Friday, May 5, 2017

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

Sigh.

You people suck.  I mean it.  You guys are real assholes.

A couple months ago, I put out the call to action for B-Movie Enema Facebook followers to vote for what my May 2017 theme was going to be.  You had marvelous choices.  You could have picked more 80s horror (I subscribe to an entire channel on YouTube that I wanted to pull from).  You could have picked Cannon Films.  You could have chosen the chance to revisit movies from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  Hell, you could have picked to send me to the Sharknado series!  Shark-fucking-nado!

No.  Some jerk swung in in the waning minutes of the poll on Survey Monkey and put a month of mockbusters from The Asylum over the top.  So, here I am.  Watching movies I'm gonna hate because I truly despise these dumb flicks cranked out from The Asylum.

Who is The Asylum?  Simply put, they are a company that makes movies on the cheap to pump out onto the Syfy Channel or direct to DVD.  They make all sorts of movies from science fiction to horror to comedies to even animated movies now and Christian movies.  However, the claim to fame for The Asylum is the mockbusters they produce.

A mockbuster is a movie that is purposely aping off an expected big-budget, high popularity movie with the intent to trick those who are a little less than a layman movie fan to think that the movie they are renting on demand or buying at a store IS the major studio movie they saw advertisements for around the same time.  The names are very similar and very easy to confuse as you will see in a couple examples I'll cover this month.

Then, there are movies like this week's feature - Journey to the Center of the Earth.  Books like this by Jules Vernes, or books by H.G. Wells are either very cheap to option for a movie or enough in the public domain that anyone can make an adaptation if they wish.  It just so happens that this came out at the same time as a big budget version of the movie at the same time from New Line Cinema starring Brenden Fraser.  I'm gonna guess the New Line movie is a tad more faithful to the book, but what's the synopsis for the Asylum version?  From Amazon Prime: "A group of scientists is performing a teleportation experiment, but something goes wrong, and the team ends up at the center of the earth, where they just manage to send off a distress signal before being hunted by a dinosaur."

Okay, so let's finally get this rolling.  I don't have all day to sit around and procrastinate about this stupid theme month...

The movie is pretty ballsy enough to start with a cold open.  We see a couple fairly hot chicks looking over some science equipment and saying they can't get a satellite lock on where they are - only they "are not in Germany" for sure.  They are curious where two other hot chicks are from their party.  Those ladies run afoul of a Tyrannosaurus Rex which leads to one trying to shoot it with a machine gun only to be eaten later.

Smash cut to the credits where we watch a blueprint of two sci-fi machines fuck each other into submission - much like this movie will do to me as I watch and wish I could do literally anything else on this Saturday afternoon.

Scientifically-inclined-yet-kinda-kooky-and-gothy-and-or-zany
CBS crime show lab assistant.
So a pair of kinky, black boots walk into a room and ask the cool dad from the classic 80s sitcom My Two Dads (Greg Evigan) what he's doing.  The boots belong to the stock scientifically-inclined-yet-kinda-kooky-and-gothy-and-or-zany CBS crime show lab assistant.

There's something about a General waiting to talk to Evigan about whatever it is they are doing at this place.  It's mentioned that the General makes people nervous and a little anxious when he's around.  Probably because, you know, they are doing sciency shit and the military is involved and a General is a pretty high ranking in the military and such.  But whatever, Evigan, who plays Harnet, just tells the gothy chick to hold off the General while he does... other stuff.  I kinda think Harnet should be acting like the lead of this lab place, but what do I know?

I tell you what I do know...  There is a goddamn locker room full of sexy army chicks showering and what have you.  Two of them get into a little scrape, because... The Asylum needs some way for me to stay involved here.  Harnet just walks right into that locker room and calls for the captain girl to walk with him for a chat.  Harnet gives the captain some bullshit about how he knows her team of all lady soldiers are going to be ready to go.  The lady soldier people go into what appears to just be some generic lab set and stand in a section that just has duct tape on the floor to indicate some teleportation device.  They are supposed to be going to Germany, but when they teleport, the place they are supposed to be going responds that there has been no visual of the team yet.

Wait!  Are we seeing the girls from the beginning of the movie?  Did this stupid movie start with a little bit of foreshadowing and the first few minutes post credits were a flashback?  Goddammit.  This movie started with an action scene to engage us to keep watching.  Fuck.  That's a really bad sign.

Also, why is the team all female?  Is there a particular reason for that?  I'm not saying I'm not into it, because... phhht, I am way into it, but is this The Asylum's way to just make sure we get to watch girls in tank tops carrying around machine guns and acting tough to keep us watching?  For that matter, why are they carrying machine guns?  They are just meant to hop over to the lab in Stuttgart, Germany.  Doesn't seem like they were invading Stuttgart.

Oh...  Sexy girls in tank tops acting tough AND carrying machine guns for the explicit reason to have sexy girls in tank tops acting tough and carrying machine guns?  I get it.  *Shrug* Okay, I'm into it.

