Friday, October 13, 2017

DOUBLE REVIEW: 'Blade Runner 2049 / 'Circus Kane'

Forget about the return of Blade Runner - what we REALLY ought to be pumped about is Chris Olen Ray carrying on his dad's sleazoid cinema legacy.

By: Jimbo X

I don't know if you folks know about it or not, but we're just a few years away from Cookout taking over the world.

Never heard of Cookout before? Well, that's probably because you're a Yankee who lives in some third world country like California or Oregon. Down here in the South, these things are popping up like fungi on cow pies, and I for one, couldn't be happier. 

Not since Chick-Fil-A has there been a fast food place with so much market upswing. You see, not only do these guys LOVE being heterosexual and being married to their first wives, they're patriotic in addition to being Christian. Every Styrofoam cup you get there has both Proverbs 1:7 and God Bless America printed on 'em, and if you don't know what Proverbs 1:7 says, basically it says being fearful of Jesus is the start of being smart, but as we all know, there's a lot of Democrats out there who just plain despise wisdom and the truth and will prolly be protestin' the place outta' spite soon enough. Of course, Proverbs 1:7 is no 2 Kings 18:27 - for all you heathens out there, it's one about making your enemies eat their own doo-doo and drink their own piss - but it ain't too bad a bible verse to build your burger joint around, regardless.

But loving the Judeo-Christian God and the U.S of A is just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce.) What really makes Cookout a blue chip prospect is that you can get an entire day's worth of food there for less than $5 Americano, AND the food tastes like real backyard barbecue instead of stuff a Mexican rancher probably spit in before being stuck in the deep freeze for 200 days at a time.

You kinda' have to wonder why nobody thought of selling charcoal-cooked hamburgers en masse for a fast food concept before. Yeah, Burger King likes to brag about having charbroiled hamburgers, but that's bullshit compared to what Cookout offers you. These things are fat and plump and charred blacker than a whore's conscious and they taste wonderful. You eat a hamburger from McDonald's or Wendy's, you know you're not really eating a hamburger, but when you eat at Cookout, you feel like you're eating something that might actually be 100 percent real food. And even if you don't like hamburgers for some stupid ass reason, check out this menu

Just look at all that shit. They've got hot dogs. They've got GENUINE barbecue. They've got three different kinds of chicken, plus quesadillas, plus chicken nuggets, plus corn dogs, plus hush puppies PLUS bacon wraps. That means you can have a double-patty burger, onion rings, chicken wraps AND a Cheerwine float for just $3.99. You just can't beat those prices, and once word spreads about how good a deal they offer, it's fucking over. Nobody can compete against a strategy like that. What Cookout has isn't just a license to print money, it's a license to take the damn dollar bills out of the cash registers in every other fast food place in town. 

And we haven't even gotten to their milkshakes yet. All I'm going to say is that the executives at Sonic are prolly shooting up Oxycotin into their eyelids right about now, 'cause their time as kings of the cream has about as much life left in it as Harry Dean Stanton (and he's dead, btw.) And Dairy Queen would be getting ready to suck on a bag of helium, too, if it weren't for the fact nobody working at DQ has been able to speak a lick of English since 1996. 

I've honestly been thinking about applying for a Cookout franchisee license myself. Of course, my credit score may not be high enough for that $1.3 million loan I was contemplating, and my previous arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct and imitating a police officer (a two-for-one special, actually) may not make the Cookout people too happy, but trust me; if you folks give me the keys to the kingdom, I'll have you guys rolling in so much green you can cosplay as Montana Max from Tiny Toons

I mean, you folks have to send me a couple of coupons for praising you, at the very least. It's not everyday I use my award-winning publication for the sole purpose of garnering free chicken nuggets and hamburgers, and for that, you higher-ups at Cookout ought to be mighty thankful.

Yeah right. Like Harrison Ford's old ass will still be alive in 2049.

Speaking of shameless whoring, this newfangled Blade Runner 2049 movie is the biggest ripoff since Mr. Pibb - or the last Alien flick, at least. Now, to be fair I was never really that big an admirer of Ridley Scott's original movie. Even back then, it was filled with too much pretentious claptrap about the meaning of life for my liking, but compared to the heavy-handed techno-existentialism of this movie, it was practically a Roger Corman blood-and-titties sci-fi cheap-o.

