MORIARTY Reviews HELL HOUSE, BIGGIE & TUPAC And INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN! Plus Two Script Reviews!
Published at: Oct. 10, 2008, 5:30 p.m. CST by Moriarty
Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
I’m gonna have to start doing this old-school if I want to get all of this material up and on the site.
By the way, I appreciate all the e-mail from you guys asking me to talk about the process on POST-HUMAN. Right now, there’s not much to talk about. Research and meetings aren’t nearly as interesting from the outside, and I don’t want to burn you guys out early. As we move further along in the process, I’m very interested in sharing my perspective with you, but for now, I’m declaring a cone of radio silence. Like I said... I appreciate the interest, and I promise that when the time’s right, and when there are beans to spill, this’ll be the place they get spilled.
In the meantime, I’m still fitting in screenings and reading scripts, and I’m even planning a few set visits in the next couple of weeks. I wouldn’t be able to stop doing all that, even if I wanted to, because it’s the way I’m hardwired. I was like that before there was even an AICN, so why would I suddenly put the brakes on now, just because I got a new job?
Let’s cut all the precursor and get right to it, okay? There’s a lot of ground to cover today, and I’d like to get the DVD column up at the start of the week as well...
As odd as it sounds, this is one of the biggest crowd-pleasers I’ve seen this year based on the audience reaction at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood recently. Long, sustained laughter wracked the audience at several points in the film, but the film also managed to play beautifully through some very tricky tone changes. The audience hung on every bit of it, rapt. This is one of those documentaries that works entirely as entertainment, where you end up drawn in by the characters you’re watching and it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or fact.
All that matters is that you’re involved. And watching HELL HOUSE, you certainly will be.
Director George Ratliff plays his cards close on this one, and it’s hard to tell exactly where he stands on things. He’s certainly amused by the fervor of the convictions of some of the key people in the film, but he also has visible, evident empathy for some of his subjects. There’s an astonishing sequence early on that follows one particular guy, a single father, through an “average” morning as he works to wake all of his kids up for school, feed them, rotate baths, and get everyone out the door. For the first part of the scene, it’s all sort of funny as he talks about Hell House and what he wants from it this year, and as all of his kids sort of grumpily struggle to stay awake, and then right in the middle of the sequence, one of the younger children begins to have a seizure, and all of a sudden, it’s not funny. Not at all. When the seizure ends, the guy starts crediting prayer and God, and as the EMS team arrives to check the kid out, he continues to extoll the intervention of God and how it saved his child, and then, just like that, he gets back into his morning, and by the time he drops his oldest daughter off at high school, the scene is genuinely funny again. How else can you react as a father and daughter discuss what roles they want at Hell House with a near-giddy, “Boy, I hope I get Domestic Violence this year”?
Ratliff is also very wise not to mock the faith that obviously makes this event so important for some of these people. Instead, he lets them talk, and in certain cases, they reveal themselves as having mixed motives. There’s one guy who sets up the rave sequence in Hell House each year who seems more than a little eager to taste the forbidden fruits of the actual rave scene, and the single father’s attitudes about adultery seem to reveal quite a bit about what sort of incident left him with that houseful of kids all by himself. HELL HOUSE is, in the end, a movie about masks that slip, and what’s underneath, and why we wear those masks.
Actually, I just realized... I haven’t even mentioned what the annual Hell House event is. It’s funny... it’s the high concept of the film that got me to go see it, but it’s the character and the texture of the film that have remained with me since seeing it.
Basically, Hell House is an annual haunted house style event. Instead of portraying chainsaw killers and masked psychos and alien monsters, though, Hell House stages a series of miniature plays, scenes that portray (in graphic detail) the wages of sin. Abortion accidents, high school shootings, drug overdoses, drunk driving deaths... in each case, one of the sinners repents and asks for Jesus to forgive them, and one doesn’t. One goes to Heaven, one goes to Hell. The endings are the same, so the real energy goes into the set-up, the “horror” part. Actors overemote on an epic level, and the auditions we see are funnier than anything in WAITING FOR GUFFMAN.
I lived in the buckle of the Bible Belt for a long time, but I have little first-hand experience with the intensity of faith shown here. Speaking in tongues is something I don’t get. I don’t look down on it, and I don’t think Ratliff includes it here to make fun of it. It’s a very real part of the worship service these people share, and to them, it means something. Ratliff was lucky enough to be there when it happened, and there’s an abandon to the way the entire congregation ends up barking in nonexistant languages. It’s a communal thing you see happening, and there’s no doubt... these people are committed to what they believe.
