Sunday, July 28, 2013

REVIEW: Sharknado (2013)

There’s a disturbingly prevalent trend in movies nowadays where especially horror movies seem to like trying to be bad. Mostly this comes from the pop-culture phenomenon of people loving to “riff” on silly things in movies. Which I am a complete stranger to of course…but it seems that young filmmakers and studios trying to ride the wave have caught onto this and decided to just go all out and make films that were over the top bad on purpose, with corny actors and plots more suited to SNL joke sketches. Of course, this wasn’t a new phenomenon, as movies like Bubba Ho-Tep, Killer Klowns and others proved back in the 80s and 90s. But where those movies were actually funny…a lot of these new movies are just gimmicky nonsense with as little effort put into them as possible, which the creators mistakenly mistook for comedy.

Enter Sharknado…

Director: Anthony C. Ferrante (because a middle initial makes you look artsy)
Starring: Tornadoes, sharks, Tara Reid

Yes, this is perhaps symptomatic of a lot of these kinds of films. I’ll give you an example. What is the plot? “Sharks come out of tornados and fly and kill people on land.” I won’t lie and say that doesn’t sound like it has the potential to create some very funny scenes, and it does have its moments. But just a funny premise isn’t all it takes to make one of these kinds of films. Frankly I can’t even say the movie’s name without feeling bad about it.

We start off with some bullshit on a ship with two guys re-enacting scenes from the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, sitting at a table in a dimly lit room and talking about supposedly serious mob shit. Okay, maybe not, but they’re so overly melodramatic and have nothing to do with the actual plot. Mother nature apparently agrees with me, and appropriately sends a shark to kill them all:

Then we switch to something very logical with an alternative rock song and a sunny beach day where everyone is having fun. We see John Heard from the Home Alone movies drunk in a bar, bothering some girl with a scar on her leg. It kind of looks like gills, so obviously she’s actually a fish woman from Mars.

If only...

The main guy’s name is Fin, and he goes surfing with some girl who calls him grandpa…I’d say this is stupid, since he looks about 35, but given today’s MTV generation being into ‘teen moms’ so much, I think it’s realistic. Plus, we see that calling Fin grandpa is apparently all it takes for the sharks to attack that girl. We get the same scene you’ve seen in every shark movie ever made. I do love it when movies have nothing original to offer…oh, wait, but it’s supposed to be bad. That makes it OK.

The only thing they don't do is just flat out play the Jaws theme over these scenes.

Fin goes to save his friend, who gets bit by one of the sharks, and successfully brings him back on land…which prompts the girl from the bar to come out and scold Fin for almost getting killed. Yeah, Fin, how dare you save people and bring them away from vicious man eating sharks! You inconsiderate ass!

In the bar, they hole up and hide as a storm comes and floods the beach. A newscaster who sounds like she’s talking to retarded kids comes on TV and talks about how bad the storm is. Fin acknowledges this and says they should all leave the bar and go home, because telling people to go outside when a huge hurricane is about to come through is an awesome idea, right? He then calls his ex-wife and asks if she and his daughter are okay, to which she rudely cuts him off thinking he’s asking about money. Even though he says he wants to know if they’re okay, she thinks he’s calling in the middle of a bad storm to ask about money. What a great catch she must’ve been…

Also, as soon as he gets off the phone, the scar-girl who works at the bar jumps on him for no reason, and he says he’s her boss – oh, is THAT what he is? What subtle exposition! I guess too much time was spent on girls calling him grandpa to find out that he owned the bar…got to play to your strengths, you know?

"Hi, I'm John Heard. I only took this role because they said I could have all the beer I wanted and hang out at the bar most of the movie."

Anyway, enough time has been wasted already. We see Fin, the scar-girl, whose name is Nova, Fin’s friend and John Heard – they probably just found him drinking at the bar and put him in the movie without him noticing – pile into a car and try to escape. I’m not sure driving around is the best way to combat a frigging hurricane, you idiots. Try finding shelter first.

There are a few scenes like this, where people tell them that "it's just a bit of rain"...come on, it's clearly not. Are you that delusional? Hurricanes don't just switch on and off whenever you want, you know. They're dangerous. If you're standing outside in the middle of one, it's probably not a good idea!

They drive around for a bit and see sharks kill a bunch of people. These are probably some of the better scenes in the movie; I mean really what else did anyone go into this looking for? So I won’t really bitch about it too much. John Heard gets killed off, probably because the director spent most of his money on hookers in his trailer during most of it and didn’t have enough to keep paying him. Nova acts like she’s sad, but really nobody cares or mentions him again throughout the film. Are you really surprised?

