan But the Kids Like It by Brokencyde. I don't care if this falls under "experimental" filmmaking. This is one movie the Eclipse series should've just left alone. The fact that Mailor made more movies after this debut should scare me, but I can't imagine them being worse than this. This may be worse than that Bigfoot movie I saw a while back.

Congrats, Siddoh, you've beaten my nom.

0/10



10 Foreign Language movies to go


A Talking Cat!?! - 2013

Directed by David DeCoteau

Written by Andrew Helm

Starring Eric Roberts (voice), Johnny Whitaker & Kristine DeBell

How do I give a "movie" like A Talking Cat!?! a proper review? That would mean I consider it on par with, or at the same level of other films I like to write about - and it simply isn't up to it. This sort of stuff has me clutching at my own skull, trying to figure out where to start and what to say. Everything that's wonderful about film is trampled on, and dishonored. It's an abomination. It simply goes and insults the very thing I love - movies as a concept. It doesn't care. There really should be a law - some kind of law, because this is some kind of art crime. David DeCoteau (who has directed 176 awful films* since 1984) should have been arrested. He should have been arrested in 1984. How does someone get away with this? Is this why he uses the pseudonym Mary Crawford? Why does he show such little regard for what he does? Why does he show such contempt for his audience? Did we do him wrong somewhere along the way?

While I'm at it - Eric Roberts. You should be so ashamed of yourself! How much did you get for this 15 minutes of drunken, lazy work? $500? Booze? Why are you doing this to yourself? Your 700 film credits are clogged and littered with microbudget fiascos. You were nominated for an Oscar man! Are you a Lugosi? Do you have a drug problem? It sure sounds like it when you listen to your slurred and muffled words as Duffy the cat. You make Duffy sound like he has brain damage. You should be arrested as well, and put away for life! At least all the other young "actors" and such were basically amateurs who didn't know any better. Okay, there's Kristine DeBell, but she never really made it. She had 5th billing in Meatballs - her career peak. And yes, Johnny Whitaker was Tom Sawyer in Tom Sawyer - but that was a long time ago. Desperation is no excuse, and you're certainly not "back in" by accepting a role in A Talking Cat!?! I wouldn't have accepted a role in A Talking Cat!?! and I'd love to be in a movie. Anyway, everyone in it was terrible.

Now, lets talk about the talking cat effects. Not only does the cheap effect look embarrassingly bad - it doesn't even manage to happen over the cat's mouth half of the time. This opening and closing black hole - I could have done better with features effects that come with any video editing software, and that's obviously where it came from! It's not the cheapness though, it's the laziness. It doesn't even match the syllables of what the cat's saying - his "mouth" just opens and closes rhythmically. We've got a drunk Eric Roberts, and a cheap Adobe effect which is supposed to make it look like the cat is talking. What it all says to me is "we don't care - we just want to wrap this up and sell it." Oh, and talking about "wrapping up" - the injured Duffy effect, which is a small piece of bandage sitting on the cat. That was obviously some kind of joke - and it feels like a joke on us instead of for us.

Well, as you've probably noticed, I haven't gone into the story - I mean, this film has a cat who talks to us via narration and can talk to the characters in the film but one time only. That's the "rule" - as Duffy tells us. So he helps them with their love lives and careers by telling them what to do, but once he's talked to a character - that's it. There are six characters, and the cat - which is voiced by Roberts and played by Squeaky (cute) - Phil (Johnny Whitaker) and his son Chris, who starts tutoring Frannie - but he's shy and awkward. In a house down the road, there's Susan (Kristine DeBell), her daughter Tina and her son Trent. Phil and Susan start some kind of awkward romance, Tina designs an app with Phil's help and Trent doesn't do much in the film but bounce around and swim. Duffy helps everyone along the way. That's it - your 85 minutes in a nutshell.

