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The Rapture (1991)

May 21st, 2011 · 9 Comments

Is the world over yet? Is it okay if I am disappointed either way? I don’t mind being left behind and unchosen as long as I get some answers. I’m used to being picked last and if God turns out to be some giant bully in the sky collecting belief and love like lunch money, I’m fine with that. Honestly if I were God, I wouldn’t care if anyone believed in me at all, I’d stomp out the human race as a failed experiment regardless and leave the Earth to the plants and animals. I wouldn’t stand for modern culture mucking up my terrarium. I’d ferment all the fruit in the trees and let the monkeys and elephants get wasted! It’s not like they have to drive home or anything. If God created drunk caterpillars, willow trees and fish tacos then I certainly do love him but am I really expected to worship an entity who is more passive-aggressive than me? It’s difficult.

1991’s MICHAEL TOLKIN film THE RAPTURE is simply unforgettable which makes it all the more strange that it is mostly forgotten; I guess asking questions and not saying exactly what people want to hear isn’t the best way to be popular-who knew? MIMI ROGERS brings new meaning to the word revelation as Sharon, a woman bored out of her skull by her stupid job who has a bunch of random sex because it’s almost like not feeling bored anymore. One day she notices that folks who have found God are even happier than folks who have foursomes that include DAVID DUCHOVNY and so she decides to get born again. God’s love has a price though and soon the invisible taskmaster is forcing her to jump through many a hoop. I’ve watched enough Oprah to identify a toxic relationship when I see one. Face it Sharon, he’s just not that into you.

When I first saw THE RAPTURE it shook me like a shake weight. No matter what your personal beliefs are it is sure to challenge them. Rather than painting Sharon as a loon waiting for a ship that never comes in, it pushes her smack dab into the middle of the apocalypse, trumpets blaring and all. Yes, the end of the world does arrive as predicted but not before Sharon has lost everything that made the world’s destruction worth giving a crap about. I think Sharon’s spiritual journey is rather an admirable one. What’s infinitely less admirable is the fact that once she has a child, she drags her offspring along for the ride too. She’s not a bad person, it’s just that her belief system has painted her into a corner where critical thinking is no longer an option. To even question God is an act of treachery. Her faith is strong just not strong enough to withstand a moments scrutiny.

Because it concerns religion, THE RAPTURE is sure to offend some folks but writer/director TOLKIN is hardly being provocative for the sake of being provocative. The film takes its subject matter seriously and has a sincere curiosity about exactly what the unequivocal existence of God would mean. THE RAPTURE bypasses the usual stalemate of belief vs. non-belief and jumps ahead to the next ladder rung. God exists alright but he has some serious explaining to do. Judgment Day arrives but, in a crazy switch-a-roo, it is God who is judged. It may seem blasphemous to some but if the act of wondering and questioning is a sin then damn me now. I don’t know what God you believe in, but mine can handle some constructive criticism without a hissy fit.

You really do not have to believe in anything to enjoy THE RAPTURE besides good storytelling and the power of film. Somehow its low-budget makeshift end of the world is emotionally devastating on an epic scale. TOLKIN’s insistence that the demolition of one spirit be accountable for, coupled with ROGER’s undaunted performance is ultimately as moving as any hymn. If THE MIST got you hot under the collar than you might want to take a rain check but if you welcome an investigation into the spiritual without the usual cowardly boundaries I say step forward, there’s no reason to linger in limbo.

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Tags: Caution: I break for geniuses! · General Insanity · My own personal Jesus · Tykes in Trouble

Jaws of Satan (1981)

March 15th, 2011 · 10 Comments

I have to stop listening to other people because I almost lived a life with no JAWS OF SATAN in it. A cursory scan of other folk’s reactions to the film had me wrongly assuming it was just another bad movie. You know the drill, “Some movies are so bad they’re good, not this one! This one is so bad, it’s just bad.” First of all, I’ll be the judge of that and second of all, wrong. JAWS OF SATAN is not just another bad movie; it is a perfect amalgamation of everything that makes movies not good. I also find it highly entertaining and worth my time because there is never a second of it where it is not doing exactly what it shouldn’t. I stand a bit amazed, here is a film that wasn’t satisfied with being simply a failure of a Satan film, it had to take a crap in the animals run amuck cage too. Just think about the title for a moment, it tells you everything that you need to know.

