Want your movie to seem amazing? Before you screen your flick, make your audience sit through the Shannon Doherty SyFy cheapie, Witchslayer Gretl.

How cheap? They apparently couldn’t even afford the second “e” in Gretel.

Witchslayer Gretl:

This movie, which obviously capitalizes on the spate of Hansel and Gretel movies that have been released recently, is so terrible it doesn’t deserve the label “craptacular.” It doesn’t even deserve the label “crap.” It doesn’t even deserve mocking.


If you watch that whole movie, you’ll need to watch Cats Puking to Techno to purge your soul:

Then you’ll feel terrible for laughing at cats puking up hairballs, but you’ll have forgotten about Witchslayer Gretl’s bad writing, directing, acting, makeup, sound mixing, art design, set design, sound design, costumes, and special effects.

The upside to Witchslayer Gretl is that anything you watch immediately afterwards will seem significantly better than it actually is.

We should have watched BloodRayne again to see just how much of a boost a movie can get from the pairing.

But we didn’t because, well, BloodRayne.

Instead, we watched Wyvern:

Wyvern is a fairly competent movie. Stupid, but competent. It stars That Guy Who Played Scully’s Dad on the X-Files and That Woman Who is on All Those Other Shows and That Guy Who is on All Those Other Shows and That Other Guy Who is on All Those Other Shows and That Guy Who Is in a Lot of Other Shows and Movies and Looks a Little Bit Like the Love Child of Harrison Ford and the Guy Who Plays Nathan on Eureka.

We recently re-watched Silent Hill. I didn’t remember it as great, but it was much worse than I remembered. Now that I’m reminded that we watched it as a double-feature with BloodRayne, that makes sense.

paleontologychicken Last month, Husband took a day off and we spent some quality time together.

(With our Tivo, Overlord II).

A series of Florida swamp adventures slowed down my posting schedule, but here at last is what I wrote about the rest of Pop Culture Paleontology Day (low rent edition).

I’m hoping the suspense didn’t kill you after I posted about our warmup flick, lake Placid 3, and then left you hanging when we moved on to 4 truly special dinosaur creature-features: Raptor Island, Pterodactyl, Rise of the Dinosaurs, and Triassic Attack.

(They were special because they were the 4 dinosaur-themed movies we had on our Tivo).

There are spoilers here, but if you’re reading this you probably don’t care.

Before we get to the movies, I wanted to comment on the real-life big news about the Smithsonian getting long-term lone of a super-swank T. rex.

“Tyrannosaurus rex gets long-term lease at Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum.”

That the [Army] Corps had a T. rex to lend was news to many of its senior leaders. “They didn’t know we had a dinosaur,” said Sonny Trimble, who oversees curation and management of archaeological collections for the Corps. People transfer, he said. Many retired. So “the chief engineer doesn’t wake up in the morning saying, ‘How’s our dinosaur doing?’”

I’ve been telling you for years that the dinosaur-human supersoldier project is a secret, so of course they didn’t want us to know they own dinosaurs.

I don’t think that counts as a digression because it’s about dinosaurs. And the military.


First up, Raptor Island (2004).

This movie is a classic, in that it was made in 2004 when SyFy was still SciFi.

The movie opens with a plane crash in the distant, grainy, faux-film effects past. Who was on the plane? What was on the plane? Why are you asking stupid questions like that?

The movie jumps ahead 40 years later, to Lorenzo Lamas and his CIA agent lady-friend and his team of Navy Seals hunting a terrorist in a jungle full of vicious dinosaurs.

Lorenzo Lamas, bitches!

As an aside, the raptors in all these movies were slappers, not clappers. See also: Brian Switek: Doing the T. rex Stretch at the Smithsonian’s Dinosaur Tracking Blog.