The only good thing I got from the film was a chance to ogle Phil's house, which I thought had a cool design - it was one I'd like to try out living-wise. It was obviously a real house - perhaps David DeCoteau's - but the sound of people talking in it should have been redubbed, because the echoing was a real problem with the sound recorded live (without professional equipment, it sounded like.) Meanwhile Squeaky (cute) looked very much overfed, and I'm afraid that's going to cause complications later in the cat's life, if he or she is not put on a diet. Of course, it might have just been a pregnant cat - but to me it just looked like a performing cat that had been fed so many treats that it's weight has ballooned out. What can I say about the rest of the movie? It's terrible. It's one of the worst I've ever seen. I've seen worse acting, but only in other "worst of the worst" films. The score was basically musak, the kind you'd hear in a big department store or elevator - it's credited to Harry Manfredini's Big Score Music, which sounds like stock music.

Overall, the feel of A Talking Cat!?! is that it's a movie made by experienced idiots. This wasn't someone's one-time mistake, but an entry from David DeCoteau and cohorts - who make a new movie roughly every week, very roughly and without care and attention. There's no love in what they do - they simply don't care. They're earning a living from this. A Talking Cat!?! is notorious as being one of their worst, but that doesn't mean there haven't been spin-offs. A Talking Pony!?! was made the same year. The title My Stepbrother Is a Vampire!?! shows how much they like that peculiar punctuation - and I think they might have thought it a possible trademark. Not of quality though. I can tell you something - if Edward D. Wood Jnr. were alive today, he'd make hundreds of films, instead of the few classics we got. From DeCoteau, the world seems to have taken A Talking Cat!?! as emblematic of his work as a whole. I couldn't think of a more deserving example.



* I haven't seen 175 of them, so it's just a hunch



10 Foreign Language movies to go


Loqueesha - 2019

Directed by Jeremy Saville

Written by Jeremy Saville

Starring Jeremy Saville, Dwayne Perkins & Mara Hall

So here we have it. The Misty Green Sky and now Loqueesha - two pieces of evidence which illuminate the fact that Amazon Prime will stream anything. In Loqueesha we get to watch Jeremy Saville commit career seppuku by writing, directing and starring in a film that is so racist and misogynistic that it's trailer will transform those who watch it into shocked silence. Just to help it along in it's quest to be the worst film ever made, it manages to be awful in so many other ways - in a visual and auditory sense, and in a writing and acting sense. This movie is coming from a "just telling it like it is" place, but unfortunately, the place Jeremy Saville is at happens to be a deluded place - one where white men are slaves to a politically correct society where reverse racism has makes life impossible to navigate with ease. It's also a society where, if a guy lies and cheats to his girlfriend, it's her fault for "enabling" him with dastardly trust.

Joe (Jeremy Saville) is a bartender with a knack for giving great advice. I have to interrupt the flow of this plot description though - because we never really hear him give really outstanding advice, despite other characters in the film listening on with awe and gratitude when he pretty much insults them with his "truth dealing" pieces of guidance. When one woman enters his bar, he first tells her to shut up, calls her an idiot and then - without any background - goes on to tell her it's her fault that her cheating and lying boyfriend is doing wrong by her. What can you expect if you trust him all the time! It's her fault because she's let it happen, instead of lifting her game and preemptively stopping it. Instead of getting angry with him, she reacts as if she's just heard something brilliant and tries to pay him cash for the incredible "advice" he has just given her. Another man at the bar declares, "Game, set and match!" as if he's heard a zinger. This leads the woman to suggest he get a job as a radio talkback host - but of course they only want women and minorities, making it impossible for him to get the job. Joe then invents the 'Loqueesha' personality - a sassy black woman, in the most outrageously stereotypical and offensive way. He hides the fact he's white by refusing to interact with anyone at the station when he goes on air.

