Thursday, May 3, 2012

Project Terrible: Grim Reaper!

Thanks to my blog buddy Maynard over at The Horror Movie Diary - I got invited to participate in a ripsnorting review round robin called Project Terrible. Basically, some cool blog people inflict horrible movies on each other - and the reviews start rolling.

For the moment, the participants are:

Me (natch)

Maynard Morrissey's Horror Movie Diary

Wolf Ninja's Gaming Creatively

TimTE01's Mondo Bizarro

The first movie cast my way is a 2007 horror flick called Grim Reaper courtesy Alec from Mondo Bizarro. However, I decided to save myself for later entries and turned this one over to my little golden partner in crime - so take it away Buddha Man!

Grim Reaper  (MRG Entertainment, 2007)     Way back in the post-Scream horror boom, a spec script by Jeffrey Riddick originally intended for the TV series The X Files called Flight 180 was put into development instead as a feature film. In the orginal draft a teenager on a school trip flight that's about to take off has a vision that the plane will crash and freaks out, causing a brawl in the aisle that results in several of the students being tossed off the plane. Before they can catch their breath back in the terminal building, the plane blows up on takeoff. After that, Death, which has been cheated by their survival, comes after them in the form of a physical humanoid figure, stalking and killing the kids in what then turns into a fairly standard issue slasher movie.

Obviously, after rewrites by X Files vets James Wong and Glen Howe - this eventually became the original Final Destination - which was taken in a new direction when the Death figure was taken out of the equation and reworked into a mysterious force that goes after the intended targets with whatever is laying around at any given moment. That is a classic movie - one of my favorite horror movies of all time.

Seven years later, other filmmakers glommed on to the original concept of that first draft script for the movie Grim Reaper.

Stripper Rachel (the fetching Cherish Lee - and love that name) is hit by a taxicab one night walking home from work, but survives, waking up in one of those mysterious urban hospitals where everyone is kind of belligerent and more than a little thick. It doesn't take long for Rachel to see a figure stalking her around the hospital - a nasty skull faced guy with a scythe right arm. Instead of thinking him an unhinged fan in a costume - she immediately decides he is Death Incarnate, and that he is coming after her for escaping his clutches when the taxi smacked her. This belief is something she is entirely unable to convince anyone else of, even when the Grim Reaper starts slamming that scythe through the chests of people near Rachel. (Lousy aim, there, Death!) As Rachel runs around the hospital, my attention started to wander as the physical incarnation of Boredom sat on my lap and prevented me seeing several minutes of the movie.

"My brain is bleeding!"
"What happened?"
"I read this script!"
However, when I shoved Boredom off and got my eyes back on the flick - I noticed the filmmakers had decided to bring in more elements from other, better, horror movies - specifically A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors as Rachel was now in a mental institution with 5 other young people who'd cheated Death in some way - and mean ol' Dr. Brown - a chain smoking middle aged jackwagon - was not about to believe any of their nonsense. Of course, The Grim Reaper comes a'calling again, taking out the six one by one, and none too excitingly either. Eventually Rachel gets to a phone and calls in her boyfriend, and the next segment of the movie involves the two of them running around some murky hallways for what seemed like several hours - and by that I mean my watching time - not onscreen time. With no other filmic tricks up their own sleeves, the filmmakers go back to the Well of Better Horror Movies and dredge up one last stolen bit - you guess the source film this time* - Rachel goes to sleep and into the past/dream world/Grim Reaper psyche to find him so her boyfriend can then wake her up at the exact right moment to stop the Grim Reaper once and for all. Yes, I know I'm not describing this all that well - sorry to admit it, but Boredom was back on my lap and we were kinda making out by this point.

"Olly olly oxen free!"

Anyway, the finale brings us a new look for Death - he has turned into a mummy (?) for some reason as he comes after Rachel one last time. And  - SPOILER - do I even need to mention that this flick just stops as opposed to ends? There's more resolution in a 1950's TV than there is at the end of this movie.

