Monday, October 12, 2015

Robin Hood: Ghosts of Sherwood (2012)

My nose aches on one side for some reason I have no yet discerned, my internet has been pretty continuously spotty, and I've been rather stressed as result. After binge watching some stuff on Netflix, I'm back to fight the good fight and to write the mediocre jokes. Because I was already on Netflix, I decided it was time to watch something that has been sitting in my queue for a while that I never had much faith in. Yes, there's a Robin Hood horror movie and I did watch it. Judging from the fact that it has a 1 star rating on there, it's pretty easy to make an assessment as to the overall quality of the film.

But hey, at least it was shot in real 3D. I suppose that's something.

But, movies like these have proven to be better than one would assume before, so it really isn't fair to judge it without seeing it. That's why I hit that 'play' button and hunkered down. Going into this I will give it one thing and that is that the concept is interesting enough to garner my attention. I've seen pretty much every version of Robin Hood there is to see in film. From the BBC series, to the Prince of Thieves, to even the foxy running around in a hat and tunic. I'm no stranger to the character or his story. I actually quite dig the story of Robin Hood too, as I am all for the poor being helped out while rich assholes suffer. But I have never even thought of there being a horror spin on the story, which makes the fact that there is one stand out. And it just so happens to feature Kane Hodder and Tom Savini, two men who are considered horror movie royalty and both have direct links to one of my favourite horror franchises.

Here's a hint: it's not Saturday the 14th.
My main assumption about this film based on the title and the film's description is that it would likely involve Robin Hood and his merry men dying and coming back as vengeful wraiths. Camp is to be expected from what is clearly a low budget production, but a lot of fun could come out of that. I like the idea of wraiths murdering Nottingham's men to avenge their deaths. I think wraiths are pretty cool in general. So do a lot of people, because Eric Draven and Hanzo Hasashi are fairly popular characters who just so happen to be wraiths. What? Those names not ringing any bells? Maybe a picture would help.

Now there's a crossover I'd like to see.
So, let's take a dip into this potential cesspool and see if it can at least garner a smile from me. The story opens to some forgettable dialogue that comes off as if it is meant to be poetic, then we get tossed into a battle scene where I initially assumed it was the merry men fighting Nottingham's troops. Clearly, the guys in matching outfits are Nottingham's, as they have that look that screams henchmen, but the other guys just look like bandit types. Now, to be fair, the look like interesting bandits, but still clearly bandits. Guess what? These interesting guys? They're literally just generic bandits who are die either fighting the henchmen or when Robin shows up. By the way, Robin's arrival is quite possibly the most underwhelming heroic introduction ever. He shoots an arrow and it ricochets uselessly off a tree. Robin Hood cannot shoot worth a damn. Oliver Queen would be ashamed of you, man.

Robin of Locksley, you have failed this forest!
The other person fighting off these bandits is a lady who turns out to be Marian, which confuses me. Generally speaking, these two are previously acquainted. They grew up together and reconnect when he returns from a journey of some sort. He was supposed to be a friend of her brother and such. Here she has no brother and is apparently the cousin of the Sheriff of Nottingham. You know, that guy who desperately wants to fuck her in most every version of the story. Being that she's always been seen as a very strong female character, I always saw this as a symbol of a bitter macho asshole trying to put the threatening strong woman in her place, as it were, thus making it much more satisfying to see him get his in the end. In this movie he's played by Tom Savini and doesn't really come off the least bit threatening. He feels almost cartoonish.

That face certainly isn't helping matters either.
Anywho, Robin and Marian talk and we're now witness to the major problem in this film: the actors can't act. I don't want to be mean, but the dialogue delivery is so off and without emotion that I find myself in awe of how shitty it really is. Of all the independent horror films I have covered, this has to be one of the worst in terms of acting. And when you have acting this bad, it makes connecting to the characters a pretty tall order. In my case, it made my continuing to stay awake during the film's runtime a chore I didn't want to finish. Their exchange goes thusly: Marian scolds him for trying to take the dead men's gold, he apologizes and introduces himself, she says who she is, he invites her back to his camp, he grabs his arrows and leaves his bow with a "ehhh" gesture, they go to his camp. Woo, plot development. At the camp we get to see what I suppose would be called his merry men. Remember how I said the bandit guys looked really interesting? Yeah, Robin's group look like they got the cheapest shittiest Renaissance Faire attire.

