Making Contact

Before Roland Emmerich brought us huge summer blockbusters like Independence Day, Stargate, and The Day After Tomorrow, he tossed a whole bunch of Steven Spielberg films into a blender and cooked up this head-scratcher. We really wanted to fall in love with Making Contact (originally titled Joey), but it just didn't make any damn sense. Still, the fantastic visuals, cinematography and ambition previews good things to come later.

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Making Contact (1985)

Episode 207, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd

Craig: And I’m Craig.

Todd: Well, Craig, as you well know, and hopefully our listeners have figured out by now, we’re finishing up a month of family friendly horror films is our first theme month. We’ve done The Witches, we’ve done The Gate. What else did we do?

Craig: Watcher In the Woods.

Todd: Watcher in the Woods. A Disney movie.

Disney’s first foray into horror back in the 80s so the movie that we are going to do today. Is another child of the 80s I was really excited about this movie. I remembered seeing this film on the shelves. I never picked it up and rented it, but it had a very compelling box cover art. I was a kid standing in front of what looked like his bedroom closet with some glowing and some toys and things flying out of it, and a ventriloquist dummy there and there was electricity everywhere.

It looked kind of cool, but for some reason I never picked it up on the shelves. And then when we were looking for movies to do that were kid-friendly, I was reminded of this after I saw a review of it online. The movie, by the way, it’s called Making Contact from 1985 and it says, this review said: Roland Emmerich’s terrible knock off of Poltergeist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Firestarter. And it’s stuffed with so much eighties nostalgia. You would think it was made in 2017. Fans of Stranger Things might cream their loser pants over this piece of garbage, this movie, and all of those involved in the making of it, suck my dick.

Craig: Nice. I mean, don’t hold back.

Todd: Yeah. So this review really sold it for me because you know, you and I are both big fans of 80s nostalgia.

And so I thought, I remember the cover of this 1985 this must be the kind of lost kids eighties fantasy horror movie that I’ve been looking for. And so I said to Craig, let’s watch this movie. And of course you’ve seen. Pretty interested in it, probably for similar reasons, right?

Craig: Yeah. I mean, I, uh, I too, I’m, I’m sitting here looking at it right now, the, the box art, uh, and it’s so familiar, and I was just sure that I would start watching it and would remember that I had seen it and I just don’t know.

I don’t know if I did or not, if I did. If parently wasn’t particularly memorable to me at the time because I didn’t really remember it.

Todd: I think it’s hard to know for sure because this movie is just a mishmash of stuff that it’s kind of hard to, it was even hard for me to get a grasp on the whole thing.

I mean, I feel like I could have watched this movie and I never would have known. It would have just slipped into my mind next to all those other movies that were just rattled off in that space in my head. And so I went looking for it. And actually it’s a hard movie to find online. It doesn’t seem to be available for streaming anywhere.

There was a DVD version, a couple DVD versions of it made. What we ended up finding was on YouTube, somebody has posted a version that has been dubbed into German, but subtitled in English, but the high, the quality is really nice. I think I might’ve found another version out there that was taken from the VHS tape, but it wasn’t widescreen and it was really much.

Dark and didn’t seem very watchable. Plus this version, apparently that was released in Germany, had some, well more complete version than the one that was released in the States. It had some missing scenes put in there, and so it was perhaps a little closer to director Roland Emmerich his vision. Now, Roland Emmerich himself is pretty darn famous.

I mean, he has made a lot of . Big time Hollywood movies. After this, maybe this movie became his calling card in a way, just to say that, you know, he’s capable of doing something big scale because as much bad things as I’m going to say about this movie, uh, at least I can say that it’s a pretty well made film visually.

Stylistically, it does have those great elements that I think you could see in his later movies, such as independence day, right? Gosh, Godzilla. He’s just like, if you name a big Hollywood blockbuster from the nineties or the early two thousands, uh, chances are pretty good that it was directed by him. He’s done about a dozen of them, so.

Yeah, but this is his first, and he’s, he’s German. He’s from Germany. This was actually shot in West Germany, but he did shoot it in English and set it in the United States so that he could sell it to an American audience. And it was originally called Joey not making contact because it does center around this young boy.

Yeah.

Craig: I mean, I don’t know.

Todd: Jump in anytime, but I

Craig: don’t know what to say more than you said really. I mean, the biggest thing that I would say about it is it does feel like a knock off of several of those movies that you’ve listed for me, especially. Poltergeist, NDT. I mean, there are just kind of some beat for beat plot elements and scenes that if you looked at it as scance, you would think you were watching Poltergeist or E T.

Todd: uh,

Craig: and I mean, it’s not as though it does it particularly badly. It’s fine, but it’s just so obviously a knock off of those things. Um, that it’s just kind of hard to get past that. I was really looking forward to it too, and ultimately I was kind of disappointed, not so much in how it looked, because it doesn’t look bad.