Nerdy soldier girl (who is only discernible to this point because she is wearing nerdy glasses) is able to communicate with the base they teleported from, but she drops the communicator when the T-Rex showed up and chased the girls away from their landing spot.  Gothy lab girl is able to see that their radio signal came from some 600km (though I think the gothy chick said 6,000 and it wasn't fixed in post production) beneath the surface of the planet.  The General who makes everyone nervous is looking on during the test, and isn't too pleased with the group of lady soldiers going missing.  He also doesn't want the teleporter to be used again to save them.  Harnet agrees, but says they have another option.

Enter yet another hot lady to the fray - Emily Radford played by Dedee Pfeiffer.  She is Harnet's ex-wife and the creator of a laser drill thing that can penetrate the Earth's crust.  She doesn't like the military and is reluctant to help, but gets talked into letting them help when Harnet explains Emily's sister, Kristen, the leader of the lady soldiers (I guess?) is trapped inside the Earth.

Goddammit.  This movie isn't even 20 minutes old and it's just science gobbledygook and hot chicks.  You'd think I'd be all over this, but it's a tough one, folks.

I guess I need to sort out who's who in the center of the Earth:
Captain Radford - the leader of the lady soldiers, and Emily's sister.
Jansen - a blonde who seems to be your goody two shoes soldier who draws the ire of...
Case - a really hot, but very angry soldier who likes to pick on Jansen.  Why?  Don't know, don't care.
Lake - nerdy soldier girl.
They run into all sorts of shenanigans mostly revolving around trying to escape from the T-Rex that has already killed two of their number.  They also find small, brittle land bridges that cross over lakes of lava.

Meanwhile, Harnet and Emily are talking about her "Deep Digger", or "DD" for short.  This sounds an awful lot like "Dedee" which the actress, named Dedee, is constantly saying about her invention and referring to it as a "she" any chance she gets.  That's odd.  But not nearly as odd as her description of how the thing works and showing Harnet the blueprints of it.  We don't see the full thing close up, but, from what we CAN see, the goddamn "Deep Digger" looks like a fucking throbbing dick.  She continually almost seems to be getting wet talking about the device - which only makes me think that this is 100% a dick joke:

Let's get a little closer look, shall we?
Veiny shaft...
Mushroom head.  Yeah, checks out.  It's a giant dick.
Also - Emily says that the hotter the "surface", the more able the Deep Digger can change the phase to penetrate.  Which gives Harnet the understanding that, based on theory, "the deeper she goes, the more effective she is."

Jesus Christ.  They didn't even try to mask the dick joke.

Okay, so Dedee (Pfeiffer) sends Harnet home with the instruction guide for DD, the giant dick machine.  In the center of the planet, the girls take a moment to rest.  Captain Radford goes on a brief scout mission.  She tells the other three to stay put and make sure they don't leave that spot unless they absolutely have to.  She investigates a crystal found on the ground, and Case sneaks up behind her.  Apparently, Case just HAD to go talk to Radford about... nothing at all.  They just break up like that.  Radford and Case find water to drink while Lake and Jansen get sprayed with a knockout gas by a plant that looks kind of like the monster from Stranger Things.

Harnet and Emily launch in the giant Earth Fucker to rescue the soldier girls.  Emily says that there were issues with the last test she ran with the Deep Dicker.  However, she only said she fixed it.  She didn't actually fix the problem.  Oh fuck it, just keep drilling deep guys because that problem has been introduced but completely ignored from here on out.

Oh, another problem introduced and quickly dropped is the knockout plant that Lake and Jansen got sprayed by.  Nothing more happened to them than they got a little dizzy and were sleeping for a little bit.  No hallucinations. No other center of the earth people to kidnap them. No issues with wildlife using the opportunity to attack their defenselessness.  Not even any sexy girl-on-girl making out as a side effect from the drug in the plant's spray.  Nothing.  They do find a waterfall to wet themselves in and poor over their tits, though:
There is that, I guess.
After looking over the crystal Radford found, Lake discerns that they are inside the Earth and not on the surface.  There's actually a fairly decent explanation of it.  While I will always doubt the scientific accuracy of any Asylum movie, what Lake says about what the crystal is, where they are, and the fact that they are also underneath a few dozen kilometers of molten lava all seems to probably check out.  I'm too lazy to look it up, but it sounds kind of intelligent.  At least a little more intelligent than the whole Deep Digger/Penis Pounder thing Emily and Harnet is using to rescue them.
Seriously...  It's a cock.
It's now I should start to realize a fatal flaw in all these goddamn shitfest movies.  We're in the incredibly boring and uninteresting second act of the movie.  We're about halfway through, and, for the most part, we've spent the better part of the last fifteen minutes or so just watching the girls wander about the terrain and escape from dinosaurs and poison plants.  I also have a feeling that a vast majority of what's left in the movie for Emily and Harnet will be them piloting the Dildo Dickens into the planet to save the girls.

