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 #5 - ‘LAWNMOWERMAN 2: BEYOND CYBERSPACE’ (1996)
I’m just as angry as you Jobe, I’m just as angry as you.
IMDB RATING: 2.2
POSITION ON IMDB’S BOTTOM 100: 68
I’ve dabbled in a little Virtual Reality myself. Applying to both Knightmare and Craig Charles’ Cyberworld when I was a child and becoming the owner of not one, but TWO Nintendo Virtual Boys. You might not have heard about Nintendo Virtual Boys before, and its mainly due to the fact they were withdrawn from the worldwide market by Nintendo after 6 months in 1996. You see, it had two major flaws. One issue was that the helmet, once worn, is too heavy for a human head. You have to lay down on the floor, resting the helmet on the ground in order not to snap your neck from the weight. This did not lend itself well to a system where your mind was promised to be set free, as you found yourself more concerned with the possibility of a cat walking on your face. The second problem was when children started to report that the unit MADE THEM BLIND. The main selling point of the console was that you could play highly compromised versions of your favourite games but in a new perspective. So you got a black and red Mario game where he not only went up,down,left and right… but also in and out of perspective. In order to do this, and rush a product to the market to capitalise on films such as the one I am about to review, they used questionable materials which were not fully QC’d. Only a dozen games were ever released before Nintendo quietly hid them all in a pit but there are a few of us out there who continue to play them and dice with our sight, because there is something ultimately fascinating about one of the biggest companies in the world, accidentally maiming their core audience and this nicely mirrors the plot - if you can call it that - of my next review.
The scariest thing I have ever seen. Full stop.
This fabulous film starts where the original ends. A bomb - complete with wires spilling out of it like a steampunk pie - is being set at the nucleus of a supercomputer where ‘The Lawnmower Man’, Jobe is virtually imprisoned. We see Jobe having an electronic panic attack inside ‘cyberspace’ trying to fly-swat Pierce Brosnan who is linked up to it via a Nintendo Virtual Boy. Jobe frantically pressing hexagons which appear like a whack-a-mole, and eventually the right sequence is entered to push Pierce’s online avatar onto a computer generated crucifix. There was a deeply religious undertone to the first movie which is represented by character names, symbols and psalm-like speeches to no-one in particular. He then makes Brosnan spin around on the cross with green laser eyes (which isn’t in the bible as far as I’m aware).
After much to and fro, spouting techno-babble to each other as if it actually means something, Jobe lets Brosnan escape the ‘mainframe’ so he can save a kid thats stupidly wondered into the warehouse - in the real world - and could potentially blow up with the bomb. Brosnan doesn’t bother trying to diffuse the bomb and the building explodes as Brosnan and the kid escape down flaming corridors straight out of Red Dwarf. Jobe finds a ‘backdoor’ in the mainframe which allows himself to be uploaded somewhere else to avoid getting blown up with the rest of the warehouse.
We then find Brosnan doing a soliloquy about the freedom of man in a basement, while dramatically blowing out a match and suddenly ALL THE PHONES RING.. IN THE WORLD! Jobe has uploaded himself to a load of phones!Classic! Back in the blown up warehouse, we see firefighters rescue real-life Jobe’s charred body. I guess he will probably need a new face, one that looks like a slightly less famous actor who will accept alot less money.
Next we see LA of the future. We know its LA of the future because of the helpful caption and the obvious Blade Runner comparisons/parodies. Basically everything is dirty and wet and steam rises from vents like in all cyberpunk novels worth its Soylent Green. The little kid from the first film, Peter, is now a teenager and lives in the LA subway with a bunch of other dropouts. Again, we know its the future as they all wear rollerskates (quads not inlines) and they are all also hackers (naturally) In the 90s, hacker kids were considered cool, rather than a risk to public safety so many producers from this period tried to jump on that bandwagon by making cheap and nasty straight to VHS movies with smart kids chatting techno-speak and breaking into bank accounts. This particular hacker/subway gang are all modelled after Edward Furlong’s John Connor from Terminator 2 but without the charisma or that lovely fringe.
