Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Future Kill (1985)

There have been many Hollywood examples of incongruous elements being combined to form a cohesive whole. For example, action comedies (i.e. the Rush Hour films), dramatic comedies (i.e. Juno), and even, horror comedies (i.e. Return of the Living Dead). Actually, let me re-phrase that first sentence. There have been many Hollywood examples of the comedy genre and an incongruous element being combined to make a cohesive whole. Sometimes, more than two of these elements become combined, but they are usually pretty natural and not shoved in your face. What I am driving at is that combining these kind of incompatible elements, especially more than one, is definitely tricky. However, it can either work to the film’s advantage or can be so clumsily put together that it doesn’t work. The 1985 sci-fi/horror/comedy film, Future Kill, can be categorized under the latter.

The story takes place in…uh…insert some place here. The movie doesn’t really have a specific location. It’s just, maybe kinda sorta the future. Maybe kinda sorta, I dunno. There’s nothing about it that screams the future and I am pretty sure it is not the future, but I digress.

Essentially, it takes place in a time where the Mutants, a group of pretentious anti-nuclear protesters, have taken over the inner city streets of large cities. They dress weird to show the effects of toxic poisoning. Of course, a simple slideshow would suffice. Eddie Pain leads the group. Meanwhile, a group of fraternity brothers have angered the whole fraternity by tarring and feathering some fraternity member. Instead of being kicked out of their frat house, they are sent out to kidnap Eddie Pain. Although, they’ve made it clear that he will be let go, so the menace of that plan is lost.

The frat boys go out to proceed with this plan, but they are confronted by the evil Splatter, who is the top-guard of Eddie Pain, who has been affected by radiation poisoning. He not only kills one of the frat boys, but kills Eddie Pain, as well. However, Splatter frames the frat boys for murder and the Mutants are now on their tail.

As much as I heard bad things about this movie from a friend of mine, I had kinda high hopes for it, because of the pretty epic poster, designed by acclaimed artist, H.R. Giger, and of how the movie is described on the back of the tape. I think looking at the front and back of the video box would be much more entertaining.

The first problem with this movie is what I described in the first paragraph. Director, associate producer, and writer, Ronald W. Moore, has combined three different genres of film. The problem is that the film doesn’t know what it wants to be. The film is really separated into thirds. The first third is the comedy aspect. The second third is the science-fiction aspect. The last third is the horror-type aspect. All these thirds feel like completely different movies with the same cast.

I’m not going to talk poorly about the characters, especially being that they are not particularly one-dimensional, even though I could care less about them. Also, I am not going to blame the script, even though there are some bad lines of dialogue. The reason being is because even if you have the most fleshed out characters in the world, accompanied by a Steven Spielberg-caliber script, the acting, which is laughably bad, would just bog it down.

Most of the actors are very flat or stiff. Even Edwin Neal (Splatter) and Marilyn Burns (Dorothy Grim, a sidekick of Eddie Pain), both of whom being from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, seem to be just in it for the paycheck. These actors are so bad that some of them can’t authentically pull off simple acts, like dying or being turned on by a woman.

The only actor who tries in the film is this one guy, whose name I can’t think of. However, that is actually a mark against it, because he tries way too hard, to the point of utter annoyance. How would I describe him? Take Jim Carrey and make him a tad bid more frenetic, but take away his comedic abilities. I can feel the fearful aura coming from my readers (all two of you).

The only character I will talk badly about, however, is Splatter, simply because he’s not a threatening villian. Not only because of the monotone acting, but also because of how laughable his costume is. While his Wolverine-like blades look cool, the aesthetic quality of the costume, overall, looks like RoboCop’s aborted love child. However, all of the costumes are lame. I don’t care that the Mutants are supposed to look weird. They still remind me of a Black Swan costume made by a 4-year-old with Down’s syndrome.

Speaking of the Mutants, why in God’s name are they CALLED THE MUTANTS! I mean I understand if that how society labeled you, but no. They called themselves that. Is it because they look so bizarre? Even then, it’s still weird. It’s like the Environmental Protection Agency calling themselves the Wussies, or the CIA calling themselves the Stalkers.

Another major flaw with the movie is the poor cinematography and editing. Apparently, Ronald W. Moore is secretly an owl, because 90% of the movie is murkily shot in the dark. I understand shooting in the dark adds a little more menace, but when there is moments when it is almost pitch black while characters are just walking, you fail. The editing isn’t incomprehensible, but at times, it feels awkward, especially near the end where something happens to Splatter. The camera shows Splatter and then it cuts to Splatter again right afterwards, just with his mouth open. Also, the fight scenes aren’t really impressive. They range from, at worst, lethargic to, at best, mediocre, and it doesn’t help that some of them feature amateurish and pointlessly protracted, drawn-out moments of slow motion. Even Zack Synder would tell Ronald W. Moore to tone it down.

The movie is, thankfully, rated R. I say thankfully, because there are some titillating nude scenes. However, it is somewhat a disadvantage to the movie, as well. While they are hot, it makes the movie a tad bit misogynist. Not Ugly Truth misogynist, but a tiny bit misogynist, seeing how, with the exception of the two main women, all the other women in the movie are just there to be hot and flash you, much to the joy of us men, however.

Also, on the plus side, there are a few funny moments and I thought I was going to enjoy the film as a guilty pleasure because of those flaws, but it lacks two crucial elements to be a so-bad-it’s-good movie: energy and magnetism. This film makes 83 minutes feel 30 minutes longer. The film is so sluggish and unimpressive that, as such, it is utterly slack. A killer combination, and I don’t mean the good kind of killer.

RATING: Two stars out of four

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