Monday, June 29, 2009

The Exorcist III

In what I’m positive is an accidental bit of bookending, “The Exorcist III” begins with a sunrise, thereby tying it somewhat tangentially to part II.

It’s almost like an apology of sorts: “Sorry for all the foolishness last time out, folks! This time around it’s a whole new movie, and you don’t need to know a thing about part II to enjoy part III. There will be no spitting of leopards this time around. No, sir.”

Over this cleansing sunrise we have a burn-in – “Georgetown 1990.” Yes indeed, folks – we surely are in an Exorcist movie.

A priest-looking fellow walks down the streets, stopping for a short visit by the steps that Damien tumbled down oh-so-many years ago.

Elsewhere, the nice man from homicide – actually, he’s the main character this time around, so it would probably be helpful to tell you his name is Kinderman – sits at his desk, and picks up a picture of himself and Damien. Then he says, “Damien.” In case you were sitting there in your seat going, “What WAS that guy’s name again? I forget…”

Then we’re back at the steps, which are all foggy. Only the fog slips off the stairs, while a little bit of Tubular Bells, the creepy music everyone is assumes is from “The Exorcist” but is actually from a really lengthy instrumental album plays. We get a few shots of Georgetown locales. And then we get a few shots inside a church. It’s dark, and there’s no one there.

The doors blow open and a bunch of… leaves, I guess… blow into the church, and the Jesus who is up on the crucifix opens his eyes.

Next, we get a nice long point-of-view shot. We’re walking down the street at night, and then a nice young black man hands us a rose.

Then “we” are at the top of the infamous stairs, and we fall down them.

Then it’s morning again, and we’re in Vietnam. There are three helicopters hanging in the air against an early-morning sun.

Wait, never mind. The helicopters are nowhere near Vietnam. They’re just flying all over the city, while a motherly-looking black woman is being comforted by someone, and Kinderman is looking under a blanket at something.

Meanwhile, over at the church, the old priest who was looking down the steps at the start of the movie is talking to a young priest. They banter for a bit, and then the young priest mentions that the old priest prayed for Damien that morning. “Wasn’t he the one who…” begins the young priest.

“Fifteen years ago today,” says the old priest.

The young priest leaves, and we get a short little scene where it’s night, and someone, Damien I guess, goes flying out of a window and then falls down the steps that we’ve seen four times since the movie started seven minutes ago.

We get another short scene of the old priest, and we finally get a name to stick on him. Joe. Very solid name. At any rate, he tells another man of the cloth that he’s going to the movies today, and taking Kinderman, who gets depressed every year on this date.

Over the police station, Kinderman is investigating the death of the black kid that “we” saw in what I guess was a dream, only it wasn’t. He talks to a few of his associates, and we learn that a) Kinderman pretty much thinks everyone is an idiot, b) the kid was probably killed with garden shears, and c) that Kinderman wants the file pulled on the Gemini Killer, though his colleagues note that the Gemini Killer has been dead for fifteen years.

Kinderman takes his leave and heads home, where he informs his family members that “Today is my day to cheer up Father Dyer.”

Dyer and Kinderman head to the movies. There is some banter. Then they head to a diner and have a discussion about the nature of God. Kinderman is sort of anti-God, what with the whole thing where there’s cancer and homicide and such.

Dyer is obviously pro-God, stating that everything will work out at the end of time.

Kinderman tells Dyer what he saw that morning. The dead black boy. Ingots had been shoved into his eyes, and his head had been cut off. The boy was also crucified on a pair of rowing oars. In the place of his head was the head from a statue of Christ.

There’s more, but trust me, you don’t really want to know.

Elsewhere, in a confessional booth, a priest we haven’t seen up to this point takes confession from what sounds like a little old lady. She states that she’s filled with guilt over minor sins, and then says she has seventeen things to confess to. The first is a waitress she stabbed in a park. The confessor notes that, “She bled a great deal.”

The priest starts to panic, and then there’s a jumble of shots: A screaming woman, two kids looking on stoically, a puddle of blood, a gore-filled confessional booth.

A bunch of cops start doing their cop thing, and in the middle of it all is Kinderman. He checks out the body under the sheet, and finds that the Father had a finger removed. Recently.

Later, one of Kinderman’s colleagues drops by and lets Kinderman know that they completed the autopsy on the black boy. It seems he didn’t die when he head was cut off. Instead, the killer injected the boy with a drug that causes total paralysis. The boy was unable to move or scream while he was being crucified, and then he died from slow asphyxiation.

So, just in case you were wondering if maybe rest of the stuff happened by accident, now you know for sure that the serial killer in question is really, really evil.

With this information, Kinderman heads to the hospital to visit Father Dyer, who is just there for “some tests.” We get some more banter, and Dyer lights up a cigarette in a hospital. Kinderman and Dyer provide us with even more banter, and then Kinderman leaves.

As he gets on the elevator, the camera zooms in on a statue of Christ with no head. We also get a BIG MUSICAL MOMENT, in case we missed seeing the only thing in the frame.

Kinderman goes back to the cop shop, and everyone tosses out some exposition. It seems the dead priest was paralyzed using the same drug that was used on the black boy. The only thing is, the fingerprints at the crime scene are different than the prints on the oars.

There are two different killers.

Kinderman goes home, goes to bed, and dreams about heaven. Only heaven, such as it is, appears to be a massive train station/hospital. Fabio is there for some reason. As is the headless kid, whose head has been sewn back on.

Did I mention there are angels there, with massive wings? And a band playing old-timey jazz? And Dyer, who has stitches around his neck?

Kinderman wakes up to the sound of his phone ringing. He takes the call, and heads to the hospital.

Father Dyer is dead. Kinderman visits Dyer’s room. The dead Dyer is there, under a sheet. Next to him is a tray covered in neatly stacked cups – they contain all of Dyer’s blood, with not a drop of it spilled.

The only blood not in the cups is on the wall, where the killer has written “It’s a Wonderfull Life.”

No, the double l is not a typo.

More importantly, that’s the movie that Kinderman and Dyer went to see together.

Kinderman questions a nurse in the middle of a busy hallway. Dyer was found dead at 6 AM, and this nurse gave him medication at 5 AM. She only saw one person in the hallway during that time – an elderly, not-all-there patient who the nurse found lying unconscious on the floor.

The patient demands that Kinderman fix her radio. Kinderman, playing along, says he’s the radio repairman, and asks what’s wrong with it. She says that dead people talk through it.

She asks him if he sees the radio, as she holds out her empty arms. Kinderman says he sees it. She informs Kinderman that she’s holding a telephone.

Since he’s clearly not going to learn anything from her, he decides to look elsewhere, eventually arriving at the highly disturbed ward. The one where everyone gets a not-very-well-lit cell. As he’s looking around, he hears someone call his name. He’s looking into the window of a cell when one of his colleagues comes in and says that a doctor is going ballistic.

The camera slooowly pans over into the room Kinderman was looking into while someone recites a poem, and then the person on the cot looks up. It’s Damien, looking significantly less dead than he was looking the last time we saw him.

Kinderman meets with the angry doctor and explains just exactly what is going on. It seems that the Gemini Killer mentioned earlier had a very specific method of operation: He always cut off the index finger of the victim’s right hand. He also carved the Gemini symbol into their left palm.

False information was fed to the press, so the only people who knew about this were a single branch of the police.

Also, in his letters, the killer would write a double-l. As in “Wonderfull.” Which works better on the page than it does when Kinderman tries to explain it out loud and sort of make it sound like his tongue has gone numb.

He also notes that all the names of the people the Gemini killed start with the letter K, and that Dyer’s middle name is Kevin.

Kinderman heads to the autopsy room and takes a peek-see at a bunch of medical instruments, including one that looks like a massive pair of gardening shears. They’re spring activated – a little stiff to open, but they close on their own.

Then Kinderman goes to visit a priest, and as they sit and discus just what, exactly, might be going on. Regan’s name comes up, and then Kinderman notices that the door is open and a breeze is blowing. So he just sort of wanders off while the priest sits there. Not even an “excuse me, father.”

Some lights flicker on and off, and we get a false scare, and then Kinderman goes back to talk to the priest. The priest says that the exorcism might be the connection between the three murders. Dyer was friends with Damien. The other dead priest gave Damien permission to perform the exorcism. And the dead kid’s mom is the one who figured out that Regan’s tape wasn’t gibberish, but rather Regan speaking backward.

Only that wasn’t what happened at all in “The Exorcist.” It was a very, very white guy who told Damien that the English was backward on the tape.

The priest tells Kinderman to go talk to another guy who, it is said, once performed an exorcism in the Philippines. Supposedly it turned his hair white overnight.

Moments later, we’re in a room we’ve never seen before with a white-haired priest. He’s sitting and reading scripture, when he realizes that his room is quiet. Too quiet. So he goes over to look at the bird who lives on his windowsill. The bird is dead.

He turns around, and the crucifix on his wall falls to the floor and begins weeping blood.

Then the room goes dark and the wind picks up.

Back with Kinderman, we get to witness a fingerprint matching up with another fingerprint on a computer screen.

And then we’re back in the hospital, where Kinderman is visiting the semi-catatonic woman with the imaginary broken radio.

He slaps the cuffs on her, declares the case closed, and drags her screaming from the room. She’s going to the chair. The movie comes to a surprising, but somewhat satisfying conclusion.

Well, okay, that’s not really what happens. What happens is Kinderman takes her to Dyer’s room and asks her if she touched the jars in his room. She says her radio is newer.

Now, isn’t my version of the story just that much better?

Kinderman goes to visit the doctor that walked him into the disturbed ward. The doctor tells Kinderman that the man Kinderman looked in on came there fifteen years ago. The cops found him wandering around with no ID, and so the hospital took him in. He slowly became more and more catatonic. Until recently.

First he started getting better. Then he started getting violent, so they began administering shock therapy. Eventually, the man in question started claiming he was the Gemini Killer.

Perhaps shock therapy was not the way to go.

Kinderman goes to visit the dude who looks like Damien, and determines that, whoa, this dude looks like Damien!

He asks to see Damien’s file, which does not mention whether or not the possible Damien had any head trauma, or whether he was dressed like a priest when he came to the hospital.

