Friday, October 19, 2018

Double Review: Hell Fest / Army & Coop

What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a REALLY crappy nu-slasher and a moderately less crappy stoner comedy about a vulgar hockey player?


By: Jimbo X
The Internet Is In America on Voat

Don’t ask me how or why, but a couple of weekends ago I wound up watching a good 13 hours of Family Feud. We’re talking a good 26 episodes back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-(OK, you get the point.) And you know what I realized?

Every single episode — I mean every last one — featured a white family taking on a black family.

Now, of course, I’m talking about the modern incarnation of Family Feud, the one with Steve Harvey, and not the ones with Richard Dawson or Ray Combs or Louie Anderson hosting them. Now, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve caught the reruns, but I don’t exactly remember those episodes constituting trivia race wars like the newfangled Feud. Certainly, something like this can’t be a coincidence, it has to be something the producers arrange by design. And you can’t tell me the people behind the show don’t spend a lot of time thinking these kinds of things over. You honestly believe the contestants on the show get slung together by random chance? No siree Bob, you best believe they’ve got at least five or six people on payroll whose only jobs is to figure out which families would do the best from a marketing and ratings standpoint.

And apparently, they think the game show viewin’ public of America really wants their guesstimations of random sampling poll outcomes to be decidedly racially tinged.

Of course, they never advertise the show as “Blacks vs. Whites Trying To Deduce The Survey-Taker Hivemind,” even though it’s clear as day that’s precisely how they’re presenting it even if they never outwardly express it.

Go ahead, DVR the next episode or two of The Feud and tell me if it deviates from the following script template in any way whatsoever.

We meet family one. They’re not just white, they’re a bunch of mayonnaise-bleeding honkeys with glistening pearl-colored teeth named the “LaRouches” or the “Danielsons.” The dad is either named Chad, Tad, or Blake and his wife is ALWAYS gonna’ be this skinny, blonde 30-something wearing too much eyeliner. Their kids are named Emma, Abigail or Olivia and they’ve brought at least one of their half-senile parents with them — if it’s male, his name is almost always Peter and if it’s female, it’s almost always Sandy of Susan.

Then we meet family two. They’re not just black, they’re a bunch of Yoo-Hoo spitting moon crickets with ceiling-high afros and their last names are either “Washington” or “Jefferson.” The oldest son (there’s never a dad in the picture, for some inexplicable reason that longitudinal, national statistics over the last 60 years could never possibly shine some light on) and his name is either Julius, DeAngelo or Jalen. If he brings his wife or girlfriend with him, she’s ALWAYS going to look just like Michelle Obama and their kids are going to be named DeQuavious, LaJackson or QuaPatterson. And sure as sugar, grandma ALWAYS gets invited to be on the show and her name is ALWAYS Gloria. Literally every single time.

So Steve Harvey comes out and he cracks a few jokes and Chad/Tad/Blake and Julius/DeAngelo/Jalen come out and shake hands and both of them look real uncomfortable touching each other and then Steve says something like “We surveyed 100 people, tell us the first thing you wash in the shower in the morning” and the black guy ALWAYS hits the buzzer first and says something like “my car” and then a big old red X pops up on the screen and then the white guy says “my left cochlea” and then the board dings and we find out that five people out of 100 indeed wash their left cochleas first thing in the morning.

So then the white family gets to check off a couple of more survey responses, and they do pretty well up until they get to Peter or Sandy, who says something like “that little piece of hair growing in between my eyebrows” and apparently their stupidity is contagious because that makes everybody ELSE in the family start saying things like “my right tonsil” and “the space between my second and third toes from the left” and there’s still three answers left on the board so the black family gets a chance to steal the round and that’s when they get into a huddle and then grandma slaps her hands like it’s a church revival and screams “muh bush, Mistah Harvey” and then the board dings again and “muh bush” shows up because apparently, that’s the first thing 15 people out of 100 wash first thing in the morning.

The second round always follows the exact same formula, except this time around it’s the black family that gets the number one answer first, and then they get everything right except for the fourth one and of course DeQuavious/LaJackson/QuaPatterson says literally the dumbest answer you’ve ever heard in your life and then the white family gets a chance to steal and they ALWAYS get it right and the black family shakes their head and looks angry while the white family celebrates and Steve Harvey continues to look like a corndog with Groucho Marx eyebrows.