I mean, it looks comparable to some of those other movies that we’ve already mentioned in terms of quality of the special effects and things like that. It’s certainly, you know, shows its age as. Coming from the 80s the visual effects aren’t as seamless as some of the CGI stuff that we have today, but it doesn’t look bad.

I think that all, ultimately what I was most disappointed in was not necessarily the writing of the dialogue, which frankly, there’s really not very much dialogue in the movie, but rather the storytelling. I, I was never really exactly sure what was going on. I didn’t really like, there is a villain, but I didn’t really understand what the villains motivations were other than just being evil.

The ending is ambiguous. Now, apparently the American cut is a little bit less ambiguous. I wish I had. That available so that I could make comparisons, but ultimately it just didn’t really come together for me. And when it was over, I was like, eh.

Todd: Yeah. Right. Maybe we’re being too kind. I, I guess another person might look at this movie and say, this is a ripoff, shameless ripoff of Steven Spielberg.

Just cut and paste from his movies. Like you said, almost scene for scene, and then that same person might also say it’s incomprehensible because that is kind of how I felt about it. You know, I was really trying hard to follow this plot, and I was so frustrated because this plot should be pretty freaking simple.

It’s not like this is a globe trotting adventure. It’s a boy, uh, who has just lost his father. The very first scene of the movie is your classic scene in the cemetery where they’re all sitting around the funeral and these people are coming up and you know, after the funeral stunts shaking hands with the boy and the rest of the family as they go by and the boy doesn’t really talk.

Actually. You like you kind of, like you said, he doesn’t talk much through the whole movie.

Craig: I wonder if it’s because these actors were all German, but they were English speaking, so maybe their English wasn’t that great, Slippy. They just didn’t do. Very much talking.

Todd: It could be, but, but it has the effect really of showing just how depressed this kid is, uh, at his father being gone.

And either that or he’s just a quiet kid. I at first, was really pretty moved by this, and I don’t know, maybe. Again, I get a little emotional about some of these things sometimes being a father now, uh, I just think of like, uh, of, of these sorts of, I don’t know, things just hit me in a slightly different way in these movies, but I really did feel for this kid, uh, in the beginning, just that he is, is sad.

Uh, he’s lost his father. And then it also seems like this kid has some psychic abilities. Again, we’re, we’re getting him more into the, the paranormal telekinesis, is that what you call it? Yeah. When a person can move things with their mind.

Craig: Right. But I mean, that’s the beginning of how it doesn’t make sense because it seems like this is new.

Like, it’s not like he always had these psychic abilities. It’s only now that his father has passed away and it stopped. I mean, there’s a sweet little flashback of him playing basketball with his dad and he’s like, sit in real time. He’s sitting in his room, you know, being sad. Thinking about his dad or whatever, and he says, I think either in his mind or out loud, I don’t remember.

Daddy, please come back. And then all of a sudden his toys start moving around on their own. And this song starts. It’s like, Hey, Joey daddy’s on the phone.

Like

Todd: we heard

Craig: it and he gets scared and he closes his eyes. And they stop, but then they pretty much just kind of start up again. And like, there’s all these like just little toy balls that are rolling around, and at some point they all circle around this little robot that looks like  taller older brother.

Todd: Yeah. But he has eyes. Yeah. Like how many things can you rip off?

Craig: Well, I mean, there is a lot of direct star Wars reference in this movie. I was actually surprised that they could do that. I like you couldn’t do that today. This movie had a budget of what, like a million and a half. Something like that. Yeah.

I mean, you just wouldn’t, you couldn’t buy the rights to that imagery for that probably today.

Todd: That’s true.

Craig: I was kind of surprised, but eventually it was, so this little robot whose name is Charlie, and then just kind of ends up being his sidekick for the rest of the movie. It just kind of follows him around, huh?

And again, another issue that I have with it is eventually the mom kinda catches on to this and she just kind of thinks it’s charming, like not weird at all. But anyway, straight out of Poltergeist, a toy telephone starts ringing in the closet and it’s this little red phone and it glows. Any picks it up and he starts talking in it and there’s all kinds of weird things going on, like flashing lights and wind in his room and this, the city’s pay phones are ringing, and at first he’s scared, but as it turns out, he’s talking to his dad on this phone and his mom even over hears it.

And I’m willing to excuse this because I don’t think that it would be out of the realm of reality for it. Kid to make believe, talking to his deceased parent on the phone. You know, that seems like a coping mechanism kind of deal. So I didn’t really question it when she just kind of heard and walked away the first time.

Todd: Well, let’s just say two. This was. I thought a really heartbreaking scene. I mean, we know that something supernatural, weirdest going on, but from the mother’s perspective, hearing this again, I kind of put myself in her shoes and I imagined, Oh, this kid just thinks he’s talking to his dad. And I was like, Oh my God.

It’s just so terrible.

Craig: The thing, I was confused almost from the beginning because is he really talking to his dad?

Todd: Yeah, that’s a good question.

Craig: I don’t know. I don’t know if he really like, ultimately, I think the suggestion is that he is, but I’m not really sure because pretty soon then things start to get weird.

