The Toxic Avenger (1984) 30th anniversary screening at Night Visions

This was written 13.4.2014. I haven’t checked, if things have changed since writing of this post. There are two updates at the end, which tell the situation of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at time they were written. Why I would write about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in The Toxic Avenger movie. Please read further and learn why.

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie The Toxic Avenger (1984).

Night Visions is small film festival, that concentrate on underground films in Helsinki. Name refers to  main event, which is movie marathon with two screens, that shows films from Saturday evening to Sunday morning. Films are timed so, that both screens start showing movies at same time and movies end around same time. It is an interesting event with lot of walking up and down stairs when movies end. I have done that once. This year I didn’t find enough interesting movies to do it. So I missed Captain America II (1979). It started 6:45 at Sunday morning and I didn’t feel like waking up around 5 am just to see bad movie. This year program was quite Troma heavy, which brought Torma president and creator Lloyd Kaufman, who had Q&As after Troma movies. Also after this one.

The Toxic Avenger tells story of Melvin, a mop boy of a gym, who felt into toxic waste barrel and became superhuman hero Toxic Avenger. Why Superhuman hero you may ask. Superhuman hero, because Marvel and DC own rights for word superhero. Toxic Avenger was superhero, when Marvel published Toxic Avenger comics. After that layers remembered to remind Troma, who owns the rights to word. Lloyd Kaufman forgot DC during the Q&A and gave name of movie studio instead.

Trailer tells almost everything you need to know about the movie, if you don’t want to be spoiled. Movie is after low hanging humor. Full of over acting and weird characters. There are no realistic characters. Everything is over the top. I am not fan of Troma style. I understand, why people like it. It is not for me. I want more intelligent movies. Toxic Avenger is just naive, but idiotic, violent and obscene fairy tale comedy. Toxic Avenger has sense or something that makes him fight evil. When he seem to lost that, turns out, that lovely lady was actually one of the worst criminals around. Everything is run by criminals before Toxic Avenger. Then he gets rid off all crime. That is Toxic Avenger in a nutshell.

Q&A was much more interesting to me. You can find videos of Lloyd Kaufman from YouTube. He was like that in Q&A. He joked about almost everything, but also gave serious answers after jokes. Most interesting question was, how independent movie making has changed during 40 year of Troma. Kaufman sees, that making movies is easier and cheaper now, but it is harder to get independent movies through gatekeepers. They don’t get as many screenings for their movies as they did at time of Toxic Avenger. Earlier they got movies released same time everywhere. Now their movie are screened this week at one place and next week other. Many of his answers told this same story from different points of view. Gatekeepers has set bar so high, that some independent movies will never get to audience.

He probably doesn’t know, same problem is coming for big studios too. It seems, that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will get quite limited release in Helsinki. Main cinema chain and studio haven’t got agreement over money. That could mean, the movie is shown only on small cinemas and one closed cinema will be opened just for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. My solution to Kaufman’s gatekeeper problem would be selling independent movie as files or streaming service to customers. No area restrictions or anything else that prevent citizens of foreign countries from using your service. Things will go to that direction. Service for underground movies could get many regular customers, if terms are reasonable.

Another interesting question was about Toxic Avenger remake. There is one planned, but that doesn’t mean Troma couldn’t do Toxic Avenger 5. Deal with remake is such, that it allows Troma to make Troma-level Toxic Avenger movies. They will do fifth movie, when they have script that doesn’t suck. They have other project to finish before they can start Toxic Avenger 5. Kaufman was supportive of Toxic Avenger remake. That would help Troma by bringing them some money. Other questions were mostly about Toxic Avenger movie or that gatekeeper problem. One more thing. As part of Troma’s 40th anniversary, they have uploaded Toxic Crusaders to YouTube and you can watch them for free.

I tried to take photos from Q&A, but couldn’t get anything useful. It was held against black background and my mobile phone burned everyone’s face and kept everything else messy.

UPDATE: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 situation got cleared. Movie will premier in Helsinki only on screens that screened Troma movies during Night Visions. In fact Troma movies had more screens than The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will get. I think Lloyd Kaufman would find that hilarious. The cinema chain, that has 70% market share in Finland, didn’t agree with Sony’s terms and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will premier only on small independent cinemas in Helsinki. That will be the reason, why movie won’t be among most watched movies in Finland.

SECOND UPDATE: I don’t know, who gave up or who won in negotiations, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will get proper blockbuster release in Finland too. I guess there was too much money to be made, that one side decided give up and get something rather than sacrificing almost everything. This episode showed, it is not always so easy for big studios either.

