Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Deadly Culture (2007)

DEADLY CULTURE

WRITER: Screenplay by Eric Spudic

DIRECTOR: Jared Hoy

STARRING: Susan Smythe as Natasha
    Kevin Sage as Neville
    Matthew Emery as Dr. Lyons
    Phoebe Dollar as Johnson
    Travis Stevens as Nick
    Kaley Dobson as Alex
    L.K. Avelar as Zack
    Patrick Nagle as Chris
    Valentina Contato as Jennifer

QUICK CUT: A young woman dying from cancer, submits to an experimental treatment that gives her a new lease on life.

THE MORGUE

    Natasha - Our young test subject who has made her peace with death, but is still willing to try a little something.  She's got a bleak sense of humour, and is charming, but all that changes...

    Neville - The man in charge of the project that helps Natasha, who seems nice enough, for a government suit, and only wants to better the world.

    Agent Carter - One of the few agents who knows what's really going on, and is willing to do whatever it takes to stop the monsters.

 Papyrus font, it's what all the classiest movies are using.

Papyrus font, it's what all the classiest movies are using.

TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back, Triskelions!  This week, we are finishing off July with a movie not quite as recent as last time, which it would be hard to do that twice.  But still, not quite as close to the 80s as our usual fare here.  Instead, we wend our way back to 2007, with DEADLY CULTURE, a scifi horror flick about man playing god and fucking it up royally.  But trust me, this fits right in with the typical Trisk special, so let's dive right in.

We get an opening text crawl telling us, "When the government interferes with medicine, and medicine interferes with mother nature, EVIL PLANTS A SEED."  Dude, you can't just make up your OWN deep quote.  It doesn't work that way!

As some of the credits roll, we are treated to an extended chase by some guy in a suit with a gun, going after a buncha monsters in normal clothes, and spikey faces.

 Uh oh, looks like we're in Pylea...

Uh oh, looks like we're in Pylea...

Now.  Before we go ANY further, I am going to address the elephant in the room.  Hello there mister shitty looking movie elephant, how are you?  Seriously, look at that image.  LOOK AT IT.  How.  HOW does a movie that came out in *2007* look so SO terrible?  The entire movie isn't THAT bad, it has some okay looking moments, but this is still pretty indicative.

I could seriously sit here and just write "how can a movie made in 2007 look this bad?" 5000 times, and that would suffice for my entire review.  I am sure this is a point we shall revisit again and again.

Oh right, there's a chase going on.  They continue running, and the pack of monsters eventually grab a scientist out for a stroll in the California hills, and make a meal out of her.

And oh, oh bwahahahahaha.  First of all, the eating sounds is some foley artist crunching celery, or similar.  But then the real magic happens.  The agent arrives with his gun, and either because it's a toy or prop gun, they couldn't afford bullets, or simply for safety concerns, it does NOT actually fire anything.  Which is fine, but they couldn't even afford to comp in muzzle flashes.  Not even shitty CGI ones!  So you wanna know what they do?  They strobe the screen with blank white frames, as the agent shakes his gun like it's firing.

 Three dork moon

Three dork moon

It is RIDICULOUSLY low budget, and...I kinda love it, because it's a creative way to solve a problem?  Yes, it's silly, but has a charm about it.

But the agent runs out of blank frames, and the monsters overtake him and probably eat him too.  This particular group of monsters shall never be heard from again.

An indeterminate time later, we meet Doctor Lyons as he arrives at work, just in time to meet Agent Johnson, dragging him into the plot of the movie.

 CAP: This is my brother Agent, and my other brother Agent.

CAP: This is my brother Agent, and my other brother Agent.

While they get acquainted, we get introduced to Natasha, a patient of Lyons, who has a terminal case of cancer.  She's hanging out in the park with a friend, and oh good, the guy who did the sound on Dream Stalker must have worked on this, because who needs to hear dialogue when there are birds tweeting in my ears?

Fortunately, we head inside, where the only competition the dialogue has is with the movie's own music, and it fares better there.  Johnson is trying to talk Lyons into doing some experiments on Natasha, with their alien DNA.  Since she's terminal anyways, why not?

Natasha readily agrees, and she gets sent off to The Facility.  This must be a SHIELD run operation, with a name like that.  She meets the man in charge, and he tells her about the project.

