With a Jolt, My Mind Awakens…Chapter Forty-Four: An Ode to Your Color-By-Number Wounds

Quid rides? Mutato nominee de te fabula narrutur.
What are you laughing at? Change the name, and the joke’s on you.

Loose Latin in a spotted glass is always friendlier than tightly-woven gibberish served on Mother’s Special China…

Earnest plea to whomever is listening (or draws the number to unwax the ears for delivery of said entreatment): In my youth, I ran the course of obvious development, ‘tho I shall sheepishly admit the movement more closely resembled an awkward, diaphoretic job. I learned quickly and powerfully that the Innumerable Horrors of the World were rapidly unleashed as layers of malignant machination were unpeeled, that thoughts struck by Angry Deified Lightning will inexorably corrupt the soft tissue of Frequently Imperiled Man. Visualize the perplexed countenance of the local librarian when 8-year-old Kentucky Jay approaches the check-out counter with an armful of Choose Your Own Adventure books and “The Doom That Came to Sarnath and Other Stories”! Who can resist the apotropaic atmosphere of Lovecraft when the Snarling Manifestations of Human Botch-A-Palooza are banging pots & pans and hurling hand grenades like perturbed paperboys?

Given the catastrophic and untenable events of this week in Boston, Texas, and all points inbetwixt, I can only suggest that we Dive into Diversion with all dispatch, with the speed of a cyborg tortoise running on Red Bull and the Leftover Fervor for Last Night’s Episode of “Spartacus”.

We’re chained to the mortal blemish, kids; a snap of your fingers and a wave of your hands will not remove prevalent, profluent evil. Do you think Steve Ditko will save us? Do you think he’ll emerge from the cave and render a SHUSH of censure that wlll send the ne’er-do-wells to their Divine Reward? Even Stan Lee, the devilish deipnosophist of derring-do, is disconsolate…or just striking a dramatic stance with the hope for another guest-starring credit on “The Big Bang Theory”:

Therefore, I am called to this mission: present reasonable alternatives. Cinema, Impervious Cinema! Keep the emotions basic and the plotlines simple! Paralyze my curiosity to engage with the Other Side of My Living Room Window and intensify my obsession with Meritoriously Unmemorable Movies of Merrily Inane Escapism (MUMMIEs). I throw acronyms like frisbees, kids, and I never throw ’em straight. Why? While you’re retrieving the disc from the thorny shrubbery, I’m driving a stake through the heart of Whatever Madness Be Eating Your Shadow on that day. You are officially None the Wiser.

1. ATM: The Movie–Sarcasm is ugly, so I won’t jest about your a-shiverin’ and a-shakin’ anticipation of this psychological thriller (cease your caterwauling, jackals – I just tossed a quarter into the Movie Cliche Jar) about three youngsters sealed in a bank by the Jun Horde (<–there's that delightfully ostentatious reference to "The Beastmaster" you ordered) and the Foot Clan…or maybe the maestro is Emilio Estevez? The movie is silly and won't register an *ahem* from the Vox Populi, but I couldn't yank the pincers from my jugular — I really revel in the prospect of Josh Peck enduring cruel and unusual punishment. Wow…I didn't know I had it in me…Further deaden your faculties by viewing this flick as a double feature with "Frozen", that melodrama with the ski lift, the hungry wolves, and the forsaken whitefolk…

2. From Beyond/Re-Animator/Bride of Re-Animator–I’ve mentioned my appreciation for Lovecraft, but hey, I love spinach-n-saltine sandwiches, too, so the balance is ensured. “From Beyond” features that lovable, munchable, scrunchable Ineffable Creepiness from The Fragrant Side of the NJ Turnpike that slips into our lives and tries to recruit humankind to its cause. In “Re-Animator” and “Bride of Re-Animator”, Jeffrey Combs wants to borrow a cup of the Touch of God from The Deity Who Answers the Doorbell and spills his sanity all over pragmatic science. I discovered these movies on a legendary Slow Night at the Video Store back in 1994, cradled into the facility VCR and broadcast on the Big Screen. Customers who wandered in and out of the store that evening expressed various sentiments & criticisms, resulting in an increase of horror/sci-fi rentals for the following week. I fondly recall the aftermath of the Re-Animator Viewing Experience included my singular recollection of “Sorority House Massacre” being Out for Rental. Taste? Sometimes, it is NOT one of the five basic human senses…OUCH.