The Room (2003) – Analysis

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie The Room (2003).

This is one of those posts I didn’t plan, but I had to write. In my last post I told about the ritual. To understand somethings audience shouted, you need to know few things about the movie. I could have done this post after watching the movie second time. But because I don’t know when it will happen, I will do analysis post right here.

Movie is written, directed, produced and starred by Tommy Wiseau. It is rarely good thing, when same person is doing all that. It is clear that no-one managed to talk any sense to Tommy Wiseau. This is uncensored Tommy Wiseau’s love triangle fantasy. Something teenagers dream after their first break up. I am pretty sure this was written after someone dumped Tommy Wiseau. That someone could have been named Lisa or at least something similar.

Main character is named Johnny. Clever. We don’t realize it is actually you, Tommy. Johnny is living with his girlfriend Lisa. Johnny is waiting for promotion, but he won’t get it, because everyone betrays him. Even without promotion, Johnny is making good money.  He treats Lisa like princess and pays everything for their neighbor Denny. Tommy is always there for his friends and generally all around good guy. He is even the best customer flower shop has. And seems to be only one of the main characters, who has any kind of job.

Mark is Johnny’s best friend. He doesn’t want to betray Johnny, but Johnny’s evil girlfriend Lisa seduces him. Bad dialog and acting make Mark’s and Lisa’s relationship weird. Mark always says, he doesn’t want to do this to Johnny, who is his best friend. Couple seconds after that they are having sex. Like dialog has nothing to do with what actually happens in scene. Or should this show, how men can’t control themselves, when evil manipulative women seduce them to do things, they don’t want to do. Every time  Lisa and Mark meet follows the same pattern. First mark doesn’t want to do it, but Lisa talks him into it. Lisa and Mark meet, when Johnny is at work. Mark seems to be unemployed, since he can be with Johnny or Lisa whenever they want to meet him.

I don’t know what Denny should be. Sometimes he is creepy teenager, who loves Lisa. Other times he is “adopted kid” of Johnny and Lisa. One scene hints, he has drug problem, but only in one scene and it is never mentioned again.

Then to those evil females. There are three main female characters in this movie. I start with only one, who is not evil, manipulative or selfish. She is Lisa’s friend Michelle. Michelle is introduced, when she and her boyfriend come to Johnny’s house to have sex. They have their own keys or door isn’t locked. We later learn Michelle is Lisa’s friend. Michelle tells Lisa she shouldn’t do this to Johnny and she should tell Johnny she doesn’t love him any more. Michelle acts like she cares about others. Lisa says Michelle is not angel herself. Maybe because in this movie all women are bad.

Lisa’s mother is partly voice of reason and partly manipulative evil woman. Her voice of reason moments are when she says what the audience thinks. She wonders, why all these characters pop in and out the room like they don’t have life of their own. Her manipulative side tells, women shouldn’t have relationships out of love. They should have relationships that benefits them. Like one, which Lisa is having with Johnny. Johnny is rich enough to give everything to Lisa and Lisa doesn’t have to do anything. Mother even tells Lisa couldn’t survive by herself with out Johnny.

Lisa is evil, manipulative, lying and selfish girlfriend of Johnny. She feels bored, because Johnny is so good guy. She decides to seduce Mark, because she doesn’t love Johnny any more. She want to have everything, because she is a woman. She tells lies, how Johnny hit her, because she is a woman. She lies to Johnny about the baby, because she is a woman and thought it would make things more interesting. She couldn’t support herself, because she is a woman. She is no good to any man she meets, because she is a woman and all women in this movie are evil and manipulative. Just like in teenage boy’s fantasies after break up.

Teenage angst doesn’t end here. Tommy Wiseau want so show, how everyone would regret, what they have done to him, after he has gone. Johnny commits suicide after he learns Lisa has cheated him with his best friend Mark. Mark and Lisa found Johnny’s dead body. They realize, what they have done to Johnny.  Mark breaks up with Lisa and doesn’t want her in his life anymore. Lisa loses everything. He doesn’t have Johnny to pay her bills and no Mark to love. Denny also loses his father figure, who paid his bills. All this because evil woman named Lisa manipulated Mark and cheated Johnny. Johnny just wanted good for everyone, but people around him betrayed him. Everyone lost something, when he died.

This is dark drama The Room was meant to be. Movie doesn’t have any intentions to be comedy. But because dialog, acting and directing is so bad, it is pure comedy gold. It kind of feels bad to laugh on serious topic like suicide, but you can’t help yourself, because movie is so bad.  But maybe laughing on the idea of suicide making others realize, how much they have done wrong to person committed suicide, makes someone think, showing others by suicide, is not such a good idea.

