I'm Jed Shepherd and I have decided - against my better judgement - to review the worst 100 movies according to IMDB. I started this blog on Jan 1st 2012 and aim to finish this project by Dec 31st 2012. I aim to prove that even the worst films have some good in them (even those directed by Uwe Boll). Wish me luck!
WORST MOVIES EVER #2 - ‘SANTA WITH MUSCLES’ (1996)
“HEY HULKAMANIACS, THIS ISN’T HOW IT LOOKS GUYS…”
IMDB RATING: 2.1
POSITION ON IMDB’S WORST 100 LIST: 64
Before I start I’d like to state that I am in no way a Scrooge. I love Xmas, the crass commerciality of it all, the devout catholics making their one and only pilgrimage of the year to church, making sure they shake the priest’s hand in case the Mayans were right. Most of all though, I love Christmas Movies. We have had some exceptional efforts in recent years, including ‘Rare Exports’ and ‘P2’ but there have also been some stinkers. Anything with Tim Allen on the DVD cover you can write off before ever viewing and I’m actually surprised none of his movies made this list. I knew nothing of this film before watching it just now but it’s hard to describe the elation that ran through me when it dawned this was going to be a movie starring HULK HOGAN AS SANTA CLAUS! Like a belated xmas present, I was inordinately excited as it was an unexpected treat. My hopes were already heading skyward based on the title alone. Let’s dive in with all the joys and happiness of the season in mind…
‘Santa with Muscles’ starts the same way as ‘Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’ (bonus points) with a blonde girl in a white nightdress messing around at a desk in her bedroom. Instead of popping around with caffeine pills, this girl is writing - and annoyingly narrating - a letter to Santa. She ends the letter with the words “I hope you’re really out there Santa!” Aw kinda sweet, until it cuts to Hulk Hogan doing his very best Paul Hogan (any relation?!) impression, hiding in some bushes, spying on a guy who is hovering over a plant in a shifty way. Hogan approaches him and goes for a punch! The plant-man who already had a machete in hand, swings and misses our hero - just as well really as we are only a minute into the film - and we witness and one-man beatdown after delivering the line “Never stop to smell the roses!” You know, because the guy was near a plant? BEST SANTA EVER. Though at this point, Hogan isn’t Santa yet. I wonder how he will end up becoming Mr Claus. I’m going to make a few guesses now so play with me!
Hulk Hogan becomes ‘Santa with Muscles’ by:
a) drinking a magic potion from the North Pole.
b) angering a gypsy who curses him to carry presents around FOREVER.
c) it’s never explained. it just happens.
If it ends up being C, I am going to break something.
Six more brutes attempt to attack Hulk Hogan but its useless because HE IS HULK HOGAN! After wave after wave of smackdowns, the bad guys give up and it is revealed that they are Hogan’s staff and he requested them to attack him! Turns out Hogan is a rich business guy who made his money from protein drinks. “Make my face bigger on the can and make sure I look more tanned!” he barks at the PA he just beat up.
As it’s only 10 minutes into the film and the director has decided we don’t need any plot advancement yet, Hogan goes paintballing with his friends in the woods. On his way back, he is chased by a police officer (watched this bit 3 times to work out why but to no avail) played by none other than Clint Howard! For those of you that don’t know Clint, his previous roles include ‘That little kid in Flipper’ and ‘Firmly in his brother Ron’s shadow’.
None of this matters though as through the magic of editing, we are suddenly in a scene where the bad guy - aptly named Ebner Frost - is talking to a man hanging upside down, threatening to do bad stuff to him if he doesn’t sell him his business. Did I mention that Frost is talking to the upside down man through a television set? Did I mention this was all taking place in a public park? Did I mention that assisting Mr Frost in this dastardly deed are his three badass lackeys who each have attributes that make them akin to evil? No? Well we have one guy dressed as an explorer who threatens to turn the upside-down man into “a fossil”. We have a guy dressed like a scientist who has a bullet-belt of stink bombs who presumably will let them off at a moment’s notice, and finally we have a sexy lady wearing a Nintendo Power glove on each hand who makes a flower explode IN THE UPSIDE-DOWN MAN’S FACE!
