Welcome to the first installment of the Chewer Reviewer – a weekly (fingers crossed) column of DVD Reviews written by you guys!  This is a completely reader-driven column so be sure to let your fellow Chewers know what you think of their work and if you think it looks like fun then hop on over the message boards and throw your own proverbial hat into the ring here.  For this week, we have two reviews from Brian Putnam (Jack Dnim) and one from Spike Marshall.  Not fucking bad for the first go-round, if I do say so myself.  Enjoy! – Jeremy

By Brian Putnam

MSRP:  $24.96
RUNNING TIME:  87 Minutes

The Pitch

How Stella Got Her Groove Back with white people.

The Humans

Director: Mikael Salomon.
Starring: Heather Locklear (The Return of the Swamp Thing, Melrose Place), Robert Buckley (One Tree Hill).

The Nutshell

A made for Lifetime movie about a 40 year old divorcee that learns to enjoy life again.

  “Mom, what was Swamp Thing really like?”

The Lowdown

Based on the book of the true life story of author Jane Porter. Jackie Laurens (Locklear) is nearing her 40th birthday and life is a dreary rote exercise. Her husband left her and is currently dating a 29 year old (hot for Denver, Co) woman, her whale client calls her at all hours of the day, and worse yet, the Christmas tree tips over. These continue to build till finally her requisite black friend just can’t take it anymore, and reserves a luxurious birthday vacation for the both of them to head off to Hawaii. Of course the black friend can’t make it and Jackie reluctantly heads off on her own. There she meets hunky surf instructor Kyle Hamilton (Buckley). A relationship soon develops that contends both with long distance logistics and May-December realities.

Admittedly the second trip to Zoltar changed the tone of the film entirely.

You know what the deal is, this is paint by numbers. Safe and non threatening. Kyle is barely a person, with no real ambition of his own, and existing only to spur Jackie’s eventual self actualization. Both Locklear and Buckley fulfill adequately the requirements of their roles, which is pretty much all you should expect with a flick like this. It’s terrifically shot for a made for TV movie, which is not that surprising when you realize the director is Mikael Salomon, the cinematographer from such films as The Abyss, and Backdraft. If any of this sounds at all interesting to you, it’s exactly what you think it is, and you won’t be disappointed, but you won’t be impressed either.
The Package

The artwork is a perfect mirror for the movie, serviceably indicating both the likely plot and Locklear’s existence within.

There are no special features unless you want to count the gag reel that plays at the end of the movie. You can if you want, but we might as well count subtitles and interactive menus! while we’re at it.

Unfortunately for Louis it was still the first act of Revenge of the Nerds V.

By Spike Marshall

STUDIO: Lionsgate
MSRP: $14.98
RUNNING TIME: 84 Minutes
Trivia Track

The Pitch

Hey remember that shocking film that made people question their faith in god? Lets spoof the shit out of it!

The Humans

Linda Blair (yeah THAT Linda Blair), Anthony Starke (aka OH THAT GUY! from every TV show made after 1998), Leslie Neilsen (once comic genius now harbinger of creative death, Ned (squeals like a piggy) Beatty

The Nutshell

Nancy Aglet, still recovering from her possession thirteen years ago, has settled into Suburbia. Unfortunately the Devil has other plans and ensnares her soul again. Seeking aid she enlists the help of a young priest in the midst of a crisis of faith Father Luke Brophy (Starke). Unable to deal with the exorcism himself Brophy himself tries to enlist the aid of the priest who originally exorcised Nancy thirteen years ago, Father Jebedaiah Mayii (Neilsen). Before Brophy can talk Mayii into performing the exorcism a pair of Televisual Evangelists convince Brophy’s superiors to televise the Exorcism. So begins a battle between good and evil that feels oddly out of place in a film more intent on tit jokes and non-sequiturs than actual plot.

 In 1990, an old white guy pretending to be Michael Jackson was considered transgressive.

The Lowdown

The films of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, colloquially known as ZAZ, changed the fabric and definition of comedy films. Sure before Kentucky Fried Movies films comedy films were oddball and contained narrative diversions and dead ends galore, but ZAZ took the comedy film and turned it into a collection of sketches which operated on their own internal logic and were fired at such rapid a rate that the failures were forgotten and the good jokes were allowed to build up accumulatively over the course of the film. This type of rapid-fire , non-sequitur based,joke mongering would be adopted by a plethora of filmmakers with varying levels of success until the genre became associated with the Scary Movie and **** Movie franchises. But even the worst of these films were able to contain elements which were funny just based on probability alone. When a film has approximately three jokes a minute vying for your attention the chances are one or two are going to hit you in that particular funny bone. Such is the case with Bob Logan’s 1990 film Repossessed, a spoof sequel to William Friedkin’s the Exorcist (although to be honest John Boorman’s wondrously nutty Exorcist II: The Heretic had unknowingly done this already), which never seemed to quite understand what it wanted to be.

 Ned’s attempts to Robert Johnson his way out of the picture proved to be futile.

Director Bob Logan seems keen to adapt the usual ZAZ style of sketch based comedy driven by a simple, singular, narrative but whereas the films by ZAZ were wild and anarchic and often utterly left-field Repossessed feels like a film where wackiness has been created by a focus group. Which is a shame because attempting to make a spoof out of a film that in its original run gave people mental disorders is a ballsy move and if the film had a little spine or substance it might have been successful. As it is the films childish sense of humour (a lot of the jokes feel like they were ripped straight from a Warner Bros. Cartoon) is constantly at odds with a few trace elements of bawdiness.  Without an occasional flash of tits the film is pretty much a family film, even the language is considerably toned down, which is a shame because there are smatterings of greatness throughout the film.

