Monday, September 23, 2013

The Splat Pack

Year: 2012
Director: Matthew Spradlin
Cast: Cameron Deane Stewart, Augie Duke, Ali Faulkner
Run Time: 1 hour 31 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

Based on a comic book series that I admittedly haven't read and billed as a slasher riff on the 80's classic teen comedy The Breakfast Club, Bad Kids Go To Hell proves in the end to be not much of anything. Its failures as a comic book film, its failures as a horror film, and its failures as a genre parody all pale in comparison to its failures as a work of cinema.

Watching Bad Kids Go To Hell is shockingly similar to going to Color Me Mine for the first time. You think you know what you're in for, it starts off great, but then everything ends up terribly wrong.

If you search "Color Me Mine" on Google, all it comes up with are pictures of David Beckham. I thought you'd like to know.

Six students are stuck in detention in the newly remodeled library of Crestview Academy. So far so good.

There's Megan (Amanda Alch), the sexy nerd with sexy asthma - no kidding, she uses her inhaler in a suggestively phallic manner seconds after we meet her; Veronica (Augie Duke), the goth/punk/whatever anti-conformist trend is cool now girl who smokes and brings vibrators to school and stuff. Also she looks more like Stifler's mom than a high school student, sorry Augie; Craig (Roger Edwards), the womanizing athlete; Tarek (Marc Donato), the token Middle Eastern kid whom everybody calls a terrorist because that's the level of discourse in American high school movies nowadays. He's played by an Italian actor from Canada and that's exactly as un-ethnic as it sounds.

I thank the Film Gods every day that they elected not to put a turban on him or something equally terrible.

Also there's Tricia (Ali Faulkner), the Princess and why can't horror movie girls figure out how to dye their eyebrows?

Come on! I'm looking out for you, girl.

As far as I can tell, this fashion started way back when in 1997 with Portia de Rossi's appearance in Scream 2 and as much as I love the idea of her being a trendsetter, can we sit back and think about this for a moment?

This is more tragic than any of the deaths in that movie.

And our protagonist - Matt Clark (Cameron Deane Stewart, and halfway through Shannon realized he's the Shower Guy from Pitch Perfect and our lives changed forever), who is on parole from juvie for some unspecified crime and runs an unspecified business with an unspecified Mexican assistant. Maybe this makes more sense in the comics.

It doesn't matter though. This is what we get. Also he has a Band-Aid on his face for the entire movie that they don't even try to explain, much to my amusement.

You gotta be careful shaving with an axe.

The best thing about the film is its consistently low quality, without which it would be immensely boring as well as stupid. There are no convincing gore effects to speak of, not a single line reading that comes off as remotely human, and the entire thing is swaddled in a snug blanket of tinny electronic drums masquerading as a score.

In short, a great pick for Tuesday Scary Movie Night but not fit for human consumption.

The gang spends some time having meta discussions about how this isn't a feel good 80's movie (it's not, but then again it's barely even a movie, so... ya burnt.), fighting off CGI roaches, and wondering if they unleashed a ghost during that séance they held earlier.

Because the writers woke up from their naps in time to look up at the John Hughes DVD they had on repeat and see the scene where the kids talk about their pasts, they figured they should probably do that too. In a series of flashbacks tied together by the vague idea that Matt accidentally gets himself in trouble a lot, the plot pinballs wildly, all flashing lights and bright colors.

This part is easily the most nonsensical and inscrutable part of the movie (second only to the final scenes) as Megan does a striptease for a crowd of students in the middle of the gym (when only minutes before we saw them all in class), Matt attacks a dance team with basketballs, and somebody steals the wheelchair kid's soup.

No caption necessary.

The actors try to fit their mouths around lines that were clearly written by attaching a dictionary to a board and blindfolding a monkey with a fistful of darts. I'll pepper the rest of this article with some choice cuts, there's way too many to pick a single best line. And then things get even weirder as Megan dies of asthma, blood streaming from her mouth. You know. Asthma. That mouth bleeding disease.

Champion Dialogue: "All this haunted library shit is shit."

The teens begin dying one by one, mostly at the hands of one another, but frankly it's hard to tell because the MTV editing screwed with my brain. It's also hard for them to tell because they're not smart people and the panic over their alleged haunting grows worse, especially once they learn that the library is built on the land of a Native American man who was murdered and their parents were all pivotal in funding the construction process.

Champion Dialogue: "Careful lighting the fuse on her tampon."

I know it's bad form to just discuss plot in reviews, but I can't help myself. In a film as richly layered with dumbness as this, I just want to lay it all out and bask in the absurdity. I mean I'm this far in and I didn't mention Matt crawling through an air duct full of cockroaches, falling through to another room, and frantically brushing off the bugs which immediately disappear.

In an even moderately good movie, that would be the centerpiece of my review, but that barely even scratches the surface of what's going on here.

And let's never forget the on campus striptease.

Champion Dialogue: "When I start screaming, I don't need some crazy bitch to start screaming over my screaming."

Now I won't give away the grand finale because the film saw fit to include not just one, but five entirely separate twist endings. That is cinematic gold right there and I wouldn't dream of ruining it for somebody who really wanted to watch. I wouldn't dare step on the toes of schlock connoisseurs, and Bad Kids Go To Hell is the Sauvignon blanc of bad movies.

There are a still a million scenes, lines, and moments I didn't mention, for fear of merely transcribing the entire movie, so any viewing will still feel as fresh as the day this turd was released into the world. I encourage anyone who's even remotely like me to watch this frantic hallucinatory nightmare of a film and have the time of their lives.

Champion Dialogue: "Don't listen to him, he's not a good person."

Oh, and Judd Nelson's in it.

His agent is now working in a Siberian coal mine.

It's clumsily handled. The characters are uniformly unlikeable. The film is offensive to Native Americans, Middle Easterns, the mentally handicapped, and anybody with a soul. Matthew Spradlin, directing the adaptation of his own bestselling graphic novel series, clearly has no idea how to properly convert what probably made sense on paper into a coherent visual work.

The music is awful. The budget was clearly spent on pretty faces and clothes rather than creative effects. The editing is a whirl of motion, not stopping quite long enough to capture any important details. There are plot holes large enough to sink the Titanic.

Do not watch Bad Kids Go To Hell if you aren't a cynical person. You won't enjoy it.

If you are, I have the DVD on hand. I'll lend it out and we'll have a laugh.

TL;DR: Bad Kids Go To Hell is wildly erratic, completely nonsensical, and loads of fun.
Rating: 4/10
Body Count: 6
Word Count: 1354
Reviews In This Series
Bad Kids Go to Hell (Spradlin, 2012)

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