Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Cheap-Arse Film Review #3- "THE EVIL BENEATH LOCH NESS."









PRICE: £1.00

It is often said that the best laid plans of mice and men can still go wrong. And since I'm not a mouse, and, depending on who you ask, barely a man, the things I plan have a habit of going totally tit's up. Like my plans for posting this review.

The short version is this: I went on vacation to Scotland for five days this week, and during my trip, I intended to write and post a review on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, as is my plan for all of these. As you can see, I even had a topical, Scotland-based movie in place to cover. This plan went totally out the window the very second I got to the holiday camp in Ayr to discover that, not only did it not have Wi-Fi, but it didn't have any kind of internet access on-site. Seriously, it's TWO-THOUSAND-AND-FUCKING-EIGHT, very nearly TWO-THOUSAND-AND-FUCKING-NINE, and some places still think this is acceptable. I suppose I could have found an Internet Cafe or
somewhere in town that had Wi-Fi, but that would have meant altering the plans of our trip, and that wasn't happening, especially since this problem was at least partially my fault for just assuming something. So I just resigned myself to the fact that this review was going to be late. Yes, three weeks into this project, and I've already missed a deadline, a self-imposed deadline that I'd designed to be a lenient as possible so that it would be almost impossible for me to miss one. Oh well. By the end of the holiday, I had many more things to be enraged with anyway, not least the fact that the room we were given looked like a prison sell, we had nothing to cook with, no hot water until we asked nicely for it, paper-thin walls, which is great when you have neighbors who've decided that their idea of a fun trip away consists of bringing the entire clan out to the shared hallway and screaming at the top of their lungs, and most alarmingly, the fact that I seemed to be genuinely allergic to Scotland in general, spending every night there curled up in the fetal position with crippling stomach pains, that miraculously went away the second I touched foot back on British soil.

On the plus side, I got to eat Haggis. Very nice it was, too.

In order to make up for cocking up so badly, this is the plan- I'll finish and post this review, which will (WILL!) go up Monday night at the absolute latest, to be followed by a second review that will
(WILL!) go up on Wednesday. That way I will be caught up and we can pretend this didn't happen.

With all that said, onto the film. It had me onside with the title, really. Of all the mythological creatures, Nessie really has been dragged through the mud. The only other creature I can think of that's kind of on her level at this point is Bigfoot, whose reputation has a massive "Harry & The Hendersons" shaped dent in it, but even he's somehow managed to maintain his aura, his mystique. Nessie at this point is just kiddie fodder, after too many cartoons, too many stuffed toys, too many children's books and too many heartwarming family films starring Ted Danson. So just calling your movie "The EVIL Beneath Loch Ness" gets a thumbs up from me straight away. And my
spirits remained high when, after a couple of brief credits, the greatest thing you can ever put at the beginning of your schlocky B-Monster flick appears... a Bible quote.


-Job 41:31

Awesome. Sadly, this is almost where the movie peaks. And when you've made a creature feature where the second best thing in it is white text on a black background quoting from a book written
over 2000 years ago, before the opening credits have even really finished, something's gone horribly wrong.

We open with an intrepid team of divers, mostly American (of course), who are exploring Loch Ness, in order to prove that it was at one time a prehistoric breeding ground. Whilst down there, a massive underwater earthquake occurs, killing Gus, the team's leader and the only non-American, seemingly Scottish member of the crew. And there's my first complaint- the first kill of this movie isn't even caused by the monster, it's caused by Mother Nature. Since when has it been okay for these kinds of movies to have people die by way of tragic accidents? I mean, we get a brief shot of the creature, but it's in no way implicated that he had anything to do with Gus'
death. It's just... there.

Following this, we meet Case, who we discover was once a member of Gus' team but decided to jump ship because he was "chasing myths," who's called in from some dig thing in Afganistan (oooh, topical!), to finish the job by Elizabeth, a bitchy and annoying British woman who's helping fund the project so she can turn the findings into a TV show, who incidently looks exactly like Brigette Nielsen would if you left her in the dryer too long. Right away we're not-so-subtly alerted to the fact that there's some sort of tension between these two, and we later discover that they were (GASP!) married. The scene in which that's revealed is hilarious, by the way. They actually do the, "She slaps him, he kisses her" thing that's been parodied so much I
didn't think it was possible to do anymore with a stright face. I know I couldn't watch it with one.

