Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I guess recently we've been in an 80's, 90's movie mode at the Gregg household.  This week I'd like to highlight one of the best and simultaneously worst movies ever made : Mortal Kombat.  At the time this movie was released I was about 14 years old and was an avid fan of the video game that featured over the top gore, causing parents quite a bit of distress at the time.

Surprisingly it wasn't a very difficult sell for my wife.  "Wife," I explained to her, "Mortal Kombat is one of the worst movies ever made."  Almost immediately she found a copy of it.

Anyone else around my age remember all the cheering in the movie theatre when you went to see Mortal Kombat?  I mean one of the best things about this movie is the ridiculous opening 'credits'.  They're not really credits, just an insane flaming dragon logo with one of the cheesiest dance songs ever made playing in the background.  As if you don't remember the opening of Mortal Kombat, here it is :

Why do I love this song so much?  It's 30 seconds of music, repeated ad nauseam (if you ever listen to the full song), with someone yelling 'mortal kombat' in the background.  Simple, thrilling and effective.  I remember cheers in the movie theatre.   And that's before the movie has even started!

I like to think of it this way... Some movies are 'based on' video games.  This movie IS a video game.  Maybe they take 10 minutes to lay down a plot having to do with a tournament that humans must win or have their world destroyed. The rest of the movie is about half a dozen fight scenes with characters from the video game. 

Bad lines, bad acting, bad special  effects and a ridiculous story featuring Christopher Lambert reaching new heights of cheesy awfulness, Mortal Kombat is one of those movies that is so unabashedly moronic, it wins you over very almost immediately.  The movie seals the deal when Johnny Cage punches the four-armed monster, Goro, in the nuts.

I may never understand why this movie was so successful, or why me and many others shamelessly enjoyed it.  These days, lots of movies claim that we're supposed to enjoy them by not thinking about how bad they are.  Like Transformers 2 and 3 or pretty much any Michael Bay movie. Well, Mr. Bay, take notes.  This is how bad movies are done. 

Now, who wants to put together a Mortal Kombat flash dance group with me?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Bad Guy

Last night were the provincial elections in Quebec and we had quite a double header at my place.  It started with Raiders of the Lost Ark and ended with the 1987 classic, Masters of the Universe.  I probably watched the latter because I had just seen the amazing Frank Langella in the Robot and Frank and I had just seen the not so amazing Dolph Lundgren in the Expendables 2 (which was amazing).  I didn't want to watch a play by play of the elections.  Watching these movies was like fast forwarding to the ending of the provincial elections.

The most striking thinkg about Raiders of the Lost Ark is the wanton slaughter of Nazis.  Back in its day this was a PG movie and if you remember people get run over by trucks, mutilated by airplane propellers... We see guys melting, we see guys heads explode in a gory mess!  Indiana Jones has one solution to any conflict : over the top violence.  It's easy to forget how ridiculously violent and gory these movies were because ever since the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and movies in general have become more tame.  Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in a moral vacuum, probably because we are okay with watching the 'bad guy', this time around Nazis, getting brutally murdered for over two hours.

Masters of the Universe was considerably lighter fare, but what struck me as I fell asleep was how Courtney Cox explains to He-man that she was attacked by monsters.  I wondered to myself, do Skeletor's minions consider themselves monsters?  I wonder what Beastman would say if he heard Courntey Cox speaking that way. He'd probably say, "Hey, I'm just doing me.  I gotta eat, I gotta live.  People were calling me a monster long before I started working for Skeletor.  People were calling my parents monsters!  It's like every morning I wake up and the whole world is against me.  So if you're scared of me, remember, I do this because I'm scared of you!"

"I'm just trying to do me!"
I fell asleep, and when I woke up my first thought was, "Geez, Beastman really let himself go."  I then realized that I was watching the news and Pauline Marois had just won a minority government. I soon learned that two people had been shot and eventually we learned that one of them had died.  Sadly, nothing was different from the over the top fantasy movies I had been watching, there were good guys, bad guys and violence.  

Granted the man who committed this crime was insane and should not be considered representative of any specific demographic.   But I'm just writing this as a reminder to myself not to demonize people who exist at another end of a political spectrum.  Don't get me wrong, the PQ relies on xenophobia and discontent to get their votes and I am convinced that their platform is senseless and destructive.  But you think about the millions of people involved, Anglophone, Allophone and Francophone turning on their televisions, reading news articles and everyone is trying to convince us that the world is out to get us.  Francophones who voted PQ are probably looking at the world and feeling as if they are surrounded by people who hate them, people who want to humiliate them and people who want to oppress them, whether that feeling is justified or not.  Anglophones and Allophones in Quebec were coming from a similar place when they look at polls (which were completely bogus by the way) and hear Pauline Marois' rhetoric.  So instead of voting to make this province a better place we voted out of fear of the other guy.  I'm not saying its right or wrong, or that there is a solution to any of this, just noticing a sad truth.

I look forward to the day when we don't have the words 'je me souviens' on our license plates.  I like Quebec, I really do.  But everyone who lives here comes from a background where they can hold onto grudges, be angry, be bitter, be afraid ... If somehow people can get over that, maybe we can be a little more productive than we have been in the past.

Most likely if you're reading this you're of a similar political persuasion as me and you're not happy to see that Pauline Marois is now our premier.  But, that's democracy and it's a good thing!  Jean Charest has been premier for almost a decade!  So at least people who thought the Liberals needed a wakeup call get to have their way.  With a minority government the PQ won't have the power to do something crazy in the near future.  Everyone wins and everyone loses.  Seems fair.  Maybe next time things will go our way, maybe they won't.  In the meantime we still live in a fairly comfortable place and we have the option to leave this province if things become unbearable.  Just hoping we can live and let live and violence and hate won't become the standard under Marois' leadership.