Todd: Yeah. He has. Breakfast the next morning and mom’s talking with them. Well, no, he’s at school. I guess the kids are making fun of him in his class. He’s in like a science class and they’re doing something with eggs and the teacher’s walking around. Again, it’s this classic scene and some kids pass him a little note with

Something wrapped inside of it. And when he opens it up, there’s like a little skeleton, a little toy skeleton in there, and the note says, this is what your dad looks like now. I mean, the most cruel thing you came out, and again, I’m, my heart’s breaking for this kid, and I’m thinking, yeah, this is the kind of thing that.

The real asshole kid in class would do. And the teacher finds it and he says lectures them. Just a little bit about how that is and how about how his, you know, he misses his dad and then using his clairvoyant capabilities while the teacher’s back is turned, like the teacher says, who took his egg?

Where’s his egg? And while the teacher’s walking around the class accusing people of taking this kid’s egg, he. Manages to force lift an egg from the girl who’s sitting next to him and bring it over to his desk, along with a ruler across the desks so that it can like roll it across like a brick.

Craig: Exactly.

Right?

Todd: Yep. But like these things are like floating, like just completely floating in the air. And I guess. She is the only other person who can see this happening

Craig: or who notices, I suppose.

Todd: Yeah. I mean, it’s pretty freaking obvious. You, everybody’s back has to be completely turned to not see this ruler of completely floating through the air coming down on, and then this egg going there and then somehow the, and I think it was just the cut of our movie or something that the egg ends up in the teacher’s hand, all broken.

Craig: Yeah. Explodes on him or something. And again, I mean, this scene is right. Out of ITI. It’s the exact same scene with the frog, dissection and ITI right up to, you know, the girl sitting next to him with pigtails like, and this kid, I mean, he’s a cute little kid, you know, there’s a little German actor, but he even looks like Elliot from

It’s, it’s a rip off. And again, it’s not poorly done. It’s fine if, if it weren’t. If I had never seen ITI, if E T didn’t exist, it wouldn’t affect me. It’s fine, but it’s just so clearly stolen directly from the movie. And so then of course, like the teacher, you can tell it’s, it’s this young male teacher. You can tell from the beginning that he’s going to be like the intervening grownup.

And of course, you know, the teacher goes in, talks to the mom or the mom has to come in or something. I don’t remember. Everything. It’s like, to me, it’s like they, there’s an inkling of everything, but nothing ever really follows through. Like to me, I’m thinking, Oh, okay. Obviously this attractive younger, middle-aged teacher, they’re setting him up to be not a replacement, but you know.

There for the mom and yeah, it almost seems like they’re kind of setting up a relationship there, but it doesn’t go anywhere. No, I feel like that’s kind of, that’s kind of how you can describe the movie. Like they set something up, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.

Todd: It’s funny because he just sort of comes and goes like a lot, like he kind of pops out after a while and then.

Maybe, I don’t know, two thirds of the way through the movie pops back in and I’m like, Oh yeah, there’s that guy is, he’s still interested in this family. Like, you know, he just kind of comes and goes. He’s not really there. I mean, the, the boy is the only real central figure in this. Everybody else in the movie does kind of come and go.

I mean, he’s got this group of friends, I guess. I wasn’t really clear who everybody was there just a group of kids. They don’t have these real distinct personalities. We don’t really spend much time with them. And they also kind of come and go, and I couldn’t tell if they

Craig: were regular

Todd: friends of his or just.

People in the neighborhood, he would occasionally get together and play with or something.

Craig: Well, in my notes, I kept referring to them as the bullies, but it was like every other kid in his class, you could go all kinds. They’re all kind of mean to him throughout until the very, very end. And then it’s like they’re concerned about him.

All of a sudden. Like it’s, it’s, it’s really unclear and right. Like, they’re just this collective group of kids. Like they don’t have any, I don’t know any of their names. Um, they don’t have any defining characteristics really. It’s just this group of kids who kind of bother him.

Todd: Yeah. Oh movie. Exactly. I meant to show concern at the end.

Craig: Yeah. But my faith, one of my favorite parts is right after this. At some point, he and his dog go and explore the spooky mansion next door, which is, which is quite literally the Bates motel. It is

Todd: no mansion at the bank

Craig: and I, it just didn’t make like. Did. Did they just realize that they live next door to the Bates motel like the

At first I couldn’t even tell. Like at first I thought maybe they had gone on a vacation, but no, this is where they live. This is their house and this big spooky mansion is right next door. It’s only now that he’s going into explore it.

Todd: I think what are the balls that it takes to put this mansion Bates motel in your movie?

There’s no more recognizable old creepy mansion in all of cinema. You immediately look at it and know what it is. It’s just too familiar for anybody to ever use in the eye. I feel like maybe there is one other movie we watched where somebody tried to use this set or something. I don’t know, but you just can’t do it.

But they did it. And it just adds to this feeling that this movie is a cobbled together rip off of so many things. And also at this time, I think the reason that they’re going into the mansion is because his little robot, which has a complete mind and personality of its own, and nobody thinks anything of this has wandered off.

