The Horror of Horrors

Have Another Go, Greg.

Thanks, I will! I never get tired of complaining about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

I watch a lot of movies: at least one a day; usually two, and sometimes even three or four. That works out to—at the very least—360 movies a year. Sad but true, this means I spend an average of 60 hours a month (or about 15 hours a week) staring at a 32” Sony Trinitron screen.

Now, before you go climbing on your high horse and riding to the top of your Ivory Tower, Mister or Miss High-and-Mighty, let me say a few words in defense of my own personal Opium of the Masses:

The average American watches x-number of hours of TV a week.  I watch zero. I pollute my garden of carefully cultivated organic mental vegetation with no pap-popstar smears from newspapers (even when I write for them) or talk radio or glossy magazines. So if I take in a bit more than the average in the form of film—noir or no—then who are you to judge? Besides, this diet gives me a certain expertise when it comes to moving pictures. And, until virtual reality technology catches up to the hyperspeed of science fiction imagineering, film remains the most true-to-life artistic translation of reality.

Of course, out of nearly 400 films a year, there is quite a bit of wiggle-room for the horrible death-throes of a few cinematic Beasts that beg for a decent slaying. Even so, I find it remarkable that in those endless kilometers of Kodak moments, I find precious few so bad that I can’t muster the energy to suffer through the credits.

But, once in a while, a movie does slip through my Crap Radar. Like Five Across The Eyes, a piece of nuclear Waste so bad that I actually felt compelled to beg people NOT to watch.

And in my defense, writing bad reviews is not my usual methodology. I rarely waste words on shite; this review was the first where the bad and the ugly received just as much time and energy as the good.

But I expect that this review will be unique even among film criticism in general, as for the first (and hopefully last) time, I’ve actually stopped watching a movie, then decided to give it another go, only to find EVEN MORE reasons to hate it.

When last I stopped the DVD from spinning on, obliviously, the movie had reached a point where I felt it was impossible for it to redeem itself short of some form of divine intervention.

And that night, I dreamed about a group of friends who had pooled all of their money in order to make a movie. It was their dream: a shared obsession they had carried since childhood; a passion to create, to produce something: a piece of truly great art. Or just a good horror movie. The kind they had loved to watch as kids: Evil DeadDay of the DeadNightmare on Elm StreetLast House On The LeftTrilogy of Terror

One of the friends was a writer, a guy not so different from myself; he had worked on the screenplay for months, typing late into the night on an ancient Remington with a sticky r. Another friend was an artist, and he’d dreamed of becoming a famous production designer. He just knew that if Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarrantino could see the incredible, mind-blowing ideas he had for dressing the minivan where some of the incredible scenes in his friends’ movie would take place, that one of the geniuses he worshipped would see him for the auteur he knew he could be.

And yet another of the friends in this dream was born to be a director; only a few weeks ago he had stripped naked and gone into the wilderness behind the suburban neighborhood where his mother and stepfather lived, determined to commune with the burning bush of his creative genius. After the poison sumac healed, he gathered his friends together and told them of the Vision: Five Across the Eyes. A story of friendship, survival, redemption…and love.

Waking from this dream, I felt awful. I had urinated on someone’s life work. I had slammed it, cut it into little pieces and then shat upon it…figuratively-speaking. I hadn’t even bothered to watch more than the first (very bad) 15 minutes. Perhaps the second 15 minutes would have revealed the fame and glory Warhol had promised everyone.

So I decided to give Five Across the Eyes—the story of five teenaged girls who just wanted to get home before mom got mad—another go…

 

I think I am hallucinating. Because what I thought just happened was…being chased by an angry soccer mom (enough to strike fear into any three year old), the teenagers decide to throw random objects from their vehicle at their pursuer. After chucking a few odds-n-ends at this MILF, one of the pretty teens squats and—you guessed it!—takes a big, steaming crap! Then she pitches the nasty loaf at the SUV chasing them. It hits the windshield, where the wipers smear it all over the glass and cause the suddenly shit-blinded driver to back off.

“Did you just—?” asks a horrified teenager, voicing the disbelief and confusion for all of us.

“It worked, didn’t it?” answers the smug doodie-thrower, who then asks for some wet-naps to wipe her hands with. Meanwhile, the stench makes another teen vomit into her hands.

Now, don’t confuse this odd occurrence with some David Lynch/John Waters-style weirdness. Or some well-timed potty humor comedy relief. The poop-poor (pun somewhat intended) cinematography not only has no real sense of climactic (or comedic) timing, but it never really shows much. Not that I want to see any more than I did, but—in this foul scene, we see nothing but the so-so reaction of the actors (who get points for at least reacting to the smell of such an act in an enclosed, moving vehicle) and a smear of mud across the windshield of the MILF’s vehicle.

