Smackdown Review (October 31, 2014)

Spoilers follow for the October 31st episode of Smackdown.

It is on this day in history, October 31, 2014, that I remember The Boogeyman, and how he never really had a good match while in the WWE, but his character was fun and I miss him. WWE has kept him around, kind of, to do short appearances and online videos, but he hasn’t stepped into a WWE ring since his initial run ended. How cool would it be if tonight was the night he showed up on Smackdown and got into an actual match?

Smackdown kicks off right with a Divas costume battle royal.

Number One Contender Divas Costume Battle Royal

AJ is on commentary.

So, we’re letting this decide who gets to be the number one contender for AJ’s title. Okay. At least there will be some justification this time, if Paige wins. Last time, she got random shots just because. Just remember that Eva Marie still technically deserves a shot. But, then, so does Randy Orton — for a different title, obviously — and that also hasn’t happened. Eva isn’t even in this battle royal, by the way. Where is she? I have no idea.

The match is a joke. You’d expect it to be a joke. It’s shorter than the entrances. Nikki Bella wins.

Match Rating: *1/2

At least this is different from AJ/Paige for the umpteenth time.

Kane and Seth Rollins cut a promo afterward. It … is boring. But whatever. Kane’s in a match next.

Kane (with Seth Rollins, Joey Mercury, and Jamie Noble) vs. Dolph Ziggler

This is a rematch from Raw. It was a really good match on Raw, too. It makes sense to do it again, I guess, especially because Smackdown has so many rematches anyway. The Raw match was better, I think. It was better paced, was more entertaining, and just overall was a better showing for both men. But, hey, it’s still fine, and Kane winds up winning, which is swell. Kane even wins clean. Believe that? I still don’t, and I saw it. Kane has, what, three wins this year?

Match Rating: **1/2

The two bodyguards join Kane in a post-match beatdown. Does John Cena come out to save Ziggler, like Ziggler did on Raw? Nope. Kane grabs a mic and announces Rollins vs. Ziggler. Right now. After Ziggler was already down and out.

Seth Rollins (with Kane, Joey Mercury, and Jamie Noble) vs. Dolph Ziggler

Rollins hits his finisher and wins.

Match Rating: *

For some reason, here in Canada, we got a replay of the Miz/Sandow vs. The Usos match from Raw. I wonder what segment we lost. Thanks, Rogers.

Heath Slater vs. Ryback

Ryback squashes Heath Slater. Slater was dressed as a scarecrow. Ryback wins with a few moves.

Match Rating: *

An irrelevant Adam Rose segment happens afterward, which takes us to our break. After that, it’s time for Miz TV, with The Miz and Damien Sandow. The guest tonight? Mark Henry. Henry explains his heel turn. Big Show eventually comes down, they fight, and Henry throws Show through a barrier. That’s … something. Mark Henry needs to be heel. It’s the only way his character really works, especially with his current theme song.

Los Matadores (Fernando and Diego) vs. Goldust and Stardust

So, explain this to me. Stardust and Goldust don’t get to win unless it’s on PPV, right? Why? Los Matadores shouldn’t be beating the tag team champions. But that’s what happens here. The matadors wind up winning. The match is kind of long and has a couple of decent spots, but it’s really not all that interesting. I mean, apart from the time when El Torito should have gotten his team disqualified. A roll-up sees the defeat of Goldust and Stardust, even though they should have won by DQ.

Match Rating: **

There’s a See No Evil 2 promo next, which sees Erick Rowan watching the movie. Kane comes in and sits down beside him. Rowan briefly takes off his sheep mask and tells Kane that Kane scared him. Huh.

The Great Khali vs. Rusev (with Lana)

Hey, remember when Khali was the monster heel of choice? And then we found out he can’t even do more than a couple of moves? Yeah. Good times. Rusev squashes Khali in a couple of moves. Khali taps out to The Accolade.

Match Rating: *

Lana cuts a promo after the match. Rusev is going to go for the United States Championship next, to further ruin the spirit of its host country.

This would make more sense if, you know, the title wasn’t being held by an Irish man, but whatever. Sheamus comes out to the stage and accepts Rusev’s challenge. Sheamus runs down to the ring and tries to hit a Brogue Kick on Rusev. Because surprise attacks are the things the babyface does. Rusev ducks it and rolls out of the ring.

Bray Wyatt is out with his magical lantern and his rocking chair after the commercial break. We’ve been promised that he’ll explain to us why he targeted Dean Ambrose. He talks about Halloween. And masks. He asks us why people wear masks, apparently unaware that Erick Rowan, a member of his family, wears a sheep mask all the time. Wyatt says some things about Ambrose, but … I don’t know. Wyatt can work a mic but his promos are just too uninvolving. They happen, but that’s about it.

