Monday, June 19, 2006


AKA 'When Wookiees Attack'

So rarely is the title of a movie so dead on accurate. 'Abominable' hits the bullseye. I didn't think it was possible to have worse acting than 'SS Doomtrooper', but this movie managed to plumb even lower depths than the latter could ever dream of. The film looks like it was made by someone who had a Wookiee suit from 'Star Wars', a collection of scripts from previous horror/monster flicks, $37.42 for the budget & a membership at a Thousand Trails campground.

The basic jist of the movie is that a killer 'yeti' (not 'sasquatch') is attacking & eating people in a remote mountain retreat (is there any other kind?). Apparently, yetis are more violent than sasquatch. Also, there's already been a movie called 'Sasquatch' & it would've been kinda hard to get Nessie up into the mountains, so I guess the monster had to be a yeti. How a yeti, a creature said to be found in the Himalayas, ended up in the forests of North America, well you got me there.

You ask how I would know that a yeti is more aggressive than a sasquatch? Well, this is kindly exposited by none other than Lance Henriksen, who is summarily eaten a little bit later. I'm guessing that a lot of the $37.50 budget (& probably a free weekend pass to stay at the campsite) went to paying for such a big name actor.

Our hero, Preston Rogers, a parapalegic, is at the retreat for some R&R, accompanied by his nurse/assistant/resident creep Otis (based on his creepiness & his enormous 70's pornstar 'stache, I figured he'd exit the movie in a particularly gruesome manner while perpetrating some bit of nastiness on the heroine of the flick - I was half right & genuinely surprised). Preston lost the use of his lower extremities after a fall six months ago from Suicide Rock (gee, that took a lot of thought to name - good job, scriptmonkey!) that also resulted in the death of his wife. He seems to have adapted pretty well to paralysis/widowerhood after only six months. Honestly, Matt McCoy, the actor playing Preston, doesn't look like he's climbed anything more than a barstool at the wrap party for this flick, but, not being much of a climber myself, what do I know? Anyway, in what looks to be a rip-off...uh, homage to 'Rear Window', Preston watches the goings on outside via a pair of magic binoculars. 'Magic' in that wherever the binoculars are pointed, the user can also hear what's going on. It's truly amazing to see him look through his closed window & through the closed window of the cabin that's a good fifty feet away & hear everything that's being said in the cabin. I so want a pair of those.

Anyway, Peepin' Preston sees the titular menace lurking about & tries to contact the local sheriff's office via email (?), telling them that there's a monster outside, apparently known to locals as the 'Flatwoods Monster'. The dead-by-the-end-of-the-movie sheriff (oops, hope I didn't blow anything for you) thinks it's a hoax & refuses to send anyone out to investigate, despite the protests of the designated good hearted deputy/eventual yeti chewtoy (hope I didn't spoil that one for you, either). They reply to Preston, telling him that they don't respond to pranks & to quit sending them messages (that's some police department they have there). The sheriff does relent & tell the good hearted deputy that when the phone lines are back up, they'll call out & make sure everything's alright. This despite the fact that the place is, as noted in the movie, only twenty-five minutes away. I may have missed it, but I think, judging by the fact that the sheriff recognizes Preston's name, that there's some history between the two.

In the cabin across the lot, a group of college-aged girls (obligatory shower girl [OSG], designated drunk/coward [DDC], non-descript red shirt [NDRS] & our heroine [Amanda (Haley Joel) - she's the only one whose name I caught] are freaking out after one of their comrades (designated initial yetichow) goes missing. Through both Preston's magic binoculars & the amazing yeticam (let me just say that I don't think they spent much of the extravagant budget on that effect; if we are to believe the movie, yetis have very poor nightvision, which results in tunnelvision), we can see that the yeti is about to take another one of the ladies out for dinner, if you know what I mean. Preston starts flashing the lights off in his cabin to distract the monster, causing the ladies to briefly forget about their missing friend & note that Preston has been watching them from his window. Thoroughly skeeved out at that, they return to their quarters.

Before going back in, though, they all remember that, 'oh yeah, our friend's missing' & OSG & DDC start arguing about whether to go trapsing around in the forest at night looking for their missing chum or to just stay in the safety of the cabin. DDC is gunning for staying in the cabin, which makes sense, but, because she's the designated coward of the flick, it just makes her look, well, cowardly. In keeping with her designation as the resident drunk, she's always seen walking around with a margarita glass in her hand. In addition to affirming her DDC credentials, this prop also gives the scriptmonkey a reason for OSG to get nekkid & fullfill the obligatory shower scene, as DDC flings her drink on OSG, dousing her in crushed ice & rum. This, & DDC later going in to the living room & cranking up the radio, also shows us the true power of the magic binoculars, as we hear every word of the exchage between the women & the crappy rap being pumped through what was obviously the boombox from the director's room in the basement of his mother's house.

