Thursday, May 20, 2010

"The Midnight Meat Train"(2008)d/Ryûhei Kitamura

Appy-polly-lodgies,droogs,I would have had this posted earlier,if I wasn't burning the midnight oils,appreciating breathtaking portrait work with certain collegiate instructors.Where would we be without art,afterall.In 2008,director Kitamura(Versus,Godzilla:Final Wars) made The Midnight Meat Train more than just another one of your mother's pet names for me,he translated Clive Barker's short story of the same name into a full-length feature.Now,before we hang this entry by its ankles on a late night subway car,I've gotta get a few things off my admittedly impressive extended chest.I'm not Anti-Barker by any means,and I enjoyed the cinematic translation of Rawhead Rex,but to say the entire Hellraiser series was fucking dull and boring is like saying Seka may have had some on-screen sex during the late seventies and early eighties.This may fog up the coke bottle glasses of some of you horror nerds out there,but it is what it is.Hellraiser sucks elephantine testicle bag one egg at a time.The fact that I feel this way pretty much put me off anything with Mr. B's name attached to it ever since.That is,until I heard that oft-red carded Wimbledon sac-squeezer and all-around diamond geezer,Vinnie Jones was playing the lead.Afterall,he's one of my favorite current actors as well as being the Juggernaut,bitch.So I went into this effort with a completely open mind,putting the foul Cenobitic taste out of my mouth for an hour and a half,and I have to admit,I was pretty well entertained despite a flagrant overuse of cheesy,phony CGI gore,which seems to be a growing,disturbing trend these days in film.I love the fact that the red,red vino is poured on here by the gallonful,but when it's lazily generated on a computer monitor,and blatantly unrealistic,it detracts,certainly,from the finished product.
Leon(Bradley Cooper)is a photographer who's in the habit of being in the right place at the right time,but always seems to miss out on capturing the moment.After a cold pep talk from one of his friend Jurgis' high fallootin' art seller friends(Brooke Shields),he determinedly sets out late at night into the urban sprawl in search of the photograph that will set him apart from the also-rans.In the subway,he comes across a young model being harassed by a gang of knife-wielding yo-boy thugs.He photographs the crime-to-be and saves the girl by pointing out the security cameras catching all the action from the yes y'allers.She thanks him with a passionate kiss and boards the train,only to get her head spun around by a silent hulking,well-dressed maniac wielding a huge silver meat hammer.When Leon reads that the girl he saved is now missing,he takes his photographs to the police to no avail,though their honesty and frank realism win over the jaded art critic,who sends him out capture two more of equal quality to score a place in her upcoming art show.Instead,some amateur detective work puts him in the direct path of Mahogany(Vinnie Jones),who butchers animals by day,and unsuspecting subway passengers by night,Leon believes,for upwards of a hundred years according to missing persons newspaper filmstrips at the library.While Mahogany swings for the fences on victims' domes,Leon becomes increasingly less receptive to his girlfriend Maya(Leslie Bibb),his vegetarianism,and even photography,outside of sneaking photographs of the silent killer all over Manhattan.
It's nice to see Mister Jones keeping himself busy off of the pitch.
After getting too close to Mahogany's subway antics one night,Leon finds himself hanging upside down in an abandoned subway station underneath the meat-packing plant, being violently fawned over by otherworldly reptillian claws;waking up with a missing camera and a strange symbol carved into his chest.After Maya's pleas to her obsessed beau fall fruitlessly upon deaf ears,she and Jurgis break into Mahogany's apartment to search for Leon's camera,wading through various shiny,steel implements of torture,and his bottled collection of chest tumors in the medicine cabinet(blech!).The butcher returns home,and abducts Jurgis,with Maya barely escaping.A detective,who oddly enough seems to be wearing the same symbol Mahogany wears on a ring,around her neck,advises the hysterical girl to ride the late subway train for answers,where she's about to be turned into a side of human meat,just as her boyfriend boards the train,ready to battle the butcher amidst his swinging,nude trophies.During their fight,Leon manages to knock Mahogany off the speeding train,but when it stops in the abandoned station littered with decaying bodies and massive piles of bones,a gaggle of saurian beings board to hungrily devour the butcher's handiwork.Mahogany returns for a final round,but is finally dispatched by a femur shoved sideways through his neck.The train driver then informs Leon he must carry out Mahogany's duties(which he'd grown tired of after a century),feeding this lizard race to keep them from coming to the surface for food,pulls out Leon's tongue and eats it(!!),and then cuts out his girlfriend's still-beating heart and offers it to him.The film ends with the detective handing the antique train schedules to Leon,who now is a dead ringer for Mahogany.
Oh,come on,you knew I was gonna show the dvd to my buddies...
I bought Barker's Books of Blood where the short story this film is based on was culled from, way back when but still haven't read the damned thing.He's a strange cat,for sure,as the one sex scene in the movie(involving a good late night fisting!)surely emphasizes.I'll have to revisit the other Barker movies to see if time has softened my views.Like I said earlier,I enjoyed this one.Jones does a bang up job,albeit mostly silently(he has one line),but emotes a great deal with his eyes throughout.And who said footballers can't act?There are a few cameos of note,director Sam "Evil Dead" Raimi's brother Ted(as seen losing his peepers in the screenshots),and Quentin "Rampage" Jackson of UFC/Pride FC fame makes an appearance as a guardian angel who's too stubborn to die.Kitamura must love MMA,as his Godzilla entry was also peppered with fighter cameos,as well as a starring turn from Don Frye.I loved Versus,but thought Godzilla:FW was sorely lacking in kaiju battles,but those are different entries for later dates.This one would have merited three wops were it not for the lazy gore effects,but still scores a respectable:
The driver(Tony Curran)wants Leon(Bradley Cooper) to be his valentine.


Andre Martinez said...

Agreed on the CGI brutha. It lacks substance.

beedubelhue said...

It's video game shit.Just laziness in my book.


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