Back to the police chase plot and our hero is creeping through what looks like Alcatraz, hiding from Clint Howard… when he comes across a SANTA SUIT hanging on a rail in a corridor! So that’s how he becomes Santa! Who said xmas wasn’t filled with magic and wonder? Dressed as Santa Claus he runs into Clint Howard who asks “Hey Santa, have you seen a guy round here dressed in army fatigues?” because, it’s Xmas, why would you suspect a guy dressed as Santa huh? Even though he managed to persuade them he wasn’t Hogan, he decides to hide in the garbage disposal which results in him falling down a chute and banging his head. Hang on… He is going to wake up thinking he really is Santa isn’t he? Tempted to turn off, but press on as apparently Mila Kunis is going to turn up in a bit.
So Hogan wakes up to a guy dressed as an elf stealing his wallet. To prevent getting his face slammed, the elf convinces him that he really is Santa and conveniently the local mall is looking for a new Santa! This is all going to work out well for everybody involved! a flurry of Hollywood child actors sit on Hogan’s knee and act him off the screen in the process. Trouble is brewing nearby though as two criminals, one wearing a t-shirt with ‘Anarchist’ emblazoned on the front, tries to steal a fishbowl of money destined for an orphanage. One of the aforementioned child actors overacts her distress to Hogan who promptly gorilla presses them into some fake snow.
This was in the movie, but could have quite easily been an outtake.
Fresh from this battle, Hogan sees a sign that the Orphanage is about to close down as they have run out of money and it has something to do with the evil Mr. Frost. Fake Santa and the Elf rock up to the Orphanage and pledges to help them somehow and in the process they agree to let him live there too. Oh there’s Mila Kunis who hasn’t quite worked out what to do with her facial expressions yet. After spending the night dressed as a monk in the orphanage (the elf is dressed as a rabbit by this point) Hogan comes down to breakfast without his Santa suit. The kids are all shocked but Hogan assures them that he “shaved it off because Mrs Claus says it tickles…” Absolutely disgusting.
Anyway, Hogan Santa has made the papers for his shopping mall escapades and the headline reads ‘SANTA WITH MUSCLES’ and bad guy Mr. Frost rues this fact as it is drawing attention to the orphanage’s plight somehow. In these kind of films (as with ‘Cool as Ice’ before it) we, the viewer need to take bold leaps of logic with the plotline to even fractionally enjoy it. Take the fact that Hogan isn’t really Santa. This doesn’t stop colourful lights appearing in the night sky when he sings with a little girl in the orphanage. Maybe this wasn’t even part of the script and it happens to Hogan all the time because HE IS HULK HOGAN.
“Just wait Santa, in a few years I’m gonna fucking BUY you…”
So why is the bad guy so interested in the Orphanage? Is there a mysterious vault in the basement that nobody noticed until just now that possibly contains untold riches that would no doubt save the orphanage? YES! Yes, there is.The kids figure out 3 numbers of the combination at their first attempt but they just can’t work out the last one. Summoning something from his former life as a rich guy, Hogan enters the last number and the vault swings open. We don’t need to find out why he picked that number or what it related to. All we need to know is that it happened and that it’s Xmas eve and OH MY GOD LOOK THERE ARE GLOWING CRYSTALS IN THERE! For some reason the crystals explode when they are dropped, so when that happens, the get-along gang stroll back upstairs to bed while Hogan wonders why he isn’t at the North Pole. Elf explains that if he asks to many questions it will ruin Xmas. I’m pretty sure this was also a message to the watching public.
I need to make a quick apology here as I went to make a cup of coffee and didn’t press pause. I returned to see Hogan falling from a church tower onto a garbage truck and my brain has filled in the gaps. I assume he was lured there with the promise of Rudolph hanging out up there and the bad guy used this conceit to push him to his death. If this isn’t the case then I apologise for my revisionist review but do you seriously expect me to rewind this shit? Xmassy shit though it is.
Knocked unconscious, Hulk is awaken by his PA/Butler who explains that the garbage truck driver recognised him as his true self and returned him to his mansion. This is all well and good, but the experienced has changed our Hulk! For one, he isn’t clotheslining his staff all the time and seems genuinely concerned about the plight of the orphanage. He decides to give them a call but it is intercepted by Mr. Frost who plays a pre-recorded take of the orphanage staff shouting mean things down the phone. Ouch.
