Happy 4/20/20, my friends! It’s time to responsibly and legally toke up, make them brownies, and enjoy the happy high of this great national/international holiday.
In honor of 4/20/20, the 4-est and the 20-est of them all, I’ve sat down to partake in the Charles Band’s film, Evil Bong.
Nerd character is now renting room with slacker/d-bag character, jock character, and surfer character. They are all bros and/or dudes. They like to get high. Surfer’s catchphrase is “monkey”. Jock has, like 5 small trophies that he doesn’t want anything else to touch. Nerd is getting a MA in chemistry with a BA in metaphysics. They like to get high except nerd.
Slacker finds an ad about a cursed bong rumored to give ultimate highs. He buys it. It arrives. It’s very big and ugly, but slacker thinks it’s beautiful. They get high.
There are two girls. One is into nerd. The other one is into jock. They leave.
Surfer and Slacker get high. Surfer’s soul is sucked into the bong. It’s a strip club filled with other Full Moon lesser character cameos for some reason. Blade is not there. I’m sad.
Surfer is seduced by lady with a very rubbery vampire skull bra. The bra bites him and he dies. I’m still hoping Blade will swing by and just cut everyone’s throats. I won’t even mind the mouth-sounds.
Surfer is dead in the real world. Bummer. They hide the body. Nerd is upset. Slacker’s grandpa comes by and is the only actor in the movie for a really unnecessary but the only enjoyable scene with life. Grandpa leaves.
Bong keeps killing people by bringing them into Stripperland. It now has a face and a voice, but the voice must be telepathic because the lips don’t move. I am watching the time. It feels like eternity.
They get high. The bong keeps killing. Tommy Chong makes an obligatory cameo.
So…who will…I don’t know…win? [insert teaser ending here when you care enough]
This was actually not my first rodeo with this film. Nor second (I have no respectable life). I had a friend that actually liked this movie and because Charles Band will sell his property for a penny and a song, I have this on a Full Moon compilation DVD that I picked up for less than a penny and a song.
This has Charles Band’s recent and greasy fingerprints all over it and feels like it was shot in a very hectic and long day. There’s no real comedy. There’s no real horror. There’s no real emotion or story. It seems like every take was the first and only. There’s even a point when Nerd pokes himself in the eyes with his own glasses and they don’t re-edit it.
The music is unbearable, although the beginning song was enjoyable. My aforementioned friend was a little obsessed with the hip-hop version of Old King Cole, so I’ll give a shout-out to that.
There were more obnoxious transitions than in any sit-com, even including That 70’s Show. The creature design was disappointing and rubbery. The best character was grandpa and only because he actually had life and energy to him, ironically. The set up for the new grandma was too long, but was the funniest thing in the movie and even then, it wasn’t super funny (although new grandma was adorable).
The actress (Robin Sydney) that had that one spaz scene with the pogo stick and adult-snuggle device, screaming she’s ready for adult-snuggle time – just…good for her. I hope she got extra for that scene. She gave it her all. It wasn’t funny, but it was…something.
Brain Roll Juice:
Yes, this did give me some juice to roll my brain in. Weird, huh?
It’s not a good film. I really don’t even know who the audience is, except for maybe the “dudes” and “brahs” of the early-mid 2000’s that think just the concept of an evil bong is funny enough? There were a lot of films like this in what I would consider a counter-culture of the late 90’s and mid-20’s – the burnouts. Some films were successful like Harold and Kumar, while others were…this.
It’s interesting how the culture has changed recently, though. We are in the midst of several states introducing the legalization of cannabis and cannabis reform proposals. From medicine, to anxiety, to just recreational use, weed is becoming more of a social norm than taboo. We are separating from the stoner caricatures of past. One can smoke weed and still be a decent and functioning member of society, breaking the shackles of our Reefer Madness days.
Hell, even my grandma, stout Catholic, had given her shrug of approval when the vote came to her state. She said that it just didn’t seem to matter because it was “different than before”. While strains of pot have changed, sure, it’s our perceptions that have shifted the most. That being said, I would love for an evil bong movie. Either a comedy or a straight-up horror movie. As comedy, the shift in our attitudes could be a great place to start, ala 21 Jump Street and Netflix’s The Babysitter. As horror movie, there’s a lot of potential to recall our hysterias of the past. Hell, even true stories like when some teens dug up a child’s body and turned the skull into a bong would be a great launching pad.
There’s a good story in there, one that doesn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence and doesn’t exhaust their patience. Maybe we can ask Jordan Peele to have a go at it. I’m sure we’d at least have better music and zero scene transitions.
Nope. Don’t waste your time and/or weed on this. (1 / 5)
Wheel of Time, Daughter of The Night
We’ve reached episode four of Wheel of Time, which means we’re halfway through the season. While it doesn’t seem like much has happened so far, this is the episode where things start heating up.