You’d have to be to have balls big enough to preach in someone’s face like this. Anyone worried about Ratliff’s intentions has to also acknowledge that this is ultimately about recruitment. At the end of Hell House, you’re told that unless you’re right with Jesus, you’re going to Hell. And you’re told that you can go into the next room, and you can get right with Jesus, or you can stay here and gamble that you might just be going to Hell. It’s a strong arm that has to be seen to be believed. What’s amazing is how many people actually go into that next room for the prayer session that’s offered. Hell House works. They post some numbers at the end of the film that will make you gasp. That church is growing, and there’s no denying that this theater piece/haunted house/Reifenstahl-subtle propaganda statement is a big part of that. Here’s hoping the spirit moves you to check the film out in limited release this fall.
BIGGIE & TUPAC
Nick Broomfield is what I would call an expert provocateur. When everything works out, his films take on this sort of larger than life ability to piss a viewer off. His films are expertly edited for maximum impact. I think his Aileen Wuronov film is pretty intense, and I was fascinated by the naked ambition on display on all fronts in HEIDI FLEISS: HOLLYWOOD MADAM. Until now, though, I wouldn’t say he’s made a great movie. He makes movies that have great moments in them.
I know just the other day, I got a letter that accused Broomfield in the strongest possible language of being a filmmaker who stages those moments and, if need be, invents them outright. I think KURT & COURTENEY was hurt by how visibly Broomfield was pushing in that film to find drama wherever possible, and the film ended up being about the power of baseless accusation as much as anything else. I don’t think Broomfield is a particularly great journalist, but that’s not really how I judge his films. When a documentarian inserts themselves so vigorously into the story, I always find it suspect. To me, Broomfield’s new film is about how this sort of bulldog of a guy stumbled into a story that he ended up telling better than anyone else has so far.
Because it’s important to note... what Broomfield has done here is lay out a credible, well-researched and verifiably sourced version of the events that took the lives of both Tupac Shakur and Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace. It’s not a version that makes me feel very good to watch, and it would be nice and neat if life were like the recent LA TIMES story about the events, which broke suspiciously close to the American debut of Broomfield’s movie. I don’t know Chuck Philips or his previous work, so I can’t comment on his accumen as a producer. The nice thing about having such contrasting opinions about the case out there is that it allows you, the audience, to make your own mind up, and based on what I read and saw, Broomfield is the one who makes his case. I don’t seem to be alone in thinking so, either.
My main impression watching this is that Broomfield may be controversial, but you have to credit him with a certain fearlessness. I sat amazed by the whole scene where he tries to interview Suge Knight, who is in prison at the time. He calls Death Row Records to try and set up the interview, and when he refuses to make a certain deal with them, they refuse him the interview. He decides to go to the prison anyway, and he just asks to speak with Knight when he gets there, and the body language of the warden who takes him to see Knight is just hysterical. He’s more nervous than Broomfield is, more genuinely deferential to Suge. Broomfield just charges right in and gets Knight to finally agree to speak on camera, as long as it’s “about the children.” How his long, ego-ridden, rambling near-confession has anything to do with “the children” is a mystery, but it’s also an absolutely unforgettable interview. If you watch this and you can say that you honestly don’t believe Knight had anything to do with either murder, then you and I filter our impressions of the world differently. It’s that basic.
This is the film where I think Broomfield has made his best bid so far at being a real investigative documentarian, where he’s actually uncovered something important, something worth being documented. As long as there are articles being written like the one in the LA TIMES, and as long as people believe the gangsta myth that’s been packaged and sold by genuine gangsters like Knight, this story remains sadly relevant.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN
So... maybe you read the article, maybe you didn’t. Either way, I just announced that AICN is coming to NYC on the 27th of this month. We’re visiting as part of the New York International Independent Film And Video Festival, and we’re showing three films over the course of an evening. Ray Manzarek is going to be there for a Q&A after the screening of his film LOVE HER MADLY, and right after that, we’re going to be screening a groovy little film I had the good fortune to get a peek at a couple of weeks ago. It was perfect timing, too. I needed something for that last spot in the night, and it was almost like I stumbled over this film at just the right moment.