Kinderman then helpfully provides one of his colleagues and, of course, the audience, with a short refresher on Damien.

Kinderman then goes to talk to Damien, who is very, very chained and straightjacketed. Damien insists that he’s the Gemini Killer, and says that he killed “that little girl” and also “the black boy and the two priests.” He says that he did it “for a friend” but that talking about it is a no-no.

Then he lets out an unearthly growl.

Damien tells Kinderman that Kinderman must tell the papers that the new killing are being performed by the Gemini. That it’s important.

Suddenly, Damien is… not Damien any more. Only it appears Kinderman can’t see this. So Kinderman is seeing Damien while we, the audience, see the Gemini Killer.

The Gemini tells Kinderman that Kinderman must tell people the Gemini is the Gemeni, or that there will be consequences for Kinderman.

Then he sings in a little girl’s voice. Understand, he’s not doing falsetto. He’s actually singing IN HER VOICE. It’s dubbed.

Having finished his song, Gemini goes into a lengthy explanation of how he drained all the blood out of Dyer. He notes that this is showmanship.

Kinderman slaps him across the face.

The Gemini babbles for a bit, passes out, and then we can see Damien again. Kinderman leaves Damien’s room, and the nurse goes in and is VERY unhappy to find that Damien’s nose is broken.

My apologies if the last section was something of a dull read. Seriously, all that happened for the last ten minutes could be summed up as, “Damien says creepy stuff, while Kinderman asks the occasional question.”

I was going to say the movie was devolving into the “My Dinner with Andre” of serial-killer movies, but really, that’s being overly kind. Mostly it was just a lot of babble, with the camera alternating between Damien, Kinderman, and a two-shot with both of them.

The nurse fixes up Kinderman, because the poor guy hurt his hand when he slapped a semi-catatonic patient in the face. Though I guess she can’t report him to the cops, since he is the cops.

Kinderman learns that no one told Damien about Dyer’s murder. He also learns that every time Damien passes out, the way he just did, his brain-wave activity increases.

As Kinderman starts to leave, the nurse says, “Save your servant.” She explains that Damien said that once, and that when he did, his voice sounded, “Kind.” Instead of crazy, I guess.

He also said one other thing in this voice – “Kill it.”

Kinderman goes somewhere where there are a lot of books. Could be the library. Could be the church. Could be the church library. I have no idea.

Kinderman wanders around for a while, then selects a book pretty much at random. He checks the index, flips through it, and finds the words “Save your servant.” What are they from?

Exorcism rites. Naturally.

Kinderman heads home, and we get to hear him reading from scripture. In voice over. Then he daughter takes something from the freezer and tells her father goodnight. It’s just as exciting as it sounds.

At the hospital, the night nurse hears a noise and goes to investigate. Eventually, she determines that it’s the sound of ice cracking in one of the patient’s glasses of water. He sits up suddenly and the audience pretty much just goes ahead and wets their collective pants.

The nurse apologies for waking him up and returns to her post. Then she hears another noise, goes to check it out, doesn’t find anything, turns around, and suddenly a dude dressed all in white carrying those freaky spring-loaded shears walks up behind her. And the audience is glad they didn’t take the time to change their pants after the last scare.

Kinderman shows up, and his esteemed colleague informs him that the nurse’s body was slit down the middle, her vital organs were removed, and replaced with other materials.

The other materials were rosaries.

Suddenly a nurse cries out. The doctor who let Kinderman into the super-crazy ward is now super-dead.

Kinderman goes to talk to Damien, who is, at the moment, the Gemini.

Gemini goes on a whole rant about how he took over Damien’s body as a sort of revenge. He also explains how he jumped into Damien’s body just as Damien was dying. Once he was dead, Gemini broke out of his coffin.

Then he spent fifteen years bringing back Damien’s brain.

He also mentions that he’s not responsible for the dead doctor’s death.

After a whooole lot of ranting, Kinderman finally asks how Gemini gets out of his cell. Gemini says, “Friends. Old friends.”

Then there is some more ranting about Kinderman needing to tell the press about the Gemini.

Kinderman takes the “old friends” idea to heart and goes to check out the room where all the people who have lost touch with reality spend their day. He looks from person to person to person, and completely fails to notice the old lady crawling on the ceiling.

But then again, so does everyone else.

He does notice a puddle of blood running under a door, which he opens. There’s a dead girl behind it.

Moments later, we see a nurse stalk down a hall and enter a room with a young boy in it. It looks like the nurse is going to kill the boy, only at the last moment Kinderman rushes in and flicks on the light, and it’s not the killer nurse. It’s the angry nurse who bandaged Kinderman’s hand.

Kinderman starts to flip out, and calls his wife to tell her… something.

At Kinderman’s house, his wife picks up the phone and has a nice talk with someone who she thinks is Kinderman. Meanwhile, Kinderman is back at the hospital listening to a busy signal.

Not-Kinderman tells Kinderman’s wife that a nurse is coming over with a package. Ah. So that’s where stalky-creepy nurse got off to.

Kinderman races outside and hops in a cop car, and he and his partner race to his house. Only when he gets there, there’s no emergency.

Kinderman goes inside, and there, at his kitchen table, is the nurse. Who is not a nurse, but is instead a catatonic who stole a uniform from the dead nurse back at the hospital. Kinderman lets his guard way, way down, and then he hears the Gemini’s voice emanating from the not-nurse.

The not-nurse produces those freaky not-gardening-shears, and attempts to clip off Kinderman’s daughter’s head.

Kinderman’s mother-in-law pulls his daughter to safety.

Kinderman’s cop buddy gets a beating. The nurse grabs Kinderman by the throat and starts choking him. Then, suddenly, she stops and falls to the floor.

And saaay… remember that priest, with the bleeding crucifix? The guy who had like two scenes? He’s back! He walks onto into the solitary ward where Damien is being kept. The priest is all garbed up and itching for a fight.

Damien says, “Have you come to save God’s servant?” Only he’s got his freaky-voice on, so you know it’s not Damien.

The priest walks in and starts the exorcism ritual, while Damien sits there, all taunt-y and yellow-eyed.

Then he decides to go ahead and put the pedal to the floor. So Damien sets fire to the exorcism book, yanks off the priest’s white robes, pins the priest to the ceiling, and then begins pulling off the priest’s skin. With his MIND.

Kinderman walks into the ward where they keep costs down by keeping the lights off, because the real crazy people don’t mind, and hears Damien being all growly. The door opens up, and Kinderman sees the scorched remains of the exorcism rites book. And the dead body on the floor.

Kinderman pulls out his gun and prepares to shoot Damien.

Damien pins Kinderman to the wall with his MIND. Then Damien says, “Did I help your unbelief?”

Kinderman goes off on a long, long speech about how he believes in… a lot of terrible stuff. Infidelity. Death. That kind of thing.

It starts raining in Damien’s room, and lightning strikes the floor, creating a huge hole. Dead souls peer out of it.

The hole vanishes, and Damien throws Kinderman up onto the ceiling.

The seemingly dead priest, however, is sort of alive, and he picks up a crucifix off the floor and tells Damien to fight.

Damien fights. Which looks, more or less, like Damien is undergoing some severe constipation issues. He yells out, “Nooo!” and Kinderman falls off the ceiling.

Damien yells out, “Bill, now, shoot me now, kill me now!” and Kinderman shoots him.

A pretty dead-looking Damien says, “Bill, free me.” And Kinderman shoots him in the head.

We get a shot of the sunrise, a shot of some preists, and a shot of Kinderman standing over Damein’s grave, and that’s all she wrote.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Exorcist II: The Heretic

One of the less-discussed aspects of “The Exorcist” is that it was based on a true story. While it’s doubtful that the original events match up scene for scene with the first film, chances are good that since “The Exorcist II: The Movie Everyone Tries to Forget Exists” features neither the original writer nor the original director of “The Exorcist,” chances are good that it lacks a certain truthfulness.

The story begins somewhere unnamed, as a middle-aged priest walks down the hallway of a poorly constructed building. He’s surrounded by people, and at the end of the hall is a screaming girl.

The girl is question is not covered with the creepy, creepy makeup seen in the first film, which makes things a little confusing. Is the girl not possessed? Or did Warner Brothers cut the budget for the film, so they couldn’t afford decent makeup effects?

The priest stops in the middle of the hallway and opens what I’m guessing is his bible. It has a picture of Father Merrin in it, and the priest says, “Father Merrin, in the valley of the shadow of death, be at my side.”

The many, many people in the hallway start chanting in what sounds like some variation of Spanish, so I’m guessing we’re in Mexico. Or South America. Or the back lot of Warner Brothers.

The father throws some holy water on the so-called possessed girl, and she normalizes for a minute, crying out, “Why me, why me? I heal the sick.”

Then she flips out and tosses a few dozen candles on the floor, and the building goes up in the flames. The girl burns, smiling as she does so. But still, no creepy makeup, so the question of whether she was possessed or just crazy still stands.

More importantly, in the first film performing an exorcism was a big, big, big deal that required two priests. So did this guy get permission? Or is he just freelancing?

I guess we’ll find out later, because somewhere totally different we get reacquainted with Regan, who is now sixteen and kind of scantily clad and practicing a tap-dancing routine while a young lad accompanies her on the saxophone.

This scene lasts just long enough to make us wonder what the point is, and then we’re in the weirdest psychiatric hospital/ward ever put on film. All of the walls are glass, I guess so every single patient can look in on every other patient. Really. It’s bizarre. At one point, Regan walks in, and watches while a catatonic girl accidentally gets pushed over and just lies there on a pillow.

One suspects that this doctor’s office was shut down mere moments after Regan leaves the building for violation of privacy laws.

Regan goes to her psychiatrist’s office and we get to find out what’s going on via expositional backstory. Regan says, essentially, that she’s only coming because her mother feels guilty about “what happened,” and about how her career keeps her away all the time.

She also states she doesn’t remember anything that happened in Washington – she remembers being sick, and having bad dreams, and that’s it.

Her psychiatrist pulls out a machine used in hypnotism, and suggests they give it a whirl. I’m guessing Regan’s new doctor didn’t call the previous guy who hypnotized her, as she is clearly unconcerned about leaving the room with all her reproductive organs intact.

