Sunday, October 29, 2017

Double Review: 'Jeepers Creepers 3' / 'Leatherface'

What better way to celebrate Halloween than by taking a gander at two of the most superfluous horror prequels ever?

By: Jimbo X

For a minute, I’d like to get serious about a very important issue. It’s one that impacts many communities throughout America, and it might already be happening in your own neighborhood. It’s called “Trunk or Treating” and somebody’s gotta’ put a stop to it.

Remember when we were kids and going trick or treating meant socking on a Frankenstein mask or a pre-fab Spider-Man costume, grabbing a big old trash bag and going door-to-door begging for candy like Snickers-addicted vagrants? Well, apparently parents today think that’s too “dangerous,” and have come up with a new way for their children to celebrate Halloween.

What they do is they take all the kids out into a parking lot, and all the families get together beforehand and fill up their cars with bags of fun-size Skittles and Tootsie Rolls and the kids just go car-to-car asking for a handful of Raisinettes while their helicopter moms and dads hover over ‘em to make sure nobody secretly sticks them with an AIDS needle or tries to abduct them and sell them on the Dark Web the next morning. And clearly, this is a form of child maltreatment that we, as a conscionable society, can no longer allow.

I went trick-and-treating every year from kindergarten to sixth grade, and you know how many times I got held hostage by child molesters? Or how many times I ate LSD-tainted Butterfingers and had to have my stomach pumped? Or how many times devil worshipers tried to carve a pentagram on my forehead and make me drink goat blood or whatever fundamentalist Christians thought Satanists did way back when besides vote Democrat? The answer is the same - zero. As a matter of fact, I did my research on this one. You know how many kids have been kidnapped or poisoned or murdered or mutilated or drugged while trick or treating over the last 40 years? Well, according to this thing called The Marshall Project, the sum there is zero, too. Really, the only harm that Halloween causes is a mild uptick in fire injuries (some people still don’t know how to put a candle in a Jack O'Lantern, apparently) and car accidents. But we probably shouldn’t fret too much about that last one - considering how fat kids are nowadays, they’d probably do more damage to the cars than the cars do to them.

So we’ve got this persistent myth going on that Trick or Treating is “dangerous” when really, the worst thing that can happen on Halloween is some kid getting poked in the eye with a plastic He-Man sword, or maybe one of the slower ones accidentally eating a glow stick or something. So what exactly is Trunk or Treating protecting kids from, exactly?

Let me tell you folks something. Trunk or Treating has nothing to do with ensuring children’s safety. What it’s really about as classism, plain and simple, and maybe a little bit of racism, too. Lemme explain.

You see, most of the times Trunk or Treating events are organized by either churches (thank goodness those things are totally devoid of pedophiles) and homeowners associations. So caught up in their select in-group circle jerk bubble that they don’t want their kids to experience anything that might expose them to different cultures, or different ways of life, or even different types of candy. I mean, back when I was a kid, we didn’t have any Mexicans in my neck of the woods, and I’ve come to learn that all their treats are like super duper candy compared to our lame-ass, watered down domestic stuff. Hell, if I was a kid today, I would DEMAND we only visit the Hispanic part of town to trick or treat - and just like that, cultural tolerance and understanding blossoms, one Gansito delicacy at a time.

What these trunk or treater assholes don't grasp is that half the fun of REAL trick or treating isn't the free candy or getting to dress up like a doofus, but being able to - if but for a few brief moments - get a nice, clear gander at what the lives of other people in the neighborhood are like. When I was a little ankle-biter, my favorite part of Halloween was always being able to peer inside people's houses when they opened the front door. What was their living room like? Did they have a TV bigger than ours? Was there kitschy artwork over the sofa? Did they have an aquarium, or a bitchin' sound system? Were there people playing dice in the background, or eating a pepperoni pizza in the kitchen, or watching reruns of Mama's Family with their hands in their britches a'la Al Bundy? That was literally the only time of the year I had the opportunity to gain insight into the lives and ways of perfect strangers, and it utterly fascinated me. That's one of those curiosity building experiences that makes you more sociable and more cognizant of your surroundings. And you sure as hell can't replicate that weird sociological experience by ambling around a cul de sac and eating Snickers out of your neighbor's Lexus. I mean, everybody's trunk pretty much looks the same, so where's the sense of adventure and discovery?