Preston watches as OSG takes it all off in preparation for her obligatory shower scene. He then sees the yeti just outside the bathroom window. Preston calls Otis over to see the monster &, of course, Otis instead watches OSG, solidifying his creepiness standing. He hands the magic binoculars back to Preston & walks off, just in time for the monster to grab a mannequin of OSG & pull her through the balsawood & cellophane bathroom window, folding her in half (backwards!) along the way. DDC, NDRS & Amanda start banging on the bathroom door for some reason (this is a horror movie - they obviously wouldn't have heard the monster roaring, OSG screaming or the breaking of balsawood & the ripping of cellophane). DDC walks outside to look into the bathroom & discovers the remodeling job that the yeti did.

Preston starts yelling for Otis & babbling about the monster, prompting Otis to ready a hypodermic with a sedative. Being a brilliant strategist, Otis places the uncapped syringe in his breast pocket. Soon a scuffle ensues & Preston manages to get the needle from Otis' pocket & drives it into his neck, dropping Otis in like five seconds. (Good thing the scriptmonkey thought to have Otis take the cap off or Preston would be snoozing instead). Preston returns to the window just in time to have the yeti give us one of the many lame jumper scenes that fill this movie, looking in the window, face to face with Preston (why didn't it reach through the wall & pull Preston out? Because he's the hero of course! He has certain immunities, donchaknow!). Making this scene even more laughable is the fact that the yeti looks like a cross between Chewbacca & Marty Feldman. It's really hard to be frightened by something when you're too busy laughing at it. Anyway, he flies backward & topples his wheelchair, knocking himself out.

Preston wakes up some time later (a clock shows it to be about 445a, but as I didn't know what time it was when he was knocked out, I have no idea how long he was out). He makes his way back to the window in time to see the monster prowling around outside. He tries screaming to them (which, for some reason doesn't draw the attention of the yeti), but the girls can't hear him because the music's still cranked. For some reason (I missed the first few minutes of the flick, so it may have been explained there; while it would be keeping in the tradition of crappy movies to neglect such details, it would still be pretty lame if it wasn't explained) he has an email address for one of them & pings them, saying to turn the music down so that they can hear (it's later explained that while the land lines are down, the internet connection is supplied via satellite). Amanda pokes her head out & he asks if she can call out on her cell. Naturally, she can't get a signal.

Then, when we *yawn* least expect it, ths monster barges into the house. Amanda bolts back into the cabin & all of the girls look for places to hide. NDRS, being outta luck in the hiding department, stands on the floor directly above the yeti. Preston tries to tell her not to move, but alas, it's for naught. The yeti reaches through the floor, pulls NDRS through & takes a big chomp out of her neck. Exit NDRS.

Amanda seeks safety behind the sofa while the yeti looks around the room for her (they can tell where someone's standing above them through a floor, but can't smell someone in the same room? Add poor sense of smell to the list of yeti shortcomings.). She manages to get by him unnoticed & then DDC enters the room & screams. Gee, with friends like these... Things get a little fuzzy here (it was a long weekend & I'd already burned out my suspension of disbelief abilities the previous night watching Pinata: Survival Island). I think Amanda manages to get into a closet while DDC runs outside to their Jeep. Of course, she doesn't have the keys with her. The yeti starts shaking the car back & forth & DDC gets out, trying to run away. Not suprisingly, the monster is soon on top of her. DDC then sprays something...I don't know, perfume; hairspray; the yeti's face. This, of course, only serves to aggravate the monster, who responds to her aerosol assault by stepping on her midsection, causing her to squirt like a raspberry jelly-filled doughnut. Exit DDC.

Amanda sneaks out & Preston signals for her to run over to his place. Understandibly freaked, she asks Preston why the monster is attacking them. He replies that animals only attack for two reasons (uh, only two? I can think of a few more): they're hungry or they're territory is being threatened, &, in an attempt by the scriptmonkey at 'wit', he adds "Obviously, it's not hungry." Yeah, you'd think after chowing down on her four friends, he'd probably be full. He also makes the mistake of thinking that they're smarter than the monster.