At this point, we leave Regan and whatever horrible violence is about to ensue, and we catch up with the priest, whose name is Lamont. Lamont is visiting a Cardinal Jaros, who must spend his days boiling under all the robes he’s got on. Or maybe his cathedral has really excellent air conditioning.

Jaros wants to know why Lamont doesn’t want to investigate the death of Father Merrin. He notes that Lamont has performed exorcisms (um, so much for the established fact that exorcisms are rarely performed, I guess) and that Lamont was familiar with Merrin’s teachings.

What teachings would those be, exactly? How to mix heart pills and hooch?

And while we’re at it, four years have passed since Merrin died. An investigation into Merrin’s death isn’t exactly timely. Plus, no mention is made of Damien, who not only died, but flung himself out of a second-story window and rolled down a massive flight of concrete steps.

We’re offered a reason, but it’s a lame one – it seems that certain members of the church are trying to get Merrin declared a heretic and possible Satanist, and to have his writings locked away. Lamont is charged with clearing Merrin’s name.

Lamont goes to visit Regan’s doctor. There are so many logical fallacies here that I’m just going to list them off:

How did he know where to find Regan? How did he know that Regan was seeing a psychiatrist? How did he know which psychiatrist it was? How did he get in to see the psychiatrist, when asking questions about Regan must be a major violation of client/patient secrecy?

After all, this isn’t a legal issue – Lamont is neither a lawyer or an officer of the law. He’s a priest.

Lamont doesn’t even hide is agenda. He walks into the doctor’s office as Regan is walking out, and immediately states that he wants to talk to Regan. Which should be easy, since she’s standing on the other side of a glass door.

The good doctor tells Lamont that she thinks Regan’s problems are related to mental illness, and that she can’t let Lamont speak to Regan. So she handcuffs him to the desk so he can’t leave, and calls the police and tells them some random guy who claimed to be a priest showed up at her door and tried to get her to violate client/patient confidentiality.

No, wait. My apologies. I keep looking for logic.

Instead what happens is Regan comes in and says “I’d like to try that machine, now.” Then she informs the kindly Lamont that he can stick around and watch, if he’d like.

Anyone up for another list of logic problems?

In a real psychiatric setting, Lamont would have to sign at least a couple of papers to make this okay. Regan is speaking to the doctor as if the doctor has JUST suggested Regan try out the hypnotism machine, which would imply that Lamont was visiting the Cardinal in a hallway in the same building, and then just walked down to talk to Regan.

Which would at least explain how he found her so easily.

Regan’s appointment is set for the next day, and everyone dutifully shows up for the freak show.

Regan is hooked up to her hypnotism machine, and put under. The doctor also straps herself to the machine, because this is a magical machine that, once Regan is hypnotized, will allow the doctor to view Regan’s thoughts and/or memories and/or whatever else is going in her head.

Once Regan is under, the good doctor tells Regan to go to her room in Washington. Regan goes there, and the doctor has Regan hypnotize her so that they can share memories.

We are less than nineteen minutes into the film, and it is already the most ridiculous thing ever.

Lamont starts asking questions about Merrin, trying to figure out what he was doing when he died. Suddenly, the doctor starts breathing rapidly and freaking out. The nurse presses a button, a tone plays, and Regan wakes up.

This leaves the doctor “trapped” in whatever nightmare scenario she was sharing with Regan.

The nurse demands that Regan “go and get” the doctor, but Lamont says that he knows where the doctor is (how?) and that he will go and get the doctor (how?). The nurse straps him in and Lamont starts the hypnotism process. The nurse helps him, and he’s under and ready to help about ten seconds later.

Trying to understand what happens next is going to give you a massive headache, for which I apologize:

On one side of the table is Lamont. He is looking at the doctor.

On the other side of the table, the doctor is sitting in the chair, freaking out. Regan is standing behind her with her hand on the doctor’s chest, feeling the doctor’s heart race. Overlaid on top of that Lamont can see Regan’s bedroom in Washington. Regan, who is rocking the freaky possession makeup, is sitting up in her bed, while Merrin stands at the foot of the bed praying.

Possessed Regan extends her hand, and starts fondling the air, which from Lamont’s viewpoint appears to be the doctor’s chest area.
Merrin has a heart attack and falls over. The doctor’s heart appears to seize. Intercut with all this, we got a shot of the possessed Regan’s hand fondling a heart in an open chest cavity.

Do I even need to mention that this possessed version of Regan is clearly sixteen, and not twelve? So just in case you thought this was maybe some lost footage or something, it ain’t.

Lamont yells out, “In God’s name,” and the possessed version of Regan stops fondling the heart in the open chest cavity. Regan demands that Lamont tell the doctor not to remember anything, and he does.

Everyone comes out of their trance.

The doctor has Regan leave her office, and Regan goes to play with one of the many children hanging around. She offers to draw one of the kids a picture.

The doctor and Lamont talk, and she tells him that what he saw under synchronized hypnosis might not have been a memory at all.

The nurse brings Lamont Regan’s picture – which is of his face, surrounded by flames.

Lamont panics, because he somehow knows that this picture of flames around his face means there’s a fire in the building. So he chases after the doctor and drags her to the basement.

Sure enough, there’s a box on fire. The doctor calls the fire department while Lamont attempts to beat the fire into submission with a crutch. He is not very successful.

In case you’re wondering, yes indeed there is a shot where Lamont looks up and the doctor sees his head surrounded by flames, just like in the picture.

Eventually, the fire department shows up and the flames are put out.

Lamont informs the doctor that her machine is miraculous, and proves scientifically that there’s an ancient demon trapped inside Regan. Naturally, he wants to synch up with her again.

Regan goes home to her high-rise in the city, falls asleep, and dreams about Africa. This results in her sleepwalking out her patio door and waking up just in time not to fall several stories to her death.

Her housekeeper/nanny, Sharon, walks out onto the terrace and finds Regan there, feeding and playing around with the pigeon house that’s out there. For some reason. Because we all know large cities don’t have enough pigeons.

Sharon tells Regan that she has to go to Washington that afternoon to “Take care of some things.”

In Washington, Sharon talks to Lamont, explaining that Regan’s mom wants to help in any way that she can. You know, short of coming home and taking care of her daughter in her time of need.

Lamont and Sharon go to the house Regan and her mother shared in Washington, and Lamont asks a bunch of questions about what happened. My favorite is when Lamont asks whether or not Merrin prayed while preparing to face the demon. Mostly because Sharon doesn’t answer. Probably because, “He helped himself to an adult beverage,” is probably not the answer Lamont is looking for.

In a surprising bit of continuity, Sharon, who quit at the end of the last movie, says that she stayed away for two years and then came back because she had to be with Regan – that when she was with Regan was the only time she was at peace.

Lamont asks if Sharon has talked to a psychiatrist or a priest about this. Sharon says, “I’m talking to one, now.”

Lamont says, “I’m not here for you.” Whatta guy. He probably kicks homeless people as he walks by them on the street. “Sorry, buddy. I’m not here for YOU.”

Back at the hospital, Lamont, the doctor, and Regan meet up for another session. This time Regan brings Lamont into her brain, so that she can provide him and us with a bunch of flashbacks about things she couldn’t possibly know about.

But it’s okay, because they’re “dreams,” you see.

In the dream, Father Merrin is in Africa, admiring a young boy who has healing powers, and uses them to protect the rest of his tribe from swarms of locusts. Merrin puts forth the idea that perhaps great good calls great evil upon itself.

The locusts swarm, the boy falls over in the field, and when Merrin runs to him, the boy is clearly in possession mode. He rolls over to face Merrin and says, “I am Pazuzu.”

Regan says, “Call me by my dream name,” and Lamont says, “Pazuzu, king of the evil spirits of the air.”

In the dream, Merrin drags the kid up a mountain to a church hewn into the rock and exorcises Pazuzu from him. But Pazuzu is a cheeky monkey who explains in voiceover that he could totally, like possess that kid again if he wanted to.

This leads to a bunch of stock footage shots of Africa until, finally, we get a shot of the boy today, and we discover that he’s James Earl Jones.

Regan and Lamont wake up, and Regan tells the doctor that she remembers they were “in Africa,” although she claims she can’t remember anything else that happened. She does note that it looked like something she saw in the Natural History Museum.

Lamont determines that the boy/man must have a power over evil, and figures he’ll go to Africa and find him. And why not? Clearly finding Regan was the easiest thing in the world, so locating some dude somewhere on a continent shouldn’t prove much trouble either.

Out in the waiting room, Regan starts talking to a girl, who tells Regan that she’s autistic and can’t talk.

Moments later, the girl’s mother comes out and hears her little girl talking for the first time. She’s overwhelmed with joy, and takes the little girl home so that her father can hear her speak.

The doctor and Lamont come out into the lobby and Regan asks if she can help some of the doctor’s other patients with her magical superpowers. The doctor doesn’t think this is a good idea, but tells her that maybe Regan can do it when she’s older.

The fact that Regan appears to be some sort of Messiah seems to have little effect on the good doctor. Then again, she did invent a form of hypnotism that allows you to crawl into another person’s brain, so perhaps she’s just grumpy that Regan didn’t do the water into wine trick first.

Lamont tells the doctor that she needs to help him get the demon out of Regan so that she can reach her full spiritual power.

Lamont heads to the Natural History Museum, where Regan meets him, accidentally-on-purpose.

Regan asks Lamont what he thinks about ESP, and Lamont begins babbling about something having to do with idea that eventually all people will join some sort of collective unconscious, but if they do it before they’re ready, the world may find itself pointing in, “… the wrong direction, towards Satan.”

Apparently Merrin bought into all this trash. Frankly, locking away his writings may be one of the better decisions the church has made.

Lamont and Regan stop at one of the displays, and Regan notes that it looks like the place where Merrin fought Pazuzu.

Lamont says, “You remember Pazuzu?” And Regan confesses that she remembers everything that happened. And also, that the boy from Regan’s dream is named Kokumo.

Lamont goes back to the Cardinal and says that he must go to Africa. It seems that father Merrin prophesied that certain spiritually gifted people would rise up to fight evil. The cardinal relieves him of his assignment, and asks for his badge.