So really the movie is just sharks eating people for a while – dammit, Sharknado, with a title like that I was expecting nothing less than pure cinematic drama genius! How DARE you fail to deliver?! They make it to Fin’s family’s house and find his wife Tara Reid telling them to leave. Yeah, in the middle of a hurricane. Is this lady serious? He goes inside and sees his daughter, and oh come on:

Did he have kids at age 15 or something? He doesn’t look older than 30 or 35, and she has to be about 16!

Anyway, she bitches at him too, then we see the most metrosexual character this movie could conjure up, who is supposed to be Tara Reid’s new boyfriend or whatever. Apparently he was just hanging out in the daughter’s room. Uh, might want to check into that, guys. Usually it’s not a good thing when a grown man hangs out in his stepdaughter’s room…

But I digress. The boyfriend or stepdad or whoever he is, bitches about how Fin can’t just come and see his family when there’s a big storm outside because – gasp! – it’s not the time of month he’s allowed to see his daughter! God forbid he cares about his family in a crisis! Man this is the pits; who would ever find this enjoyable? What human being would EVER act this way?

"I'm the world's biggest douchebag. How do you do?"

Oh, wait, I forgot again: it’s supposed to be bad! So that nullifies any and all criticisms against the film. Silly me. It's also mind numbingly retarded when Tara Reid tells the boyfriend to leave Fin alone, because a second ago she was bitching at him and telling him to leave, so it makes perfect sense that she'd have a change of heart that fast! much longer is this? 50 minutes? Christ, if you cut out all of these god-awful "dramatic" scenes, the film would have been about 20 minutes. Next time try that.

I love this one part, where Nova says there are sharks all around the city and then looks out the window to see one right there.

How is that even flooded? Didn't they just drive up two minutes ago and it was completely fine?

That’s some funny shit. Even better is when the metrosexual boyfriend/husband asshole says she’s crazy and opens the window just in time for the shark to jump through it and kill him.

Ha ha ha…okay, I forgive the movie now. That death was completely justified! Sure it was pretty stupid how the house randomly flooded as soon as he opened the curtains, but eh, I'll give it a pass this time.

Unfortunately the movie decides it’s not time for more silly shark deaths, but instead for more bullshit exposition. We find out Fin also has a son around the same age as his daughter…Jesus, did he first get Tara Reid pregnant when he was in junior high school? Apparently they shipped the son off to space camp or something without telling Fin, which he gets mad about. Honestly, who cares? This movie is so reliant on having “camp” with the shark attacks and everything, but come on; so much of this crap is just people bitching at one another and arguing about trivial shit. Like many poorly made films it relies on arguing as the only mode of creating dialogue, which isn’t funny or interesting, it’s just crap to the nth degree. If I really wanted arguing and whining, I’d just read the comment section on any political-themed article on CNN. And all this in the middle of an intense hurricane no less! Some focus on the important stuff might be necessary, guys!

So now the mission is to go find Fin’s son. Tara Reid bitches about how Fin cares more about helping random strangers than his own family. Uh, I’m sorry, WHO is taking you in his car to safety right now, bitch? Jesus. Fin has a godlike level of tolerance for this…if it were me, I’d just be like “I’m feeding you to the sharks, you whore!” And then I’d push her out of the car. Seriously, what kind of person would act this way? It’s one thing to have conflict, but at least make it justified…if you want your characters to fight and argue, show us why both sides have their points. You can’t just have Tara Reid and her equally annoying daughter keep saying that Fin is an ass, because we don’t see any proof of it! So it mostly just makes me want to drill into my brain with an electric chainsaw.

Next they save a school bus full of children from sharks by climbing up a bungee cord onto a high bridge which isn’t flooded yet. Then the Hollywood sign starts trying to kill them, which I think is some kind of subtle metaphor for the movie as a whole.

Hell, the one guy is like “My mother always said Hollywood would kill me,” and then the ‘H’ drops on him and flattens him instantly. Probably as punishment for making such a terrible joke.

He could still be OK. You never know.

In the spirit of not wasting time, they stop by a liquor store next and talk to the cashier about the cause of the hurricanes. He says it’s stupid to think it’s the apocalypse. But then he goes and says it’s actually the government in charge of it all! Yes, he actually thinks it’s a weather machine the government is using to kill everyone. There’s a reason he’s a liquor store clerk and not anything else. Frankly I’m almost positive this liquor store only gave them permission to film there because the writers were such regular customers at the store. That’s the only thing that makes sense.