This wasn’t end of career for everyone involved. They done somethings after this movie. Not much, but they have had other roles too. Even Tommy Wiseau. You can find his Tommy Wi-Show from YouTube. Problem with show is, he tries to be funny. He can’t be funny, if he tries. He tires to repeat, what made The Room cult classic. The Room was funny, because it was meant to be serious, but was so bad, you can’t take it seriously. I think he should do like Ed Wood did and follow his own vision and not care, if others like it or not. That is why Ed Wood’s movies are so entertaining.  Yes, he has done other entertaining movies too, not just Plan 9. Tommy Explains It All is more entertaining, because Tommy Wiseau is serious in that web series. He should do only serious stuff. He is such a strange personality, that it will be entertaining or funny.

The Room (2003)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie The Room (2003).

I saw this movie only way it should be seen. In full theater with audience, who knew the ritual. I didn’t know the ritual. Others knew. After all this was third year in row Night Visions screened the movie. I will be there next year better prepared, if they do it again next year.

The Room is one of those legendary bad movies with Manos, Silent Night Deathly Night 2 and Troll 2. Movie tells about Johnny and Lisa, who live together. Movie mostly happens in one room, where people pop in and out like they don’t have locks on their doors. They have creepy teenager boy as neighbor. Lisa is bored with Johnny and she seduces his best friend Mark. Lisa doesn’t want to tell Johnny, she doesn’t love him any more. Instead she tells him, she is pregnant, to make things more interesting. Movie is plagued with extremely bad acting and weird dialog. Some scenes have dialog, that seems to be out of order. Sometimes characters just say something improper. You have to see it to believe it. I could write it here, but you wouldn’t believe movie had that kind of dialog and it wouldn’t have same effect as written without bad acting.

Movie is entertaining by itself, but to get most of it you have to watch it in theater with audience, who knows the ritual. I had more fun watching the ritual than watching the movie. After first spoon rain, I realized this would be  a different kind of experience. Room had one framed picture of spoon. Every time it was shown, audience throw their plastic spoons to screen. It took me couple times until I understood, why spoon rain happened. Audience had balls with them. They throw balls to each other every time characters on screen throw their ball. That happened four or five times during the movie.

As I told characters popped in and out of the room like door were never locked. Every time someone popped in audience shouted “Hello [name of the character who came in]” and when they left audience shouted “Bye [name of the character who left]“. When movie showed stock footage from Golden Gate Bridge audience shouted “Go! Go! Go! Go!”. I don’t know, if it was part of the ritual, but every time, when it made any sense one guy shouted “that’s because you are a woman” or “that’s because she is a woman.” Funnies shouting was after “You are tearing me apart Lisa” part, when someone shouted “Best movie every year!” And of course audience shouted parts of dialog.

When creepy teenager ate apple, someone shouted “don’t eat it, it is a metaphor”. Whenever one guy, who was not introduced at all had dialog, someone shouted “Who the %&/# are you?”  When Johnny pulled c-cassette from his pocket, someone shouted “Don’t we all have cassettes in our pockets at all time”. Someone other replied “That lastd for six weeks”.  I could go on and on with all comments I heard during the movie, but I think you get the picture.

Check this movie in theater. You won’t regret it. You might get hit by spoons or balls, but it is part of the fun. I will watch this again in theater, when it is possible. Someone said, there are only people who haven’t heard about this movie and people who have seen it 20 times. There is no middle ground. After seeing this, I can believe it.

Riddick – Director’s cut (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Riddick – Director’s cut (2013), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) and Pitch Black (2000).

Director’s cut is eight minutes longer than theatrical cut. Most of that eight minutes adds more Necromongers to movie. This post is about those eight minutes. I wrote earlier about the theatrical cut. This will spoil movie more than that earlier post.

Director’s cut has longer Necromonger flashback. In theatrical cut it was almost blink and you missed it. This version shows assassination attempt on Riddick. One of his women stabs him in back. After that movie teases with Vaako’s attack on Riddick. Vaako attacked Lord Marshal in Chronicles, when Lord Marshal was weakened by fight with Riddick. This time Riddick was bleeding from his stab wound. But Vaako has different plan. He tells about his first campaign, which was on Furya. He tells, how last Furian warrior had same king of eyes as Riddick has. But that doesn’t make any sense based on earlier movies. In Pitch Black Riddick told, he got his eyes from prison. He told that again in Chronicles. In Chronicles, Purifier was another Furyan and he had normal eyes. In Director’s cut of Chronicles, hand shaped glowing mark was Furyan thing. Both Riddick and Purifier had that. In same movie, Lord Marshal was obsessed with Furyans. He didn’t reach to Riddick’s eyes. If eyes were Furyan thing like Vaako says here, Lord Marshal should have reacted to Riddick’s eyes.