These were the halcyon days where lines like “I’ve got us patched to the fibre-optics, have you got the access code?” could fly without an eyelid-batter and would inspire a generation of impressionable children to take up jobs in IT. The kids access ‘the mainframe’ from their abandoned graffitti’d subway cabin and cobbled together steampunk virtual reality helmets. Entering the ‘mainframe’ is apparently exactly like putting your face really close to the TV screen and repeatedly watching the opening credits of MST3000. Endless corridors of vaguely electronic looking instruments and baubles give way to sub-Tron retro-futuristic CAD-like landscapes that never stay in any one place too long.
Suddenly the kids are in a virtual woodland and have programmed Tron type motorbikes to appear. They hop on and are immediately chased by what look like the Nazis from A-Ha’s ‘Take on me’ video. Peter falls off his bike and when he gets up, Jobe appears but it’s no longer Jeff Fahey, it’s Matt Frewer! Now, I am a massive fan of Matt Frewer who I believe is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. His performance as Max Headroom in the 80s/90s was a game changer and has influenced (though they would never admit it) all manner of comics, tv shows and films. He does the slightly unhinged idiot-savant very very well and I’m surprised I haven’t seen him in anything culturally relevant for a very long time. Peter and Jobe have a conversation straight out of Birdemic (review coming really soon!) as each sentence is accompanied with bad editing, strange pauses, unnecessary close ups and flitting sound quality.
“just hanging here… in a wood.. with the ghost of a lawnmower… and what?”
Jobe explains to Peter that he is dying and needs his help. For some reason, his voice is 3 octaves too low so he sounds like Candyman with a cold. I can barely work out what he is saying, such is the vocal-bass they’ve attributed Frewer but if I ever meet a whale, I will ask him to explain. Jobe says he needs Peter to try and do something with an ‘Egypt link’(?!) but before Peter can ask what the fuck he is talking about, he gets shot in the face by a virtual nazi and disintegrates back into reality, where his friends have trouble waking him up. They try movie-CPR, which involves tapping his chest and repeating “one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand...” until he splutters back to consciousness in the grim comfines of the subway carriage. “if you were in danger you should have jacked-out you jerk!” the female dirty-faced hacker screams at him.
“da da da daaa da da da da da da dada taaakkkee ooonnnnn meeeeee..”
Meanwhile at the ‘Virtual Light Institute’ which, for a computer company, looks close to a Nazi Mega Fortress, complete with helicopter pads, massive search-lights combing the surrounding areas for… microchips I presume, and tons of soldiers wearing nazi-esque regalia. Cori, who seems to be the only relatively decent human being in all this nazi nonsense, is showing a senator around the compound, misquoting Belinda Carlisle explaining how “virtual reality is now a ‘place’ on earth” and confusingly coughs out the line, “Watch you don’t hit your head on that monitor, it could kill you”. What?! How?! We will never know as the tour moves on with the group nodding at the understanding of the monitor-based danger.
The Senator is then shown the ‘Chiron Chip’ which is the key to their Virtual Light Uplink. He seems distressed with the potential of the Chiron Chip and tells the evil people that he won’t invest in this venture. I dont know what the VLU is yet, but I assume its no good. I’m also assuming it will be explained but I don’t hold much hope. The Senator states “I’m still a little unclear to how all this fits together” and at that point I felt like jacking myself up to the mainframe, entering the movie and giving him a virtual high-five. You and me both bro! You and me both.
Peter, recovers from being dead for a few seconds to go forth and help Jobe with the incredibly confusing thing he asked him to do. He missions to find Dr Trace who he found “on the internet” and discovers he is now some kind of hippy American-indian and is not interested in helping.. until Peter name drops the Chiron Chip. “I don’t live that life anymore Peter.. All that technology just consumes the soul”. Peter hands him a Sony mini disc and leaves with Dr Trace running the disk though his fingers and looking into space like he has just remembered he needs to put the rubbish out.
