1313: Cougar Cult (2012)

Guh…

So, this is what I watched….

Maybe you’re a creative person that’s been discouraged by hearing the word “No” from corporate types who don’t want to invest in your dream. Maybe you’ve worked and honed your craft that you’re just waiting for its moment to shine and take off. Maybe you’re J.K. Rowling.

However, if you’re David deCocteau, you bypass the industry and those stuffy closed minded executives and you make your dreams happen.  Even if those dreams involve shirtless men being terrorized by older women in lingerie. So, if you’re ever in doubt that you’ll never be good enough or people just don’t understand you, please be aware that sometimes those fears are justified and maybe its a good idea to not commit your ideas to tape until you’ve at least done a second draft.

Your first question might be, “Hey, is this porn?” The answer is a reluctant no. Yes, it flirts with the genre, but there’s no actual pornographic activity.

Your next question might be, “What if I don’t enjoy things like watching older women hit on guys or over the top objectification of guys in their underwear?” The answer is, even if you did, I’d still recommend you stay far away from this thing. Frankly, anyone who’s within a arms reach of sharp instruments should probably stay away from it.

For those of you hoping for a movie about actual literal cougars, (as in big cats in the wild) well, you’re really out of luck.But as a consolation prize, here’s some cute cougar kittens who have done no crime in this world other than just being gosh darned adorable.

Now if this movie had just been about someone who was raised by a pack of wild kittens, not only would I have been onboard, but I’m sure it would have won every award ever. Because, kittens.

Moving on…

Here’s what you need to know. And when I say “need” I mean, “here’s what a lazy cliche ridden plot looks like”…

Three college guys – they’re hunky, so they look good in underwear, but they wear glasses so you know they’re smart – they go to a “job interview” for summer jobs.

And three “cougars” as in, well, you know.

There’s lots of bad sexual innuendos, bad sound, bad editing, bad life choices, bad everything.

Does this house look familiar to you? Are you looking at that hideous tree sculpture with the high heels in the background thinking, “Wait, either I’ve seen that before somewhere or I saw that thing in a feverish dream where I took too much Ambien then slept under too many blankets.”

You’re right. We have seen this somewhere. Anyone remember A Talking Cat?!?!?!

I’d like to think that these two movies now exist in the same universe. The Talking Cat murdered the inhabitants, then ran away across state lines, then a stupider movie moved in.

“Look, lets just do the scene and read the lines like we’re actual actors. And then we’ll be in a movie.”

 Surprise, you guys…

Its not an actual job these tipping the scale gay men got hired for. There’s just three women who want to kill them.

…and see them in their underwear.

…and take showers.

No one’s being objectified at all. There is a very clear and indepth character study here and if you can’t see it…

Sigh. I’ve got nothing.

Wait, what’s happening here?

The hell?!?!?

Its the most frighteningly bad case of animation in film since…

…a visionary director just put moving black animation over a cats mouth and willed him to talk.

But in a surprise twist that everyone sees coming, these three now “literal” cougars eat young men and stay kind of sort of young forever.

So maybe a very loose sequel to A Talking Cat?!?!?! which by far, a superior film in every respect.

Do you really care how it ends? The director didn’t, so I’m assuming there was a scene where they all realized that everything is awful and they just left the set with a note. Because that’s what I did.

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The Ewok Adventure: Caravan of Courage

Once upon a time, many months ago, I posted a entry about my experience watching Battle for Endor. Since its been so long since my last entry, I thought I’d pick things up and visit the previous chapter to the Ewok saga – sort of the Attack of the Clones to A New Hope, if you will.

The last time I watched a movie for you, was Last Action Hero which featured Arnold Schwarzenegger doing his Arnold Schwarzeneggingist to portray a human actor, which as we all know, he failed on all fronts. This time I around, I watched a film where the majority of the actors are fuzzy bears with spears (and they say there’s no diversity in Hollywood), all displaying more emotion, and more depth of character.

So lets begin…

I’d imagine the pitch for this made for TV epic began with a producer and a network executive in a office somewhere:

Producer: “So our writers have a couple of storylines they’d like to share with you–“
Executives: One of them better be about Ewoks. Kids love ewoks.”
(Producer furiously starts scribbling notes one of the scripts)
Producer: Yep, got one right here. Its about a ewok and definitely not a jedi on a quest.
Executive: You know whats hot right now? That kid from E.T.
Producer: The boy who played Elliot? Don’t remember his name but I guess we could…
Executive: Sure, get him too if you can get the girl.
Producer: Drew Barrymore?
Executive: Is that her name?

