Rampage ~ 2009, Uwe Boll, USA/Germany

Rampage-2009Before we even get into the movie, let’s talk about this poster really fast. Firstly, I have no idea who that female character is, and I just watched this flick. It kinda looks like Elvira, without her makeup… Yeah, Elvira’s not in this movie. Secondly, I love the glowing praise from “Cool Awesome Movies,” who gives this film a whopping 8 stars!!! Apparently, four stars just wasn’t enough, they really liked Rampage. Who am I to argue?

I’m Chris Ochs, that’s who. Review time.

The single best thing that German director Uwe Boll ever did for his public image was to slowly disappear completely. Let’s talk about that.

In the earlier half of the last decade, openly hating on Uwe Boll was very fashionable, especially in film-centric social circles. By any and all reckoning, here was a man who rightfully deserved to wear the title of “Single worst film maker of all time,” and who was also a belligerent, incompentent dick head, whom nobody could tolerate even on the most basic, human level. According to popular belief, Boll had managed to exploit an obscure German tax loop hole, which allowed him to secure generous financing for a string of woefully ill-advised video game-to film-adaptations, each with relatively high budgets, and occasionally, recognizable actors. They were all unwatchably terrible, and earned consistently poor reviews, which Boll often felt a need to rebut. Inarticulate retaliatory statements from Uwe began to feel pretty commonplace, and the situation slowly began to snowball more and more, until Mr. Boll finally became universally seen as the most despised social pariah of the entire psychotronic film community.


Which is weird, because he’s so charming.

But this was more or less temporary, simply because everyone kinda forgot about him. Once the video game thing had ran its course, Boll’s output became more obscure, and he lost even the faintest chance of ever again knowing the joy that is an American mainstream theatrical release. With his movies no longer rubbed mercilessly in our faces, the world soon found itself with better things to do, and even Boll’s widley accepted status as Humanity’s shittiest director came into question when Tommy Wisseau and James Nguyen hit the scene, jeopardizing Boll’s only accolade ever! Finally, at long last, Uwe Boll, Germany’s greatest living shame, became little more than a horrible, horrible memory for us all.

But he didn’t go away completely. Uwe Boll had just become easier to ignore. It seems that, unbeknownst to many, Boll’s directorial output didn’t actually slow down all that much, if at all. Year after year he somehow continued to churn out terrible movies, and in fact, he remains quite prolific, even to this day. Which is disappointing and terrifying.

In 2009, Uwe Boll directed Rampage, an exercise in shock value violence that has somehow proven to be one of his best received directorial efforts ever. The general consensus across the web is that this film isn’t horrid, putrid dog shit, and that’s a lofty goal which earlier Boll films, like Bloodrayne or Alone In The Dark, would never dare aspire to. Unfortunately, humans are often wrong, and this is one of those times. Rampage is horrible.

The film is best described as being kinda like Joel Shumacher’s Falling Down, as interpreted by some mentally ill teenage boy who needs to be sent to counseling immediately. I absolutely mean it, this movie is fucked up, and without reason, or purpose. It’s not even entertaining, and there’s no merit whatsoever to justify the considerable lapse in human decency required to watch or otherwise engage Rampage. This is not a joke, I mean it, If you find a copy of this movie in the possession of an adolescent, it’s right off to counseling with that one. That is a plain-as-day red flag.

THE PLOT~ Some sheltered, over privileged Millennial who has never known hardship decides that the world is over populated, and that he has the authority to make any sort of decision regarding the future of the human race, even though he’s just some shit head who isn’t qualified to do anything. This fucking tool, who knows absolutely nothing except for what he read on Facebook this morning, then concludes that it is his right to walk around town indiscriminately murdering dozens upon dozens of people, while wearing a bullet proof costume that he bought on the internet, even though the amount of humans who would need to die in order for literally any sort of impact on the Earth to be felt would be in the billions, meaning that he achieves absolutely nothing. So, this kid dresses up in his stupid little suit, marches out, and murders a whole bunch of people, which is really, really easy for him to do. Then, he frames the whole thing on his best friend, and retires home to the comfort of his parents house, where he can continue to not pay rent or get a job, i.e., exist as a non-contributing drain on resources, what a hypocrite.

And that’s the movie.


“It’s my masterpiece!”

