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Mr. Jingles (2006)

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Mr. Jingles DVDReviewed by The Fouywonder

Starring Kelli Jensen, Jessica Hall, John Anton, Nathaniel Ketcham, Heather Doba, Brian Zoner, Dr. Rudolph C. Hatfield

Directed by Tommy Brunswick


And I asked the Lord, “Why? Why hath thou forsaken me?” The Lord responded, “I gave you free will. I did not make this movie nor did I make you watch it. The choice was yours, and the consequences are yours as well.” And then the fiery flames of hell began to crackle at my feet. My fate was sealed as I slowly descended into the lake of fire. The devil, as it turns out, is actually a demonic clown. Why am I not surprised?

It was about two years ago when I first endured a truly worthless piece of slasher movie garbage entitled S.I.C.K., an acronym for the nonsensical Serial Insane Clown Killer. My psyche remains scarred to this day by the magnitude of that film’s wretchedness. A few months back I first heard that Lionsgate was planning to release a sequel, 2 S.I.C.K. Naturally, I was mortified. I’ve never come across a single soul that has a positive thing to say about S.I.C.K. so how on earth could anyone at Lionsgate think of releasing a sequel even if it is a name-only sequel? Somewhere along the way someone at Lionsgate came to this same conclusion, and thus 2 S.I.C.K.‘s title reverted back to Mr. Jingles, the original name of the film they purchased and planned to unload to DVD as a sequel to one of the worst direct-to-DVD horror films of all time. Now that I’ve seen Mr. Jingles, I realize that they should have released it as a sequel to S.I.C.K. as it carries on the legacy of worthless slasher crappola based around a psychotic clown.

Now to be fair, Mr. Jingles is a better film than S.I.C.K., but we’re really just talking about a matter of degrees here. Whereas I found S.I.C.K. to be boring, pointless, and pure agony from beginning to end, Mr. Jingles induced more of the same but at least had two things in its favor: a decent-looking killer clown costume and the director seemed to at least know how to operate a camera. Alas, those two positives are still negated by the fact that the psycho clown this time out is still neither scary nor funny and the filmmaking is still quite bad overall. What we have here is yet another example of a film that looks like it was made by a bunch of friends who probably had a ball making it but none of that entertainment value translates to the screen.

Mr. Jingles was a serial killer that dressed as a circus clown. The film opens with a prologue in which Mr. Jingles went on a killing spree in the home of young Angie. Her parents slaughtered and she nearly murdered too, a heroic young policeman saves the day by gunning down the killer clown from our space. If you want to know how cheaply made this film is, then look no further than when the cop opens fire on Mr. Jingles at point blank range. There’s no flash from the muzzle, only the foley’d-in sound effects of a cap gun. Mr. Jingles then falls dead without any squibs or physical sign that he’d been hit. Oh, and did I mention that the actress playing 12-year-old Angie in this prologue is the same obviously twenty-something actress that will play the now 19-year old Angie when the film picks up five years later?

It’s now five years later. Angie’s spent the past few years in the psychiatric ward. She’s being released, and today just happens to be her 19th birthday. Say, birthday parties provide an excuse to get a bunch of potential victims together in one place just in case a homicidal clown just happened to come back from the dead for revenge. If not, then the demonic clown will come back from the dead and have only Angie to deal with, and that would require a script that’s more subtle, more suspenseful, and with a more psychological battle of wills between the young woman and her unholy tormentor, but that’s damn sure not going to happen since this is a no budget, no talent slasher flick where chopping some guy’s penis off and throwing the obvious dildo prop at another victim is what masquerades as entertainment.

Being that he’s now of supernatural origin, Mr. Jingles goes from looking like a John Wayne Gacy wannabe in a clown costume to a Shaggy DA-haired version of Pennywise from Stephen King’s It. He also possesses the Jason Takes Manhattan-like ability to teleport to wherever it’s most convenient for him to be to kill someone off. He’s behind you, he’s in front of you, he’s nowhere to be seen, and suddenly, poof, he’s right there again. See, it helps to be able to get out that one last occult spell just before you die in case you ever hope to come back from the grave as a supernatural, motor-mouthed, dual hatchet-swinging psycho clown from hell.