And so on from there.  Basically try to imagine if Cindy and Peter Brady got marooned on Endor, and that one Ewok you remember from Return of the Jedi spent the whole movie flailing around and screwing everything up, you basically have a Caravan of Courage…

Which I can say there is a caravan, but there’s very little courage.  Mr. and Mrs Brady get lost while trying to find their kids, leaving their jobs to the figment of George Lucas’ imagination.

The kids wander into the Ewok village where Cindy, sorry “Cyndal” gets sick, blows their cover and throws the whole village in danger of contracting whatever virus she has but is foreign to them.

It should come as no surprise that this little angel is the best actor in the whole production. She cries real tears, she shows concern at the scene she’s in and she speaks her lines as opposed to shouting them like Peter Brady-Kenobi.

Before all this started, we were introduced to Wicket, aka, the only Ewok you remembered distinctively from Return of the Jedi, sets the precedent for what he’ll be doing for the rest of the movie: Flailing his arms like a mutant panda and screwing everything up. Like this scene where he nearly sends his father (? I think. Relationships among Ewoks aren’t clearly outlined) to a free fall of a death.

In a decision that required no deliberation, no planning and no forthought, the Ewoks decide to help the Brady kids find their parents. Probably because no one wants human kids around with free floating viruses that would no doubt be fatal to a fragile immune system.

Regardless, they head out on their “caravan of courage” which really is just 60 minutes of them wandering all over various landscapes, stumbling into dangerous situations either caused by Wicket or Peter Brady.

Awwwww…..

Look, I realize that Star Wars was ahead of its time with its special effects and there are just some things that you can’t do for television in the early ’80s. Which can be the only explanation for why a monster made of Play-doh comes out and tries to kill everyone.

Apparently it was terrifying, even though you could see the fingerprints on the clay.

 For those of you concerned with your childhood being killed at this point, may I remind you that that time has long past and I’m just here cleaning it up.

Most of this movie is narrated by a burly voiced narrator who reads it the same way one might read a childrens book.

“And so the children walked from dense forest to desert, back to dense forest where something jumped out at them and back into desert where Peter Brady complained the whole time.”

“Peter had a lot of unresolved anger issues which led him to threaten forest creatures with firearms at the drop of a hat. But they pressed on, hoping he would snap out of it.”

Lets go back into the forest, where the childrens’ minds are open just long enough to come face to face with this horrible demon possesed dried apple head.

And Peter Brady kind of sort of uses the “force.” Which he only does once and never does again when bigger things happen. Why? you ask. Its a good question, but it seems the movie quickly said, “Hey, what’s that over there!” which we then did and the movie quickly ran out of the room, jumped into its car and we didn’t hear from it again.

“So the children and the Ewoks wandered into this cave, and thought it’d be fun to climb this spiderweb. It was kind of dangerous when a spider was dangled down on a string and victoriously swatted away.

But they pressed on and made it to the other side, which they happened to realize led to where their parents were held hostage. They weren’t expecting that.”

I don’t know what this thing is, all we know that it grabbed Mr. and Mrs Brady, stuck them in a tiny cage. I also know it has a disproportionately small mouth that an Ewok couldn’t fit through. But hey, its George Lucas’ universe, we’re just stuck wondering what on earth he’s doing.

 I’m not defending the actions of kidnapping and terror but you have to admit this thing is probably just really lonely and wanted something to take care of. He lives in a cave that’s really hard to get to and hygiene is not a priority. People don’t come around and he’s not getting invited to any book clubs.

In the end, they rescue Mr. and Mrs. Brady, push the monster off a cliff and get one of their own killed. All three of these events were done with very little excitement, and there was some dull surprise at losing their fellow Ewok brother. Cyndal cried a little, but the important lesson  here is that when someone close to you dies in a horribly tragic way (say, falling to their death by rock slide and/or monster) its best to move on as quickly as possible. According to these Ewoks, they just forgot about the entire incident completely…

…and then they wrote a happy song about it. Because it was indeed a caravan chock full of courage (courage being dull surprise as you wander through one someone dangerous incident after the other)

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FRIENDS TIL THE END (1997)

I’ve dipped my fingers into the made for TV Lifetime cinematic universe and reemerged with a tale of what happens when you push Shannon Daugherty to her mental limit. The answer? A single emotional girl debating a career change (aka any College Girl USA).

