Thursday, November 30, 2006
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
In which V reviews a requested film.

When I first got the request for Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, I had a couple of concerns. First, would I be able to get this at the video store? Yes, easily. Secondly, would I be at a disadvantage, not having seen Shark Attack 1 or 2? I'm going to go with no on that one.

The first thing I noticed about this film was that the acting and special effects were really bad. Yeah, okay, that should be a given. But I don't think I have ever seen acting or special effects THIS bad. Not ever. And that's saying a lot.

To my complete astonishment, the lead actor in this film was John Barrowman who played Captain Jack Harkness in the new Dr. Who. Also, he was a judge on that Andrew Lloyd Weber reality show, the one where they picked some random waitress girl to play Maria in The Sound Of Music. I watched it for a few weeks and this Barrowman guy would be very harshly critical to those girls for no real reason. And now I find myself thinking, dude, you were in Shark Attack 3. STFU. It's not like he's Quality or anything. This guy telling someone they can't act is like Richard Simmons telling someone they have bad hair.

Anyway, let's jump on in to the plot summary. I'll go into rich detail on this one, because trust me, you don't want to see this film.

It opens with some people on a deep sea research vessel. Their boss is a guy who has a cigar stuck in his mouth at all times, even when speaking. His voice sounds as though it has been badly dubbed in by Robert Loggia. Some divers are working on an underwater cable when OMG here comes Megalodon. I learned a valuable scientific lesson whilst watching this film: sharks make the same exact noises that whales make! Who knew? Anyway, Megalodon attacks the divers. The whole shark attack is just a big jumbled montage of various parts of the shark - teeth, fin, tail, teeth, eye, tail. You see random blood in the water and the occasional bubble of air from the dead diver guy.

Cut to Six Months Later. The setting: the world's tackiest Mexican resort. You see a barmaid flirting with a man, and you get the impression she's supposed to be young and beautiful and seductive, but she looks about 48 years old and is just kind of skanky. This is a recurring theme in Shark Attack 3 - skanky middle-aged women who are supposed to be hot.

You see lots of people in bikinis frolicking on a beach, and then there's a fishing boat. A 300 year old man is fishing. He catches a huge marlin and tries to reel it in while two skanky people have sex on his boat right in front of him. There's lots of stock footage of a marlin here. Like, obvious stock footage. Just as he's about to reel it in, Megalodon shows up and eats the marlin, and all the old guy gets is the marlin's head. He's really pissed off about it.

Meanwhile, Captain Jack goes diving for lobsters near a site where an underwater fiberoptic cable has been laid. He finds a big shark tooth stuck in the cable. He takes it home and decides to try to identify it on the internet. What follows is one of those hilarious scenes where the internet in films is nothing at all like the real internet. Captain Jack's computer screen says, in giant 80-point font, SEARCH FOR MORE INFORMATION ON: "Shark Teeth." He can't find the tooth online, so he takes a photo of it with his digital camera, and instantly (like, .000001 seconds) the photo appears on his monitor. He posts it to a message board about Mystery Sharks.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, a pretty (read: wrinkled and kind of skanky) lady in a museum sees his message and says OMG.

Back in Mexico, a seedy businessman is talking about the wonders of his underwater fiberoptic cable while he fondles a middle-aged skank under the table.

Somewhere else on the resort, a different middle-aged skank decides to go skinny dipping with her boyfriend. They start having sex in the ocean. Here comes Megalodon. Megalodon doesn't attack the people, but he attacks a harmless Tiger Shark near where they are having sex, and it freaks them the hell out. Once again, the shark attack scene is a montage of various shark parts and blood, with whale sounds all the while.

The Museum Lady shows up looking for Captain Jack. She says she's a marine biologist and that the tooth came from a really awesome rare shark, and she's going to stick around and look for it. Captain Jack obviously thinks she's hot, despite the fact that she has the worst crows feet that I've ever seen. She is kind of shifty and seems to be up to something, but he doesn't notice.

Later that night, a rowdy Mexican punk-rock couple break into a waterslide park. They start having sex on the water slide. Megalodon is waiting for them at the bottom (!) and eats them both (obligatory lame montage). I begin to suspect that Megalodon can smell sexual activity from miles away.