It’s not selling, either way.

If that was supposed to be shocking…well, it WAS admittedly unique. But bad acting and poor shooting erased any real shock value the scene might have had. But I’m curious enough to go on…so I suppose in this way, the director was successful.

The poor cinematography doesn’t improve. Some of this is not really the fault of the camera (though some scenes are a bit overly-jerky, suffer from a dearth of focus, and depend on cheap trickery to sell the shot), but lies instead with bad edits and terrible continuity. Much of the movie is spent inside the teens’ vehicle, from which they occasionally depart after several equally-bad “accident” scenes. The crazy soccer mom then appears, brandishing a shotgun and much screaming and quasi-shocking antics ensue. For instance, the crazy woman (the worst villain in recent horror-movie memory) makes the girls strip and ten forces one of them to urinate on their piled clothing. There is no nudity, and the scene doesn’t even do a decent job of creeping you out or being particularly freaky. It’s just absurd.

While the teens are driving, we see shots of the woods to both sides and the road. In a couple shots you see what looks like a fairly well-maintained road with well-marked double yellow lines, then the next scene of the road shows a dirt road that looks like someone’s driveway. Perhaps to viewers who aren’t familiar with the South (or rural areas in general), the setting will look “creepy” but it just doesn’t sell to those of us who live in “the country”.

Of course, the movie seeks to capitalize off of that old familiar horror motif, the wild-n-witchy outback of the American South. Even though this movie is set in Tennessee and rides the bruised backs of so many other southern exploitation movies, only a couple of the teens have a (slight) southern accent; the boogey-woman badgirl sounds like she might be from Florida.

Thanks to movies such as Deliverance, anywhere in the South where more than three trees can be seen together seems to mean that the locals are likely to be insane, probably inbred, and prone to random acts of rape and cruelty. Five Across The Eyes doesn’t disappoint. The crazy MILF rapes and torments one of the teens with random items from a handy tool box. Sorta, kinda. This act could have been the thing that made the movie truly awful, creepy, and terribly violent. Instead, the acting does not even come close to selling the scene. Instead, the reaction takes us—the audience—out of the situation (yet again) and forces us to not only disbelieve the plot, but makes you laugh at the absurdity as it piles up.

And the only thing we really see is a bloody screwdriver that is immediately rendered impotent as a symbol of abuse and horror by the actor’s reaction to it. No doubt this reaction was meant to convey a sense of shock and the growing desire for revenge among the teen victims. It falls flat, in any case.

Rather than waste your time watching, here is a quick wrap-up that is likely to be light years more exciting than the real deal: the teens drive; they stop, and are attacked by the MILF; sometimes one of the teens is injured; the injured teen usually freaks out and then ignores the injury; eventually one of the teens is hurt badly and seems to be slipping into shock; the soccer mom (who is sometimes called a “crack whore” by the teens) apparently finds some drugs or some supernatural source of energy, and makes a final attack on the teens; they discover she has killed a whole car-load of other people; the teens are now pissed-off; they crowd around the crack-whore/MILF/crazy soccer mom and stab her—ritualistically—with screw drivers and tools; they take swigs of something that MIGHT be a combination of gasoline (or diet soda…I’m not sure) and the cremated remains of the teenage driver’s father, which was inexplicably found in an urn in the rear of the vehicle, after which another girl claims that it “tastes like concrete” and implies that it is not really human remains…this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever; the girls then pour some gasoline (with or without human remains mixed in it) over their tormentor, and light her on fire using the pop-out lighter from their vehicle…which, I believe, is actually impossible, or at least very, very hard to do; the girls make it back to the store where the movie kicks-off, where they discover the entire Dueling Banjo’s-playing crowd (whom we do not see) has been killed by the crazy, burned-up lady sometime earlier; they continue to drive. Inappropriate music plays.

NOTE: IF this movie was produced by a gang of high school kids with their parents’ camcorders…I am impressed. Now go to film school.

   

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3 Comments

  1. […]  THE REASON  is another indie movie–a horror film called 5 Across The Eyes. This movie was so BAD, so AWFUL, that I had a revelation: if these people could make and market a movie I could check out in my local Hollywood Video, well…wait a minute! I can do that! And better! After/if you read my review of this steaming pile, you might think I’ve been a little harsh, considering what I’m working on myself. So go ahead: rent it. THEN tell me if I was “too harsh” or not. […]

    • Do you think 5 Scross They Eyes is the worst horror movie ever made? I’m not sure anymore, as I’m probably forgetting one much worse. Anyway thanks for the reply/ping to Evil Robots blog.

  2. OK, ok. I DO watch SOME TV. I know this review says otherwise, but at the time this was originally written, I wasn’t watching any…so I’m not a liar, liar, pants on fire.


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