Then we see the only reason to watch this movie at all:

A naturally occurring weather phenomenon...

Yep, tornadoes with sharks inside them…I gotta hand it to the movie, anyone that can somehow make a plot that gets a bunch of sharks inside tornadoes is at least trying. Even if it's effort put into the wrong things.

They finally find the son, who is totally accepting about the whole thing and has no questions whatsoever. He’s so complacent and calm that it’s almost like he was just guessing this would happen soon. Also he is by far the worst actor in the movie, which is saying a lot when you have the two main guys. Half of the people in this thing look like they’re hungover anyway, but this kid is easily the worst of them. I have half a mind to say he was just directed like this on purpose…remember, it’s supposed to be bad!

Their plan is to go drop a bomb in the middle of the tornado. Yes, really. While they’re getting ready to do that, we find out Nova’s backstory: apparently when she was a kid, she got lost at sea and bitten by a shark, which is why she has that scar on her leg…so glad a shark was able to leave a scar this small:

Then apparently her grandfather tried to save her and got eaten by a shark. So now she hates sharks. And lives in California on the coast. I can practically hear the marbles rolling around inside the writers’ hollow heads. I also love this scene where the daughter tells Fin that she feels neglected by him and like he doesn't do enough for her - gee, maybe it's because you're an ungrateful brat who tells him to go away whenever he shows up uninvited. Maybe that has something to do with why he doesn't love you as much.

Ugh, this is too stupid; can we just see more scenes of sharks attacking helicopters now? The plan to bomb the tornado goes off without a hitch:

Oh, did I say without a hitch? I meant to say that it does nothing and the sharks keep coming anyway. I guess they ate the explosion. Nova apparently dies after getting eaten, and then on the ground we see that sharks can bounce when they hit the ground at the right angle!

Make that shit into a McDonalds toy. The bouncing shark! Also, this is probably the greatest shot in the movie, simply because you will never see it ever again:

Fin goes and grabs a chainsaw, which proves useful when he has to jump straight into the mouth of an oncoming shark. It looks pretty hopeless, but fortunately this movie is educational: if you get eaten by a shark, just make sure to have a chainsaw with you. You can just carve yourself right out if and you’ll be fine, even if the outcome does look like a commercial for an abortion clinic for fish.

So then the sun comes out and everything is cool, which means that by killing that one shark, everything went back to normal. Even Nova somehow survived despite being eaten alive by a shark in midair. It's just a happy ending. Maybe the shark Fin killed was a super villain shark who masterminded the whole thing. Of course!

This whole thing is just silly, and it’s supposed to be. The shark scenes are fun and the action is generally okay for schlocky nonsense, but mostly this movie is just kind of a waste of time. If you’re looking for something ridiculous to watch, I’d recommend Shark Night 3D, Lake Placid 3 or especially the 2000s Piranha remake over this; all of them are more entertaining and have sillier moments. So even as a “campy” film this isn’t that amazing. There are better options. Piranha is at least twice as funny as this, and has better writing and more exciting stuff going on – a lot of this movie I was just annoyed at the characters or bored at the amount of nothing going on. Seriously, whose idea was it to put Tara Reid in this? What was up with the constant overbearing whining in this thing? Did we really need a bunch of scenes of people surfing or just driving around talking about how bad the storm is?

Mostly the problem is that movies like this don’t really want to try anymore. These movies should be hilarious, but instead it seems like the new normal for horror-comedies is to just not give a shit about anything. If you have a stupid idea for a story, what else do you need, right? You can just make a shitty-ass movie with Z-grade acting and no entertaining parts outside of the kill scenes and then complain that IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE BAD whenever someone tries to criticize, right? No. That’s not true at all, and if you think that, you need to go re-watch pretty much any 80s horror flick and learn how to do it right.

A lack of quality in and of itself isn’t a substitute for humor and good jokes, people. Just making your movie as shitty as possible doesn’t constitute a schlocky, campy horror-comedy. If you want to make something ridiculous, the answer isn’t annoying characters screaming at each other and actors who are about as credible as late-night TV insurance scams. You have to actually go all the way with it and exaggerate everything, make it funny and over the top. You have to really keep the pace fast and the jokes funny, or else it just becomes worthless crap. This movie has a few funny scenes. Most of it is just annoying or dull, like I said.

