Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Demand A Refund: My Review Of The First Thirty Minutes of "Turistas"

Last night my buddy Faith and I watched Turistas. It's far and away the worst horror movie in ages. I'm publishing my responses to the first half-hour of it here. If you want more, I could record a complete DVD commentary, but I'd want money up front. Lots of it. And booze, too.

00:22 Smash-cut to a young woman pleading for mercy on what seems to be some sort of operating table. I love symbolism in a movie. The surgery represents modern global entertainment conglomerates. The unseen surgeon is the director, a guy named John Stockwell. The victim pleading for release from the pain is you.

Stockwell apparently received an Emmy nomination for an episode of "The L Word." He then got a deal to direct this abomination, which should have been called "The S Word."

1:10: The credits. A nice quick montage of a tour bus driving through scenic downtown nowhere in Brazil, overlaid with newspaper clippings (in English) about missing US Tourists in scenic downtown nowhere, Brazil. A lot of movies can be summarized by the two-minute trailer: this one breaks new ground in that it can be summarized by its own opening credits.

3:40-5:05: Here we have the two lines of dialogue per person set-up where we establish who the Turistas are, and why we should care about them. Mission: Not Accomplished. One of them is quite loud and rude though, which is a stunning reversal of stereotype about American tourists.

3:50: "Hola, everyone! I'm your bus driver, Señor Plot Device! I'll be driving the bus like a complete idiot just long enough to crash it and strand you tourists in the middle of nowhere. Have a nice day..."

3:54: The first of many gratuitous swimwear shots, and we aren't even off the bus yet.

5:05: Proof that a bus crash can actually be pretty damned boring.

6:20: The name Michael Arlen Ross flashes on the screen for the writing credit. His previous writing credits include... actually, there's no evidence he could write anything, in this movie or elsewhere. He did edit "Wrong Turn" though, which according to is a tale of "cannibalistic mountain men grossly disfigured through generations of in-breeding." I'm guessing it's a documentary about a Mitt Romney fundraiser.

6:20-6:35: We are given a second chance for the cipher/characters to introduce themselves and give us a reason to care about them. Strike two!

7:20: Alex, the loud jerk American, has been in Brazil long enough to get lost in the jungle, but hasn't figured out that the local language is Portuguese, not Spanish. Does no one read up on a place before they go there anymore?

8:16: "Hi, we're oversexed Englishmen. Don't worry, we'll be dead before this is all over."

8:42: Vultures circling. "Do they know something we don't?" Yes. Vultures have an unerring instinct for where a young actor's career is headed.

9:05: Trouble with some of the locals. Apparently they're upset because tourists have been spreading some kind of rumours about an organ-stealing operation in this neck of the rain forest, or something like that. At least it gives someone a chance to shout at the main cast, which should have happened before they signed on for this thing.

10:06: "We're in the middle of nowhere, a long way from town, but there's a bar on the beach! Woo hoo!" This is also the exact same thought process a moth goes through on his way to rendezvous with an open flame.

11:45: Let's go swimming, but oh darn... "I left my top in Rio." Yes, and you left your common sense at home when you let your agent hook you up with this travesty, so get topless honey. It's your only chance to redeem your career.

11:50: Oh. You're lovely, don't get me wrong, but I was wrong about it redeeming your career.

13:51: Meet Insanely Hot Brazilian Woman #1, and her friend IHBW #2. They too are apparently members of the Plot Device family, who must be breeding like rabbits.

14:45: The Swedish Tourists: they're as young, stupid and drunk as every other non-Brazilian in the bar. Don't worry, they'll be dead soon.

15:00: "Brazilians are so friendly!" Not after they see this thing...

15:45: A little alcohol helps our heroes come to the conclusion that being lost and drunk in the middle of nowhere beats anything resembling what the Lonely Planet Guide said to do in a situation like this. Besides, there will probably be another bus along in a while, and it can crash us somewhere newer and even more exciting!

16:15: The Mysterious And Sinister Brazilian Doctor is doing charity work in the free clinic. We know he's sinister because the handlebar moustache-twirling, black top hat, and evil laugh are sure signs. He gets a phone call from IHBW #1, who promises delivery of the packages, or something.