At least, that’s what he would do if this was a buddy cop movie, and who’s to say it’s not? I mean, it’s all there. He’s the priest. She’s the psychic. They fight evil.

At any rate, Lamont, in the tradition of all great buddy cop movies, defies his boss’s orders and heads to Africa to find Kokumo. How he affords this without church backing is anyone’s guess.

In the city, the doctor goes to visit Regan, who hasn’t been keeping her appointments. Regan hasn’t been showing up because the doctor won’t let her “synch up,” which Regan explains would allow her to communicate with Lamont, even though he’s in Africa.

An interesting side note: The display at the Natural History Museum noted that the place Merrin took Kokumo to was a rock church in Ethiopia. So why not say the Father went to Ethiopia? Is everyone associated with this film not aware that Ethiopia is a country unto itself?

Anyway, back in Ethiopia, Lamont asks around at the rock church and find out the abbot knew father Merrin. Then he asks about Kokumo, and the abbot, instead of saying, say, “Yes,” or, “No,” starts blabbering on about how Merrin brought a “very sick boy” up to his church, and how a monk fell to his death during the process. They never found the monk.

Lamont, who saw all of this in a previous flashback, says, “He didn’t fall there, he fell over there,” and climbs down rock face to show him.

Meanwhile, Regan is having a dance recital. Remember that rehearsal way at the start of the movie? That was very important to the plot, because otherwise they couldn’t have this scene.

One can’t help but think that the actress agreed to play Regan again only if she could demonstrate her tap skills somewhere in the picture. Perhaps the actress who played her mom backed out because they couldn’t work her skills with a bagpipe into the screenplay.

Back in Ethiopia, Lamont proves that he knows where the bodies are buried. Then he explains that he knew where the body was buried because he flew with a demon. For some reason, the Ethiopians take this the wrong way, and assume he worships Satan. So they try to stone him, and Lamont runs to his jeep and drives away.

This is intercut with shots of Regan, who is still performing, screaming and tripping and jerking as invisible rocks strike her. Eventually she falls facedown into the audience.

In the next scene, the doctor, who came to her dance recital for some reason, and also has drugs with her, dopes Regan. Regan is upset, because the drugs will prevent her from dreaming, so she won’t be able to help Lamont.

In the wilds of Africa, or possibly Ethiopia, or wherever he is now, Lamont consults with a nun who doesn’t know the place that Lamont is looking for. It seems the fine father has reached a dead end when a nice man with a plane drops off a brand-new crucifix for the nuns.

His name is Edwards, and he knows all the holy places in Africa, because it’s his business. He says the place Lamont is looking for it Jepti, and he flies the Father there.

How in the world does Lamont manage to find the one guy in the middle of Africa who knows where Lamont needs to go? It’s either the hand of God or really bad screenwriting. Take your pick.

Lamont wanders the city (I guess it’s Jepti, no one ever says), calling Kokumo’s name. After a minute, this tactic starts to work, and a large gathering of men lead him through the city to his destination. This is assuming his destination is a lady of easy virtue. Since Lamont seems unhappy about this, I’m guessing it’s not what he was looking for.

Lamont finally decides to try praying – first to God, then to Regan. Regan, who is still lying in her hospital bed, demands that Lamont call her by her “dream name.” So he prays to Pazuzu.

And finally, after a long, long, long and boring search, he finds Kokumo. Who is pretty crabby about the fact that Lamont used Pazuzu to find him.

Kokumo tells Lamont that Lamont has lost faith in his God, and tells Lamont that Lamont needs to “Pluck out her evil heart.”

Did I mention that Kokumo is played by James Earl Jones? And that he’s dressed in a locust costume?

Lamont insists that he believes, and that he’ll do anything to help Regan. So Kokumo tells Lamont that Lamont must “cross over. Though what Lamont must cross over is unclear. Lamont and Kokumo appear to be separated by a hallway, and the floor appears to have something black and oily on it, but I can’t say it appears all that dangerous.

Either way, I have to share this line: “If Pazuzu comes for you, I will spit a leopard.”

I simply must find a way to work that into casual conversation.


Kokumo spits a ball of something-or-other out of his mouth, and it falls onto the “floor,” which is finally revealed to be a deep pit of water with spikes sticking out of it.

Lamont attempts to step on it, his foot is impaled by the spikes, and he starts to fall on the floor… only suddenly the floor is black marble, and Kokumo is now a nice, normal-looking dude wearing a white lab coat.

Lamont starts spitting questions at the now very normal-looking Kokumo, who says that he did know Merrin and that his mother told him that as a young boy he was possessed by Pazuzu.

Lamont also states that Regan was, as a child, possessed by Pazuzu, only she WASN’T. She was possessed by the devil. But to be fair, Lamont has had a rough trip, and he probably just forgot.

(A footnote: If you read the original novel “The Exorcist,” the name Pazuzu does appear within its text. And if you watch “The Exorcist,” and you’re some kind of scholar, you’ll know that the statue that keeps popping up throughout the movie is Pazuzu. Or if you read the screenplay for “The Exorcist,” you will find the name Pazuzu mentioned. But is Pazuzu named in “The Exorcist?” No. So, boo on you, people who make II.)

Here’s an issue, though. Assuming that Regan was possessed by Pazuzu, what exactly happened at the end of “The Exorcist?” Did Pazuzu jump out of Regan, go into Damien, and then a minute later, after Damien was dead, just back into Regan and just opt to hang out for a few years?

But we were talking about Kokumo.)

Kokumo, it seems, is a scientist who studies locusts. While the director throws a bunch of grasshopper footage up on the screen, Kokumo yammers on and on and on about how when things are wet, the locusts brush wings, and they all go crazy and follow the locust mind of destruction.

Then he pulls out a genetically engineered grasshopper that isn’t bothered by wing brushing. Apparently, her children are going to make the locusts calm down and be happy grasshoppers again.

If the camera zoomed in for a close-up shot of the grasshopper with Regan’s head superimposed over the top of it, whoever wrote those lines could not have pounded the point home any harder.

For additional emphasis, Lamont says, “The Good Locust?”

Then the movie cuts to Regan as she gets out of her hospital bed. She grabs her stuff and runs out the front door as the nurse says, “Hey Regan, where do you think you’re going?” but doesn’t try to actually stop her. Good work, nurse. I’m sure that’ll come up at your review.

Lamont heads back to the States and heads to Regan’s apartment. Sharon meets him at the door and tells him that Regan has run away from the hospital and that it’s all his fault.

Lamont heads to the Natural History Museum to drown his troubles in learning, and finds that Regan is already there. He fills her in on what Kokumo taught him, and Regan, as it turns out, has stolen the hypnotism device and is carrying it around with her in a shopping bag.

Regan and Lamont head to a hotel room and fire up the world’s most magical plot device. Lamont states that he is afraid, but Regan insists that Merrin will help them.

Hypnosis ensues, and Merrin, who I feel compelled to remind everyone is still quite dead, tells Lamont that he is entrusting Lamont with the care and feeding of all of the good people that Merrin attempted to protect while he was alive.

He also explains that Satan sent Pazuzu. In case we were concerned that Pazuzu was a free agent, or something.

Regan wakes up, but the doctor remains in a trance. He gets up from his chair and starts walking, and after a lot of Regan-whining, we learn that Lamont is headed to the house in Washington.

Regan calls the doctor and explains all of this.

Regan and Lamont get on a train and head to Washington. There is some pointless babbling that ultimately does not affect the plot in any way.

Sharon and the doctor head to Washington on a plane. There is an anti-climactic moment where it looks like the plane is going to fall out of the sky, only it doesn’t. Eventually they land and get a taxi, and when they tell the driver where they’re going, the driver seems… you know, sort of hesitant.

Lamont goes into the house, leaving Regan behind. He runs up to Regan’s old room and pulls open the door. He is immediately swarmed by locusts.

Back in the cab, a rock hits the windshield and the car spins out of control, eventually crashing into the front gate of Regan’s old house.

Regan, who has just gotten into the house, is terrified by the noise upstairs. At least until the director cuts away, and cuts back to her, and Regan seems mildly wary, at best.

Outside, the cab is a crumpled mess. The driver is dead. Sharon just barely manages to push her way out of the vehicle. She has an impish smile on her face. The doctor asks her for help getting out of the cab, and Sharon just kind of grins at her.

The doctor cries out, “At least help Regan.”

Sharon refuses until the doctor says the name “Pazuzu.”

Inside, Regan walks to the door of her old room and opens it, and sees the possessed version of herself on the bed. So she screams. Somewhat unconvincingly.

Lamont runs up behind her and pushes her into the room, and the possessed Regan’s face changes from hideous and disgusting to pretty much normal, except for the fact that she’s wearing the kind of makeup that would cause a mother to declare, “You are not going out of this house like that, young lady.”

Oh, and her eyes are kind of yellow.

The possessed version of Regan asks Lamont to “Join with us,” and her demeanor pretty doesn’t leave much room for interpretation. Lamont runs to her, falls on the bed and begins nuzzling the neck of the possessed 16-year-old girl.

Lamont is ordered to kill Regan. He runs over to her, grabs her by the shoulders, and starts banging her head against the wall. Regan starts speaking with Kokumo’s voice, yammering about The Good Locust and how she’s designed to not be affected by the brushing of the wings.

Outside, the doctor gets out of the car just in time for Sharon to stomp on a light in a puddle of gasoline, which causes the car and Sharon to go up in flames. I have no idea why this happens.

Inside, Regan says “Why me?” Then she says it in Spanish, which causes the doctor to remember that he’s pretty much a total failure at the whole exorcism thing. So he runs back to the bed, jumps on top of the possessed version of Regan, and starts strangling her. Or something like that. There’s a lot of motion and grunting, and the thing on the bed calls out to Pazuzu, so I guess you can draw your own conclusions.

Outside, locusts swarm over a really bad blue-screen shot of Washington.

Inside the house, the possessed version of Regan and Lamont wrestle on the bed. The window bursts open, and locusts pour in.

The house beings to crumble.

Lamont punches the possessed version of Regan in the chest a bunch of times, and tears out her heart.