Neil Burger has been working in commercials for a while now, and INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN marks his debut as a feature filmmaker. Like Mark Romanek, he’s written his own film, something that always impresses me. A lot of music video guys or commercial guys simply don’t have a feature script in them. Burger hasn’t hit the kind of confident home run that Romanek has, but there’s a lot to like about INTERVIEW. Primarily, there’s the starring performance by Raymond J. Barry, a character actor who is long overdue a moment in the spotlight. You’ve seen him as Ron Kovic’s dad in BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY and in DEAD MAN WALKING and in TRAINING DAY and THE DEEP END. He’s been working in films since 1977, when he was in THE GOODBYE GIRL, and he’s also done a fair amount of stage work. Right now, he seems to be embracing more experimental filmmakers. It gave him a lead role here and should prove interesting when his next film with Peter Greenaway comes out.
The setup for the film is simple. Walter Ohlinger (Barry) lives across the street from Ron (Dylan Haggerty), a cameraman who is interested in making a name for himself. Walter offers to tell him a story about something from forty years ago, something huge, and once the tape is rolling, Walter claims that he was the one who fired the head shot that killed John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Moreover, he claims he can prove it, and he offers up a shell from a rifle that he says was THE shell.
What unfolds after that is a downward spiral of paranoia and mistrust. Is Walter crazy? Does his story check out? Why is he telling all of this now? Should he be talking, or has he put himself and Ron in jeopardy? Even if he is the guy who did it, what does it ultimately matter? Isn’t it more important to know who he was working for? Is that even possible to figure out at this point? For most of its running time, the film manages to build up a growing sense of dread, and Burger gets enormous mileage out of suggesting a threat rather than showing it. A bit of shadow on a surveillance tape become terrifying the way Burger plays with them. If I have a major complaint, it’s that the film finds its hands tied during the climax thanks to the fact that Burger has shot the film entirely in a documentary style. Because it has to be something that Ron could have shot, there’s only so much Burger can do in terms of visual language, and it feels like the ending should have been more visceral... more involving.
Still, the film is a strong showcase for this great performance, and it’s fun to talk about afterwards. It is more dramatically sound than THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, and I don’t think they’re trying to fool anyone into thinking this is a real videotape of the real assassin. Instead, the fake documentary format itself is part of what Burger is trying to say about our obssession with certain events and with celebrity in general and the drive to be famous leading us to make certain deals with the devil. Ron allows himself to be wooed by this man, this professed killer, because he knows what a good story can do for him professionally. The further he gets into it, the more likely it is that Walter’s a crazy person who had nothing to do with Kennedy, and that Ron is starting to be a crazy person himself. That sense of real narrative structure and genuine dramatic tension is what elevates Burger’s film above most of the gimmick-based films that have followed BLAIR WITCH, and what makes it worth noting in its own right.
Can’t wait to see you guys in NYC at the screening on the 27th. Remember... Manzarek’s going to be there for a Q&A after the 8:00 show, so there’s a chance we may start INTERVIEW a little late. Hopefully, you’ll be there for all three, though, so it won’t matter, and we can just enjoy the entire evening together. I know the conversations after this film are going to be a blast, and I look forward to having them with you.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH WILL FERRELL?!
God bless whatever particular accident of genetics that resulted in the sick, sick brain of Will Ferrell.
ROD BURGUNDY, ACTION NEWS MAN! is a screenplay by Will Ferrell and former SNL head writer Adam McKay. It is also, very likely, a cry for help on the part of two very disturbed people. There’s almost no other way to view the thing. Don’t get me wrong; it’s funny. It’s damn funny. In fact, John Robie and I have have been quoting the script to each other for weeks now in casual conversation, due in large part to the fact that neither of us can believe that anyone ever sat down to write this thing in the first place. It’s that deranged. One thing I know for sure: I’d pay to see this in the theater, and I’d take friends. Lots of them. Just for the spectacle of it all.
The thing is, I don’t know if this is something you’re ever going to see. As I understand it, it’s not set up anywhere right now, and there’s no immediate push to make it happen. That’s a damn shame, because the thing that I think 99% of all the SNL-inspired or style films are missing is a willingness to be insane. They all end up falling into standard formula traps. One of the reasons I think Mike Myers has been so successful with AUSTIN POWERS is that, like it or not, he pushes those films as far as he can. He’s made that into one severely stylized, specific universe, and either you tune in to what he’s doing, or you don’t. There’s no denying that they’ve created something specific, though. This script is the same type of thing. I can imagine that some people would hate ROD BURGUNDY, and I’m equally sure that there are people who don’t see the appeal in a Will Ferrell starring vehicle. Maybe after OLD SCHOOL (which I hear he’s the best part of), he’s going to finally have a little buzz behind him, and maybe he can talk someone into coughing up the coin to make this freak show. I hereby actively dare some studio to grow the stones to make it.