This is one of the reasons why our kids are turning into a buncha' asexual sissy shut-ins on us. Their parents spend their whole childhood trying to keep 'em bubbled up in this make-believe, super-sanitized fantasy world and never once let 'em see what reality is like. If you don't even have the basic human decency to let your kids go trick or treating, you know what? Maybe YOU shouldn't have had kids in the first place. There's a lot more harm you can do trying to protect them from non-existent dangers than if you just let them experience a teeny, tiny slice of self-sufficiency and independence one night a year. And if you keep that shit up, those poor kids are going to grow up to be something even more horrifying than holier than thou, suburban enclave elitists

They might just become Bernie Sanders supporters.

How weird is it that the fewer number of children he sexually abuses on set, the worse the director's movies seem to get?

Speaking of things you should't trust around children, Victor Salva's got himself a new movie out. Odds are you probably missed the one night only theatrical screening of Jeepers Creepers 3 back in late September, but lucky us, SyFy decided to give it a back-to-back primetime TV screening for Halloween ahead of the official DVD release in December. Of course, the movie they'll be showing this weekend is the censored version, but I was fortunate enough to have somebody drop off an unedited screener version a while back and just for kicks and giggles, I decided to give it the old look-see recently. 

Now, even with the fact the director's a convicted child molester taken out of the equation, I never liked the first two Jeepers Creepers movies. The pace is sluggish, the monster mythology is impossible to figure out, the supporting characters are weak and the whole damn thing is an unacknowledged ripoff of an old Unsolved Mysteries episode, so you KNOW I'm going to stay peeved about that. And unfortunately, this third entry doesn't really do anything to atone for the sins of the first two, and instead of making the notoriously murky canon just a smidge more coherent, all it does is make the whole damned thing even more confusing than it already was.

So the movie begins with a guy getting chased by our ninja star-throwing antagonist and the narrator tells us the whole "every 23 years for 23 days it gets to eat" shtick and the cops open up a dump truck and find a whole buncha' corpses wrapped up in bedsheets. But the truck is booby trapped, so this one copper gets an iron sharp gate through his shoulder. Then we learn three more cops and an inmate got killed earlier, along with the kid that got nabbed (apparently, filming the jail break opening woulda' cost too much money, so all the characters just talk about it and leave it to us, the audience, to fill in the visual blanks.) Then this black guys shows up and tells the sheriff that the monster set a church on fire earlier to get rid of its history. But, uh, they didn't have enough money to film that, either, so I guess we'll just have to take the fella's word for it.

So they're taking the truck to an impound lot, and of course, the Creeper shows up and kidnaps the tow truck driver for no discernible reason and we learn that, for whatever reason, crows and ravens follow the monster. Then we cut to this one guy living on a farm arguing with his mama about the Creeper coming back and eating him and his daughter because "he's a part of it" now. Apparently, the monster tried to eat him 23 years ago, but I don't think they included that in either of the last two movies, and if they did, well fuck, they sure did an ace job of making his role memorable, eh?

As it turns out, though, there's this vigilante anti-Creeper posse that runs around in jackets with this patch of a screaming skull over a pink triangle, and they're loading up their Ford Rangers with Gatling guns and 6,000 pounds of ammunition in anticipation of the monster's arrival. "It may not fly," one of the monster hunter remarks, "but this is OUR killing machine." Then Addison, the daughter of the guy who was arguing with his mama earlier, goes over to her friend's house and she's supposed to be a teenager but she look 30 and her teenage brother looks 40 and kisses her on the lips and likes to frighten rabbits. So he and his three slightly more teenager-looking friends find the Creeper's truck abandoned in the middle of the cow pasture and, naturally, decide to do what any level-headed person would do: yell "kiss my ass, you ugly bitch" and throw rocks at it.

But they get spooked and run away, except one of 'em gets hit by a spring-loaded spear booby trap trying to get away from it. Then Addison goes to the hay store, but people make fun of her for not having enough credit and her would-be love interest's dad tells him he's too good for her broke country ass then we cut back to the 28-year-old teenagers and the Creeper finally shows up and starts throwing javelins through their kidneys and stapling them to oak trees, then Addison's granny digs up a severed (but still living) monster hand and it LITERALLY picks her off the ground and makes her levitate in the air with her eyes rolling into the back of her skull like The Undertaker used to. Then the Creeper shows up and abducts Addison and the actors don't even act scared, prolly because' they're distracted by how much the monster looks like a random white dude in blackface. Anyhoo, he locks her in the corpse-filled truck, then the monster hand possesses the black Creeper hunter dude, and then it's time for a high speed chase, with the monster throwing computer-generated landmines at cop cars and this one guy opening fire with a machine gun turret, only to get his own innards blown out because he forgot the truck is made out of reinforced anti-tank armor and all the bullets ricochet right back at 'em. Then the monster comes after the survivors with his stainless steel ax, roars like a lion and starts throwing bone discuses at them, and he totally no sells all their shotgun fire, and the black dude FINALLY manages to get the Gatling gun to work, and the Creeper no sells that too and stabs him with his hatchet, so the last remaining cop just runs off into the woods, crying like a bitch.