He explains some of the reasons behind the project, how it has to remain secret, and that's why Natasha had to disappear, and seemingly die.  This process is so secret, she has to figuratively die, and might literally die.  That's a cool idea, but also feels super sketchy.  In the right movie, that's a cool superhero origin.  This is not the right movie.

We then jump to some random woman getting in her car, who gets jumped by Agent and Agent, screams and disappears.  I'll jump ahead here and say she was kidnapped and murdered by our government, to cover up Natasha's disappearance and fake her death.  Wow.  Couldn't we have just, I'unno, found a body in a morgue, or something?

Back at the Facility, they go in depth into the process, and it's pretty gibberish BS, about drilling a hole in her skull, inserting some DNA into her brain, that will fix her body based on a 'map' from before the disease.  I shall just skim past where that came from, since it's never answered...  And essentially, it will upgrade her.  Wow, no, that doesn't sound terrifying in the slightest.

 Seriously.  How does a movie made in 2007 look like this??

Seriously.  How does a movie made in 2007 look like this??

She makes a Six Million Dollar Man joke, about how they will make her better, faster, they have the technology...I absolutely love that reference, AND Natasha's sense of humour.  It is exactly the sort of bleak gallows humour a terminal patient gets, and it is spot on.  Also, the levity is nice at this stage.

Also, based on the opening scene, they have done this before.  We've seen the results, and this time the results are NO different.  Why did they expect them to be different?  What was special about Natasha?  What did they do differently?  Some plot explanations would have been nice.

INSTEAD! we get to meet an entirely different and new group of five or so people driving off into the woods to go camping.

 Time to meet the canon fodder for the movie...

Time to meet the canon fodder for the movie...

Finally the day comes for Natasha's procedure, and after thirty minutes of building up to it...it all happens off camera.  I didn't need to see an in depth surgery video, but jump cutting from before to after, and now with hair, is jarring and feels like a cop out.

They spend time padding out random campers, it's STILL a short movie, and they couldn't show us this all important procedure?  That's a lot of sitting around talking about the procedure.  They build it up for a large chunk of the movie then OOP it's already done.

But don't worry, because it INSTANTLY GOES WRONG.  Which it better, because we're halfway through the movie.

 Now, don't you go transforming into a hideous death machine, Natasha!

Now, don't you go transforming into a hideous death machine, Natasha!

Well that doesn't happen as someone discovers the 'warp' tool in Kai's PowerGoo and makes a swirly effect overtake her head...before we cut back to the campers.

Four out of five campers agree that skinny dipping is a great idea, and run off while Chris stays behind to gather firewood so they have a nice big fire to return to.

Meanwhile, Agent and Agent are being briefed about the escaped Natasha, and this scene is full of hamnmy acting, a face caterpillar, and great silly reactions as they're briefed.

 Isn't that the guy from the slow motion videos?

Isn't that the guy from the slow motion videos?

Finally out in the woods, the agents are right on Natasha's case, and her face goes all siwrly, gets green and spikey like Angel just tried to summon his demon half in another dimension, and kills the first one she comes across.

Meanwhile, Chris is still out in the woods, hears a MALE voice go RAHR! and then Agent Face Caterpillar confronts Natasha...and quickly dies for it as well.

Parsons comes along, injecting a mangled, skinless corpse with something, and where did that come from??  Is that the first dead agent?!  Well, we'll never find out, because it doesn't get explained beyond he's injecting a serum into her victims so the alien DNA doesn't spread.

Natasha finds Chris laying on the forest floor, and he says he got shot, and he has to go to the hospi...wait what??  Chris got shot?  WHEN DID CHRIS GET SHOT??  By who??  Why does this movie leave out entire scenes *important to the plot* at best, or interesting at worst??  It's like someone made a movie, and the editor picked the wrong scenes to include.

 All right, who flushed her face?

All right, who flushed her face?

She then proceeds to sex up Chris right there on the forest floor.  Have you seen Species?  Because this is how you get Species.

Chris says he loves Natasha, after they have the sex.  But once you give your heart to someone, she's liable to rip it out and tear it up.  Which Natasha takes very literally.  At least he didn't die a virgin.

One of the camping couples comes across Parsons injecting one of the corpses, and understandably freaks out, because you can imagine how this looks.  He tries to explain, but Carter shows up and shoots Nick in the back of the head.  Wait, who's Carter??  Oh right, some random agent they sent out to do the dirty work we've never seen before.