The next day, the marine biologist (who is seriously fugly and according to the IMDb has been in some soft-core porn) goes out on a boat with a couple of sleazy male assistants who constantly sexually harass her, but you're supposed to like all three characters anyway. Megalodon starts ramming the boat, despite the fact that nobody in the immediate vicinity is having sex. Maybe those guys' sleazy comments were enough to attract his attention. A really, really fake looking shark's head (remember in elementary school when you used to wrap wet newspaper around balloons in art class? THAT fake) tries to take a bite out of the boat and leaves another tooth behind. They manage to tag the shark with some kind of tracking device.

Back on the beach, some a-hole is playing frisbee with an awesome dog. He throws the frisbee into the ocean, but the dog is too smart to go after it. The a-hole calls his dog stupid and goes in after the frisbee. Megalodon eats the man (montage) in what I can only assume is an acceptable act of vengeance because the guy insulted that dog.

Captain Jack decides that enough is enough and they should kill this shark before more innocent lives are lost. He goes to talk to the marine biologist and finds out that she's actually a paleontologist and that this shark is supposed to be extinct. She refuses to kill it because it's, like, a living fossil and stuff, and also she's a stupid bitch. They decide to team up to find it and she can study it and he can kill it at the first sign of danger.

They go out on a boat looking for it. OMG it's headed right for the resort! They intervene. Crisis averted! But then OMG it's headed right for a trio of drunken parasailors! One gets eaten! They save one! The third one gets eaten! Crisis 1/3 averted! Somehow they figure out that the shark is attracted to the underwater cable. They need "all the help they can get," so they go to church to light candles and pray.

Meanwhile, some random crusty old seaman discovers that the sleazy businessman knew all along that his underwater cables were leaking electromagnetic energy that attracted sharks, but he covered the whole thing up.

Back on the shark hunt, Captain Jack, the fugly woman, and her two gross friends are being rammed by Megalodon. Megalodon rams the boat so hard all the bolts come out and it starts to flood. Megalodon breaks through the boat's hull and starts making whale noises at the fugly lady. Captain Jack clubs it repeatedly with a block of wood to no avail. Fugly woman shoots it in the head with a rifle and kills it. She cries a lot and they climb on top of their now-capsized boat to wait for help.

A boat is on its way to their rescue, but suddenly it gets SWALLOWED WHOLE by an EVEN BIGGER MEGALODON. Then, the two gross friends get eaten! Captain Jack fires a flare gun and manages to get himself and Fugly saved by a random passing helicopter.

They need help fighting Uber Megalodon. Nobody will help. Not the Navy! Not the police! The Coast Guard can maybe help but not until next week! They will have to go after it themselves. Enter random crusty seaman, who just happens to have a torpedo they can use to blow the shark up. They make elaborate plans to kill the shark tomorrow. Then, out of nowhere, Captain Jack says to Fugly, "shall I take you home and eat your pussy?" EEEW. They have sex, and it's gross. She has oily boobs.

The next day! Sleazy businessman is having a yacht party to celebrate his underwater cables. He doesn't care about the giant deadly shark! You can't curtail his freedom! Uber Megalodon shows up and starts ramming the yacht. Rich people start jumping overboard and a lot of them get eaten. Uber Megalodon doesn't eat people via crappy montage. He just opens his mouth and people fly inside. It's quite an interesting effect, really, almost as if he has a giant Dyson in his gut. Sleazy businessman starts throwing grenades (!) at the shark, but then he gets eaten too.

Meanwhile Captain Jack, Fugly, and Crusty Seaman put their Elaborate Plan into action. I was totally unable to follow the particulars of this plan, but it involved a submarine, lots of explosives, several transmitters, a helicopter, a crossbow, and a torpedo. Somehow they manage to blow up Uber Megalodon, and all three of them survive unharmed. They gather on a liferaft with some yacht-party refugees and celebrate their success.