We cut to Dr Trace post-viewing whatever was on the minidisc and reluctantly visits Peter in his subway-based home. It’s another chance for us to check out futuristic neon-lit LA, where all street lights have been converted to open flames, and its always raining. Also did I mention that Dr Trace is a dead ringer for Tommy Wiseau? Well he is and now I’ve thought of that, it’s made the movie 8 times more interesting. “So you’re the Einstein of VR?” asks one of the subway hackers and somehow Trace knows his name and replies “I’ll take that as a compliment..Travis”. Peter gives Trace a bit of necessary backstory that if Jobe dies in VR, then he will die in real life. Nightmare on Elm Street much? We are also reminded that Jobe was a ‘simpleton’ and was turned into a genius by Pierce Brosnan using some wires and a C64 data cassette.
ALMOST in this movie. Almost.
Let’s take a break here and address a few issues. 50% of Lawnmower Man 2 is made up of clips of Lawnmower Man 1. Y’know, the film they had a little bit of a budget on and semi-decent actors. Brosnan isn’t actually in this film at all, and why would he be? By now he was well on his way to become the new Bond and this would have been a major step down. Unlucky for him, he probably signed a contract with unflattering smallprint about is image being used whenever the hell they like in any future sequel. The director makes the most of this, and inserts footage of Brosnan at any opportunity, reminded viewers that somewhere in all this, there used to be a narrative.
Also the soundtrack is all very wrong. It sounds like someone too the Jurassic Park music and chopped it up and stickle-bricked it together in the wrong order. Every mundane conversation plays alongside music that sounds like the protagonists have just discovered a T-Rex egg.
The subway crew and Trace jack-up into cyberspace and we are treated to Peter flying across the Tron-like glowing motherboard cities until Jobe appears to address Trace. My favourite movie with a teen flying across proto CGI cities is the ultra amazing ‘Explorers (1985)’ though of course, that was in an Ethan Hawke dream sequence and reminds me that I would rather be dreaming right now instead of watching this cyber-trash. Anyhow, Jobe explains that he has found immortality in ‘Egypt’. He then goes onto say “It’s a hidden sub-routine coded into the design of the Chiron chip!”. Jobe wants Trace to explain specifically what ‘Egypt’ actually is but Trace isn’t interested in playing virtual ball and suspects all is not what it seems. Surely if Jobe designed and is currently making the Chiron Chip, he would know what the hidden sub-routine is?
“just put the cyberfish into the delta subroutine and max out the datafrog. easy!”
Jobe gets majorly pissed off and produces a virtual Aladdin sword to kill virtual Peter. The hacker kids rip Peter’s VR helmet off which pisses off Jobe even more, so he gets his revenge by taking control of a working subway train and aiming it straight for the hacker’s HQ. Trace hacks into the subway’s computer and manages to divert the runaway train onto another track, saving the hackers but instantly killing the driver and presumably anyone aboard as it ploughs into a concrete wall, exploding on impact. Yay, the dirty hacker kids are safe though! They exit the exploding subway system and break into some offices where they shout technical things at a monitor (be careful!) until they bring up a picture of Cori who they now know can help them. I’m still unsure with that they need help for, but I am buying into it as the Jurassic Park music swells to crescendo. They figure that they need a tracking device to find the Chiron chip and in turn, Cori so I expected them to fashion one from all the steampunk shit they all have hanging around. Instead, they just smash into the nearest shop which had a tracker on display in the window and that luckily prevents any long drawn out realism.
“you just need to enhance the memory index and actualise the data you fucking idiot!”
Jobe meanwhile, is still angry and decides to take it out on the senator who wouldn’t invest in the Chiron Chip. He speaks to a monitor (carefulll!) and makes the Senator’s plane crash… offscreen. It would have cost way too much to let us see the plane crashing so instead we get a close up of Jobe’s face glowing orange. Nice trade.
They could have done this. They had Frewer. They could have done this.