The violence in this movie is basically inexcusable, but heed my words, fellow movie nerds; do not take my scathing criticism for Rampage’s violent content as some sort of backhanded endorsement, I beg of you. this is not some psychotronic milestone that you need to check off your bucket list by any means, in fact, if you even have a psychotronic bucket list, then you’ve already spent a lot of time on films that are much, much more extreme than Rampage, and most likely every single one was a much better movie anyway. For instance, I’ve seen, AND loved many, many films which were much more violent, graphic, obscene, depraved- you name it. Films with similar themes, like Falling Down, Death Wish, Taxi Driver, Ms. 45, Dead Man’s Shoes, The Devil’s Rejects, I Spit On Your Grave, and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, all of these are films which I have seen, and appreciate. Why, then, are those movies a-okay, while Rampage is not? Really, there are two reasons.

1. Rampage isn’t good enough: Simple as that. You can be offensive, or you can suck ass, but if you do both, people are a lot less likely to tolerate your bullshit. A genius has some clout to work with, and can buy their way out of controversies. If you’re a doofus, you better pray that your movie at least brings in enough money to cover your ass, because if it doesn’t, then we’ll just run you out of town.

2. The director is an idiot: This does matter. It’s the difference between seeing violent content in a painting done by Leonardo Da Vinci, or seeing violent crayon scribblings perpetrated by some creeper with a learning disability. Boll has no thesis, his film has no subtext, it’s nothing more of what it appears to be at its most superficial layer, because that superficial layer is in fact Rampage’s ONLY layer. This film is so shallow that it’s emotionally alienating, and comes across as a joyless, empty exercise in bottom-of-the-barrel shock value for shock value’s sake- and that’s Boll at his worst. (See: Postal.) Rampage is, in essence, inexcusable, and socially irresponsible.

That being said, as far as I know, this is his best movie. I want to clarify that there are plenty of Uwe Boll films which I have never seen (thank freaking goodness,) but Rampage certainly beats all of his video game films by miles. It’s almost a real movie! The dialogue, and the acting especially is suspiciously decent and naturalistic. Kinda makes a guy wonder… Boll supposedly wrote this one, but I stand here before you and call bullshit on that, at least so far as the dialogue is concerned; Boll’s English isn’t good enough, literally any footage of him actually speaking is adequate proof of this. What had to have happened is that either Boll brought in a native English speaker to fine tune each and every line, or the actors themselves were given full license to re-work and/or improvise their dialogue as needed. The suggestion that these lines are word for word Boll cannot be entertained, it’s simply not true.

But that short list of positive things I can muster up on Rampage’s behalf has now exhausted me, and we’re back to facing the harsh, uncompromising truths associated with Uwe’s cinematic output. Rampage blows. It’s not smart enough to be as offensive as it is, and the end result feels uncomfortably empty, stupid, and lame. Really, the only thing we, as humans, can do is to band together and hope that if life exists elsewhere in the universe, that we can keep Uwe Boll’s body of work hidden from them forever, because we’re probably on thin ice as it is, and that’s just the thing to crack it.


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The X From Outer Space!!!

The X From Outer Space ~ 1967, Kazui Nihonmatsu, Japan


In the 1960’s, the assorted motion picture studios of Japan had all come to see Toho’s Godzilla as a big, green, lumbering money factory, just ripe for exploitation, and they all knew that if they wanted a slice of that kaiju pie, they needed to rip him off, pronto, before the heat died down. Suddenly, everybody in town had some giant, crappy monster they just had to cram down people’s throats, and the race to hop on Godzilla’s coattails had begun. First, there was Daiei, and their substantially less popular yet still kinda popular turtle monster Gamera. Then, there was Nikkatsu, who gave us Gappa, just one of the modern cinema’s many creatures who found themselves overshadowed by their own rad theme song. Then, in 1967, Shochiku, gave the world Guilala, star of the Science Fiction/monster outing The X From Outer Space. Wanna make a Kaiju film? Come up with a funny name beginning with the letter ‘G.’ You are now 80% of the way there.

THE PLOT~ We Earthlings just can’t figure out why all of our astronauts keep dying on the way to Mars. Let’s look at what we DO know; we KNOW that they all report the same peculiar glitches in their onboard computer systems… We know that they all get straight up menaced by a mysterious UFO as they approach the Red Planet, and we also know that right after that, they die… But how?!? Huh! It’s a real head-scratcher… Oh well, no matter, because even if we can’t put two and two together, we damn sure can put together special mission AAB-Gamma; just another collection of doomed astronauts who we have decided to condemn to death in the cold, dark recesses of space. We’re geniuses!

doomedYou’re all gonna die, you idiots!!!