BUT OMG. Looming beneath the waves is yet another Megalodon! THIS WILL NEVER BE OVER.
Your opinion counts!
So M and I were talking last night, and for reasons I can no longer remember I asked him whether he thought a person could totally take a monkey in a fight. Cos, see, I reckon that the average monkey is fast, smart, has relatively sharp teeth, and can use his feet as hands. I reckon that when it's Man vs. Nature, usually Nature comes out on top. My reasoning is, people get horribly mauled by dogs sometimes, and a monkey is probably a lot harder to fight than a dog.

M reckons that he would rip the monkey's arms and legs off, shit down its neck, and say "who's next?" Which, admittedly, would be pretty awesome. I just don't think it's realistic.

So here's another poll. That Sean Bean one was so much fun, I thought we were just about due for a new one. When answering the poll, please consider the following:

We are talking about the average person versus the average monkey. Not, like, Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris could certainly take a monkey. And also, not a baboon. I don't think anyone could take on a baboon. Not even Norris.

Who would win in a fight: a person, or a monkey?
The person would totally own the monkey.
The monkey would be a total painiac all over the person.
This question encapsulates the very nature of man's existential struggle, and therefore is impossible to answer.
Free polls from

Monday, November 27, 2006
Stick It
In which V is appalled, but still manages to play the Against All Odds card.

When I was in high school, the kids who took band had this weird delusional view of themselves. They all thought they were rock stars, that they were so fucking cool as ice because they took band. And on occasions when they were able to don their hideous little polysester marching band uniforms and play at, like, the pep rallies that we all hated going to, they thought they were GODS. Whereas everyone who wasn't in band was able to see that they were all socially retarded freaks who were completely unable to interact in any kind of normal way with anyone outside band. And, I mean, I kind of get the impression that it's like this at everyone's high school. No offense to anyone here who was in band. I'm sure you didn't eat your own boogers, but no doubt you knew someone who did...

I bring this up because I get the clear impression that Stick It is the product of a person or persons who are or were involved in The World Of Gymnastics and find it to be the most riveting thing ever.

Here is a clue: it is not. If anything, gymnastics geeks are even more hopeless than band geeks.

Here is a brief plot summary. Haley used to be a competitive gymnast, but for mysterious reasons walked out on some Important Contest a couple of years ago, and now everyone in The World Of Gymnastics hates her for it. She has become an EXTREME BMX BIKER. One day, while doing some EXTREME BMX tricks, she causes a substantial amount of property damage and gets arrested. Somehow her punishment is that she has to go to gymnastics school. Um. Okay.

Her coach is Jeff Bridges. Jeff Bridges really kicked ass in 1984. Hello? He was Starman. And then there's this.

This is classic. CLASSIC, people. This is a vaulable part of American culture. It is not cheesy AT ALL. NOT AT ALL. NO CHEESE.

But I digress. So yeah. Jeff Bridges. Coach. And all the other girls at gymnastics school hate her. This is where I should mention that 98% of the script of Stick It is composed of playground-quality insults. Like, third grade level. Maybe not even that sophisticated. Here is a list of example insults that I jotted down while watching this film (and applying toenail polish, because let's face it, Stick It does not require one's complete attention)...

Pariah Carey

What the hell do these things even mean? I get "Pariah Carey", but the others have me baffled. This is not counting the several dozen similar insults I couldn't be bothered to write down because I was busy with that toenail polish. Oh, and also someone says the line "I'm so sure, I'm practically deodorant."

So we've established that the writer of this film is probably a twelve year old girl. I'm guessing this is also the target audience.

Not a whole lot actually happens. You sit through loads and loads and loads of gymnastics performances, some of which are marginally impressive. Haley and the mean girls learn all of the obligatory lessons about getting along, and not judging people, etc etc, and at the end everyone is friends with everyone else.

There are a few casual references to how horrible stage moms can be, and lots of references to the Grueling World Of Gymnastics that only people with an obsessive level of interest in gymnastics will understand.

About 3/4 of the way through the film, a bizarre sub-plot develops wherein the girls decide to rebel against the conservative and unfeeling judges and their Unfair Scoring Practices. Since I'm into watching televised gymnastics about as much as I'm into doing complex calculus for fun, I had no idea what was going on here. I gathered that the girls were being subversive and somehow Fighting The System. But I really kind of just didn't care.

