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This week:
The Descent

Filthy says:
"Chicks in caves. Mmmm."

The Descent is the story of six women of varying hotness getting lost in some southern caverns. But this review isn't really about the movie. It never is. It's about me. My reviews are always about me, because it's always about the Harelip and never about me at the Tavern. I fall asleep face first in a urinal, big deal. The Harelip just ate two buttons off the jukebox machine.

This review is about how women become increasingly attractive to me as their situation became more dire and hopeless. Show me a girl with a bandage on her forehead and I'm in love. Find me a girl with a club foot being chased by bears and I get hard.

What does that say about me? Am I the protective type who wants to help and heal? Am I drawn to women who need me to save them from their own choices? Does it make me feel better about myself to know there are people who do more harm to themselves than I do to myself with homemade cough syrup? Or, is it more specific than that; I am drawn to women who need a man to yell at their images from a half-filled movie theater after they have poorly planned a spelunking trip?

I don't think so. I feel for women in bad spots, whether it's a teen pregnancy, an infected tongue piercing or an unfortunate choice in halter tops that reveals a poochy tummy. But I'm pragmatic enough to know I don't have the life skills (hey, I watched fifteen minutes of "Dr. Phil" on Tuesday) to help myself, let alone others. Hell, I walked around for two days with my hand stuck in a pickle jar while Mrs. Filthy visited her mother, so how the fuck could I help anyone else? Unless, they need to be hit over the head with a pickle jar. And I can only think of about four scenarios like that, only two of which are even likely. The last time a woman took my advice, she bought a pellet gun to take care of a neighbor's barking dog and shot herself in the hand. I didn't tell her to get the gun; Worm did. I told her to aim at her hand.

Am I drawn to women who are trapped and doomed? Maybe. For some of us, there is hope in the phrase "last man on earth." Holy shit, wouldn't that be sweet to be the last man on earth? If there were still a lot of ladies around, I mean. It would suck if I were both the last man and last human. Or the last man, but everyone else was a sixth grade boy. I would kill myself in that case. But if I were the only dude with a ton of hot girls? I'd get so much sex that sometimes I wouldn't even have to cry to get it. Even if all the ladies were lesbians, it would still be pretty awesome because they'd totally want the last man on Earth to watch them get it on while masturbating and then sobbing and sucking his thumb.

So, I don't know why I am attracted to women in peril, but I do know I became increasingly aroused as I watched The Descent. Six women who apparently enjoy the sports in Mountain Dew commercials meet somewhere in the South to explore a cave and rekindle friendships gone stale after Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) lost her husband and daughter in a car crash following their last adventure, a whitewater rafting trip. Their memory and unanswered questions about her husband's relationship with Juno (Natalie Mendoza) cloud her interest in this latest trip. Juno has planned it, and unbeknownst to her friends, has chosen an unknown cave rather than the well-mapped one she tells her friends they'll explore.

The first half of the movie establishes the relationships among the six ladies and builds a very tense, claustrophobic vibe as they get deeper into an unknown cave and discover that, as their supplies dwindle, that they may be trapped. The second half gets a bit sillier, with boogeymen in the deep who want to eat them, and are pretty damn successful. The movie devolves from a pretty tight adventure with sharp characters feeding into the sense of dread into a pretty fucking typical slasher movie with plenty of screaming, running around scared shitless, and improbable escapes.

That isn't to say the second half is shitty; it's just average horror crap. That's a letdown from the setup, because I thought the movie would be smart all the way through, and clever enough not to end up splattered in blood through a series of nonsensical clashes.

The boogeymen are silly. How could they not be? Outside of Alien how many unseen monsters live up to the billing once they finally make an appearance? Of course, that's all the more argument for keeping them in the shadows, more threatening than actually murderous. In The Descent, they look like a hybrid of the Weekly World News's Bet Boy and Siegfried and Roy's white tigers. And they fight like fucking girls. No, wait, worse than girls, since they mostly get the shit kicked out of them on their home turf by, well, girls. They are, apparently, humans who have been in the cave so long they've evolved into blind predators, but with a very weak sense of smell or hearing. They normally come to the surface for food, but I have no fucking clue how they are able to catch large animals who can see them when they have so much trouble catching slow-moving women who can't see them.

By far the best part of the movie is how writer/director Neil Marshall portrays the six women. Even at the end i couldn't remember which were which, but it was damn dark in the cave, and I was loaded with enough Pabst Blue Ribbon to drown a pig. When it was light out, Marshall gave them distinctive personalities that were neither obvious nor convenient. They played off each other well, and their differences generated the movie's non-supernatural tension, such as when the other women discover that Mendoza has tossed the guidebook out and taken them on a much riskier trip than they had expected. To his credit, but my disappointment, Marshall never lowers himself to getting his cast out of their tops or panties. As much as I wish he had, and as much as badly as I hoped he had thought of a way for the girls to have to rub their tits together to make fire, he rises above.

Not enough is made of the tension Marshall sets up between Mendoza and MacDonald. When MacDonald finally figures out Mendoza was porking her husband, the conflict is too late to be meaningful, and brought up so obviously that you wonder how fucking stupid MacDonald was to not see it before. Also, the revenge she exacts is petty and out of character.

The Descent ain't a bad movie, it's half of a good one. The thing is, I still don't know what draws me to women in danger. All I learned from this movie is that women who die aren't that big a turn on anymore. Three Fingers.

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Paul Fischer of Dark Horizons

Accepted is "One of the surprise hits of the summer, both raucously funny, yet full of heart and soul. Here is a wonderfully wise, deliciously subversive and smart comedy for anyone craving acceptance. A total triumph and one of the best films of the summer!"

Pulse is "An edge-of-your-seat thriller!"

Filthy's Reading
Pete Dexter - Paris Trout

Listening to
Johnny Hodges - Everybody Knows


It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World