And I REALLY want to emphasize this one more time – if your defense of movies like this, or other SyFy films, is that they’re supposed to be bad, well I just don’t think that’s a good argument. Even the goofiest movies still have to try at the basic tenets of filmmaking, to be generally entertaining. Sharknado is mostly just a waste, and although I’ve seen worse movies, I can’t recommend this one. Some people might gripe that I’m taking things too seriously and wasting my time even reviewing this at all, but hey, watching Sharknado in and of itself is a waste of time.

The images in this review are copyright of their original owners. I do not own any of them.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

REVIEW: Sting of Death (1965)

For this week’s review, I will take you back in time. Back to a time when things were more innocent. When people just liked to dance all day on sun-drenched docks and didn’t have to worry about anything except guys dressed up like mutant fish monsters killing them. Oh those were the days. Put on your nostalgia goggles and let’s dig into the wonderful wrongs of Sting of Death.

Director: William Grefe
Starring: Joe Morrison, Valerie Hawkins

Got your nostalgia goggles ready?

Okay then! How about some booze?

Great! And the weed?

You’ll need it. Trust me.

We start off by establishing that girls wear bikinis and put on suntan lotion while sitting on docks - and they did so back in the 60s, too! And then we see that apparently sitting around sunbathing while fancy music plays is enough to make you a target for the worst scuba diver since Goofy and Donald Duck tried to find Atlantis and came up with a plastic fishbowl accessory.

Those fins are really dirty. Go clean them you neanderthal!

It’s also amazing how she gets replaced with a blow-up doll when he’s dragging her through the water…

If they got her to stay underwater that whole time, she's the one who deserves a movie made about her, not the shitty looking monster. If not, well, I guess one of the actors had a blow-up doll lying around in his trailer.

After that, I guess we get introduced to our main characters. For the uninitiated to 60s horror, they’re sort of like 80s slasher characters. Except instead of drugs and beer, they tuck their shirts into their pants, slick their hair back and talk about going to church or something. They’re all pretty interchangeable, except for one character, which is Egon.

No, not the Ghostbusters character…this guy is a shy and socially awkward misplaced caveman who can apparently sneak up on people even though he’s the size of a house. I bring this up because it’s a big deal. And because he is the killer.

Yeah, try not coming to work hungover next time, buddy!

I know, I know – I really disappointed a lot of people by revealing that fact. But just hear me out. If I had not told you guys that, the reveal would have been so terrifying that none of you would be able to sleep for weeks. Did you know that the Chernobyl disaster was caused because the people at the plant were watching Sting of Death at the time and were so surprised by the twist, that dozens of people died? It’s true. Most people won’t tell you about that part because they don’t want it to happen again.

They talk about boring things for a while. Mostly it’s a bunch of shit about who’s coming to the party and what not. They find a dead body washed up on the docks and say that maybe they should call a doctor who can do an autopsy and find out what’s wrong with him. Uh, I don’t think it matters THAT much to you guys what’s wrong with him. And yeah, maybe calling an ambulance would be the best idea when you find a dead body. Isn’t that like saying “hey, there’s a fire over there. Maybe I should call the fire department”?

But screw that shit, we have dancing to do!

Yeah, this becomes a “thing” in the movie for way longer than it probably should be. It’s a party, sure, we get it. Does that really mean we need creepy close-ups of people grinning like they just sucked in helium?

Or an abundance of ass shots?

Well I guess that isn't AS bad...

Not to mention the music, which is about as nerdy as you can get. I guess it’s still better than the 90s and early 2000s disposable waste featured in the Hitcher remake. Ugh – shivers, every time…

So eventually Egon shows back up and they decide, as a hive mind apparently, to make fun of him and chase him off the dock, like a bunch of jackasses. Why? Because they are jackasses. I mean seriously, what kind of cretins pick on somebody just because they look a certain way? What kind of asinine, horrible person would actually do that? I guess it’s just what passed for fun before the Internet, because nowadays we prefer to keep our bullying online.

But I digress – he gets chased off and then they just continue dancing. Even the one chick who scolds them for it stops caring in a second or two and just rejoins the dancing like nothing was wrong…talk about a short attention span. And seriously, MORE DANCING?! Why do we need more? In what unholy, hellish dimension is this considered entertainment? I’ve seen more enjoyable spectacles watching fat trailer park families at Walmart! It’s seriously just embarrassing. I bet if we showed this to these people all these years later, the ones who are still alive would pretend to have dementia so as to not have to face what they created. Nobody could watch this even a year or two later and pretend they were proud of it.

