Friday Night Flix: Grabbers

Grabbers 1Welcome 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.Grabbers poster

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.

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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.

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With a Jolt, My Mind Awakens…Chapter Sixty-Six: Perfection

Good morning, Mr. Bassett…

Perfection (Ode to “Tremors”)

In 1990, monster movies moved in a new direction –
specifically, underground, in the little town called Perfection.
This sleepy little tract of land was dust and splintered dreams
but underneath this quiet land, nothing was as it seems.
The natives of the terra firma were bloody hungry worms;
The origin of these squirming nasties? Classified and unconfirmed.
They wreaked havoc upon Perfection because New Jersey was too uptight,
Perhaps they didn’t like the stink along the Jersey ‘Pike!
They ran ol’ Edgar up a telephone pole to his eternal rest;
Sadly, he was quite unable to outrun the infernal pests.
He was found by Valentine and Earl, on their way to Bixby,
who were weary of the ‘fix-it’ life and off to the big city.
The doc said Edgar sure was spooked but couldn’t offer why –
Val and Earl paid their respects and made a quick goodbye.
They passed by hermit Fred’s sheep farm, his livestock cut to shreds,
And found the farmer in the ground, revealing just his head.
“What the HELL is goin’ on?!” said Val, who wanted to footloose;
Earl, without the right stuff, just wanted to vamoose.
Back into the truck around the mountain on their ride –
Two repair guys meet the enemy, good luck ain’t on their side.
Val and Earl meet Rhonda, grad student with a plan:
to measure the seismic punk rock that’s been wobbling through the land.
They’ve got a major theory ‘cuz there’s something ‘neath their truck,
A slimy tongue? A tentacle? A snail that’s run amok??
Walter Chang sees dollar signs and offers up them some money
for photo ops with that slice of Graboid – “c’mon, SMILE, Honey!”
The shopkeep’s tempting fate with this scheme to get-rich-quick,
played by Victor Wong, vet of John Carpenter flicks.
We also meet survivalists Burt and Heather Gummer;
For them, governmental presence is a really major bummer.
(Three cheers for the casting director responsible for this scene:
The hippie dad from “Family Ties” holding an M-16!?
Reba McEntire as the girl who’s armed for war,
apocalypse, return of Christ, or Zombiefied Uproar!)
That night, the doctor and his wife enjoy a peaceful sky
When the generator runs south and the doc lets out a cry.
The doc becomes an evening snack, but one with a medical degree –
Smartest cookie the monsters ate, wouldn’t you agree?
Val and Earl pay a visit, but it won’t be a social one:
“Hey, Earl, where are those golden oldies coming from?”
Away they ride on horseback to warn the folks in town
and a Graboid introduces himself by taking one horse down!
Val and Earl are on the run as the Graboid picks up speed,
A leap across a concrete wall, exactly what they need!
The Graboid bursts through concrete and ends up Sloppy Joe’d
Val and Earl triumphant, but it’s a long and rocky road,
for Rhonda’s readings indicate 3 more of the Filthy Four,
time to run as another Graboid wants to settle the score!
Our heroes are trapped on residual boulders but pole vault to their freedom –
Deux ex machina’s always there when you really need ‘em!
At Walter’s store, the troops re-convene and develop a plan of attack,
They can’t reach out for help because the radio’s out – of – whack.
The freezer screeches murder, and the boys try to unplug it,
but a Graboid hears the furor – that’s his jam, he really dug it!
Bursting through the floor, it targets Walter and takes a bite,
because Chinese take-out hits the spot any time of day or night!
The shopkeep’s gone, but the worms ain’t done satisfyin’ their sweet tooth
“They’re under the ground!” says Valentine, “Git up on your roof!”
Mindy with the pogo stick brings the worms’ attention,
but she doesn’t become a feast thanks to Valentine’s intervention!
Shift to Burt and Heather, in their rec room, taking stock
of their ammunition for the impending Ragnarok!
Enter stage right, antagonist: Graboid with Death Wish,
Brother, are YOU in trouble, because Burt and Heather’s favorite dish
is Open Flame Grab-Shish-Ka-Bob, surely a fitting tomb
for the Graboid who broke into the wrong goddamn rec room!
(Burt Gummer: king of badass, Atlanta Hawks fan, Man of the People,
The producers surely loved this scene, screaming: SEQUEL! SEQUEL! SEQUEL!)
The Gummer-nators lock and load, but the Graboids bust their wheels;
Perfection’s going under, and Valentine’s on his heels
running for a semi-end to hitch to a bulldozer
while Nestor’s trailer starts to reel and Graboids tip it over,
“the tire’s no good, Nestor, get high or you’ll get eaten!
Nestor, get up on your – *CHOMP* well, hope they like the taste of cretin…”
The dozer’s up and runnin’ and they all head for the range,
hoping that their situation will dramatically change.
Burt and Heather defend their home, but the Graboids have clearly won;
The best line in the movie sums it up:
“You didn’t get penetration with the elephant gun!”
A pit-trap’s dug in the bulldozer’s path – them Graboids got real smart!
The denizens scramble frantically to the rocks so they can start
their explosive wormageddon to end the Graboid threat,
let those squishy bastards know that they ain’t quite done yet!
One Graboid mistakes a Gummer’s Special for a kosher frank,
and slimy entrails fly through sky, lovely but so rank!
Another bomb is thrown and quickly taken by the wriggler,
who promptly spits it out because he thought it was a Twizzler!
The bomb lands in the rocks, so Perfection’s Finest scatter,
most of them to safety but three may yet be splattered –
Rhonda, Val, and Earl are stranded, placed directly in harm’s way,
But Valentine’s got one more plan to use to save the day!
He “stampedes” the final vermin to the cliff to death unholy –
At 60 MPH, you’ve got Graboid Guacamole!
And so ends a day historic for the people of Perfection,
as Earl suggests for Valentine some quiet introspection –
the motherhumpers have been killed and they surely won’t be missed,
so go and find that college gal and give her a big kiss!
You know the rest – Val and Rhonda started their romance –
Earl, he rested comfortably, knowing there wasn’t a chance
that the earthbound infestation would soon be resurrected;
well, not soon, but in ’96, Earl was quite corrected.
But that’s a story for another day, so I won’t get ahead;
Good night, little Graboids – brush your tongues and go to bed!

I may go on the road with this nonsense…Requests, MB fans?!