Wait! What the hell? While I was looking up that last link, Lorenzo Lamas – Navy Seal, hair gel aficionado, and now, apparently, a dinosaur expert – informed his CIA lady friend that a plane carrying radioactive waste (or maybe weapons-grade plutonium, it’s not clear) mutated the regular animals that lived on this otherwise benign island in the South China Sea. Into dinosaurs! In only 40 years!

Of course it did!

After that brilliant exposition there was some nonsense with some explosives, a volcano erupted, some other military shit happened, and then the movie ended.

On to Pterodactyl (2005), which stars dinosaurs, a volcano, and Coolio.


Paleontology Professor/heartthrob Michael Lovecraft (Cameron Daddo) and his motley band of grad students pile into a jeep and head off into a forest in Turkey because an earthquake has opened a fissure in a dormant volcano and they plan to look inside! Little do they know, because they ignored the warning at the beginning of the movie, Coolio and his Special Forces team are hunting terrorists in this same forest.

The same forest! What are the odds!?!

Pterodactyl is nothing like Raptor Island.

In Raptor Island some terrorists and some terrorist-hunting military dudes all ran around in the forest (and occasionally in some caves), and they battled dinosaurs, and there was a huge nest of baby dinosaurs, and then a volcano erupted.

In Pterodactyl, some dinosaurs fly around and some terrorists and some terrorist-hunting military dudes run around in the forest (and, occasionally in some cave-like locations), and they battle dinosaurs, and there’s a huge nest of baby pterodactyles. It’s totally different than Raptor Island because in Pterodactyl the volcano erupts before any of the other stuff.

We thought that maybe if we were lucky, some raptors might show up and eat all of the characters.

(We weren’t that lucky).

(During parts of Rise of the Dinosaurs, and definitely through the whole middle section of Triassic Attack, we hoped that some raptors might show up and eat us).

At this point in the festivities we took a break so Husband could make chicken curry for dinner because pop culture paleontology day demands consumption of birds.

(It was hilarious at the time).

After dinner, it was on to…

Rise of the Dinosaurs (aka Jurassic Attack 2010), in which a plane crashed in the jungle and then some military dudes hunt terrorists and battle dinosaurs.

Only kidding!

They’re hunting rebels.

Hey! The military dudes just came upon a nest of dino eggs!

Hey! That was Corin Nemec, co-star of House of Bones

Now they’re battling dinosaurs!

After some “dramatic” action and they escape in a helicopter. Like you do.

As they fly back to civilization, having forgotten that in the beginning of the movie the central conflict was that they were all infected with a bio-weapon that meant they would have to be killed or something and could never go back to civilization, two of the characters have this exchange:

“How do we explain all this?”
“We don’t!”

Fine. Whatever. The movie is over? I’ll take it.

triassicattackLast, but not least: Triassic Attack, which stars Kristy Mitchell, star of Lake Placid 3. When I saw that I was sure that this was meant to be!

(Or, at that point, I’d reached the optimum blood-alcohol to achieve some sort of b-movie equanimity. Who can say, really?)

Triassic Attack has the annoying elements of Movie Archaeology combined with the annoying elements of Pop Culture Paleontology.

When we watched Lake Placid 3 this morning, I was confused because I remembered it as a bit of spoof of Eureka, starring Colin Ferguson.

It wasn’t.

That’s because I was confusing it with Triassic Attack, which is a bit of a spoof of Eureka, directed by Colin Ferguson.

This movie is aggravating on many levels. It confuses archaeology (humans and artifacts) with paleontology (dinosaurs).

In brief: the Chief leading the American Indian repatriation protest at the paleontology museum does a ceremony to re-animate the dinosaur skeletons and your brain rolls over and fakes a coma for 90 minutes and it’s best to just go with it.

Oh, here, let’s just make this super-easy:

[embedded video: Triassic Attack trailer]

If you’re a super-nerd, you might enjoy this Pterodactyl trivia. It’s the kind of thing we cared about before we watched 5 of these movies in one day and broke something in our insides.

