Shredder: Snowboarding PSA/Horror Movie

There is a formula to slasher movies, and it’s a simple one. A killer, annoying people for him or her to kill, some sort of setting. That’s all. So why not a murderous skier slaying suckas on a mountainside? I sadly may have the answer. Its name: Shredder.

shreddertitle

I forgot to get a screenshot of the title screen when I had the DVD in and didn’t feel like loading it back up, so I decided to make one. It took an hour longer than getting the stupid disc would have.

I decided to focus on my favorite aspect of Shredder, which without question was the killer’s continued ineptitude. No opportunity to fall down or get outsmarted was squandered. You’ll be rooting for the guy out of sheer pity.

It doesn’t help that he is literally just dressed like a guy who got a ski suit and goggles from KMart. They have to make some sort of ski mask with a demon or skull motif, no?

That said, I hope you’ll forgive me for the half-hearted summary of the plot. It’s not anything too special. Here, I’ll give you the characters:

Cole– wimpy main hero guy
Kimberly– Cole’s prissy girlfriend who openly gropes other men in front of him
Pike– only okay character besides the killer I think she’s Kimberly’s cousin
Skyler– shithead “comic relief”
Robyn– boobs
Christophe– European hitchhiker/red herring killer/guy Kimberly openly gropes in front of Cole
Kirk– stoner who is really good at snowboarding and wears a cowboy hat during one scene for some reason

The basic premise is, the above dorks sneak into an abandoned ski resort that Kimberly’s father is in the process of buying. They are explicitly told that there was a horrific murder that took place years before. Snowboarders (just like our heroes!) murdered a young girl. Oh. That seems like a pretty decent reason to close the place, but they don’t care. They need to SHRED.

The start is pretty typical horror movie. A few people get stabbed with icicles, because the writers took the path of least resistance in every possible way. The movie only hits its stride when our villain zooms up and joins Robyn on the ski lift. In case you forgot, she is a female with bosoms.

He’s willing to give her a chance.

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So far I don’t really see the problem. It’s lame, but it’s also sound advice. The kids have made it abundantly clear that they care more for alcohol and parties with stilted, unnatural dialogue than they do for mountain safety.

He thrusts a rulebook in her face, but Robyn offers her rebuttal in the only language punks know.

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See this is exactly why someone needed to step in and try and teach them how to snowboard responsibly. You are definitely not supposed to shoves strangers off a ski lift from 40 feet in the air.

We have reached the first Moment of Shame for the killer. While he’s free-falling through the frozen air, Robyn somehow manages to wrap her scarf around the ski lift. Obviously, what happens next is that she hangs her own goddamn self.

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I really want to give the poor masked skier the kill, but I can’t on this one. He had zero to do with it. One of the more memorable deaths in the movie, and the murderer was “carelessness with loose clothing.”

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Robyn cruises by a few times throughout the next few scenes, as if taunting the killer for his failures.

A while later, Pike and Skyler have found the cabin where Kirk was stabbed (one of the aforementioned icicle incidents.) Internally, the viewer is cheering as the skier appears. The comic relief always gets the most brutal treatment, and rightfully so. However, Pike foils our villain with the calculated tactic of closing the door.

Doing so causes the lone symbol of the killer’s success, Kirk’s dead body, to fall unceremoniously to the floor. Of course, the killer bursts through the door and promptly trips over said body. This allows Pike to roundhouse kick him in the face.

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The killer catches a rare break and manages to snag Skyler’s leg with a hatchet. I swear, it comes off as an underdog defying the odds. Plus, Skyler is the worst. The only unfortunate part about it is that he missed a major artery.

Sadly, our luck runs out. Pike and stupid Skyler manage to escape after the killer AGAIN trips and pratfalls out the open door, earning a snowboard to the face for his clumsiness.

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Jesus. The killer finally decides to start acting like he even WANTS to murder people towards the end. He goes with the classic “appear outside the car door while the person inside forgets how to turn a key” bit. Regrettably for him, Pike is driving. As the last remaining female character, she is contractually obligated to peel out before he can get to her. Once more, the fearsome, faceless entity lurking in the shadows of the mountain is knocked on his butt. They might as well have just had him slip on a banana peel.

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*slide whistle noise*

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The above could have been the DVD cover. It sums up everything that happens.

There is one moment of redemption. After the killer stabs Skyler through the eye with a ski pole YES he goes after Kimberly. It’s at this point I have realized I forgot to tell you about another character. His name is Chad, he was murdered in literally the first scene, and his body was being stored in the same cabinet Kimberly hides in.

Cue the awesome sequence where the skier stabs at Kimberly with a poker, which snags Chad’s head and repeatedly pushes it towards her.