What I love is that this isn’t a parody of some specific movie, and it’s not some pre-existing character that Will is trying to squeeze a little more mileage out of. Instead, ROD BURGUNDY is a surreal little slice of madness set against the backdrop of the local news scene in Portland, Oregon, sometime between 1968 and 1976. The script starts with Ted Koppel, Dan Rather, Sam Donaldson, Brian Williams, Connie Chung, and Tom Brokaw all getting hammered in a bar in Manhattan, present day. They’re sharing stories about newsmen from the old days, legendary guys from various local markets. When the name of Rod Burgundy comes up, Brian Williams doesn’t know who they’re talking about, and everyone launches into stories about this guy. As Koppel puts it, “This was a simpler and less cynical time. A time when people believed everything they heard on TV. A time before cable. This was back when men were men and real men were anchormen. And in Portland, one anchorman was the balls: Rod Burgundy. And brother let me tell you: he knew how to wear a friggin’ suit.”
And to the sounds of “Cherry, Cherry” by Neil Diamond, we are introduced to Rod Burgundy as he makes his way through Portland... his city.
There’s a particular kind of lunkhead that Ferrell plays to wicked perfection, the guy who’s not just dangerously stupid but also incredibly pleased with himself. Rod is described as “a cross between Chuck Woolery and Chuck’s brother Sean Woolery.” The local news crew is depicted as a bunch of degenerates and half-wits, and there’s no attempt to make you “care” in some bullshit, manufactured way. These are just comedy characters, outrageous and insane. Champ Kind, Brick Tamland, and Brian Fantana are the Action News Team, and they’re three different brands of stupid. They’re all heavy drinkers who treat women like toilet paper and who are obssessed with their cheap suits and their ratings. And, damn it... they’re funny.
Brian Fantana, for example, is well known or his recent series of consumer reports like “Lead based paints last longer, so do yourself the favor and make the switch!” or “In case of a fire, remember Brian’s safety tip: stand up tall, breathe in deep, and open any hot doors to let that fire out!” Champ Kind is the sports guy with the annoying catch phrase: “Whammy!” And then there’s Brick Tamland. He sums it up well himself: “People seem to like me because I’m polite and rarely late. Years later a doctor will find out that I’m ‘learning disabled,’ or, as some people say, ‘retarded.’” He sure is fond of slacks.
Rod’s whole world seems oriented on someday getting the call to step up to network until he meets the woman of his dreams. Alicia Corningstone is beautiful, smart, and she also just happens to be a new reporter for the Action News Team. She is also focused on becoming an anchor, something that Rod openly mocks when he first hears about it. The other reporters all protest for various reasons, including Brick who says “I read somewhere that their periods attract bears,” about as good an argument as the others advanced. Despite these powerfully convincing protests, Alicia is given a chance to cover fashion and cooking and cat shows and the like. She loathes Rod Burgundy at first glance and rejects his advances outright, and some of the other guys try hitting on her, as well. Brian Fantana breaks out a special cologne called Sex Panther, which she notes “smells like old ham and bongwater.” Finally, Rod convinces her to enjoy a night out with him, telling her that it’s just a professional courtesy and not a date, and despite his almost transparent desire for her, she goes.
Everyone in this film is touched with a bit of the madness that makes Ferrell so funny. When Alicia opens up to Rod and explains why she’s always wanted to be the first female anchor, McKay and Ferrell aren’t aiming at genuine emotion. They don’t opt for real schmaltz, and they don’t saddle their lead actress with the boring straight role. Instead, she’s given just as strange a voice as Burgundy. In tears, she tells him, “I had a very tumultuous family life. My mother was a really bad animal trainer and my father was a demolitions expert, so my house was filled with poorly trained monkeys and dynamite. The only source of peace I had in my life came from the assuring voices of the anchormen I watched on television. Brinkley, Cronkite, Murrow... they were my family, not the hand-grenade wielding baboons that greeted me every morning.”
So, yeah. They fall in love (watch out for the Love Panda), and then they both chase the anchor job, and then there are various complications. It’s pretty simple stuff. But it’s all the texture and the over the top silliness that makes it all so memorable. It’s Champ Kind explaining that a woman’s time of the month is “when... the bones... in a lady’s boobs... get sore... cause of their vaginalistic... cells.” It’s Rod Burgundy trying to get serious as a journalist with his hard-hitting investigative series “Rip The Lid Off! With Rod Burgundy.” It’s Alicia’s teleprompter-assisted revenge on Rod.
