Thursday, July 29, 2010

BABYSITTER WANTED (2008)

BABYSITTER WANTED is my HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. It seems to be moderately well-received by horrordom at large and yet y'all are all wrong because it annoyed me to no end almost from the get-go. I was too busy breaking things to get screenshots and I had cross words with my cat! I am considering screening this for people who deny HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and even friends from the blogosphere will have to say goodbye to their man-eating trees long enough to see what a really putrid movie about young stupid girls and rural Satanism is all about.

If you have seen more than five horror movies, you have already seen this movie. A young girl goes off to college, leaving behind a religious mother, but retaining her religious training because that is what character depth is. But! She needs money, so she grabs a "babysitter wanted" tag off of a tag board and we've got a title. From there, things go wrong. There are loud noises! And the girl helpfully says, "I hope it didn't wake the kid!" so that very slow viewers will not be confused. This film is free of any subtlety...or characterization...or second thoughts about pushing the DA-DAHHH!!! button on the soundtrack.

Yes, it's a b-movie and standards are a little more relaxed, but "b" does not stand for "boring", which is what BABYSITTER WANTED is whenever it's not moronic. People complained about HOUSE (and I keep bringing it up because this is the same film, only far inferior), but it at least suffused its non-action scenes with atmosphere. BABYSITTER WANTED plods along until the midway mark, then turns on the goofy gas once the hat comes off. A heretofore snoozefest tries to metamorph into a horror-comedy, which works as well as 98-ish% of all attempts at blending comedy and horror. Ick.

And, of all monsters, who can deny that Satanists have lost the most cred in modern-day horror? Yes, vampires have been stomped like fallen bums outside the frat bars, but can anyone think of any truly menacing Satanists in a recent horror flick? Even HOUSE's Luciferian fam seem more like accessories than main-event antagonists and the rubes in this film are just embarrassing to all fans of the black arts. Maybe it's time to switch to Scientologists, who at least offer genuine litigious threat?

This was a terrible experience and I don't want to think about it anymore. Ugh ugh ugh!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

PLANKTON (1994)

Making a bad movie bad on purpose is a bit like neglecting a child so it will grow up to be a great artist. Everyone knows that many great artists had abysmal upbringings (look at our own Lindsay Lohan), but science and experience tell us that most neglected children don't grow up to be great artists. They just become average Joes or Janes, or Debbie Downers if they have enough money for therapy. Likewise, everyone knows that bad movies offer special entertainment by way of their ineptitude or their threadbare charm, BUT this formula only works if the ineptitude isn't planned out by committees and the charm not staged by hipster choads.

This is a review of a movie which some (Netflix) call PLANKTON and others (title credit) call CREATURES FROM THE ABYSS. Gauging the intentions of the film's makers is going to be a drag, since this has both accidental(?) hilarity and obviously fabricated B-magic. So let's start with a synopsis.

MIAMI, FLA. claims the credits. Five pals take a motorized raft to the high seas, but forget gas, so oh no. Until they encounter a yacht, which (upon boarding) reveals a laboratory full of frozen, very bitey fish. After an extremely long stretch of B-movie boringness, things pick up with the discovery of a chemist and the chemists' plans and things go wrong at a rapid pace.

I can't decide if this movie is serendipitously wonderful after the fashion of TROLL 2 or a self-aware exercise like so many films that I've suppressed ("Hurr durr, it's SUPPOSED to be that bad!!! Hey, look at the werewolf slippers I just bought!"). There's evidence of both. This dialogue from the very beginning wins my heart:

GIRL #1: What if we get attacked by a shark?
GIRL #2: That only happens in the movies.
GIRL #1: What is there's a storm?
GIRL #2: Storms don't...happen during the summer.

AND THEN, in the very next scene, one of the raft's dudes says, "It's only a summer storm!" LOLplankton! Another mark in this column comes when the boys are viewing an ID that says "Billy Nickelson — Chemist" and, while the ID is being held on screen for approx. 7 minutes, one of them says, "Billy Nickelson...this guy's a chemist!"

BUT some of the dialogue is a little arch and doesn't have quite the hit of sublimity that grows out of a botch. Stuff like "You have a strange way of sleeping—with your legs apart and no panties on!" might theoretically be amusing, but, in a movie like this, it calls attention to itself and slows down the good times. Ditto an alarm system that says, "Stop screwing around!" Ha ho. If you're smart enough to write hilar dialogue, why not just write a good comedy instead of slumming it up in the B-genre slums?

Some of it's fun no matter what its origins. I can't imagine that the following dialogue wasn't fabricated with camp in mind, but it still rocks—

MIKE: What kinds of animals are these?
BOBBY: They're horny ones!

So, yes. I would counsel that PLANKTON/CREATURES would make good viewing, although you shouldn't expect a B-movie revelation like WINTERBEAST. This drags in places and is occasionally quite impressed with itself, but the high points, the swank rubber monsters, and the thick chick in a bikini (and out of it, yay) all speak in its favor.