I’ll just quote wikipedia because it’s all I can muster at this point:

Many of the characters are named after famous science-fiction and fantasy writers – Burroughs (Edgar Rice Burroughs), Clarke (Sir Arthur C. Clarke), Donaldson (Steven Donaldson), Heinlein (Robert A. Heinlein), Herbert (Frank Herbert), Lem (Stanislaw Lem), Lovecraft (H.P. Lovecraft), Serling (Rod Serling), Yolen (Jane Yolen) and Zelazny (Roger Zelazny).

As I finish editing this draft (6 weeks later), we’re watching Swamp Shark, which includes dramatic dialogue like, “If it breathes, it can be killed!”

Now that’s some quality writing. The acting is even better.

Clearly we don’t ever seem to learn our lesson.

When I was a kid, our next door neighbors had a Hammond organ. They used to let me play it but their sheet music selection was pretty limited.

Very limited.

Let’s put it this way: if you ever form a Jim Croce cover band and need some funky organ breaks for “Time in a Bottle,” I’m your girl.

I have no idea how this post was supposed to end because I went down a rabbit hole for a while. I was linking to Jim Croce’s website and the front page link for “dinner reservations” was deeply confusing until I discovered it led to the Croce’s Restaurant site. Croce’s Restaurant is closing in December. It’s in San Diego, I bet Batty has been there.

I should really get back to lecture writing. Or watching shitty movies. Ooh, my lecture is on urban legends, so I could watch the movie Urban Legends and multitask!

Recently, I ended a post by stating that we were watching Prometheus and it looked cool. I only remember that because I just searched my blog to see whether I ever wrote a post about Prometheus because I’d like to know what I thought. It was that memorable.

It had only been a few weeks since we watched it and JunglePete just asked me why I didn’t warn him about what a goddamned boring and annoying movie it was. Those probably weren’t his exact words, but they could have been. You know why?

Because Prometheus is a goddamned boring and annoying movie.

There was some kind of Movie Archaeology going on that was probably offensive to both cultural resource managers and real space archaeologists (there is such a thing) but I’ve repressed it all and can’t really remember many of the specifics about what my issues were.

Oh yeah, it’s coming back to me: it was a crappy movie.

And it was boring.

While I try to remember if there was anything else, here’s a link to the disappointed Prometheus review from Space Archaeology, a website that seems to have lost the will to live not long after posting it’s review of this movie.

Boring, boring movie. Of boringness.

The plot of Prometheus (spoilers if you’re stupid): long scenes showing a badly designed archaeological expedition (dig everywhere, maybe we’ll find some shit!) and then a whole lot of running and screaming and probably some exploding goo aliens because, duh, it’s the prequel to Alien.

Husband just tried to defend it, insisting it “wasn’t that bad.”

I informed Husband that he thought it wasn’t so bad because he snored through parts of the movie.

His response: “I did?”

I rest my case.

Intending to watch the hilarious Happy, Texas but instead watching the not-hilarious Paris, Texas is a mistake I doubt one makes twice.

I certainly haven’t.

Ditto: thinking you’re in for an evening filled with the adorableness of Sandra Bullock (and adorable alcoholics, judging from the description) in 28 Days and accidentally finding yourself immersed in the horrors of zombies in 28 Days Later.

Haven’t made that mistake again, either.

Mistaking Under Satan’s Sun (aka Under the Sun of Satan) for Under the Tuscan Sun would probably be the most disturbing of all, but I haven’t seen either one so I’m just speculating.

Unless Under the Tuscan Sun also stars Gérard Depardieu as a self-flagellating priest. I hadn’t considered that possibility.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the case but I’m very sure I don’t wish to investigate further. Slate’s David Edelstein concluded his review of Under the Tuscan Sun with this description: “The movie is sweet but deeply suspect: It’s like Lost Horizon re-imagined by a realtor.

What the hell does that even mean?