When Case arrives, there's some fighting between he and the rest of the team, with him asking what they were doing letting a 58-year-old man perform such a dangerous dive in the first place, which is actually a fucking good question, and them blaming him for not being there, because you know, how dare this guy not want to risk his reputation hunting monsters.

It's at this point I was starting to wonder where Patrick Bergin was. You're probably asking, who's Patrick Bergin, and why would I wonder where he is? Well, he's an actor, obviously, probably the
biggest star in this thing (Christ, there's a dubious compliment) and the movie you probably have the best chance of remembering him from is "Sleeping With The Enemy," where he played Domestic Violence Terminator. And apart from just asking myself where he is casually in everyday life, he actually recieves top billing on the box, along with Lysette Anthony, who plays Elizabeth, which lead me to believe he was playing one of the main characters. I actually had him down as playing Case in an earlier draft of this review just because I wasn't paying attention. He doesn't play Case, that honour goes to Brian Wimmer, the only other actor here I sort of recognise but couldn't tell you what else I've seen him in. Eventually he does appear, playing Blay, a crazy local whose son was apparently killed by the creature, and provides the movie with it's greatest moment, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here...

The team eventually goes back to the Loch to perform another dive to find Gus' body, and have a brief near-miss encounter with the monster.
At the same time they're doing this, another bunch of Americans (and seriously, how many Americans need to be in this? This film may as well be taking place in Iowa for all the scottish accents I hear..) who run a Nessie fan site rig up a fake moster in order to scare a bunch of tourists so the can film it and put it up on their website, end up getting attacked when the real thing shows up. I feel the need here to comment on just how shitty the special effects are. Absolutely everything looks fake, and I don't just mean the creatures, I mean everything- the rocks, the cage they dive in, everything. It all has that plasticy, overly-polished look that all bad CGI has. It's hard to explain, but if you've sat through at least one Sci-Fi Channel original movie, you know what I'm talking about. Like my other reviews, I feel a little bad pointing this out, because this clearly didn't have the budget of your average blockbuster, but also like before, there were ways of doing this stuff, practical, probably less expensive ways that would have looked better, at least in some cases, so I feel pointing this out is justified. Putting CGI in a movie just because you feel you should is just stupid.

After the attack, and seeing a blurry video of the creature taken by the fakers, Case and his team decide to contact the local authorities in order to try and get the Loch closed. This of course does not sit well with the condesending, sarcastic local police Constable, who doesn't want to see all that tourist money just go away. Whilst it's nice to finally see a Scottish character on-screen, I can't say we really hear a Scottish voice- the cheif's accent is laughably bad, to the point where it sounds more Liverpudlian than anything else. I half expected him to burst into a rousing, acapella rendition of "She Loves You," at any second. It's during these scenes that Mr. Bergin finally graces us with his
presence, almost exactly halfway through the movie, vaguely telling Case that he can help him, only to get blown off by Elizabeth with the words, "We really don't need any help from anybody around here." Of course you don't, why would you possibly want the help of somebody who's presumably lived in this area their entire life? What could they possibly know that you don't? In any event, that whole bit is really pointless, because the very next scene is Case recruiting Blay to be part of his team. It's also worth mentioning that Bergin at least has a good go at doing a Scottish accent, it's not the greatest in the world, but his effort is appreciated.

Things take an unexpected twist when it would appear that Nessie is discovered dead washed up on the shore of the Loch. The Constable of course shows off the body in an attempt to convince people the problem has been dealt with, which causes Blay to have a fucking conniption and continually scream, "THAT'S NOT THE MONSTER! THAT'S NOT NESSIE!" Which moments later is revealed to be a totally untrue, because after illegally examining the body, Case and his team decide that this creature probably was Nessie, and the thing they've been following was something totally different. Infact, it's Blay himself that leads them to believe that the thing they're actually hunting is the Leviathan when he makes reference to the Bible quote from the beginnng of the movie. So, wait, just moments ago, he was convnced they were looking for Nessie, to the point that he's basically pointing at Nessie's carcass and saying, "Thas no real," but then without any real prompting he then decides it is, and then hints that he knew all along that they were looking for another creature? WAT?

