Friday, November 16, 2007

Askewed Review (supersized) Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death

*Edit*Slight format switch this time around. Since my “The Basics” synopsis ran unendingly long “Way too long” I have moved it to the bottom, that way it is easier to ignore should you wish. */Edit*

It all started a week ago. Where during her regular “Final Girl: Awesome Movie Poster Friday” Stacie Ponder put up a special Adrienne Barbeau poster list. That list can be found Here, as you'll notice among the ranks of the posters is a landscaped gem for Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. Well I don't know about you but that is a title that I certainly can't pass up. Upon further inspection I realized not only was the title impossible to ignore but the movie also stars one of my all time favorites Shannon Tweed.

So armed with this knowledge and a Netflix account at my fingertips my decision was made. “Easy Rider” was pushed back a week and “Cannibal Women” was added to the top of the heap. Then the wait started. I of course used my time wisely. I spent a night or two with Guitar Hero 3, another night watching “Cannibal: The Musical” with the commentary track on(An experience nearly deserving it's own post), some podcasts were listened to, I re watched all of the episodes of “The Guild” starting here, I kicked back with some Cheap Trick... But mostly I just spent my time cursing the slowness of the mail.

When the red envelope finally did appear in my PO box it was nestled between two other red envelopes (“Oceans 13” and “Enterprise: Season 1 Disc 1” ....don't ask). Needless to say I was ready. What did I find?

Well let's find that out together....
Warning, I spoil almost EVERYTHING.

..I say “almost” because in this post I never mention the part about Bunny's red rope licorice fetish

....shit....never mind.....

My Thoughts
It is no secret that I'm a big fan of the B-movie scene. Or as I like to call it, 3am cinema. I also like parody, and I'm a sucker for movies with a thinly veiled message...Well two out of three.

“CWitAJoD” isn't exactly a B-movie, it is more of an homage to them, which is good. They also mix in a bit of parody, not so much of the B's but of other movies and genres. This also is good, when done right. Which I believe it was. The 2001 bit with the beer in place of the monolith was great for me.

It also turns out that behind the absurd storytelling there is a bit of a message. You can apply it to many situations, but the example they use is radical feminism (obviously). I mean the entire flick is about trouble caused by a group of man eaters, and men's inability to deal with strong women, gender roles, stereotypes, etc... So the message, at least the message I got. Extremism...bad. Equality...good.

Maybe you'll get something else out of the movie than I did, or maybe I just put too much thought into it.

Does the movie work? For me hell yeah it does!

Bill Maher was cheesy believable as a clumsy bullheaded macho dweeb. Shannon Tweed was, well she was Shannon Tweed, a little stiff in her portrayal of Dr. Hunt, but it worked great. Especially when paired up with the valley girl-like constantly happy blissfully ignorant ways of the attached at the hip Bunny.

Sadly I'm not as familiar or friendly with Adrienne Barebeau's body of work as I should be (yes my head is lowered in shame at this very moment). But I can certainly see why people love her based on her time as Francine Kurtz, honestly she acted the hell outta that part. While I enjoyed everyone Else's work in the movie Barbeau actually shined with her serious take on Dr. Kurtz, which is good because..well Francine was VERY serious about what she was doing so it translated well.

Final thoughts

Will you like this movie? Maybe, maybe not. I'm not 100% that I “liked” it, but I enjoyed the heck out of it (twice). I say it give it a shot. What have you got to lose? Only 90 minutes.

On the flip side I did notice that there is a LOT of exposition in the film. Talk talk talk, it isn't out of place but for action heads I can see where that could be an issue. But the plus to this minus is that all of the main characters have unique voices and ideals that are very easy to pick up on.

It is most definitely worth a shot if you are of the Elvira's Movie Macabre, or the MST3k camp (I just know that Crow would LOVE this movie).....I wish I had three robot friends.

Just for the love of God, whatever you do, when you sit down to view this movie make sure you put your head in the right place. Don't be all serious, don't expect an Oscar. I may not drink but I can certainly sense a beer movie when I see one. So if you partake do yourself a favor, grab a couple, grab a friend, hit play an go forth into the magical land of ....cannibalism and khaki.

The Basics Story
It is a normal day at work for Dr. Margo Hunt (Shannon Tweed), she is teaching her Feminist Studies class at Spritzer College, answering strange questions from a bubbly student, Bunny (Karen Mistal), questions like “is there a feminist cooking class?” Yep normal day all around that is until a surprise visit from a couple of military types. They explain to Margo that the U.S. is in the middle of an emergency. It seems that they are low on the precious resource that is the avocado.

