WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
This movie has reminded me that life is full of disappointment. When you’re watching a movie directed by a man who brought us a great classic like Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie you think you’re in good hands, but I was proven wrong. Even the inclusion of Robert Englund wasn’t enough to bring this little movie up to par. The problem with it is that it’s not bad enough to be a funny b-movie but it isn’t good enough to be a good movie, so it hovers somewhere in between in a poorly defined b-movie limbo. The acting’s alright but it’s nothing great and the CGI isn’t amazing but it’s not laughable. It makes it very difficult to make fun of the movie and at the same time a little difficult to enjoy it.
We begin our tale of love, adventure, betrayal and wasps in the little town of Black Stone. It’s one of those typical little American towns full of good people with morals, traditional values, pristine gardens and an enormous church. 10 years ago Jane Kozik left Black Stone to go live in Manhattan after her husband was killed in a freak accident while trying to take care of a wasp nest. I say it was a freak accident because he burned to death. Now she’s moving back to town and she’s bringing her daughter Kelsey along for the ride. She knows it’ll be an adjustment for her daughter, who’s spent her entire life growing up in the big city with all that new fangled technology, but Jane thinks this move is exactly what the two of them need. Why they need it we’re never really told, but I was prepared to run with it and see where the story was going to take me.
Oddly enough it takes us to a street corner with Robert Englund on it. He plays Eli, Black Stone’s resident bee keeper who doesn’t keep bees but instead grows peaches. For some or other reason Kelsey takes an immediate shining to Eli, despite the fact that he’s an overly sarcastic man with ninja escape skills and no patience for children. Floating around town is Devin, the twin brother of Jane’s dead husband, and he’s a pest exterminator. Incidentally many people in town are walking around with enormous stings on their faces and making mysterious buzzing sounds, but that’s hardly important at this stage of the movie and all the characters ignore this strange behaviour for the time being. This includes the obnoxious mayor who’s busy trying to breathe some new life into Black Stone.
The wasps themselves play a relatively minor role in this movie. Lacking the acting skills of the ants from The Hive, their menace is more implied that directly seen. What we do know is that when they sting you you die, but they can use your corpse as a host for their more nefarious undertakings. This includes turning the human into a drone where a wasp seems to take control of the body and guide it. Wasps have a poor understanding of human nature, however, so their ability to drive their human drone is at times a bit off. Along the way we’ll also meet Katherine Randell, a highly qualified entomologist who looks more like the madam of a high-end brothel in a power suit. She’s absolutely stumped as to what’s going on, and she needs Devin’s expertise to help her unwrap the mystery wrapped in an enigma contained in a hive that’s going on in Black Stone. The two also need to act quick, because the wasps are beginning to gather their forces for an all-out attack on the town’s population, and before long they’ll have turned every last human they can find into yet another one of their poorly driven drones.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- When confronted with giant stinging insects the best thing to do is take off your protective gear.
- American bakeries are very quick to relocate to Mexico whenever the opportunity arises.
- Stinging wasps, disappearing sting victims and murder most foul make an entomologist’s day.
- Gorgeous blonde entomologists are often caught up in other people’s awkward family situations.
- If you tease DNA it may be willing to give you a few answers.
- Wherever Robert Englund appears, there’s bound to be an Elm Street nearby.
- It’s quite common for people to lose all cognitive function and start make buzzing noises from inside their skulls.
- The true horrors of genetically mutated wasps are a little lost on a 9-year-old girl.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Welcome to the second instalment of You Broke It: 3 Trilogies That Went Awry. Today we’ll be looking at the third movie in the Urban Legends franchise, Bloody Mary. I chose this movie because it fit many of the same criteria as I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer in that, while the first two Urban Legends movies were not directly linked, this movie takes the story down a completely different track and completely abandons its predecessors’ slasher elements in favour of being a ghost story. I would also like to state from the get-go that, despite the title, the Bloody Mary myth is used very loosely and only as a means of justifying adding this movie to the franchise.
To begin our story we need to go back in time to the summer of ’69, albeit a far more tragic version than the one Bryan Adams has been describing for all these years. It’s the local high school’s homecoming celebration (admittedly, living in South Africa, I have no clue how homecoming works or what it’s for) and Mary Banner just feels like the most important girl in the whole school. The alpha jock has decided to dump his bitch of a girlfriend Dawn and asks Mary to the dance, proving that every now and then the plain girl can get the guy. He even manages to hook Mary’s 2 best friends Gina and Grace up with two of his buddies so that they can all be a matching set. If only good things like this did happen to the plain girl. Seems like the boys and Dawn aren’t happy about the fact that Mary and Co. don’t worship the ground the walk on so they decide to drug the three girls and play a little prank on them. Mary, not having any of it, runs away and tries to find help. Unfortunately for her she lands up cornered in the basement and, while trying to escape, she trips and knocks her head on the table, killing her. Not wanting to go to jail the alpha jock takes her body and hides it in a trunk, where it has stayed ever since.
Flash forward to 2005 and history’s busy repeating itself, just this time it has the use of modern technology. Samantha works for the school newspaper and recently published an article debating whether footballers should be given good grades simply because they know how to run around a field and throw a ball to one another. The article is accompanied by a very unflattering photograph of three jocks in particular. When homecoming rolls round Sam and her two friends decide that they don’t want to go and instead stage a slumber party. The boys, upset at how their vast levels of intelligence have been insulted by Sam’s article, rock up in the middle of the night, give the girls some chloroform and stick them in a room in the old abandoned paper mill. Unlike the events of the summer of ’69, however, all of the girls make it out alive and, the scare aside, seem none the worse for wear and continue on with their lives. This is when things start to get a little bit strange.