ROD BURGUNDY would not be an important film. Most likely, ROD BURGUNDY would not be a great film. But I’m willing to be ROD BURGUNDY would be a hilarious film, and I hope we get a chance to see an unbridled, balls-to-the-wall version of it sometime soon.
More Importantly, What The Hell Is Wrong With CLEAN FLICKS?!
I know I’m a little late on this one, but I still want to take a moment to discuss what I consider a fairly important copyright case currently pending. The outcome of this particular lawsuit should be of enormous interest to any content provider or any artist working in film and TV and music right now, because I believe there are ramifications that will be felt for many years to come.
And I hope Clean Flicks loses completely and utterly.
Let me explain, for those of you who didn’t read about the recently filed lawsuit. Clean Flicks Llc. is a company that makes its money by renting and selling copies of films that have been edited for content... cleaned up, as it were. Films like TITANIC, with all that pesky nudity excised. Customers sign up and pay monthly or annual membership fees, something which Clean Flicks claims allows them to work around what should be fairly clear-cut copyright laws.
What really makes this story bizarre is that it’s Clean Flicks who is suing the DGA and not the other way around, which would make perfect sense. After all, the DGA has every right to pursue the rights of its signatory members, and their rights are being trampled. There is no way, no how, that Clean Flicks can support their argument. They can talk about how they’re just providing a service and how they’re just trying to give people access to films, but the fact remains... they are altering copywritten material and then providing it to the public on a commercial basis.
My first instinct is to take every penny from my recent good fortune and channel it into buying copies of Pasolini’s stunningly filthy SALO on DVD so that we can just bombard them with orders to please make the film “safe for my grandmother.” Maybe we should all pledge to send them at least one 8-hour amateur cumshot compliation tape. I mean, forget about taking idiots like this on in court. They’ve got the deep pockets of the religiously intolerant, and they’re going to try to turn themselves into martyrs for a cleaner society or some such nonsense. The idea that they filed suit against the DGA to head off a lawsuit that they heard was pending against them makes them look, to be blunt, insane. Why not really bother them by subverting the service that they claim to provide?
Of course, that’s not an economically viable option, and in the end, it’s just a knee-jerk reaction. But this sort of thing is why I never embraced the whole PHANTOM EDIT thing last year when everyone else in the STAR WARS fandom community was falling over themselves to kiss the Phantom Editor’s ass.
I don’t care what your complaints are as an audience member. I’ve seen lots of films that I have had a lot of problems with in my life, and I’ve spent years now writing about both the good and the bad in the films I’ve seen. I’ve tried to find a constructive way to have a dialogue about this stuff, and I offer my opinion, something that every audience member for every film ever has the right to do. What you do not have the right to do is re-edit the film because of your dissatisfaction. Simply put, it’s not yours. Keep your goddamn hands off it. I may loathe THE CELL, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go in and make a new cut and put it back out just to prove a point. And I may be offended by some image in some film, but that doesn’t give me the right to cut that image out and then circulate a copy of that film that’s missing the image.
If Clean Flicks wants to really provide a certain type of material to its audience, then there’s a solution: Clean Flicks should make its own movies. They should make pro-Mormon films that promote Mormon ideas and Mormon values. And I’m not being fascetious in suggesting it, either. I’m dead serious. I’m sure there’s a market if the films are made for the right amount of money. There’s a healthy market for all sorts of specific religious movies being made for the direct-to-video market. Clean Flicks should make the films their consumers want to see, and they should keep their fucking hands off other people’s films in the meantime.
Pete Webb... Ron Huntsman... Clean Flicks... you guys picked a fight with the DGA. And the WGA. And you specifically named Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese and Steven Soderbergh, among others. Yet you continue to use their names to market the product that you’ve personally altered and violated. What you don’t understand is that someone’s name is on that film. They signed something, a particular piece of artwork, and when you alter it, you may well be changing the very reason they chose to make that film. At the most basic level, that’s what is wrong with what you are doing. You claim your company is about choice, but you’ve paid the ultimate disrespect to the artists who made the original choices about that content. You make money off their efforts, but you shit on them in the process. Shame on you.
