Intervision // 1989 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // July 22nd, 2011
Warning! Horror and brutal violence in full color!
If Things was a person, one could only watch it through a tiny window in a door leading to a thickly padded room. Unpredictable, insane, and totally inept, this slice of "cinema" was brought to life by two drunken Nova Scotians, Andrew Jordan and Barry Gillis, who armed themselves with a Super-8 camera and a huge stockpile of beer, invaded a friend's home, and came out with something that can liberally be called a movie. Things is truly ridiculous, but oh so delicious in its terribleness.
Gleaning a plot out of Things requires me to look at it as an actual movie; easier said than done, but I will try. Don and Fred (Gillis and Bruce Roach), a pair of fools, take a trip out to visit Don's brother, Doug (Doug Bunston), but they picked exactly the wrong time to show up. It seems that Doug, in an attempt to impregnate his wife, has struck a deal with the devil. His wife does give birth, but to toothy, ant-like creatures bent on devouring everything in their path. The lives of these guys are important, sure, but the bigger question is whether they can save the beer.
On first viewing, Things was one of the single most painful viewing experiences of my entire life. Dull, senseless, and altogether crappy, I found myself simultaneously numbed with boredom and shocked by my inability to figure out what the heck was going on at any given time. However, thanks to the stacked DVD provided by Intervision and the two commentaries included, I watched the movie three times. Masochistic tendencies aside, my reaction to Things changed dramatically. Now, instead of feeling that punching myself in the face is more productive entertainment, I laugh in the same way that I laugh at the pantheon of bottom-rate cinema. Had I seen this when I was in college, Things would be a truly wretched classic in my eyes. While I don't have quite the same tolerance that I once did, it still ranks right up there with Manos: The Hand of Fate and Mr. T's Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool, and is a treasure for those who like to revel in the worst of the worst.
Things is, as they say, all filler and no killer, but that's most of the charm. The violence is nasty and pornographic, but I'm in it for the stuff between the kills. This includes an excess of beer drinking, the consumption of bread sandwiches, staring at walls, and pacing aimlessly around rooms. Add into this a series of completely inexplicable interludes featuring 1980s adult film siren Amber Lynn as a news anchor and there is something very special going on here. Not anything very good, but special nonetheless.
Once upon a time, Intervision was a tried and true "big box" video company that you could trust to bring true awfulness to your VCR. Today, they have combined forces with the schlock loving Alamo Drafthouse to bring audiences some of the worst cinema has to offer. The result is an excellent DVD worthy of the name Things. As it was shot on Super-8 film for no money, the image looks understandably awful; very little could have been done to improve the experience. It's grainy and washed out, but that adds to the charm in its perverse way. The sound is slightly better, but not much, and the post-sync dubbing is some of the worst you'll ever find. It's in the supplements, though, that the disc acquits itself. Of the two audio commentaries, one is very good and one is very bad. The first is with the filmmakers, and is one of the most annoying discussions I've ever heard. They laugh at the mess they made, but they're drunk, loud, and obnoxious. It's basically unlistenable but, luckily, the other is much better. Dubbed an audio viewing party with the Cinefamily, this one features three members of the Drafthouse team as they watch the film for the first time. Their reactions are priceless and, like any piece of garbage filmmaking, it's much more fun to watch a movie like this with like-minded people. Their work really improves the experience. Moving on, we have a set of short interviews with other filmmakers giving their reactions to the film, a reunion of the cast and crew, trailers, and a behind-the-scenes bit with Amber Lynn who decides to talk about meeting Ann Margaret for some reason. My favorite, though, is a pair of TV news spots from the original release featuring Gillis and showing the awesome journalistic power of Nova Scotian reporters in 1989.
If you're in college, like beer, and have friends, you must go purchase Things right now; it will make you the most popular kid in the dorm. This is a truly special piece of cinematic garbage, one that is slowly worming its way into my heart.
Mentally unfit to stand trial.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Not Rated