That means an excursion into the Avocado Jungle. Unfortunately an ancient feminist tribe lives within the jungle and they don't like trespassers. The tribe is of course the cannibal women, or as they all themselves the Piranha Women. The government has already attempted to take the jungle by force. This ended in catastrophe when a pile of guacamole covered dog tags were left at the jungle's edge. The military, now desperate tells Margo that they don't wish to harm the Piranha Women. They just want the precious avocados. They would like Dr. Hunt as a feminist, to go into the jungle and negotiate with the women. They have even set aside a reservation in Malibu that the Piranha Women can be moved into, all their needs will be taken care of they'll even let them continue with their strange rituals, after all “That's the problem of the Piranha men” not them.

Margo decides that she will go into the jungle. By “decides” what I mean I she was blackmailed by threat of removed government funding from Spritzer. But she is also curious to find out what has become of the last feminist anthropologist to enter the jungle. A Dr. Francine Kurtz, internationally known author of the book“Smart Women, Stupid Insensitive Men.”

After a quick stop off at the teaching supplies desk to pick up a knife, some climbing rope, a revolver and a thousand rounds of ammunition among other things Dr. Hunt is off to find a guide and enter the jungle, but not before picking up a tag along in the form of Bunny.

Where do you find a guide for such a trip? Why in a bar on the outskirts of the jungle of course. A bar in a little town known as San Bernardino. Margo and Bunny interview three potential guides; Anvil, a Vietnam vet with no problem blowing anything in his way up. Bushido, the worlds greatest ninja...seems to need some work in the shuriken department. And The Black Masked Avenger, world renowned professional wrestler and body builder. He can bend steel and chew on the end! Sadly every one of the potentials flees at the mention of the Avocado Jungle. Probably a smart move!

This leaves poor Margo with but one choice. Jim (Bill Maher), a klutzy, mouthy, chauvinistic ex-one night stand of Margo's who just happens to be at the right bar at the right time. Naturally Margo would prefer to go without a guide but she needs him. After all she has no idea how to survive in the jungle.

Neither does Jim really, but he does have a survival guide to the Avocado Jungle, a paperback that is now out of print. Reluctantly Margo agrees to hire Jim on as a guide, but only after he reduces his reasonable $25,000 fee down to a minuscule $50 plus expenses...I wish he would have pulled out the old “but now you're robbin' me!” line.

Very quickly a few things are revealed. Bunny has a crush on Jim, Jim can't read a map, Margo has a long history of relationship issues, yadda yadda.

Eventually the group finds an old abandoned boat (The all knowing Jim has a story about that as well) and they move from land to water. Eventually the group find themselves under an attack of sorts. They were accosted by knitted potholders and doilies. Well maybe not an attack...apparently it was an offering. Gifts from the Donnahews, a subservient group of men that live in the jungle, make baked good and knit things as offerings to the Piranha Women in exchange for the women not eating them. A fair trade I feel.

A group of subservient sniveling wimpy men? To Jim this just doesn't compute. While the women sleep Jim attempts to evolve the men. Enter man's best friend BEER. There was some bonding, some teaching, some grunting, and many many cans of beer. So much beer that Jim finds himself a bit unconscious. Pffft lightweight.

So now Bunny who can't sleep decides to come ask for a nice cup of hot chocolate. Apparently the impenetrable walls of the tent don't allow her to hear the ruckus outside! Before she knows what is happening Jim's teaching takes effect and the Donnahews pounce. No, pounce is the wrong word. They sort of drunkenly lumber and mumble towards her eventually overtaking her. Luckily Margo has miraculously heard all of this and is out to make the save with her trusty gun. BANG BANG and the Jim Clones scatter.

Jim's response to his teachings nearly causing a gang rape...He's sorry that the boys got out of line, but at least it was encouraging to see them taking a healthy interest in the opposite sex. Yep...healthy, I don't think I can defend Jim on this one. I mean any simp knows that when you are trying to change the ideals of an entire group of peoples the first thing you do is make sure they know that rape=bad.

Lunchtime rolls around, Margo isn't happy. She's sick of Guacamole. I would be to. Jim gloats , after all he did mention earlier that within a few days she would be begging for a Burger King. That's when it happens. Margo gives Jim a look, he catches it and realizes “....You want to eat me!”. And she did, but only for a single weak moment.

