Sunday, July 31, 2011

THINGS (1989) - oh Canada, oh Canada, what hath ye wrought?

"The blood is just dripping like maple syrup!"
-Heck ya it is ya goof!

Most "sane" people dismiss shot-on-video (SOV) horror movies as fuzzy looking, incompetent versions of bigger budgeted 35mm horror films. However, it's best to view them on their own demented terms, separate from the slick fantasy of Hollywood. Betamax is not the medium for realism, storytelling, and logic, just as you wouldn't shoot Lawrence of Arabia on super 8. Perhaps unintentionally, Things embraces an appropriate SOV aesthetic, with the harsh red lighting and gore crud visuals and disjointed marriage of image and sound. The only thing missing is an overused fog machine. Vast amounts of fake fog can look ridiculous in a Hollywood movie, but seems to work like gangbusters for your SOV horror films (or 80's hair metal videos).

Personally, I prefer this approach to a SOV horror movie that tries to replicate a "real" horror film of the time. The best example of this is probably Blood Cult, which competently goes the straight slasher route, yet never feels much like a slasher movie (to me anyways) because of the 80's soap opera video look. I welcome the experimentation, the insanity, the low rent 80's hair metal video vibe, and the grotty fuzz that hangs over everything like moss on a rotting corpse. There's a special kind of sleaze that only SOV horror can provide, sleaze that transcends what actually happens on screen.

Anyway, as far as the actual movie is concerned, a hoser wearing glasses has a wife that is about to give birth after undergoing an experimental form of "artificial impregnation" 9 months prior. Instead of a healthy miniature hoser, out plops some termite looking rubber monster that looks like this:

Normally child birth is a cause for celebration, but this is probably the exception that proves the rule. If that wasn't enough, it sets off a random series of Evil Dead-esque horror what-have-you's that take place within the house. Along for the ride are daddy hoser's brother (mustachioed hoser) and a friend (bearded hoser), who show up to steal beer out of his fridge, but get more than they bargained for.

here's mustachioed hoser uttering one of his many humorous slices of canuck-speak

Before the actual monster birthing takes place, there are several ominous developments. The film opens with a nightmare sequence where the father-to-be happens upon a hot devil lady that gets naked and shows him his new monster baby. This is probably one of those foreshadowing deals.

When the two freeloading hosers open the fridge, they find, to their puzzlement, a book titled "Horror of a Thousand Ugly Brutal Cuts" (?!?), as well as a tape recorder. They play the tape recorder and, of course, there's a song with that gravely Satan voice that Slayer uses to open their albums, married to a variation on the Things Casio score. "Score" might not be the right word here. Perhaps "aural brain sodomy" is more appropriate. The music is by "Stryk-9", which I'd like to think is an electronic side project of Firstryke from The Last Slumber Party. A boy can dream.

There's also a Salvador Dali painting on the wall that is apparently cursed. I'm no expert on art, but this doesn't appear to be one of his major works. Maybe if it wasn't cursed it would have been more popular.

Periodically, the movie cuts away to Amber Lynn, porn star and newscaster extraordinare, as she relays the news of the day...traffic accidents, political happenings, and whatever happens to be printed on the cue cards to the left of the camera.


During one segment, she even does a piece on George Romero's copyright troubles with Night of the Living Dead. Newscasts about movies that are in the public domain are convenient since you don't have to pay for the footage. Genius.

At its heart, Things is a story (to the extent that it has a story) about these three hosers and their desire to hangout, drink beer, bust each others balls, and watch horror trash on television. This suburban Toronto ideal is continually interrupted by giant asshole termites with fangs and a general sense of satanic unease. They could seemingly just run out of the house at any time and head for the safety of the nearest Tim Hortons, but they are apparently determined to "live the good life", self preservation be damned. While this hang out factor may be boring to some, it's probably my favorite aspect of the movie. It's sort of a gutter trash version of Bob and Doug McKenzie.

I haven't adequately described the utter insanity of Things, simply because attempting to do so in an exercise in futility. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be thus: "if you got drunk on tainted Moosehead and passed out on top of a pig carcass, this is the nightmare you might have". It's the best I can do ya goofballs.

Well...that's one way to put it.

P.S. The movie has been released as a packed special edition DVD. Buy it here, ya goof.
P.P.S. Things was technically shot on super 8 and edited on video, but I still categorize it as being "shot on video". I make the rules eh.
P.P.P.S. Hey goofball, if you want to learn more about SOV horror, check out the website Bleeding Skull. They have a lot of reviews of that type of stuff, as well as some articles. Goofer.

P.P.P.P.S They thank Black Sabbath in the end credits. Why not eh.


  1. I've never been more proud to be Canadian.

  2. Some time ago, I was instructed to steer clear of Things (it's so bad it's awful). But now I'm not so sure I wanna obey those instructions. I mean, Amber Lynn is clearly wearing a blue dress and standing in front of a shelf of old television monitors. Ahhh, my mind is teeming with indecisiveness.

  3. @Kev D.
    Not since the theatrical release of KIDS IN THE HALL BRAIN CANDY anyway :P

    You might want to watch some other SOV horror as a primer. I bet you a gazillion dollars that she brought that dress from home, probably from the back of her closet (maybe it's her prom dress).

  4. I just experienced Things for the first time the other night. And I must say, I feel at one with the universe.

    They shot Things near my high school; so, from my perspective, it's technically a documentary.

    Oh, and I interpreted Amber Lynne's character to be the manifestation of God.

    1. Say goodbye to your old brain.

      I just looked it up, and apparently the recent Tom Hanks movie Larry Crowne had scenes shot 2 blocks from where I used to live in grade school. It's the bus stop that Julia Roberts is waiting at in the trailer. So, you totally win.

      That works.