Regan escapes from the house, and begins waving her arm around her head. So that the audience doesn’t just think she’s spazzing out, she is intercut with shots of a young Kokumo as he swings a device around his head that he used to fend off locusts.

After a minute, the locusts calm down. Which still leaves Washington with a metric booty-load of grasshoppers running around, but, there you go. Oh, wait. Never mind. After they get calm, they vanish.

Regan looks around, and spots the doctor, Sharon, and Lamont. Sharon is burned really, really badly. She notes that, “I… chose… evil…”

Lamont counters, “No, Sharon, your hunger for belief was your truth.” Granted, it doesn’t make any sense, but neither does anything else that’s happened thus far, so we’ll let it go.

Lamont gives Sharon last rites. Sharon dies.

The doctor apologizes to Regan, and says, “I understand now. But the world won’t.” She’s got that right.

The doctor tells Lamont and Regan that they have to go, and Regan and Lamont walk away.

Mere seconds later, the entire neighborhood and the cops show up, crying out things like “What happened?”

I think the more important question is, “Where were all these people when a cab crashed violently into the house, then exploded? And where were they when the house exploded? And where were they when the entire neighborhood was being swarmed by locusts?”

Personally, I want a sequel to this film where the doctor calls up Regan’s mom, and explains that Sharon is dead, the house in Washington is a gravel pit, and her sixteen-year-old daughters just ran off with a priest who is old enough to be her father.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Exorcist

As everyone knows, “The Exorcist” is all about how a little girl is possessed by the devil. So as the movie opens, and we see a house, and then a light goes off, and then we get a pan across the street, we figure, “Okay, here we go.”

But no, the next scene takes place in Northern Iraq, where a bunch of people are excavating something-or-other.

A young boy tells an older man that some objects have been found, and he goes to check it out. Among the objects is a small medal that one of the diggers says is not from the same time period. The man goes back to the hole the objects were excavated from and pulls out a small statue.

Which is creepy-looking, yes, but not creepy-looking enough to explain why, in the next scene, the old man is washing down pills with hooch.

A short while later, a nice Iraqi says, “Evil against evil, Father,” thereby letting us know that the old man is a priest and that both the medal and the statue are, apparently, evil. Or that the Father is evil and he must fight the evil. Either way, the Father says he has to go.

The Father then drives out to some ruins in an indeterminate location, where he sees a larger version of the creepy statue. Nearby, some dogs fight. Probably to let us know that the statue is evil.

The movie then helpfully lets us know that we’re in “Georgetown,” but does not mention what part of Iraq Georgetown is located in.

We’re back in the house from the very beginning of the movie at this point, and a sweet-looking woman named Chris wakes up because she hears scratching in the attic. So she goes to check on her young daughter, who is quite asleep.

She heads down to the kitchen and lets her man-servant know that there are rats in the attic and they will have to be dealt with.

Later that day, we learn that Chris is an actress. Which leads us into a sequence where we get to watch Chris act, which of course means that we’re watching an actress acting as an actress acting. This woman has layers.

Moving right along, Chris heads home while creepy Exorcist music plays in the background, reminding us that even though we’re fifteen minutes into the movie and the only scary thing we’ve been shown is a statue, this is a horror movie and scary, scary stuff is sure to be coming.

Chris first talks to her nanny, and then talks to her daughter, whose name is Regan. Regan, is seems, got to ride a horse today, and now she wants one. Her mom says, “We’ll see,” and the audience thinks, “Really, a girl asking for a pony? How much more cliché can you get?”

Elsewhere, a young priest goes to visit his elderly mother. He eats. He offers to help his mom move out of the ghetto. His mother calls him Dimmie. Calling this guy Dimmie the Priest, however, makes it seem like we’re watching a bad Mafia movie, so maybe we’ll just keep calling him the young priest.

Back at Chris and Regan’s house, Regan just had arts and crafts time, and presents her mother with something that looks like a bird. Her mother is duly impressed.

Christ notices an Ouija board, and asks if Regan has been playing with it and if she knows how to use it. Regan says yes to both things, and mom and daughter proceed to have Ouija time together, a time honored tradition of families everywhere.

Chris reaches for the pointer, and it jerks away from her. Regan says that Captain Howdy doesn’t want Chris to play.

It should be pointed out that in lesser horror movies, the scary evil being is named things like D. Vil, or something. Meanwhile, here in a horror classic, the embodiment of Satan is named Captain Howdy.

After making attempts to speak with those who have passed beyond the veil, Chris puts Regan to bed.

In another part of town, the young priest, whose name is actually Damien, buys another priest a beer and confesses that he thinks he’s lost his faith. Which is exactly the kind of conversation you have over beers in a crowded bar.

Back at the house, Chris is woken up by late-night phone call alerting her to the fact that she has to go back work. When she rolls over, she finds Regan in bed with her. Regan claims that her bed was shaking and that she couldn’t get to sleep.

Chris goes into the hall and hears noises in the attic again, so she drops the attic stairs, lights a candle, and goes up to investigate. She keeps hearing noises, but notes that the while there are rat traps, there are no rats in them. Suddenly, her candle spouts a large gust of flame and goes out.

Next, we get to follow Regan as she undergoes a series of medical tests. This happens pretty much without explanation, but we are treated to Regan acting alternately enraged or really, really spacey.

The doctor gives her a prescription for Ritalin. Of course, what the movie doesn’t show are the fourteen other teenage patients he saw that day who he also gave Ritalin. Because as we know, if little Johnny won’t shut his mouth and do his homework, it’s time to drag out the pills, chop-chop.

The doctor and Chris talk a little bit, and learn that Regan has been both lying and using foul language, which are both not typical of pre-teen children in any way, and should be treated with medication as soon as possible.

In another medical facility which is not nearly as nice as the one Regan is being treated at, Damien’s mother gets some treatment for her leg against her will. This upsets her, and Damien says he’ll take her home.

Thanks to a little exposition later, we learn she died her in apartment and no one found her for a couple of days.

There’s a lesson here, and the lesson is: Even a bad hospital stay is better than ending your life in a sweltering apartment in the ghetto, where your dog will eat your face once the kibble runs out.

The place where we get this exposition is a party that Chris is throwing at her house. All is going well until one of her friends calls the servant a Nazi and a fistfight breaks out. Then things calm down again, until Regan comes downstairs, says, “You’re gonna die up there,” and then urinates on the floor.

I’ll admit, I was never all that happy about being sent upstairs when my parents were having a party, but it never occurred to me to soil the carpet.

Chris cleans Regan up and assures her that Ritalin will fix Regan’s problems. This theory falls apart somewhat when, minutes later, Regan’s bed starts rocking around like a minivan driving down the steepest slope of Mount Everest.

Despite the fact that something seriously freaky is going on, Chris opts to take Regan back to the doctor. The doctor says it’s a lesion on Regan’s temporal lobe and lights up a cigarette. Whether he’s doing this because discussing brains makes him nervous or because he’s celebrating yet another victorious medical victory is unclear.

Anyway, they dope Regan up and give her a few tests, all of which are scarier, more nauseating, and harder to watch than anything Satan does to her later.

In the middle of looking at the x-rays, the doctor gets a call from Chris. Regan is freaking right out. The doctor and his doctor sidekick go to Chris’s house, and Regan is flopping around like a rag doll in the fist of any angry toddler.

Oh, and she says some astonishingly filthy things, and knocks the doctor across the room. The doctors sedate her and then say it’s time to run more tests. Oookaaay…

More tests are run, but they don’t find anything, because this is not that kind of movie. The doctor recommends talking to psychiatrists.

Chris goes home, where the power is flickering on and off and Regan’s room is freezing.

She confronts her nanny, who left to get Thorazine. The nanny apologizes, and then the doorbell rings and we learn that Chris’s friend the director is dead. Specifically the friend who Regan said would die.

At that moment, Regan comes down the stairs upside down, clambering on all fours. Then she spits blood on the carpet.

So Chris takes her to a hypnotist.

The hypnotist puts her under, then asks to speak to the person inside Regan. There is angry growling. Then Regan/The Prince of Darkness grabs the doctor in a most painful manner and some minor damage is done in a delicate area.

Elsewhere a nice man from homicide visits father Damien. The nice man says the director fell, yes, but he adds the intriguing information that the man’s head was twisted around backward on his neck.

The nice man asks Father Damien if any of the priests in his building might be into black magic. Or if any of his patients might be into black magic. Damien says no.

Here’s a pertinent question: How did the nice man from homicide jump from “accidental death” to “murder” to “murder by a person following elements of the black mass?” The man is either a genius or a total conspiracy theorist.

Back at the hospital, the doctor who was capable of seeing Regan flung about her own bed while using words that sailors on leave dare not utter has an idea: He thinks that Regan THINKS that she’s possessed. So he suggests that if someone performs an exorcism, it will cause Regan to think she is NOT possessed, and everything will go back to normal.

Chris is not jumping up and down at this idea. She takes Regan home and is surprised to discover a cross has been tucked Regan’s pillow. None of the servants will confess to putting it there.

But isn’t it just like the help to leave religious artifacts lying around and then not confess to it?

The nice man from homicide comes to visit Chris, offering her a handful of ideas and theories about her dead friend – including one scenario where Chris’s friend was pushed from Regan’s window.

The nice man leaves, and Chris begins an emotional meltdown that is somewhat exacerbated by the screaming and yelling coming from Regan’s room.

Chris runs to Regan’s living quarters. Objects are swirling around the room, and a possessed Regan is doing horrible things with the crucifix that Chris found earlier. Chris is thrown across the room, and when her servants come to help, the door slams shut and a chair glides across the floor and prevents it from being opened.

Regan’s head spins around to face backward, and the scene comes to a close.

Later that day, Chris meets up with Father Damien on a bridge near a parking lot. Chris asks Damien for a cigarette, which seems odd. Though given what she’s gone through, I suppose if she asked him for opium and a hookah it wouldn’t be too out of place.

Chris asks Damien a bunch of questions about his background, and then casually slips in a “How do you go about getting an exorcism” question. Damien asks for clarification, and she replies, “like for a demon or something.” Really. She really says, “Or something.”

Perhaps she’s concerned her daughter is possessed by the Pillsbury Doughboy?