Meanwhile, Mr. Frost’s three evil henchmen turn up again to smash up the Orphanage. The lady with the Nintendo power gloves blows up the front door in a Raiden/Mortal Kombat stylee and the scientist guy seems to be spraying bleach everywhere. Orphanages are probably quite germy places so this intrusion is secretly quite welcome. “No… don’t spray that bleach all over the kitchen you evil man! Whatever you do, don;t spray it in the oven, leave it for a few minutes and wipe it clean with a warm damp cloth! You monster!”
Mr. Frost’s, enters and orders everyone down to the vault, which looks a bit like that episode of Punky Brewster where she gets lost in the caves and her friend turns into a massive spider. He commands the kids to mine the jewels and is happy to provide child-size miner helmets for them all. He may be a bad guy but nobody wants a black mark against their Health & Safety record.
To make matters worse, Frost outs the Elf as a conspirator in all of this malarkey and has to endure a room full of kids with torches on their heads tutting and judging. I don’t really understand why they have torches on their helmets as, for a weird catacomb underground, it is pleasantly light in there. One of the kids hilariously calls the Elf “Benedict Arnold” which leads me to believe that education in an orphanage is far better then anywhere else in the American school system. The elf looks understandably sheepish but in a scene without Hulk Hogan, it’s not long before even the actors get bored, so all is forgotten as another explosion happens for some reason.
Filled with guilt, the elf makes a call to Hogan to give the heads-up, but Frost intercepts the call again and they trash-talk each other for a while. Hogan, not being the brightest star on the tree, can’t think of any zingers right now so crushes his own phone. That’ll freakin show that bad guy Hulk! your inability to contact anyone ever again will put Mr Frost right where you want him!
You know what would be helpful right now? When you know an evil man has kidnapped a bunch of orphans and is forcing them to do child-labour in a crystal mine? The Police, that’s who, but that would take at least two minutes to explain, so when Hogan runs into the manic Clint Howard again, he decides to mess with him instead. Remember I told you he was a rich guy that made his money off body-building products? Well that wasn’t just a throwaway plot point, it was more a Chekov’s gun moment as Hogan uses every one of his products to make Clint Howard’s car crash during a chase.
The chase isn’t over though as Clint gets back on the road and whats that up ahead? It’s a police roadblock! If that wont stop Hogan then nothing will! Actually maybe the ROCKET LAUNCHER one of the police officers is pointing at Hogan could do it too. I know this isn’t the type of movie where the blanket of realism can give us comfort, but I’d want at least a few threads of it. Like a RoadRunner cartoon, the missile is fired, misses its intended target and hits Clint Howard who probably wishes he died for real. While on the set of Flipper in the 60s, Clint probably thought the world was his oyster. His brother Ron hadn’t started Happy Days yet and was nowhere near his top hollywood director status. Fast forward 30 years later, Ron is Hollywood’s hottest property and Clint is being filmed rolling around in a ditch with fuzzy pink dice around his neck. Dems the breaks!
Meanwhile at the Orphanage, shit is getting surreal. Hulk’s chef turns up at the door - which is of course now electrified - with a tray full of nibbles. The bad guys must think this happens all the time round these parts, after all, they ARE in an Orphanage, they always get free stuff don’t they? HOWS ABOUT A FREE KNUCKLE SANDWICH HUH GUYS? BOOM, when the door is opened, Hogan is waiting and smashes the ginger bad guy in his face. His moustache nearly cushions the fall to the ground as the Hulk goes in search of the orphans.
He finds them just hanging out in the kitchen (what happened to the mining subplot?) and then this happens:
Hulk Hogan: I gotta confess. I’m not really Santa.
Blonde Girl: You’re not really Santa are you?
Blonde Girl: (cont) You’re BETTER THAN SANTA!
“y’know little girl, in Lapland, sleeves are against the law…”
The other kids somehow refrain from vomiting and Hogan convinces them to further put their lives in danger by helping him get Mr Frost.They find the evil henchman scientist guy who is wearing a hazmat suit and assist Hulk in murdering him, by releasing poisonous gases into his suit and duct-taping all of the air holes. They whoop and scream at this scene as they witness the evil guy jump through a closed window to relieve himself of the pain of living.