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I’m going to pretend that he did this on purpose. It’s very clear he didn’t but he needs a victory. Any victory.

There actually is another few scenes, including a big swerve as to who the perpetrator is! Big may be stretching it. I’ll leave it at that on the off chance that any of you ever buy this movie for $3.99 at Game XChange like we did. In case I haven’t been clear, it comes highly recommended.

I’m ending it here, on a high note. It’s the least I could do.

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Child’s Play 2: Electric Boogaloo

I like my horror movies to have an interesting plot, unique slashers, and victims dying in the most hilarious ways possible. Going by those guidelines, I probably don’t have to explain why Child’s Play 2 is one of my favorites. Obviously I’m going to though.

Chucky was always the movie character I feared most as a youth. Living dolls/toys/ventriloquist dummies were just unsettling. When I got into Goosebumps, I skipped right the hell over #7: Night of the Living Dummy. I was ten. I almost immediately regret admitting that, and hope we can still be friends.

Being a big, brave near-30 year old today, I recognize Chucky as the horror icon he is. He combines the brutality of Jason Voorhees with the wisecracks of Freddy Krueger. In doll form, he has the unsettling silence of Michael Myers. He also is the only one of them to appear on a wrestling show and taunt a guy known as “the dog-faced gremlin.”

Basically the total package. Today, we celebrate Chucky and all of his accomplishments, like that weird one up there. We’re going to do it in style with a full-on review of Child’s Play 2. And to make things even better, I’ll be joined by my pal and brother-in-law Cliff Huizenga (http://cliffpro.com). Just like the MST3K review that I did with Adriana, this will be a fun-filled adventure through differing views and writing styles.Cliff enjoys a good horror movie much the same as I do, so this is going to be good.

Settle in with a seltzer. It’s going to be a long and bloody one.

The Movie!

Dan: The sequel picks up where Child’s Play leaves off. We waste no time in getting to our first casualty, as the remnants of the doll from the first movie are cleaned up during the opening credits. Don’t ask me why. I’m glad they decided to do it, though, because otherwise we wouldn’t have the scene where a toy technician tries to give Chucky new eyeballs.

Oops!

There is no better way to start a horror movie than to electrify and throw a grown man through a window four minutes in. Actually, it doesn’t even need to be horror. Every movie should begin in this fashion, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, we soon learn that Andy’s mother has been committed to an insane asylum because she backs up her son’s stories about murderous toys, and no one really wants to see her responsible for a child. Thus, Andy is in the care of a foster home. He’s very quickly brought into the home of foster parents Phil and Joanne. And I do mean quickly. The movie makes it seem as though they’re picking out a ham at the grocery store, rather than having to sign 8,000 adoption forms.

Regardless, they’re out the door in about 15 minutes and on their way home, luckily for Andy. Unluckily for him, Chucky executes the devious serial killer plan of calling the foster home and asking for Andy, and is evidently given his new address. That seems like the sort of thing you maybe shouldn’t give out if a kid’s just been at the center of a series of grisly murders..

Cliff: Ah, the Child’s Play series. I remember being a kid and watching Child’s Play 2 for the first time. As a fan of stop-motion, robots and Muppets, the concept of a toy doll yelling obscenities and murdering people was of equal interest to me as watching Johnny Five in Short Circuit. As a child who should have been afraid of Chucky, I thought he was awesome!

Dan: [Thanks for making me look like a weenie, Cliff.]

Cliff: With the second movie being my first foray into the series, the plot should have confused me. However, the filmmakers did an excellent job of explaining the backstory for those, like me, who did not see the first film. And remember, this was a period of time where you couldn’t just load up Netflix to watch the series or download every single film for portable watching. HBO didn’t have “On Demand”. So, being able to guide the viewer right into the story was important.

This brings up an interesting point about sequels in general. The first movie was a great stand-alone film. So, the opportunity to milk the series for what it’s worth would have been appealing—and that’s exactly what happened with Bride of Chucky and the abomination known as Seed of Chucky. (WARNING: Do not watch Seed of Chucky. May cause eye and brain cancer.) But somehow, the filmmakers avoided the trap of the 2nd and 3rd movies.

Personally, I love the Back to the Future and The Matrix trilogies. However, both first films were obviously made as one-offs with no intention for sequels. Then, because the films generated enough revenue to get the green light for sequels in haste, Parts 2 and 3 were written at the same time. Realistically, both series go Part 1, Part 2: Episode 1, and Part 2: Episode 2. Still classics, but feels too much like they were tacked on to an already great set of movies.

Not Child’s Play 2 though.

Even knowing nothing about the series, the beginning of Child’s Play 2 gives you enough to know of Andy’s troubled past with his fear of the talking, killing Good Guy doll. A great portion of the movie sets the tone for how isolated Andy is from, well, pretty much everyone. But, Andy knows better. He knows Chucky will return and kill again.

