FEBRUARY 29, 2012
Since today doesn’t really exist, I decided to watch a movie that shouldn’t. Rumpelstiltskin is from Mark Jones, the writer/director of Leprechaun, and like that movie it tries to balance horror and humor in a wholly ridiculous concept. But it’s not quite as “successful”; there is some fun to be had, but it’s very lackluster in the horror/action department, and ol’ Rumpy doesn’t have the same appeal as Warwick Davis’ creation. The most interesting thing about it is that it actually got a minor theatrical release… I sure do miss the 90s sometimes.
Oddly enough it’s kind of a Terminator ripoff, with the little demon in the Arnold role as he chases a woman because he wants to kill her baby, who he thinks belongs to him after the mother makes a wish, or something. Missed a few of the plot points I think; the quality of the DVD was sub-budget pack, so some of the audio was hard to make out and I had no interest in trying to decipher it. Anyway, it’s basically a long chase as she makes her way out of her Encino neighborhood (which I recognized instantly!) and out into the same damn hills/cliffs that we’ve seen in a million other horror/action movies. Along the way she is joined by some loud mouthed asshole from the radio, sort of a cross between Andrew Dice Clay and Jerry Springer I guess. I’ll give you a dollar if you’re surprised that he softens over the course of the movie and eventually helps save the day. And by help I mean he actually saves the day; the heroine is curiously absent for most of the climax, which I’d suggest was a bit misogynist but it would be giving the filmmakers too much credit. It was probably written the other way but maybe the girl didn’t know how to drive a tractor and they didn’t have her stunt double that night.
Like Terminator, there’s also a police station massacre, which is a decent enough set piece. In fact there are a few decent scenes throughout; I particularly liked the goofy chase scene in which Rumpelstiltskin drives an 18 wheeler after the asshole guy, who is in a tiny little dune buggy. The visual is hilarious, and it’s got some pretty decent stunts and crashes for a low budget film, and unlike the mom I believed that this guy could die, so it all works (less successful: Rumpelstiltskin’s A-Team reference, which doesn’t even make sense in context). The problem is that there’s no real plot – the entire last hour of the movie is just a long chase scene where you know the outcome. There are no other real protagonists of note, and the few other people we see are obvious goners from the start, like the biker dude that gives Rumpelstiltskin some shit. You can pretty much watch the movie on fast forward – most of the dialogue boils down to “He’s here!” or “Run/Go!” and such. A prologue tells us everything we need to know about the title character, and there is no lamer weakness in a movie than a monster who can be undone by straw or someone knowing his name.
As for Rumpelstiltskin himself, eh. Actor Max Grodénchik is no Warwick Davis – he doesn’t seem as into it as the latter was in the Leprechaun films. The makeup is decent, but time hasn’t been kind as now he just looks like a biker variant of a troll from the bank in the Harry Potter movies. Most of his one-liners are just nonsense, and many seem like they were thrown in to look good in a trailer. At one point they just cut to him saying “This ain’t no fairy tale…” even though nobody is in earshot nor was anyone discussing fairy tales. “This ain’t no hockey game…” would make as much sense. Plus, not for nothing, but he’s not really in the wrong here – his deal is that he gets a baby in exchange for a wish, and people keep trying to fuck him over. So I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the bastard, especially when there’s like 3 scenes of the hunchbacked and crippled thing trying to outrun something faster/stronger than him.
The main problem is that Jones can’t seem to decide whether to take this serious or just have fun with it. It’s got a fair number of downer plot points: the heroine’s husband is gunned down in the first 10 minutes, her best friend is killed a bit later, the monster wants to kill a baby, etc. But, you know, it’s a little hunchback demon in a leather jacket making A-Team references. Not saying the movie can’t be scary and funny, but it seems Leprechaun was a more successful blend of the two. And with most stuff happening off-screen, it starts to feel like a porno where all the sex scenes have been cut out – sure, there’s some semblance of a plot, but it doesn’t really offer anything that you came to see. Probably why there are six Leprechaun movies and only one Rumpelstiltskin.
What say you?
P.S. The end credits have the best disclaimer in the history of movies. It’s almost worth watching the flick to see it; I hope someday I can put something as wonderfully odd in one of my title sequences.