Sunday, October 23, 2011

I'm On a (Haunted) Boat

Every now and then, a movie so loosely called ‘a movie’ arrives in front of my eyes. Sometimes this kills me with boredom or discomfort (season’s greetings, Deadly Little Christmas) but others, something truly wonderful happens. Something Unborn Sins-like you might even say.
Movies--rather, ‘movies’--can do many things. They can make you laugh, cry, scream, learn, or, in the case of today’s Instant Watch New Classic, sit back with your mouth hanging agape and say...YES.
Quick Plot: A group of horrible teenagers spend the weekend on the Horrible Pothead Teenager’s new boat. 

So not only are these teenagers horrible, they’re also rich, making them even more horrible.
After a cleaning-the-boat AND drinking-on-the-boat montage, the Horrible People pause to discuss, as you do, what they’re afraid of. Clearly they haven’t seen House of Fears or they’d know that such a conversation will immediately lead to their death via their phobia, which of course includes the following:
-being left alone
-drowning (gee, THAT’S easy)
-something someone mumbled that I couldn’t actually understand

So let's just say it was Mumbles
-crazy demented people
-other dimensions
Just as we decide we’re going to unleash a crazy demented bundle of interdimensional bugs on these Awful Awful Characters, screenwriter (and director, and costume designer, and director of photography, and art director, and set designer, and writer of a few original songs, and body double for the blond) Olga Levens shows us mercy and pulls the classic prankster-who-cried-wolf-actually-dying trick.

See, Horrible Pothead has some health issues and isn’t supposed to swim, but Horrible Blond Skank goads him into it. Aaaaaaaaand he doesn’t surface. So Horrible Blond Skank frantically dials 911--in the middle of the ocean--to no avail because there’s OBVIOUSLY not going to be any service, while Horrible Mousy Brunette dives in. But Horrible Blond Skank spots a giant CGI shark--of whom we will never see again--so Horrible Mousy Brunette comes out of the water, pleads with Horrible Asian Stud to help, so he then proceeds to scream and threaten violence at Horrible Blond Skank.

OH! And two scenes earlier, Horrible Asian Stud--who previously dated Horrible Blond Skank--hits on Horrible Mousy Brunette. One scene after that, Horrible Mousy Brown FLASHES BACK TO the Horrible Courting Scene that was one scene earlier and looks longingly with a wistful look. Because Horrible Asian Studs who slap your own Horrible Best Friend are clearly ones you don’t let get away.

So now everyone is miserable which makes them act like even more horrible people. To calm themselves, they tell ghost stories because, you know, duh. What else do you do when you’re lost at sea and mourning the dude who brought you there? 
This sequence is amazing, because it lets the previously quiet Horrible Australian Girl tell a tale that involves a gnome.

Yup, Haunted Boat has sharks AND gnomes. Rather, A shark and A gnome. Beat that, The Reef!
But don’t get too excited because like the Horrible CGI Shark, the Forest Gnome (who I can’t call horrible, because come on, forest gnome!) is gone for good. Sigh.
Next comes a seizure, because that’s cool. Horrible Australian Girl foams at the mouth, prompting Horrible Blond Skank to shout, with skill Meryl Streep could never know, “I’m NOT staying on a boat with an epileptic!”

Look honey, this is 2011. They have rights too.
The two remaining dudes--Horrible Asian Stud and Not Actually That Horrible Nerdy Guy--take the boat’s raft out to find some help. While gone, an albino not-doctor (who’s also actually not that horrible) comes on board to find bugs crawling out of Horrible Australian Girl’s ears. But then Horrible Blond Skank aims a flare gun at his face and he “has to go!”

Least offensive shot of an albino available
Yeah, because that makes perfect sense.
Then other stuff happens maybe kinda I dunno sure sorta. The ending--SPOILER!, except I actually have no idea what happened so not twist? I *think* that we find out that Horrible Mousy Girl actually imagined the whole thing? Or that her friends just didn’t exist and she went on a boat by herself? Or that they did exist and she went on the boat with them after having this zany adventure on her own? Or that God is a cloud and rainbows show when he cries and unicorns have feelings too but snowmen will hurt you if you let them know your weaknesses? And a baloo is a bear and wuzzle means to mix and all work and no play makes Homer something something?

I haven’t been this confused since Safety In Numbers. Luckily, I’m confused in a far better way. See, if you recall, I HATED that other ending-on-a-boat low budget slasher because it was joyless. Haunted Boat is an awful, awful film, but it’s so adorable in its ambitious incompetence that I absolutely adored it. 
Even if everyone inside of it was Terrible, Horrible, No Good and Very Bad.

High Points
I’m not being completely sarcastic when I say Haunted Boat has its potentially creepy moments. None of them *actually* work because, you know, nothing in the film actually works, but a few of the ghostings did catch me by surprise and were occasionally executed with some genuine skills. Some.
Low Points
I understand that obtaining the rights to music can be an expensive part of an indie film’s budget, and hence often demands a few public domain tunes. But there are still a few considerations one should take when choosing tracks, like not following what I imagine is a local band’s hard rock shoutiness with the classical violins from the De Beers commercials...and then reusing the De Beers music at the climax of the film

Lessons Learned
You know how gross it is when your body decomposes
Girls can never be trusted
If you’re from the Valley, you are also not smart

The Winning Line
“Here’s some Volume. It will calm her down”
I rewound this moment twice, just to make sure. While it doesn’t quite match Tara Reid’s pronunciation of New-Found-Land, I do consider it amazing. And further proof that if you're from the Valley, you're not that smart
Why Oh Why Question of the Day
As I mentioned in my review of Goblin, I simply don’t understand why a filmmaker insists on making every one of its teenage characters a disgusting person. It’s not entertaining in the least for an audience to despise every person on screen, even if you think it makes their death scenes more rewarding. I’m far more affected when I actually care about a character and THEN have to see him or her undergo horrors than when I just want them out of my line of vision

I toast not you
Haunted Boat is a horrendous little film, but connoisseurs of the ridiculous will find it weirdly enjoyable and well worth a 90 minute Instant Watch. Or maybe I’m just pushing it to see if anyone else can explain the ending, because despite four years of good grades in college, I just don’t think I’m smart enough. And I'm not even from the Valley.


  1. It seems a shame that this film didn't have interdimensional cannibal ocean bugs from space, but at least the film adaption for the awesome book John Dies at the End will be coming out soon and that will have them in abundance!

    And while some people fear a death by being ripped apart by old men, or being killed by a Dustin Hoffman-Warren Beatty tag-team, me, I fear death via THIS!... The valley girl horror!!!!

  2. Ahhh, that takes me back. Used to LOVE watching the Julie Brown Show! At least I'll always have her feather boa striptease in Bloody Birthday!

  3. Yeah whats with that, the teenagers of today (as depicted via film) are often selfish, narcissistic and soulless husks. WIth no sense of humility.
    This is why i prefer goblins, dolls and puppets

  4. I'm not sure that kids are shown in THAT much of a worse light than the '80s, but I guess there was a certain charm--a lot of it nostalgic--that saves a lot of older slashers from falling into the please-kill-these-kids genre. On the flip side, it's hard to REALLY hate a goblin in ANY decade.

  5. You are correct, perhaps i was a bit harsh there..its always easy to look back with rose-colored glasses. And yes goblins are always lovable regardless of era.

  6. Especially when they're cross-eyed.