We begin this episode with a flashback. Ishamael is raising something dark and twisted. As we watch, it takes the shape of a woman.
More on that in a bit.
Meanwhile, Nynaeve is healing from her time in the arches. She is quiet and withdrawn. She’s also awkward and uncomfortable around Egwene now that she’s initiated and Egwene is not. Her new friendship with Elayne isn’t helping.
But the three girls come together when Liandrin tells Nynaeve that Perrin has been captured by the Seanchan.
However, Perrin is no longer in the clutches of the Seanchan. He was rescued by Elyas and a pack of beautiful wolves. Beautiful and deadly AF by the way. If you have any fear of dogs, this episode might not help that.
Elyas explains to Perrin that he is a Wolf Brother. This means that he can communicate with the wolves, and eventually will gain some of their abilities. While Perrin and Elyas don’t exactly get off on the right foot, he does find a fast friendship with one specific wolf. After a time, he introduces himself by showing Perrin an image of himself jumping up and down. From this, Perrin assumes his name is Hopper.
Finally, we return to Rand. He and Selene have been off in the mountains. They haven’t done much more than each other so far.
And that’s exactly what it appears they’re about to do when Moiraine bursts into the cottage and cuts Selene’s throat.
Rand is surprised and furious until Moiraine explains that the woman he knows as Selene is the Dark Friend Lanfear. With this shocking revelation, the two run off into the night.
It should be a surprise to no one that I loved the wolves in this episode. Hopper himself was worth an extra Cthulhu. But this is not just because dogs are cute. It’s also because the dog playing Hopper just does a great job.
On a more serious note, I loved how Nynaeve responded upon coming back to the real world. She isn’t okay.
And it’s a good thing that she isn’t. Too often in fiction we don’t see the fallout of emotional damage. Hell, we don’t usually see realistic fallout from physical damage.
But she is hurt by what she experienced. And you can tell. That’s realistic character building, and we don’t see that enough.
I also really appreciate the special effects in this episode. The first time we see Lanfear, she’s eerie. She’s frightening. Part of this is thanks to Natasha O’Keeffe, who does a great job. But the effects are what really sells this.
What didn’t work
If Wheel of Time has any fault, it’s that there is far too much sitting about and talking about things. In this case, there’s a lot of standing about and talking about things. Some of this was necessary, and some of it could have been done better. Honestly, there just has to be a better way to convey that characters are struggling.
This was most apparent with Rand and Selene/Lanfear. Honestly, anytime the two of them were on screen it was a great time for me to catch up on Instagram.
This might come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t read the books, but Rand is supposed to be the main character. And here we are, four episodes into an eight-episode season, and so far all he’s done is mess about with his emo girlfriend!
That being said, the story is starting to pick up. With four episodes left, I can’t wait to see how far we go.
(3 / 5)
Elevator Game, a Film Review
Elevator Game (2023) is directed by Rebekah McKendry and is the first feature-length production of Fearworks.
Elevator Game (2023) is directed by Rebekah McKendry and is the first feature-length production of Fearworks. It adapts the supernatural myth and creepypasta of the same name while providing an original plot. This unrated Shudder exclusive stars Gino Anania, Samantha Halas, and Verity Marks. In full disclosure, I had the opportunity to interview Gino Anania and Stefan Brunner about the film.
Ryan seeks to find answers to his sister’s mysterious disappearance. To do this, he infiltrates a myth-busting web series that seems to have some ties to her final confirmed moments. Desperate to force a confrontation, he encourages them to play the elevator game. Unfortunately, there seems to be more truth to the myth than expected.
What I Like about Elevator Game & as an Adaptation
I am lucky to have additional insight into the development hell this movie overcame due to COVID. It’s commendable that the film manages to make it of that, even if it requires a lengthy delay of the film.
Usually, I provide a separate section for adaptation quality. However, the source material remains the ritual, which Elevator Game performs accurately. While the myth inspires many creepypastas, Elevator Game doesn’t directly take or adapt any of these works from what I’ve seen. Instead, it makes its own film based on the legend.
As the Fifth Floor Woman, Samantha Halas creates an eerie and disturbing character. While I won’t go so far as to say terrifying, she certainly makes an impression. The revelation that the stunts and performance are all her, as an actual contortionist, I give her more credit.
Gino Anania, given a more complex role than most of his cast members, really does bring a strong performance that creates either friction or synergy with his cast members. I suppose I wanted more of these interactions as some cut sooner than appreciated.
Another amusing element is that the entire motivation for the plot to follow is a forced advertisement from an investor. Something about the chaos being a product of appeasing some investors feels uncomfortably real.
The alternate reality remains surprisingly effective. To be clear, it’s not impressively realistic but stylistic. It genuinely seems like an alternate world with a skewered impression.