You might enjoy this film if:
... you dot your i's with little hearts
... you are literally (really, literally) dying of boredom
... you have called someone a Foxymoron within the past week

You might not enjoy this film if:
... none of the above apply to you
... you still want to be able to respect Jeff Bridges
Here's some hold music
In which V gives you something to do while you wait for that review of Stick It. Yeah.

Have some Social Distortion. When I was a teenager, that Social Distortion guy was my dream boyfriend. Along with Corey Haim and Ensign Wesley Crusher. Shut up.

I watch bad movies so you don't have to.
So, like, I was in the video store this morning, and I saw the following DVD cover:

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And while part of me thinks, WTF is this a joke STFU, another part of me thinks "can it really be that bad?"

The answer, I suspect, is yes. Yes, it certainly can be. I came home and reported this gem of a film to Eli, who said that it was a "moral imperative" that I should see this and provide an extensive review.

Friends, it is one of life's simplest joys to mock bad movies. But sadly I often find myself at a loss for bad movies to review. So here it is: I am going to take your requests. Send your notoriously awful film picks to (no worries, I get plenty of spam there already) and I'll choose the best of the worst to watch and review. Maybe if Eli's lucky, I'll even force myself to endure the misery of Val Kilmer's musical Ten Commandments.

But first I must watch and report on Stick It, in which a rebellious girl who's into EXTREME SPORTS is forced to compete in some gymnastics thing. I'm sure she learns all kinds of lessons about teamwork and friendship and all that happy crap. Also her coach is Jeff Bridges. I think maybe Jeff Bridges was Quality for about ten minutes in, like, 1984. Also the tagline for this film is "IT'S NOT CALLED GYM-NICE-TICS." So, yeah, I have high hopes for this one.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Happy Thanksgiving!!
Today is a day in which we should reflect on life's bounty, and give thanks for everything that we have. For example, I am thankful for insane German techno-industrial music. And I am also thankful for YouTube, which has many fine examples of insane German techno-industrial music. Enjoy!

Friday, November 17, 2006
The triumphant return of Friday Baddie Blogging!
In recent months, I've been way too busy to think up a baddie and locate a decent picture. Believe me, sometimes getting the picture is a real challenge. This week I've decided to get back into the baddie game with someone I've plucked from relative obscurity. Watching this guy beat up his wife with that bar of soap was one of the most chilling things I've ever seen on television, for real. So without further adieu...

This week's baddie is Leo Johnson.

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Leo no! Leo no! Don't go there!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Do You Like Hitchcock?
In which giallo legend Dario Argento has been reduced to making mediocre thrillers for Italian TV.

When I was 18 years old, I saw Suspiria late one night on the Sci-Fi channel. This was back in the day when the Sci-Fi channel showed actual quality films, as opposed to shit like Mansquito. Suspiria changed my life. It is a true work of art, and the opening sequence has got to be one of the most beautifully elaborate death scenes in film history. Dario Argento has made many quality films that helped to define the horror genre. But in recent years, he's gone way downhill. Out of his last five films, four were complete crap. Not such a good track record.

Also, a couple of months ago M and I saw a TV show that had interviews with various Italian creative people. One was an architect, I think one was a fashion designer, and the third one was Dario Argento. As we're both avid Argento fans, we stayed up incredibly late to see his interview.

Friends, it was sad. More than sad, it was heartbreaking. Dario Argento is selling cheap-ass Halloween gadgets out of the basement of a record store. Not, like, replica props from famous films. Not, like, well-made costumes or masks or realistic skeletons. He is selling the kind of crap you'd buy at the Dollar Store. I am pretty sure he had several of those sorry Scream masks.

And he kept hitting on the poor woman who'd been sent to interview him. And when he wasn't flirting inappropriately with her or offering her discounts on his cheap-ass Halloween gadgets, he was saying things that made no sense. I'd forgotten this until a few days ago, when M reminded me. Instead of talking about his career as a horror auteur, he was babbling nonsense like "September is the time for eating ice cream!"