They look like the Pirates of Spirit Halloween. Actually , even that's reaching.
Here Marian gets to meet Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet, and a veritable underwhelming cornucopia of people who only exist to die later in the film for dramatic effect that will not actually be achieved. Will tries hitting on Marian, which ends up in this awkward thing that felt like Robin's epic ponytail was going to do battle with Will's gut. It's made even more awkward when you notice that Robin, the older brother, looks like a teenager next to his younger brother. Robin almost seems like a wounded lover at the attention Will is giving Marian too, which brings up uncomfortable questions.

It reminds me of the Brady Bunch movie where Greg and Marsha started wanting to fuck one another, only it's more awkward.
They party the night away and the next morning Marian has a hangover, which Robin helps by having Tuck give her his special brew. I imagine it's a lovely mixture of urine, human saliva, and crushed pinecones. I'm basing this on how she describes the taste. After imbibing this...substance...Marian also finds out that Robin sent out some men to bury her dead guards, the Sheriff's henchmen, and that Robin also took the money off the dead despite her not wanting him to. This leads to a lengthy argument that makes both of them look pretentious and makes me like them both a lot less than I already did. Eventually, after Robin repeats his argument enough times, she seems to accept it as perfectly reasonable, leading to her laying out a plan for them to rob her dickhead cousin, the Sheriff of Tom Savini. This plan involves them takes a potion Little John gave Will a while back that can temporarily change the appearance of someone with 6 drops, and do it permanently with 9 drops. Robin and Will drink it to disguise themselves as they're wanted men but...Marian...I'm still not sure why she takes it. It makes almost no sense and seems like it'd cause more problems.

"I know it's been years & that I'm a self-absorbed asshole, but I'm pretty sure you were a blonde."
Yeah, that right there is how it should play out if anyone in this movie had sense but...yeah. What this basically all amounts to is them using different actors for the three of them for this section of the film. Friar Tuck, Robin, and Will get into the castle as monks while Marian is greeted by her incestuous cousin who is so far up his own ass that her doesn't realize her hair colour magically changed. That and her bone structure. He doesn't care about such things, as they would only distract him from being a cliche stock villain and totally wanting to hit that. While they talk, the others put their plan into action. Tuck causes a racial incident in the yard where a bunch of white people go after some moor shopkeepers (that's what they were called then), which is kind of a weird scene because it feels really sketchy watching a group of white people attacking someone like this.

I feel about as uncomfortable about this as I do about the prospect of seeing Chyna fucking on film again.
This gets the attention of Sheriff Incest and while he's off, our heroes sneak inside through the toilet. The most heroic way to enter the enemy stronghold, covered in their leavings so you can steal the contents of one small chest. Yep, I guess that's all his riches. They tie up Marian so she looks innocent and they head back down to escape, but he returns and they get caught trying to run for the gate, passing their booty over to Tuck who gets ran down and captured as well, because he's a very overweight man in a wool robe carrying treasure. He's not going to be a really good runner. In the dungeon they're all tortured and when Robin won't give up their accomplice, Tuck gets strangled to death and Will gets his neck snapped. The next day, after the potion wore off, having a different face manages to confuse the guards enough that he escapes and he gets shot in the back with arrows only to collapse.

But not before he makes sweet love to that tree.
He wakes up in a witches hovel where she reveals she used a potion to save him, but only a bit. To live he must drink another potion and give up his soul to her. This will allow him to live three more years. He renegotiates to get her to use a potion to bring his dead friends back to life in exchange for his soul. She agrees and gives him a strength potion so he can carry them there and a skill potion that will turn his greatest weakness into a boon (i.e. he can shoot a bow and arrow straight now). But she warns that if too much time has passed, then she will not use the potion on them as it would be bad. He goes to get the bodies, makes a nonsensical detour where he fights a knight on a bridge, drowns the knight, then gets them brought back to life. Why'd he fight the knight? Who the fuck was that knight? Why? WHY?!