After that we get some more talking about boring stuff like who’s going to do what at the party…I can almost see my boredom as a physical entity. I mean good god. It’s like being at a party with an old folks’ home. Even 80s slashers had more compelling dialogue than this! I may not be speaking for everyone here, but I’d sure as hell take booze and sex over ‘what are we going to do next at the party?’ I mean come on! Give us a death scene or something!

Oh, and we also see one girl jump in the pool and then everyone starts talking about how she might die in the water. I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be ironic, if they really think you’ll die if you go in a pool alone, or…

Ohhhhhh. Was it supposed to be foreshadowing? Well, then it was the worst attempt at foreshadowing I have ever seen. Thank you, Sting of Death…you deserve a goddamn medal for that.

Anyway, yeah, she gets killed somehow in the water and nobody seems to see the monster, how amazing…I guess they were all too busy talking about their oh-so-important party chit chat. Seriously, how can they be so blind? HE’S RIGHT THERE. You’d think a full-grown dark figure in a swimsuit, in a tiny swimming pool, would attract a little attention, but I guess in the 60s it was pretty commonplace. I guess whatever this guy was saying to this woman was just too important to notice someone being attacked in the pool.

Real stand up people there…better not hang out with them. If you ever get mugged, they'll probably just ignore it. But don't worry - they're having a really good conversation!

After that we see one of the guys get attacked too, so everyone goes out on the water in a panic to take them to a hospital. While they’re doing that, I guess they get attacked, because the boat flips over and several of them die.

Like every party in the 60s, it started with bullying, had some dancing in the middle and ended up with complete carnage and chaos. No wonder our generation is so fucked up.

What is our heroes’ next move? Well, the only logical course of action: go home and eat dinner calmly!

Oh okay, this isn't the immediate next thing they do, but come on, it might as well are they so casual? One of them says "Today was awful." Heh heh, yeah, THAT'S a bit of an understatement..."two people got attacked and many more were injured, what a bad day! If only we hadn't just ignored the big, dark, noisy shape in the water the first time..."

You sad, despicable pieces of crap.

The movie also shows us a GREAT plot twist by revealing Egon as the killer!

I never woulda guessed! You have completely taken me off guard, movie! Bravo. I also love how they show you he's the killer this early, thus effectively eliminating any suspense for the next 45 minutes of the movie.

Yeah, he goes into some cave with flashing spaceman lights and computers all around, puts his hands in some kind of opening and then transforms from a jellyfish space-alien monster into human again. Now, keep in mind this was before drugs got big in the 70s. Your guess is as good as mine what the hell the explanation behind this is…how does he have this stuff and, more than that, know how to use it? Is he an alien? I dunno. The movie never tells us! Perfect.

Then we get some more long drawn out bullshit where a bunch of the characters leave to try and go to the mainland. They stop in some Everglades type clearing and enjoy the wilderness for a while, because nothing says “people are getting attacked in the water” like going even further out into the wilderness, right? This one chick leaves the group and gets attacked by the monster. I think she deserves it. How can THIS sneak up on you? Is the guy really that hard to hear coming? There have to be some leaves or sticks or something cracking underneath those gigantic swimming fins!

Nothing? Nothing at all? Fine…ugh…

There are some other scenes with Egon trying to romance this one girl back at the camp. They’re really short and not all that fleshed out, but that’s not a surprise. We also get shower scenes, like this one, which rips off a kind of famous movie from a sort of well-known director…I can’t place which one though…

I always thought Psycho could have been improved if the killer wore elephant droppings and dirty vines as a costume. This movie gets it right.
Yeah, keep rubbing your forehead there, princess; someday you'll get it clean...

Hmm. Must be Rear Window.

So he kills this girl by putting a hand on her throat. I guess the special effects are really just that bad. He looks kind of like an astronaut that got eaten by a lawnmower.

Look at that thing on his head. I've seen that in the pillow sections of Walmart.

Then he kidnaps the one girl he likes and takes her to a cave under the water where he threatens her for thinking he’s ugly even when she insists she doesn’t. She hasn’t given any indication that she does, but still he throws a fit anyway. Then, because he doesn’t want to be ugly, he sticks his hands back in that thing again and electrifies himself. Because electrified people are totally not ugly at all! I bet nobody will make fun of you now

Also, seriously, what is up with this underground alien robot magic cave? How can he just stick his hands in that thing and transform into his costume, which we see him take off like regular clothes in an earlier scene? In fact, what even is that thing? Is it a spaceship? Is he a superhero? An alien? What? WHAT?!