Trick or Street Fight Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Cesaro

Cesaro is basically a super-jobber at this point, so who do you think is going to win? The ring is decorated with pumpkins and other Halloween stuff. Weapons and non-weapons-that-still-hurt get involved really early on. It’s a brawl. It’s not much of a match. But it’s entertaining. It gets vicious, and it’s a pretty good street fight. Ambrose wins, as you’d expect him to.

Match Rating: ***

Ambose hits a second Dirty Deeds on Cesaro after the match.

The Good: Trick or Street Fight.

The Bad: Rusev vs. Khali. No Boogeyman.

Match of the Night: Trick or Street Fight.


Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort

I was completely ready for Wrong Turn to be done as a franchise. It had made it nine whole years after the fifth film, which was also the worst one, and that’s admirable. But, people keep wanting to see more of then, for reasons that I will never understand, and as a result we have now been treated with Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort, which at least kind of does some things different — by which I mean, it includes more nudity than earlier films. Oh, and it shows us a whole tribe of inbred cannibals, so that’s something.

The tribe doesn’t really matter, though, nor does it really play into things. It’s only shown for one scene, probably because getting that many extras into costume takes time, effort, and money, which are things that direct-to-video sequels don’t often have. Most of the time, we follow a bunch of human characters who are sometimes stalked by the three main cannibals from the last two Wrong Turn films. This time, we’re at a hotel/spa thing, which our protagonist, Danny (Anthony Ilott), has inherited. From whom? He doesn’t really know, since he was adopted, and this is the first he’s really heard from his “true” family.

Danny brings along a whole bunch of friends, none of whom have a distinct personality and therefore they’re all lambs for slaughter. I know he has a girlfriend, but if you asked me to look at a list of names, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what hers is. That’s the type of film we’re dealing with here. I know, too, that two housekeepers exist at this hotel, and that they’re lovers and also brother and sister. You can probably figure out what the secret is to Danny’s past just from that.

If you can’t, well, you get to enjoy a half-baked mystery in addition to the random murders. So … yeah, look forward to that, I guess. You probably won’t, though, because the mystery isn’t all that tough to figure out, and the murders aren’t that gruesome or inventive. And the people being killed just don’t matter a whole lot. What does nameless victim #20 matter in this series, really? Wait. We’re probably higher than #20. How about 30? I haven’t been keeping track, but I’m sure somebody has.

I mentioned more nudity off the top. Yes, Wrong Turn 6 has more nudity than the previous films. There are a couple of extended sex scenes. I know some people watch horror movies for the nudity and the gore. Well, there isn’t too much of the latter, but the former reaches its greatest heights in this film, so at least some people have that to look forward to. Good for them.

One thing that I am not happy about is the potential that this installment brings for the franchise. As I mentioned earlier, I was ready to consider Wrong Turn wrapped up before this chapter. But some of the story events, in addition to the aforementioned tribe, means that we very well might be seeing even more Wrong Turn films. I’m cautious to say that’s a good thing, although if it means moving on from our primary antagonists, perhaps we might be in for something good. I posited after the fifth film that new antagonists might allow the franchise to finally become scary.

See, the three main cannibals have been seen so much that they can’t strike fear into our hearts anymore — assuming they ever did, which at least for me never happened. We know their origin, we’ve seen them interact with people, and we know that they’re not really that vicious, even if they do kill a whole bunch of people. They’re dangerous, but not scary. We need new villains, ones who can genuinely scare us. That’s how this franchise can get good.

Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort contains an uninteresting mystery and a great deal of kills that aren’t particularly creative, scary, or gruesome. If you’re coming into this movie for that, you’ll be disappointed. In comparison to earlier Wrong Turn films, it has more nudity, but that’s the only real difference. We’re focusing on the same antagonists, still killing off nameless, personality-less young adults, and it’s just as boring as I’m making it sound right now. Wrong turn 6 is unnecessary and not worth seeing.


Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines

Well, I’ll give Wrong Turn credit where credit is due. It took until the fifth chapter in the series for franchise fatigue to finally find itself setting in. No, none of the earlier films were particularly good, but they weren’t exactly difficult to watch, either. They each had something to bring to the table. But with Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines, that streak has been snapped. There’s nothing to like about it, and if there was ever a point to end a series, this might be it.