Much like the majority of this movie.
He brings them home, he and Marian get all lovey dovey, and then he lets the cat out of the soul bag. She's decidedly unhappy with him living on borrowed time, so she drags him back to make a new deal, which ends up being for them to bring the witch enough treasure to lure 100 greedy people into selling their souls to her in exchange for Robin's soul and a much longer life. He feels a bit guilty, because this Robin Hood is Jesus but without any sort of personality. He doesn't get to let it bother him too long though as they get back to camp in time to see everyone being murdered. Women, children, they even quite brutally lop Tuck's head off. It even has a cheesy arterial spray effect that looks worse than the lowest of low budget Troma films.

Somewhere out there someone is acting their heart out on a stage while runny raspberry jam squirts out of that prop.
Not to feel left out, Robin charges in and gets a bunch of arrows in him, so he's dead. Everyone is just all kinds of dead now except for Marian. Then enters our saviour, the only person in this movie who manages a somewhat decent performance! Kane Hodder as Little John! Which is actually fairly ironic, what with him being famous for playing a mute character who killed teenagers. Marian tells him about the witch and they go to get the potion to bring everyone back to life, but the witch refuses because she says too much time will have passed by the time they get there. Like any reasonable adult, they solve their problem but killing her and taking all of her shit. Just great, this surely won't  end horribly.

Spoiler alert: it ends horribly.
They give the undead potion (yes, it's really called that) to all the dead people of the camp and some douches steal all their gold. They go to sleep and wake up to find out they did a bad bad thing. Remember when I had all that hope that this movie might be about vengeful wraiths out to avenge themselves against the bad guys? Yeah, that doesn't happen, because this is a shitty medieval zombie movie now. Remind me again why ghosts are mentioned in the title? The zombie merry men all get up and start sort of doing what they did before, which include stealing from the rich. Some of them go after the guys who stole their loot, which results in those guys dying and one zombie wants one of the guy's rings, which results in it ripping off his arm then biting his finger off to get the ring. But then it eats the finger and they learn that people taste good. These zombies had to learn to crave human flesh.

At least he's not a troll-goblin turning people into plant mush...actually, I'd rather that was what happened.
It took this movie an hour and half to actually get to something resembling horror and the only scary thing is there is another half hour left in it. This is a two hour film and only thirty minutes of it are actually horror related in any way. Little John and Marian spend the next ten minutes running and using magic potions to fight the zombies they made because they were stupid, they luck into a potion that lets Marian lock the zombies into Sherwood forest, some lady gets her arms and face ripped off, and then they escape only to run into Sheriff Savini whom they send off into the forest where he most likely died a horrible death off-screen. During the credits we see Marian has taken over, making John the new sheriff, and they get a new witch to make magic for them to use to hold off the zombies. Oh yeah, and Marian took the face-changey potion again because I guess the other actress didn't want to be in the movie anymore.

"I should tell you about the time I had to narrate a shitty ghost western."
This movie was depressingly bad. The acting was below SyFy levels of bad...do you understand what I'd saying here? The Asylum has better actors than this movie did. The Asylum. Then you have the fact that the story itself is just a really shitty retelling of Robin Hood with almost not horror to be found in a film firmly advertised as a horror film. That's a pretty bad thing, because without lots of cheesy effects and gore to distract you, all the audience ends up left with is a very boring movie with very boring characters who have the names of more interesting characters. Which brings me to a very strange comparison...Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Another movie full of white people with a potentially good set-up that was just blisteringly boring.
Budget-wise, the two movies are nothing alike, but I am hard pressed to think of two films that bored me more. Even the shitty Americanized Varan, which literally put me to sleep, actually delivers some interesting things. It has a giant fucking monster. These movies make promises and then end up giving only a small bit of what they promised. Exodus was only vaguely epic, but was ultimately hurt by boring dialogue and the fact that it simply didn't stand up against much better Moses movies. Ghosts of Sherwood fails even harder though, as it promises ghosts in its fucking title, but it only gives us shitty zombies in the last half hour of the film and we only get those for a little over fifteen minutes. This was a bad movie by bad movie standards and I would recommend watching Paris Hilton gagging on a cock before I'd ever recommend sitting down to watch this. So, until Kane Hodder runs for the presidency and has Henry Mancini supply his song for rallies, I'll be here wishing he'd gotten to grab zombie Robin by his ponytail and ripped his head off. Later days, bleeders.

"Forward, men, into the limbo that is the implied off-screen death!"







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