Damien insists that the church rarely approves exorcisms, and he goes on to add that they haven’t been necessary since mental illness was discovered. Who says the church isn’t progressive?

Chris goes back into freak-out mode and begs Damien to help her. So Damien goes to her house.

The good Father enters Regan’s room and introduces himself. Regan says, “I’m the devil,” and asks Damien to loosen the straps binding her to the bed.

Damien says that if the devil shows him Regan, he’ll loosen a strap.

Regan says that Damien’s mother is “in here with us,” then projectile vomits green slime on Damien.

Moments later, we’re treated to Chris ironing Damien’s freshly-cleaned shirt. Left out of the movie is Damien walking out of Regan’s room covered in vomit and asking if there’s a washer/dryer in the house, and clean men’s shirt he can borrow, and the four hours of awkward conversation that must have gone on while his shirt was being laundered.

Instead, we’re treated to Damien insisting that he’s still pretty sure Regan just has mental problems, while Chris thinks that it’s exorcism time. One is inclined to agree with her, if only because we’re ninety minutes into a movie called “The Exorcist” and we have yet to spend any time with an actual exorcist.

Imagine if “The Transporter” consisted of 90 minutes of characters insisting that a package would eventually deliver itself, followed by twenty minutes of the package being delivered.

That’s “The Exorcist.”

Just before he leaves, Damien asks Chris if Regan knew his mother was dead. Chris tells him that Regan was not aware of this fact.

Damien leaves.

Then Damien listens to a tape Regan made for her dad. How he got it, why he’s listening to it, and why Regan’s dad doesn’t have it are not explained.

Damien goes to visit Regan again, and brings a tape recorder, which he uses to record their conversation. Regan opens a drawer without touching it, speaks some Latin, then some French, and then after being doused in holy water begins speaking in an incomprehensible language.

Damien speaks to Chris after the pre-exorcism and states that the holy water in question was actually tap water. He then takes the tape he made and presents it to a friend, who informs Damien that the incomprehensible language Regan was speaking is actually English. Only it’s backwards.

Much of it is just semi-random shouting, but Regan does yell out “Merrin” in the middle of all the yelping.

Damien gets a phone call and races back to Chris’s house.

The nanny takes Damien upstairs and brings him into Regan’s room, which is freezing cold. She unbuttons the bottom of Regan’s shirt and shows him the words pushing up from Regan’s belly – “Help me.”

Damien tells his higher-up that he thinks it would be a good idea to perform the exorcism. Damien’s higher-up talks to HIS higher-up, who suggests that they bring in Merrin.

Merrin, of course, being the old dude who was in Iraq way back at the start of the movie. Ninety minutes ago. Other movies have started and ended in the time it takes to get back to the actual exorcist in the title of the film.

Merrin, it seems, performed an exorcism ten or twelve years ago in Africa, and apparently it took months and nearly killed him. Looks like we’ve got a lot of movie ahead of us.

Merrin goes to Chris’s house, hears the unearthly moaning upstairs, and decides not to get good night’s sleep and reconvene in the morning. They’re going to start laying down the law right now.

Damien goes to get various needed items, and Merrin throws out a little exposition about how the devil is going to try to fight them by talking smack.

The two Fathers head into Regan’s room and start reading the exorcism ritual. The bed rises off the floor. There is green vomit. The ceiling is cracked. Doors close and things fall over. The straps holding Regan to the bed break and Regan floats in the air. The room shakes.

Through it all, the boys in black keep on reciting their ritual.

Eventually Regan and/or The Prince of Lies falls asleep and Merrin and Damien decide to take five.

Merrin goes to take a potty break, and takes one of those little pills he took way back in the beginning of the film. One hopes the pills work if he can’t combine them with foreign adult beverages.

Damien goes into Regan’s room, and Regan/The Evil One taunts him using the voice of his mother. Merrin comes into the room and tells Damien that Damien had better leave.

Damien heads downstairs, and Chris asks Damien if Regan is going to die. Damien says no. Damien has apparently decided that in addition to saving Regan from possession, they will also be able to instill her with immortality.

Damien heads upstairs, and discovers that Merrin has died from a heart attack. He begins pounding on Merrin’s chest. I guess when you’re a psychiatrist priest, they don’t worry so much about teaching you proper CPR technique.

Downstairs, the nice man from homicide has come for a visit.

Damien starts pummeling Regan, and demanding the devil come out of her and go into him. The devil does so, and Damien leaps out the window and falls down the same stairs Chris’s friend fell down. Damien is quite dead, and has defeated the devil.

Brutal, but effective, he dies as the Conan the Barbarian of priests.

Chris and the nice man from homicide run upstairs and survey the scene.

Down at the bottom of the stairs, a priest friend of Damien’s administers last rites.

And it’s time for the epilogue. Chris and Regan pack up the house and leave. Regan, we are told, remembers nothing of what happened.

The priest who gave Father Damien last rites runs into the nice man from homicide and tells him that Chris and Regan left. The two men decide to go have lunch together.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Army of Darkness

Army of Darkness

As the movie opens and we watch Ash’s feet walk across the bleak sands of… some sandy place, let us consider this:

Why is this movie called “Army of Darkness?”

There is an army, yes, but it’s not peopled entirely by shadows. And more importantly, the title is sort of confusing. How many people have, over the years, stumbled across “Army of Darkness” and thought, “Wow, there’s a lot of exposition in the first few minutes. I wonder if this is a sequel of some sort…?”

Though I suppose “Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness” is kind of a mouthful of a title.

Ash helpfully provides some exposition, which is coupled with footage that is sometimes from “Evil Dead II,” and sometimes is not. Confusingly, Ash’s girlfriend is played by an actress who did not appear in part I or II. She gets three quick scenes, showing her at Ash’s work (S-Mart), then showing her as she and Ash pull up to the cabin, and then showing her getting attacked by the evil that smashed through the window and took Linda in part II, but not part I.

Ash fails to mention that he cabin-crashed, and that four other people eventually showed up and are now quite dead.

He does mention that his hand went bad, and that he lopped it off at the wrist.

Ash states that he figures it’s around 1300 AD, though how he comes to this conclusion is anyone’s guess. Perhaps he was a history major?

After the “Previously, on ‘The Evil Dead II’” section of the movie, we’re taken back to where Ash falls from the sky.

In contrast to what happened at the end of II, this time around Ash falls, he talks to a knight, and the knight decides to consult with a wise man. The wise man states right off that he figures Ash is the one written of in the Necronomicon – Ash is the man who will fall from the sky and save them all.

Ash’s not-friend, the knight, decides otherwise and declares, “To the pit with him.”

So, did the filmmakers just, like, forget how “Evil Dead II” ended? That sublime ironic ending where Ash is pretty much doomed to a fate of leadership?

At any rate we’re back where we came in, with Ash chained to a bunch of other fellows who are described as “Henry’s men,” and he and his fellow chain-mates are taken to a nearby castle.

In the castle courtyard, Sheila, a peasant girl, asks Arthur, the knight who decided that a man with a chainsaw attached to his arm was working in tandem with a rival kingdom and that he should be thrown into a pit, what happened to her brother.

He’s dead.

Sheila takes this out on Ash, via the time-honored method of spitting in his face.

Ash learns that the man chained directly behind him is the Henry the Red. Arthur accuses Henry of waging war on his people. Henry says Arthur started it. Both of them lament the fact that they are at war with a great evil.

And then Arthur has one of Henry’s men thrown into “The Pit,” which is a giant hole in a ground with a steal covering over it to keep the evil in.

Everyone watches him go in. Then they wait around for a bit. Then a geyser of blood much larger than would come out of a single human being comes spewing up from the pit.

Another one of Henry’s men tries to run, and gets an arrow in the back for his troubles. On the bright side, he doesn’t end up as a blood geyser. Life is all about the small victories.

Ash gets tossed into the pit next. A demon pops up and attacks him, but he fights back and seems to be doing okay. So Arthur looks over at a couple of his men and says, “Spikes.”

What a guy.

Spikes start closing in on Ash and the demon. Or rather, depending on the shot, the spikes are closing in, or moving away, or at some indeterminate distance.

There’s a continuity problem or twelve. That’s what I’m driving at.

The wise man suddenly runs to the edge of the pit and tosses Ash’s chainsaw down to him. Ash fires it up and dispatches the demon.

Ash races around the bottom of the pit, trying to find a way out. Another demon appears, and he attempts to fend it off while he makes his escape.

Eventually he pulls off his belt and lashes it around the slowly rising chain that’s being used to move the spiky walls in on him.

Only… uh… why not just grab the chain? For that matter, the spikes are nicely sized and would make for an awesome ladder.

Though I guess I should cut poor Ash some slack. The man hasn’t slept for two days and has watched anywhere from four to eight people die at the hands of beings from another dimension. He’s gotta be feeling some stress.

Either way, he gets out of the pit, and punches Arthur in the face. Then he eats a baby.

(Okay, he totally doesn’t eat a baby. But this would be the most memorable film ever if he did.)

Ash follows up the face-punching with a lot of crazy, “You want some of this?”-style talk.

He tells Henry the Red and his men to get on their horses and go. Too bad for the guy with the arrow in his back. All he had to do was wait three more minutes and he would have been home free. So perhaps running wasn’t the best plan after all.

Setting the men free angers Arthur, who pulls out his sword and gets ready to face Ash mano-y-mano. Only is seems that Ash has gotten his shotgun back. He uses the gun to blast Arthur’s sword in half, and then goes off on a rant about his “Boomstick.”

I think he’s talking about the gun.

At the end of his speech, an angry evil creature crawls out of the pit behind Ash, and Ash puts him down with the Boomstick. It should be stated that the pit creature executes a pretty spectacular flip when it’s hit. Perhaps it was a gymnast before it joined the Army of Darkness.

Ash concludes the scene by asking how he gets home.

He begins the by throwing a little verbal abuse Sheila’s way. He follows that up by chatting with the wise man. The conversation goes, roughly:

Wise Man: We need the Necronomicon to send you home.

Ash: You don’t need the book. Just send me back.

Horrible Hag in the Corner: Now I shall kill everyone in the room.

