Thursday, January 9, 2014

Aus Deutschland mit Scheisse: ROBIN HOOD - GHOSTS OF SHERWOOD (2012)

The legendary tale of "Robyn Hode" originated in the middle ages and is presumed to have been derived from a minstrel ballad. Hood's story was simply about a farmer who was an expert swordsman, archer and outlaw. None of this giving to the poor after stealing from the rich stuff. Presumably, being a yeoman of the middle ages, he needed the gold that he stole to buy food or other such extravagances. Over time, his story changed considerably. At one point he was a deposed nobleman fighting to regain his title, and in modern times, he led a group of cutthroat supporting characters known, presumably ironically, as "The Merry Men" against a corrupt law enforcement official.

This legend has been retold and retooled so many times over the centuries that in the present era, we've had a Disney animated film, (ROBIN HOOD, 1963), a breathy romance (ROBIN AND MARIAN, 1976), a Kevin Costner action/comedy (ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, 1991) and a cringe-inducing Mel Brook's send up (ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS, 1993). Of course there are also the questionable comedies ROBIN-B-HOOD (2006) with Jackie Chan and a baby, and ROBBIN' IN DA HOOD (2009), set in the projects, but we aren't going to even go there. No sir, we've got smaller fish to fry.

The filmmakers seem to have
interrupted the lamest Ren Fair ever.
After all that shuffling around, where can a fledgling movie maker take the concept? Horror of course! For those audience members who have thinking "damn, what the legend of Robin Hood needs is a satanic/witchcraft/zombie angle" this movie is for you! For those audience members with any sort of discriminating taste, it's not.

The opening credit sequence is a Doris Wishman-like montage of shots of the forest, soldiers riding on horseback in the forest and soldiers getting killed in the forest. The voice over has the soldiers interrogating a woman who is in the forest. What this has to do with the film proper, I'm not sure, but it's the only bit of action we are going to see for a very long time.

Don't miss the riveting Laundry Scene!
During what I think is supposed to be a different fight, Robin Hood (Martin Thon) attempts to save Marian (Ramona Kuen) with his mad archery skillz. His shot flies wide of the mark and Marion must hack at her attacker with a sword. As it turns out, the girl he has uhhhh... "rescued" is the cousin of the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham (Tom Savini, whose acting is so bad, he can't even put the "ham" in "Nottingham"). Of course this trifling matter of blood relations causes a bit of a tiff between the two which is quickly settled when Marian admits that she herself is no fan of the man. Why? Because he cheated on his wife while she was on her deathbed miles away. Fair enough, he definitely qualifies as a douchebag. Now that the little matter of the Sheriff is settled, we need to spend another 5 minutes arguing about where to spend the night. Marian wants to make camp in the forest, so she can bury the dead in the morning and Robin just wants to get her back to his place. Yeaaaaaah baby! Nothing happens.

Robin introduces her to his commune of woodland dwelling folks and when Marian questions the whole thing, Robin drags out his soapbox and launches into the most long-winded discussion of class and community since Friedrich Engels decided to dabble in socio-political commentary. "We share everything." Robin insists. "No one man is better than the other. The community provides for the individual and the individual for the community." Honestly I am amazed that Marian was able to stay awake through this prattling, pretentious drivel, but I put it down to the jagged rocks that the actors were sitting on.

After discovering that this man of the land has a massive stash of gold and jewels, Marian throws a fit and Robin then has to launch into a speech about his theories of the redistribution of wealth and his own particular version of trickle down economics. Finally convinced, Marian decides that she should help Robin's cause by helping him infiltrate the Sheriff's castle. "But," she says, "leave the bow and arrow behind. I do not want you to accidentally shoot me while trying to protect me." Wah, wah, waaaaaaah! Yes, in addition to relentless bickering, this film fancies it has a sense of humor. God help us.

Now on to the action! Or not. First we have to have yet another lengthy, bickering discussion between Robin, Marian, Friar Tuck (Kai Borchardt) and Will Scarlet (Dennis Zachmann) about greed, the wealthy, the poor and, again, the redistribution of wealth as they trudge to the castle. Once there they must have a lengthy argument about how they are going to get into the castle. Shouldn't they have planned this out before leaving? I guess there is a reason the king's men are hip to Mr. Hood's game. He's not exactly a master tactician, is he? After much dispute it is decided that they will take potions that will temporarily turn them into different, yet equally awful, actors. This will be their disguise, so that the guards won't recognize them. Brilliant, right? All goes according to plan, except for the fact that even though Maid Marian looks like a completely different person, everyone at the castle recognizes her as Maid Marian! Even her cousin the Sheriff acts as if nothing is wrong.

Of course even with all of the crafty planning and their magic disguises, they simply charge into the Sheriff's chambers, steal some jewelry and run out only to get caught by the castle guards. The best part of this plan is where faux Will is supposed to tie up faux Marian and throws down the rope in frustration screaming "it doesn't work!" Too many moving parts, apparently. Err... isn't there supposed to be something about ghosts in forests, or something? Never mind, we have a "funny" argument in the market where Friar Tuck steals some produce and puts it on the middle-eastern seller's table in order to start a massive argument that leads to what appears as if it's going to be a Bud Spencer-esque brawl, but would have probably taken too much effort to choreograph, so they simply have Tuck run away.

After watching the guards kill Tuck and Scarlet, Robin escapes only to be shot down by a castle archer that is such a crack shot that he nails Robin dead-on twice, from the castle tower and through the trees in the forest. Perhaps the movie should have been about that guy.