17:20 "Hi, I'm Kiko the charmingly inept local. American girls are pretty. Please mock my language skills. It will distract you from the question of -- how you say in English? -- who wrote this piece of shit in the first place."

18:55: An ominous looking Brazilian Dude is watching a static-y broadcast of Hogan's Heroes in Portuguese, making him the best-entertained person in this entire situation, myself included. It's time for him to go do his work, which involves shady guys making cash payments and looking ominous. This guy has the ominous thing down.

22:15: Lots of close ups of female asses shaking on the dance floor. I've never watched "The L Word," but based on a description of the series I once heard from a couple of construction workers, it must be just like this scene.

23:15: My God! IHBW #2 only slept with Obnoxious Englishman #1 because she's a hooker? Yup. She puts her clothes back on and leaves, taking his money, never to be seen again. This girl is the smartest person in the movie, and I admire her for that.

24:20: People are the same all over the world: leave your drink unattended, someone's going to slip Roofies into it. One note: based on the direction of this scene, I doubt like hell the director has a lot of experience with tranquilizers. Or movies.

24:50: Son of a bitch! We were drugged and robbed and our bodies were dumped right on the beach, right in front of this bar! And where did the Swedes go? Screw the Swedes! Screw the cash and the credit cards and the passports and the ID!

They got Nana's wedding ring!!!

26:10: Swedes On A Stick: The Swedish couple are being paraded through the jungle by a group of locals led by Ominous Brazilian Guy. The Swedes are swinging from sticks like missionaries in a 1940's Tex Avery cartoon.

26:50: My Portuguese isn't that good, but here's a rough translation of what the Brazilian thugs have to say:

"This looks like an excellent place to put the victims down, wander 50 feet away, and smoke cocaine!"

"Why yes Nigel, I do believe that's a smashing idea!"

"My, this is excellent cocaine. I hope we tied those Swedes up loosely enough."

"This reminds me of a tale Lord Winthrop told at the Club last Regatta. He said that -- oh heavens, the Swedes are escaping!"

"Lord Winthrop said that? How odd."

"No... the Swedes are escaping!"

"Good thing, that: we're nearly half an hour in and nothing interesting has happened yet."

"I found the scantily-clad Brazilian women interesting."

"You can get that on the Internet for free, without having to endure this dialogue."


"Oh my, yes. I highly recommend it. They do more than windows!"

"Ha, ha! How witty. Ah, goodness me... Off with my machete now, tally ho!"

27:45-28:10: He-Swede loses a couple of fingers to the machete. She-Swede, sensibly, runs off a cliff. Their suffering is over. Yours has just begun.

Seriously, this is the dullest de-fingering I think I've ever seen. Lamer than that industrial safety video from 1980 they show to all the new employees.

29:35: "Someone in this town must know what's going on!" Yes they do. A bunch of stupid college-age foreigners got drunk and doped in some hostile foreign backwater and were robbed, and may soon be dead. Brazilians are just too polite to point out the obvious.

29:36 to the end of the movie: Why bother? It's all downhill from here.

Maybe Faith and I are turning into old farts, but mindless, stupid, badly-thought-out slasher horror was done so much better in the 80s. Like "Sleepaway Camp" which was really truly atrocious on every last level, but at least managed to entertaining, even if by accident. "Turistas" wasted millions (and hopefully a couple of careers) for nothing.


Violet said...

hahahhahahahahahah this is so funny!
I've seen this movie recently too. it's bad. I didn't know it was from the L word guy, that makes sense.
remember when they get to the bar and the (very sexy but) cranky american boy tells the others to have a coca cola, because he didn't trust the local water? the wise warning who wasn't listened to.
At the end of it all, they are entering a plane to fly to rio and they hear some other turists behind them comment "I still think we should have taken the bus to see more stuff" and the cranky american looks back and says "take the plane", then they fly home with this out of context look in their faces, kind of a zen mood more then traumatized.

Everything is so cliche. this happens in L word too. lesbian women are pictured as horny men who fuck everyone in their reach. the characters have no dept. and etc. it's an insult sometimes.
this was too funny :)

chrispito said...

i love how you tagged your post, matthew! almost made me snort coffee out my nose. if i was drinking coffee. uh, wait a minute