He and his dog are chasing it through the woods and he keeps calling it Charlie. Charlie, Charlie, don’t go in there. Charlie. And the Charlie goes into the mansion and they have to go and after him.

Craig: Okay. Motivation. All right. Yeah. There was a

Todd: slight motivation, but like you say, you’re this age, certainly you would have been in this place before.

All the neighborhood kids seem to be exploring it as well. And again, I got to say, I love this eighties thing where robots just have personalities and they go around and they talk and they do things and nobody notices or cares doing these silly little things on your own with clearly intelligence.

Anyway, so yeah, so the little R two D two clone goes in there to the Bates motel and he falls down, uh, somewhere. Again, we don’t really have a sense of geography in this place either. It’s real. There’s nothing wrong with the scenes of them in the mansion. All I get a sense of is it’s like a big closet.

There’s just a bunch of random crap everywhere and it seems maybe like it’s just one big room or one small room. And in there, uh, as the robot goes in, there is a little wooden box that slowly opens on its own. Uh, keep in mind everything’s completely covered in cobwebs. It’s like nobody has touched this place for decades.

And inside this box is a little ventriloquist dummy, and the dummy opens its eyes and turns its head and looks at the robot, and I think zaps the robot was some electricity or something from his eyes. Somehow the robot gets startled or incapacitated and falls down and, and can’t warn Joey about the presence of this dummy I guess.

Cause Joey comes around the corner, finds the robot, sees the dummy and is intrigued by the dummy and decides to take the dummy back. To his house.

Craig: Yeah, and I mean the, the, the dummy, I think ventriloquist dummies are spooky anyway. I’ve seen enough horror movies with them that I just kind of find them creepy.

But aside from that, like it just looks scary. Like it doesn’t look friendly at all. Right away. It starts like in the house, like I guess the little robots running around and the dummy makes all the other like stuffed animals, like attack it so that it’s. Like under a pile of other toys or something, and that’s again, like I feel like there’s a little bit of exposition later, but I don’t about the dummy, but it doesn’t really explain anything.

Like it’s just an evil dummy. Like just go with it. It’s a ventriloquist dummy and it’s evil. Just go with it.

Todd: Yeah. Just like you kind of have to go with everything else. Joey comes back in and again, somehow, I don’t remember exactly how, but the dummy does start moving on, Joey. Right? Joey’s talking to it and asking her, what do you, what do you want? What do you do? And the ventriloquist dummy makes the television turn on to, I guess a documentary.

About himself. Right. And his master that this is the exposition we get that you referred to just this guy had a dummy and he was the most successful ventriloquist act touring the country. And then something bad happened. And the documentary even says something about his evil doll or crazy or something like that.

Craig: Yeah, like the doll was actually a malevolent being,

and then it’s so weird, like it’s like, so he had the dummy and they were successful for a while, and then they disappeared for awhile and then they came back for a while and then something bad happened. That’s it.

Todd: So I know

Craig: there’s, there’s no, like. Origin. There’s no, you know, did the ventriloquist guy like, I dunno, like invite an evil spirit into the dummy for the act? Like there’s, there’s no explanation. Just like, uh, yeah, they were, they were famous for awhile and then the dummy was evil. And so they were gone for a while and then they came back for awhile, but then not anymore.

And that’s it.

Todd: I mean, it’s a ventriloquist with a dummy. I mean, in the world of movies. Except it’s evil. Just like we can accept this R2D2 clone can run around and have a personality of its own.

Craig: Yeah. And to show that it’s evil. Dad tries to call him again, apparently, but the dummy won’t let him talk to his dad.

Like throws the phone out of the room and then it also shows him on the TV, like it cuts to like surveillance of the mom in the kitchen. And the kid’s like, no, no, don’t mess with my mom. And they’re. All these knives hanging on the wall and you see the knives like shaking and she turns around and walks out and one of the knives like gets thrown into the wall like a foot from her, but she doesn’t notice cause she’s walking away.

And then in the morning she’s like making breakfast or whatever and she looks up and like all the knives are in the wall and again, like it’s just like, Oh my gosh, that’s weird and scary. Let’s carry on light. And it point, she already knows he’s telekinetic cause like at dinner he like moves his plate and glasses around in front of her.

And she again, lichen Poltergeist initially in the first one, she’s like the mom and Poulter guy’s like, Oh my gosh, that’s so cool. How do you do that? He’s like, daddy helps me. And she’s like, really? Okay.

Oh, weird. Okay.

Todd: Some point in this too. The teacher finds this out. He’s over at their house and he makes it something move for him as well, right?

Craig: Yeah. Eventually, I don’t remember,

Todd: remember the, the order of things in this movie because,

Craig: and, and because there are also such random scenes, like there’s a scene where Joey is.

Hanging out with pigtails. Sally is her name and bullies show up with these toy cannons that they terrorize a little robot with. And apparently these toy cannons shoot real bullets cause they shoot the robot. But then Joey with his telekinesis like blows them up it again, it doesn’t go anywhere. And once again, these kids are just bullies and so it doesn’t really, it doesn’t make any sense.