With Otis still laying on the floor with a hypodermic sticking out of his neck, the two start setting a trap at the front door. I'm taking it that the cabins are part of some sort of timeshare or something, as Preston still has all of his climbing equipment stashed in the linen closet. And a big friggin' axe (I kept expecting him to pull out a fire extinguisher & a flaregun - he would've been unstoppable with those). He tells Amanda to email the police again, but not to mention the word 'monster' this time. She instead tells them that a psycho killer is attacking them. Just as she's about to his send, the power goes out. She freaks & asks what happened. Preston notes that the beastie must've cut the power, admitting that it must be smarter than they thought (& an electrician, to boot). Isn't it amazing how, be it a monster or some backwoods tribe that has barely mastered fire & has no idea what electricity even is, always know how to cut the power?

Anyway, Preston rigs up his climbing gear for both he & Amanda to use to escape the cabin (it's built on stilts or on a slope or something & they have to repel off the patio). He lowers himself down to the ground first. Amanda then hooks herself up & starts her way on down. Much to no one's surprise, the yeti breaks into the house. It makes its way to the railing & starts pulling Amanda back up. I don't know how the climbing rigging worked exactly, but for some reason, Preston is unable to pull her back down & Amanda is unable to release the her harness from the rope. The yeti grabs ahold of Amanda & just when we think that, gee, she might be eaten, Otis shows up with the big friggin' axe.

Honest & for true, this did surprise me. Given what an obvious bottomfeeder he was portrayed as at the beginning, I assumed that he'd meet his ultimately gruesome fate while trying to force himself on Amanda or something to that affect. I'll give the movie credit for this as it's one of the only genuine attempts at trying something other than the norm when it comes to monster movies.

OK, so Otis buries the big friggin' axe in the back of the Wookiee suit, I mean, the back of the yeti. For all of his efforts, he's repaid by having the whole front of his head bitten off. Now, I did not know this, because Lance Henriksen never mentioned this, but yetis can evidently unhinge their lower jaw, as Otis' head was far to big to fit in the gaping maw of the yeti otherwise. Basically, the monster stuck its mandible into Otis' mouth, its maxilla over the top of his head & bit down like it was an apple. While OSG's boobs & butt were blurred out, what's left of Otis's head is lovingly shown in close-up, all while he convulses on the floor. Thank you, FCC, for protecting me from the evils of the showering nekkid female body, but for allowing network TV to provide me with a detailed examination of what happens when monsters eat peoples heads. I am truly in your debt.

Once Otis introduces the big friggin' axe to the back of the yeti, it lets go of the rope holding Amanda, letting her drop about twenty feet to to ground. Now, either she swung out enough so as not to fall on top of Preston or he moved, because she was right over him before she was yanked back up. She should've fallen smack down on top of Preston. Having survived the fall & probably having the wind knocked out of her, Amanda now has to drag Preston over to his car. They make it into the car & ratchet up the *snore* tension when they can't find the keys, only to have Preston remember that they're up in the visor. Whew. That was close, boy howdy. To no ones surprise, the monster, big friggin' axe still firmly embedded in its back, lifts up the back of the car as the dup try to drive off. The yeti then drops the car, which then careens into a tree, sending Amanda through the windshield. Preston, slightly shaken, sees the creature coming to chew on Amanda. He pops the car into reverse, floors the gas pedal with his hand & plows the car into the yeti, pinning it against a tree. When the yeti hits the tree, the big friggin' axe is pushed all the way through the front of its chest (did you know yetis squirt? Neither did I). Preston jams the pedal down with his shoe & drags himself over to the prone & bloodied Amanda. (In another nice touch, you can see McCoy move his legs a little as he drags himself from the car) He makes his way to her &, surprise!, she's not dead. This despite her having gone through the windshield face-first.

Now, I don't know how many of you have seen a windshield after someones head has been slammed into it. For those of you that haven't had the pleasure, let me give you a little info on what happens. The glass in a windshield is designed to keep people from flying through it & being ripped to shreds. It's made to break into little pieces &, for the most part, stay in one, shattered piece. (The windshield in the car that I rolled was laying on the ground like a big glass blanket. The few pieces that I did get hit by were from the side window, which is not made to stay together when it's broken.) For a body to be sent flying through safety glass, one - they'd have to be going mighty fast & hit an object mighty hard, & two - they probably wouldn't survive the trip. If the glass doesn't rip you to ribbons, the impact would probably break your neck.

Needless to say, Amanda not only survived the impact & she also only has a gash across her forehead & copious amounts of stage blood covering her face. And she's conscious & able to drag Preston some more. To my absolute, complete unamazement, the police finally show up, just in the nick o' time. We cut to the two protagonists being loaded into a couple of ambulances. It's here where we find out that Amanda is related to the X-Man Wolverine, as the gash that earlier went from the middle of her hairline down to around her ear is now a neat little two inch cut & all of the blood has been entirely wiped clear of her face. Wow, that's some job you did there, Mr. Continuity Manager! Kudos to you, sir!