Okay, whatever…so in a very sexist re-enactment of how a caveman usually got a new girlfriend, this one guy comes and saves the girl.

"I'm here for the Asylum remake of The Time Machine?"

Seriously, the women in this movie are portrayed as weak as hell. She barely puts up a fight at all, which at first makes sense because he’s a fairly large guy. But when her friend comes in, they fight for a few seconds and then he kicks Egon once or twice and that’s the end of it! He wasn’t that tough! Are you telling me a woman has such a hard time standing up for herself at all that she couldn’t get away from this wimp? Come on!

Oh who am I kidding, look at the movie I’m reviewing, at the time it was released…I’m wasting my breath.

Anyway, yeah, check out the awesome fight scene these guys have. They shove each other’s arms a little, kick each other once or twice and that’s it. Real gripping. Kind of like the last time I watched my four year old cousins play-fight in the backyard.

And your guess is as good as mine what THIS shit is:

Looks like a science fair project done by Doctor Who villains.

The cave blows up or something and the two heroes get out, but sadly drown in the ocean before they can resurface, because they forgot they couldn’t breathe underwater.

Okay, that didn’t really happen, but wouldn’t it have been a much better movie that way? I think so. This was just ridiculous. Terrible story, no good effects and very little suspense. It’s just crap. But it is very enjoyable crap in its way…I won’t lie and say there’s absolutely nothing of worth in it, because there are very funny moments here and there, even if the movie didn’t intend them to be. But that’s usually the best kind of camp anyway, the schlocky kind. It’s terrible, but it’s also terribly endearing. I’d rather not see those dancing scenes again though. That was far scarier than the monster in the movie.

*Heart attack*

You can watch the full movie of Sting of Death at this location:


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

REVIEW: Tamara (2005)

Ah, I remember the days when we got movies like this all the time…you know, the stupid “horror” flicks about people who get killed by dumb high school students and then come back for revenge, killing them off in silly slasher fashion? I Know What You Did Last Summer, Forget Me Not, Sorority Row, Prom Night…the list goes on. So why not add another movie to the list? I’m talking about the asininely stupid, daft mess known as Tamara.

Director: Jeremy Haft
Starring: Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Katie Stuart

A good way to tell a movie isn’t going to be that good is when the title of the film is the name of a character you don’t know and probably won’t remember after it’s done…some of them, like Lincoln, work because the title is an iconic figure. I bet the people who made this really thought Tamara was going to be a big hit, though – the next big horror villain. Maybe they even had sequels planned. Guess how well THAT went…

We start with a four minute long credit sequence in which nothing is established. They could have easily put these credits over the top of the actual first scene, but I guess instead they thought it SO IMPORTANT that we see a bunch of pictures of dark basements, candles being lit and occult pentagrams everywhere. Or rather, they thought it important to pad out the length of this thing and make it look like a longer movie than it really is. Splendid.

We then get a sex scene between Tamara and her teacher, Mr. Natolly. Then a bunch of kids appear in the doorway and start laughing at them. The teacher recoils and says he could never love her, which is all revealed to be a dream that she’s having in class. Amazing – that’s almost ten minutes of wasted time that won’t have anything to do with the actual story now. I so love when movies begin with non sequitur garbage that won’t have a bearing on the plot – so many good ones do!

Aw, how cute, you can turn the camera sideways.

We finally get to the plot – joy, joy – when we find out Tamara has written some article for the school paper accusing a bunch of athletes of taking performance enhancing drugs, and now they all want revenge or something…riveting. Or just sleep-inducing. I sometimes get the two confused. It’s really just kinda confusing, though, since we never hear hide nor hair of Tamara writing anything for the rest of the film, and the whole plot point about the drugs is dropped about fifteen minutes in.

Also, how the hell are these people supposed to pass for high school students? They’re clearly in their 30s! Not that I don’t believe the people who made the movie aren’t 30 year olds who never got out of high school, but c’mon, not everything has to be an allusion to real life.

Yeah, that's about two steps away from an alcoholic deadbeat dad.
What are these two 30 year olds doing on a high school campus? Are they lost? Maybe they're just revisiting their glory days.

Tamara goes through the day and gets threatened and harassed by a bunch of people who are bigger than her, and like any school, nothing is done to stop it at all. I guess this one girl tries to tell them to back off, but even then, she doesn’t try that hard. Not much of a victory there...