Then the monster tires to rape Addison but its eyeballs inexplicably start falling out and it can't get its wings to work (a metaphor for sexual impotency, I take it?) Then the monster gets hit by a transfer truck, but it just gets up, finds its crusty old hand and a message reading "We know what you are" so it screams like Predator and passes out in a cornfield. Then Addison's not-quite-but-kinda-sorta boyfriend gets on the school bus from the last movie, so I guess this thing is a prequel instead of a sequel? And then the whole thing concludes with the narrator being revealed as the sister of the guy who got eaten in the first movie, and she's writing up a blog post promising to kick the monster's ass in the NEXT movie. So yeah, the whole damn movie was just set up for part four. Ain't that a stinker.

Anyhoo, we've got 26 dead bodies. No breasts. Gratuitous dirt biking. Gratuitous ornery rabbits. Gratuitous public urination. Hands roll. Eyeballs roll. Multiple demonic possessions, with levitation. One double impalement teenager shish-ka-bob. One high speed chase, with rollover. Frisbee-made-out-of-bones fu. Armored car fu. CGI landmine fu. Vulcan cannon fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place - some serious sequel hook fu.  

Starring Gabrielle Haugh as the teenage meat the Creeper keeps slobberin' all over; Meg Foster (yep, that Meg Foster) as the decrepit old granny who keeps sentient monster limbs in potted plants in the backyard; Stan Shaw as the black dude who says "fear has a scent - that's how it picks what parts of us to eat"; Jonathan Breck as the goateed, black tar martian vampire cannibal sexual predator monster; and Gina Phillips, who was basically paid a full salary to read about five lines of dialogue and show her face for eight seconds of the very tail end of the movie.

Written and directed by Victor Salva, who - no matter how bad a movie he's made - can always say he's done much worse things in his lifetime.

I give it one and a half stars out of of four. It's a totally pointless flick that doesn't do anything to expand the franchise mythos - in fact, its sole role is to serve as a door stop to the next movie, and that's about it. Jimbo says - well, don't check it out, if you can avoid it.

Alright, this shit has to set some kind of record for most franchise prequels. It has to.

Now, like everybody else, I went into this new Leatherface movie with a lot of reservations. First off, even though I ain't seen none of the prequels and spin-offs spawned by the 2003 Chainsaw remake, I've heard through the grapevine that they're all various shades of awful, and since this is about the fourth or fifth down the line, I suppose you can understand why my expectations heading into this thing were rock bottom. But more importantly, the movie wasn't even FILMED in Texas - these fruits went out and shot the thing in god-damned Bulgaria. And worst of all, the movie was actually directed by these two froths, and if there's anything more sacrilegious than two fuckin' Frenchmen makin' a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, I don't dare ponder it.

But if you can put aside your loathing of all things French just out of principle, this thing might just surprise you. It ain't a great movie by any stretch, but it's considerably better than I thought it was going to be. And you really have to give these guys some credit for their gore scenes - there's a couple of scenes in this flick that are among the nastiest I've seen at the cineplexes all year round.

The movies starts off in the early 1950s, back when most of the Sawyer clan was still alive. They feed a birthday cake made out of human body parts to a hog-tied pig thief and then they give a little kid named Jed a chainsaw and order him to carve the guy's face off but he just can't do it, so grandpa grabs a hammer and bashes the poor sap's skull in. We skip a few years to 1955 and these horny kids are driving a truck down a back road and they almost hit an 8-year-old wearing a cow's head over his face like a Ninja Turtle mask. Of course, the dumb broad chases after him and wanders right into an old abandoned barn and falls through a trap door and gets her guts squished out by a carburetor dropped on her head like a Loony Tunes character by a guy who sounds a LOT like Matthew McConaughey even though he looks more like your local 35-year-old speed freak with a Camaro who's always hanging out at the gas station closest to the high school trying to push his rat weed on the senior class. Anyway, the sheriff ain't got enough evidence to arrest anybody, so he puts little Jed in protective custody 'cause his brood is so goddamn weird.