And the film delivers on its Chucky kills.

The Kills!

Dan: Chucky has a pretty broad range of murderin’ methods in this film. Electricity! Suffocation! Neck-breaking! Ruler beatings! Knitting needles I guess! He’s classically shown as using a knife, but I like him stepping out of his comfort zone here. If I had to choose, I might say Phil’s death is my favorite. Chucky wisely avoids any suspicions by straight-up tripping the guy on the basement steps. He lands right on top of his big head in what is one of the more gruesome deaths in the franchise. Atypical, but it works. Plus everyone of course blames Andy.

No messy cleanup!

If we’re going purely based on style and not “killer doll reasoning that I’ve put way too much thought into,” Andy’s teacher has to take the prize. It’s not even really for the kill itself, but the flair Chucky adds when isolating Andy by getting him detention.

I sure hope the screenwriter was given an MVP trophy or something for this.

I guess Chucky gives up caring about keeping a low profile once Phil’s gone because he pretty blatantly murders Joanne. He must have realized that the movie’s rapidly approaching the third act.

Cliff: At first, it would seem to me that I don’t have a favorite kill. I could never previously understand why, besides just being excited while anxiously waiting for Chucky to take out his next victim. But, after watching the movie (a couple of times) this Halloween season, I understand why now:

The film does an excellent job at making you want Chucky to kill his victims.

– Mattson was the corporate lap dog who’s biggest strength was his credit card (“That’s a gold card. That’s as good as cash.” Might as well have placed a screen overlay of the AMEX logo for product placement).

– Andy’s teacher, Miss Kettlewell, embodied the teacher we all hated as school kids.

– His foster parents were a mixed couple, with Phil being a complete jerk the entire movie and Joanne’s sudden departure from a loving, understanding parent to completely rejecting Andy the moment Phil died (honestly, she should have been thankful).

– Grace was right to be mad about the fire alarm being pulled, but had no right to rip Chucky away from Kyle’s hands. She had it coming.

– You had no emotional attachment to the security/technician in the toy factory, so he made for a great, cheap throwaway kill.

Dan: This man’s final epitaph: “A cheap, throwaway kill.” : (

Cliff: For a horror film, there are characters you sympathize with and those you don’t. As for these people, you as the audience are definitely not worried about their impending doom; you’re expecting it. You didn’t want Chucky to kill Andy or Kyle because the film made you care about them. They weren’t bad people or jerks or nobodies; they were good kids. They were the good guys. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE!?)

Although, Chucky did make the greatest psychopathic face as he approached Miss Kettlewell with the ruler.

Heh heh, classic.

Issues!

Cliff: I did have some issues with the plot and certain scenes. For example, when Chucky first reveals himself to Andy, he somehow managed to tie up Andy’s arms and legs to all four bed posts, shove a rolled up sock in his mouth and climb on top of Andy’s body before waking up. How does a troubled child, fearing the return of a killer doll be able to sleep so soundly?

And speaking of revealing himself, Chucky’s main goal of using Andy to play “Hide The Soul” to transfer out of the doll body technically is flawed. Not really covered in the second movie, but explained in both the first and third films, Chucky can only transfer his soul to the first person he reveals himself to. This limitation is reset in the third movie by him receiving a new body, created by the melted remains of his old body.

But, in the beginning of Child’s Play 2, Chucky does get a new body with parts from his old body. If we are to believe that melted parts of his old body in a new “shell” count as a new body, then placing his eyes and skull in a new body should count too. And if that’s the case, Andy wouldn’t have been the first person Chucky revealed himself to; It would have been Mattson.

…Actually, now that I’ve thought about it, I’m glad they didn’t go in that direction.

Dan: I have absolutely no issues with this movie, nor any of the above. Furthermore, I’m going to admit right here that I like Seed of Chucky. And yes, it is horrible.

Final Scene!

Dan: I could have made this entire review just about the ending, alienating you all as readers. It’s a big part of why I love this movie so much in the first place. At their heart, 80s slasher movies are over the top and ludicrous. I can think of no better way to describe what happens to Chucky once he corners Andy and Kyle in the Good Guys factory.

It starts with Chucky trying to steal Andy’s soul once again. He would have pulled it off, too, but alas! He’s been in the doll’s body too long. He catches on to this once he notices he’s bleeding from the nose, prompting the absolute greatest “NOOOOOOOO” ever committed to film by a toy possessed with the soul of a serial killer.

NOOOOO! Etc.

What follows really does defy any words I could come up with. I’ve put together a handy collage that sums it up pretty well, though.