Trace startles Cori in an underground car park and we discover they used to be lovers. Yes, this is a bit like that scene from ‘Alone in the Dark’ but this is more ‘cybery’ and ‘internety’ and ‘virtual-y’. She refuses to entertain the delusions of her ex when he explains Jobe - who is basically the mastermind behind the Virtual Light Institute - is evil but its okay as the hacker kids have put the tracker on her car. How they knew they would need a tracker in the first place is baffling but it came in useful. The kids then attempt to break into the VLI and steal the Chiron Chip but don’t forget, it is surrounded by Nazi guards with searchlights and dogs and close-cropped haircuts. Jobe is busy constructing the virtual city inside cyberspace which aims to hold all of the world’s knowledge and therefore make VLI the most powerful company in the world. What they don’t know is that Jobe himself wants to run it himself. Cori twigs this though and suddenly realises that she has been working for the bad guys for years but she isn’t a bad guy right?
Cue Cori hitting the hacker kids with her car. It was an accident though and a set-up so Trace could creep his way into the backseat like some hobo urban legend. They have an ex-lover argument and realise they are essentially on the same side and plan to steal the Chiron Chip and stop evil Jobe.
They break into the fortress while Jobe watches on a monitor (caaarrreeeefuullll!!!!) and puts obstacles in the way like sparks from a phone and smoke from a vent. They have a plan when they get to the chip though. The ingenius method to thwart all of those 90s nazis and super security systems is by ‘doing an Indy’ and substituting the Chiron Chip with a fucking ice cube. I know swearing isn’t big or clever, but in this case I think it’s justified. They place an ice cube in the hole where the Chiron Chip sits and they think they’ve got away with it until hell breaks loose and alarms drown out the Jurassic Park music for a bit. It’s confusing though, as they should have just grabbed the chip and ran away. Jobe already knew they were in the building so trying to subtly take the chip without people noticing was ambitious to say the least.
“After this, I think we should put our faces into an oven to disarm the alarms…”
Back at base, with their newly stolen swag, they quickly realise they were tricked by Jobe and what they have is a fake Chiron chip! They realise this when a green-screen flashes NEGATIVE until anyone with epilepsy begs it to stop.
Jobe thinks this is all rather amusing and his virtual version is now dressed in gold foil and stands over the Chiron chip, in front of selected guests who have been invited to see the full power of the Virtual Light and Chiron Chip hook-up. I sound like I semi-know what I’m talking about don’t I? Good. Boom. the Virtual Light system comes online and now Jobe has access to the telecom systems of the world. Hang on… didn’t he previously hook himself up to all the phones in the world WITHOUT the Chiron chip? whats the difference here?
Jobe tracks down the hackers new desert base and aims a helicopter straight at them in a virtual way. This is actually probably the best executed scene in the movie as the copter slides along the desert sand toward them and they just narrowly escape the flames. It does look a little ‘Honey I shrunk the kids’ as you can clearly see the green screen joins but in this film it’s a real achievement.
The kids need to stop Jobe once and for all, and with the help of Trace and Cori they hatch another great idea. If they all “jack into the mainframe” again, they can team up and defeat Jobe on his own turf. After all, if Jobe dies in cyberspace, he dies in real life right? They kids jack into cyberspace and presumably use an Akira-patch as they race through a virtual futuristic street just like Katsuhiro Otomo 1988 classic. They dodge motorbike riding Nazi soldiers on their way to the centre of the virtual city that Jobe has built in the mainframe and finally reach what looks like a Roman Colosseum built by the Waybaloos. Jobe waits there, golden with sword drawn for Trace to turn up. Trace conjures a hefty sword too and they have an awkward fight, rolling around on the ground, not really using the swords to their full potentials. The hacker kids watch on from behind pillars instead of outnumbering him with their own virtual weapons. Trace smashes the in-game Chiron chip but Jobe shouts “I don’t need the chip.. I AM THE CHIP!” How very convenient! His victory lasts all of 4 seconds when the power he engulfs from the live light stream (I know) causes him to explode into polygons. Dramatic!