Ash: No you don’t. Through a combination of kicks to the face that shotgun blasts that in no way dismember you, I shall render you dead. Again.

Horrible Hag in the Corner: Where, exactly, are you getting all that ammo?

The hag dies.

Wise Man: Now will you quest after the book?

Ash: Okay, but I’m going to need to make myself a new hand out of steel and various rods and pins and such, even though there’s no way this kind of technology is possible in this century, and also, I have not demonstrated I’m remotely smart enough to create such a thing.

The Cast: Awesome. Can we get back to the plot now?

Sheila goes to visit Ash in his chambers, where he dishes out a little more verbal abuse. She slaps him. They kiss. Fade out.

Understandable that he’s feeling a little lonesome, I guess. His girlfriend has been dead for nearly two days.

The next morning, Ash heads out to find the book. The wise man gives him some very specific words to remember, which he must recite when he encounters the book. Given what we know of Ash, I think we all see how this is going to end.

Ash rides off, eventually realizing that he’s being followed by an Evil Point-of-View shot. Despite the fact that it’s the middle of the day, which is when the evil slept during the second movie.

Ash runs to a windmill, and hides inside the comfy apartment tucked in it. All goes well until nightfall, when Ash looks over his shoulder, sees himself, and goes racing towards… a mirror. Which he runs into. And shatters.

Naturally, the evil is able to use this by creating several miniature Ash-creatures, who torment Ash through the use of small pointy objects.

Eventually, all the little Ash-creatures tie Ash down and force him to eat one of his tiny counterparts, which seems like a bad idea from the get-go, and only gets worse, as a full-sized Ash then proceeds to grow from Ash’s body.

Interestingly, several small Ash-beings survive the encounter with the full-size Ash. One wonders what becomes of them? Do they rent themselves out for evil puppet shows?

Bad Ash separates himself from our so-called hero, and proceeds to beat Ash up. This goes on until Ash pulls out his shotgun and shoots his doppelganger in the face.

Ash buries the only child he will ever conceive, after first chopping him up with his chainsaw.

He then heads out to the graveyard where The Book of the Dead is. At night. Brilliant.

When he gets there, he discovers that there are three books. So, without reciting the words, he tries to pick up the first book, which contains a vortex inside itself that Ash must fight his way out of.

After AGAIN not saying the words he was instructed to say, Ash tries to pick up the second book, which starts flying around, attacking Ash.

Eventually, the book gives up, and Ash finally remembers that he has words to recite. But not which words. So he fakes it, and picks up the book, and the ground starts shaking. Not his best moment.

On the other hand, what was Ash’s best moment up to this point?

Ash heads out of the graveyard, after being mauled by a bunch of skeletal arms.

Lightning strikes the grave of Bad Ash, and Bad Ash returns to life, looking like he’s managed to rot quite a bit over the last couple of hours.

Ash heads back to the castle and hands over The Book of the Dead. The wise man grills him about whether or not Ash said the words correctly, and Ash says, you know… mostly.

The wise man states that the dead will come for the book, which didn’t happen in part I or II. At all. Pretty much they just wanted to kill people, not pick up some reading material.

At any rate, Ash is told they can still send him back, but pretty much everyone at the castle is gonna die. Then Sheila says she knows he’ll help them, because she clearly knows nothing about our friend Ash.

Moments later, a winged creature of evil zips over the castle wall, grabs Sheila, and flies off with her.

Why? No idea. Let’s go with “dramatic tension” and leave it at that.

Back at the graveyard, the dead are digging each other up and making an evil army. Sheila is handed off to Evil Ash. There is kissing. It’s worse than when she was kissing Ash, but not by much.

At the castle, everyone is freaking right out. A scout states that the army of the dead is two days away. Which makes no sense. Ash got back from the graveyard in the middle of the night, and it’s still dark now. Maybe he meant two hours?

Ash fires off his gun, and makes a speech, and people decide to stand behind him.

This allows the film to throw another montage at us, which includes moments like Ash making gunpowder using Chemistry 101 books that he had in his trunk.

I guess Ash and his various friends planned on doing a little studying up in their cabin in the woods… four days ago.

We also get to see Ash train a bunch of people in the use of pikes. When did Ash learn to use a pike? And why didn’t he use these pike skills any time in the last week?

Night falls. The so-called Army of Darkness shows up. Fighting ensues. Along with one of life’s very few chances to see a large puppet ride a horse.

The dead eventually fight their way into the castle, and everyone tries their very best to protect the book.

And here comes Ash. He’s converted his car into some sort of… thing. How to describe it? Imagine if you stuck helicopter blades over the front of a 1970s muscle car. And then you drove it through a bunch of skeletons?

Picture that. That’s what happens.

Ash sees Sheila standing in front of his rather tricked-out car, and hits the brakes. His vehicle crashes and explodes in a rather spectacular manner.

Sheila, fully dead-ed out, attacks Ash, and Ash gets to physically attack her this time, instead of verbally.

Henry the Red and his men come racing over the hill. Since they have not been trained by Ash, they probably stand a chance of survival.

Ash and Evil Ash both fight their way up through the castle, trading swordplay and quips. Uppercuts and upper hands trade back and forth.

Finally, Ash manages to secure the book, and secure Evil Ash a ride on a catapult with a heavy explosive.

Evil Ash blows up real good, and the Evil Army takes off. If they come back to fight another day, we never find out.

(You know, there are some excellent questions here which need answers. Ash is leaving in his wake two fake Necronomicons, a partial Army of the Dead, and several miniature versions of himself. Short of throwing cyanide in the local water supply, he could not have messed up his job any more than he has.)

Among the dead and newly re-dead on the ground, Arthur’s army and Henry’s army embrace. Surely they will be best friends forever after this day.

The next day, the wise man gives Ash a potion, and tells him to drink it and recite some words “exactly” to return to his own time. Once again, Ash does not write these words down.

Ash has learned nothing in the last week.

Back in the present day, Ash is at S-Mart, having almost said all the words correctly. But his story about how he could have been king seems to have a certain appeal, as a co-worker is pretty much ready to throw herself at him…

Until the lights get all flicker-y and one of the customers turns into a hideous she-beast.

Ash grabs a gun and starts shooting the creature over and over and over again, in a variety of exciting and impractical ways. Eventually, the beast dies.

Ash concludes the movie by making out with his co-worker, although it’s perfectly clear that the man could use some alone time after losing his first girlfriend to evil demonic forces and his second to time travel.

And thus ends the saga of Ash, one week, many dead bodies, and several continuity issues after it began.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Evil Dead II

“Evil Dead II” begins with an explanation of what The Book of the Dead is, and does us the favor of giving it a new name –Necronomicon Ex Mortis. Among various the factoids presented, we learn that the book was written “long ago, when the seas ran red with blood.”

I am ninety-nine percent sure I missed that particular day of history in high school.

“It was around this time in history that the seas ran red with blood…”

Yeah. That’s not jogging any memory cells.

Next, the movie treats us all to a recap of the events that happened in the first movie. Only they kind of forget that there were other characters besides Ash and his girlfriend, Linda.

Ash and Linda drive down the road. They cross a really large bridge. And then it’s nighttime, and Ash is playing the piano while Linda does some ballet-esque dancing. I must have missed that bit in part I.

Ash finally realizes that there’s a woman in the cabin with him, and goes over to her. She asks him what they’ll do if the people who own the cabin show up.

Which also doesn’t jibe with movie numero uno. Didn’t they rent the cabin? And if they didn’t rent the cabin, one must wonder: How did they get into the cabin in the first place? Did Ash just keep driving up into the mountains, hunting for an unlocked cabin to take his lady-friend to for the weekend?

One would think that after a while, the money spent on gas looking for a place to squat would outstrip the cost of a cabin for the weekend.

Ash wanders into another room to find booze, in hopes that he’ll get his womanly companion plowed and she’ll forget that he’s the cheapest man on the planet, when he stumbles across a tape recorder.

Linda suggests that Ash play it and see what’s on it. Linda has never seen a horror movie.

Ash plays the recording, and a flashback is presented that allows us to see a kindly professor and his wife and daughter and another dude named Ed finding The Book of the Dead in an old castle. As a bonus, the book is called by a totally different name: Morturom Demonto.

Never mind that we have continuity problems between the first two films – now we’ve got continuality issues between minute one and minute four of the same film.

Eventually, the tape recorder gets around to reciting the passages of raw evil, and an evil point-of-view shot makes a run at the cabin. It absconds with Linda, who screams.

A question: If the evil was activated by the kindly professor before they got there, why does the tape recorder have to re-active it? Shouldn’t it already be activated?

Ash lopes into the next room to investigate, and finds a window shattered and Linda missing. So he goes outside to investigate. He’s our hero, folks. How he makes it through the opening credits alive, much less through three whole movies, is a bit of a mystery.

Ash wanders until Linda, in full-on zombie mode, comes out of the woods and attacks him. Lucky for Ash, there’s a shovel lying nearby, and with a well-timed swing he chops off her head.

Then he buries her and sticks a cross over her grave.

Which kind of made sense in the first movie, but doesn’t here. Here we’ve just got a dead girl… and a car. Probably putting the body in the car, driving to the local police station, and saying, “I know you won’t believe me, but we really need to go back to this cabin…” would be the optimal plan in this instance.

But no matter. The movie jumps to the next morning, and the Evil Point-of-View comes pounding down the hill, in the back door and out the front, where it catches Ash in the same pose Ash was in at the end of part I.

The evil picks Ash up and drags him through the woods until Ash runs into a tree, and falls face down in a puddle. When Ash comes out of the puddle, he has been zombified, complete with bad skin and blank eyes.

This last for a few seconds, and then the sun crests the horizon and Ash returns to his normal self. And passes out. In a puddle.

Some time later, Ash wakes up, and takes a long look around the forest. This includes a shot of the cabin. Based on the previous very long shot of Ash hurtling through the woods, one would think he’d be about a half-mile from the cabin. One would be wrong. He appears to be maybe thirty yards away.

Ash determines that the sun vanquished the evil temporarily, and that he should probably leave. And he does! Go, Ash, go!

Only, of course, the bridge is out. Ash does some Nooo-style lamenting, and then determines he needs to get a grip on himself.