Our film takes place during a music festival that takes place in a town that is near where a bunch of inbred cannibals happen to have taken up residence. We’ve seen them before, and while I don’t think they’ve ever been given official names, the credits have named them for us. There’s Three Finger, Saw Tooth, and One Eye. No, I don’t know which is which, but I’m sure fans of the series would be able to point them out to me if I asked. I’m not asking, though, because it ultimately doesn’t matter. There are three cannibals, and they’re going to be unleashed on a town.

Or, more correctly, they’re going to be unleashed on a bunch of college students and the local sheriff (Camilla Arfwedson), who aren’t going to be at the music festival. The kids almost hit a man named Maynard (Doug Bradley), and when they check to see if he’s okay, he slices one of them in the leg. They proceed to kick him about three dozen times, at which point the local law authority comes to lock everyone up. The kids for drugs, the man for assault. One of the kids takes the blame for the rest, so they get to go free.

It’s too bad that Maynard is the one currently in … “command,” I guess, of the inbred cannibals. He tells the kids and the sheriff that they’re going to kill every last one of them and then break him out. So, one by one, the kids die. Usually because they’re stupid and leave the confines of the police station. Seriously, the way this film contrives ways to get them out in the open so they can be picked off. I had to laugh. And then cry, because I was wasting 90 minutes watching this movie.

Like the fourth Wrong Turn, there isn’t any way to differentiate between our protagonists, outside, of course, of the sheriff, who has a police uniform and acts like she’s in control of the situation. The rest are all same-y college students, all of whom will soon be killed, so what’s the point of making them feel like real people? At least, that’s the film’s logic. That means it’s impossible for the audience to become invested in them or care that they might soon die.

The cannibals aren’t scary. They never have been, but it’s even more apparent the more we see them. We got lots of them in the fourth chapter, but I think we see even more of them this time around. They need more mystery, or something. I’m not even sure anymore. Perhaps they’re past the point of having the potential to cause fear in the audience. Maybe we need to breed a new generation of hillbilly cannibals. Perhaps we can make them more intense, more bloodthirsty, and less of a joke. The best these guys get is kind of creepy thanks to the makeup effects.

Maybe — and I’m just thinking out loud here — it’s time to get a new director for the series. Declan O’Brien has handled each entry since the third, and when you work on the same thing for that long, you can get tired of it. They’ve gotten progressively worse, too, so maybe it’s time to give him a break and get a new creative team on the job. After all, his team theoretically used their best ideas the first time out, and now we’re getting the less-inspired ones in the follow-ups.

Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines is the worst of the Wrong Turn movies, and theoretically the point at which the franchise should end — at least, with this creative team. It’s boring, not scary, stupid, has no characters to root for or even tell apart from each other, and just doesn’t do anything at all for anyone involved. I mean, this is a movie that somehow manages to make Doug Bradley, the man who played Pinhead, boring. That’s almost impressive.


Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings

After three previous Wrong Turn movies, the primary villain — the leader of the inbred cannibals who terrorized our protagonists — was finally killed. The series should have ended with the third film, but it made money and was almost kind of decent, so now we’re getting a prequel, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings. This one shows us, well, the “bloody beginnings” of our favorite inbred hillbilly cannibals, by which the film means it shows us one scene in the opening detailing their origins, and then basically becomes a generic slasher flick with three villains killing a bunch of young adults.

After the opening, which shows them in a psychiatric hospital, breaking out, and killing everyone else there, our film fast forwards something like thirty years to the present day, when a whole bunch of university students are taking a trip up to a cabin in the hills. They have snowmobiles, skis, and are ready to have a good time. A snowstorm blows in, they get lost, and — gasp! — take a wrong turn. They wind up at this very same hospital, and decide to take shelter there, completely unaware of the horrors that went on.

I’d tell you who they all are, but their names aren’t important, they don’t have distinct personalities, and they’re all here to be murdered. The same setup was used in the second Wrong Turn film, except there were fewer of them and they were given characterization. Shallow characterization, sure, but at least you could tell them apart. The only thing I could tell about two of the characters in this film is that they were lesbians, and I only knew that because of how much of a point the filmmakers make of it.

Everyone here is cannon fodder. The cannibals will kill them, one by one, and eventually we will come down to the last couple, who either will or will not survive. Along the way, there will be a jump scare or two, lots of blood, some bad special effects, terrible dialogue, and characters who make stupid decisions, because they’re in a slasher movie and that negatively impacts the cognitive abilities of anyone involved. This more often than not includes the audience.