From the get go, AAB-Gamma is plagued with ill omens and terrifying space disasters, they face everything from failing equipment, high levels of radiation, asteroid showers, punctures in the spacecrafts hull, mysterious illnesses, and, of course, that damn UFO I mentioned before. They eventually have to throw in the towel and admit defeat when this malicious alien spacecraft sprays the Astro-Boat down with some sort of weird, Martian spores, rendering the vessel totally immobile for some reason. They’re saved, shockingly enough, when they’re able to send out a distress signal, but not before collecting a sample of the alien spores from the outer hull of the ship, which they bring back to Earth for study. Guess what? Monster egg; that thing hatches overnight and right around the halfway mark, Guilala makes his big entrance. Within minutes of hatching, our boy Guilala grows to a standard Japanese monster height of 300 feet, and begins his stomping/smashing career. Naturally, all of our defenses fail to repel this abomination from space, and the crew of AAB-Gamma discovers that the only hope mankind has left is in it’s ability to synthesize a compound which can subdue Guilala, and this process can only be done in the absolute vacuum of space. So back they go, into space, to make some anti-monster goop.


It’s pretty middle of the road. By this point, essentially every Godzilla film featured aliens prominently, so in that way, The X From Outer Space effectively hops right into the swing of things with commendable ease, and our human characters are much more interesting than the interchangeable cyphers which populated Toho’s Godzilla-verse. There’s even a love triangle in this film! It’s poorly written, but it’s there! And that’s all good! It’s more than you usually get from Toho or Daiei’s human characters. Additionally, as I’ve said before, Guilala doesn’t even turn up until right around the halfway mark, and he’s really not in the film that much, when you step back and look at it. Believe it or not, that works out in the our favor, because what we end up with for the lion’s share of the run time is a delightfully adequate 1960’s space adventure, and honestly, that’s a lot more entertaining than all this giant monster business. We run into significant trouble when this movie expects us to give a shit about Guilala, or what he’s up to, and while these sequences are fairly well done from a technical perspective, they’re noticeably more boring than the work Toho and Daiei were doing at that time.

Guilala kind of sucks, too. He might have been fine as a secondary character, maybe teaming up with Gigan or something, but on his own, out in the spotlight, it’s pretty clear that he’s just not star material. First of all, he sort of looks like Big Bird.

x big bird comImage: Sesame Street's Big BirdIt’s like I’m seein’ double!

This particular look works just fine on the mean streets of Sesame, but it’s hard to take a Kaiju seriously when you keep thinking “Hey, is that that dude who taught me to count?” Not good.  Secondly, Guilala’s limbs are all swollen, puffy, and frilled, giving him the appearance of an alien Big Bird wearing Jerry’s pirate shirt from Seinfeld.

x pirate shirt compuffy_shirt_2964582k“I don’t wanna be a pirate!” – Guilala

That’s what you’re going to remember about this friggin’ monster, he looks like Big Bird, his name is way too difficult to pronounce, and Jerry Seinfeld’s freaking pirate shirt. I’m sorry, Guilala, but by the natural law of Survival of the Fittest, you must go, for you are not fit. Go and die.

And he did, pretty much. Guilala failed to win over the Japanese theater going public, and the next time anybody saw him was decades later in Monster X Strikes Back: Attack The G8 Summit, which was a damn comedy. The X From Outer Space isn’t terrible, it’s probably a decent way to spend your time if you’re a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth kaijuphile, but truthfuly, it’s a lukewarm experience, and certainly not a highlight of the genre.


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Killer Elephants ~ 1976, Kom Akkadej, Thailand

4ee0e7e2-676c-40bc-9bbc-7ced462079bbI just finished watching Killer Elephants not five minutes before my fingers hit the keys to type up this review, and I have no idea what I’m going to say about this film. I literally just watched it, and I have no idea what in the hell happened in this movie.

THE PLOT~ Umm…. Elephants? And there’s like, different people… who dislike one another… And… I don’t know, dude!

Frankly, this flick is pretty difficult to follow. Some of this can be attributed to what feels like a needlessly convoluted story (I think?), but the rest of the blame lies on how damned hard it is to even pay attention to Killer Elephants. I tried to give a shit, but I’m only one man. This thing is peaks and valleys, the peaks rule, but the valleys? You’re going to tune out and find yourself checking your phone for long periods of time.

