The worst thing a psychotronic film can do is to be is boring. Anything else is forgivable, even encouraged. It’s almost unthinkable that a movie about a man with a colony of killer fire-ants that live inside of his genitals could manage to suck in a way that isn’t even fun to watch, but that’s what we have with Bill Zebub’s shockingly lackluster Antfarm Dickhole. Even the title sounds like this thing has just gotta be an automatic home-run, but buyer beware, this movie is not the classic it should have been. The gravity of this missed opportunity should not be lost on you.
The first sin of Antfarm Dickhole is that it knows it’s ridiculous. Uh oh. Insanity always works better when it’s sincere. Not only that, Antfarm Dickhole isn’t even a horror film, it’s a comedy. This is no minor flaw, it’s a mortal wound that leaves this movie dead before it even begins, because Antfarm Dickhole is not funny. At all. The only way something like this was ever going to be funny was inadvertently.
It is, however, shockingly self indulgent. Writer/Director Bill Zebub also acts in the movie, playing a neurotic/intellectual type who spends a good portion of the film jabbering on incessantly and basking in what Zebub must think is romantic tension with his blatantly too attractive female co-star. He comes across like a high school drop out version of Woody Allen that probably listens to a lot of Pantera and most likely doesn’t smell very good.
Even if you can get past all that, the film just flat out doesn’t deliver like it should. It falls short over and over in ways that should have been a no-brainer, and against all logic, it somehow just isn’t crazy enough. Antfarm Dickhole feels like an eternity with people you don’t want to hang out with harping on a joke that isn’t funny. It’s like the universe handed Bill Zebub a glorious, shining opportunity to soar, but he forgot it at the bus stop and doesn’t know where it went, so here’s this piece of crap instead. Tragic.
Big Man Japan is a good example of the kind of film the Japanese seem to do well; it somehow manages to be zany as hell, while at the same time feeling vaguely tongue-in-cheek. Maybe that’s just the language barrier… Hard to say, but it’s certainly a smarter comedy/psychotronic mashup than say, Zombie Ass, or Vampire Girl VS. Frankenstein Girl, especially since the low brow humor is minimal, and there’s no sex or gore to speak of. It’s a mockumentary style parody of the Japanese Kaiju genre, with an usually human protagonist; Big Man Japan. Big Man is an ordinary guy who inherited his role as the towering, monster clobbering defender of Japan from his father, grandfather, and so on and so fourth. Essentially obsolete in today’s Japan, his presence is more tolerated than celebrated by a culture which values tradition greatly, but at the same time demands the ultra-modern. Caught up in the crossfire of this contradiction is Big Man, who is obligated to devote his entire life to a people which no longer need nor truly appreciate him. If these ideas sound familiar, it’s because they’re probably the most inherently Japanese concepts of all time. That story has been told countless times through samurai fiction alone, the Japanese have wrestled with these ideas for literally centuries, but the way Big Man Japan explores them still manages to seem fresh, because it’s so grounded in human emotions, and because the historical context of the Samurai has been replaced with something equally Japanese; the Kaiju genre. The film climaxes with a Deus Ex Machina style American intervention which is even more telling about the likelihood of this being a thinly veiled exploration of Japan’s turbulent transition from the golden age of the samurai to it’s role as a major player on the international stage. Plus the monsters in this movie are wacky as hell. And it’s funny!
Is anybody still reading? The movie might feel a tad long, and the pacing may be difficult for people more accustomed to the flow of American Pop Cinema, but I would encourage just about anyone to give it a try, because it’s an extraordinarily likable movie, and I want others to enjoy it, too.
Tim, Tim, Tim. You’re done, son. At one time, a strong argument could be made for Tim Burton being a strong, unique artistic voice. That time was called the early nineties, and much has changed. Now, he’s a machine that takes old, boring ideas, goths ’em up a little bit and farts out complete and utter tripe. He sucks now, and everybody knows this. I have no illusions about this blowing anyone’s mind, I’m beating a dead horse with this article, and I know it. Sometimes, though, that’s fun to do. I think. Come, join me as I kick this guy while he’s down! The following is a brief list of some of his foulest crimes; may God have mercy on his soul.
Becoming Messiah for millions of Devoted Hot Topic Shoppers because he directed a movie he didn’t direct: Tim Burton did not direct Nightmare Before Christmas. He was involved heavily with the project, but he didn’t direct it. By now, most people know this, but it needs to be acknowledged here. Does it matter? I’m not sure. I’m not sure about anything anymore.
No originality in 11 years, very little over all: Tim Burton is basically ‘The Nothing’ from Neverending Story.