The big problem here is that we don't even get Ridley Scott calling the android-blasting action no more. Instead, we've got this French Canadian froth named Denis Villenueve. Now, I'm actually a pretty big admirer of his work - in fact, I thought 2009's Polytechnique and 2011's Incendies were two of the very best movies from their respective years - but this guy is so clearly not cut out for directing sci-fi action opuses. He's too busy trying to get the cinematography just right, with all of these lingering shots of giant CGI ash heaps and dirt-smeared child faces, when the audience just wants to see The Goose blast away robo-hookers while synth-wave music plays in the background. Instead, this Denis fruit keeps trying to hammer us with questions about our inert mortality and what it means to be truly human, as if THAT and not Joanna Cassidy running around with her tits hanging out and Daryl Hanna trying to smother Harrison Ford with her coochie was what people really liked about the original movie. 

We start the movie with this scrolling text prologue about global warming (of course!) causing a whole bunch of famines in the 2020s, then we learn about this rich guy who invented some farm bots that saved the world. But a lot of the older replicants are still around, and there are still plenty of Blade Runners running around trying to catch 'em, too. Ryan Gosling (who, by the way, is so good at portraying socially maladjusted, subconsciously violent retards) plays K, our lead Blade Runner, who this time around is clearly depicted as a robot. Anyway, he gets the flick off to a rollicking start by shutting down Dave Bautista's illegal maggot ranch, but not before multiple walls get broken and at least one party exits the scene with one fewer eyeballs.

Anyway, L.A. circa '49 is a bombed-out, Brazilian looking shit hole, but it still has Atari ads everywhere, for whatever reason. K lives in a scmmy 80-story apartment with opium smoking Chinese people but he doesn't really care because he has a hologram wife that makes him Minute Rice and suggests to him which Nabokov novels to read after every shift. But the next day at work, his boss chews him out for not deleting enough zetabytes from his memory-stealing USB drive, and they tell him for his next assignment he has to off a real person. So he goes to that aforementioned billionaire farm bot mogul's basement (which is a literal memory bank), but there ain't a whole lot of shit left 'cause there was a big EMP blast in 2022 or something like that. Oh, and the owner of FarmBot, Inc. is this one hipster-looking asshole with weird eyes who literally squeezes robot people out of slimy Ziploc bags and stabs them in the stomach for having too many stretchmarks. And (I think) he's actually a cyborg Anti-Christ who wants slave replicants to take over the world so nobody has to work no more and we can all live in a Bernie Sanders multicultural commie utopia. So yeah, you know this is one evil motherfucker we're dealing with right here.

Then Ryan Gosling turns down some human hookers and tells his boss about all these implanted childhood memories and this one time he dreamed a bunch of skinhead third graders beat him up over a wooden horse. So he goes to a dump, which is actually just the entire city of San Diego turned into a scrapheap, which I think we can all agree is an upgrade from what it is today. Then he takes a nap in his car and some homeless Russians start banging on the windshield so he's gotta' shoot about four or five of them in the head at point blank range and then a mysterious missile strike wipes out half of Little Stalingrad.

Then he accidentally stumbles upon a sweatshop for elementary schoolers and the slavemaster is a black dude so he roughs him up for a bit (a side note, but apparently cigarette smoking comes back into vogue big time 33 years from now.) Then Gosling spends 20 minutes rummaging through ashes, and holy shit, he FINDS that wooden horse from his implanted childhood memories. So now it's the inverse of the original Blade Runner's shtick, where the guy is a robot who starts thinking he might be human after all.

Then his hologram wife tells him he's a real boy now and that she probably would've called him Joe if he was her son, so yes, they ARE going to go full retard with the Pinocchio references. So he takes his wooden horse to this Somalian dirt merchant who runs a Geiger counter over it and he tells him that shit is practically glowing green with radiation so he goes on the 2049 version of Google Maps and starts combing through the hitherto unmentioned nuclear wasteland where Vegas used to be and he decides to visit the irradiated desert, but thankfully its the kind of irradiated desert that still has fully intact public libraries and casinos in it.

And at the hour and half mark, Harrison Ford's 80-year-old ass *finally* shows up. And he makes Gosling watch a holographic Elvis revue at gunpoint and then it's time to kung fu for a little while then they get tired of slugging each other in the puss so they decide to throw back a couple of brewskies and discuss Deckard's kid he gave up for adoption and ... well, you can figure this one out, can't you?