A snake attacks a couple of men in the cargo area of a train, which naturally causes the entire train to quietly come to a halt. (Don’t worry, a “train wreck” of another kind is imminent.) It’s no ordinary snake because it is…Satan! The Satan snake is on a mission to kill a priest because well, priests burn brighter in hell apparently and this priest is extra special because he comes from a family of druids who kill snakes, so there’s that. Maybe the less we get into that swamp the better, the point is the snake who is Satan hates the priest and wants to bite him and chase him around a graveyard. (Silly Satan, you don’t have to chase priests these days, you can just sit back and they’ll come to you!) I’m not sure what will happen once the snake catches the priest but in the meantime other snakes are getting rowdy and biting non-priests all over a small town in Alabama.

Thankfully Dr. Sheridan is on the case and don’t assume like other people in this movie do that because I said “Dr.” that I’m taking about a boy either because Dr. Sheridan is A GIRL! (Did you just spit your coffee out in shock? Sorry.) Yes, Dr. Sheridan (GRETCHEN CORBETT of LET SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH) is a new type of woman who is a professional doctor and don’t you forget it! She’s a real poster girl for women’s lib too especially when after two people are bitten by snakes she exclaims, “It’s an epidemic and I can’t cope with it!” and then a snake shows up after she takes a shower and she calls a guy on the phone she just met to run over to her house to shoot it and then she breaks down crying hysterically and has to be slapped in the face before he sleeps with her and she makes him breakfast and then midway through the film for no reason whatsoever another guy on a motorcycle forces her car to the side of the road so he can make her fellate his hand gun until she is rescued by….a priest? No, a snake!

Considering the non-stop pilfering you’d think we’d end up with something that resembles a movie more than this mush but nah. We have a mayor who wants to keep the snake issue under wraps so as not to wreck the grand opening of a fancy dog racing track, a coroner who eats chicken right next to a corpse and ye old “It was only a cat!” routine. It’s like a who’s who of movie clichés. I don’t want to complain too much about the clichés though because it’s when then the movie decides to get creative that it really humps the daggit. As dumb as everything is throughout the course of the movie (the list of offences goes on and on) it’s toward the end when we really fall into an almost abstract experience with weird shoehorned dubbing, people appearing in two places at once or out of nowhere and a climax that plays out like a battle between man and mop handle. Did I mention that Satan snake likes to stand straight up on his tail? Adorable much?

There’s one great shot of Father Farrow (CREEPSHOW’s FRITZ WEAVER) strolling past a gnarled tree but most of the film looks ho-hum which is astonishing considering the cinematographer is DEAN CUNDY who you might remember from such films as every movie I ever loved. (HALLOWEEN, THE FOG, THE THING, PSYCHO 2 etc.) Personally I’m comfortable throwing all the blame on director BOB CLAVER’s lap on account of he went on to poke eyes out and scramble brains via television by directing two of the most lunatic series in the history of forever, SMALL WONDER and OUT OF THIS WORLD. Besides being hilarious as hell, one of the other things going for JAWS OF SATAN is that it marks the debut of CHRISTINA APPLEGATE as a tyke who gets locked in a closet with a snake at a dog race opening. Aw, how can you not like APPLEGATE after growing up with her as Kelly Bundy? Her real life mother NANCY PRIDDY even portrays her mom in the film. PRIDDY is apparently responsible for a well regarded psychedelic folk album and sang back up for LEONARD COHEN!

All in all, this movie does deliver on the bad movie front in spades. There’s always something perplexing going on and the snake-eye view cemetery chase is an absolute ridiculous must see. This movie ssssssssucks but if you have a taste for terrible, you really couldn’t beat it with a stick.

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Tags: General Horror · General Insanity · I Have No Idea What This Is