Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Man With The Screaming Brain - Review

Bruce Campbell. A man who, in the world of campy b-movie cheesiness, needs no introduction. This movie is what happens when you allow him to have complete creative control. How does it turn out? Well, it's kind of a bit of a mixed bag. By which I mean 90% of it is basically idiotic, unfocused crap, with a relative few jokes that actually land sort of splashed in between.

Let me now make this point clear, before I forget to get it out of the way: Americans are terrible at Russian accents. Generally speaking, it's better to leave that to people who have an idea what the accent sounds like, because every other character in this movie sounds more Borat than borscht. But it's the kind of bad acting that's more irritating than it is entertaining, because it's obvious that their focus is more on hamming it up for the camera and delivering forced, unfunny dialogue than it is on trying to do any of that acting stuff a select few people in the world get paid to do. The worst offender here is, of course, Ted Raimi. He is essentially to Sam Raimi what Clint Howard is to his infinitely-more-talented brother Ron. Every moment he spends onscreen is more upsetting and awful than watching someone take a fiery poo on your mother's head, but the movie seems to think this buffoon is just the funniest thing ever. To me, hes roughly the funniest thing since the most recent thing in the world that made someone faintly grimace. Ding, there it goes, he's been replaced by a video slide of starving African children and an article about life as a prostitute.

What Bruce Campbell seems to be missing here is that people generally need jokes and humor to find things funny. Like dialogue that is reasonably witty, sight gags, subversion of our expectations in some way, and so on. Instead we're treated to about 15 minutes near the beginning of the movie that has one or two lines of dialogue that are chuckle-worthy, followed by the hilarity of watching Ted Raimi act like a stupid ass, Stacy Keach playing a Russian doctor named Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov (LOL I GET IT! It's funny because his name is redundant! Oh golly, what will those wacky dudes think up next??) and a plot that feels like a cheap knock-off of the worst possible Hitchcock film. In actuality, this movie would have worked better as some kind of trippy drama than as a parody (or whatever the hell you want to call this thing). Less failed attempts at finding foreign accents inherently funny, more focus on the craziness of the plot, and a chance for a lead actor to show some kind of range in the lead role, instead of it just being Bruce Campbell acting like a psychotic dingbat with the worlds most obnoxious form of Tourette's and a forehead that looks like a skin colored baseball. It wouldn't have been good, but at least it would've presumably hurt less.

All-in-all, no, it isn't a totally horrible movie. It takes itself too seriously at times and not seriously enough at others, Ted Raimi is a turd, but the plot is relatively interesting, and it doesn't always take the most predictable path at every turn. Would I recommend it? No. But I wouldn't try to force people out of watching it. You won't be waterboarded into submission by me here, I simply don't care enough about this movie to put out the effort required to put this on a "do not watch" list. But I will say Bruce Campbell can do much better.

Recommended alternate viewings: Bubba Ho-Tep, Trail Of The Screaming Forehead

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