Margo decides that the jungle is getting to them so they need to turn tail and beat it. Too late though, the Piranha women have found them. When Margo mentions the name Dr. Kurtz the Piranha Women take the group back to their temple. The temple itself shows a remarkably advanced architectural style. Jim thinks it looks like a big Lego. I think it looks more like a Duplo.

Jim and Margo discover the pool filled with actual piranha in the courtyard when Dr. Francine Kurtz emerges from the temple. Good timing as she really seems to have a thing for those piranha.

As it turns out when she was captured the Piranha Women christened her their new empress. A powerful and wise empress she turned out to be, she was even able to lead the jungle women to their successful defense against the military (remember that from earlier?). Not only did the soldiers have to die, but they were delicious to boot!

Kurtz offers Hunt the chance to join the tribe. She also reveals that There is no avocado shortage. Actually the U.S. has too many of the things (I agree, yuck!). Francine is also aware of the Malibu offer, She is also aware of the subscriptions to Cosmo, the group of Mary Kay saleswomen, and the ultimate plan of eliminating the Piranha Women cultural assimilation!....What anthropologist would agree to those terms? None that's who...not even Margo.

Still Dr. Hunt refuses to join. Kurtz has no choice. She must have Margo thrown into the piranha pool. Bunny on the other hand has no problem killing and eating a man to become part of the tribe, as long as she gets one of those cute outfits. This revelation gives Jean-Pierre (Margo's would be sacrifice) a chance to cause a ruckus escaping his chains and helping Margo get out of the temple. Jim isn't so lucky. He is to be Bunny's sacrifice. They even marinate him! Yeesh, I thought that the guacamole looked bad.

On the run from the Piranha Women Margo is rescued by another tribe of jungle women. The Barracuda Women of the Avocado Jungle. You see thousands of years ago the Piranha Women and the Barracuda Women were as one, but they split up and have been at war because of a very fundamental argument....The Piranha Women cook and eat their men with guacamole dip. The Barracuda Women disagree with this practice heartily. They believe they should be eaten with clam dip. I'm still going to take a pass on seconds.

Margo leads the Barracuda Women to the temple to make a rescue attempt for her friends. Along the way she discusses with their leader a plan to help reunite the tribes by way of a council comprised of equal representatives from each group to get together bi-weekly to discuss their issues. I hope that they use tiki torches for their voting!

Once inside the temple Margo stumbles across Dr. Kurtz's field notes, and an outline for a book she is writing.

Meanwhile Jim is weighing the pros and cons of his current situation, “She's going to make love to me, that's good. Then she's going to eat me, thats bad. ...Why can't I ever have a completely good day?” Bunny is getting ready for her initiation by being washed and having her hair dyed for the occasion.

At the last minute Jim is able to use his wiles to make Bunny change her mind. She realizes that she can't kill him...she loves him (awwwww). This displeases Dr. Kurtz and as usual she sentences them to death by being dumped in the pool of piranha. She must really love feeding those fish.

Before the feeding can go down Margo returns. A little late I feel. If not for luck at this point Bunny would be enjoying a serving of Jim by now wouldn't she?

Well no matter Margo is here now, and she is challenging Dr. Kurtz to a duel. A duel for the title of empress of the Piranha Women. Apparently that is how you take over, who knew? Kurtz can't refuse the request and the fight ensues.

During the fight Margo takes the opportunity to discuss Francine's plans of exploiting her time with the Piranha Women in a tell all book. Kurtz denies it all (of course).

Margo has Kurtz beat, but shes no killer she doesn't make the killing strike. Instead Francine steps the blade impaling herself (Ouch!). After some confessing some tears and keeping everyone at a distance Francine decides to fling herself into the Piranha tank “Oh the humanity!, the humanity!!” I guess she really was serious about feeding the lil guys.

Back to civilization. Margo makes a trip to Malibu to visit her military contacts. She informs them of what she has learned. She also informs them that the jungle women will not be moving any time soon. Now it is Margo's turn to make with the strong arming. She insists on a very generous donation to her university. If they don't deliver she'll take her story to the talk show circuit and let the world know the truth!

Bunny and Jim on the other hand decide no more fighting for them. In fact they plan to get married, but only if Dr. Hunt gives her OK. Bunny sure doesn't want to disappoint Margo. Luckily Margo won't be alone. She has convinced Jean-Pierre to leave the jungle life and come to the city to pursue an education.

And that my friends is the ending to one of the most beautiful stories you'll ever know! Well OK it was a story.

Kudos to you dear friends if you have read through my ramblings all the way down to this point. You must either really like me, or really dislike yourself. Either way to you I say Mahoalo

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