"My brain is bleeding again!"
"But you already took the job!"
"They mentioned a sequel!"

Summing it up - the movie starts off okay. It doesn't stay okay very long though. Cherish Lee is a very attractive young lady - with her natural bosom and child bearing hips - and I liked her in the lead. She also seems to have Priscilla Presley's old face, since Priscilla has turned that one in for the latest in Joker looks.
"I hope Priscilla never wants this face back..."

Cute McCutie!

The rest of the actors range from okay to really pretty bad - and the really pretty bad gets singled out - it's boyfriend Liam as played by the aptly named Benjamin Pitts. It's also annoying when a movie makes a lead character a stripper and we never see them naked. It's like bringing a gun onstage and not firing it. There are some cool moments in the movie - shots, ideas, lines of dialogue - but they are not plentiful from the get go, and as the movie continues they are sprinkled more and more sparsely, until the last third, which is just tedious. I actually really like the idea of the physical figure of Death stalking the survivors - was intrigued by it the moment I heard about it being the original concept for the movie that became Final Destination. But I wish the concept had not been used by these people to make this movie. Because this movie in the end was not much.

If I ever see another movie with a physical manifestation of the Grim Reaper - here's what I hope he'll look like:

Still, it could have been worse. And at some point I'm sure it will be.

Thanks, Alec!

And so goes my first round of Project Terrible. Thanks to Buddha Man for taking the hit on this one for me - leaves me fresher to go after my next assigned movie! Until the next post - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

* A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)


  1. You should make someone watch that crap fest we watched on crazy movie weekend. The one with the overly dramatic douch wearing a cape. My brain is still bleeding from that one.

    1. Well, they might get Harvest of Fear if I can find it in the right spot - but I'm afraid others find the movie you refer to as a minor classic. Well some of them do. Well, I do.

  2. Craig: Great review. I liked the Final Destination movies...great concept. I'm glad they got rid of the Grim Reaper character and just had "fate" be the bad guy. I'm all about metaphor. I also enjoyed Nightmare on Elm Street...that one kept me awake at night. Had to recite the Lord's prayer over and over before I could fall asleep. Yikes!

    1. Thank Luana - yes - the Final Destination flicks have surprisingly kept working - with the most recent a higher scoring effort than the two previous. And the original A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of my absolute faves. Cheers!

  3. Craig, really interesting back story on Final Destination. I'd pay to see a movie with the physical manifestation of boredom. He could run around making really exciting things like car chases and shootout boring. Could be a hit.

    1. Maurice - I would love to see that movie too - but can we make the physical incarnation of Boredom a woman - I mean, I did say I was making out with her and all... ;)

      Might be a heck of a movie!

  4. Sounds grim... NOT! :)
    Director Michael Feifer is probably something like the new David DeCoteau. Since 2005 he directed 24 movies!! :-o

    1. Well, that's a start - but DeCoteau has directed almost that many THIS YEAR...so Feifer has a way to go. I think Creature is next for me, BTW!

    2. LOL DeCoteau is very well on his way: 6 movies completed, 4 in post-production this year. That's already more than he did in 2011. Hell, does this guy even sleep?

  5. Nice review, new guy. ^_^ Welcome!

    Actually, this one sounds a lot like...what was it called...Soultaker, I think? Really horrid film starring Joe Estevez as a reaper who is after some teens who survived a car crash they weren't supposed to live through. So very, very boring...though it was much better on MST3k. ^_^

    1. Thanks WN! I really like the idea of Project Terrible - I've always enjoyed a good bad movie (huh?) and inflicting them on each other is a good time and a half!

      You know, I managed to miss that one - Soultaker - with Robert Z'Dar and Joe Extevez and eyeliner on the men - but I now have it on VHS in the video vault, so that means it's coming up sometime! Ohhhhh, boy!