The entire first half of the film is quite boring. I was never really able to figure out who the bad guys were, or even if there were bad guys, strictly speaking. Much of the time it felt like the police were the baddies, but then there are also these gangsters, who may or may not have been in league with the police. Then we have the elephants guys, who lived in the jungle, and who seemed like the good guys, even though circumstances placed them opposite our main character, who was, I’m fairly certain, a cop. Or maybe not. If you put my hand on a Bible and placed me under oath, I couldn’t really say a hell of a lot about this movie without fear of perjuring the shit out of myself, but I’ll tell you one thing; if you get the option to watch this with the English dub, take it, the hilarity of how bad the voice overs are will add a layer of entertainment value that I was quite thankful for during the film’s many otherwise unremarkable segments… Translation; the dub sucks and that’s funny.

Additionally, there is some solid elephant related carnage that goes down in the second half of the film, making it noticeably more enjoyable. I’d say that in total, 50% of this movie is just people arguing. You’re not going to know who they are, or why they can’t get along, but you will see them bicker in a number of exotic locales.I’d estimate that about 40% is mostly people shooting each other, often in the jungle… And that’s actually a little bit awesome. The final 10% is elephants f’ing stuff up, which totally and completely rules. At one point, we get to see elephants playing soccer, and that’s delightful. We also get to see them flip over cars, and smash straw huts. Wonderful! At one point, in what is unquestionably the single greatest moment of Killer Elephants, a man is knocked unconscious when he stumbles over and is hit in the head by a swinging elephant penis. For real. The print of Killer Elephants that I had access to was a truly terrible DVD release, and the image was grubby, and badly compressed, but I’m quite sure that that IS what I saw; Man falls over, elephant penis hits him in the head, he’s down for the count. How many times have you seen that in a movie? Not enough, that’s how many. This freaking thing is DAMN entertaining once it get’s going, it’s too bad it isn’t more coherent, and can’t keep the entertainment spread out more evenly.

Some of the violence is pretty cool, and the elephant stuff is great when it finally gets started, but it’s too little too late. I’d like to see this get remade, actually, because again, I have no idea what in the hell I just saw, but it’s insane just how much the Killer Elephants experience is salvaged by the film’s scant highlights. They compensate an impressive amount, and in the end, the film does feel pretty fun, even if roughly half of it is a complete snooze-fest. One way or the other, it’s certainly crazy enough to warrant more of a reputation in the psychotronic community, and if you like weird cinema, I’d say that Killer Elephants is probably worth an hour and a half of relative confusion.


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The Impossible Kid (AKA The Impossible Kid of Kung Fu) ~ 1982, Eddie Nicart, The Philippines


For most folks, there’s no question as to just who is the ultimate action film super spy. For most of us, James Bond takes the cake, but in the Philippines, there is yet another debonair master of espionage who has won the heart of his people, another bold figure who’s name is synonymous with intrigue and excitement. In The Philippines, there is WENG WENG.


Weng Weng is best known for playing the role of Agent 00 in a series of action packed Filipino spy films from the 1980’s. He was also less than three feet tall.


The dude next to him probably isn’t all that tall, either.

It’s a little offensive, to say the least, but where else was Weng Weng going to get the opportunity to make this kind of scratch? He was NOT a good actor, people, and this role brought him considerable fame, as well as the adoration of fans across the Philippines. The truth is that playing Agent OO was probably a pretty good career move for good ol’ Weng, and he happily did it over and over again. In the end, it’s all a wash anyway, these movies happened, and Weng Weng is dead now. Like it or not, there is, as I write this, a series of Fillipino Spy films starring a midget, and they’re completely insane. The Impossible Kid is one of them.

We should NOT look at Weng Weng with pity in our hearts, anyway, Weng Weng is not to be pitied, he is to be idolized, and respected; for truly, he is our tiniest bad ass. Weng Weng’s stature is never treated as a handicap, either, on the contrary, he always used his physical characteristics to his advantage, and as such, was perhaps even more capable in the field than a spy of average height and build. Let’s discuss some of the special things that Weng Weng had goin’ on:

weng-weng-machine gun1. Stealth: Because what’s more inconspicuous than a gnome in a khaki leisure suit? Weng Weng can hide ANYWHERE, dude. Telephone pole? He’s behind it. Bush? He’s in there, somewhere, and you’d never find him in a million years. Really any physical space offers countless potential hiding spots for Agent OO, I mean, hell, at one point Weng Weng even hides inside a suitcase that the bad guys think is full of their ill gotten pesos, and by the time the learn the truth, it’s too late. Theoretically, he could be in your pocket right now. Sure, there are downsides, like when he gets captured by the enemy and they hold him captive by tossing him into a birdcage that they had laying around, but Weng Weng is more than capable of getting himself out of that jam, even when they chuck that birdcage into the damn ocean.