There’s no character arc. They just jump from being bullies throughout the whole movie to not at the end. I don’t get it. But you’re right. Yeah. Eventually the teacher seat, he comes over like he’s concerned, like, you know, they do this in movies all the time. I teach high school, so I suppose it’s different, but do teachers really just like all the time, just like go over.

People’s houses like, Oh, I’m kind of concerned about Joey.

Todd: You’re the last thing you probably want to do is attend the house of, go to the, I’m sorry, I don’t want to say that about, I’m sure you’re very caring teacher who. Thinks about it, your kids 24, seven, even when you’re in

Craig: a, well, the only home visit that I’ve ever had to do was to jail. So I’ve never actually gone to the home just to visit my students in jail.

Um,

Todd: Pat today. Oh, sorry to hear that, Craig. That’s the problem with this movie really, is that it feels like it’s supposed to be building to something, but you just have no idea where it’s going. It’s not. Oriented in any particular way. There’s no particular plot to say of, except there’s this kid, we all know he’s psychic.

We all know there are these bullies in the neighborhood. We know he has a robot that can run around and be his companion, and we know that. His dad is calling him on the phone and that there is an evil ventriloquist dummy in his room, uh, that is somehow trying to stop that from happening.

Craig: Yeah. And that’s it for about 45 minutes.

Todd: The people in the movie put up with all of this, like it’s nothing.

Craig: Yeah. At some point the bullies go into the old spooky house, and then that’s like their headquarters from then on, like it looks like, like running a Colt out of this house. They’ve got candles everywhere. Weird. And then the teacher comes over and Joey doesn’t show him, but like, he’s not hiding it.

Like the teacher sees the telekinetic stuff. Um, but apparently Joey doesn’t like the teacher for some reason. So when the teacher goes to grab his. Spoon to eat his soup. Joey, I guess, makes it really hot and it burns him. And then the teacher runs into the kitchen and turns on the faucet and puts his hand under the faucet, but his mom’s like, no, no.

And she grabs his hand and puts it in the fish bowl and then goes to get ice out of the freezer and then puts the ice in the fishbowl. What’s,

Todd: yeah. Also confused by this. What

Craig: are you doing? Like, I’m pretty sure the faucet was fine.

Todd: Yeah,

Craig: but no, let’s, let’s ice the fishbowl with the fish in it. A

Todd: poor fish.

Yeah. Oh.

Craig: And then there’s a big, there’s like a big effect scene where, um, the dummy, uh, traps Joey in his room and like the dummy can shoot like lightning out of its eyes. And it does that. And the mom and the teacher, I think are like looking for Joey outside and things are like, the, the electricity is flashing and there’s a great big monster in the trashcan.

And yeah.

Todd: What was that all about?

Craig: I don’t know what’s going on.

Todd: And then like the doors, so Joey still in his bedroom, I guess kind of on his bed or in front of his bed. And there’s, I mean, as a scene, it’s quite cool. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff

Craig: going on

Todd: and they’re that glowing red phone is sitting in front of the dummy and the dummy sitting there opening his mouth going now, which is.

Basically what he does and then the doors to the closet open and behind him, the closet now looks like it’s this long, endless passageway into something with a disco ball at the top, which is just spitting and sparkling and occasionally shooting light out and stuff in the room. I’m thinking, Oh, okay.

It’s just like a passage to another world that he’s opening up for. Joey’s. Is the father going to come walking out as Joey gonna walk down in there? No, I’m not really sure what happens, right? The scene just kind of stops,

Craig: right? Well, like Joey asks the dummy, what do you want for me? And usually the dummy just growls when he says, what do you want from me?

He says, I want to play a game. And I have no idea what that means because nothing ever comes of it. What game did what? Like you’re playing a game with somebody, but you don’t know.

Todd: Like,

Craig: what are we supposed to be doing? I don’t, I don’t get it.

Todd: It’s this point that all of the trucks show up.

Craig: Yes. Out of nowhere.

Todd: Where did this come from? I have no idea. My best, where it

Craig: came from, it came from ITI is where

Todd: we know

Craig: that.

Todd: That was next door.

Craig: I mean the, these all these trucks and vans just out of nowhere. Again, like if you were, if you squint your eyes, you’ll believe you’re watching E T because it’s just all these trucks and vans and all these scientists, I guess, like, I don’t even know why they’re there

Todd: and what they’re

Craig: doing.

And like there’s this one head scientist, Dr. Hayden, she’s this woman. Scientists, and apparently she knows all about like telekinesis and these other things, but it was actually the phone company that tracked them down.

Todd: There was like all this crazy energy, I guess, coming from, because whenever he calls his

Dad or his dad calls him or however that works on the phone. All the phone lines in the area go down for like an hour, right thing. Isn’t

Craig: that right? It is. Right. But so, okay, so the phone company is working with the telekinesis sciences,

Todd: I think. Yeah. You know. When you, when the phones go down for a while, there are only two explanations.