The police, which include the sheriff, the good hearted deputy, an odious comic relief deputy from earlier & a non-descript red shirt deputy, go looking for the bodies that Preston said were literally littering the campsite. None are found, of course. The fuzz find Preston's car, still backed up against the tree, but, BUM, BUM, BUUUUM!!!, the yeti is nowhere to be found. Thanks again, scriptmonkey, for that original twist. Just how many bananas did you earn for writing this? Geez...

So, the police gather 'round, noting that nothing has been found, which prompts the sheriff to say that there probably was never anything to begin with yadda, yadda, when they hear a noise in the brush & turn to see...a bunch of red CGI eyes looking back at them. Exit the police department.

And, fade to black...

Thank you, Lord!

(Credit where credit's due - I was again genuinely surprised to see that the good hearted deputy apparently became yetichow along with the putz of a sheriff. So that's two - two! - twists in the entire movie. Two times that the scriptmonkey dared deviate from the formula. His trainer must've walked away for a second & he slipped it into the script.)

So, what'd you really think?

Well, it seems SciFi has done it again. Yet another in a long line of really crappy movies, although this is the first one in a long time that didn't star John Rhyes-Davies or Casper Van Dien, so I guess it shows that the network is branching out & offering other starving actors some jobs. Either that or Rhyes-Davies & Van Dien are busy making sequels to other such DTV crapfests as Chupacabra or SS Doomtrooper.

This movie was so by the numbers that it was almost painful to watch. You knew what was going to happen, when it was going to happen & to whom it was going to happen. Given the caliber of movie that this is, it's not entirely surprising that there would be a certain amount of reliance on the old horror formulas, but, cripes, I felt like I'd seen this movie a half dozen other times, only with different antagonists & actors (in most cases). It's become a game for me to see how many future victims I can identify early on in a movie.

I read somewhere that it seems that the victims in horror/monster movies always seem to commit one or more of the seven deadly sins & that the psycho/cryptozooilogical beastie/rabid koala/killer azaelea are actually dishing out payback for their iniquities. As I watched this movie & Pinata the night before (I actually quit watching that one just before it was finished because a) it was almost 2a & b) it was about as predictable as this movie), I noticed that just about everyone who got munched on was either a coward, a drunk, was naked at one point (& not necessarily doing the wild thing) or was just plain mean (in Pinata there was one black man & woman that got et [even though I really didn't see that they'd committed any particular deadly sin], which seems to be part of the formula, as well). Is this actually how they write these things? Do they use this outline to flesh out the plot? Or is this just some logirithim used by some scriptwriting program?

Well, you got me.

Abominable - 2 Eyeballs out of 5
Left Of Center

Sometimes the realization that something's not quite right hits you like a kick in the nads: swift, painful & unrelenting. Sometimes, that same realization comes on a wee bit slower, like a kick just to the left of the jewels: you feel OK at first. Then, there's the slow build of intense pain that brings you to your knees, wishing you'd die. (In some ways, this is worse than a direct hit, because of the whole false sense of well-being just prior to the take-your--breath-away slowly escalating pain.) One particular event a couple of weeks ago fell well under the 'kick just to the left' category.

T's brother & his wife came out to sunny SoCal from Louisiana to run a marathon down in San Diego, after which they made their way up to our place & then the four of us headed out to Palm Springs for a little R&R. We stayed at a nice little inn called the Calla Lily (which I highly recommend - the owners were super nice & accomodating, the rooms were nice & spacious & the whole place was soooo quiet) just off the main strip through PS. From there we were able to walk to just about anywhere in town, although with the heat hitting around 106 degrees & an occasional thunderstorm popping up, it sometimes felt like I was walking around with a wet towel around my face. Couple that with the fact that I was fighting off some weird bug that caused my body to generate an inordinate amount of snot &, get the picture.

Anyway, on Thursday nights, PS has a market night/street fair kinda thingie in downtown. We decided to go see what was there, figuring it would be a bit cooler. We were sorely mistaken. Y'see, even with the misters going that line the streets, it was still 80+ degrees out. When you add water to dry, hot air, it evaporates - fast. It then becomes extremely muggy, worse than during the day. In essence, heat + water + snot = Crabby Jay.

The ladies did some shopping & then we decided to try to find a Mexican food resturant we'd heard of, the Blue Coyote. We had no idea about where on the street it was located, so we did what anyone else would do: start walking, hoping that we'd find the place. This, of course, turned out to be the wrong move. We asked a local where the eatery was & were told that it was, & I quote, 'about three blocks down the street'. In the other direction, of course.

