Barbarian Bros

This week, you get a triple feature that I’ll refer to as the Barbarian Brothers Trilogy.  Three classic films, unrelated beyond their featuring the highly loveable Barbarian Brothers.

The Barbarians
The Barbarian Brothers as The Barbarians in The Barbarians.

First is 1986’s THE BARBARIANS.  If you know a Barbarian Brothers movie, it’s probably this one.  TWO twins in a fantasy world that isn’t very fantastical.  Here, they’re Kutchek and Gore, slaves turned gladiators turned barbarians, out to fight the evil tyrant Kadar, and rescue the queen of the Ragnicks, Canary, who has a magic belly button ruby.

You can cobble the whole thing together yourself on youtube, starting with part one:

Or you can just watch the whole movie HERE (also on youtube) with German subtitles.

Continue reading “Barbarian Bros”

Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Abe Lincoln
You can’t usually tell because the images are black and white, but Abe Lincoln was the real-life inspiration for Charles Wonkmeier, better known to the world as Willy Wonka.

This time, I watched Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter, which is based on Lincoln’s personal diary. Instead of adhering to the diary, though, Tim Burton veers off into crazyland, omitting nearly all of the important details in Lincoln’s life, and changing the ones he retained so that they become dumb. If you’re not going to follow the source material, then make a different movie and call it something else.

Liam Neeson plays Abe Lincoln, who was generally badass from the age of 5, but in the movie, he only discovers vampires when he’s an adult, and only after getting spooked by one and nearly getting killed. In real life, Abe befriended vampire Henry Sturges, and acted as his personal hitman. They kept this in the movie, but made up some goofiness about vampires not being able to kill other vampires (like Magneto is stopping them), and a Caucasian vampire who’s 5,000 years old and lived in Egypt. Sure. They should have spent less money on the all-star cast and more time reading history. The movie features Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jimmi Simpson, Rufus Sewell, Alan Tudyk (as himself), and the 37th Tennessee Reenactors, all of whom you’ll remember from an earlier (and superior) Tim Burton flick called DARK CITY.

So, Henry teaches Abe to use an axe and how to be strong, which is all totally ridiculous. Abe was good at this stuff by the time he met Henry. The movie then skates over everything cool about Lincoln and tries to be interesting, but it isn’t. No Edgar Allen Poe, no law firm, no battle against George Washington for control of the Senate, no overdose on SSRIs and struggle with sobriety… nothing. It doesn’t even cover the fact that vampires were responsible for slavery! Bah!

It follows the basic formula of all these dumb movies, culminating in Abe finally killing Adam the 5,000 year old white vampire during a ridiculous scene in which train cars jump a flaming, collapsing bridge. You don’t even find out Abe has four kids! They only show Willy! WILLY, the worst possible Lincoln of all! Plus they drag poor Mary Todd into the whole thing and have her shoot a vampire in the head with a toy. Come on!

Vampire Abe
Abe Lincoln Vampire

For whatever reason, they cut out Abe’s assassination and resurrection as a vampire entirely. Who cares… this movie is as bad as Dark Shadow. Tim Burton also didn’t follow the source material for this one. Obviously, Dark Shadow is fiction, so there’s more room for play, but it wasn’t good, and this marks a sad trend in Burton’s movies lately. Do yourself a favor and just read Lincoln’s diary, repackaged as “Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter” in a depressing attempt at a movie tie-in.

I give Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter 3 David Lunch heads and a robin’s egg:
3 David Lunch heads and a robin's egg




Assassin’s Creed III DLC

Instead of picking up where Assassins Creed 3 leaves off, or integrating into the story like AC2 DLC, the Tyranny of King Washington DLC is an alternate history of the ongoing secret history story of the Assassins Creed franchise.  If you’ve never played Assassins Creed, the story can be a bit confusing, but it’s basically Quantum Leap meets The Terminator.  The central storyline revolves around Desmond Mills, who was working on a time machine as an employee of a mega-corporation called Abstergo.  He soon finds, though, that Abstergo is really just a front for the Templers, a secret society that’s been controlling history for centuries.  It’s sort of like Back to the Future 2 in this regard, but instead of a sports almanac, the Templers have the Apple of Eden.  The Apple of Eden isn’t a magic apple, like in the Bible, though, it’s… like a computer, kind of.  It’s actually like an incredibly high tech smart phone, sort of, from the distant future.  So, the Templers got it a long time ago (during the Crusades), and they use it to call people from the future, who tell them what’s going to happen so they, the Templers, can make things work out in their favor.  The Apple of Eden also lets you blow up people’s heads and make them go insane and stuff.  Now, Abstergo is the biggest corporation in the world, and the Templers have more money and power than anyone.
AC3 is basically a shot for shot retelling of Terminator 2
AC3 is basically a shot for shot retelling of Terminator 2
There’s a group, though, called Assassins Creed, that opposes the Templers because they don’t think you should control history by knowing the future.  Once Desmond finds out Abstergo is really the Templers, he steals the time machine and joins the Assassins Creed.  This gives him the chance to set right what once went wrong.  The time machine only sends Desmond’s brain back in time, into the body of a person who lived at the time.  So, the first game saw Desmond leaping into the body of a Saracen Crusader named Altire, and in the second game, he lept into the body of a French nobleman named et Zio (French for “and lightning”) Auditorey.  In the third installment, Desmond leaps into the body of a civil war freedom fighter named Connor- an obvious reference to John and Sarah Connor from The Terminator.  TOO obvious a reference, imo.  Desmond-as-Connor’s job is to help rock the colonial vote, and get George Washington elected, while the Templers are trying to get Charlie Lee elected.  Meanwhile, the British are trying to conquer America.
King George with the Apple of Eden
King George with the Apple of Eden
None of this matters in this three-part DLC, though, because Desmond leaps into the body of a magical, drug-taking Indian named Rahoota…Rahuchagin?  It’s a 23 letter name, I can’t even pronounce it, let alone spell it, but he’s magic, and he uses animal spirits to crush his enemies.  If you’ve ever played Mortal Kombat, he’s basically a ripoff of Night Wolf.  He even wears a wolf on his head, like Night Wolf’s alt costume, and uses a tomahawk and a bow & arrow.  Kinda lame, but still a little fun to play as a Indian in a sandbox-style game instead of a fighting game.  Rather than having an election, Washington gets the Apple of Eden from the Templers and uses it to go mad with power.  He makes himself King of America, and Desmond-as-Rahootanaga has to stop him.  As with all time travel stories, there are layers to all of this that have to get resolved to clear up paradoxes, and without spoiling anything, I can say that nothing in this DLC unravels the events of normal Assassins Creed 3.
Nightwolf and Rahochatanooga
Nightwolf and Rahochatanooga
Basically, this game is just like AC3, except you play as a different guy and have magic powers.  I wasn’t crazy about the original, and this version has a lot of the same control issues, and some silly glitches, plus the Eagle Magic can be a little annoying to use sometimes.  If you love AC3 and thought it was soooooooooo great, you’ll probably like this magic Indian version of the game.  If you weren’t too impressed with AC3, you could skip this one.



