Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alone in the Dark

NetFlix 1.8/5
IMDB 2.3/10
My Rating: 1/10


Christian Slater fights aliens or monsters or something, while Tara Reid does science.  None of this lives up to the poster at left.

"A truly terrible movie, the kind some people call painful, is like an undiscovered country waiting to be explored."     I'm stealing Doctor Markway's line from The Haunting because that's the sort of lure that really bad movies have for me, and usually I come out feeling a lot like Luke did by the end - "It ought to be burned down... and the ground sowed with salt. "

Way back in the early 90's, I was lucky enough to be of the right age and living in the right time during the evolution of the computer game, a drastically different and superior beast to those kiddie home consoles.  Because of this, I got to experience what many call the first official "survival horror" game, Alone in the Dark.  This game was terrific.  Prior to that, PC adventure games had been primarily studious, puzzle-solving affairs like the Sierra adventure games, and while there's nothing bad about that, AITD grabbed me like few games previous.  The early, very crude 3D rendering made characters and monsters alike into surreal creations, and its blend of puzzles, plot, and Lovecraftian beasties leaping after you made it a gripping playing experience.


Unfortunately, the charm of the original did not carry well into the inevitable sequels, and I'm not sure that any of the AITD games in the franchise have ever equaled the first one, despite their monumental increases in graphics quality.  So what the hell does this have to do with a movie?

At some point, legendary maker of bad films Uwe Boll got hold of the rights to do a movie version.  I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea when not even the direct game sequels could stand up to the original, but I'm not in Hollywood.  Or wherever this was filmed. It's a tough movie to review, because to be honest, I'm not at all sure what it was about.  The game starred Edward Carnby as a 30's era private eye investigating a haunted house.  The movie stars Christian Slater as Carnby, doing... Stuff.


He seems to be some sort of trained monster fighter, as best I could tell.  Unfortunately for him, he is paired with co-star Tara Reid, who is theoretically playing a scientist.  And if that isn't natural casting for a certified museum archaeological expert, I don't know what is.


AITD is a very weird film. The sheer clunkiness of the exposition and dialog are hilarious - you can really see the plot gears clanging against each other as they turn.

Delivery guy: "Here, sign for this ANCIENT RELIC OF LOST OETPICA."

Playboy bunny museum director: "Squee! Professor must have FOUND THE LOST CITY OF OEPTICA AND UNCOVERED THE ANCIENT ARTIFACT."

Delivery guy: "Hey, isn't there a CURSE THAT WILL DESTROY THE WORLD IF THE ARTIFACT IS MOVED? I think I saw that on the Discovery Channel."

Playboy bunny museum director: "OH U MEAN THE CURSE OF THE DARK DEMON NARGLETHREP THT WILL CAUSE TEH TWENTY CHOSEN HUMANS WITH ESP TO BECOME ENSLAVED ZOMBIES WHEN TEH CASKET IS OPENED.  SQUEEE!"

Delivery guy: "Wow, your EX BOYFRIEND THE PROFESSIONAL DEMON HUNTER would have loved this IF YOU TWO HAD NOT SPLIT UP FOREVER AFTER THAT HUGE FIGHT. "

And so it goes...

Eventually they give up on even this sort of subtlety and just have Christian Slater directly narrate what's happening in the plot via voice-over. "OK, here I am in the warehouse fighting the monsters that we mentioned fifteen minutes ago. I don't know what's around that corner yet but... Hey, wait, I'm suddenly realizing that the professor has been possessed by the little gem thing that was found back inside that golden box relic that killed all those guys when they opened it during the first six minutes. Bet you thought we forgot about that, huh?"

We were just sitting and watching this, and it was like being repeatedly poked by the director. "Nyah nyah! Am I touching you? Am I touching you?" The plot fit together like it was assembled solely by hammers.   I'm still confused. As near as I can tell, the bad guy found an ancient Aztec temple portal deep underground in North America and built a hospital connected to the gateway, then built an orphanage in the country AND a city junkyard on top of it, somehow connecting downtown Chicago and the green countyside via one room and a few tunnels. Then he put centipedes on the spinal cords of twenty random people for no reason I could decipher, but our hero's centipede sizzled when he was accidentally electrocuted as a child, so he decided to go into a career as a ghostbuster. The bad guy finally found the key to open the underground gate and shipped it back, the secret agency got involved, and then there was some sort of shootout with aliens in the junkyard and they blew up the gate to Mordor with dynamite, only to discover that overnight the entire city of Chicago had been either evacuated by the secret agency or devoured by invisible aliens.


I have NO idea what we just watched. There was a lot of running around and shooting things, and Tara Reid said science-y stuff. (As an aside, I think the Republican candidates this year should start incorporating the word "science-y" into their speeches, because I can totally hear that coming out of Sarah Palin or Bachmann.)

I strongly recommend against watching this, or even trying to watch this.  Having said that, I realize that most of my readers will do exactly what I did when I read the first god-awful reviews of this thing, and rush right out looking for it.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  The biggest tragedy is that this came out 5 years after the end of Mystery Science Theater 3000, because this movie needs the bots in a big way. Bring back Tom Servo!




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