This is possibly the most extreme example I've ever seen of 'in the script' reactions characters have to something that doesn't exist. This can either be compliments of good looks, where only ugliness prevails, or accolades about physical prowess, singing ability and so forth. Here, it's the 'advice' Joe gives. At no point in the entire film does he give anyone good advice, but what he does say needs to be absolutely brilliant - so people who listen to him smile and nod, or say out loud how incredible it is. Although this is radio and the year is 2019 (a sign that this is a middle-aged guy with no clue making the film) - Loqueesha becomes famous. So much so that Oprah Winfrey sends Joe an email asking Loqueesha appear on her show. Joe has someone to do personal appearances - a real black woman, who happens to be self-centered, non-too-bright and greedy - not to mention duplicitous and egotistical. There aren't really any decent female characters in the film - Joe's ex-wife is your typical nasty, self-indulgent and demanding lady who wants Joe to fork up over $10 thousand to sent their kid to a school for gifted kids (of course the little guy is gifted - Joe gave birth to him!) When the terrible truth gets out - do you think Joe is punished for his horrendous misdeed? Or do you think his advice and manner are so winning that everyone forgives him?

There are many moments that are sloppy. Obviously, in one scene, Joe and another character were talking about him getting an iPhone. How do I know that? Because awkwardly re-recorded audio is inserted into the conversation, so we hear Joe say "I got a *SMARTPHONE*" and the other character says "I thought you hated *SMARTPHONES*." It sounds like a computer is saying the word 'smartphone', with the insertions mistimed and not even sounding like the character who is talking. Legal troubles it seems. It adds an air of amateur folly to the whole proceedings. This cheapness bleeds into the visual effects as well, with one suicidal person calling into Loqueesha's show standing on an obviously green-screened bridge - the kind of green-screen that you or I would manage to cobble together with mid-priced video editing software. Everything looks cheap. Isn't it bad enough that we're talking about a film that perpetrates some of the most racist, stereotypical garbage we've seen in decades? A moment should also be taken to consider the fact that this was meant to be a comedy, and nothing even remotely funny happens. I never even smiled - and I at least did that once while watching Brendan Schaub's terrible comedy hour.

Well - it's hard to smile while watching Saville make heaps of money doing an absurd impression of a sassy black woman. He was at least partially aware he'd be seen as racist, which is why he cast a black man as his closest partner in the film, and why the black woman at the start becomes his fan and eventually girlfriend. How on Earth can Joe be racist when he's got a black friend and black girlfriend? Unfortunately, this guy doesn't realise that this is easily identifiable as one of those "How can I?" gambits - "How can I be racist when I have a black friend?" It stands out a mile. It's much like the fact that misogyny is impossible, because all of us men have a mother. "How can I by a misogynist when I love my Ma?" To me, the casting of black people in these roles just highlighted what was going on even more. It's so painfully obvious that he decided to make these two characters black to deflect the flak that was going to come his way. What Jeremy Saville probably didn't expect was for the entire world to despise his movie. Even if he was aiming this solely at racists - he can't hide the fact that his film is terrible regardless.

I hated this movie so much. I hated watching it. I hate Jeremy Saville - and although I agree that hate is a bad thing, in Jeremy Saville's case I'll make an exception. This guy should never go near a camera again, and should quit the entertainment business entirely. He should admit to himself that he made a massive mistake - and that his "telling it like it is" is in fact "telling it the way Jeremy sees it". He should admit that white men have a pretty cushy ride through life, and that they're not exactly discriminated against when you look at the world as a whole. He should admit that "equal opportunity" situations are only trying to redress a gross imbalance, and that despite this it's still easier for white men to find work - and get paid more than women. He should apologize for making a movie that is deeply offensive, to all of us. What were you thinking?? Are you insane Jeremy? Was making Loqueesha some kind of psychotic episode?

For anyone who wants an eloquent, amusing and very well-written take on Loqueesha - I advise them to read Nathan Rabin's excellent article - "Loqueesha is Somehow MUCH Worse Than It Looks", which was written only a couple of months ago. It's great reading. Unfortunately, Loqueesha is not great viewing. It was a horror to watch - and surely one of the absolute worst movies ever made.






You'd Be Surprised, 2019

In this stand-up special, Brendan Schaub shares jokes and stories about his MMA career.

So this was . . . fine?