The name Mr. Jingles has since gone on to become the stuff of legend in this small town much as Freddy Krueger’s became to the people that lived in his hometown. This will give us plenty of opportunity for characters to talk about the legacy of Mr. Jingles, the possibility of him returning from the dead, that poor girl that just got out of the asylum, that cop that’s still haunted by his encounter with the titular madman, and those stoner jerks that want to crash the party dressed as Mr. Jingles as a sick joke. If you cannot figure out how the hell the rest of this trash plays out, then you really need to have a killer clown show up at your doorstep and start whacking you on the head with the non-bladed end of a hatchet while growling horrendous one-liners at you in a voice that sounds like Yoda possessed by Satan.

Movies like Mr. Jingles exist solely for the least discriminating gorehounds out there. According to a couple of astonishingly positive reviews I came across for this atrocious film on IMDB, I can once again confirm my firm belief that gorehounds are amongst the easiest to please movie-watching audiences in the world. I, on the other hand, think Mr. Jingles probably did many of these victims a favor by killing them off because judging by the blackened blood and entrails that pour out of them, these people must have been suffering from some horrendous ebola-esque virus. A quick death was surely a godsend for the suffering these poor diseased people must have had to endure. Although I doubt it was close to the suffering I endured having to watch them die.

So let’s run down the checklist of cinematic crimes: awful acting, lame scripting, bad directing, mediocre gore f/x, inconsistent audio… I’m sure if I think long enough I could come up with a few more things to rant about. And much like S.I.C.K., Mr. Jingles wraps up with what might have been a clever plot twist if the movie preceding it had actually been worth a damn and if they’d been capable of leaving well enough alone. But no, Mr. Jingles boasts the dreaded double twist ending. This second one happens within mere moments of the first one, completely negates it and, god forbid, threatens us all with the prospect of a sequel. Come to think of it, this second twist ending essentially leaves the movie hanging with no real resolution to anything. It doesn’t end; it just stops. Unfortunately for me, it stopped over 80 minutes later than it should have.

Renting Mr. Jingles will probably cost you about $5. Before you even think about renting Mr. Jingles, just stop and think about all the things that $5 could get you. I guarantee you the majority of those things will prove more rewarding than the opportunity to watch this film.

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Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions

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Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa

Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa


During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.

Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).

What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.

While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.

Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.

While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.

With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.

  • Before We Vanish
4.0

Summary

Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.

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Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On

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Starring Mike C. Manning, Griffin Freeman, Ryan Pinkston

Directed by Johnny Martin


When will these testosterone-overloaded frat bros with cameras ever learn that pissing off the evil souls of the departed all in the name of amusement won’t get you anywhere but wrecked? Same goes for filmmakers: when will they learn that found-footage exploits set in a house of pure sadism are something of a wrung-out affectation? Oh well, as long as people keep renting them, they’ll continue to get manufactured…which might or might not be to the benefit of the horror film-watching populous.

Delirium opens with a poor lad, strapped with a GoPro, running for his life through a labyrinth of haunted territory, praying for an escape…and it’s a foregone conclusion as to what happens to this trespassing individual. We then relocate our focus towards a collection of (ahem), “gentlemen” self-titled as The Hell Gang, and their escapades are about as profound as their grasp on the English language and its verbiage. The words “dude”, creepy”, and the term “what the fuck” are thrown about so much in this movie it’ll make your head spin to the point of regurgitation. Anyway, their interest in the home of the Brandt clan is more piqued now than ever, especially considering one of their own has gone missing, and they’ve apparently got the gonads to load up the cameras, and traverse the property after-hours, and against the warnings of the local law-enforcement, who surprisingly are just inadequate enough to ignore a dangerous situation. The cursed family and the residence has quite the illustrious and bleak history, and it’s ripe for these pseudo-snoopers to poke around in.