The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods is a post 9/11 horror film by Josh Wheaton and Gilbert Gottfried.  When this movie was happening for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to make of it because the trailers made it look like nonsense.  Watching it, the movie does, at first, SEEM like nonsense, but it begins to play out in a very real way.  Initially, it contains two parallel and seemingly unrelated story lines with no apparent links- but by the end, they converge and make total sense.

The Cab in the Woo
The Cab in the Woo

The first story focuses on two NASA workers who are obsessed with Japan.  Their scenes all take place at NASA HQ, and involve lengthy dialogs about how cool Japan is, things that are cool in Japan, and how powerful and great Japan is.  They don’t talk about anime or anything, just Japan in general.  It’s clear early on that they have great respect for Japan.  One of these two men is played by Bradley Whitford, who you will remember from The West Wing, which made me really appreciate his role in this film.  In The West Wing, he was very pro America, and in this movie, he’s very pro Japan, and I think that’s a really great dichotomy.  Whitford really breaks away from his old persona, and it’s truly outstanding.

The second story focuses on 5 teenagers who move to a cabin in the woods to escape their bourgeois lives in the city.  Although it’s never explicitly stated in the movie, each of these teens obviously represents an archetypal class: there’s a Warrior (played by Channing Tatum), a Mage, a Priestess/Healer, a Thief, and a Regular Woman.  I don’t know why they are friends.

The Cabin Team
The Cabin Team

So, while the teenagers are driving to the cabin (in the woods), the men at NASA continue to expound on Japanese superiority, eventually inviting all of their NASA friends over to their office for an Otaku party.  When we return to the teenagers, they have reached the cabin, and have discovered a treasure trove of magical artifacts in a secret dungeon, which they use to summon a group of zombies (presumably to grind some EXP).  While they wait for the zombies to arrive, Channing Tatum and the Regular Woman go outside to smooch and rub their bits together, but they accidentally breathe in some zombie magic, which poisons them.  Tatum escapes and the Regular Woman gets eaten by zombies.

Back at NASA, everyone has segued from talking about Japan to talking about monsters while they watch a Japanese horror film about children fighting a ghost.  Suddenly, a phone call interrupts the “Otacon” (see what I did, there?), informing Bradley Whitford’s character that 4 teenagers are fighting zombies in the woods.  Instead of being excited about this, though, he seems to become depressed by the news.

At the cabin, Tatum jumps his dirt bike into a gorge, but no one knows why- this leaves the sole survivors, the Thief and Healer, confused.  The Thief then figures out that he’s on a TV show because he finds a power cord hidden in the cabin, but then he dies… but also, he wasn’t on TV, he was in this movie.  This is one instance of the movie breaking the 4th wall, and it is very well done.  All alone, the Healer fights the remaining zombies, but she almost dies because she can’t cast healing spells AND fight at the same time.  Luckily, the Thief shows up and saves the day- he had 1 HP left and wasn’t dead at all!

Channing's big jump scene
Do it, Channing!

The two of them find a tunnel leading to Area 51, and accidentally release all of the monsters.  Everyone in the famous military base dies.  Whoops!  It turns out, though, that there’s a secret temple below Area 51 that’s even older- the Thief and Healer, nearly out of MP and HP don’t know where to go from here… suddenly, Susan Sarandon shows up and reveals that they are all simply toys, brought to life with a child’s imagination!  Their entire world is make-believe!

Susan Sarandon in Promotheus
Susan Sarandon as she appears in the hit film Promotheus

Then, a werewolf and a zombie throw Susan Sarandon into a well.  The Healer and Thief accept that they are just characters in a child’s imagination, and start smoking weed.  Just then, the child blows the cabin in the woods up with a firecracker and the movie ends.  Oh, and the NASA guys were at Area 51 the whole time- that was the big twist.  Pretty cool.

A werewolf
A werewolf!

I give the movie 4/5 regular triangles and an upside down triangle.

Get it on Amazon.