 Seriously.  2007.

Seriously.  2007.

Parsons tries to talk Carter out of killing any and all witnesses, and it works for now, but I'm sure it won't last ver...oop, yeah, she shoots Jennifer soon after when she comes running out of the forest.

Meanwhile Zack and Alex are wandering around and meet Natasha, who eats Zack right up.  She then finds Parsons, an Agent, and a pre-dead Jennifer.  Which is where the agent gets killed, and Jennifer zooms off to her own demise.

Most everyone remaining collides together in a clearing, with Carter and Natasha facing off.  Nat says, "I don't want to hurt people!" and uhhh, control or not, the dozen or so bodies right behind ya say otherwise.

Parsons catches up and gives us a last minute exposition monologue, saying how this experiment, this DNA, only has the drive to destroy human beings, and it can't be controlled.  IF WE KNEW ALL THIS WHY DID WE TRY AND ARGH.

 That is one very red tie...oh wait.

That is one very red tie...oh wait.

Carter gets randomly shot by Alex, because why not, and Parsons continues, saying he wanted to make a Captain America, but got a Hulk for his troubles.  Uh, that's SHE-Hulk to you, pal.

She kills Parsons next, leaving only Natasha and Alex to face off, and it's hilarious.  The monster could end this in a second, and Alex could too with the gun.  Maybe.  If she's lucky.

But they stand there and monologue at each other.  Alex begs for her life, which is not comprehensible to the alien inside Natasha, wondering why she would want to live, since she has lost everything.  It's hammy and melodramatic, but it's kinda effective too.

Before Hulktasha can end things though, the girl inside seizes control and begs Alex to kill her while she can.  She pulls the trigger and...CREDITS!  WHAT.  What was that?  What happened?  All that build up to a flaccid anticlimax!

 At least she'll never have trouble opening a bottle.

At least she'll never have trouble opening a bottle.

TRISK ASSESSMENT

Video: Aaaaahahahahahahaha.

Audio: Just on the right side of all right, for most of the movie.  It has it's bad moments where sound and music drowns it out, but fortunately rare.

Sound Bite: "I hoped to make Captain America, and I've wound up with nothing more than a Hulk!"

Body Count: For a monster that doesn't show up for thirty minutes, Natasha sure does a good job of wiping out agents and campers.

1 - Four minutes in and a doctor gets eaten
2 - One of the monsters gets shot
3 - Agent gets mauled
4 - Poor random girl gets sacrificed to fake Natasha's death.
5 - Monster snaps agent's neck
6 - Face caterpillar agent gets his neck chewed out.
7 - Chris gets his neck ripped out.
8 - Carter shoots Nick in the back of the head
9 - Zack gets his stomach chewed out
10 - Natasha snaps Agent Franks' neck.
11 - Jennifer gets shot by Carter because she startled the agent
12 - Carter gets shot by Alex
13 - Doctor gets his stomach crunched.
14 - Natasha maybe gets shot?

Best Corpse: That one we get a quick look at that is a muscle covered, skinless skeleton.

Blood Type - C-: It has a little blood here and there, and what I can see of them, the monster effects aren't half bad.  The Polonia Brothers did the effects, and this ultimately seems like a waste of their talents.

Sex Appeal: We don't even have that going for this movie.

Drink Up! whenever you see a swirly.

Video Nasties: A short clip highlighting all the silliness of the movie.  The bad video, the silly sounds, the muzzle flashes, the acting...it's all here, folks.

Movie Review: This movie tries, it genuinely tries.  It's got a basic plot, and it's ideas are  broadly clear, but SOMEthing went wrong along the way.  This ended up being a muddled mess, with a lot of ideas that go nowhere, things that are never explained, things that are set up, no real motivations beyond "stop the monster" and on and on.  But it does try, and it could have been much worse.  For a camp bit of B movie silliness, I can't hate it TOO much, but it is ultimately unsatisfying, two out of five alien monsters.

Entertainment Value: I had a decent amount of fun.  There are moments.  The rampage is fun and quick, and well paced at least.  The acting is too good to be that entertaining.  The cheap effects are a blast at least.  This is a fun little bit of obscure cinema, that is kinda bad but it tries, but fails at every turn.  Three out of five face caterpillars.