You send a guy out, check the lines, or you call the CIA at the telekinesis people because there’s some serious psychic shit going on.

Craig: We got another one here.

Todd: Clearly happened before.

Craig: And w and they don’t like, there’s no, like, it kind of seems like they’re there just to kind of explore. Like in ITI it seemed kind of ominous.

Like you didn’t know whether the scientists had good intentions or bad intentions in this movie, it doesn’t really seem like they have any intentions at all. Like they’re just hanging out and hoping

Todd: they’re setting up exactly like E. T it’s like there’s sealing off. The house and there’s plastic going up everywhere and people are wearing hazmat suits and there’s constant chaos and buzzing of activity.

For what purpose? Who knows? They’re not sealing like an alien entity inside. There’s just. Weird shit that’s been going on with the phones and this kid who is apparently psychic, and this is the point at which the bullies in the neighborhood suddenly start to care about him.

Craig: At this point, they’re not, I don’t even, I didn’t understand it.

Okay. So maybe, maybe they start to care about him, but I still. This was like a sabotage mission mission. Like I thought they were trying to like kidnap him or something.

Todd: I thought they felt like they were trying to rescue him.

Craig: I don’t know, whatever, but it was kind of cute. I liked that whole bit with the garbage cans.

Todd: Yeah.

Craig: Were like two of the bullies. It’s totally a shtick. Like you seen it before, like they’re in these garbage kids that don’t have a bottom, and so like you’ll see they’ll be. Pop up in their legs will be in the bottom and they’ll move like a few feet and then just plop right back down. And of course, you know these military guards, they’re like, did I see something

Todd: garbage can over here?

Craig: And then eventually they eventually get in, but not before. Like she, the, the, the, um, scientists is running some tests on Joey and this was a shot directly out of flight of the navigator. Do you remember

Todd: that movie?

Craig: When they finally get that kid and they’re doing tests on him and they like have like sensors, like on his head and stuff, and they can read what’s going on in his brain.

It looked like it came right out of that and he’s not talking. Like he’s like selectively mute, like he won’t speak to the scientists and the lady scientist is like, you don’t have to be scared. It’s okay there. I, I know all about this and I know other people like you and you can learn to master your powers.

And she says something like, it’s nothing to be scared of because people like you prove that death as we know it doesn’t really exist. And at some point she explains like when people die, they don’t really die. They just move to a different world or realm or something. So I think the suggestion is that he really is talking to his dad, but for whatever unexplainable reason, the dummy doesn’t want him to.

Now I don’t know why

Todd: I went online. And I was reading different synopsis’s of this. I was just reading synopsis’s trying to figure out what they all happen. And one of the synopsis, as I read, seem to think that the dummy was protecting him because it wasn’t his dad on the phone. It was the evil. The spirit of the dummies former master who is trying to contact the boy.

Craig: It seems like a stretch to me, but certainly not out of the realm of possibilities because it’s never clear

Todd: what’s going on, what happened? Why? Why are we suddenly somehow suddenly the boy’s in trouble? Like. Are they in the middle of their tests with him and suddenly he goes into cardiac arrest

Craig: or something?

No, the, uh, he just wants them to go away. Pigtails gets in there somehow. I don’t know if he says like, I can make them go away or something. And she says, well, how do you do it? And he says, I just have to play the game. And so he opens up his closet. The scientist has said something about how they hadn’t seen any toys around.

They thought that was weird. Well, he opens up his closet. And it’s stuffed to the max full of his toys and they all fall out to reveal the dummy all bound up and like not hanging from its neck by a noose, but just hanging by a rope. I’m in the closet and I guess, I don’t know, he uses his powers to turn his room into Caroline’s room from Poltergeist with all of the toys flying around.

At the same time, all of the bullies, which in the beginning there were like three of them, and over the course of the movie, then at some point there’s like eight, I don’t know where they all came from, but they like siege the house and they’re running around, you know, causing . Chaos. It’s funny cause they’re running around and screaming and the scientists are just kind of standing there looking on like, what’s happening?

Like nobody’s trying to stop them or do anything. They’re just like, watch. But eventually they get up, the scientists open up the door and like the lights are flashing through the slats and the door, just like Poltergeist, and they open it up and he is sitting on the bed with pigtails and the bed is floating and the toys are flying all around.

And I guess, and this is, is this the part where all the star Wars toys attack the kid in the Darth Vader mask?

Todd: Oh yeah. There’s a, there’s an interesting moment where one of these kids comes into the room and he’s wearing a Darth Vader mask and it’s like he’s there to rescue him and it’s played up as it’s very dramatic scene.

In fact. Doesn’t his lightsaber actually like light up like a lightsaber, like,

Craig: well, I think that’s later. I don’t remember the transition. Somehow they get from their house to the Bates motel or how they got there. I don’t know. I don’t remember.

Todd: No, I don’t.

Craig: But all of the kids end up in there.