Chucky is crushed by a bunch of boxes, gets his hand caught in a gate and is forced to tear it right the hell off,

is stuck inside of the doll-assembling mechanics, gets covered in molten plastic, then explodes. This movie has 18 false finishes and I love every one of them more than the last.

After typing all of that I feel bad for Chucky. He’s basically a toddler. Look at him kicking his tiny little baby feet while Kyle refuses to let him stab her:

Aww!

Cliff: What an absolute perfect scene to end the movie. First movie starts with a toy store selling Good Guys; the second ends where they’re being made. Being surrounded by thousands of dolls that Andy fears definitely sets an unsettling atmosphere. Also, incomplete, lifelike dolls are just plain creepy.

Come to think of it, I do have a favorite kill for the movie: The death of Chucky himself. With Andy being blamed for killings in both the first and second movie, the child who wouldn’t hurt a fly makes the conscious decision to actually kill his first victim in self-defense. Or, at least try to, until Kyle has to save the day with an air hose. Love that gooey explosion.

Dan: In case you forgot already.

Cliff: And then, almost immediately after the climax, the movie ends. No cops, no aftermath, no follow-up. And certainly no lead-in to an Episode 2 with a “To Be Continued” title card. The story is simply over. Brilliantly done.

Until they do Child’s Play 3 and complete a great trilogy. Then kill it with Bride of Chucky. And do unspeakable things with its corpse in Seed of Chucky. Curse of Chucky, however… that one deserves a post on its own for its quality work and bringing both a modern reboot and an amazing ending to this classic series. Thoughts on that, Dan?

I would be delighted, Cliff. And I sure hope you guys would be interested in reading more horror movie reviews. Please say yes because I’m going to do it anyway.

I love doing posts like this. It’s a lot of fun to put together with someone else and get their views on a movie or topic. It also makes for a less stale read if you’re bored by my blabbering. So a huge thank you to Cliff for giving me a hand with this. I hope writing about exploding dolls was half as fun for you as it was for me.

Onwards and upwards to further horror movie deconstructions! If we do Curse of Chucky, maybe I can convince Cliff to join in on Seed of Chucky too.

A man can dream.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Comics, Movies, and Way Too Many Words About Both

It was only a matter of time before I posted about them. Easily the earliest obsession I had as a child, with the possible exception of dinosaurs, they were the greatest thing in my tiny toddler world.

I guess mentioning what I’m talking about in the post title kills any suspense I was trying to build. It’s the Ninja Turtles.

Some of the earliest home videos we have show me swinging socks around in a sad attempt at mimicking Michelangelo’s nunchuck prowess. Not that real nunchucks would have made me look any cooler when I was also two years old and had a mullet.

Hope you didn’t think I was exaggerating.

I had all the toys, carried around in an official TMNT suitcase, and the first movie I saw in the theaters was 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My grandparents took me to see it, and were a little concerned because I was three and had never had to sit still through a movie in public before. Their fears were allayed, however, as I remained motionlessly, hands clasped in lap, for the entire duration. Like I was going to miss a second of action or of Raphael yelling “DAAAAMN!”

And that’s really what this post is about. Not my weird hair or makeshift ninja weapons, but the Ninja Turtles movie. To this day I consider it to be a legitimately good movie that can be enjoyed by people who aren’t necessarily TMNT fans. It’s simply well-done. And of course, as a fan it remains in my top five movies to this day. One of the reasons a lot of people hold it in such high regard is the inclusion of various ideas from both the original comics and the 1980s cartoon series that started the giant Ninja Turtles craze.

The movie did a great job of combining the two. The general plot followed the first four issues of the comics, while the turtles had personalities and humor that were the main focal point of the cartoon. In the comics, they all wore red bandanas and killed an awful lot more people than you might imagine. In the cartoon, they donned the individually-colored bandanas that we’ve all come to associate them with, and they made really bad puns instead of murdering criminals.

As someone who grew up with the kid-friendly TV version, the darkness of the books seemed both insane and cool. With that in mind, I decided to detail some of my favorite scenes that crossed over from the comics into the movie. They may have changed a bit in the transfer, but it doesn’t make them any less amazing.


Rooftop Fight

Comics:

The Turtles really went for broke early on by including one of their coolest fights in the very first issue. It starts out with the introduction of the turtles and how they came to exist before moving on to their feud with the Shredder. It doesn’t take long (a few pages) before Splinter reveals the purpose in all the years of training: his sons are going to straight-up murder Shredder.

See?

I guess he has good reason. Shredder murdered his master, and now Splinter wants some good old-fashioned revenge.

Of course, he sends Raphael to give a message to the Shredder, Raph being the most angry and deranged of the four brothers. Raph tosses a note attached to his sai through Shredder’s window, calling him out. He seems to interrupt a business meeting, scaring off some of Shredder’s potential customers. It’s a bit odd that our first glimpse of the turtles’ greatest nemesis has him wearing a shirt and tie as opposed to pajamas covered in blades.