” and they showed me a sausage THIS big and said, you can have it if you agree to be in our movie. So I said yes and then they gave me the sausage but it was only half what they promised and also virtual…”
The movie ends with a flashback to Jobe from the original, mowing the lawn and about to drink Kool-Aid. CREDITS. Such a bizarre ending to a nonsensical film and not a shred of narrative satisfaction. What happened to Peter and the hacker kids? What happened with Trace and Cori? After this traumatic event did they become romantically entangled again? Who knows and frankly who cares? This was a complete nightmare to watch, not because of how terrible the acting, special effects and directing is, but because this represents an incredible waste of potential. The first Lawnmower movie brought virtual reality to the mainstream and inspired people to exploit the potential of new technologies, both recreationally and in movies. Due to lack of investment, this sequel represents disappointment and a wasted opportunity to utilise the technical revolution of the time. I am pleased as punch that I never have to watch this film again, and now you don’t have to either. You guys owe me one.
I always like to highlight any points of merit in a terrible movie and this one is easy. Matt Frewer as the off-kilter Jobe is brilliant. He just has one of the most expressive faces ever and did the Jim Carrey thing before Jim Carrey new it was a thing. I once again mention Frewer’s work on the Max Headroom series (and film) which remains an important nugget in popular culture where for the first time it made viewers ask the question “Is what I am told by the media, actually true?” It resonates right now and predicted (as did this film weirdly) the lengths corporations would go to in order to control the populace for ‘their own good’. In conclusion, if you have to watch this, do so for Frewer’s performance and not for a snapshot of mid-90s techno-culture as you will be left wanting. Wanting the original movie or a mild lobotomy.
Most people, when looking back at their lives have specific mind-markers, pointing out the most important events that have ever happened to them. From these events, they can guage time, mood and place and instantly compare their situation right now. For instance, they can recall their first child being born, how happy they felt in context of their surroundings at that moment and then compare it to when they ate a sandwich yesterday. In alot of cases, hearing your baby make a tentative noise for the first time trumps huffing up a marmite toastie in your boxers. You see, this is where I have a problem. I’m not married, I don’t have kids and I’ve never punched a shark in its face. When I look back at my life, I don’t have the neccessary mind-markers sitting there in order to compare how I feel right now. So I don’t feel anything and all of the most important events in my life revolve around toast.
I can remember the first time I realised you could cook a potato waffle in a toaster. I can remember how scared I felt as I dropped two frozen starchy squares into the vertical grills of my cheap Asda toaster and how I nearly bottled out. I stood there, hovering over this moulded plastic wonder, fingers crossed and arms folded, phone open on Twitter in order to immediately post the results like my life depended on it. Steam and hiss drowned my fear as I knew at least something was happening in there. I imagined this is how it felt in the moments before the first moon landing. Conquering the unknown. Reaching new heights for humanity. Nothing would ever be the same again. I watched the lever nervously, trying to predict when it would rise, like the worst game of Buckaroo ever recorded. The London rain almost distracting me from this occasion and I pondered: Do the numbers on the dial relate to an arbitory heat measurement value, or do the numbers indicate the passage of time? Did ‘3’ mean half as hot or did it mean 3 minutes? I asked myself what was more likely and decided that it was easier for a cheap toaster to control time than it could heat. If that was the case, did my microwave potentially hold the secret to time travel? See, I told you that rain was distracting.
I looked into the toaster from above, heat and steam like a potato-y face-hugger pushed me back, but I was too curious. I could just press the ‘cancel’ button now and I would get my prize, but I again thought of Apollo 11. Did Neil Armstrong press the ‘eject’ button on the shuttle’s descent to the lunar surface? He would have got down alot quicker if he had, but he fought against the natural human instinct for instant gratification and so must I. It felt like I’d pushed down on the plastic tab a lifetime ago, before there was an east-london kitchen here. Before there were buildings. Before there were grassy mounds of earth pushed together to form continents. Somewhere before the earth had cooled into the rocky mass we live on, I had let those waffles fall through my fingers into the fire and have waited eternity for the potato phoenix to rise from the furnace, into my mouth where it could live in peace amongst my teeth and friendly tongue.