Suddenly Hogan is in a church - the must have been a scene of him travelling there but I most likely missed it while catching my breath after the previous murder - and whats this? It’s Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake that’s what! One of Hulk’s old wrestling pals is also a henchman and has decided to turn up to filming today as a racist. Squinted eyes and Fu-Manchu beard and moustache, he is quickly dealt with by Hulk’s parody of Karate Kid and a swift crane kick to a church bench. Yep, Hogan kicks a bench that smacks The Barber in the chin and knocks him sparko. Next up is Nintendo Power Glove Girl who pleads “You wouldn’t hit a woman would you?”. Have you seen his ex-wife? It’s the only time I could ever condone domestic violence. Anyhow, he doesn’t need to make that decision as the elf pours a bucket of (holy?) water on her head, wicked witch of the east-esque which interferes with the Power Gloves controls and sends her flying across the church and presumably kills her based on the amount of smoke and sparks coming out of her body.
This seems the appropriate time for Hogan to have a nice sit down with one of the staff members of the Orphanage and it suddenly dawns on him that HE WAS ONE OF THE ORPHANS TOO! Apparently he had grown up there and just forgot about it. Maybe all the photos of him as a child on the walls should have been a clue. Oh it also turns out that the bad guy Mr. Frost grew up in the Orphanage too and he also just forgot. Also Hulk and Frost were best mates in the past as well and they both forgot.This is all revealed in a showdown in the catacomb/mine.
Remember the crystals explode if they fall on the ground? Well apparently its okay if you use them as swords and smash them into each other repeatedly. Frost falls down a mineshaft and being the good guy, Hulk attempts to save him before the whole place explodes (at some point in the fight, a crystal was dropped and is sorta on a timer so they have time for a final exchange). Hogan forces him to leave the house as it implodes in an astonishingly 80s way for a 90s movie. It’s kinda like what happens at the end of Poltergeist if Poltereist was directed by a man with a pillow for a head and a crudely drawn scribble for a face.
Client Howard turns up in the remains of his car and is interviewed by a reporter who ignores all of the people who were at the scene and concentrates on the guy who just turned up. He takes the credit for capturing Frost, even though Hogan is clearly the hero in this fucked-up scene.Everyone seems happy and the police show up to take the criminals away. I don’t count Clint as the police, more a walking disaster movie.
fig 1: Clint in better days.
It’s not all happiness though as the orphans have no orphanage to hang out in anymore. Where are they going to… ah you know where this is going right? Hulk Hogan converts his millionaire mansion into an Orphanage and persuades a bunch more orphans to hang out too! Now the orphanage staff can be beaten up by Hogan on a whim and drink protein shakes all year round!
And that’s essentially it.So what did I think? Well as a child, I was a big Hulk Hogan fan. I watched his movies along with my peers and we put reality on hold as he played the part of a wrestling alien in ‘Suburban Commando’, a wrestling spy in ‘The Secret Agent Club’ and a wrestling wrestler in ‘No Holds Barred’. Now, as an adult am I to believe that Hogan could convincingly portray a wrestling Santa? Well if anyone can, Hulk Hogan can… I guess. As suspected, this was a train-crash of a movie, with scenes slapped together without any thought on continuity. The acting, universally terrible though there were signs from a young Mila Kunis of what was to come. The special effects cut and paste from gameboy screens and directed with all the panache of Frankenstein’s monster hanging out with a girl by a lake. Even with the shroud of Xmas hanging over me, I felt no spirit or nostalgic quality to any of what I saw. This was just another excuse to capitalise on a celebrity by offering them a purpose-built vehicle to show off their ‘talents’. This is similar to my previous review of Vanilla Ice in ‘Cool as Ice’ as the only thing highlighted in both cases is the main protagonist’s lack of star quality and adaptability. For Christmas next year, I will be writing to Santa and wishing for a DIY lobotomy on the off chance I decide to watch this film again as some kind of self flagellation. I wouldn’t even recommend this movie as a curio as it has no popular culture value whatsoever. My new year is already stained with the sickening 2 hours it took me to watch this but at least now, after reading this, you don’t have to.