Anyhoo, somebody calls in a drone strike and here come the Blade Runners to put the kibosh on Deckard. Now, I ain't gonna tell you if they get him or not, but I assure you there's STILL another hour worth of movie left, somehow. In fact, I don't even really know how to explain the last 30 minutes of the movie to you, but I will say this: it involves a lot of water, a lot of stabbing and a whole lot of robots getting strangled to death. But there's STILL about 20 more minutes of movie after that, and trust me - it's definitely 20 more minutes than should've been kept in the final print.

We've got 23 dead bodies. Five dead robots. Four breasts. Three fist fights. Four exploding vehicles. One hobo encampment bombardment. One crash landing, with underwater submersion. Eyeball plucking. Stomach slicing. Hand crushing. Gratuitous Elvis. Gratuitous Frank Sinatra. Hologram fu. Drone fu. And the thing more or less responsible for the movie existing in the first place - some major league waifu fu.

Starring Ryan Gosling as the autism-bot who dreams of electronic sheep horses who thinks he might be a real human being but won't nobody tell him, for some reason; Harrison Ford as Deckard, who still isn't quite over his dead robo-wife from the first movie and is convinced he managed to have the world's first half person-half robot lovechild and drops gems like "sometimes, to love someone, you've gotta' be a strangers"; Ana da Armas as Ryan Gosling's virtual reality girlfriend; Jared Leto as the Billy Mitchell-looking evil cyborg industrialist with goofball eyeballs; and Dave Bautista as the first replicant on the "to-kill" list, who looks like Steve Jobs jacked out of his mind on steroids.

Co-written by Hampton Fancher (whose biggest screenwriting credit prior to this was 1989's The Mighty Quinn) and Michael Greene, who also wrote the screenplay for Logan and Alien: Covenant, and directed by the aforementioned Denis Villeneuve, whose talents are apparently better suited for movies about drug cartels and deciphering alien languages than cyber-punk neo-noir shoot-a-thons.

I'll give it a just OK two stars out of four. It's got some decent scenes, but by and large, it's hardly anything more than just another big budget sci-fi opus with a couple of good ideas it has no clue how to properly execute. Which, yeah - is pretty much all of 'em Hollywood makes nowadays.

And before you ask - no, it isn't about the professional wrestler.

As a free (and vital) public service, I feel it is my duty - no, obligation - to highlight at least one no-budget, straight-to-the-bottom-row-of-the-new-release-section-at-Walmart micro-horror indie movie every month, and one look at the DVD box art of Circus Kane would suggest the whole thing is nothing more than a halfhearted ripoff meant to capitalize on the success of It. But you can't judge a book by its cover, though, and I assure you, this Circus Kane is no ripoff of It - rather, it's a ripoff of House on Haunted Hill and Saw, which depending on your perspective, is either a minor improvement or a massive downgrade.

But that's not to say this movie ain't important. No sir. As soon as the name of the director flashes onscreen the first time, you just know you're witnessing a major milestone in American degenerate cinema history. Why? Because it's the first slasher movie ever directed by Christopher Olen Ray, and if that last name rings a bell, it should, 'cause he's the son of legendary B-movie king FRED Olen Ray, who's responsible for such all time masterpieces as Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Evil Toons and Scream Queen Hot Tub Party. And although this Chris kid's been kicking the tires for awhile now, making movies like 2-Headed Shark Attack and Asteroid vs. Earth, we here at TIIIA can't tell you how thrilled we are to watch him follow in his daddy's illustrious footsteps. And yep, Circus Kane is precisely the kind of loving homage to Freddy O. Ray's filmography that you'd expect - meaning the movie as a whole sucks, but at least it's got a lot of blood and guts everywhere.

What we've got here is a movie where eight disparate people whose only common characteristic is that they're assholes on Twitter (no, that's a real plot point) get text messages telling 'em if they survive one night in a haunted house this old circus freak named Balthazar Kane will give 'em $250,000. So we've got your usual assortment of genre fodder; some nerd collector with a bum ticker, this fat black dude who plays Xbox all day, this one guy who argues with his wife a lot, some washed up indie actress who goes to punk rock shows with five foot tall spikes in her hair, a drug dealer and perhaps most terrifying of all, an all grown up Jonathan Lipnicki, who is now sporting a downright fash-tastic alt-right haircut. And there are these two brunette chicks who look really alike, but the director fucks it all up by letting us know that only one character survives the whole ordeal upfront, so it loses the numbero uno aspect of all great slasher movies: knowing that any character can die a bloody, horrific death at any point in the movie.