Its about to get real in here, so strap in.

Once upon a time, roughly mid-90s, there was a princess of a sorority named Shannen Doherty. Born of pasty white cheekbones, raven hair and a kickin’ band where she dates one of the London twins (Jeremy I want to say) who also plays the bass (they always do).

She unknowingly has a blonde psychotic stalker who has done everything in her power to infiltrate Shannen’s life and then ruin it.  Had Shannen been paying attention, she would have remembered that talent show she competed in when she was seven and beat out that girl as well as everyone else. Since she didn’t keep tabs on it, her life is about to get amazingly complicated.

From there, Blonde Stalker (didn’t bother to remember her name) sneakily joins Shannen’s band, turns Shannen’s sorority friends against her, gets her kicked out of the band and seduces Shannen’s boyfriend.

Why is it called Friends Til the End? Because someone must die. (Spoiler alert: its the blonde crazy girl)

Shannen has a charmed life (pun intended)…

Espescially this girl. This girl who’s name I don’t remember. Not that it matters because her whole goal in this movie is to Single White Female Shannen Doherty. We’ve all been there.

Look at how much she cares. She just wants all things for all people.

Here’s the thing – and this is a Lifetime Cinematic Universe rule. Pretty white girls get stalkers. If you make a new friend and things are really going good – she’s probably planning your murder .

Its always the mousy unspectacular ones…

The one thing you should know about this movie is that Shannen Doherty sings. She sings a lot. She has a band and she wears tiny 90s dresses. Some of them have fruit. Some are made of crushed velvet. All of them took me back to a simpler time when we all thought that was okay.

I know what you’re thinking – but does she have chunky Mary Janes on?

Rest easy, gentle reader. She does.

I’ll say this…should you watch this movie, which you absolutely should (its on YouTube…for FREE), there’s some catchy songs. Like hummable, stuck in your head songs. And had this been the year 1997, I would have gotten the gumption to walk to WalMart or order the Friends Til the End Band’s (not their real name) from BMG as part of my 12 CDs for one cent offer. Sadly, its 2014 and none of those words make sense and I’m forced to move on with my life anyway. Had things been a little bit different,  Apple would have been sneakily putting the Shannen Doherty Experience (again, not the band’s real name) into our iTunes without asking and Bono would’ve been hosting Scare Tactics or doing commercials for Education Connection.

Some movies get college life and some just don’t. Maybe my college experience was unusual, but so many things that happened in this movie I had no recollection of. For example, the women in the sorority house were just genuinely NICE.

It started to feel a little bit more like home when Blonde Stalker overheard Brittany telling Shannen a secret and totally told everyone behind Brittany’s back that Brittany was super super fake and then Blondie blamed Shannen and everyone totally believed it.

Brittany totally thought she was pregnant by the way but it turns out she just can’t do math. Which is a far more dangerous rumor. Then again, I may have had a different college experience than most.

Blonde Stalker knows Rule #1 of gaining your sympathy back – when confronted with something you may or may not have done (ie spilled a friend’s confidential secret, gotten caught going through your personal stuff, killed a guy in an alley) start to act like you are in deep deep pain – either physical or emotional. Its girl catnip.

This is as good a time as any to talk about the acting styles of Shannen Doherty. Actually, she has one style. And its this –

Shannen processes new information onscreen like no one else in the business.

“Shannen, you just learned that your career won’t skyrocket due to badmouthing everyone on Charmed. You’re reaction?”

“…….”

End scene

Speaking of the 90s, you will never see anything that sums up the 90s experience than this screenshot.  Its a music video shoot for one. Jeremy London’s jacket for two…

In case you weren’t sure, Shannen Doherty is pure and blameless. She deserved none of this. See how she flourished in a nest of loving nurturement? You’d think that but then take into account she brought Blonde Stalker friend home, the friend who had no family and then rubbed her face in it.

Blonde Stalker is truly in her element behind a mic and just singing her heart out. Which makes one wonder – if she had just gotten to this point, embraced the friendship and made room for a Shannen, things would be so much different. For example we might all be downloading that one really catchy song of theirs from iTunes.

Sadly, no. Instead, we get this face…

Which I’m not going to lie. This was my face for the whole movie.

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Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)

A long time ago, in a TV far, far away….