Don't get me wrong, this is not a good stand up special. But I spent many years working with a comedy troupe and also know two pretty good stand-up comedians. To me, the worst kind of comedy comes from a place of punching down. What I see as I watch Schaub in this special is someone who honest to goodness doesn't totally understand what makes comedy work and barely takes advantage of the fact that he has a unique experience to draw on for his material. There are even hints of something that could have been really strong.

When you compare this movie to something like Loqueesha, at least here you have someone who is willing to be vulnerable. When Schaub talks about how he can't let anyone see him cry after he loses a fight because he knows he will be memed to death, that's a strong experience to build from.

Unfortunately, this special feels like a series of missed opportunities. Again, this feels like someone who just doesn't get how comedy works. For example, at one point he name drops a show runner, saying "He's the best. Okay, he got fired. He's not the best, but he's the best." Why was this guy fired? Why is he the best? Schaub is even onto something when he talks about the difference between the pre-fight locker room atmosphere and the post-fight locker room atmosphere, noting that they turn off the music, turn off the heat, and for some reason take away all of the special Gatorade. But he doesn't have the skill--or the writing help--to make anything of this.

There's also an overreliance on well-worn stand up tropes, like making gay jokes or doing an "Asian voice". Stand up isn't so much about a story as it is what you do with that story, how you turn it sideways and look at it from a different point of view. Schaub tells way to many of his "jokes" just as stories in the way that you'd tell a story to a group of friends. There are natural laughing points, yes, but not at a performance level. There's just a complete lack of craft here.

It's also kind of telling that Schaub only really mentions three women in like the whole special. There's aunt Linda who's a "b*tch", a woman with large breasts at one of his fights, and his ex-girlfriend. A chance to think about how his ex-girlfriend would feel watching him get throttled in a fight is a glaring missed opportunity in the last part of the special. On the flip side, he name drops a ton of guys like Joe Rogan and a bunch of other dudes I didn't recognize but who got whoops and claps from the audience.

I honestly think Schaub could be a decent stand up if he worked on his craft, leaned less on name-dropping, and leveraged his unique life experiences. I saw hope in his line about how he wouldn't kill a deer because "I like their little noses". He could get there, but he's definitely only got one foot on the road. I also have to say again that I appreciated that this comedy is for the most part not mean or cruel, just dumb, and while his treatment of women is pretty superficial, it doesn't feel misogynist like a lot of other comedians. Likewise his comments about race and even sexuality seem more ignorant and self-centered than malicious.




10 Foreign Language movies to go


Carnival of Souls - 1998

Directed by Adam Grossman

Written by Adam Grossman
Based on a story by John Clifford

Starring Bobbie Phillips, Larry Miller & Shawnee Smith

From the six titles remaining I chose one that I thought I might possibly like - or would at least not be so tear-inducingly awful as such hateful garbage as Loqueesha or $2 shop cheap as A Talking Cat!?! This film, Carnival of Souls boasted recognizable names. Obviously, being the executive producer doesn't mean much, so Wes Craven's name being used feels like a cheap name-drop - but this film features Larry Miller as it's villain, and has Shawnee Smith in a supporting role. It's a remake of an established, classic film - so story-wise, I thought I was covered. It appeared to be a horror film - so surely it would entertain on some level. I tried to be so open minded that I was willing myself in naivete - because I didn't know if I had another bottom-of-the-barrel watch in me. Well, Carnival of Souls is a pretty bad film that I couldn't pretend to like. It's the broken dream of a filmmaker who was no good, and on his last chance. It features, as it's lead, an actress who can't really act - or at least glumly refuses to in this.

Writer/director Adam Grossman seems to have recently watched Jacob's Ladder before making this version of Carnival of Souls, because this borrows particularly heavily from that film. Unlike Jacob's Ladder though, we're in on the fact that main character Alex Grant (Bobbie Phillips) is in some kind of dream state, and is either sleeping, dying or dead. She shifts and drifts from one hallucination to another, constantly mistaking each surreal transition and situation for reality. When you're watching the film, you'll notice that this all starts when she drives her car into a river while being held under duress by a nemesis - Louis Seagram (Larry Miller), a man who murdered her mother and abused her - a man who she testified against, sending him to prison for 20 years. Alex is now an adult, and Louis has been released, so when she's held by knifepoint she refuses to let him do what he wants with her. For the rest of the film she's accosted by cenobite-like monsters, nightmare-like occurrences and she drifts from bizarre situation to bizarre situation, often ending up in places like a fairground or the bar she works at. Louis shows up constantly - psychologically torturing her.