Tired Tropes or Trigger Warning
I feel weird mentioning this, but endangering a sister’s life to push the brother’s story forward seems a common trend beyond one form of media.
No discredit to the actors, but the romance feels rushed and unnecessary. Without going into too much detail, to avoid spoilers, there is synergy between the actors but little chemistry in the plot.
What I Dislike or Considerations
Elevator Game remains set in providing a B-movie experience. Its tight budget leaves little room to surprise the viewer visually. While I am surprised at what it accomplishes, it’s far from overwhelming. This film also remains the first production of Fearworks, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’m interested in the future, but Elevator Game leaves much to grow from.
Rebekah McKendry may have a directorial style that influences dialogue, but the line delivery evokes an overexpression that’s common in Lovecraftian films. I say this not as a direct negative, but it remains a required taste best known before viewing. As this isn’t Lovecraftian, I fear it removes some of the reality and tension of those haunting elements.
Many of the characters feel underdeveloped, making me wonder if cutting these roles might lead to more invested characters. While the performances hit their marks, a tighter cast might give each role more to work toward. As this is a tight cast already, it seems an odd issue to rectify.
Elevator Game provides an interesting B-movie experience for those who know the legend. For those expecting something different, this film may not work for you. This film overcame a lot to exist but doesn’t break the mold. While I am excited to see Fearworks pursue further ventures toward its ambitious mission statement, I find Elevator Game falling short of its goal.
(2 / 5)
My Best Friend’s Exorcism, a Film Review
My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) is a R-rated horror comedy directed by Damon Thomas, available on Amazon Prime.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) is a horror comedy directed by Damon Thomas. Based on Grady Hendrix’s novel of the same name, this R-rated film stars Elsie Fisher, Amiah Miller, Cathay Ang, and Rachel Ogechi Kanu. As of this review, the film is available to Amazon Prime subscribers.
Abby Rivers (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen Lang (Amiah Miller) seek to escape the monotony of high school drama with their friends. However, in their efforts to have fun, Gretchen Lang encounters a troubling otherworldly demon bent on controlling her body. It’s up to Abby to help her overcome this demonic threat.
What I Like in My Best Friend’s Exorcism
The effects are surprisingly good. While not overwhelming, these effects never take me out of the film. Even the less realistic scenes fit the overall tone while looking better than expected or required. The 80’s aesthetic strengthens that believability.
Continuing that thought, My Best Friend’s Exorcism oozes the 80’s. Perhaps this comment should set an expectation for the viewer. I can’t exactly comment on the accuracy of the era, but it certainly fits the era of film. If 80’s films don’t interest you, consider looking somewhere else.
While I don’t meet the target audience, the jokes land and provide an enjoyable horror comedy feel. My Best Friend’s Exorcism focuses more on comedy than horror, but this remains a common trend in horror comedies.
The performances remain strong throughout, with leads Elsie Fisher and Amiah Miller pulling off that best-friend chemistry. The cast purposely captures that 80’s nostalgia. Added to the campy nature of the film, one might grow irritated with the acting choices. For me, it certainly fits with the tone and setting.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Drug use might deserve a mention on this list. While I don’t find this egregious, I imagine this point, or some other technicality, earns the film its undeserved R-rating.
The possession lends itself as a rape allegory, with some characters even believing this to be the trauma Gretchen Lang suffers from. While this isn’t the case, the conversation remains for those who want to avoid such material.
Body horror describes a few scenes of the film, though sparingly. However, one scene convinces me to bring this up for those who get squeamish at the cracking of bones or slimies in the body.
A character is tricked into outing themselves and faces some homophobia because of it. This homophobia is rightfully taken as cruel, not condoned in the slightest, but it remains potentially triggering and deserves mention here.
What I Dislike, or Food for Thought on My Best Friend’s Exorcism
This film seems to earn its R-rating off some technicality. It is neither raunchy nor gruesome for those expecting that from their R-rated horror films. For me, it’s more an issue of setting expectations. I expect my R-rated horrors to hit hard. My Best Friend’s Exorcism doesn’t.
It would be unfair to expect something like Jennifer’s Body, as this is a lighter and zanier film. There are elements of sisterhood and bodily autonomy that echo the cult classic, but My Best Friend’s Exorcism remains an entirely campier affair.
In terms of performances that lack the intended impact, three over-the-top anti-drug spokesmen outstay their welcome. It’s clearly a jab at D.A.R.E., which certainly works in increments, but then one character becomes an important part of the plot and still keeps his caricature.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism fits the taste of an 80’s horror comedy fan. Don’t expect to be frightened at any point, but the comedy lands well enough. The film knows its niche and hits most of its targets. It’s hard to say if the film will stand the test of time, but it certainly earns its runtime.
(3.5 / 5)