If you’re anything like me, and I know I am, Star Wars holds a very deep personal and loving space in your heart (all Jar Jar and JJ Abrams jokes aside). Maybe you also felt a disturbance in the Force when it was announced that the new Star Wars movies would ignore the canon previously established in the number of books and graphic novels that have been released.  True, that may very well spell distaster, but when it comes to Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, perhaps its best if the new canon just pretends this never happened to begin with.

Before we begin, its only fair to point out, that you can either watch this movie through Netflix or on YouTube. However, if you want your own copy, its a little pricey…

When you think about it, YouTube is a real bargain.

So begins our long journey into sci-fi mediocrity…

I watched this – and not entirely sure what the plot was, but I’ll give you my impression. A sweet cherubic child witnesses the brutal murder of her parents by way of demonic extras from the Lord of the Rings set. Since she is all alone in the world, a Ewok takes her along a random trip through danger and pointless travels, all to watch Wilfred Brimley uncomfortably walk through scenes and climb up ladders. Also, there’s a power source that the forces of evil want, although we’re not sure why.

I understand that special effects for TV weren’t quite up to calibur that they are now, but the special effects of this look like a still background setting with pictures of mythical animals taped on it.

In true Lucas-ian style, we are given characters that are meant to be cute and therefore, “funny”. However, as I discovered, there was very little difference in the upsetting scale between those characters and the ones meant to represent the evil side.

Case in point….

Evil. Sure – I get it.

DEAR GOD, DON’T LOOK INTO ITS EYES! Get that kid away from that thing!

Just back away slowly from the Demon Squirrel – he only wants you for your soul….

Sure, she’s evil – but at the same token, she’s far less threatening than anyone else in this movie (the Precious Moments figure of a main character not withstanding) but I also get the feeling she was super helpful that time I shopped the clearance sale at Bath and Body Works.

The only reason I posted this screenshot is because I was secretly hoping this toucan/pteredactyl unholy union would end up being a a more central part of the movie.  It wasn’t. Also disappointing was the fact it didn’t eat the Ewok with its big goofy mouth.

Meanwhile, in a picturesque cabin in the woods….

Wilfred Brimley takes a moment to heft himself out of his chair and not talk about diabetes. He’s curmudgeonly and has no place for others in his life….or his oatmeal infused heart.

Did I say curmudgeonly? Don’t let the whittled flute fool you – there’s a scene where he kicks out the most precious child alive to starve and/or get eaten by a hastily  thrown together special effect.

“Being alone isn’t so bad…I grew a beard just so I’d have someone to talk to.”

Our bland little heroine is tricked by the song of a beautiful princess and a magic white horse.  Maybe our more cynical age would make this an eye rolling moment, but I’ll tell you this.  Had this happened to me, I would have totally fallen for it.

…and it turns out to be the evil witch, who kidnaps the little girl and makes off for a super evil castle that has no light, no plumbing, and no real floor plan.

It should be noted that  no one on Endor is teaching kids the whole “Stranger danger” lesson.

This is what the bad guys are after. After watching this movie, I have just as many answers for what it is, then had I just looked at a picture.

Meanwhile, the Ewok, a Demon Squirrel and Wilfred Brimley go to rescue the kid and use dialogue that narrates everything we’re seeing.

“Oh look, water.”

End scene.

 

Here’s one thing that this movie felt was none of our business: our villains (i.e. Night Manager of Bath and Body Works and the rejects from Lord of the Rings) don’t really have a clear objective.  They have a glowy lantern thing, they don’t know how to work it.  They kidnap a five year old expecting her to know how to work it. So the Manager and the little girl are thrown in prison until they figure what they’re doing.

Remember the trash compactor scene from Episode IV? Its like that but if you take away the action, or the urgency or the motivation, or even the interest to find out what happens next.

Meanwhile Wilfred Brimley lumbers from scene to scene – trust me, they weren’t paying him enough to run.

There’s a weird game of poker being played that’s meant as a “comedy” scene.

I can’t stare at these face and be moved towards laughter.  Its just not going to happen. You didn’t see Peter Jackson pulling this.

And just in case you were concerned that they only shot this movie in someone’s basement or someone’s backyard, here’s a shot of Ewoks running next to a very realistic painting of a castle.

Also a evil horsemen and his evil horse who may not have been informed that they are in a made for TV Ewoks movie and not an actual Star Wars movie.

The villains of this are understandably perturbed that there trip back home was but a small detour and here they are back again battling low rent Teddy Ruxpins.

Also annoyed is Wilfred Brimley, who’s fisherman’s hat says he had a fishing trip lined up, but was called back to set at the last minute.