When I saw his new film Do You Like Hitchcock? at the video store, I rented it with a degree of enthusiasm. I keep trying to convince myself that he can't suck forever, and that eventually he's bound to turn out another classic. Right? Right???

Wrong. At least, not this time. While Do You Like Hitchcock? wasn't crap, it wasn't very inventive either. This guy Giulio spies on a couple of psychotic lesbian witches (or something like that) when he's a kid. This turns into a lifelong obsession with voyeurism. He especially likes to spy on the slutty girl across the street.

Eventually the slutty girl's mom is murdered, and film buff Giulio decides that it had to have been a conspiracy. While spying on the slutty girl, he saw her bond with yet another slutty girl over the Hitchcock film Strangers on a Train. So obviously they've agreed to do each other's murdering. Or have they? We don't know!

Actually we do know. It's not all that difficult to figure out what's going on in this film. The plot twists are generally mundane, the kind of thing you've seen dozens of times before. There are no surprises here. All of the characters are completely transparent. So, while this was marginally entertaining, it was a pretty non-thrilling thriller.

Also, in what seems to be par for the course in a lot of giallo films, the Italian actors have been dubbed over by people with excruciatingly proper British accents. Yes, this is tacky. But it's also kind of fun. And you'll be hard pressed to find an Argento film (even the great ones) where the actors haven't been dubbed over by people with absurd accents. In fact I think I read once that sometimes the actors in his films don't even speak the same lanaguage as each other. So you could have someone speaking English and someone speaking Italian, and then they'd BOTH get dubbed over. It's a crazy world we live in. September is the time for eating ice cream...
More random music blogging
So I've been thinking this week, I should take advantage of the wealth of stuff on YouTube and start posting some good music a couple of times a week. Because, I mean, why not? Music interests me, and I like sharing good music with other people.

Also, um, I have a couple of films on DVD that I need to review but I haven't gotten around to watching them yet. And this music thing will fill some space meanwhile. But it's GOOD music, honest.

So here we have a band called VAST (yeah, in all-caps). I really like VAST, they're super at what they do. The video you're about to see is creepy and heavily reminiscent of Twin Peaks. Enjoy.

Friday, November 10, 2006
Random Music Blogging
In which there is awesomeness from Beyond The Grave.

Johnny Cash is a genuine legend. I think the use of celebrity cameos was very appropriate here, as I suspect you'd be hard pressed to find any talented musician who hasn't been influenced by Mr. Cash's art in some way. Although I could do without Queen of the Coke Whores, Kate Moss. WTF?

Update: I should maybe point out that this is from Johnny Cash's new album of previously unreleased songs recorded before he died.
The Prestige
In which V has seen the Movie Of The Year, for reals.

So, Codename Mom got a couple of movie passes for her birthday and asked me if I could recommend anything good. I showed her some trailers online, and she elected to see The Prestige. We had a lovely day of shopping and a pizza lunch, and then saw the film. Codename Mom is now asserting that The Prestige is the best film she's seen in years, and possibly one of the best films she's seen in her entire life.

These are big words, people. Codename Mom enjoys The Godfather, The Graduate, nearly anything directed by Stanley Kubrick, and the entire filmography of Katharine Hepburn. When it comes to films, Codename Mom knows what she's talking about (and Codename Mom's influence was partly what drove me to study film myself). So if The Prestige is one of the best films she's seen in her entire life, y'all had better pay attention.

She's not exaggerating. This really was a stellar film. Unfortunately, I can't tell you very much about it. You've got these two magicians who are just starting out. They're working together, learning the ropes. What you the audience needs to know is summed up in the following quote from the film:
Every great magic trick consists of three acts. The first act is called "The Pledge"; The magician shows you something ordinary, but of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn"; The magician makes his ordinary something do something extraordinary. Now if you're looking for the secret... you won't find it, that's why there's a third act called, "The Prestige"; this is the part with the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you've never seen before.