Shredder’s rightfully pissed over the deal gone south, and accepts Raphael’s challenge. You might be wondering why Raph didn’t just throw the sai through his chest cavity. It would have been a good idea, but the note explicitly mentions giving Shredder a chance to regain his honor. The turtles may be murderers, but they want to murder fairly.

Of course, he’s a bad guy so Shredder brings his Foot soldiers along to the death duel. Luckily for us readers, this leads to a Badass Rooftop Rumble.

The turtles dispatch of the ninjas, and it’s time to face the Shredder. It goes quite poorly for our heroes, until they realize there are four of them. After using teamwork and unfair advantages, they beat their rival to a pulp and politely ask him to commit seppuku. He declines, and extends a counter-offer in the form of a thermite grenade.

Unfortunately for him, Donatello isn’t having it.

He bonks Shredder in the face with his bo, sending him tumbling over the edge, grenade in hand. Then Shredder explodes.

And that’s the end of the first issue! Pretty brutal. I realize this is an abrupt ending, but I work with what I’m given. Let’s see how the movie compares.

Movie:

The movie really takes its time building up to the one of the finest pieces of cinematic gold ever committed to film. After fighting through waves of foot soldiers, the turtles finally battle their way up to the street and onto a nearby rooftop. After Raphael utters the immortal line, “Aww, no more?”, the time has come.

Shredder silently descends from the heavens, prepared to dine on turtle soup. And for the first several minutes of the fight, that’s exactly what he does. I don’t think I can do the intensity justice, so please just watch this video.

One by one, Shredder dispatches our heroes. It’s a great sequence, with minimal fast cuts. Just cool choreography and bitchin’ music. But we all know what’s coming. Shredder isn’t long for this world, only this time it’s Splinter who does the deed. The turtles’ master somehow scales to the roof, despite having the mobility of a dirty old rag up until this point. Shredder sees him and recognizes him as the rat who clawed his face off years prior.

Shredder takes leave of his senses as he charges Splinter like a psychopath. Of course, Splinter dodges and catches his arch enemy with one of Mikey’s nunchucks. One errant knife throw later, and Shredder is yet again falling to his doom.

The movie lacks the gore of the live grenade, but more than makes up for it by having Casey Jones crush Shredder’s body in a garbage truck. He tries a joking “Oops!”, but no amount of sarcasm can hide the blatant murder that’s just taken place.

Cowabunga!


Smashed Windows and Antique Store Brawls

Comics:

After falling off the roof while holding an exploding grenade, Shredder is obviously still alive. He announces his return in style by unceremoniously throwing Leonardo through April’s window. It’s the perfect way to get the turtles’ attention, as he goes on to lead his Foot soldiers in an attack on the apartment. The outnumbered brothers fight valiantly, but the sheer numbers and shock over Shredder apparently being a zombie overtake them. They’re in a bad way by the time the fight spills to the antique store below.

Shredder’s lax demeanor above comes back to haunt him, however. Hockey-masked vigilante CASEY JONES shows up to help out his pals, yelling strange things like “GOONGALA.” For some reason that works. He’s able to not only fight off the Foot, but Shredder himself.

With the aid of their insane new friend, the turtles survive the horrible attack and are able to escape.

Movie:

Here it’s Raph who sails through the skylight. He gets into one of his trademark arguments with Leonardo, this time over their lack of Splinter-searching. I think I forgot to mention that at this point of the movie, Splinter’s been taken by the Foot.

Raph storms away from his brothers, throwing angry kicks across the deserted roof of April’s apartment. Unfortunately for him, the Foot see this as an opportunity for an ambush. They attack, by which I mean I’m pretty sure they actually powerbomb him at one point.

After a loooong montage of Raph getting the shit kicked out of him, he’s tossed through the ceiling, landing at his brothers’ feet. He’s soon followed by a whole bunch of Foot soldiers, who come crashing through every window and doorway that the apartment has.

Also, the turtles haven’t even met Shredder yet at this point in the movie. I feel like they should have been a little more curious as to why ninjas keep showing up, but they seem to take it in stride.

After the floor collapses, the battle is continued in the antique store below, where the turtles are again saved by Casey Jones. Casey offers to cover their retreat, to which Leonardo bravely replies “Good idea,” before booking through a trap door to the alley that all antique stores have. To be fair, I would have done the same thing.

Casey manages to escape the dozens of highly-trained ninjas, holding them off with a hockey stick and an endless barrage of one-liners. Soon he joins his friends in April’s van, and they’re off to the setting of the next entry in this article!