He’s a bleak, colorless cloud of intellectual death gobbling up ideas and spitting them out as Danny Elfman/Johnny Depp goth-pop bore fests. He doesn’t really do new ideas at all. Big Fish, 2003. That’s the last original thing Tim Burton did. Before that he had fumbled his goth ass through a shabby damn Planet of the Apes remake, as well as a somewhat original/still based on existing source material filmed versions of Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks, and a comedy/drama adaptation of the life of Ed Wood. The film prior to that was his Batman sequel, so we’re really reaching far back into his filmography to desperately grope for something original, and the truth is there really isn’t much there. As it turns out, Tim Burton’s strengths aren’t so much in new ideas, he’s more about that all too recognizable Tim Burton aesthetic, and it seems that his goal in life is to reshape the world into this distinct (boring) style franchise by franchise. He could also be compared to the Borg. It’s similar.
Trying to make Nicholas Cage Superman: YEP! He did this. He wanted this. This was going to happen. Don’t even try to tell me that it isn’t fair to judge a film that never came out, and I’m also disinterested in the defense that Michael Keaton was also a controversial choice for Batman, because there comes a time when enough is enough. This was that time.
Frankenweenie: At a time when Burton was taking tons of heat for his continued drought of original ideas and his zest for remaking movies that were already good without him, he made the brilliant decision to actually remake his own movie. Good work, genius. Next up; a remake of Edward Scissorhands, now with every single cast member being played by either Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter. In one scene an angry mob will be made up of over a thousand Johnny Depps, Tim Burton’s ultimate fantasy. Speaking of which….
Johnny Depp overdose: Painting Johnny Depp some shade of pale and giving him stupid hair is not an idea.
All that weird Helena Bonham Carter/Johnny Depp crap: And what the hell is going on here? Not only is Johnny Depp 90% of the screen time for any Tim Burton project, he also has a romantic entanglement of some sort with Helena Bonham Carter in pretty much every film. The weird thing about that is that Helena Bonham Carter is Tim Burton’s common-law spouse, thereby lending credibility to the theory that Tim Burton, himself pale-ish and with stupid hair, is actually trying to live vicariously through Depp as some sort of weird, Hitchcock style on screen surrogate… Let’s all be honest with ourselves; if Tim Burton came home to find Johnny Depp in bed with Helena Bonham Carter, do you really think outrage would be his reaction? My guess is it would be more something along the lines of “Oh, is it six o’clock already? Sorry, guys, let me get my pervin’ chair and my reading glasses. Don’t let me slow you down, looks good.”
Alice in Wonderland: Wow, this movie. This was so, so horrible. I really can’t pardon this, it’s extraordinary. The movie acts as a semi-sequel, if you haven’t seen it, with Alice returning to Wonderland. What for? I guess to kill a dragon and fulfill a prophecy, or something. In other words, the most bland and recycled fantasy film storyline ever, but with Alice In Wonderland garbage smeared all over it, and then Tim Burtonified. Also, she get’s to pal around with her very best friend in the whole world, The Mad Hatter! Remember how tight those two were? No? That’s because they damn weren’t, not at all, but Tim Burton has painted Johnny Depp purple, gave him dumb hair and called him the Mad Hatter, so you know that role had to be expanded and transformed into something that could justify more Depp screen time.
The end of Dark Shadows: Dark Shadows isn’t a movie I was excited to see, because it basically looked like Tim Burton was actively crapping all over the source material and making some sort of vampire Austin Powers, but imagine my surprise when I watched it and found that the experience was much, much less excruciating than I anticipated… Until the end. Actually, before we get there, I need to point out that Chloe Moretz (the annoying, sneer faced little girl you’ll remember from such films as Kick Ass, and whatever the hell else she was in) is uncomfortably sexualized periodically throughout this film… And that’s creepier than anything Burton has ever done since Large Marge. F’ed up. Now, the end of the movie; the final act of Dark Shadows has the single worst thing I have ever seen in a movie ever… And I own the Traces of Death boxed set. I’ve watched Slaughtered Vomit Dolls. I’ve watched humans die on film, and that’s much less offensive, existentially, than what happens at the end of this movie. It’s a jaw dropper. Hold up, ~~~SPOILER ALERT~~~So, maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but from what I remember this came without any foreshadowing whatsoever; in the third act during the climactic battle between vampire Austin Powers and the witch lady, Chloe Moretz’s room is broken into, revealing her all furry and monster style. She yells “Get out!!” In a dumb monster voice, leaving the viewer to say “Oh, I guess she’s a monster?” A few moments later, she stomps down into the room that the main throw down is happening in, now clearly a werewolf of some kind, she turns to the camera which zooms up on her face, and she says, and I shit you not, “Yeah, I’m a werewolf, let’s not make a big deal out of it.”And that’s the single worst thing ever. It is so, so stupid. I can’t believe it ever got filmed. Forget the rest of the list if you like, This alone erases the glory of the 1989 Batman. Tim Burton did that. We should cram his ass in a wicker man and light that thing up, before he remakes The Wickerman with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. And that could happen at any time.