Bobbie Phillips is lifeless and terrible in this film - we get absolutely nothing from her, and so she's dreary to watch. Larry Miller injects a little life in proceedings, and is a suitably slimy and disagreeable villain - but he never quite convinced me that the performance was genuine. I was never watching a character, and was always cognizant that I was watching Larry Miller play somebody evil. Shawnee Smith is fine, and therefore seems out of place in this film. Occasionally, familiar nightmare-like moments lifted the tepid mood, but there's a cheap feel to everything, and I don't think Adam Grossman was a good enough director to inject real energy into the scenes as they play out. This would be his last directorial role of any kind - having only directed the straight-to-video release Sometimes They Come Back Again, which was a sequel to Sometimes They Come Back - based on a short story by Stephen King. Grossman would write the screenplay for Sometimes They Come Back For More before falling off the map completely, failing to make it in movies or television.

Carnival of Souls looks really cheap - but cinematographer Christopher Baffa was a pro, and was director of photography on one film I like - Suicide Kings. He hasn't had a huge career, but he's kept working, filming episodes of American Horror Story and dividing his time between television and film. I can't say that the impression of the film's score was a good one, being something that I'd expect from an episode of Freddy's Nightmares rather than a theatrical film. Composer Andrew Rose has a sparse filmography, and not one that's going to impress on a resume. There are even a few transitions that don't work out too well, though it's tough to blame editor David Handman (Jason Goes to Hell : The Final Friday and Jason X) if he hasn't been given footage to seamlessly blend all of these transitions together. The film had a good art director in Erin Cochran and an Emmy Award-winning production designer in Aaron Osborne, who often pairs up with Cochran - though they were both just getting established, and had yet to work on big films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Keanu.

I believe that most of the blame for this iteration of Carnival of Souls being as bad as it is - derivative and dull - basically goes to Adam Grossman. He's the weak link, he was the writer and he was the director. He was working with a decent crew and aside from his lead had a few talented actors ready to do his bidding. His Sometimes They Come Back Again is regarded as a bad film, and this subsequent one killed his career for good. The entire story is one long gimmick that never ends - so there's not really much plot to speak of, only an endless series of dreams, one after the other. When the one character who dominates the film is disappointingly dull and flat, even freaky dreams can't lift this into an even remotely interesting place to take it all in. It all familiarly feels like one of those horror anthology television shows, except instead of 20 minutes, it lasts over an hour longer - far too long to sustain what it's trying to do. Even 20 minutes of this would have started to grind a little. The monsters look a little silly, and made me laugh once or twice. I can't emphasize enough how much I disliked Bobbie Phillips' performance.

Someone who loved the original 1962 Carnival of Souls, hoping that this would deliver even half of what that film did would have been deeply disappointed in this film. Even angry. Knowing how bad it was going to be, I didn't mind watching it too much. Unlike Wild 90 it at least continually throws things at us in an attempt to be edgy and frightening. Unlike The Misty Green Sky, it had a budget. Unlike Loqueesha, it wasn't overbearingly offensive and exhausting. It was pretty bad though, and not up to theatrical standard. I've seen plenty of stuff like this on television, which often sinks to low standards when trying to bring off high concept ideas in the horror genre. I'm not saying that there was anything brilliant or visionary about this film's narrative, but Grossman's ideas couldn't fully be realised in respect to what he was trying to do - as humble as it was. He seems to have lacked talent as well as experience, and was in way over his head - and when he has nightmares, chances are they're about the reception this film got after turning out the way it did.