The Farm That Time Forgot

Comics:

Everyone heads to a farm that Casey’s grandmother owns in upstate New York. The turtles have gotten their asses handed to them for the first time and seem pretty down. It’s hard to make pizza jokes with Leonardo still picking pieces of glass out of his face.

The brothers takes some time to themselves in order to regroup. Leo hunts some deer, Raph and Casey work on fixing up an old car, Donny tries to get the hot water working, and Mikey starts beating up some punching bags.

He gets really into it and pretty much destroys the barn. It’s a far cry from the TV show Mikey that kids know and love.

Movie:

This is one of my favorite scenes in the film. It does a great job of showing how each turtle handles the defeat differently. Leo is full of guilt, seeing as how his leadership leads Raphael straight through a window. Mikey is shown for a few brief seconds wailing away on a punching bag. It’s short, but serves the same purpose that the scene does in the comics. Even the perpetually-joking Michelangelo is affected by the loss. Story-telling and character development, people!

Also, in the movie version it’s Donatello who works on the truck with Casey, mostly because Raphael is unconscious. I support the change and the increased Corey Feldman presence it produces. Plus, this scene beats the comics by miles because it’s only in the film version that Casey and Don insult each other alphabetically. I love Raph, but he couldn’t have done that. He would have called Casey a dickbag four seconds in and ruined it.

I don’t know how this movie didn’t win every award possible, plus several ones that aren’t, once Casey calls a giant turtle “Dome Head.”

There are so many more scenes I could include, but this post is already about a thousand words more than most of you are willing to read. If it isn’t obvious by now, I love both the TMNT comics and movie. They both offer Ninja Turtles fans the things that we love, albeit in different ways. It’s equally satisfying seeing Leonardo telling Shredder to kill himself as it is seeing Leonardo slice a piece of pizza in mid-air, only to have it plop unceremoniously onto Splinter’s head. You need balance.

…. I forgot the first Casey Jones/Raphael encounter.

I’m going to bed and never writing again. See you all soon!

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Robot Monster Analysis (With Guest Adriana!)

Today is historic. It marks the first time that this site has featured a guest contributor. If you don’t like my writing, this could be the post for you!

I’m really hoping that this isn’t the first you’ve heard of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I fear that for many it is. On the bright side, I might get another person or two into the show. It’s undeniably huge with its cult following, but it deserves more mainstream recognition.

The unique premise alone should be enough intrigue you all; a man and two robots trapped in space, being forced to watch horrible films. Even those who have never seen an episode probably recognize the image of silhouettes in the corner of the screen, pointing up at and making fun of old movie scenes. Plus, everyone loves wooden dialogue and plot holes big enough to drive a truck through.

I should clarify for those who are unfamiliar. I’m not taking about bad movies like Sharknado. I’m talking about bad movies where the director was convinced he had cinematic gold on his hands. It’s am important distinction to make. Films made today that are on SyFy weekly, or go straight to DVD, are typically made with the intention of appealing to the B-movie audience. The real magic happens when a filmmaker gives it his best shot and fails to deliver his message with any coherency or grace.

MST3K was well aware of this, and focused on the latter. Over the course of their eleven years, they mocked monster movies, old black and white detective stories, spy films, and more. One of their staples, however, was classic 1950s science fiction.

As luck with have it, my friend Adriana posted a photo of the 1953 movie Robot Monster on Instagram, as part of her 100 Days of Robots campaign. Having watched MST3K with her before, I mentioned that Robot Monster was a Mystery Science Theater episode. Of course, we then immediately had to schedule a viewing, which came to fruition mere days later.

Since she has quite a way with words, I thought it’d be fun to document the watching of the movie and post our thoughts on certain aspects. As usual, I was right. We had a blast, and Adriana was kind enough to contribute her thoughts on the short before the movie, the movie itself, and the riff/joke quality put forth by the show.

Let’s dive into Robot Monster and see if we can’t make a believer out of you. If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to Adriana. She’ll hit you if you don’t.

The Short- Commando Cody

Dan: These old serials are the best. A lot of times MST would riff on one of these weekly installments if the movie they were doing for the episode ran short. Robot Monster is barely over an hour so there were two Commando Cody episodes prior to the film. And boy, were they ever fraught with danger and heart-stopping thrills.

I’ll be upfront about this and admit that I didn’t follow the story at all. These were chapters four and five, so it was sort of impossible to jump into an analysis of the plot anyway. It was simple enough to understand that Cody was the good guy, fighting bad guys in classy suits and space people in bath robes. That was all we needed to know.