It is possible, Vaako lied to Riddick about the eyes. He made Furyans look like super warriors. He told Riddick, only map to Furia is in his head and he will take Riddick to Furya, if he would became Lord Marshal. Riddick wasn’t popular among Necromongers, because he didn’t share their faith and didn’t search way to Underverse. This deal would give Riddick Furya and Necromongers could go searching for way to Underverse. Riddick accepts the deal and we get back to theatrical cut, where Necromongers betray Riddick.

I liked longer flashback. It cut survival section in two parts. Survival section didn’t felt as long in this movie, even when director’s cut added few second more to it. Bounty hunters got one additional scene, which didn’t add anything new.  They may also got extended scenes, because Santana felt more comical in this version, but I can’t point, which scenes were extended, if any was extended.

Last addition comes after last scene of theatrical cut. Theatrical cut ends with Riddick and other survivors leaving the planet. Director’s cut add one scene in Necromonger ship. Necromongers have found way to Underverse. They are about to leave this universe. Riddick confronts Necromonger, who left him to Not-Furya. Necromonger tells Vaako wanted to honor the contract, but he didn’t think non-believer deserved it. That is why Necromonger betrayed Riddick. Theatrical cut told all Necromongers betrayed Riddick, this tells only one did. Which makes Vaako look like Vaako of Chronicles, where he wanted to be honorable, but Lady Vaako talk him to attack Lord Marshal.

It is interesting to see what next movie will be. Theatrical cut left everything open. Director’s cut tied Riddick back to Necromongers and send him to Underverse. They have to choose, which one to continue. Either choice makes people, who haven’t seen the chosen version, wonder what happened.

The Man With The Iron Fists (2012)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie The Man With The Iron Fists (2012).

Dave Bautista was only reason, why I wanted to watch this movie. As I told in Riddick post, he will be in upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. My goal is to write post about the comic before movie is released and write post about the movie, when it comes here. I am not sure, if it will get global release or do we have to wait for months after it comes here. Guardians of the Galaxy is only movie I am waiting this year. Fact, that I started this post talking about Guardians of the Galaxy, tells how interesting The Man with the Iron Fists is. It is fan film with professional production values.

RZA is better known for his music. This is first movie he wrote and directed. He is a fan of kung fu movies. He has earlier used kung fu movies as inspiration for his music. This is his own kung fu movie. It looks like kung fu movie. Characters and story are full of kung fu clichés. It doesn’t sound like kung fu movie, because music is from RZA. And it doesn’t feel like kung fu movie. I feels like fan movie for kung fu movies, which it actually is. Main problem is, characters are written to be cool. In real kung fu movie main characters are tragic, they are examples of what happens to you, when you try to rise above the rest, not something to aim for.  Heroes have tragic moments here too, but it is not as much of a character trait like in real kung fu movies.

Another big problem is, there is too much stuff included. Too many characters and too many fancy sets. It felt like RZA put everything he wanted to see in one movie. There are so many characters, that you don’t always know who is who or which side they are on. And everyone is as cool as possible. For example out of our three heroes I expected only one to be hero until they ended up together. That could happen in good movie too, but in this every character is so paper-thin and cool, that you can’t guess their motives. And their motives seem to change when ever movie needs cool action scene.

I didn’t like how RZA became kung fu champion at the end. He didn’t look like he could fight against Bautista. It felt more like he wanted to look tough fighter in movie he wrote and directed, than his character could fight against toughest fighter in movie. If he wanted to look like best fighter in movie, his fighting style should have been something else than boxing with iron fists.

Then to reason I watched this movie. it is hard to say anything about Bautista’s acting. His role was to be strong, unstoppable Brass Body. His fighting scenes looked good. Considering action scenes, he will be perfect as Drax The Destroyer.

Back to this movie. I have told you things, that are wrong. It is much faster to tell what is right. Movie looks good. Actions scenes are interesting. Sometimes  fighters do stupid moves, but generally there is enough variance between different scenes. Movie doesn’t try to make it look like they didn’t use wires. That is how fighting scenes look like in kung fu movies. Genre fans may enjoy this. For others this is quite boring.