But I can forgive this lapse in logic after what comes next. I was going to make mention of the fact that there were no overly offensive Scottish stereotypes in this movie, partly because there are so few Scottish characters in it, and partly because all the characters are so stock and bland. But then Blay appears dressed up like Mel Gibson in "Braveheart," brandishing a harpoon. He then
dives into the Loch wearing one of the protective suits, still wearing the facepaint and holding his weapon. It's like "Braveheart," meets "Moby Dick," meets "The Abyss," and it's so ludicrous, if you don't crack a smile when you see it, you've no soul.

Case goes down to attempt to bring him back up, and it now becomes a race against time, as the local authorities have agreed to start using heavy duty explosives to try and kill the creature, so they have to get out of there before they get eaten, or blown up, or both. This is the first time I noticed how badly done the under-water scenes are. Nobody's moving like they're in any water. Their movements are all too fast and precise.
Wimmer's the worst offender, he's just moving around during these scenes like he's lighter than air. I also noticed that, every time the Leviathan appears, they use the same piece of CGI, like an episode of "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers."

Case and Blay trap themselves in the newly closed-off tunnel the creature was using to get into the Loch, only to discover that it's an active nest for the Leviathan, causing Blay to have another seizure and start killing the unborn creatures whist screaming, "YOU KILLED MINE, I'LL KILL YOURS!" which of course angers Mummy, who promply attacks Blay, before he uses his last moment alive to blow the fuck out of everything with a depth charge. Case of course miraculously survives when he's found washed up on the beach by a
ginger biker, and surprises the rest on his team, sneaking up on them when they're mourning him by seemingly skipping stones. Elizabeth hits him, kisses him, and that's that.

I'll be honest, this was a really difficult film to review. If you haven't noticed by now, my review style is this- I'll watch the film through once, take a few notes, then watch it again whilst I'm writing the review, so I'm essentially commenting on things as they're happenng in front of me. With the first two movies, this technique worked well, because with "Toaster," there was stuff I liked amongst the stuff I didn't, so I had a reason to keep
watching. With "Camp Blood," that was a horrendous piece of shit (I've recently decided it's either the second or third worst film I've ever seen), so watching it again and commenting on it was fun. This, I mean, it's a bad film, if you haven't realised that by now, you've not been paying attention, but it wasn't bad enough to get the juices flowing. It's just your average direct-to-video movie, nothing more, nothing less. I struggled to get through it the first time, and watching it again just now was just a chore. Above everything else, it's boring, and it's hard to be entertaining about something that bores you.



This picture is in many the perfect metaphore for the last week of my life, because I wish I could just throw it in a bin and forget about it.

Anyway, until Wednesday, I'm The Cheap Arse Flim Critic, and I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick arse... and I'm all out of bubblegum.

(PS- You're not going mad, I changed my account name to say "Critic" instead of "Reviewer," because it was annoying me.)


bjoly said...

Thats great. I wonder if I can get these in the states, sometimes the only way to end a rotten day is with an even worse movie. You guys get Troma movies over in England? Not just Toxic Avenger but the 'D-List' stuff they crank out, it seems like it would be right up your alley.

The Cheap-Arse Film Critic said...

First, thanks for the comment. You can indeed find this movie in America, where's known simply as, "Beneath Loch Ness," which is nowhere near as good a title, in my opinion. We do get the Troma movies over here, and I'm hoping to be able to review a few eventually, but so far, believe it or not, I haven't found any that fit within the budget I've set myself. Also the idea isn't just to review D-List stuff, it's totally to see what kind of movies I can pick up for £1.00 or less, and whether or not it's a lifestyle worth committing to. I have a few movie in place to review in a few weeks time that even I'M amazed I was able to pick up.

jeffrey said...

I had the (dis)pleasure of having seen this movie before. I didn't realize it 'til you mentioned it had an alternative title, "Beneath Loch Ness".

It's funny you can't find any Troma movies that fit your budget because here in the states you probably can find all their titles in the "bargain bin" of a video/dvd shop.