And still I waited. Waited like you have for this film review. Waited.
And then it happened, a muffled metallic pop at just the moment when I had given up, let go. A golden prize for patience. Like a square vagina of joy I grabbed that fucking waffle with nail-bitten fingers and… realised it was only half cooked and had to stick it down for another few monutes. Still, eventually I got a well-cooked waffle and ate it in silence, tweeted about it and probably got a reply from someone in America who didn’t quite get what a Birdseye waffle was.
As you can tell, it was the best day of my life. Of anyone’s life. And so I have this single mind-marker to compare to this moment, this review. Yes, you may think I’m avoiding writing about it and yes, you’re right but now I’ve run out of toast stories and must begin.
In the very very loosest sense of the word.
Uwe Boll’s ‘Alone In The Dark’ succeeds in not only ruining a much-loved game franchise, but also the lives of anyone who watches it. I’ve seen this film FOUR TIMES now as I watched it drunk once and was convinced it was filled with amazing fight scenes and unintentionally funny dialogue. The subsequent two times I’ve watched it (It is always on Channel 5 at midnight) it’s been out of laziness to change the channels while trying to be funny on the internet and thought it was relatively harmless though undeserving of all of the hatred it receives in every review. On this occasion I watched it with tunnel-vision, fully-focused on the matter at hand. I could end the review right here by telling you I thought it was a turd-lolly but where is the fun in that? You know it’s awful. You know I am going to tell you it’s awful. These reviews are more about the journey than the destination. Just like an episode of Columbo, you find out who the killer is at the start and the whole show is about justifying it to the audience. That’s what I’m doing, so let’s play.
From the get-go Boll ruins any interest with a text-crawl that out-dogshits The Phantom Menace for gobbledy-gook. As the film is aimed at the illiterate, we are treated to a narration on top of that and I reckon if you bought this off iTunes, you’d get a free .pdf with the script to peruse at your leisure too. You just cannot have this at the start of a horror film. It just doesn’t work. The modern horror film fan is bright enough to work things out for themselves. In fact, it’s better if there are a few questions raised as it will extend the lifespan of a film if people discuss it. Here we are force fed the history of an ‘ancient American civilisation called The Abskani. These ancient stirrers, decided to open a gate between the worlds of ‘light’ and ‘dark’, because there was no Youtube back then and girls played really hard to get. As you can guess, this led to all kinds of problems when the gate couldn’t be closed properly. I would have gone with “Klaatu Verada Nikto”, as that works in nearly all cases, but they didn’t and they ended up being wiped from Earth, never to be heard of again. They left some bits and bobs behind which indicated there were some monsters hanging around, waiting for a z-lister to open the gate again. The text/narration continues for what feel like a pregnant hour, explaining in the most awkward way possible that an agency was set up to investigate the artefacts left by the Abskani but when that got shut down, it went underground – literally – into a Gold Mine (?!) where they started performing experiments to turn kids into monsters (sleepers). I feel this is what will also happen if they cancel ‘Community’. Nobody wants a rabid Alison Brie running around trying to bite your clavicle. Right?
Christian Slater looks like he has been reading the intro text as he is at his most squinty in this role, and it’s a hefty role at that. Once lauded as the new Jack Nicholson, Slater has crashed and burned his way through bargain bin to bargain bin in his pick of roles but this is low even for him. If you play an archaeological ghostbuster outside of a movie with a budget less than 50 million, it’s not going to fly. Slater is just annoying here and outside ‘Heathers’ and ‘Pump Up The Volume’, I really wouldn’t notice if he fell down a well. It’s okay though, the producers knew Slater’s star was dimming so hired a co-star to hopefully pull them up a few notches – Tara Reid. Of course by ‘notches’ I mean ‘slags’. Reid plays a scientist who is not only a convenient expert in all things Abskani, but she is also under no threat of ever being typecast as scientist. When it comes to dealing with supernatural monsters, what you don’t need is emotional baggage getting in the way, but Slater and Reid’s characters used to hook up so that’s out of the window. She indicates that she thought he was dead but never reveals why this is the case. He tells her that he will explain later. I’M STILL FUCKING WAITING SLATER. He never does, not even in voiceover, so we are left to assume the reason she suspected he was dead was JUST BECAUSE OKAY?
