Welcome 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.
Serious question: would life be worth living without the horror comedy? If we didn’t have a genre of entertainment that joyfully juxtaposes the horrible and the humorous, would humanity go on? I submit it would not. Or it would, and it would suck.
I’ve been trying to catch Grabbers (Netflix, $3.99 Amazon) since it made the festival rounds last year. I was all set to see it at a weird little film festival at the Friars’ Club this past spring but it was pulled at the last minute. Grabbed, you might say. The general idea is this: Tremors, with aliens, in Ireland. That’s it. The only difference is instead of staying quiet the characters have to stay drunk to keep the monsters at bay. Sounds like a winner, right? Well it is, but I want to be clear: Grabbers is nowhere near as funny, rational (relatively speaking), or thrilling as Tremors, which also had the benefit of being more or less original. The Irish denizens of Grabbers are all likable and diverse but they’re no Val and Earl. Though, perhaps unintentionally, they do provide something of an analog to Reba McEntire’s Tremors character: the innkeeper’s wife is played by singer Bronagh Gallagher, who was one of the backup singers in The Commitments. Unfortunately, I don’t think she performs any anything like this over the credits:
The whole stay drunk thing is the movie’s main selling point (see above), but it’s something that isn’t discovered by the characters until well into the second act. While they stumble around in ignorance trying to figure out why one person gets torn apart and another does not, we have the information they lack. There’s nothing wrong with that if done consciously, but here it’s apparent that giving away the twist in the advertising was a marketing decision, probably one the director was furious about. It deflates the excitement of discovery when the townsfolk finally figure it out. It also ruins some the humor because you’ve spent the last 40 minutes knowing what to look for as the movie lays the groundwork for all the jokes to come. Oh, the constable is a drunk, is he? I wonder if that’ll play in later. And his new (and lovely) teetotaling partner, I wonder if she’ll let her hair down at some point. I get that a modest foreign horror movie has to oversell itself to the point of giving away some of the best stuff for free. It’s a shame though. That little bit of surprise might be the missing ingredient that would have made Grabbers a classic instead of a charming but forgettable diversion.
Added Bonus: You like the movie Aliens, right? Of course you do. What’s the single most famous and most commonly appropriated line from the entire movie? (No, not “Game over, man.” The other one.) Grabbers cribs that line with a hilarious – and graphic – change in verbiage.