Todd: Maybe he runs away and the kids follow him.

Craig: I don’t remember one way or another, they all leave that Joey’s house and they end up in the Bates motel, which at this point turns into the hell world from Hellraiser to, uh. It’s, it’s now. Whereas before, like you said, it was like a giant closet, just full of shit. Now it’s like an alternate universe and the kids all get split up and they all face like different monsters.

Like. There’s like the fat kid sees a giant living cheeseburger that tries to eat him, and the Darth Vader kid sees the actual Darth Vader with his lightsaber. That light comes on and then at some point, I guess at the center, all of this, there’s an enormous maze and, and they’re all in the maze and like a giant.

I, I don’t know if it was the ventriloquist dummy’s head or just a random monster, but like, even like huge, like a giant, like Godzilla head like pops up out of the middle of the maze for a second only then to descend like a second later, like hello and then it’s gone. Like what that’s about. And then the, the, the kids all hook up and there’s, I guess kind of a showdown at the center of the maze cause they can’t find their way out.

Todd: Yeah.

Craig: But when they get to the center, there’s an exit door and the dummy is sitting there in a chair facing the exit door with its back to them, and this is kind of where, I guess you would call it, the final showdown goes down

Todd: and you’re going to have to walk me through this because. At this point I was falling asleep, so I’m not, I don’t remember exactly what happened here.

Craig: Well, I’ll try it. W meanwhile, the scientists and the cops are all looking for the kids. I’m looking at my notes. A giant monster. Uh, they find sitting by the exit door. Okay. And then like, so the dummy is like sitting on the arm of the chair and then like the ghost of the ventriloquist like starts to come into focus sitting in the chair.

And I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be the ventriloquist guy. It was, I think, but for a second, I also thought maybe it was supposed to be the dad. I wasn’t sure, but. The maze and the whole alternate reality is starting to collapse around them. And so Joey begs the real Fletcher, the ventriloquist for help, and the ventriloquist says, I don’t need to help you have a friend to help you go to the door.

And it opens up. And he just looks in like all of a sudden the POV changes. So we’re looking at him from the other side of the door and he says, daddy. And then a light shoots through him and hits the voodoo voodoo doll, the ventral. Okay. With dummy and the ventriloquist dummy like flies to the back wall and catches on fire and melts and then Joey goes on like some trippy flight through the black hole or something.

Yeah,

Todd: it’s like a crazy and it lasts for quite a while. This camera effect of just, I don’t know, it’s like 2001 it’s like. At this time before we had computers, CGI, you had to get really creative with how you do these trippy flying through alternate dimension kind of things. I felt like maybe Joey was going to the other side, maybe like the

Craig: underworld  or whatever alternate plane his dad is on or whatever.

Yeah. So there’s all that. And then it just goes to black and we, the sound fades in. We hear people calling for Joey, and eventually it comes clear and lights, you know, we, it’s, it’s outside and it’s day time. And the adults find Joey. But he’s unconscious. They, so they take him to his room and they’re working on him and stuff.

And we see the scientists like interrogating the other kids who are telling them the truth about all the monsters they saw and stuff. And then Joey dies pretty unceremoniously. Like they’re working on him, like his blood pressure’s really low, and then his heart stops and then he dies and he’s just at, and the kids want to visit his body, which the adults are like, Oh, okay.

Todd: All right,

Craig: so. So they, the kids go up there. They say the, the head bully, I think says that he’s sorry. And he like puts his, uh, Darth Vader helmet on the bed. They all walk out, and then it becomes the scene from ITI where the brother sees the flowers come back to life and everybody gets all excited because they know that means that ITI and Elliot are alive again.

Um, but in this, in the cut right. That we saw the toy ball starts to glow again, and like the cosmic lights start to happen again, and the

Todd: millennium Falcon comes flying.

Craig: Yes. Right. And, and pigtails walks up and just says something like, it’s Joey, he’s back. And then the frame just freezes on her, framed by the doorway.

So we never actually see Joey alive again. To me, it was very ambiguous. Like is he physically alive again or is he just like communicating with them from beyond? It was very ambiguous. It’s an, I found that ambiguity a little bit shocking for a movie that’s clearly targeted towards kids. I was expecting a much clearer, happy ending.

Todd: I’m not sure either if it was just his spirit come back to kind of haunt them or if he was alive. In a glowing room when you’re right, it’s just completely ambiguous. It’s, gosh, that’s a mess of a movie. It just is. So everything’s kind of unclear. So I’m not sure if it was really his dad on the phone.

Craig: No,

Todd: I got a sense that maybe at the end of the movie he made contact with his dad in the door.

But that’s not clear. Right. But it’s a nice poetic thing if it’s true.

Craig: Right.

Todd: And then even his death is. Kind of poetic, I guess if you kind of read it as this kid was so depressed and so missing his dad and so out of place in this world that the only place he could be is back with his dad and in this alternate dimension, and that’s where he ends up.

It’s, it’s kind of a sad, poetic kind of story, but I’m just kinda throwing things out there, I don’t really know.