After about 30 seconds of research I’ve realized it’s a bit less ominous than I thought, in that it turns out Lost Horizon bears no resemblance to the movie that I originally thought he was referring to, Lost Highway.

I am not to be trusted with the Netflix queue when I have a high fever.

Are bike messengers still a thing in the United States? Not as in, do they still exist – of course they still exist! (How else would people get weed delivered to their office in the middle of the day?)

Let me start over: I’m sure there are still courier services – I wonder if their numbers have decreased.

With the exception of Premium Rush, they’ve almost vanished from pop culture. When was the last time the “hip friend” character on a show was a bike courier?

I was just wondering about bike messengers because I was wondering if someone made a Dark Angel reboot, would the main characters still be messengers? I don’t know why I was thinking about this. I’m not now, nor have I ever, watched Dark Angel.

Maybe I started thinking about Dark Angel because it’s indirectly connected to Stonehenge Apocalypse because Supernatural‘s Jensen Ackles was in the 2nd season of Dark Angel and then a few years later landed a lead role on Supernatural, which, in the 4th season, added Misha Collins to the cast as one of the best characters ever and Misha Collins is, of course, the star of Stonehenge Apocalypse, which we’ve just started watching.

Probably not, but it would be cool if that was why.

I can’t believe I’ve never mentioned Stonehenge Apocalypse. Not only have we seen it before, we’re re-watching it. On purpose. For pretty much no reason at all.

It’s got Misha Collins AND disaster movie physics AND adventure movie archaeology AND Stonehenge AND an apocalypse, all wrapped up in one big tortilla of terrible.

Goddamned movie archaeologists. Always doing their archaeology stuff with ancient powerful relics, trying to facilitate the apocalypse or raise an ancient god or get even more super-rich.

Luckily, movie physicists and movie astrophysicists are always standing by to save the day by preventing the power-mad, well-funded movie archaeologists from destroying the world.

For realism, these movies really ought to have a scene in realtime where the movie archaeologists spend 30 minutes arguing over which is the the cheapest happy hour in town and then spend the next 7 hours of storytime drinking beer and arguing about stable isotope analysis and critical theory and heritage management politics and how whoever takes the job managing Stonehenge is out of their ever-loving mind. After they slept off their hangovers, they’d spend the next 6 months of the story grant-writing and and then they’d take a series of moderately paying Cultural Resource Management temp jobs to make some cash during the field season.

Then they’d resume apocalypse facilitation in earnest in the Fall because it’s way more fun than cleaning, labeling, cataloging, and analyzing artifacts in the lab.

Plus, that’s the kind of work you leave for the grad students.

That would be significantly less dramatic and exciting than the “quest to find an ancient Egyptian temple in Maine and turn Stonehenge into an apocalyptic death ray” storyline we just saw in Stonehenge Apocalypse, which was also profoundly lacking in musical numbers, so I’ll leave you with this:

[embedded clip: This Is Spinal Tap]

Incidentally, FWIW, the Cycle Messenger World Championships continue to happen. Plus, everyone carries messenger bags now and wears skinny jeans, so although it seems like bike messengers are maybe less visible, bike messenger culture has it’s tentacles deep in fashion and is here to stay. For a while, anyway. At least until smaller portable devices reduce the amount of crap people carry around and messenger bags get smaller or become irrelevant. That seems unlikely to happen any time soon.

Crapfest has been postponed due to a family emergency so we’re just considering these random acts of viewing to be part of the warmup to The Real Crapfest. Just so you know.

[Embedded Trailer: House of Bones]

Today we embarked on our Two Days of Crap Filmfest (aka Crapfest). Between our Netflix queue and our Tivo, Overlord II, we have an abundance of possibilities because I’ve been hording the worst of the worst for months. I made a spreadsheet to track the themes, key elements, and featured stars.

Eliza Dusku! Barry Williams! Charisma Carpenter! Danny Bonaduce! Misha Collins!