The third and final round is a flip of the coin, really — half the time the white family wins it and half the time the black family wins it. And then in the final, FINAL round, no matter what race the family may be, the same thing always happens. The first person up gets the number one answer on everything so all the second contestant has to do is score like five or six points and they win the $25,000 grand prize. Of course, the second contestant also has an IQ somewhere between a used sponge and and a bucket of aquarium gravel, so when Steve asks him to name a part of a cow people eat, he says “Woodrow Wilson” and if they’re lucky, one person surveyed also said “Woodrow Wilson” is their favorite part of a cow and they either lose by 10 points or win by 10 points. It’s ALWAYS a 10 point plus-or-minus differential. Trust me, after watching 26 episodes in a row, you begin to take note of these things.

But the thing that gets me is how NOBODY ever brings up the fact that one family looks like albino yetis while the other looks like the starting lineup of the 1995-96 Houston Rockets. Considering game shows tape 15 or 16 episodes in one afternoon, you’d think SOMEBODY in the audience would say “you know, it might have been a coincidence the first 84 times it was whites versus blacks on The Feud, but 85 times, now I’m starting to suspect something.”

And what’s the endgame for the producers? Are they just counting on the viewers’ innate tribalism to goad them into rooting for the family that has the same levels of melanin they do? Have the producers done some really in-depth analysis determining that hardline ethnocentrists watch the show on a regular basis to affirm their supremacist ideologies, like there are actually Klan members and Black Panthers out there going “see, MY people knew 21 people out of 100 named their cats Mr. Whiskers, truly ours is the superior breed?”

Or maybe it’s just easier to keep track of who’s controlling the board if one is the color of unpasteurized almond milk and the other is the same hue as Taster’s Choice decaf. You know … that whole Occam’s razor thing and whatnot.

If you love jump cuts and neon lighting ... holy shit, will you love this movie.

Anyway, speaking of sharp instruments, our lead-off flick for our double header review is Hell Fest, a slasher movie set in a carnival about this guy who runs around in hooded sweatshirt and a beef jerky face mask stabbing millennials in the tummy with screwdrivers ‘cause they won’t stop checking their text messages every five milliseconds while waiting in line for a haunted house ride to open.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, wait a minute, wasn’t this the plot of that old Tobe Hooper movie The Funhouse and later, the Sega Dreamcast cult classic Illbleed?” Well, yeah, pretty much, but this movie has something neither of its forerunners did — nonstop EMD music and monster mini-golf neon tubing in literally every scene in the movie. And the folks who made this movie certainly got their money out of such investments, ‘cause it’s clearer than Crystal Pepsi that none of the budget went towards things like “a coherent script” or “adequate lighting” or even “prop blood that doesn’t look like it was squeezed out of a Duncan Hines bucket.”

Things start off promising enough, with this psycho murderer in a devil mask humming “Pop Goes The Weasel” right before he stabs this community college THOT in the chest at a spookhouse where all the props, combined probably cost about $18.50.

Then we cut to this moon-faced 28-year-old looking broad who’s visiting her black valley girl friend’s apartment (she even has a Gwen Stefani belly shirt and bangs like Zooey Deschanel) and she and trades snide comments with this short-haired quasi-dyke who you can just TELL voted for Bernie Sanders even though she doesn’t say anything even remotely political throughout the whole movie.

Then we meet the rest of the cast; this guy in flannel with no personality whatsoever, a tall drink of water with one of those bushy Brillo Pad haircuts and this one skinny fat Asian dude. Then they go to the titular Hell Fest itself, which is pretty much what a Spirit Halloween store would look like if it was directed by Dario Argento — pastel everywhere. So the whole thing is more like a rave than a traditional haunted house attraction, complete with EDM music and laser shows and dudes running around with chainsaws and skanks in cages with their faces painted up like Day of the Dead hoochies.

Anyway, our sextet decides to navigate the neon-tube-bedecked monster mini-golf labyrinth while drinking tequila they snuck in and then the psycho killer in a hoodie grabs this one skank and stabs her in the guts with a Philips head for real but nobody thinks it’s legit and then there’s a carnival game montage and moonface and flannel boy flirt over a pretzel and make out in a photo booth and the mysterious murderer steals their pictures and then there’s some more totally uneventful stuff and you realize that if this movie was any slower, it’d qualify for a personalized learning plan.

Seriously, we have to wait almost 40 minutes into the movie before the proper cast starts getting bumped off, and the kills in this one are just plumb pathetic. For example, when the flannel guy gets his head squished by one of those wooden mallets used in that one bell-ringing game, all the gore and brain meat is CGI. Then we gotta’ wait another TWENTY minutes to see a cast member buy the farm, and even then it’s just a buncha’ lame knife-plunging deaths that were already passe by the time Terror Train came out. So yeah, all of this is pretty much the exact same pop-slasher crap we were watching 38 years ago, except now half the cast is brown. Hooray for progress.