I figured out the most enjoyable way to watch these movies — particularly when there isn’t a designated “lead.” What you need to do is find some friends, or pretend they exist, if you don’t have any (like me), and then place bets on who you think, or hope, will survive until the end. I picked two favorites for myself, and they were two of the final three. I think I did pretty well. I didn’t care about the characters, but I cared about being right. That’s how I became invested in Wrong Turn 4.

The deaths weren’t particularly bad, either, I guess. I was being a little too jokey earlier in this review. There’s plenty of blood, at least, which I know is all a lot of people look for in these things. Some of us aspire to more of that, but then some of us also watched three previous Wrong Turn movies before this one and really shouldn’t be judging anyone else for their reasoning behind doing the same. Yes, I’m talking about myself.

I wish I could tell you that the actors were amazing, or even that they were terrible, but the truth of the matter is that the acting was perfectly serviceable and that’s about all that I can say. You won’t recognize any of them, you’re unlikely to see them in any other projects, and they’re not given a chance to stand out here. There are too many to focus on an individual, and given the genre you’re not going to get good acting anyway. But … they’re all fine, I guess.

There’s nothing particularly distinctive about Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, except to say that it’s the fourth film in this franchise, and it isn’t very good. It’s tough to tell each of the characters apart, as there’s no characterization that allows us to differentiate them from one another. The murders are … okay, I guess, so there’s that. And the acting isn’t painfully bad. But, really, there’s no point for this film to exist, except to revive the main cannibals and set them loose on another group of people.


Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead

You can’t accuse the Wrong Turn movies for not trying, and that’s something that I’m willing to appreciate them for. The first film … wasn’t any good, but the second film was at least passable, and provided some decent laughs along with a cast of characters who were so unknown that you never knew which ones might survive. Now, with Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead, we’ve given the good characters a secondary threat, and also given the hillbilly cannibals something else to worry about: people with guns.

After an opening kill scene in which three young adults are killed, our film then moves to a prison, where some convicts are planning an escape. It’s also the last day on the job for our protagonist, Nate (Tom Frederic). He’s going to law school — assuming he can survive the night. To combat the rumors of an escape, it has been decided that the convicts will be moved tonight, not next week as had been scheduled. Nate, along with fellow guard Walter (Chucky Venn), is going to transport them. Some last shift, I suppose.

It gets worse. The transport van is knocked off the road by a tow truck driven by one of the killers from the previous film. I think he has a name at this point; he does in the credits, at least. Some people die, some are injured, and soon enough, the convicts have guns and Nate and an injured Walter are under their command. The convicts, for a lot of the film, are actually more of a danger than this lone cannibal, who is only one of two that we see throughout the film. Why only one? I don’t know. Because the series needed to seem more like a generic slasher?

So, we’ve got Nate and Walter — although Walter doesn’t last too long — a bunch of convicts primarily led by Chavez (Tamer Hassan), and, soon enough, the only survivor from the film’s opening kill scene, Alex (Janet Montgomery). Most of the time, they’re under the command of Chavez, who keeps them alive to carry some money they all found, as well as because Nate grew up in the area and claims to know his way around.

The group dynamics and constant attempts to outwit or escape from Chavez is new for this series. Giving some of our main cast the ability to fight back against our cannibals is also new. It helps keeps things interesting. The suspense the film generates isn’t from watching these people try to survive against the killer, but from watching Nate and Alex try to ensure that Chavez doesn’t scatter their brains around the forest. And Chavez is intelligent, so don’t assume that he’s easy to outsmart.

Now, I don’t know about making for a good horror movie, since very little of Wrong Turn 3 is even remotely scary, but it’s kind of suspenseful, and it’s fun in other ways. In fact, it works best when it’s not trying to be a traditional horror movie. Whenever this movie tries to incorporate its killer’s violent traps, it looks ridiculous. I hesitate to say that the film is too cheap for them, but … it’s too cheap for them to work. The special effects are laughable. Are special effects required? No, but that’s what was used and they look silly. Even the projection used when characters drive a car is awful. It brings you back to the 1950s, I’ll tell you.

You know, it’s weird. We focus on one killer this time, and we see him a lot more, and he’s far less frightening. There’s something about there being a large number of killers, all of whom more than capable of murder, who could jump out at any moment, that’s scarier than this single guy whom we see far too frequently. The makeup used to create this character is as good as ever, but he’s not particularly scary. Giving the main characters guns probably doesn’t help, either.

It’s less of a horror movie than its predecessors — which weren’t particularly scary in the first place — but Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead is actually kind of fun. The group dynamics are interesting, giving the main characters guns means they can, for the first time, truly fight back, and some of the special effects are so bad that you can’t help but laugh. You won’t be scared, but you might be entertained.