I was happy that one of the chapters included a fist fight. Something about fight scenes from the 1940s/50s films cheers me up, even when I’m not feeling particularly down. This one didn’t disappoint, as we were treated to punches missing by four feet and a spastic leap over the table. In the end, however, the good guy who wasn’t Cody got his face beat in by the two EVIL GOONS who then stole his lady friend. Cody showed up and wasn’t about to have that, so he took off on his jetpack. Literally, he flies like this:

He somehow catches up to the plane the bad guy’s got the woman in, but it foiled when the jerk pops the wheel off of the control panel and parachutes to safety. The woman is doomed! Also I didn’t know plane steering mechanisms just came off like that. I think there should at least be a screw holding it in place or something.

Cody enters the plane but it’s took late because instead of just carrying the lady to safety using the jetpack he clearly has, the plane straight-up nosedives into a mountain.

Here we reaped the full benefits of the serialized science fiction format. After that tense cliffhanger, we barreled right along to chapter five, where we discovered that our worry was for naught. See, Cody and his lady friend actually escaped moments before fiery impact, with a parachute that was on the plane all along. Huh. I guess Cody wasn’t really needed for this daring escape.

From there, it just got more confusing. Cody went searching for the bad guy, using a control system on his jetpack that included an “up/down” dial. So simple yet amazing. Cody ends up getting shot at and taking a header into a bush. Then something else happens, and somehow two guys go flying off of a cliff when another guy leaps out of a moving car, sending it into the other vehicle.

I realize that summary lost steam at the end, and that’s because I did too. I wanted to see a robot monster and was getting impatient. This blog is free, so you can’t complain.

Adriana: Commando Cody is actually somehow the first half of the movie, again because they took out the parts that made sense. He seems at first like I might want to bear his children-he’s a chiseled philanthropic rocket moon man who saves women from airplanes. But then I think that he might expect me to be a stay at home mother and wear pearls and know how to cook a meal so that all the components are finished cooking at the same time so they’ll all be served hot and I realize that it could never work between us.

Robot Monster Plot

Dan: In a nutshell, this movie is about a family of five, two random people, and one obnoxious man who survive an apocalypse brought on by a bubble-blowing gorilla wearing a space helmet. The two random folk are killed off almost immediately so I didn’t bother remembering their names or why they were in the movie. So it really just focuses on the family and the other guy, who’s an assistant to the archeologist dad guy. Actually like the entire family seem to be archeologists, from the really old parents to the roughly seven-year-old children.

The antagonist is Ro-Man, the aforementioned man-in-a-bad-gorilla-suit. He’s killed off everyone on earth, save for our heroes, with a combination of a machine that spews bubbles and montages stolen from other movies. Specifically, triceratops fighting and an alligator pretending to be a dinosaur.

Because film makers are required to include this, even in movies only an hour long, the stupid assistant guy falls in love with the middle child, a young women in her late teens or early twenties. They somehow managed to revolve a ton of scenes around them making out in the bushes. I feel as though their priorities could have used some re-evaluating, to be honest

The movie takes a dark turn when Ro-Man straight up murders a child by shaking her back and forth. It’s at worst a slightly too intense hug but it’s enough to kill her all the same.

It should come as a surprise to no one that they end the movie with the entire plot being a dream of the boy’s… or was it?? It doesn’t matter.

Adriana: Robot Monster plot is indubitably prolific. Monsters are classic and robots are classic. And this story was doing post apocalyptic theme before it was cool (clearly the robot monster is a hipster). So combine a kick ass end of times theme with a hybrid villain and you’ve got the foundation for a great story. The only thing it was missing was a budget over 20 dollars. Oh, and continuity.

Seems like due to lack of budget they removed about an hour of film. And I’m thinking they chose the hour that made any sense.
The movie was quite hilarious in spite of this. There was this family who was contaminated by a mutagen that caused them to grow into gigantic turt — wait wait wrong story. They were contaminated by a mutagen that made them really super healthy and I’ll be honest I don’t even know if they ate vegetables. Furthermore, the dad was like 60, the mom was 55, the oldest daughter was 36 and the youngest kids were just born a few minutes ago.

So the family in itself is comical. Add to that a robot monster with no face, a boss with no face, and the fact that THEY KILLED THE BABY FIRST and you can tell it is a first rate comedy.

So all in all, I like the movie. I especially loved the old lady hanging out at the top of the ravine wondering who these weird people were filming a movie in her back yard. I half expected her to rush down with a broom in her hand cackling for everyone to “stop H’whackin off in my garage.”

[Editor’s note: Yes, that is a random woman watching them film a movie wherein there are supposed to be only five people left in the world]

It made me want a bubble machine that looks like a radio so I’m not too happy about that because let’s face it- where in the sweet & salty fuck am I gonna find one of those? Ro-Man probably has it back on the moon or wherever the hell he was hangin’ out.

