Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The WiIlies: Stac Does a Movie Review, and it's NOT about Penii.
I love Halloween. From Halloween until Christmas is my favorite time of the the year; I just love sliding from spooky to fuck I ate too much to oh you shouldn't have fuck I ate too much again. Then I generally cap the year off by getting drunk and making a LOT of noise come midnight on the 31st. (Be glad you're not my neighbor; bells and pots and wooden spoons are involved.) Halloween signals the beginning of the season that houses one of my greatest vices: cheap, horrible movies. Cue today's entry from one of the girliest horror fans out there.
The Willies came out in 1991, and was directed and written by Brian Peck. It was the only movie he directed but he's acted in stuff! Oh my yes! He was Scuzz in Return of the Living Dead, for starters. As a result, there are several cast members from both Return and it's first sequel. Sorry boys, no Linnea Quigley butt or Barbie appliance for you.
I got this bad boy for 5$ at the local Fred Meyer's (it's in the Krogers family for those of you on the east coast); in fact, it might even have been a two for 5$ sale, now that I think on it. I can't recall what I got with it, but I'll dig through my DVD mountain soon enough and remember. And then probably review it for this site.
I'm going to warn you: I will spoil the hell out of this movie. So if this is one you've just been DYYYYING to see, I suggest you get busy doing that before you read on. So fair warned ye be!
This was a weird movie, but I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It almost seems like it was a kids movie originally; it's like kiddie Creep Show, basically. For all that it's surprisingly gory; it feels more like it should have come out in the mid to late '80's instead of the early '90's, if that makes any sense. If it doesn't, well.. I don't really care.
We start with three kids, in the dark trying to light their lantern for an adventurous night of backyard camping. The cousins are Mike, Josh, and I think Jake. It doesn't really matter however, as they serve more as narration. They're the bookends to the tales they tell, trying to wig each other out with "true" stories. Hilariously, the older cousin is played (and very well, I might add) by Sean Astin. I was so in love with him in Goonies. I wanted to marry Mikey, and live in his plastic bubble with him! I was even excited when I was diagnosed, about a year later, with asthma. Because I was like Mikey! Then I tried to run, started gasping like an oxygenated fish, and threw up, and then I didn't want to be like Mikey anymore.
We start with the classic urban legend: the ol' Kentucky fried rat story (here it's the "Tennessee Fricassee" chain) . In this version a caricature of a fat woman sits down to eat a whole eighteen piece bucket, and guess the first piece she digs into! I have to give this actress props; she really bites into this thing, and this horrible, clear strand pulls from the rat into her mouth. I'm sure it was latex or something equally toxic, but it reminded me of the nasty tendons you get sometimes when you eat chicken. And that is far nastier in my cookbook, thank you very much.
She freaks, spits it out, we cut back to the boys in the tent. Two things caught my attention here: first, Mike (Sean Astin) says she got an extra crispy recipe rat. That rat was clearly original if it was anything. Second is the best euphemism for yakking that I have ever heard: "The urge to regurge". I am so getting that on a bumper sticker. The sheer WTF? value alone will be astronomical.
Our next story take place in California, at Wacky Land, on the Haunted Estates ride. I'm sure you can make the connection, yes? The urban legend here is the claim that originally the ride was so scary that an old man died of fright on it, they closed the ride, and had to dumb it down lest any other ticket holders kack it in one of the Doom Buggies.
The best part about this, for me, is that I know the Haunted Mansion ride so well I could spot all the parodies. I know the ride-through and Grim Grinning Ghosts by heart; I know I drive Cins nuts because I always have to go on that ride at least twice when we're at the park together. The "Ghost Host" was present, as well as the Doom Buggies (aka "omnimovers"). However, the Haunted Mansion has no live action zombies, nary a Jack the Ripper cutting a tart's throat (which sprayed green blood, weirdly. Perhaps she was a Vulcan tart? My dad will be so proud of me for making that joke. Because he's a NERD.) The hitchhiking ghosts that follow you home from the Haunted Mansion are also far more benign, even Ezra, who is the tall, skinny, grinning one. Here we have hitchers such as "Farmer Hackit, ready to whack it". That's an axe murder joke, not a masturbation reference.
After that entertaining bit is the urban legend I hate the most: the damn poodle in the microwave. I'll admit, I looked away and played with one of my Barbie dolls until the poodle exploded. The explosion bit was actually pretty funny, and apparently this dog was made almost exclusively of pus, since that's what spooged all over Pookums' owner.
Then we get into the first of the two main stories: what happened to Danny Hollister at school one day. But before this story starts there's a great bit; Mike is telling the story (for the final time I will remind you that he's played by Sean Astin), and when he informs his cousins that he's got a great story the older cousin replies "This isn't about the time you and your friends found a pirate ship in a cave, again, is it?" I am a geek. I laughed. Hard.
Danny has bully troubles in the form of a little dickhead named Rudie. Personally, I think the fact that his name was flipping Rudie has a lot to do with his disposition. Rudie and his two goons like to torment poor nerdy Danny; all of them appear to be in about fourth grade.
Danny is released from his fire hose penthouse by the kindly janitor, Mr. Jenkins, played by the awesome James Karen. You might remember him from Return of the Living Dead as well; he played Frank, the older of the duo that learns the hard way the a face full of Trioxin is hell on your.. you. The kindly janitor assures little Danny that someday both Rudie and Miss Titmarsh, Danny's vicious teacher, will probably get what's coming to them. That comeuppance occurs about ten minutes later.
Danny is allowed to go to the bathroom only by classroom vote, and while in there he notices that the janitor's cart is in there, sans janitor. He also notices a large monster in the handicapped stall. The monster is great; a very obvious puppet, which I love. A practical effect always gets a smiley face from me, even if this movie in no way, shape, or form had the budget to afford even the crappiest of CGI effects, not in 1991.