After that, we see her try to make out with her teacher in real life this time, after he tells her he believes in her or some shit. He turns her down because he already has a wife and doesn’t want to end up on the 6:00 news in black and white stripes. Good choice there, bucko. Unfortunately the bullies all heard it too, and make a plan to trick Tamara into thinking the teacher really does love her back – because yeah, schemes you’d see on Roadrunner cartoons make for good horror movie plots, right? Sadly many movies take my sarcasm there waaaaay too seriously…

Before that though, they launch a contrived plan to use the school’s TV and audio equipment to filter one of their voices to sound like the teacher’s. To do this, they enlist the nerdy, socially awkward geek with glasses (glasses always = no social skills in these movies, you see) who runs the equipment to help, and invite him along, telling him it’s going to be a party. They also invite along some random guy and his girlfriend, but the girlfriend declines.

Their facial expressions are very telling. You can practically glean a whole narrative out of it - their futures, even. The guy's says "I'm destined to be in a movie like Tamara." The girl's says "I'm so done with this idiot. Time to ditch the beanie cap and go to nursing school like my mom said."

I’m actually fairly sure this character wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. The scene is so random and he doesn’t do anything at all the whole runtime, so my guess is, he just overheard the other characters talking about a party and figured they were having a party in real life and weren't acting. By the time he realized what was going on, it was too late, and any aspirations he had to a career in entertainment were shot down.

Meanwhile, Tamara performs a voodoo spell trying to get the teacher to love her. Way to get me invested in your main character, movie…you stupid piece o’ shit. Of course the magic in this movie is totally one dimensional and just there to fuel the idiot plot. Movies like this, as well as Forget Me Not and My Soul to Take, might as well just go all out and say the characters buy their magic in the new aisle at WalMart.

The bullies trick Tamara into coming down to this crappy motel room and leave a note in the room telling her to take her clothes off. Everyone else, being idiots, just assumes she is actually an exotic dancer. I really can’t wait for them to die now…I mean seriously?

Yes, the cautious and demure way she took off that dress, and the way she gets under the covers afterwards to cover up, is really how exotic dancers act, right?

I guess the fact that they’re all in their 30s makes it a little harder to tell, though.

So she gets pranked on tape and runs out of the room crying. She sees the one girl who was nice to her in the hotel room too (why did the bullies bring her again?), and goes crazy, attacking them. They accidentally kill her by knocking her head into a table, and then everyone starts the usual crap you get in these movies. What’s that? You don’t know how it goes? Well, let me enlighten you…


UNREALISTIC JACKASS: We can’t turn this into the police, I have a life I want to live!

VOICE OF REASON (as a metaphoric concept): No, this is insane and cannot happen! We are moral human be----

[UNREALISTIC JACKASS unzips his fly and urinates on VOICE OF REASON, who recoils in disgust and fear]

UNREALISTIC JACKASS: I won’t let any of you go against me or else I’ll kill you! We’re all in this together even though it was just me who killed the person in the first place! The justice system doesn’t discriminate against different levels of a crime! I don’t care if I did just murder another human being by accident, I NEED TO LIVE MY SUPERFICIAL AND SHALLOW LIFE! I am more important than anyone else in the world! I AM THE ALPHA AND OMEGA!

Eh, I may have embellished a little. But that’s the gist of it. Ugh, can you believe the main bully actually says to the nice girl, “You go ahead and tell the cops; I’ll tell them you killed her because you got jealous”? Seriously? The cops would have to be pretty god damned stupid to believe that. But I guess another staple of these movies is that the cops are always monumentally incompetent at their jobs. Tamara doesn’t actually show us this cliché, but having dialogue like this makes the cliché appear by proxy, so it’s no excuse.

"I'm supposed to be the heroine of the film but I let myself get swayed to cover up a murder in two seconds flat! Wow am I ever a failure!"

I also love how the one chick who is supposed to be “good” is swayed in like two sentences from this bully who she probably doesn’t even know that well – wonderful, movie; just wonderful. They bury Tamara alive outside and then, two seconds later, she pops up behind them all evil and stuff. She chases them around and kills them, but then it turns out to be a dream again. You know movie, you’re really not good at dream sequences.

A reality too stupid even for this movie...what an amazing accomplishment.