3. Ernest P. Worrell–In 1993, she rejected my affection. Ernest P. Worrell was the self-prescribed therapy. On a blustery mid-autumnal Friday night, I fueled my antipathy with Jolt cola and Corn Pops, taking pencil to pad to devise the intricately serpentine angles of the next 100 Ernest P. Worrell movies (I was quite intergalactic at the time and temporarily convinced myself of Jim Varney’s immortality). Memory beckons these scattered titles:
Ernest Goes to Japan
Ernest Destroys Hulkamania
Ernest Swallows His Gum
Ernest Joins the Coast Guard (a misty harbinger of the final “Ernest” movie, 1998’s “Ernest Joins the Army”)
Faith No Ernest (yeah, it’s exactly what you’re thinking…)
Ernest Learns the Bagpipes
Ernest Meets the Ghostbusters But Not the REAL Ghostbusters Because They Are Not Taking His Telephone Calls
I followed this exercise with a VHS showcase of the first four “Ernest” movies: Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Saves Christmas, Ernest Goes to Jail, Ernest Scared Stupid. More Jolt, more Corn Pops. My romantic woes evaporated. Much rejoicing. This procedure was frequently repeated throughout the 1990s as Primary Survival Method. Will the same method wrestle YOU from the slimy clamp of dolorous ennui? *WARNING: substitutions may prove fatal, i.e. Pauly Shore and Carrot Top*

I’ll conclude this post with this observation: I think I am slowly metamorphosing into Dennis Miller.

Friday Night Flix: Mean Guns

meanguns3Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

This week’s movie, Mean Guns (Netflix, $1.99 on Amazon), is not, by any definition, a good movie. It’s a straight up B-grade crime thriller/action flick, in which most of the myriad action set pieces are mediocre at best. It blatantly cribs from better movies despite the unfavorable comparisons that sort of behavior draws. Worst of all, it strives to be – or at least seem – pretentious, with thugs quoting Shakespeare out of context and glaring, overblown lighting dominating every shot.

meanguns4And yet, despite under-rehearsed gun fights and half-baked attempts at gritty profundity, this movie still has…something. I first saw it maybe 10 years ago and when I noticed it on Netflix last week I was immediately excited to revisit it. It’s possible that’s simply nostalgia for a period in my life in which I had time to watch movies as forgettable as Mean Guns.

The effectiveness of a free-for-all deathmatch scenario always comes down to how much is invested in the various contenders, and whether the audience believes there’s a chance the identifiable protagonists could lose, or that someone from the periphery might win. Maybe that’s why I thought The Hunger Games was so dull. You knew Katniss was going to survive because she’s the sole Hero. Peta I couldn’t give a flying fuck about, but Miss Everdeen was sure to make it out. (Spoiler alert: The end of the third book reveals that Katniss is secretly a robot in love with Prim’s goat. YOU’RE WELCOME.)

meanguns1In Mean Guns, while you automatically know who the three “main” characters are (a pair of opposed uber-hitmen, each a foil to the other, and your basic final girl) there’s a large number of ancillary characters and mini-alliances, many of which are unique and interesting enough to merit at least momentary consideration. You don’t ever think they’ll be the ones to walk out with the prize, but when they square off against the presupposed “heroes”, you’re honestly not sure who’s going to win. That right there is a teeny big magical and it’s what makes Mean Guns worth watching.

meanguns2Added bonus: In 1997, Christopher Lambert’s Highlander fame was still more than enough to make him by far the biggest actor in this project. (Ice-T was well known but his movie cred was limited. He’s way more prominent as an actor nowadays thanks to Law & Order and being married to this.) I’d be willing to bet this movie was pitched with Lambert as the honor-bound stoic, Marcus. Instead, and probably at his behest, he wound up playing the twisted, bleach blonde wildcard, Lou. His over-the-top characterizations lack any real punch, but the casting choice alone is pretty neat and definitely adds to the uncertainty of who’s going to make it out alive.