This lasts right up until he notices that the sun is setting very rapidly. Honestly, though, if the sun is falling that fast, demons are probably not your concern. You are likely about to be vaporized in the nuclear blast currently occurring in the nearby town.

The Evil makes another point-of-view run at Ash, and Ash hops in his car and races away. Eventually, he crashes, and is forced to run to the cabin on foot. Which clearly doesn’t offer much in the way of protection, seeing as how Linda was snatched from the cabin. And also, we’ve seen the Evil go racing through the cabin.

Which the Evil does again, chasing Ash through room after room, until Ash finds a place to hide. Frustrated, the Evil goes a long, long, long way back into the woods. I guess it had to empty its evil bladder and didn’t want Ash peeking.

Elsewhere, the professor’s daughter, whose name is Annie, debarks from her plane, carrying a glass case with some more pages from The Book of the Dead. Ed runs in from off-screen, they share a short hello kiss, and then Ed notes that the pages haven’t aged a day in 3000 years.

How you determine that is beyond me, but I don’t have a degree in evil-ology.

At any rate, Annie states that her father may have found the doorway to another world. The Book of the Dead and a doorway to another world? Sounds like a recipe for a good time.

Back at the cabin, Ash has an emotional moment as the piano plays of its own accord. He then hears a rumbling at the window, and looks outside just in time to see his dead girlfriend pull herself out of the ground, locate her head, and to a little ballet dancing.

She vanishes into the woods.

Then she appears in front of the window, and provides Ash with some mental, emotional, and physical anguish.

Ash wakes up. It was all a dream. But the next moment, when Linda’s head falls into his lap, is not a dream.

Nor is it a dream when she bites his hand, attaching herself to him so thoroughly that he literally cannot beat her head off of his hand by thrashing it with various objects.

Finally, he runs to the work shed, where through the judicious use of a clamp Ash manages to get Linda to release he hand. He goes looking for a chainsaw, only to see that it’s missing.

In comes Linda’s body, revving chainsaw in tow.

Ash fights Linda’s body, eventually getting the chainsaw away from her. Linda’s head does a brief, “But I love you, Ash!” routine, which would probably be more effective if she wasn’t just a head. Either way, Ash takes the chainsaw to his girlfriend’s noggin.

Afterwards, he heads back to the cabin, where he trades his chainsaw for a shotgun. A good plan, to be sure.

Unfortunately, that’s when the furniture starts moving of its own accord. Ash starts to freak out a bit. Then he gets a grip on himself.

Then his hand becomes possessed and he tries to prevent himself from getting a literal grip on himself.

Elsewhere, Annie discovers that the bridge is out. So she hires an extra from “Deliverance” and his heavily made-up girlfriend to take them to the cabin using a trail.

In the cabin, Ash fights his hand, and mostly loses. So he cuts his hand off with a chainsaw. That’ll teach it.

Out of the cabin, Annie and company march up the trail to the cabin.

In the cabin again, Ash sticks his still-living hand under the coffee can, when it is pretty clear that some sort of cremation is probably the best route to take. Naturally, his hand escapes, and more Ash vs. Ash-hand action occurs.

Ash fires the shotgun, and blasts a hole in the wall where he thinks his hand is, and blood floods out of the wall. Coating Ash. Then the blood turns black, and floods back into the wall. Somewhat un-coating Ash.

Ash starts to look a little crazy, right up until everything the room – including a deer head, a lamp, and various books – starts laughing. Then Ash goes full-on crazy, laughing maniacally.

He hears a thump outside, everything quiets down, and Ash fires at the door. Ash goes to investigate who or what he just shot, and he gets jumped by the man who makes you hear banjos just by looking at him.

Ash is knocked unconscious, and everyone piles into the cabin, Annie wondering aloud where her parents went while staring at the bloody chainsaw on the floor.

You know, it isn’t often that you meet a crazy man with a chainsaw, and go on discover that he’s not the worst-case scenario.

The group throws Ash in the cellar and locks him down there.

Later, Ed says that he checked “all the rooms,” of which there are about four, and didn’t find Annie’s parents. Annie fires up the tape recorder, and we learn that her mom became a host for a Candarian demon. And that dad buried her in the basement.

Guess who chooses that moment to pop up?

Ash screams and runs, the hillbilly lets him out of the cellar, and this results in Ed getting thrown into a wall, the hillbilly’s girlfriend eating a demon eyeball, and the hillbilly getting slapped around a bit.

Once Evil Mom is safely locked up again, the Evil Point-of-View does another race towards the cabin, only the movie cuts it off. Or maybe it stopped running. Or maybe it had to go to the potty again and ran back into the woods.

It is an ancient evil after all. One must assume it has some bladder-and-bowel control issues.

In the cabin, Ash yammers for a while about the fact that there’s evil around. Annie’s mom does the no-I’m-fine routine, and then Ed gets all possessive. Sorry, possessed. You see what I’m saying.

The demons make some threats, and then Ed eats the hillbilly maiden’s hair. Which is icky, yes, but probably not evil.

The hillbilly attempts to attack Ed, and gets knocked out. Ash grabs an axe, and takes it to zombie Ed. Which, come to think of it, is tough to do with one hand.

A bunch of random noises occur, which is supposed to represent a being of some sort trying to force its way into our world. Though I’m not sure what the horse hoof sound is supposed to mean in that context. Cowboy spirits?

Ash and crew go into the next room to investigate, and Annie’s father’s spirit pays them a visit and tells them to use the pages she found to banish the evil. So it’s a good thing she brought those along.

Hillbilly’s woman tells the hillbilly to stop holding her hand so tight and…? Guess. Come on. Right. It’s Ash’s evil hand. Holding her hand. She screams, she panics, she runs from the cabin, and the woods grabs her and hauls her away.

Ash and Annie smash the glass on the case holding the pages from The Book of the Dead, which dumb, because the hinges on the case are visible. Really, all they did was create a bunch of jagged glass in a cabin already filled with pointy things.

Annie flips through the pages and finds a picture of a man in a blue shirt that looks not unlike the shirt our hero is wearing. She says he supposedly banished the evil. Only… if he banished the evil, why is it written about in the book from whence the evil came?

Annie also locates two passages, one that will make the evil manifest itself in physical form, and a second that will open a rift to suck the physical manifestation of evil through.

Annie and Ash hear a gun cock, and they turn around and learn that the hillbilly is displeased at losing his cousin/sweetheart. They try to convince him that she’s dead, but he steals the pages from them, tosses them in the cellar, and then tells Ash and Annie that they’re going out in the woods to hunt for his woman.

This goes poorly, until Ash reverts to his zombie self and it goes more poorly.

Annie runs back to the house, and finds the knife from the first movie that may or may not have appeared in part II before this point.

She knows that zombie Ash is outside, so she waits by a door for him to attempt to get in, and then she stabs him. Only she stabs the hillbilly instead. Then she attempts to close the door so that zombie Ash can’t get in, but the hillbilly is in the way.

Eventually, Annie pulls the knife out of the hillbilly and the hillbilly out of the doorway, and then she drags him into the living room to get the axe. Unfortunately for the hillbilly, Annie drags him near the trapdoor, and when Annie goes to look out the window, the demon in the cellar gets him.

Lots of blood ensues.

Annie eventually figures that the hillbilly will not be saved by a transfusion, and gives up. She stands up, and is immediately confronted by zombie Ash, who picks her up and throws her against a wall.

It looks like evil is finally going to triumph, when zombie Ash looks down at the ground and sees the necklace he gave Linda. This restores his humanity. So things are finally going Ash’s way. Until Annie tries to cut him up with an axe.

After some discussion and/or shouting, Annie and Ash decide to put aside their differences and dead significant others and go down in the cellar to get the lost pages.

Ash figures he’s going to need some weaponry, so he attaches the chainsaw to his stump. And he makes a holder for his shotgun, so it can sit on his back.

Ash carves open the door in the floor, and heads down to the cellar. He wanders around for a bit, picking up pages as he goes, and has a close encounter with the skeleton of the hillbilly. Which has no skin or organs, but it still dressed in overalls.

That’s some careful eating right there.

Ash runs back to the stairs, and throws the pages up to Annie, who starts translating.

Ash attempts to run up the stairs, only he’s grabbed by Evil Mom, and he falls and is knocked unconscious.

Evil Mom heads upstairs and attacks Annie, only here comes Ash, who is spoiling for a little hand-to-hand combat.

Evil Mom and Ash throw some punches, and then Evil Mom’s neck extends for some reason which is I’m sure totally evil. The fighting continues until Annie starts singing “Hush, Little Baby,” which is the song her mom used to sing to her.

This distracts Evil Mom long enough to allow Ash to chop of her hands and head with his chainsaw. And follow this up with a shotgun blast to Evil Mom’s now disconnected head.

Evil not-even-close to vanquished, Ash takes a moment to comfort Annie, perhaps hoping that he might still get some action this weekend, since he went through all the trouble of finding an abandoned cabin.

The house starts shaking, but not for the reason Ash is hoping it would – the trees around the cabin have uprooted themselves and have started pounding on the walls and roof.

Annie tells Ash that she hasn’t completed reading the second passage, the one that will send the evil back through a rift in time and space. Ash tells Annie to stop spouting exposition at him and get to reading the passages.

Annie does. In the middle of the reading, she gets stabbed by Ash’s rouge hand. But with her dying breath, she finishes the reading and the evil is sucked into another world. Along with Ash’s car, half the forest, and Ash.

On the other side of the portal, Ash falls onto the ground. No, sorry, he falls onto what looks like a gym mat that’s sitting on the ground. But let’s all assume that it’s not supposed to be a gym mat, shall we?

Ash lies there, stunned, while several knights in dusty armor surround him and prepare to stab him to death. Only a demon comes screaming through the sky, causing everyone to panic and run.

Ash stands up and shoots the creature, blowing its head to tiny bits.

The knights hail Ash as their savior, and keep on yelling, “Hail” while Ash shouts, “Nooo!” for possibly the eighth or ninth time in the last hour and a half.

The camera pulls way back to show us a shot that looks very much like the picture from The Book of the Dead we saw earlier. This is called dramatic irony. Or not. Ask an English teacher.