I have 469 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? Altered (2006)
What’s it rated? R for rednecksploitatation, a game of intestinal tug o’ war and James Gammon’s face.
Did people make it? Written by Eduardo Sanchez and Jamie Nash. Directed by Eduardo Sanchez. Acted by Adam Kaufman, Brad William Henke, Catherine Mangan, Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Michael C. Williams and James Gammon.
What’s it like in one sentence? It’s what Fire in the Sky would be like if it was an action\horror\comedy.
Why did you watch it? Jason the Mason said it was comfortable evening wear for a feline.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Three redneck best friends are hunting a mysterious creature in the woods with some home made weapons. They capture something and take it over to their friend Wyatt’s house, who lives with his girlfriend on a heavily fortified compound in the middle of nowhere and is suffering from some serious PTSD. When their captured prey turns out to be an alien from outer space with razor teeth and psychic powers (and of the same race of aliens that abducted all the friends when they were teenagers), they have to decide whether to let it go, so as not to incur the wrath of the other aliens, or get a little revenge for their miserable lives. Either way, it’s probably not going to work out so well.
Play or remove from my queue? Play it for sure. This one feels so original that even when the huge head of steam it has from the word go starts to dissipate, you’re still so caught up in the novelty of the whole enterprise you can’t look away. The structure of the film is tweaked in such a way that the first scene in the film feels like it should be the halfway point in a regular alien abduction type movie, but Altered doesn’t seem really interested in following the typical story beats you might expect. It starts with Cody, Duke and Otis running around the forest hunting for something they’re also extremely afraid of, and their improvised harpoon gun and other weapons show that they are expecting it to be awfully deadly. After capturing something we can’t quite see (but looks fairly humanoid and screeches like a rabid monkey) they realize they weren’t remotely prepared to capture something and now have no idea what to do next. Duke (the Kenny Powers mulleted leader played by Brad William Henke) remembers his old friend Wyatt and thinks he might be awfully helpful in a situation involving an unconscious alien who might wake up and eat a face or two. As soon as Duke thinks of Wyatt, we flash over to Wyatt’s house and see him waking terrified from a nightmare. He grabs a bottle of liquor and starts checking the perimeter as his girlfriend soothingly tells him there’s nothing out there (and that there never is). He knows in his bones the boys are coming, coming with something deadly, barely unconscious and wrapped in a blanket. Once the alien is duct taped and chained to a table in Wyatt’s garage, the film settles into a less brake neck rhythm and stays fairly consistent for the rest of the running time. It’s mostly a bottle episode of a film, but some nice writing and the energizing pace keep you from realizing that most of the time.
The performances are mostly pretty great with the only exception being the actor playing Wyatt. Adam Kaufman isn’t bad necessarily (even though he’ll always be that scumfuck Parker from Season 4 of Buffy to me) but so much of his work is done through yelling that I found myself becoming less and less invested in his histrionics. I’m not sure if it’s his fault or if it was how he was directed, but I found myself way more interested in Duke’s story than Wyatt’s. Of course, Duke is played by Brad William Henke (who I’ve been a fan of ever since Choke) and his character in this just seems way more interesting than Wyatt’s does. All four of these friends were taken by the aliens when they were teenagers along with another friend who died terribly during their captivity. Duke, Otis and Cody were released early because they didn’t fit the profile for testing the aliens were looking for, but Wyatt did so he was kept for much longer and experimented on. Duke, Otis and Cody spent the decade after their abduction just searching for one of the little fuckers to wail on, while Wyatt holed himself up in his compound to watch the skies. The sadness of all these men who are all still scared little boys haunts every frame of the film and makes Altered more than just another sci-fi\horror hybrid.
I don’t want to say any more about the plot then I have already because watching shit slowly turn to fuck is one of the joys of the film that I refuse to take away. Altered is a a lot of fun and at a breezy 80 minutes there’s no good reason not to knock this one out when you’re looking for something fast paced with a few good jolts and a plot that won’t make you feel stupid afterwords. Also, the practical makeup effects are so gooey and drippy that gore hounds will have a blast with this as well. It’s a solid little thriller that you won’t regret watching one bit.
Do you have a favorite line? After almost shooting Otis with a spear gun, Cody’s reaction to Otis’ anger and fear: “Shut yer trap, piss pants”. With friends like these you should look for other friends who aren’t such fucking assholes.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? It’s an obvious one, but the fact that Altered is directed by Eduardo Sanchez, who co-directed The Blair Witch Project with Daniel Myrick. It would be interesting to find out why he followed up Blair Witch with such a weird and small little tale. They probably could have had their pick of projects at that point.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Organizm (the spelling of this movie makes me want to tell it to fuck itself), Senseless (been in my queue for almost 2 years), Deep Evil (I’m not the biggest fan of Lorenzo Lamas, so…) Scourge (cool cover, couldn’t make it 15 minutes into the movie) and Invasion (also known as Police Dashboard Camera: The Motion Picture).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? Get two TV’s and put Sleepers on one and Fire in the Sky on the other and then let your imagination be your guide.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.8
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3.3
Can you link to the movie? I sure can!
Any last thoughts? Even if nothing I wrote makes you want to watch this movie, watch it for the tug o’ war over a dude’s large intestine. It’s one of the grosser things I’ve ever seen and made me giggle like a pig in shit.
Did you watch anything else this week? I saw Puss In Boots which was much better than expected and I watched Slither for the first time since it came out and it still makes me happy all over.
Next Week? The Evictors unless y’all got a better idea.