Craig: Yeah.

Todd: And then, I don’t know. You know, uh, the, the ventriloquist dummy and all that maybe was facilitating this to a certain extent. I’m not sure why the mansion had to explode into this fun house of different creatures and monsters.

Was that, were they getting too close to opening this gate to this other dimension? So this. Other stuff was kind of coming out that they had to deal with. Ah, God, I just don’t know. I mean, the movie itself, he has an impressive batch of special effects and cinematography. That’s true. Especially if it was just done for like a million and so bucks because we watch a lot of junk on this show.

We watch a lot of head scratchers and we watch a lot of attempts at effects and things that fall short and, and this movie. Again, like you said, if you just kind of popped in at any moment, you would think you’re watching a big budget. Hollywood special effects spectacular from the 80s that was aimed to kids, which I guess it is, but it just has that look to it that very big.

Blockbuster. Look, it is so perfectly mimicked the Steven Spielberg movies that it’s too close. It’s too close, and all it is is just these jumbled scenes that are direct rip offs from these other movies that have been cobbled together into something that’s completely incoherent.

Craig: Yeah, I don’t, I don’t know really what to make of it either.

I think. I think that ultimately I leave thinking that he was actually talking to his dad on the phone. I don’t know why the ventriloquist tell me he didn’t want him doing that. I don’t know what the dummy’s motivations were at all, and I just don’t really get, you know, if he was going to die at the end, my expectation would be that everybody would understand that he was.

Like making some sort of sacrifice, uh, or something. But it’s just like, why did he have to die? I don’t get it. But you know, like you said, if it’s, you know, he’s with his dad or whatever. I mean, I guess that’s nice, but that’s sucks for his mom. Yeah.

Todd: It sucks for him who presumably had a, a pretty nice life ahead of himself.

You’re right.

Craig: I mean, at least his mom has the cute teacher and God, I don’t know. Ultimately it was a disappointment. I was really looking forward to watching it to the box. Art is cool. Uh, it looks, it looks scary. I mean, the ventriloquist dummy is frightening and I find them spooky. Anyway. And I agree with you that in in moments it looks really good, but the story is just almost incomprehensible.

And so because of that, I wasn’t really particularly invested. I was just confused. I wasn’t. I didn’t really know what was happening. And so when it was over, it was just kinda, you know, shrug your shoulders. That was, yeah, that was weird.

Todd: Yeah. What a shame.

Craig: Kids might like it. Yeah. There’s enough cool stuff to look at.

And there’s the cute stuff with the little robot and there’s a dog in it. And I wonder if

Todd: kids might be able to make sense of it. You know? I’d be curious to show this to a kid and then ask them, so what happened? What went on. Let’s see what they say.

Craig: Maybe if we had watched this when we were kids, it would have kind of been a favorite and we would have felt in the salvage for it.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that I did see it when I was a kid and I don’t remember anything about it, so it must not have made much of an impression on me then either.

Todd: Yeah. It just kind of fell into the Steven Spielberg soup and, and dissolved away, I’m sure. Yeah. Uh, Roland Emmerich after this, he made universal soldiers Stargate independence day, the Godzilla flop.

The Patriot, the day after tomorrow, he still making movies and uh, they’re all kind of like this right now. At least they make seem to make sense. But they’re all these sort of big budgets, spectacular type things, really aspiring to that level. Not quite hitting it, but certainly he’s making his Mark in that, in that realm.

Right of the big blockbusters so

Craig: well, and it seemed like that was what the focus was here. The focus wasn’t on the storytelling. The focus was on the visual effects and the style and the look of it, and yeah, I mean, he was definitely copying other people, but if you’re going to copy somebody in the mid eighties copies, Spielberg, you know?

Yeah. Was this his first movie?

Todd: It wasn’t the first movie he directed. I mean, he directed a couple of German. Oh, a couple movies before this, but who knows if they’re bigger or smaller? Nah.

Craig: Yeah. Well, I mean, for early in a career, it certainly shows promise. I’m not surprised that he went to go on and do big spectacle type things.

It makes sense. And I’m sure that he learned and honed his craft as, as time went on. And, uh, you know, those, those big, uh, action blockbusters. They’re not my favorite genre of movie, but I watch them. Um, their popcorn movies, they’re fun to watch. You go in the theater and you know, there’s big explosions and it’s exciting.

He, you can see a beginning of something good here. Yeah, right. For sure.

Todd: It clearly became a calling card for him, showed the style that he was capable of, and. Went on from there. Well, thank you again for listening to another episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with a friend. As always, you can find us online.

Just search for two guys and a chainsaw. I hit our Facebook page or a YouTube channel or a website. Any one of those places. You can leave us a comment and give us some kind of request as to what movies you’d like us to do in the future and give us some feedback about this movie. Especially. If it was a childhood favorite of yours, we’d like to hear your take on what the hell was noise.

Until next time, I’m Todd and I’m Craig with Two Guys and a Chainsaw.


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