So you filed your lawsuit first. Great. You picked this fight. Remember that... because you are about to be demolished. You are going to lose your case, and you are going to be an example to other people who would blatantly infringe upon the intellectual property rights of others in this increasingly slippery digital age. And when your company is destroyed and you all find yourselves looking for other work and you find yourselves having to find some other high profile publicity-motivated case to hustle, I will personally be back here to laugh in your tiny-eyed, narrow-minded little faces. I’ll say it again... shame on you, shame on you, shame on you, and here’s hoping justice is served piping hot, enema-style, in the very near future.
BROKEN LIZARD, SOUTH OF THE BORDER
I finally caught up with SUPER TROOPERS on DVD. I first saw the film last year at Sundance, and I was a great fan of it at that time. Turns out, what I spent the next several months endorsing wasn’t quite the film that was released to theaters. The ending, in particular, was reworked. Doesn’t matter. I really enjoyed the final cut of the film that’s on the DVD, and I recently bumped into the film’s director, Jay Chandresekhar, online. He’s in Mexico right now working with Broken Lizard, his partners in crime, on their new film, CLUB DREAD, which Fox Searchlight is producing.
And if the script I read for the film is any indication, this is going to be funnier than SUPER TROOPERS, and it’s going to confirm these guys as the anarchic lunatics that TROOPERS promised them to be. The shorthand description of CLUB DREAD would be “a smarter, funnier SCARY MOVIE,” but that’s selling it short.
Yes, it’s a riff on slasher movies.
But, no, it’s not the same kind of specific satire that SCARY MOVIE was. It’s not doing any one particular film, and it doesn’t do scenes from other movies. That’s not the kind of comedy that Broken Lizard writes, and that is a big part of why I like Chandrasekhar, Steve Leme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, and Kevin Heffernan. They believe in character comedy first. It may be lowbrow at times, but they earn their laughs honestly, and I respect that.
I also am impressed that they don’t feel the need to write the same characters for themselves each time out. Thorny, Rabbit, Farva, Mac, and Foster were very specific characters, and they’re nothing like the group of characters they’re playing this time out. For example, Chandrasekhar played Thorny in TROOPERS, who was incredibly cool and poised, the old pro of the group. There was a sort of Zen bliss to the way he dealt with his hippie girlfriend and his son and whatever came up in the film. This time out, he’s playing Putman Livingston, who’s described like this in the script:
PUTMAN is the resort’s very own Raga-British Indian Tennis Pro. He is one cool-looking cat. Dark skin. Well-groomed dreadlocks. Unfortunately, he’s a right twit.
He’s not leading anyone this time out. I think it’s a testament to the range that each of these comic performers that when I read the script, I didn’t know who was supposed to be playing what. They’re all good enough to play each of these roles. I am pleased that Bill Paxton is joining them in the film as (I presume) Coconut Pete:
He’s the resort’s tannde, ponytailed, middle aged owner. You may remember Pete as a poor man’s Jimmy Buffett, with his Island Rock hit of the ‘70s, “Pleasure Island” and his less popular follow-up, “Pleasure Pirate (Yo Ho Ho).”
The island resort where the whole film takes place is themed around the various craptastic songs that Pete has padded out his albums with, and it’s basically an excuse for unbridled hedonism. It seems to be a real paradise, a great place to work and a great place to vacation, until people mysteriously start to die at the hands of some crazed killer.
The sad truth is that Broken Lizard has written a better slasher film than any of the crap that was released in the wake of SCREAM’s success. There are genuine slasher scares built into the script, and they don’t play down the body count or the mystery side of things. They give their entire cast convincing motives for being the killer, and they actually wrote in a surprising amount of gore and nudity, something that seems to have made CABIN FEVER one of Toronto’s surprise buzz hits last week.
After finishing the script, I’m seriously considering buying a ticket to Mexico in the next couple of weeks and going to find this beach resort where they’re shooting this film. I want to see how this group of guys works together on a set, and how you put together this level of anarchy. I know this much... Broken Lizard has become one of the names that I watch for in comedy, a trustworthy brand that seems poised to expand on their cult following when this exercise in dementia finally hits sometime next year.
And on that note, I’m outta here. I’ll be back this week with a review of FOUR FEATHERS, a sneak peek at an indie feature called SHADE featuring a really nice supporting turn by none other than Sylvester Stallone, my series of Miyazaki reviews leading up to SPIRITED AWAY, and the second edition of my DVD column, with a literal metric shitload of reviews of DVDs that are coming soon and on shelves now.