A witch in the forest brings Robin mostly back to life. Apparently he wasn't quite dead yet. The only catch is that to finalize his return to the land of the living, he must give her his soul in three years. Of course this leads to yet another argument with Robin getting all pissed off about the deal. To be fair there are scenes in which Robin isn't acting like such a little bitch, but there are a few. Mainly because he isn't in them. Robin talks the witch into sweetening the deal by allowing him to bring his dead friends back to the witch so that she can give them a potion of "undead" and bring them back to life. The catch here is that they cannot have been dead past "one rotation of the sun" or they will return to life as vampires. Since they were killed this same day Robin will have to hurry because he clearly has no idea that a) the sun rotates or b) that it takes 24 days to rotate, not 24 hours. Oddly the filmmakers didn't seem to know this either. To aid him, she gives him a potion of strength and a potion that will turn his greatest weakness into his greatest asset. Oh, and she'll make him a magic bow and arrow set. Robin remains unimpressed.

Robin quickly retrieves his dead chums, randomly attacks two travelers on the road for no apparent reason and finally squares off with a black knight guarding a bridge who he defeats by simply grabbing him and falling in the water. The witch revives the chums, who find this to be a great time to enter a lengthy discussion about the relative merits of heaven and hell. Will, finding his time in hell enjoyable, tells a "hilarious" anecdote about killing a husband who caught him having an affair with his wife. Oh, good times! Upon returning to the camp we get a joyous re-union followed by a montage of Robin and Marian sleeping, hugging, kissing and enjoying a fire, set to a love ballad so cheesy it would make Michael Bolton cringe. Oh my christ, is this movie still going?

You'd think the filmmakers would be running out of steam, but no. Shot on digital video by Oliver Krekel, one of the seemingly endless horde of Tutonic no-budget videomakers with minimal cash and middling ambition. Krekel's 2007 effort was a 61 minute remake/sequel to John Carpenter's THE FOG, titled FOG 2: REVENGE OF THE EXECUTED. Reportedly the scant 61 minute running time didn't make the movie any less arduous and apparently Krekel felt that making ROBIN HOOD longer would make it better. And brother, lemme tell ya, it is a long, hard slog to the closing credits.

No! Not the laundry!
Robin finally fesses up to Marian that he sold his soul for the lives of his friends. Marian furious that Robin let her fall in love with him (ain't that just like a woman?), marches over to the witch's forest headquarters. Cue another argument! Meanwhile The Sheriff, righteously pissed off about being ripped off, sends out his troops to slaughter Robin and everyone in his camp. Robin Hood is filled with arrows... again. Yes, I get it, it's supposed to be irony. *groan* If the Sheriff knows where the camp is, why didn't he attack them sooner, since he was supposed to be desperately hunting Robin in the first place? I should probably point out that there is another half hour of this movie to go.

Little John (Kane Hodder) pops up out of thin air and joins up with Maid Marian who decides the best plan of action is to go to the witches hut and force her to give up all of her potions of undead so that they can bring Robin and his Merry clan back to life again. Needless to say... this leads to an argument. Then the witch is killed and the duo steal all of her potions. Of course they don't follow the mis-represented rules of the rotation of the sun and everyone revives as zombies (in spite of the fact that the witch distinctly said "vampires"). Said in my best Harrison Ford voice: "Zombies... why did it have to be zombies?" Of course, before reviving the lot, the pair have an argument with some thieves who are looting Robin's treasure! Little John and Maid Marian then have to escape the zombies with the magic potions that they've stolen. Just to give you an idea of how the climax goes down, there is a point where they are comically experimenting with potions such as a "Potion of Exploding Rocks", in which they pour the liquid over a stone and then huck it like a grenade. Pretty exciting stuff considering we've just sat through over ninety freakin' minutes of bitching, pissing and moaning in the middle of the German woods.

As ridiculous as the idea of a Robin Hood horror film is, I am totally down for it. No premise is too outlandish for me to buy into, really and the poster totally sells this concept. Unfortunately I don't know what movie the poster is advertising, but this movie sure as hell ain't it. Not only are there are no ghostly skeletal archers, there aren't any ghosts in it! Oh, ok, so it's metaphorically speaking, right? Ok, fine, there is still no excuse for doing something that amounts to a horribly acted BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) minus the found footage and the vague stabs at horror. There's not much gore, except at the beginning and end and no nudity whatsoever. As much as I hate to say it, I'll take an Andreas Bethmann flick over this non-event any day of the week. Hell, even Timo Rose has the decency, nay, the compassion, to make his torturously dull outings fall shy of the 90 minute mark.

How the director got people to watch his movies
What is it saying when Kane Hodder is far and away the best actor in this movie? I'm not saying his acting is in anyway good, I'm saying that his performance is the best thing the movie has going for it. Matter of fact the cast is so utterly awful that his presence makes the last half hour almost seem vaguely fun. Yeah, chew on that one for a while.

(spoilers ahead) The ending has the pair finally using a potion that traps the zombies in the forest and misleading the Sheriff and his men into going into the woods, after which we get the much needed end credits. Which run for a few seconds, then abruptly stop so we can see an incredibly long "epilogue" scene in which Little John explains to a person in the stockade what exactly happened after the end credits started! Aaaaaaaggghhhh!! Make it end! Make it end!

Moments of Clarity:

2 Reactions:

  1. Oliver Krekel? You watched an Oliver Krekel film? That's what Uwe Boll does to make himself feel superior. Try watching either of Krekel's CROSSCLUB films. I dare you! It will make you want to rewatch all four VIOLENT SHIT films because they seem THAT GOOD in comparison.

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  2. Ha! Yeah, after watching this, I can't believe I bitched about VIOLENT SHIT 4.

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