And the denouement is just absolute dog shit. Moonface and the black valley girl basically just run around a maze for 20 minutes and pretend to be mannequins when the killer shows up, and of course, just when you think he’s dead for good he disappears. And for those of you expecting some sort of halfway interesting twist ending, think again: the people who made this ‘un were so lazy, they don’t even BOTHER revealing who the murderer is.

Pretty much 60 percent of this movie is just the cast walking around in dark rooms for five minutes at a time waiting for a guy with a head shaped like an oblong rotten potato to poke ‘em in the cornea with a scalpel. Needless to say, when the highlight of a movie is watching the lead actress text while taking a dump, you KNOW you’re dealing with some seriously underwhelming genre fare.

Anyway, we’ve got five dead bodies. No breasts. Multiple stomach stabbings. Knife to the eyeball. Gratuitous mannequin molestation. Gratuitous malfunctioning roller coaster subplot. Gratuitous Tony Todd voice over. Gratuitous puking theme park monster. One attempted beheading. One exploding head. Mallet fu. Fireax fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place … you better believe we’ve got some serious glow-in-the-dark paint fu going on in this one.

Starring Amy Forsyth as Natalie, the VERY poor woman's Maggie Gyllenhaal; Bex Taylor-Klaus as the punk rock Rachel Maddow who says “he’s getting paid minimum wage to follow us”; Reign Edwards as the token African-American BFF who says “do you think after Hell Fest, Natalie will come sit on my face?”; and Tony Todd as the voodoo priest ringmaster who comes out looking like a burnt up piece of charcoal and probably wasn't even on set for more than 15 minutes before collecting a paycheck and walking the hell on out of there.

Directed by first-time filmmaker Gregory Plotkin and written by no less than six people, including Blair Butler of X-Play fame … so yeah, there's plenty of blame to go around on this 'un.

While it’s nice to see microscopic-budgeted genre movies like this one actually getting a pretty decent distribution deal, even around the Halloween rush this is one pure-D piece of dookie that ain’t worth nobody’s time nor currency. The absolute best I can give this laborious turd is a meager ONE AND A HALF STARS OUT OF FOUR. Jimbo says … well, actually, I’m NOT gonna’ say check it out this time around. Hell, this movie is so bad it’s not even worth illegally streaming, if you wanted me to be honest with you people.

Believe it or not, this is actually one of the movie's more tasteful sight gags...

But if you’re looking for a considerably — OK, moderately better zero-budget exploitation B-movie offering, you might get a kick out of this week’s second feature, Army & Coop, which for my money, has to be the greatest stoner comedy about a disgraced NHL goon that’s forced to work as a bartender in Denver and learns sage life advice from a homeless man living out of a cardboard box I’ve seen at least in the past month.

You hear people talk about “lowbrow” humor a lot these days, but Army & Coop is a rare modern-day offering that doesn’t just accept the fact it’s a dumb, sophomoric farce for Colorado Avalanche fans that smoke a lot of chiba, it practically wallows in its crassness. This is the kind of movie that thinks a dude taking a dump and farting loudly with the phrase “I’m Gay” written on his forehead is the zenith of comedy. Come to think of it, calling Army & Coop a lowbrow comedy is probably giving it a bit too much dignity; I’d prefer to consider this one a “no brow” comedy — said brows no doubt singed off from an errant attempt at lighting a fart in-between takes.

The flick revolves around this guy named Mike Armstrong, who just got kicked out of the NHL for beating up his coach and a couple of security guards. Of course, considering the budget for this movie was about $5.34, they never actually show any of Armstrong’s action in pro hockey, so I suppose we just gotta’ use our imaginations here. Anyway, now he’s this fat dude who lives in the ‘burbs of Denver and spends his afternoons shagging grannies, smoking weed and playing NHL ‘18 on his XboxOne and hanging out at the local ice rink, where he shouts slurs at opposing players as a member of the rec league Denver Herbs. Oh, and sometimes he eats dog food … long story.

Anyway, he drives a Jeep with “truck nuts” and brings donut holes to vagabonds and has trouble making rent ‘cause he’d rather smoke doob with 20-year-old college kids than get a real job. Then we find out he works at this one bar where he speaks like a minstrel show character to his boss and there’s a poorly concealed glory hole in the men’s bathroom. Then his pet bulldog Cooper runs away and his agent lets him know he’s been suspended 200 games but he don’t really care because he’s too busy staring at his boss’ daughter’s boobs jiggling while she washes beer mugs. Then this one guy calls him a has-been, so he headbutts him a couple of times and lays him out with a few fat rights like Bobby Probert used to.