Codename Mom and I gradually came to realize that the film itself was one elaborate magic trick following those same three acts. You're shown a story that at first you assume is ordinary. You take the characters at face value. About halfway through, you realize The Turn has taken place, and things become seriously intriguing and mysterious. And y'all, when the third act - The Prestige - hit, you could hear a pin drop in the cinema. I was literally breathless. When you finally realize what's going on, what's really going on, it's like the rug has been yanked out from under your feet.

The most I can tell you is, you have those two magicians (incredibly good acting from Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale). They start out as colleagues, but something tragic happens and they become rivals. Christian Bale seems to have an almost supernatural ability when it comes to elaborate tricks. Hugh Jackman becomes obsessed with learning his secrets. One of them is evil. And I mean EVIL in all capital letters.

There isn't anything else I can say at all without spoiling the film for you. Part of the experience is being swept up in the illusion. I will say that the cast is Total Quality. Aside from Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, you've got Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, and David Bowie as a very sinister Nikola Tesla (yes, that Tesla). Codename Mom was gleeful about the whole David Bowie thing, so bonus points for that.

Here's the trailer, for anyone who hasn't seen it. I haven't seen very much publicity for this film at all, which is surprising.
Monday, November 06, 2006
The Proposition
In which V reviews a most impressive film.

If someone were to ask me, "hey V, do you like westerns?" I would say no. But this isn't strictly true, in the same way that I don't like country music, but I like Johnny Cash.

Let me explain. My dad likes westerns. He watches westerns all day long, cheesy technicolor things starring John Wayne. The kind of tripe where Native Americans are played by white actors in orange makeup. These films actively piss me off. But then you get westerns that are more sort of avant-garde, and usually I really like those. For example, High Plains Drifter wherein the protagonist is not really a cowboy but is more likely Death. That was a good one. Or Dead Man, which defies explanation, but really when you put Johnny Depp in a Jarmusch film you can't lose. Or Last Man Standing in which you have Bruce Willis, ultraviolence, and a Kurosawa story all in one film. Priceless.

Um, also I really liked the Young Guns films, which have, like, zero artistic merit. But I was a teenager and they had Keifer Sutherland in them. Which is a good enough excuse really.

Anyway, this all brings us to The Proposition, which is a guaranteed winner from the start. This film is written by Nick Cave, with music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. You only have to spend about five minutes with me to grasp the fact that I am an obsessive fan of both Mr. Cave and Mr. Ellis. And I do mean obsessive, people.

Furthermore, the director is John Hillcoat of Ghosts of the Civil Dead fame. Well, maybe not "fame" as only about ten people have actually heard of this film. Rest assured it is the greatest prison film you'll ever see.

And look at that cast, people. Ray Winstone, Guy Pearce, John Hurt... this is quality, people.

It would appear that I am heavily predisposed towards loving this film, and therefore am unable to write an unbiased review. Deal with it.

The premise is, you have this trio of outlaw brothers in the Australian outback around the turn of the century. The oldest is the ringleader, and he's pure evil. He orchestrates a home invasion crime wherein a pregnant woman is raped and killed. Following this, his two younger brothers decide they've had enough of his crazy ways and they want out. Eventually they're arrested by a police captain who wants to "civilize" the country. He makes a deal with the middle brother: go find your older brother and kill him, and I'll spare your mildly retarded younger brother from the noose.

You can see where this is bound to be totally full of peril, right? And drama and intrigue? Overall, it's a redemption tale.

I had heard some rumors about extreme violence in this film. Having seen it, I'll say yeah, there's violence. Lots of it. But no more than is reasonable or realistic for the story.

Some people (like M) might find it hard to take sides. The outlaws have done vile, reprehensible things. This is clear. But the lawmen, the traditional "good guys" of the story act in vile, reprehensible ways as well. I found myself asking, where would I draw the line? What punishment is appropriate here? The police captain talks about making Australia civilized, but the police aren't even civilized.

I was totally captivated by this film. I would recommend it to anyone, even if you don't usually like westerns. My only caution would be in regards to the violence... again, it's realistic for the plot, but very squeamish people will be bothered. I'd say this is a must-see, and is probably going to make my list of the year's best films.