Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

Dumbland | Three... Extremes

By Steve Anderson
June 1st, 2006

Dumbland
zero stars
DVD
Created by David Lynch

David Lynch isn't exactly famous for making sense.

This is, after all, the guy who stuck Robocop into a series of baffling events involving hallucinogenic bug killer, typewriters built from insect carcasses, and massive governmental conspiracies engineered by enormous bugs in the midst of Islamic ports.

Based on the novel written by a former heroin addict.

So naturally, it should not come as even a lick of surprise that David Lynch's overall body of work is just mind-boggling. And the mind continues to be boggled in "Dumbland."

Though for a totally different set of reasons.

"Dumbland" is the excruciating story of a violent, abusive troglodyte of a man living in suburbia and the events that comprise his thoroughly pointless God-I-wish-they'd-all-just-get-hit-by-a-meteor-to-preserve-the-gene-pool life.

And when I say thoroughly pointless, I damn well MEAN thoroughly pointless. This movie's alleged plot revolves around farting, child abuse, spousal abuse, farting, screaming obscenities at poorly rendered helicopters, weird sexual appetites involving ducks, and farting.

There is a LOT of farting going on in "Dumbland." I don't recall this much farting in "Beavis and Butthead Do America", and that movie treated farting like a minor religious experience (remember the desert?).

"Dumbland" is the single longest half-hour I've spent watching a movie in some time. Every minute felt like three, and every minute felt like a hook in my skin. I found myself agreeing with Lynch's own perception of the film: "'Dumbland' is a crude, stupid, violent and absurd series. If it is funny, it is funny because we see the absurdity of it all." I agree totally. The sad part is, despite the absurdity, it's STILL not that funny.

If there is television in hell, then "Dumbland" is what's on. This is Thursdays at nine, right after "Richard Nixon's Laugh-In," but before "Cooking the Cajun Way! with Judas Iscariot."

I don't walk into a David Lynch movie expecting things to make sense, but I don't think it's too much to ask to expect a plot more coherent than "some guy too stupid to live does a lot of stuff and eventually gets his in the end." And he does, too.

The ending gives us a lovely comeuppance for this pig-stupid throwback as he's both beaten by relatives and a line of ants crawls into his full body cast.

All in all, avoid this monstrousity. Avoid it at all costs. "Dumbland" is exactly as advertised, and unless you're in a mood to waste half an hour on some of the worst drivel put on DVD plastic, you will regret putting this one in your player.

I did.

Three...Extremes
DVD
****
Directed by Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike
Written by Haruko Fukushima, Lilian Lee, Park Chan-wook
Starring Kyoko Hasegawa, Atsuro Watabe, Bai Ling, Pauline Lau
Produced by Naoki Sato, Shun Shimizu, Fumio Inoue, Peter Ho-Sun Chan
DVD
R
2006

Okay, folks...there are just two words to sum up this week's covered title.

Hot. Damn.

Seriously, that's all you need to know. "Three...Extremes" is going to be some of, if not the best, Asian horror you've seen lately. The best Korean horror I've ever seen is right here, as are excellent examples from the Chinese and Japanese capabilities.

In fact, Takashi Miike is here.

Now, for those of you who haven't been keeping up, or just don't subscribe to Showtime, the pay channel ran a series called "Masters of Horror", currently at work on another season. It allowed some of the greats, Stuart Gordon, John Carpenter and more, to make a short film and release it.

Takashi Miike did one.

Showtime refused to air it.

Now, you've got to wonder...considering what Cinemax can get away with at two in the morning, what kind of monstrousity did Takashi Miike give birth to that gave Showtime enough heebie-jeebies to prevent his airing?

Speculation aside, three fantastic short films here that need the most attention.

First, the Chinese show off the talents of their newest acquisition, Hong Kong, with "Dumplings". It's all about a former television star seeking to recover her youth by way of a special recipe dumpling from a shockingly old "Aunt Mei". The secret ingredient shocks and amazes in this one. It's been done before, and if you don't have some guess of the secret ingredient before the halfway point, then you probably haven't seen enough horror movies.

"Dumplings" manages to get in most of its shock value by way of Mrs. Li, the chronically ignored and cheated on age-phobic housewife, knowing exactly what it is she's eating, and yet eating it anyway. And with gusto.

The Koreans, who normally worry me every time they release a new horror movie, manage to stun me by releasing something GOOD for a change with "Cut."

Normally, Korean horror is chatty. A basic blueprint for a Korean horror movie could be described as "People talking, people talking, ghost shows up, people talking, ghost kills some people, people talking, people talking, the movie's over. A lot of people in the audience look pissed."

But this time around, the Koreans decide to ramp things up by a whole lot, and give us a disgruntled extra dealing with his director and her wife in a positively vicious fashion. There are loads of twists to this, including the ending which is more twisted than pretty much anything I've seen in a good long time.

"Cut" is, without doubt or threat of hyperbole, the best Korean horror I've seen.

Lastly, we get a grand finale from the man hisself, Takashi Miike. And what he's going to give us will blow you away.

I'd tell you about the plot, but frankly, the plot has so many surprises in it that I can't without giving half of them away. Suffice it to say that, after "Box", you will never again look the same way at twin Japanese circus performing contortionist ten year olds and their "relationship" with their father.

All the best Japanese traditions are present--jump cuts, long suspense building moments, and plenty of pure on freakiness are in attendance.

The special features, at least on the disc I got, are limited to trailers for "In the Mix", "A Good Woman", "Three...Extremes", "Saw II", "Cerberus", "Buried Alive", "Fear of Clowns", "Ultimate Avengers", and "Cake".

All in all, "Three...Extremes" is extremely good stuff, no matter how you look at it. Every contributor lays out their best stuff, creating a sampler platter of Asian horror that won't be topped any time soon.

 

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line. 

Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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