And folks, we’re only BEGINNING to scratch the surface when it comes to subplots. We’ve also got the boyfriend of the bar owner’s daughter coming in and trying to get some mess stirred up with Armstrong and then this one stoner tells a story about how he got high and wrote “One Love” and Bob Marley stole it before purchasing a Johnny Manziel Power Toke bong then a whole bunch of THOTs come in for a bachelorette party and start flicking each other with giant inflatable dildoes and then the jerk-ass boyfriend sings a song about getting jism in his girlfriend’s eyes and trying to get in her “No. 2 hole” and then Armstrong accuses these two Muslims of being terrorists and then a black crossdresser comes into the bar and leaves after about two seconds of screen time and then Armstrong goes to have a chat with this guy who lives in a churched up Gaylord and gives him some much-needed words of encouragement like he was Wilson on Home Improvement.

Oh no, we STILL aren’t done with the subplots, kids. After that a paraplegic girl and her MILF of a mom come in to get her jersey signed and this one tatted up emo chick in the worst red wig of all-time tries to put the moves on Armstrong and he gives an eight-year-old kid a shot of bourbon and what’s her name’s boyfriend proposes to the girl Armstrong is in love with and then we get the origin story of Armstrong’s redhead fetish (apparently, he picked up a mother and daughter two-fer at the sunscreen section at Walgreens for a sordid tryst once) and then he convinces a pregnant teen to not run away from home and then a bicyclist comes in and asks for a vegan burger and Armstrong tells him and his kind to stay off the goddamn road (which is a policy standpoint we here at The Internet Is In America firmly agree with) and then he has to ward off the sexual advances of the aforementioned redheaded chick and then he and his pal try to stage a fake robbery to impress Army’s object of affection but the Muslims beat ‘em up with hockey sticks and he learns not to be racist anymore even if his uncle spent three tours of duty in Iraq.

Then the jerkwad boyfriend gets wacked off by the black crossdresser while he records the whole thing on his smartphone and … well, there’s no real genteel way to put it, in the final 20 minutes the movie loses a lot of steam as things get way too melodramatic for my liking. But even as the flick starts to sputter, you still get to hear a couple of great lines of dialogue, thankfully — personally, I can’t decide if “I’ve got to piss like a racist horse” or “He makes me look like Boy George with erectile dysfunction” are my favorite.

So basically, the whole thing is a weird re-do of that great black and white surrealist dramady Last Night at the Alamo, only with WAY more references to kush and diarrhea. Naturally, you’ll know without me telling you whether such is something suitable for your cinematic palate.

Anyway, let’s get to the highlights, why don’t we? No dead bodies. No breasts. Two exposed male buttocks. Gratuitous condom flinging. Gratuitous The Big Lebowski references. Gratuitous Jagermeister chugging. Gratuitous fart jokes. Gratuitous glory hole subplot. Gratuitous T.J. Oshie references. Gratuitous vomiting. Gratuitous interracial face licking. Hockey stick fu. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor fu. Hand job fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place … some serious marijuana fu.

Starring Heath C. Heine as Mike Armstrong, the disgraced NHL player who looks like a REALLY poor man’s Chris Pratt (or maybe a ginger Chris Jericho) and sounds a lot like Ben Stiller’s character in Heavyweights when he says lines like “It’s colder than a well digger’s ass in here” and “She’s walking like she  got bad anal last night”; Ben Hilzer as best bud (and I mean that in more ways than just one) Scott, who says “I’m an out of work gynecologist — I’m just looking for an opening”; Trevor Wilson as Murray, who does his best impersonation of Mitch Hedberg throughout the movie; Gary John Miller as Rich, the undeserving boyfriend who proposes to his girl after a month of dating her and woos her with a song that sounds like Larry Flynt having a seizure; and of course, Moxi the bulldog as Cooper, who really is the best actor in the whole movie.

Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Dennis Hefter — whose only previous credit is a producer’s rule in 2016’s Arlo: The Burping Pig — who definitely shows a knack for prose with lines like “Life is not all Coke and pussy” and “Water’s free, this ain’t Flint.”

Of course, Army & Coop is no Slap Shot. In fact, it’s not even a Goon 2: The Last Enforcer. But for what it is — and isn’t — it ain’t too bad, even though they really should’ve worked on that third act. Anyhoo, I’ll give this one your standard TWO STARS OUT OF FOUR rating. Jimbo says check it out, especially if you’ve got some gummies on hand and absolutely nothing better to do with an hour and a half on the weekend … which, yeah, was pretty much the target audience for this ‘un all along.

1 comment:

  1. I love the spiel on Family Feud. Glad you aren't the only one who noticed that

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.