“I had fish to catch and oatmeal to eat.  They didn’t pull this crap on Cocoon II.”

“I demand to lounge for the rest of the movie. This getting up business is for you young folks.”

KILL THEM WITH FIRE.

The battle ends with the villains being burned to a crisp by a Eddie Bauer camping lantern and Wilfred Brimley and child boarding a spaceship. Where are they going? None of our business.

Perhaps to another galaxy far, far away in a painting a long time ago.

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CONSIDER: Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991)

I couldn’t help it. The Beastmaster offered up such treasure, that I went back to the well to see what happened next.

He gets a rude awakening from 1991 – or as the soundtrack would suggest, quite possible 1985 when a spoiled daughter of a California senator crashes into his alternate reality and then vice versa.

Oh, it gets real, people. Super real.

 The main villain this go around is The Beastmaster’s brother himself. A man with a 90s bass player’s ponytail and a Lady Gaga look that was way ahead of its time.

He’s also got a little sidekick with him – she’s a witch and enjoys wrapping herself in drapery.

Her big selling point for employment with him (she’s aiming for queen, but he’s considering other candidates) is that she’s discovered a portal into 1990sish Los Angeles.

You just put your hand in front of it and its like you’re touching a green screen.

As sort of an added bonus, she casually mentions that 1990s L.A. has things like detonators and he should get one. He’s totally onboard without actually knowing what one is and that’s what kicks our story off.

You’ll be happy to know our Beastmaster is back and holds a face that looks like he’s trying to do simple math.

Enter our heroine. Spoiled LA girl (which one isn’t, amirite?) and she gets transported to another dimension while saying witty things like, “Where’s the car club when you need it?” “How close am I to the beach?” She’s a treasure.

They meet and it tries so hard for hilarity, which sadly is not this movie’s only point of failure.

Through events that really and truly don’t matter, the action gets relocated in 90sish L.A. and our girl is forced to take the villains shopping.

Feel free to read that sentence over and over. Its not going to make more sense.

She takes them shopping and Beastmaster’s brother is talked into trying on a suit by a fake French accented salesman.

At some point the discussion of virgins came up. It was really uncomfortable.

I’ve never been involved in a criminal investigation here in Los Angeles, but I’d like to think that when one happens, the head detective looks around at the damage, hears about a possibly homicidal maniac, shrugs and goes, “I’ll write up some paperwork for Monday.”

Dar’s brother has a neat trick that’s not in anyway ripped off from Spock that involves mind melding.  He simply transfers any knowledge someone might have by forcing his fingers deep into someone’s face.

So its totally different and if you say otherwise, well, you’re just a hater.

With this completely original technique that has never been seen before in a movie or tv series, Dar’s brother learns that there’s a bomb hidden at a military facility somewhere in the larger Los Angeles area.

 We’re then given a visual treat of watching Dar learn what rock and roll is (editors correction: bad rock and roll is) and how to say the word “asshole”. And then he eats most of a deli tray. I’m choosing not to show that part.

Look at these two – they know more than you ever will.

So our villains disguise themselves as ineffective military personnel and steal a detonator from even more ineffective military personnel.  Which just led me to wonder what we’re actually doing with all that military spending every year, and why really bad movies have this as a thematic element.

It was a little like a sitcom in training:

“Honey, where’s my fake mustache for our military encampment heist?”

“I thought that was your mom’s!”

End scene. (didn’t actually happen, but this movie makes you daydream about things you’d rather be seeing)

Which leads us to the final scene…

Because Dar doesn’t know how to do anything on his own, he forces animals to once again, do all of his dirty work, which is them telling him that his brother is hiding out at the L.A. Zoo. 

And then a laser light show starts, so naturally this music video battle without the music begins.

Powers are quite the match up as Dar commands his killer ferrets to once again kill for him. Its been two movies now and The Beastmaster really has lived up to his name but failed on all fronts as a action hero.

Speaking of which…

It comes time for goodbyes (time portals aren’t always hanging around hoping people will jump through them after all) when there’s a really awkward exchange where a spunky Cali teen asks out grizzled and moist Beastmaster on a date for the next time he’s in town.

He gently turns her down but gives her the best consolation prize of them all…

She’s keeping the ferrets, which honestly, is so much better than learning what a relationship with the Beastmaster would hold…

(Spoiler alert: Telling you what you think and ordering you to do all of his dirty work.)