The next day at school, Tamara returns through her black magic bullshit, and makes that TV/audio kid kill himself by cutting off his ear, his tongue and then stabbing himself through the eye, on the morning announcements. It’s great how there were no teachers or supervisors around to make sure weird shit like this doesn’t happen, and even better that the school apparently doesn’t pay attention to what’s showing and doesn’t have a filter to just turn off the screen at times like this.

Now he's ready to audition for a Japanese horror movie!

But perhaps my favorite part of the whole thing is just their reaction to it later. After witnessing this incredibly bizarre and grotesque death scene, what do the other main characters have to say? “I can’t believe he killed himself.” Ha ha ha…yeah, THAT’S what’s unbelievable about what just happened. Not the fact that he did it in an insane way by mutilating himself and talking gibberish, though. That part’s normal.

There’s also some bullshit about how Tamara can now touch peoples’ cheeks and see their pasts, or something. Before she kills the nerdy kid, she “sees” that he tried to kill himself once. That could have been an interesting plot point, but does THIS movie elaborate on it? Nah. We have no time for human problems or character depth at all here. We’re too busy with scenes where Tamara makes the two guys have sex with each other to get revenge for humiliating her earlier:

Tamara, the only movie whose heroine can stand that close to two guys and turn them gay.

And to round out the complete disposability of this whole mess, we get some cheap tit shots when she makes the one girl bully take off her shirt. Women aren’t good for anything in movies except showing their tits, right?

Someone ought to just go all the way at this point, and make a movie with nothing but naked chicks running around getting killed off after a while...I guess Bikini Girls on Ice was close enough though.

So I guess that girl’s story is that she throws up in order to get a ‘perfect body’ for her boyfriend…the only reason this matters is because there was one line earlier about how she didn’t eat much. And even then, you wouldn’t catch that unless you were stupid enough to pay attention to this, like I was. Tamara’s power makes her start trying to eat her fingers – how deliciously stupid.

These “kill” scenes aren’t even scary at all, they’re more like comedy kills. Even the Nightmare on Elm Street movies at least had the dreamlike, surreal atmosphere. This is just the ass-hairs of the kind of pandering, low-brow minds that brought us gems like 5ive Girls. It’s not as bad as that, but trust me it is close. Very, uncomfortably, Sandusky-level close.

There’s some bullshit showdown at the hospital where Tamara chases everyone around and kills them. I love when the one random dude gets killed, the good girl cries over him like she knew him for years. Wasn’t he just some random kid who came up to them on the street at the beginning? Oh well. It’s not like her actually knowing him would make the scene any more poignant. It’s like trying to put a pretty pink ribbon on a pile of dog shit.

After that, we see them figuring out that they can’t kill Tamara, partly because of the “black magic,” but mostly because the script says so. The only way to kill her is for the teacher, Mr. Natolly, to throw himself off the building and kill both of them, since apparently, they are “linked together for eternity.” Yeah. Right. I can so totally tell – I mean I can literally see the passion in this movie’s creation, which shows me the doomed, romantic love between these two characters! It’s almost like…a fanfiction a 16 year old girl wrote about having a crush on her teacher.

Romantic maybe if you like Twilight...personally I think Texas Chainsaw was more romantic.

What a terrible ending! There was no build-up to it, no emotional connection…it’s just nonsensical crap that will oddly make you feel a tiny bit down afterwards because of how pointless it was. But wait – there’s actually even less sense to be made with the following scene, where it turns out the girl who bit her own fingers off is the new bad guy:

Oh no, she got possessed by Tamara, because that...wasn't ever how it actually worked before! Which means this movie is incompetent and has no idea how to tell a story! Shock and awe!

Aaaaaand that’s the end! Doesn’t make sense? You’re not alone.

This really is just a mess of a movie…when I said it was like a fanfiction by a girl with a crush on her teacher, that’s pretty much the best way to sum it up. It’s all so cutesy in its romanticization – “oh, my teacher is hot; better have us die together Romeo & Juliet style!” “Oh, people are mean to me; better make them one-dimensional bullies who resort to murder to solve their problems!” “Oh, I’m insecure; better turn the character into a Cordelia from the early Buffy seasons rip off!”

Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Just a quick PSA to finish this off: If you’re a high school student, you’re most likely generally dejected and lonely. You most likely have fantasies that are unrealistic and implausible. And you will inevitably write something creative to get out your frustrations and express yourself.

However, you must resist the pressure to revisit these cathartic writings years later and turn them into a movie. Just kill that impulse where it stands.

Remember Tamara.

Images copyright of their original owners, I do not own any of them.