So these guys in clown masks toting assault rifles force 'em into the back of a S.W.A.T van and they spend the next 15 minutes talking about how many Instagram followers they have and how they think the whole think is some viral marketing stunt, even though they've just been kidnapped at gunpoint and knocked out with goofy gas (and you know we're dealing with some bottom of the rung acting when nobody in the movie can even act like they're falling asleep.)

So anyhoo, thy go inside the haunted house and there are plasma screen TVs everywhere with Kane (who looks like Rob Zombie cosplaying as pro 'rasslin great The Undertaker) telling them to livestream everything as they make their way through his house o' death traps. Early on we've got the mixed-race guy getting bifurcated by chainsaw-lugging zombie jesters, but nobody thinks its real until he makes them hop across a fire pit with axes swinging on a pendulum back and forth and crawl under barbed wire.

From there, it's your usual no-budget horror hokum. We've got guys having heart attacks and hitting metal grates so hard their heads explode (yeah, we all know that's scientifically impossible, but like they're gonna' waste all those blood bags they bought at Spirit Halloween last year), a clown chomping off a fat black dude's fingers and this one broad getting sliced up in a barbed wire kill lifted right outta the first fuckin' Saw movie. But like a whole lot of modern indie horror movies, the folks who made this one just don't got no idea how to end the movie. We've got too many flashbacks, too much monologuing, too many intelligence-insulting plot twists (at one point, the survivors call 911 and are told they'd have to wait two hours before the po-po got there) and a final girl vs. main psycho killer grand finale that just drags on forever

And even worse? The movie commits the ULTIMATE post-post-post-postmodern slasher movie sin: it hits us with a totally nonsensical "twist ending" that serves only to set up a sequel don't nobody want to see and won't ever get made no how. How many times do I have to keep telling you people this? If your movie don't end with the final girl turning the bad guy's intestines into a Picasso painting or the bad guys grabbing the final girl and eating her or raping her two seconds after the screen fades to black, you might as well just toss the whole damn movie into a Dempster Dumpster and say a buncha Puerto Ricans stole the reels so you can get a little bit of insurance money out of it. 

Still, I'll give it some credit. I mean, for a movie that was apparently filmed in one of those "escape room" attractions with all the props on loan from Party City's Halloween discount section, it ain't too shabby an effort, I suppose.

We've got 19 dead bodies. One severed zombie head. Eyeballs roll. Fingers roll. Legs roll. arms roll. One jugular sliced open. One suicide by cop. One Nazi cannibal 'rasslin match. Gratuitous skeletons. Gratuitous crapola punk rock music. Gratuitous Marky Mark impersonations. Blacklight fu. Chainsaw fu. Barbed wire fu. Meathook fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place - some serious influencer marketing fu.

Starring Jonathan Lipnicki as the guy you think is probably going to survive the movie because he's the only guy anybody in the audience might recognize; Tim Abell as big bad Balthazar Kane, who says lines like "I am the hunter who eats the flesh of his prey" and "death is the one true god, and I'm her angel spreading her harsh, cold words one soul at a time" while looking like a combination of Jeff Bridges and Royal Dano's zombie cowboy character in House 2; Ted Monte as the scummy baseball card shop owner who says "this was totally worth being drugged or gassed or whatever he did to us"; Cameron Jebo as the guy who says "Shalom, motherfucker" after snapping an S.S. zombie's neck; and Victoria Konefal as the final girl, who really shouldn't keep her hopes up about getting the lead in Circus Kane 2 anytime soon. 

Written by James Cullen Bressack, Sean Sellers and Zack Ward (who played Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story, believe it or not), whom all did an outstanding job ripping off Five Nights at Freddy's obliquely enough to probably not get sued; and directed, of course, by the one and only Chris Olen Ray, who doesn't even care that his actresses' makeup keeps changing mid-scene, because that's stuff viewers of the soil wouldn't even notice, anyway. 

We'll give 'em credit for adhering to about four or five of Jimbo's Ten Commandments for all Modern Slasher Movies, but again, it's a movie that just lays on the self-referential shit too thick. Which we could've overlooked had the director distracted us with some titties here and there, but the zero breast count alone is worth bumping off half a star. As such, I have no choice but to give it a ho-hum two stars out of four simply out of principle. Jimbo says check it out, but this Chris O. Ray kid definitely needs to rewatch some of his daddy's old movies (we'd wholeheartedly recommend The Alien Dead and Beverly Hills Vamp as starting points) to learn how to make these things the right dadgum way.


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