Carnival of Souls

I admitted in my review of the original that Carnival of Souls deserved a remake, and this certainly tried to be the one it deserved. The whole movie was about surrealism building up to shock-scares before you realize that the whole scenario is back at some past scene, which means the movie can't get its hallucinations and surreal behavior straight. If it had another director behind the wheel it could've had some organization. In the end, these hallucinations have very little impact. On top of that, no one in the cast is fully convincing. I admit, however, that I liked the subplot in which Alex was aware that she "may have been going crazy," and that addressing the possibility helped her stay straightforward, but that's really the only thing I liked about the movie. Its attempts at subplots were kinda generic and under-realized. Watchable, but still undercooked.




10 Foreign Language movies to go


Bane - 2008

Directed by James Eaves

Written by James Eaves

Starring Tina Barnes, Jonathan Sidgwick & Sophia Dawnay

A group of women find themselves being held captive in some kind of research facility - they've all lost their memory, but are kept under close surveillance and are questioned and tested by people who are seemingly doctors. If they answer simple questions, they are in turn allowed to ask questions of their own - but as time goes by these ladies start dying one by one, victims of what looks to be a crazed doctor with a large knife. Before each murder, they have the exact time of their own demise cut into their flesh when they're asleep or unconscious. What's going on? This extremely low budget sci-fi thriller does end up giving us answers to that question - but the answers are very silly. I don't want to overstate how silly this film's reveal is, but at the same time, it's pretty hard to overstate it. It's the kind of revelation that gets you to lean back in your seat, look at the ceiling and just mutter "Wow."

We've got all the problems a micro-budget film has - bad acting, a very cheap setting (think, fences and sheets), poor make-up effects and a cut-rate, juvenile screenplay. It also goes for a bone-shattering, sanity-testing 107 minutes - and it could easily have gone for, say, 77 minutes. There was absolutely no reason to stretch this nonsense to the extreme lengths it was stretched - unless the filmmakers wanted us to be tortured just as these girls were being tortured. Anyway, as a change I'm going to list all of the films writer/director James Eaves has made, and their respective ratings on the IMDb :

2001 - Sanitarium - 86m -- 2.7/10 from 317 votes
2002 - Alice - 85m -- 6.2 from 24 votes
2004 - Hellbreeder - 85m -- 2.1/10 from 572 votes
2006 - The Witches Hammer - 91m -- 3.1/10 from 353 votes
2008 - Bane - 107m -- 3.3/10 from 594 votes
Segments from 3 'Anthology' films which are rated 3.3/10, 3.4/10 and 2.7/10 respectively
2016 - Neighbors From Hell - 90m -- Falls short of the 5 votes needed to have any rating at all
2018 - 60 Seconds to Die - 94m -- 3.2/10 from 182 votes
2021 - You Might Get Lost - 94m -- 4.9/10 from 412 votes

You might think from that, "Hey, Eaves has taken a long time doing it, but he's getting better" from that last You Might Get Lost rating, but if you look at the reviews they all seem to have been cut and pasted from different films, and all give unlikely high ratings of 8/10 and 9/10. It seems that something fishy has been going on, and that 50 or so votes from whatever source are erroneous. The film looks terrible - not even up to 4.9/10 standard. It seems that this James Eaves has been making some of the worst horror films going around for the past 20 years - and is unlikely to stop. It would be interesting to know how much he makes from them - along with all the other people out there making these extremely low budget movies. I have a personal connection to one filmmaker, but I'm careful about discussing his movies in case he ever sees fit to read what I'm writing. In any case, his movies get more ratings and better ratings than Eaves does.

I could talk about this film's most interesting feature - that reveal at the end, but I'll leave that surprise for people who actually watch the film. I could try to poke fun at it - but it's such a large and easy target and I've found that it's sometimes hard to make fun of something that's fundamentally ridiculous to start with. In the meantime, I hope you love bad actresses screaming and crying, because you're about to endure 100 minutes of it watching Bane, with little let-up and only brief glimpses of anything other than fences and sheets. The only horror to be gleaned from this film is the fact that James Eaves is still out there, making movies. Kind of makes you shiver a little, the idea of that...