Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Satan's Little Helper

I'm a little late with this post about Satan's Little Helper. I initially watched this movie over the Christmas holidays and I wanted to post about it then, but was watching other stuff and posting (and not posting) about those movies, that Satan's Little Helper got pushed to the wayside. I wanted to post about over the holidays because it kind of has a holiday-sounding name, but it's not a Christmas movie, it's a Halloween movie, but whatever. 
So from my notes, here is my review. 
It's Halloween night and little Dougie can't wait for his sister to arrive home from college to help him go trick or treating. However, his sis, Jenna, brings home her boyfriend, Alex, much to Dougie's dismay. Apparently he wants to marry Jenna eventually (and their mom doesn't really discourage this idea!), and he's very jealous of Alex. So Dougie goes out on his own, meets a guy in a Satan mask (from his favorite video game - I'll get to that in a second), and, since he's dressed as Satan's helper, from the same video game, he asks 'Satan' if he can help him on his Halloween activities. Unbeknownst to Dougie, Satan is running around town really offing people. And it turns out to be quite a fun ride, at least for a time. 
It's an idea I've played around with before. I say that Halloween is every day for people like myself (well, I don't go around killing people in a rubber satan mask, but). I never take the decorations down and I've pretty much always been spooky. I don't like to have people over to my house to clean the carpets or fix the water heater outside of the month of October, because they get weirded out. Is that a coffin you have as a coffee table? Is that a real human skull. So yeah, I love Halloween BECAUSE you can get away with anything spooky, weird, devilish,  whatever, but just really for that one night.  So really, the killer in the mask, or whatever he is, Satan, some weirdo, we never find out (which is something I like about this film), is kind of like a kid in a candy store, he can run around all night and kill people and put them into gruesome scenarios and have moms and kids come up and take his picture for a job spookily well done. 
After his killing spree, he'll have to disappear or whatever, but for that one night, until someone catches on, he's free to do whatevs. He's totally unrecognizable, he even wears Satan hands to cover up fingerprints, and he never speaks, so no one would notice him from his voice. Murderous rampage is kinda justified here. 
And I haven't yet mentioned that Jeff Lieberman directed this movie! Jeff Lieberman, director of Squirm, one of my all time favorite creature-invading-the-human-sphere subgenre of 1970's drive in movies. I mean, Squirm this movie is not, it is like three decades later, it's a totally different movie, time, Lieberman is probably a totally different person from when he directed Squirm, but still! I love Squirm! So I probably like SLH a lot more just for the fact that Lieberman was the director. I actually listened to him on the commentary for a few minutes, and he's actually pretty boring.
Anysquirm, I really like the concept as I've said, I like the idea and it's played for laughs, at least in the first two acts. There's a particularly memorable scene of Dougie and Satan in a shopping center parking lot. Dougie is in the cart and Satan is pushing. They run over a pregnant lady, a lady with a baby, some old people, all the while Dougie's screaming, 50 points! 100 points! Like the video game, get it. 
Which brings me to the discussion of the video game - the representations of it in the movie are freaking god-awful. They look like a flash cartoon designed by a person who has never used flash. I'm not saying my computer animation generation abilities are anything, but damn, I've never used flash and I could probably do better. It looks so super cheap, couldn't they have just used something from a really old video game or something? I don't know the licensing rights or anything about stuff like that, but seriously, the video game representations in this are downright inexcusable. Luckily, we don't get to see many. 
Also, the last act of the movie is a big, big disappointment. It totally looses that blackly comedic edge from the first two acts. It becomes complete mayhem in the town, once Jenna and Dougie realize what's really going on (Satan kills their dad). And Dougie keeps acting like a complete moron, I mean, wouldn't he be the least bit leary of another guy in a mask after a masked murderer kills is dad right in front of him? But no, when Satan shows up in a Jesus mask (!), Dougie welcomes him in with open arms. Come on, Dougie, use your head now! Shouldn't you find out who is really behind the mask after the course of the events that just took place? There's nothing to indicate Dougie might be slow in the brains, I guess we can just chalk it up to the material. 
It's a shame, because I could seriously recommend this movie, if not for the ending, which BTW drags on waaaay to long, about 25-30 minutes too long. I felt myself wanting to fast forward, because you could kinda tell what was about to go down. I needed to finish it as quickly as possible because I needed to pick Christian up from work anyway. 
The practical effects were good, actually quite excellent, intestines being tied to a chair strait from the gut, anyone? And some really funny set pieces as Satan goes around the town on his spree. 
The movie also has some overt (so much so it was an accident?) social commentary on the effect of violent video games on children or what is appropriate for children to be exposed to in popular media as well as a decent performance from veteran weirdo Amanda Plummer as Dougie and Jenna's mom. Cool concept, decent setup, but it just couldn't' quite pull it off. Total shame because I wish I could be recommending this to everyone as one of those overlooked gems from the last five years or so (the release date I noted for this movie was 2004). 
I've got some Emmanuelle movies lined up as well as another recent outing (from 2006), Big Bad Wolf. 

1 comment:

  1. I loved this movie the first time I saw it! However, during my second viewing I was a little underwhelmed and wanted to strangle the little kid.