Several 'three blocks down the street' later, T & I were dragging ourselves far behind her brother & sister-in-law (lousy healthy runner-types...), getting tired of walking & ready to take the next place we saw.

Big mistake.

We came across an establishment promising hamburgers of one sort or another. This point was driven home by the place's mascot, a very well endowed woman with gigantic hair, holding a plate with an equally enormous cheeseburger. (This would be the part in my getting-kicked-just-left-of-the-nads analogy where the initial hit happened - I'd been kicked, but thought that all was well as I felt no pain.) While we waited to be seated, a group of young men who, very obviously, um...played for the other team (PS has a large contingent when it comes to this - I told the others this fact, so it wasn't a complete surprise), were sitting at a table near us & became quite vocal & happy when Celine Dion appeared on the TV. (This would be the part of the analogy where a slight discomfort begins to manifest itself, but it's not enough to cripple me.)

We were led to our table inside the resturant & noticed that we were in the minority when it came to couples of the more traditional lot. (Pain starting to become noticeable.) I noticed that placed around the neck of a smaller version of the mascot there was a rainbow colored feather boa, which made it look suspiciously like a female impersonator. (Pain becoming very uncomfortable.) I opened the menu & found a burger named the 'Queen Mary', which had a disclaimer stating that this particular item takes a bit longer to cook because the chef is making it wearing high heels. (Breathing becoming difficult due to pain.)

The thing that finally brought me, analogy-wise, to my knees, clutching my naughty bits & wishing that the sensation of having them caught in a tablevise would stop, was one of the posters, which asked the question 'Do you have a fairy in your house?'. Yes, we all came to the startling, kick-to-the-groin realization that we were in a gay hambuger resturant. I had no idea that these existed.

After sitting for a few minutes trying to take it all in &, most importantly, having not received our drink order that we'd placed ten minutes ago (I hate slow service), we decided to take our leave of the place.

We then found out that the Blue Coyote was two doors down the street. *sigh*
The Most Least Dangerous Game

Futbol. Soccer. It doesn't matter what you call it, it's friggin' boring.

I watched the end of the US/Italy match on Saturday (not willingly, mind you). While observing what is quite possibly one of the most mind numbingly dull sports in the world, my mind wandered, as it tends to do when faced with boredom. My mind kept replaying something that I'd heard a few days ago: apparently, the Worldwide/International/Intergalactic/Whatever futbol association said that despite many attempts to get America onboard with soccer, it still hasn't taken hold quite as well as they would've liked for it to.

Watching the match, I figured out why: Americans like some sort of action with their sports. And, on occasion, expolsions. Now, while I'm no great fan of sports, I can totally understand that. I mean, take football - it's guaranteed that you'll see someone get tackled. If you're lucky, you'll see a quarterback get flipped butt over teakettle by some 400 lb Neanderthal & then trampled into the grass. Baseball, while more fun to play than actually watch, at least breaks out with a fight now & then, especially when the batter gets dinged by an errant pitch. Hockey - the same thing, except a game sometimes breaks out in between fights. Even racing provides one with the chance to see a car skid down the track at 200 mph on its roof. Soccer, though? Twenty-two men running up & down a field. Kicking a ball. For 90 minutes. Scoring 2 points.

Wow. How exciting.

During several of the breaks between the intense soccer action (where people kept passing the ball back & forth & not really gaining any ground), I came up with a few ideas to maybe help futbol take root in the States:

1) Smaller fields
2) Higher scoring games
3) People with names that we can pronounce
4) Cheerleaders (unless the team's from a former Soviet Bloc nation - *shudder*)
5) Full contact soccer (oh yeah - rugby)
6) One word: Landmines
7) Get the guy from TeleMundo to announce every game - GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!
8) Alligator filled moats, located in the middle of the field & just in front of the goals, big enough to prevent players from jumping over, with narrow footbridges to facilitate crossing
9) Dave Coullier Appreciation Day (I know, he's a Canadian & therefore genetically predisposed to being liking hockey, but I haven't mentioned him in awhile on MLCotW. Hi Dave!)
10) Retractable spikes along the out of bounds lines
11) Retractable spikes on the ball
12) Soccer Hooligan Appreciation Day (free beer & crowbars for the first 100 hooligans)
13) Bolas
14) Time-release exploding soccer balls
15) Shock collars, with sensors that randomly set the collar off laced throughout the field
16) Man eating tigers
17) Midgets - you just can't go wrong with midgets

These are but a few things that I thought of right off the top of my head. I guarantee that any one of these suggestions would increase American viewership greatly.

I know I'd watch it.