impossible_kid2. The Martial Arts: That’s right, bozo, drop to your knees and pray for mercy, because this is one black belt who had his neat little karate outfit special ordered from the fucking Baby Gap, and he’s taking you down. Weng Weng even uses his short stature to his advantage in the realm of hand-to-hand combat, because it puts him at ground zero for the ultimate killshot- I speak, of course, of Weng Weng’s pulverizing punch straight to the gonads. That’s his specialty, it’s his Step One in any fight, and he almost never needs to take it to Step Two. Right out the gate, Weng Weng just lets you have it right there in the family jewels, and after that, you’re done, son. A Drinking game where everyone gets together to watch a Weng Weng film and then take shots each time Agent OO lets loose with a scrote-curdling blast to the balls would result in alchohol poisoning four minutes in for all parties involved.

Weng Weng’s fighting style also involves a lot of sliding around. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with his specially designed espionage leisure suits, or if his body secrets some sort of oil, but he frequently just flings himself across the ground and slides around like a hockey puck. It’s interesting.

tumblr_mjnbydqiYu1qiw1nno1_4003. The Babes: The ladies cannot get enough of Weng Weng, and who can blame them? With his frail, child like frame, expressionless face and seductive bowl-cut hair style, all women are moved to a state of frenzied, sex crazed madness at the very sight of Agent OO, and naturally, they’re more than willing to forgive him for being such a creepy little pervert. Seriously, he is, he totally peeps on naked people every chance he gets in all of his movies. He does it more than once in this film alone. He is utterly without shame.

for_your_height_only61“Don’t hate the player, hate the game!” – Weng Weng

THE PLOT~ Some shady terrorist group has been kidnapping wealthy industrialists across the Phillipines and holding them ransom, much to Interpol’s frustrated dismay. Now these mysterious criminals claim that if they don’t start seein’ mad pesos pronto, they’ll start killing these Fillipino one percenters at a rate of one per week! Naturally, Interpol can’t tolerate this crap, so they bring in the one man who can get the job done; AGENT OO!


The only secret agent I know who rides a motorcycle he bought from a Toys R Us.

The Impossible Kid is not Weng Weng’s best film- that honor more than likely goes to For Your Height Only, this film’s immediate prequel. The Impossible Kid is, oddly enough, more restrained, possibly due to budgetary limitations, and it features less Bond-esque gadgetry, as well as fewer stunts. Many of the stunts we do see are actually just lamer versions of stunts from the first film, and they reuse many of For Your Height Only’s locations, as well. It’s strange, considering that For Your Height Only is thought to have been fairly successful, because The Impossible Kid doesn’t feel like it has any sort of momentum behind it at all, this thing is sort of just coasting into town on empty.

Actually, while we’re on the topic; it’s pretty much gotta be Weng Weng doing his own stunt work here, right? I mean, what stunt double could possibly stand in for a man who is two feet, nine inches tall? An actual child? It’s either Weng Weng, or a large doll. That’s kinda cool, I think. He’s just like Jackie Chan!

The Impossible Kid also has some pretty weak production value, but no more so than Weng Weng’s other films, all of which are pretty sloppy and primitive. Even as far back as the 1960’s, we saw more sophisticated films coming out of The Philippines, (Brides of Blood, for example), but typically, this isn’t much of an issue, because Agent OO can compensate for crummy production through a heaping portion of crazy, which is always entertaining. The problem is, though, that The Impossible Kid isn’t very crazy. It’s a huge step down from the wackiness of For Your Height Only, precisely when they needed to up the ante. As a result, this is a mostly forgettable effort in the catalog of one of Psychotronic Cinema’s most lovable icons. It’s a shame, because Weng Weng didn’t make enough movies for us to toss one out without it feeling like a real missed opportunity.

That being said, Weng Weng is never TOTALLY unwatchable, and it’s really easy to root for him, no matter how bad his pictures are, so this movie can still supply you with enough entertainment to sustain an hour and a half of your evening if it’s already in your DVD player just ready to go. Under ordinary circumstances, however, I wouldn’t put much effort into seeking out a copy of The Impossible Kid, unless you’re a Weng Weng completest, which I certainly am. My recommendation for the rest of you would be to focus your energies on For Your Height Only instead, which could probably be called the Citizen Kane of Filipino midget spy movies, and which was released on home video by Mondo Macabro a few years back, making it the most readily available Weng Weng film in the United States by a long shot. Low quality DVD releases of The Impossible Kid are obtainable however, if you do a little hunting around, but in my mind that’s too much work for not enough pay off.


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