TROUBLE CITY

CHUD'S 50 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS, DAY 21

Movie NewsNick NunziataComment


Welcome to the next CHUD List.

We've tackled our essentials list and the continued revelation of our Kills List from 2003, and now that we've begun the beguine, we must continue. Behold:

The CHUD.com Top 50 Disappointments.

A quick word on the criteria. We could very easily have spent this whole article discussing sequels and prequels and adaptations of television shows and called it a day. Instead, we tried to go a different route. Also, from a master list of over 100, the involved parties (Devin, Jeremy, Micah, Russ, and myself) all killed off a choice for each one we claimed. As a result, we'll run a big list at the end of this of the 'ones that got away'. So, here is day one of many where we chronicle the 50 Biggest Disappointments. Two a day, every week day for five weeks. In no particular order:

http://chud.com/nextraimages/cabin_fever.jpg#10 - Cabin Fever (2003, dir. Eli Roth)


There's a major pitfall to being in our business and it's the fact that we typically have more info and inside information about a film before it comes out. If a film is the "next big thing" or if it harkens the arrival of a major talent, boasts an amazing performance, features some sort of showstopping sequence, or promises the first beaver shot of Actress X, we usually know well in advance. As a result, by the time a film is released it sort of seems like yesterday's news. The damage is done. Expectations are in a different place. Making matters worse is the world of horror, a genre that simply cannnot get its head on straight. For a while it was the total pissing grounds, a place where nothing really good was offered up theatrically. Then it became a lucrative bit of business, the best Friday night cash n' grab Hollywood has. The production value and branding went up but rarely did the quality, leading the way to remakes and adaptations out the ass. Horror needed a few saviors and it's not like the real Earth where folks are content to have one savior. Horror needed a few and with Cabin Fever the air was definitely thick with word that Eli Roth had in him the ability to walk on soda pop and turn bread into buttered popcorn. Then Peter Jackson had to open his bearded hole that the film was brilliant. The damage was done.


The thing is, expectations are unfair. If you go into any movie expecting to be astounded one of two things can happen and neither is good. You can will yourself into liking a film. You can be crushed. It's an unavoidable part of being a film lover, but surprisingly neither happened with Cabin Fever and I. I don't typically need to be motivated to see a horror flick unless it's something like Stay Alive or if it's just a humdrum slasher pic. I have no need for those but anything with something interesting on its mind, with creatures or plentiful gore, or with a good concept and I'm there. Cabin Fever had me at hello. I should have loved it. I wanted to.


Then I saw it.


It takes massive balls to evoke Evil Dead in your concept and marketing. It takes larger, pulsating crimson balls to run a giant Peter Jackson pullquote. If nothing else, I expected the movie to be brash and unflinching, too ambitious for its own good. I like those kind of failures. The resulting film wasn't like that though with its odd balance of humor and horror [neither of which worked for me] leaving the whole proceedings feeling like a curiosity at best and a rushed first draft of an idea most likely. Eli Roth has the connections, the knowledge of the genre, and the young attractive face of someone who can "save" horror. Thankfully Hostel was quite good and it seems he's finally on his way to staking his claim. But Cabin Fever? It's a mess of the worst kind and the kind of movie that sets a bad example for young filmmakers wanting to plant their stake in a genre some of us consider the most important one there is. - Nick

Travesty Scale (1-10): 4 out of 10

 #9 - House of 1000 Corpses (2003. dir. Rob Zombie)

This disappointment is coming to you from the Earth Zero version of me. Why? Because, in our own dimension, I like House of 1000 Corpses. A lot. But that's a minority opinion, and one that was born, in part, out of a love for The Devil's Rejects. When Corpses was first (finally) released in 2003, it was surrounded by the sort of hype that's impossible to live up to. A rejected cut. Years of limbo. That ugly NC-17 rating. Bad stuff for a anyone who wants their film actually projected on screen, but great fodder for the internet rumor mill.

Looking back now at the movie and marketing, it's hard to imagine how we took it all so seriously. Just scan the poster, 'The Most Shocking Tale of Carnage Ever Seen' splashed across it. Post-Grindhouse, that makes total sense, and the film itself is an obvious play on the same conventions that are stirred up in Planet Terror and Death Proof. Was this really meant to be the greatest gore fest ever? Of course not. Was Zombie ahead of the curve or lagging behind his own ambitions? As always, a little from column A, a little from column B.

So even as I'm dogged by a haze of admiration for Corpses, I have to admit that it's a flawed experience at best. Zombie's filmmaking could be called 'seat of the pants' or 'shot from the hip' or simply 'shoddy'. Sometimes his energy and enthusiasm masks the fact that his skills in 2000 weren't much evolved beyond what came to bear upon White Zombie's first music videos, and sometimes they don't.

And while I can generally eat up the day-glo first hour with relish, the last act degenerates into a lame monster movie that never coheres even under the influence of a 12-pack. Doctor Satan may be a neat makeup trick, but he's never more than that. Zombie would evolve his more human monsters into a feasome vision of evil in his next film, but here he hadn't quite got it, and that makes the film as messy as Otis Driftwood's bed.

In the long run, that's why this movie gets a spot on the list. Untapped potential. Corpses can't decide what it wants to be; sometimes it gets to be a lightning rod of a grindhouse flick, other times a pisstake on genre conventions. But then there are the moments that feel like we, the audience are being pissed on, and only R Kelly's girlfriends like that. - Russ

Travesty Scale (1-10): 3 out of 10

Previously Disappointing:

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