“Dear Oscar, please consida me for ur awrds lol.”
Tara Reid’s boss, Professor Hudgens has made it his bastard mission to open the gate again in order to see what unearthly pleasures/treasures lie on the other side. It’s his belief that the Abskani were whisked through the gate to the dark-side and he has a huge evil-guy groin-banana for them. Slater has found one of these ancient artifacts - and is attacked by a ‘sleeper’ and needs Reid’s intellect to decipher what it all means.
Actually, what does it all mean? this entire film is a series of short plays, smooshed together with a Christian slater voice-over (the swedish would call his vocal performance ‘lagom’) and none of it makes a single shred of sense. Do you know how difficult it is to explain in words the images I see onscreen? It’s like describing a dream an hour after waking up. I can tell you what’s happening as I watch, but the moment i look away, it turns into fuzz. I think this may be a self-defence mechanism to prevent suicide.
So this is the set up and so far so okay-ish as we shouldn’t expect a lot from a film based on a videogame. We should however, expect and judge it to the fullest extent if that video game is itself based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Now I know this is the second review in a row where I’ve brought up Lovecraft, but this time it’s warranted. The original video game became extremely popular due to its overriding Lovecratian theme of otherworldly creatures that have always been there, waiting until an opportune moment to devour humanity for their own good. It was one of the few times it actually worked and it was an obvious move to make the transition to film. It’s unfortunate that with the premise of unspeakable epic monsters, comes the need for an incredibly large budget, or at least someone with the savvy to construct believable creatures with a minimum cash. Uwe Boll couldn’t direct a Lovecraftian themed horror if Cthulhu himself annotated the script with his big sausage-tentacles. It doesn’t have the sense of dread you need, or the overwhelming doom that runs through the literature that unnerves you to such a level, even waking up the next day feels useless. Boll has taken all of the elements that made the source material – and even the game – a success and replaced with Tara Reid NOT getting her kit off and the ultimate realisation that the only dread experienced is from reading the reviews on IMDB.
I’m SO justified in posting another photo of the girl from Dagon. right?
Regretfully, back to the film, where we discover Slater’s backstory through the subtle subtext of SLAMMING IT INTO YOUR FACE. There is an attempt to hide the fact that Slater is one of the half-human monsters mentioned in the intro by employing the oft-forgotton device of sloppy editing. These creatures that were originally created – I’m about to make a big assumption here as there are no clear answers – to track down ancient artifacts in order to open the gate and kill anything that gets in the way. This is why Slater is so good as the Archaeologist Ghostbuster. Boll really missed a trick not calling this movie ‘Indiana Venkman’. Did anyone ever see the Friday the Thirteenth tv series? It was nothing to do with the movies unfortunately, it was all set in a magic antiques store. Each episode was based on one of the magical artifacts from the shop and ‘Alone In The Dark’ felt like a really turgid version of that mixed with a half-filled bottle of month-old semi-skimmed milk. The acting of everybody involved in this film, including Stephen Dorff playing a comic book ‘Commander’ of ‘Division 713’ - I’ll come back to what this monkeypoo is in a second - doesn’t seem good enough for the SyFy channel. Not even for the german SyFy channel.
This is the bit where… the erm… something.. erm… I have no fucking clue.
