Friday, September 10, 2010

WTF Japan?!?: Hellevator- The Bottled Fools

Hey, remember my note yesterday about renting movies based on their titles?  Yeah, I did that again.  This time, it's a movie that was exactly like it promised- weird as hell!  Was it good?  Was it bad?  For more on that, read on.  The film is set in the vague future where cities are underground and people ride elevators to get everywhere.  Basically, it's the flip-side of that Doctor Who episode from Season 3 where everyone is stuck in flying cars for all of time.  Of course, being Japanese, we get a girl in the stereotypical schoolgirl outfit and some rapists.  It's amazing how often those two come together (no pun intended)!  Let me blunt: this movie is really, really weird.  It bears repeating, sorry.  There's not much else I can say, so let's just dive right in.  Get out your giant tranquilizer needles for my review of...
The film begins with a man questioning someone about the events that led to a giant explosion in the elevator system.  This leads us to the story of a young girl going to ride the elevator, school, I guess.  She stops along the way and buys drugs from a mysterious dealer.  Those drugs: a pack of cigarettes.  Evidently, possession of cigarettes is a Felony offense- nobody says why.  It all leads up to her being spotted by some security cameras with the stuff and her fleeing.  In the process, a man is shot (almost a Poor Bastard, but he lives) and some oil is knocked over.  This eventually leads to the about a half-hour.  She gets on the elevator with no problem, meeting up with a friend.  This character does nothing but talk on her phone and leave.  Let's move on, shall we?  More wacky passengers get on, including an old lady with her grandkid.  This kid has a bizarre toy that's a brain with eye balls in a jar which is pulled on a string.  Don't question it- just keep moving.  At one stop, a group of businessmen get on in a bit stolen right from a Soviet propaganda cartoon.  They file in, act in unison and then leave.  All of this is shot from a wide-angle lens in close-up.  Okay, that added nothing, but was entertaining.  Finally, something dramatic happens that actually moves the plot forward...
At Floor 99, two cops bring in some prisoners for a transfer to Death Row.  The pair are a freaky lot and just generally cause havoc, while doing nothing but talking and posturing.  A fire apparently happens, which leads one of the cops to leave.  Finally, the explosion occurs and the elevator gets stuck.  In the ensuing chaos, the pair beat up the cop and take off their chains.  The beating actually goes on so long that it makes most nWo 'beat-downs' look brief.  They eventually start terrorizing everyone, including one of them trying to rape the elevator operator woman and the other just staring into space.  That one catches the businessman trying to call for help, so he squishes his phone like a Twinkie.  Seriously, the thing must have been made out of melted plastic!  During a struggle with the elevator operator, the more-dramatic convict drops the guard's gun, allowing our heroine to pick it up.  She fires a killing shot, leading to her ending up in a dream-like 'bullet-time' world.  Explain, movie!  She wakes up from the fantasy/dream and goes a little crazy, blowing all of the bullets on him.  Fortunately, the guard recovers from being dead long enough to tranquilize the other prisoner. He dies again- for real, this time.
With the convicts dead after an assault by the businessman, all that's left is...well, nothing.  Yeah, they're just kind of stuck there for a while, each taking time to go a little crazy.  The businessman snaps when he thinks that he's going to be put away from killing the prisoner and starts bribing everyone.  The elevator operator tries to calm everyone down, freaking out in the process.  Our heroine just sort of sits there in the corner.  As we learn in the events taking place after this, the weird guy in the ear phones is the one being interrogated and he explains why our heroine stabbed the businessman.  It doesn't make a lot of sense, but he explains it.  Eventually, they all get out and we see that our heroine was convicted of setting off the explosion with her cigarette.  Yes, that's the biggest offense that took place there.  She is taken into a different elevator, but ultimately gets taken to the outside world.  The End.
This just weird and confusing.  The premise has potential, but they clearly did not have enough plot to make the film.  The conflict is set about thirty minutes in and, basically, resolved an hour in.  The remaining time is spent with weird filler and a lame drag to a finish.  You could have done a lot here...but they didn't.  The acting is pretty good, although the killers are clearly trying too hard.  I think it's a case of bad direction more than anything else, as it's hard to blame people for being 'over-the-top' while playing crazed killers.  They serve their part very well- they're freaky, they scare people and then they die.  You can't ask for much more.  There's definitely a good movie buried in here somewhere.  I'd say that a more forgiving viewer could find it, but that wouldn't be all that accurate.  I've seen stuff like Executive Koala and Entrails of a Beautiful Woman.  If I can't find some good here, who will?
Next up, Blockbuster Trash brings us another film from The Asylum.  This time, they get political in a move that is sure not to blow up in their faces like, oh, some sort of national tragedy.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. I've wanted to see this film for ages. Think I'll still check it out, purely on the basis that Hellevator has to be one of the best titles ever!