Tuesday, May 3, 2022

AX 'EM (1992)

Some college friends go out to a house in the woods to do some partying.  Things go alright for awhile (and by "awhile" I mean over half of the movie!) until an old zombie-looking dude with a crusty face and a machete shows up and ruins the festivities.  After that, the last 30 minutes of the film is just non-stop screaming and people running all over the woods and back and forth in the house and another house and god only knows where.  It was confusing, but entertaining.  To laugh at.

AX 'EM is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but it is unique and fascinating to experience.  I don't mean watching it in the background while playing on your phone, but actually watching it with your full undivided attention.  Non-existent lighting, middle school level special effects, horrible sound (you can hear the wind blowing against the microphone multiple times), no attempt at actual acting, a long scene of "yo mama" jokes (and not a one of them is funny), zero character development, zero gore, zero tits, boring kills, two scenes with a man playing with a clapperboard while standing directly behind the actors, confusing pacing and much more.  I think the best way to relay the level of incompetence displayed in this film is that not once, but twice, you can hear the director yelling out instructions.  Once at the end of a scene (at 14:41 on the DVD release) he clearly yells out "Cut!"  The other time (1:01:39), before the scene starts he can be heard yelling out something like "Camera's ready" before the actors start moving.

When I first saw AX 'EM back around 2004 I remember really disliking it, but now as the years have moved on and my handsome brain has become even more handsome, I've found myself enjoying AX 'EM.  I've probably seen it around 10 times and anytime I show it to new people, we have a blast.  So, while it might not be a skillfully made movie...it is an entertaining film (to the right audience).  Hell, any film with the classic pick-up line "You're so fine, I could kiss your daddy's ass." can't be all bad.

So, in summation, AX 'EM is a fucking dung beetle turd of a movie, but I'm glad it exists.  Just like I'm glad dung beetles exist.  They're so cute!

[Handsome writer hits Publish button on computer screen. As he stands up and walks away, the reader hears a voice yell "Cut!"]


I did some research before sitting down to write this review and discovered a few interesting things.  First off, AX 'EM (released on DVD in 2003) was originally released theatrically in Baltimore, Maryland in 1992 as THE WEEKEND IT LIVES.  (No clue if it was the same 71-minute version or not.)  Also found a newspaper ad for that release (see below) and an interview with director-actor-editor-producer Michael Mfume from 1992 claiming that during the making of this film he found a group of investors who put up "nearly $400,000".  I'm completely flabbergasted by that statement.  Is he saying the budget for this movie was $400,000?  There's no way.  I have a hard time believing it could even be $40,000!  He also said it took him thirteen days to write the script.  So that's implying there is a script?  Really?  I find that hard to believe also.  An outline, yes.  But script, no.  If there is, my god, would I love to read it.  He also states that he's written four other scripts.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

RENT-A-PAL (2020)

Denver, 1990.  Forty-years young David lives alone with his elderly mother who needs 24-hour care.  He doesn't work or have any friends.  He also doesn't have any social outlets and the internet hasn't been invented yet, so the terminally lonely David has been trying his hand at video dating.  Things go about as well as you would expect for a chubby middle-aged dude with zero personality and zero ambition.  David's life changes though when he purchases a VHS tape called "Rent-A-Pal".  The tape is nothing more than a funky-looking dude named Andy sitting in a chair talking to the viewer about random crap.  A normal person would take one look at this junk and either keep it to laugh at with friends or roundhouse kick it into the nearest trashcan, but nope, not David.  He becomes obsessed with the tape.

RENT-A-PAL is an enjoyable film with solid acting and a good pace.  It's definitely worth watching.  I was impressed at how skillfully the film presented David's sadness.  That said, the final act is disappointingly weak and while the film is entertaining, it doesn't add anything new to the insane-loner-at-home subgenre.  If anything, RENT-A-PAL kinda seems like a bizarre updated mixture of EVEN HITLER HAD A GIRLFRIEND, REPULSION, BRAINSCAN and a handful of other films.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  I'm all for borrowing small things from older films...as long as you build onto it.  Also, don't present yourself as a horror movie when you're really just a psychological thriller.

This doesn't have anything to do with the review, but on the disc cover there was a critic quote talking about Wil Wheaton (Andy, the guy in the video tape) being a creepy horror villain.  I don't understand what that means because the Andy character wasn't a villain at all or even presented as one!  He's simply a dork talking on a tape.  He was the thing the real life David became obsessed with as his brain melted down.  Like Iris (Jodie Foster) to Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in TAXI DRIVER.  If it wasn't the Andy tape, then it would have just been something different.  Outside of some off colour commentary and jokes, there wasn't anything odd about the Rent-A-Pal tape itself.  Definitely nothing evil!  You could have given that same tape to Jesse and Chester from DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR? and it would have be hilarious.  If you don't believe me...the unedited 22-minute video is on the Special Features of the disc.  Watch it for yourself.  It's an innocent and funny ride.

Anyway, good movie. Worth watching, but nothing to get overly excited about.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go change my mother's skin.

Interesting stuff from the DVD extra features...