Alright, now flash forward to 1965. Jed's an 18-year-old in a nut house who don't say much whose best friend is this 400-pound guy who looks like Hurley from Lost and there's this new nurse on staff who almost gets raped by a skinhead and has to tell this one psycho girl to stop shoving live rats down her roommate's esophagus. So mama Leatherface gets an injunction to see her kid again but the warden calls her white trash and makes fun of her for having a Jewish lawyer. So naturally, she decides it'd be easier is she just broke into the psych ward while her kid is having his noggin scrambled in the basement by electrodes, but not before she can free all the slobberin' retards from their cages so we get a full on nut house Royal Rumble. We've got this one bitch literally getting strangled to death with her pigtails and Jed bashing the warden's head against a window 'til his brain starts leaking outta' his ears and this one nurse has tongue, uvula and tonsils yanked out of her mouth before Leatherface, Jr. runs in and stomps her killer's face in.

After that, the movie pretty much turns into a poor man's The Devil's Rejects, with four of the nuts breaking out of the loony bin using the new nurse as their hostage. They got to a diner and stab a guy in the neck and shoot a couple of cooks, and even blast the brains out of a waitress at point blank range with a shotgun. Then they hide out in a trailer where the last tenant apparently died while jerking his meat and strangling himself, and just when you thought this movie couldn't get any grosser, two of the psychos start having SEX ON TOP OF THE ROTTING CORPSE, complete with the lunatic blonde bitch French kissing the cadaver while her hillbilly maniac boyfriend does her doggy style so he don't have to look at the third degree burns on her tits.

Then one of the nuts tries to rape the nurse again so the really fat guy chases him down and stomps his skull until the white meat comes out and the cops finally surround 'em and the blonde crazy bitch makes fun of the cop's dead daughter so he shoots her right in the face right then and there. Then the nurse has to crawl through mud after hiding out in a maggot-filled cow corpse and the fat guy gets shot in the head and Jed, our last remaining psycho, slams a cop's head into a car door before getting in a high speed chase that ends with him getting his jaw shot off but surviving long enough for his mama to stitch his face back together.

After killing another cop, Jed decides he wants him some nurse meat to go along with the police officer ground chuck, and the nurse begs for mercy and keeps telling him it's his mama's fault he's crazy and ...  well, all I'm going to say is that she ends this movie with one less head than she had when she started it. And the final shot of the movie shows Jed putting the final touches on his first human skin mask and rubbing lipstick all over himself, which is probably some sort of set-up for another prequel-sequel, but considering this thing is almost certainly gonna' make less money at the box office than it costs to fix one malfunctioning Coca Cola Freestyle machine, I probably wouldn't get my hopes up.

Anyhoo, we've got 21 dead bodies. Four breasts (unfortunately, one pair belongs to a 400 pound dude and the other belongs to a chick whose upper torso is burnt to a crisp.) One dead bull. Multiple attempted rapes. Multiple skulls bashed in. Hands roll. Tongues roll. Heads roll. One mental institution riot, with blowjobs. One high speed shootout, with multiple rollovers. One curb-stomping. Gratuitous moonshine drinking. Gratuitous auto-erotic asphyxiation subplot. Electroshock therapy fu. Defenestration fu. Necrophilia fu. Beartrap fu. And the thing that more or less responsible for the movie existing in the first place - some serious power tool fu.

Starring Sam Strike as Leatherface before he became Leatherface; Vanessa Grasse as the mental hospital nurse turned hostage who has the worst first day on the job in history; Jessica Madsen as Clarice, the Sherri Moon Zombie wannabe who says "do that again and I'll turn your face into strawberry pie"; Sam Coleman as Bud, the 400-pound, shaggy-haired guy who doesn't say anything the whole movie; and Stephen Dorff as the revenge-obsessed Texas Ranger hot on the trail of the Chainsaw clan, who eventually gets his at the wrong end of a Black and Decker buzzsaw.

Written by Seth M. Sherwood, who also wrote London is Falling but didn't get any credit for it, per the IMDB, and directed by the aforemention French frogs Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, who apparently watched a LOT of Rob Zombie movies before getting to work on this one. 

I give it two and a half stars out of four. For what it is (and isn't), it ain't too bad, but it's certainly no horror classic, that's for sure. Jimbo says check it out, even though we all know you're better off just watching the original Chainsaw at home for free.


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