Division 713 seems to have been a shady organisation that wasn’t too far away from being The X-Files. While it didn’t have that ‘I Want To Believe’ poster we all craved for our own bedrooms, it did have alot more firepower and I’m guessing testosterone shots judging by Dorff’s general demeanour. Their MO is to find supernatural beings and destroy them before they slime us. Dorff leads the show now, but it used to be Slater and thats another reason he is so good at being Indiana Venkman! Even with all this going for him, Dorff warns him to not get involved as he isn’t part of the hotshot made-up team anymore. Before he can moan about not being picked first for footy, Slater and Reid are attacked by the aforementioned ‘sleepers’ but they could of course, be homeless people invading the set in an attempt to reclaim their abandoned warehouse back. The 713 step in to save the day, shooting the ineffective monster people with ease. Famously Uwe Boll didn’t even bother to tell his Sleepers to stay dead while the cameras were rolling so you see some of them get up and walk away. Surely no director could this be incompetent? Even though I’m told this pile of fishguts cost $20m dollars, none of that is seen onscreen. In fact I’d be hard pushed to tell you where I thought even $1m was spent on this film. It certainly wasn’t the special effects which look like Boll waited until after xmas to shoot so he could dress his crew with anything that came out of a cracker. It certainly wasn’t paying for the star-power either as there is none and we all know Tara Reid would eat a cocker-spaniel for 50p these days. We can only assume that the majority of this budget went on settling Slater’s coke and whore tab.
That scene ends abruptly and we see Slater hanging out in his house waiting for his agent to ring perhaps, but instead Tara Reid appears for the sole reason to have sex. I say ‘sex’ but I mean rubbing up against each other like fingers trying to find the holes in a glove. due to Reid’s bizarre non-nudity clause - she’s a serious actress man! - we get something that should be left on the cutting room floor along with the other 90 minutes. They can’t have non-sex all day though as the city is full of zombies for no reason at all. Okay, if I sat down and thought about it, I could deduce that the gate opening caused all manner of evil to pass through and infect humanity. I think thats what Boll was trying to tell us; along with “I’m a shit director” and “I can destroy any franchise just watch me!”. At some stage Slater figures out that these monsters used to be his mates and that they were all kidnapped as kids and experimented on.
This leads to the 713 teaming up with Slater and Reid and they pile into the tunnels beneath the orphanage - which of course looks exactly like the warehouse used in every scene of the film so far. Most of the 713 are killed by sleepers and other random monsters and Tara Reid’s boss turns up for a bit to shoot some good guys too. The bastard manages to open the gate utilising artifacts (?!) and is shot in the process by Dorff. They see through the gate and witness all kinds of CGI hell. Dorff tries to blow everything up and succeeds (yay!) but also blows himself up too (nay!). Slater and Reid escape up a ladder and see that while they had been in that warehouse for an hour, everybody in the city died and then it ends.
Like I explained, it is incredibly difficult to decipher anything that is happening in this movie as it is so badly put together. It’s like Boll received Final Cut Pro for xmas and had a few spare hours on Boxing Day to edit the whole movie before he had to go out to hit some women. It was a truly painful experience watching this without being able to flick through the channels for anything better, before finally accepting that yes, I’m stuck with this abomination until my eyelids give me release. What Boll has achieved here is a film without any saving graces; one without a single scene of merit; one whose very existence threatens to contradict this little blog of mine. My job is to convince you that these films considered ‘worst’ are actually just misunderstood. This is only misunderstood as it makes no sense. I challenge Boll to explain the storyline in a way that leaves no plot-holes unfilled or unnecessary unanswered questions presented. I doubt its possible. Boll’s entire filmography reads like a practical joke on the world, where the punchline is “HA I MADE YOU WATCH THAT! YOU CAN’T CATCH ME!” He needs to be stopped. Massive financial flops can’t stop him as he has some sweet deal with the german government regarding tax breaks, so he needs to be locked away in an attic with no access to a camera, writing materials and popular video games. My recommendation is to give this one a wide berth and if you do happen to catch it at Midnight on Channel 5, keep flicking… or call me… or a doctor.