Having shouted out the words ‘Bloody Mary’ three times during the slumber party (although not into a mirror or anything even mildly reflective) Sam and her friends have somehow managed to invoke the spirit of Mary Banner, and she’s pissed. Seeing this turn of events and Sam’s similar situation Mary decides that now is the time to take her revenge and kill those people involved in Sam’s kidnapping. It starts off with a simple homage to Aerobicide where one of the jocks is fried to a crisp in a sun tanning bed but gradually the attacks become more sinister and Mary’s ghost becomes angrier and angrier. What Sam and her twin brother David need to find out is why Mary has come back and why she has chosen this as her method of seeking revenge. With the help of Grace they will seek to uncover the truth about what happened all those years ago, but they will not seek to find out how Grace, a heavy stoner who hasn’t been outside her house in years, manages to get groceries and daily copies of the newspaper.
Some final thoughts on the matter. Like I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer this isn’t a terrible movie and, had it been released as a stand-alone film, would probably have been reasonably entertaining. It suffers from the fact that it tries to force the urban legend angle where it really doesn’t fit into the plot. The reference to Bloody Mary herself is only used so that the movie can in some way try to fit in with its predecessors and the murders using urban legends is in no way justified or explained. The use of newspaper clippings referring to the second Urban Legends movie, as well as a few recycled scenes, also fail to make this in any way a part of a continuous narrative. Whoever’s idea this was should hang their head in shame (just a little bit) for trying to sell a ghost story by piggy backing on two slasher films and hoping that nobody would notice. Because we did.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- To spike a hippie chick’s drink you need A LOT of rohypnol.
- Girls who assert their independence and opinions are doomed to a lonely, single life.
- Pillow fights are a great way for friends to sort out their issues.
- Some people just don’t see the funny side of being drugged and locked in a room.
- Alpha jocks can convince lesser jocks to do anything.
- Anyone who uses dial-up internet is high on crack.
- Ghosts always start out with a plan but God help you they devise a new one later on.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Welcome to the first installment of You Broke It: 3 Trilogies That Went Awry. Today we’ll be looking at I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, the final (failed) installment in the I Know What You Did Last Summer series. To begin with one of this movie’s major failings is that the title is just far too long, but some people may be wondering why I’ve given it a ‘Low’ Level of Awful. In my own opinion this movie might have stood a chance at being one of those little films that you watch once, kind of enjoy and then completely forget had it not tried to follow up on its predecessors. The storyline in no way follows on from the other two and none of the previous cast makes a return, but some bright spark thought that trying to forcibly connect the two plots would be a good idea. It really wasn’t. Let’s take a look at the story…
Somewhere between 1998 and 2006 the horrific events that centred on Julie James and her friends entered into a little town’s list of folklore tales and now, on July 4th every year, the Fisherman is said to make a return and begin killing teenagers at random. Seeing that this is a small town and high school students (in their late 20s) have very little to do with their time Amber, Zoe, Roger, Colby and PJ decide that they should do a little reenactment at the local carnival for some laughs. Roger will play the Fisherman, PJ will be the hapless victim and afterwards they’ll all get together for some laughs. Everything’s going fine until PJ skateboards up on a roof and the mattresses placed on the ground for him to jump onto are replaced with a tractor. PJ is impaled and dies at the scene and his friends, not wanting to confess to anything and risk being stuck in this little town forever, decide that they’ll hide the evidence and take the secret to their graves. It’s what PJ would have wanted after all.
A year passes and a lot of things have changed for our little group. Colby went off to college leaving the one-time love of his life Amber behind. Amber and Zoe, once the best of friends, are no longer in touch and Roger has gone into hiding, too haunted by the events of the previous year to deal with his friends or the outside world in general. Aah, if only wallowing in misery were so simple. As the anniversary of PJ’s death approaches Amber begins to receive a string of text messages, all of which bear a familiar message: I know what you did last summer. Suspicion inevitably sets in: who opened their mouths? Who went and put all of their futures at risk? Things are further complicated by the addition of Lance, PJ’s cousin who has had a thing for Amber for quite a while now. Soon the threats go beyond the digital realm and the Fisherman makes his presence known by killing Roger and leaving even more messages for all the others. The group now needs to band together to outsmart the Fisherman and outlive one another.
It doesn’t help, of course, that the fisherman is actually some demonic entity hell-bent on killing them all without having any real weaknesses that mortals tend to find rather cumbersome. To make this seemingly all tie back into the first two movies this Fisherman appears to be the ghost of Ben Willis, the original murderer from 10 years ago (according to the movie’s chronology). By using his history to play a prank that ultimately killed their friend and by then covering it up Amber and co. somehow invoked Ben and, in order to return to the other side, he has to do to this lot what he tried to do to the first bunch.
My final thoughts on the matter. This is not altogether a terrible movie. It doesn’t fail at being a horror movie, and there were times when I did jump a little. It simply fails at being an installment in a trilogy that it really has nothing to do with. The attempts, and there are many, to both compare it to the original movie and then to try and make the original storyline continue are completely forced and ineffectual. With a little reworking of the script to make it a stand-alone movie this might have been moderately enjoyable. Sadly this was not to be and all the horror community is left with is a movie whose title is too long and who brings a series I really enjoyed crashing to the ground.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Just because it’s legendary doesn’t mean it can’t be bought on Ebay.
- You know you’re in a small town when the college kids are holding parties in a barn.
- Hiding the fact that you murdered a great friend can really put strain on a relationship.
- A girl who receives 1 threatening message is perplexed. A girl who receives 50 of the same threatening message is terrified.
- No matter what a sheriff saying ‘hi’ is just creepy for some reason.
- Policemen are known to be incredibly flirty at murder scenes.
- When being stalked by a killer you should make sure you are alone in dark places as often as possible.
- When the killer does eventually appear you should break away from the group and run somewhere you can’t escape from.
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