Usually I’m curb-stomping these first person POV movies until there’s nothing left but a mash of blood, snot and hair left on the cement, but Martin’s direction takes the “footage” a little bit outside of the box, with steadier shots (sometimes) and a bit more focus on the characters as they go about their business. Also, there are a few genuinely spooky scenes to speak of involving the possession of bodies, but there really isn’t much more to crow about, as the plot’s basically a retread of many films before it, and with this collection of borderline-douches manning the recording equipment, it’s a sad state of affairs we’re in that something such as this has crept its way towards us all again. I’m always down for jumping into a cold grave, especially when there could be a sweet prize to be dug up in all that dirt, but Delirium was one of those movies that never let you find your footing, even after you’ve clawed your way through all of the funereal sediment – take a hard pass on this one.

 

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Got about a half-dozen bros with cameras and a wanton will to get slaughtered on camera, all the while repetitively uttering the same phrases all damn day long? Then my friends, you’ve got yourself a horror movie!

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Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility

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Starring Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Yuki Kaji, Tomokazu Sugita

Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita


The Godzilla series is the longest-running franchise in cinema history. With over 30 films over a 60+ year career, the famous kaiju has appeared in video games, comic books, TV shows, and more, cementing its place as one of the most recognizable cultural icons in the past 100 years. With Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, the titular beast makes its foray into the world of anime in this first film in a proposed trilogy. While there are moments that are genuinely thrilling, the film unfortunately fails to capture the imagination and wonder that is at its fingertips.

The story is quite simple: Earth is under attack by swarms of various kaiju who are wreaking havoc across the planet. Entire cities are being destroyed when Godzilla appears to vanquish humanity’s foes. Unfortunately, the King of the Monsters isn’t really there to help humans and its rampage continues until a race of alien beings arrive at Earth asking for a place to stay in exchange for defeating Godzilla. When they are unable to do that, the remaining humans board a giant spaceship to venture off into space in search of a new home only to come back some 20 years later, nearly 20,000 years later by Earth time (think Interstellar logic), to search for resources and, possibly, a planet that will welcome them once again. However, Godzilla is still around and isn’t keen on sharing.

The main character of the film is Haruo Sakaki, a young man who begins the film by nearly following through on a suicide bomber terrorist act that is meant to call attention to humanity’s loss of vision and failure to fulfill their mission of finding a suitable home for the remaining survivors. Even though he is accosted and jailed for this act, he is eventually freed when people realize that his lifelong passion of killing Godzilla is the foundation for research he’s done in finding a way to take down the creature…a plan that just might work. The other characters are so forgettable that I forgot their names during the film.

From there, the film essentially pivots into following a massive team of volunteers who land on Earth’s surface to lay a trap for Godzilla in order to destroy it. Since this is Earth 20,000 years after they left, the flora and fauna have evolved and changed so radically that the team have no idea what to expect or how to react, so caution is a must.

The problem with this is that while the characters have to be cautious, the film doesn’t nor should it. The movie has the chance to explore the wealth of imaginative opportunities at its fingertips and yet does almost everything it can to avoid doing just that. The color scheme is flat and uninteresting. The character movements lack smoothness and the action sequences fall victim to shaky cam syndrome. There are a few mentions of some of the changes that have taken place on the planet, such as razor sharp plants, but they’re so incidental or offhand that it feels like no one making the film has any interest in seeing anything other than man against beast.

Speaking of this dynamic, the action sequences are quite entertaining but also feel somewhat reserved. Godzilla barely moves and much of the destruction levied against the humans is seen from a distance, apart from an attack on a military outpost by dragon-like creatures. For nearly the entire film, I found myself thinking, “I’m okay with this but that’s about it.

The brightest moment in the film are the last few minutes and I won’t spoil what happens. Suffice it to say that it definitely has me interested in the second and third films but I really hope that this new world will be explored further in those entries. Otherwise, we’ve got a fascinating foundation that will be squandered.

  • Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters
2.0

Summary

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is a bland entry in a trilogy that has great potential. For a first course, there’s a distinct lack of flavor or complexity. The final minutes are the only saving grace and I hope that the second and third films make use of that grand wonder.

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