We’ve also got Liam Neeson’s Battleship and, as incentive to keep pushing forward, we’ve got that all-time Bad classic, the Manitou, as the headliner.

Bad (watch immediately, repeatedly).
Boring Bad (see also: Badish, Badesque).
Not So Good.
Mediocre (neither bad nor good enough to bother with).
Pretty good (might even see it again).
Terminator 2.

We started with Open Graves – a 2009 epic I tivo’d off SyFy on a Saturday morning in February at 9:30 a.m. It opened with a montage of my least favorite things: screaming, bloody torture, fingernail ripping, and snakes. This was on at 9:30 on a Saturday morning? Even I find that inappropriate.

It’s 6:30 on Friday evening and I still find it inappropriate.

There could be spoilers here, but you shouldn’t care because you shouldn’t watch this movie.

Seriously: this movie sucks.

I am telling you this movie is not worth your time.

Think about that.

Since we watched it, I might as well tell you what you’re (not) missing:

After the random spasm of violence that comprised the opening credits, we cut to a bunch of annoying graduate students partying in Spain. After a few minutes of “character development” we’ve already started rooting for a return to torture. Fortunately, Eliza Dushku showed up to give us someone to cheer for.

One of the annoying grad students, played by Mike Vogel, who might possibly be the intended star of this movie, bought an antique boardgame from the Spanish inquisition so hopefully most of these people are about to start dying, violently.

The Spanish Inquisition was famous for it’s board games. Little-known fact.

In related news, this movie has too damned many snakes in it.

To summarize: the idiot grad students play the Spanish Inquisition Boardgame and then start dying violently, each in the manner predicted by the game. The game is the vehicle of revenge for the witch, Mamba, whose skin was used to make the game.

Got that? It was more convoluted than that but actually made sense when Eliza Dushku read it to another character after she looked it up on the internet, presumably on Witchipedia or the Spanish Inquisition Boardgames Wiki. It’s not worth recounting in this post because I don’t wish to make the movie sound clever or interesting.

Then some stuff happened. Then it ended.

At one point, Eliza Dushku’s character said, “Everyone could win, everyone could lose.”

This is also a good summary of what could happen to audiences of this movie.

[Embedded Trailer: Open Graves]

House of Bones, which was the Saturday morning double-feature with Open Graves, had a distinct advantage, in that Open Graves set the bar pretty low for the evening. House of Bones turned out to be a Ken Badish production, which was amusing at first. Later, as the movie teetered on the verge of “boring badness (aka badishness) we wondered if it hadn’t actually been an omen we’d failed to heed.

Corin Nemec (Mansquito, SS Doomtrooper) co-stars alongside Carpenter as TV ghost hunters that enter a reportedly haunted house that may prove to be the death of them.

Oh, dude! The star and the producer of SS Doomtrooper and Mansquito? Why didn’t you say so earlier? (Nemec was also one of the short-lived Campbell cousins on Supernatural).

I loved Mansquito. It’s not as good as Snakehead Terror, but what is?

The plot of House of Bones: Alleged haunted house. Reality TV show crew shooting a show with a psychic in the alleged haunted house. Ta-Da! What could possibly go wrong?

Fortunately, it turned out to be juuuust Bad enough to watch with minimal psychic damage, although it’s no Snakehead Terror or Hellbound. The important thing is that we’ve lived to watch another day.

No, actually, there shouldn’t.

There absolutely should not exist such a thing.

But if such a thing did exist, it would be fantastic to be able to raise pledges to do things like watch the double=feature I saw on HBO’s schedule on May 3rd: Glitter and Wrath of the Titans.


And Wrath of the Titans.

They aren’t exactly a double feature, they’re just on back to back.

Technically, there’s something on between them so they aren’t exactly back to back. But that’s still close proximity.

Too close.

Have you seen those movies? Sweet Cheezits.

But now, I must return to my final exam week study-break viewing: Prometheus, which seems to require a minor amount of paying attention, if only because it looks cool.