Linda Blair seems to have a blast whilst reprising her most famous role and whilst possessed she is easily the funniest and most magnetic force on the screen. Leslie Nielsen by contrast is already showing signs of  the apathy that will come to define his comedic career in the late 90s and 00s and it’s quite depressing to see him so obviously not care, especially when this film is smack bang in the middle of his two best comedic performances as Lt. Frank Drebin in first two Naked Gun films. When he’s on form Nielsen can give context to the wackiness going on all around him by being completely serious, but in films like this when he’s allowed to flail around and react to the jokes he comes across as a pale imitation of Lloyd Bridges.

Giving some colour to proceedings are Ned Beatty and Lana Schwab as Ernest and Fanny Ray Weller a pair of Television Evangelists who are given far too little to do. Beatty in particular is an absolute joy as the foul tempered, animal hating, charalatan he is and his scenes during the fake exorcism of Nancy Aglet are genuinely entertaining. In fact his grandstanding performance seems to come from an altogether, and far more interesting, film and it’s a real shame his screentime is limited as such. Although the biggest shame of all is that Ned Beatty is a supporting player in a film such as this.

The film itself is fairly uninspiring with drab camera work which is way too proud of the visual jokes on display (LOL, the disabled parking spaces have disabled logos parked in them) and it’s never helped by a weird plinky plonky score. There are some moments where the film comes alive, the last ten minutes with Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura giving colour commentary to the exorcism is markedly improved from the rest of the film and it’s because Blair, Nielsen and Ventura are allowed to interact in a way which feels natural and almost subtle. It’s just such a shame that you have to endure such a woefully anemic film to get to these few laughs.

The DVD itself is printed by The Lost Collection who promise to unearth the ‘Best Movies You Totally Forgot About’. The transfer is reasonable, although Bob Logan’s daytime soap like direction is never going to look particularly good, and the sole extra is actually more amusing than the movie. By selecting the Trivia Track you are occasionally given pieces of text which explain just how many Oscars members of the crew had won for their work on other, BETTER, films. Given the tone of the packaging I’m tempted to believe this is supposed to be subtly antagonistic towards the film and it genuinely is quite funny at times.

OVERALL 3 out of 10

by Jack Dnim

MSRP:  $14.98
RUNNING TIME:  60 Minutes

The Pitch

Lionheart mixed with the serious parts of Kingpin.

The Humans

Director: Jonathon Dillon.
Writer: Ian Shorr (Splinter)
Starring: Chad Ortis, Rebecca Neuenswander.

The Nutshell

A chick punches a bunch of dudes in their faces, bonds are forged, self-realisations are had.  

The Lowdown

Michael Dublin (Ortis), his friends call him Dublin, is an old fashioned blue collar hustler. Working angles, and waist deep in the world of underground boxing. None of that MMA stuff for you purists. We are introduced to him just before the next fight he promotes is to begin. He wants his fighter to throw the fight. The fighter doesn’t, then exposes Dublin’s plan to the crowd. Dublin is chased from the tent, fleeing into a freeze frame, and a wry observation about rednecks not appreciating irony. We immediately cut to a montage of scenes that reveal a street race is about to take place, it seems Dublin has varied interests, supplying a racer with “rocket fuel”. Unfortunately the driver’s handgun carrying bald friend would appreciate if Dublin stay till the end of the race. The car bursts into flames and both the driver the bald friend proceed to beat the crap out of Dublin. Disturbed by the noise outside her squat, it is here the 135 lb Kat Parker (Neuenswander) interjects. She unleashes both thunder and lightning and drops the driver, a fairly large man. Then in a key moment disarms the bald friend. Dublin is suitably impressed, and seeing the potential pursues her for recruitment. From there the adventure begins.

Alabama “marriage counseling”

You either buy into it, or you don’t. It’s a movie about a girl that goes toe to toe with men in underground bare knuckle boxing matches. Regardless of weight class she drops them. I think Neuenswander has enough of a physicality about her, that you could buy the character in a fight without too much trouble. For the filmmaker’s part they do a good job of showing Kat has a lot of finesse, dancing around the ring, and striking quick. The fights are well shot, you can see who is hitting who, and they come often enough to justify the title. Ortis does well in portraying the smarmy Dublin, never overplaying it. The funny thing about Dublin as a character is that he’s treated as a guy with a reputation for getting over on people, but of the scams you see him pull, none work, and what the films seems to want to treat as his big scam is really just backing a fighter that is simply better than the rest. I think where the film falters is with the backstory subplots. You just don’t really care, and though they serve a purpose in solidifying the bond between the principle characters, I don’t think we needed the last five or so minutes dedicated to resolving them in such an A-Z manner.

 From ICE to ice, things were still on the downslope for one, Assistant Chief of Security, Vic Mackey.

Caveats considered, it’s still fairly solid, and should keep you entertained.

The Package

I think the artwork is sleek looking. You have both the title and an intriguing image of a physically fit woman in tattered jeans and dirty wife beater contrasted against a simple white background with some smoky lines and gray intrusion at the top.

There are deleted scenes, all of which seem to be cut for economy. However, there is an odd one where the principles are on an elevator arguing and then a group of sorority girls in matching greek letter tops hop on. The principles continue the argument till their floor, and as they exit Dublin turns back to make a crack about “Sorostitutes”. End scene.

 The Linda Hamilton would give any man pause.

There’s an audio commentary with the director John Dillon, the cinematographer Hanuman Brown-Eagle, and gaffer/misc. Jason Cantu. There’s an obvious camaraderie between them, and though not especially technical, it is potentially informative for those interested in low budget filmmaking as they recount the odds and ends of the production.