Joel and the Bots- The Riffs

Dan: I’ve always loved dry deliveries in comedy, and they don’t come much better than Joel’s. The later MST3K episodes might be a little more popular in the riff department, but Joel’s are always so innocent and wonderful. No exception here, as he made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions. Just a simple “Catch!” as the little boy was being handed carefully to his father over the stone wall of their shelter was enough to do it. It’s the simple things in life.

Plus, this episode gets bonus points because it featured a host segment where Joel breaks not one, but two chairs over Servo’s head, after Servo takes a page out of Ro-Man’s playbook and threatens to annihilate Joel.

Adriana: The riffs that Joel and the bots do are fun- the running joke about syrup has followed me in the days past and I keep questioning friends about the syrup choices and silently judging their answers. I also loved that Joel pointed out that the Robot Monster decided to rule the world from a fucking cave. There’s an entire empty city!! Or does the BUBBLE machine only work at the cave? And my favorite is when Servo says “That guy’s uglier than a mud fence”

Final Thoughts

Dan: What can I say? I’m a sucker for anything MST3K. I can watch an old movie or show and find plenty of entertainment just enjoying the absurdity with friends. When you factor in a hilarious comedian and two equally-hilarious robots, then you have a party. A small, some would say sad party. But I don’t care. The meaning of life can be found in kindred spirits laughing over cinema that misses its mark by a thousand miles.

I would watch this movie again, right now, and it’s 12:22 AM on a work night.

Adriana: WHO decided to put the glued up alligator in the mix? Like when Ro-Man and the monster killed the entire human race except the Waltons, did they simultaneously bring back the dinosaurs? And from the film they used I am inclined to believe that reptiles WERE harmed in the making of that movie. Shameful– that was a straight up death roll.

Phew. I hope you all enjoyed listening to Adriana and I babble on about a movie that few people would voluntarily watch. Thanks for reading and a big thank you to Adriana for agreeing to this.

Just because I don’t want to end on a picture of a poor reptile being abused, here’s Joel and the Bots wearing garbage bags.

That’s better.

Summaries (Kinda) of Every Movie I Watched This Weekend!

I know that I haven’t posted anything on here for a while, but I don’t think the four people who actually read this are complaining. There’s no excuses either, really, since we’ve been trapped in our condo for the last few days under three feet of snow. I had plenty of time to write, but an internal decision was made to instead watch movies non-stop like a slug. Luckily, that gives me something to write about and you something to read about.

Here’s a weak summary of every one of them! Actually most of them are two-sentence thoughts. There’s a lot. Please don’t judge me.

Godzilla Vs. Megalon (Mystery Science Theater 3000)

You wouldn’t think a giant monster like Godzilla would be able to throw a dropkick, but you’d be wrong. Another thing that is wrong is the shortness of the little boy’s pants. It’s disturbing.

The Brute Man (Mystery Science Theater 3000)

This one went from the educational short before the movie, The Chicken of Tomorrow, to a deformed former football star going on a murderous rampage breaking people’s backs. A++ would watch again. A few beers increased enjoyment.

Drunken Master

The best movie to ever feature Jackie Chan attempting to drown an old man in a giant jar full of water. I had another beer.

*-*BONUS NON-MOVIE HIGHLIGHT*-*

Caitlin and I tunneled through waist-deep snow from the backyard to the front yard to clear away some of the drifts that were 3/4 of the way up the door. It took 45 minutes and I spent a lot of the time laying in snowbanks trying not to throw up while Caitlin dug a path for us.

The Violent Years (Mystery Science Theater 3000)

I fell asleep less than a minute into this and woke up right at the last monologue narration. Didn’t even bother to open my eyes during it.

Final Justice (Mystery Science Theater 3000)

I put this on after waking up from my Violent Years-induced coma because I’ve seen it a lot and didn’t have the strength or willpower to think about anything. There’s a sketch where MST3K host Mike Nelson falls down 15 times in a row and it never fails to make me laugh and I think I need to get off this couch.

Operation Double 007 AKA Operation Kid Brother (Mystery Science Theater 3000)

You don’t need to tell me I watched too much MST this weekend. It’s become apparent. I’m confident defending myself in any argument on the subject, though. armed with the knowledge that this film featured a craggy nun shooting a knife-gun into a man’s chest. EPILOGUE: I never finished watching this movie

Cocoon

A fun little movie if you’re okay with hearing Wilford Brimley say “boner.”

A League of Their Own

During the twenty seconds it takes Tom Hanks to peg a chubby kid in the face with a catcher’s mitt and actively celebrate it by laughing, there is no pain and everything is beautiful.

We might watch Jaws and Rumble in the Bronx today to complete our quest for the laziest three day weekend possible. If we do, I might update this. You’ll want to be sure to stay tuned for those two sentences! Or not, I’d understand.