And that is true.  Jansen does get taken while on watch so the rest of the girls can get rest.  Come to find out it's a really shitty looking giant spider that took Jansen.  While they find her, Emily and Harnet are just sitting in the cockpit (pun totally intended).  They spend most of the time talking about why Emily's sister was sent on the mission for the teleportation tests and working out their own beef.  They do run into some problems cause the drill approaches an empty void which causes problems for the drill because it has to have something to swim in or drill through.  You know, like a penis.  It's useless unless it is plowing through ass or swimming in pussy.

Another thing I've spotted multiple times in this movie that drives me absolutely bat shit is a little thing they do with the camera and the zoom that I think is meant to be a tension building device.  Anyway, they will start on a shot.  For example, often when they show an establishing shot of the area the girls are traveling or in a scene in which Emily is trying to correct a malfunction on the big dick drill and in a tight space working on the guts of it.  What they will do is give you that shot and then do a real quick zoom in, just a little bit.  It doesn't zoom all the way in, but it just readjusts the scope of what you're looking at as if to say, "Here's an establishing shot, but LOOK AT THIS REAL QUICK!" and tightens that frame just a little bit.  This shit is all over movies like Man of Steel that has a particular director's (or possibly cinematographer's) style stamped all over it.  It's annoying as shit and it really is claustrophobic in that scene in which Emily is trying to fix the ship in a really tight space because it's already a kind of tight shot and it gets a little tighter.  It's a shitty camera effect and it severely takes me out of everything to the point that I start to rant about it when I should be paying attention to Jansen being rescued from the spiders, but throwing up blood and something that looks like an egg.

Wait...  What did I just type?  They saved Jansen from the spider monsters.  Okay, good.  When they get free, Jansen starts coughing up blood and spits up something that looks like an egg.  Oh great.  These spiders are kind of funny.  They have that typical movie thing in which they make rattling sounds.  Spiders don't make sounds.  Not themselves.  I suppose they can make sounds when they crawl across something that their little legs tap against.  But these have little beetle-like plates they flap.  Spiders don't have those.  Beetles make clacking sounds because of the little shells they tuck their wings under, sure.  Spiders are not beetles.  Also they aren't puppies.  These growl at each other like a puppy playing tug-of-war with a dirty gym sock.  They seemingly communicate with each other by waving their front legs at each other, too.

The big ol' ding dong used a volcano to drill its way down through the foamy sky of the center of the Earth place, but yet still end up in a river of lava where they encounter giant lava... eels...?  Sure, lava eels.  They escape them fairly easily.  Back home, the general orders up that the teleporter should be powered up for retrieval.  Wait.  I thought earlier, he said he wouldn't use that for retrieval and could use the digger to get them out.  But I guess now the digger had a damaged power source that can't get them back home, they can teleport home.  I guess, in the end, Harnet had to get there to reboot the teleporter so they can be saved?  Why couldn't the girls do that?  Is there a reason he had to do it?  They fight an even larger spider, and Jansen's body explodes open where a bunch of baby spiders come crawling out.  They activate the teleporter and get home and everyone is happy!

Except...  One of their own is dead (well, actually I guess three of their outfit).  Like really dead.  And she was a decent girl.  Not the leader or the nerd, but definitely not the bitchy one that actually kind of tormented her.  What is with these shitty movies constantly killing undeserved girls?  She didn't cause any problems.  She wasn't an idiot.  She just freaking got tortured by Case and then got blowed up by monster spiders.  Boo, movie. Boo.

Things seem to end happily, but uh oh...  One of the baby monster spiders came back with them!  Oh no!

Additionally...
Fuck you Asylum!
Here's the thing about this movie.  It didn't even have terrible special effects.  It wasn't over the top bad like The Room or Birdemic.  No one acted poorly in the movie.  I genuinely liked the six main characters in the movie (the four soldier girls, Dedee Pfeiffer, and Greg Evigan).  The gothy girl was pretty bad, but it's okay for the quality of the film.  No, the problem with this is it's fairly lazily made.  There's no motivation for anything to happen.  Yeah, the girls had motivation not to be eaten by dinosaurs or spiders.  Yes, Harnet had motivation to get the team back.  Yes, yes.  What I mean by this having no motivation for anything can be best summed up in three questions:

Why is there a teleportation device and to what end will it be used?
Why are the soldiers testing it out all female?
Why do we care about Emily's deep dicking machine?

These are pretty important elements in the story, but with no motivation or explanation, none of it matters.  I kind of have to believe the script was probably written in, like, 36 hours and delivered directly to a stage where all the actors were ready to start working that day.  In that sense, it's cynical.

I have to believe that I'm about to be bombarded with cynical for the next three weeks too.

That does it for this week.  Next week, I continue to be driven insane with another Asylum shitfest.  This time, it'll be one of their movies that shares a very similar title to the movie they are trying to capitalize on without copying the name completely.  Come back next week, and we'll dive a little deeper into the Atlantic Rim!

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