Danny runs back to his classroom, and promptly pisses his pants. His teacher, ever prepared to be a castrating hag, tells him he's disgusting, and makes him go back to bathroom to clean up. He complies, instead of heading for the hills and perhaps deciding that a life of solitude in a cave is best for him. He finds the janitor's body and head, separate of one another, and assumes the monster has killed the janitor. We the audience know that the head is the mask! THE JANITOR IS THE MONSTER! Hope I didn't ruin a seventeen year old movie for ya.
The janitor spares Danny, who is a good boy, and instead eats Miss Titmarsh, who I'm pretty sure I had for English in seventh grade, as well as Rudie, and Rudie's two toadies. One of the toadies is played by Jeremy Miller, who was Ben Seaver on Growing Pains; this becomes pertinent in the second segment.
Danny has had enough, and walks away from the school (after trapping the bullies in the bathroom), shaking his head. The poor kid's had a rough day. An asshole and his two boot lickers shredded his drawing and then strung him up with a firehouse, he peed his pants, and now he's an accessory to murder. I think he needs a glass of Qwik and some Ninja Turtle time. Clu Gulugar pops up here in a cameo as the principle, surveying the ruin of what was once the boys bathroom. And a teacher. And some kids. It was aces.
We then learn, from Mike, that Mr. Jenkins, the janitor, was never caught, and he moves from school to school, killing rotten kids. I would have LOVED Mr. Jenkins when I was in elementary school. But it's cool; I'm sure that all of my tormentors are either crack whores or their pimps now. Life is good.
Our next segment is told by the cousins to Mike, about one Gordy Belcher, which might just be the coolest damn name ever. Gordy is played by Micheal Bower, also known as Donkey Lips on Salute Your Shorts, a show I wasted faaar too many of my teen years watching.
Gordy is a strange boy; he's antagonistic and sullen, and appears to be feuding with old Farmer Spivy, who is constantly running Gordy off of his property. Gordy steals the farmer's secret, special manure to attract and catch flies, which he then torments horribly. This is the part that I found off-putting. Don't get me wrong; I hate flies and squish the little fuckers with glee. But the wings were clearly being torn off of living flies for the sake of this movie, and I think that's more than a bit much. Either kill 'em outright, or leave 'em the hell alone. I don't know how they didn't get grief from the Humane Society over this, but I did notice that the usual "no animals were harmed" schpiel was absent from the closing credits.
Gordy then gasses his little captives, using nail polish remover, and glues them into bizarre dioramas, all whilst sitting, alone, in his basement. I see a burgeoning serial killer on the horizon, folks.
I have no idea if you're supposed to identify with Gordy's isolation or not; all I noticed is that he's effing weird. He puts fly wings in the raisin container in the kitchen, pretends to wash his hands after handling flies AND harsh chemicals, and even bakes dead flies into cookies that he gets his classmate to eat! The hell?! Who does this?! My personal revenge schemes tend to be more direct, I guess. Punch 'em and you're done.
Gordy then has a nice little trip out that night, having a nightmare about farmer Spivy and the flies ganging up on him. This featured a really grotty scene with maggots in his inhaler. That one hit a little close to home. It also had a bizarre bit with Mike and Carol Seaver, again from Growing Pains, and played by Kirk Cameron and Tracy Gold. I assumed initially it was just a clip from an actual episode, but then it's revealed that Mike Seaver is squishing flies.. FOR GORDY BELCHER!
This culminates with farmer Spivy deciding to make amends, and giving Gordy a "special" batch of his secret manure. What is so secret about poop I have no idea, but I'm not a farmer, so there you go. Gordy gets home in time to get grounded by his mom for the cookie stunt, and he is horrified to discover that she has thrown out all of his fly.. art. But she missed a strip of fly paper, and he dumps them in the special manure, and goes to bed.
He wakes to flies SO HUGE that they appear to be short people in silly costumes! THE HORROR! Gordy's parents, which consist of his dishrag of a mother and dickhead of a father, hear a crash and rush upstairs to find their son, sans arms. The flies are each holding one of his severed arms, a tribute to all of the flies whose wings Gordy has torn off. The fact that we could clearly see the actor's arms tucking into his jammie top is NOT IMPORTANT.
We end the scene with a later shot of Gordy, who miraculously survived both blood loss and shock. He is now laying out on a hammock in the yard, with two prosthetic arms that terminate in hooks. He swats uncomfortably at a fly on his face, end scene. How they managed to resist a bout of "and the bloody hook was on the door" is beyond me. I also have no idea how farmer Spivy knew about Gordy's fly lust, or how he and the flies cooked up this plot, but who cares! Fly people! FLY PEOPLE!
The movie then closes out on the cousins each casting doubts on the other's story, and Mike's father comes out to check on the boys. It is then revealed that Uncle Frank is...
MR. JENKINS! THE JANITOR! NOOOOOOOOOOO!
This movie was actually a lot of fun; it held my attention, which was more than I expected. The acting from Sean Astin and James Karen was great, and the stories are suitably weird and funny. I'd give it a recommend, personally. It's also hilariously low budget; watch for the "fireflies" that are clearly Christmas lights in a jar. I love stuff like that.
I also have to really commend the sets; actual schools were used, and in the case of the first story, I was feeling some serious nostalgia. Borax hand soap in the dispensers that you pushed the long metal tab up into, old desks with the seats attached and the desktop flipping up to store books, etc. Ahh.. I really hated elementary school.
It's a silly, fun movie, and don't let the fact that Sean Astin looks like a pedo in the cover art (as seen above) dissuade you.
Also, the tent flap the monster is pulling open in that picture? Totally looks like a labia to me.