Film Review: Things (1989)

SYNOPSIS:

In 1989 it became the first Canadian shot-on-Super 8 gore shocker commercially released on VHS. Today it remains perhaps the most bizarre, depraved and mind-boggling chunk of ‘Canuxploitaion’ ever unleashed upon humanity. Adult film superstar Amber Lynn and co-writer/producer Barry J. Gillis star in this surreal saga about two friends who visit a remote cabin, only to discover a womb of monstrous horror that demands graphic dismemberment. It’s an inexplicable orgy of eye ripping, beer guzzling, boob baring, skull drilling, sandwich making, chain sawing, bad acting and post-sync dubbing from co-writer/producer/director Andrew Jordan that has spawned its own disturbing cult of fans. Some will be repulsed. Others may be transformed forever. But you have never seen anything like Things.

REVIEW:

I fancy myself a person of discerning tastes when it comes to film, but I’ll admit I can find a redeeming trait in just about every movie. Whether it be a well-crafted performance or a line of dialogue that managed to stick with me, there’s usually something I can appreciate. This is decidedly not the case with Things. If you were to ask me what I liked about Things, I couldn’t offer a single response. It’s a failure on just about every level impossible. From the lighting to the acting, there isn’t a trace of filmmaking competence to be found here. Despite that (or because of it), Things has earned itself a cult following over the years. Not that I could tell you why . . .

Don (co-writer/producer/co-editor Barry J. Gillis) and Fred (Bruce Roach) make a trip to visit Don’s brother Doug (Doug Bunston). While rummaging in the freezer for food and drink, Don discovers a tape recorder that contains recordings of Satanic prayers. I’m not sure why Doug stored a tape recorder in the freezer, but that’s probably not worth thinking about anyway. Doug hears the noises and chastises the two for bothering his ill wife Susan (Patricia Sadler). He then goes to check on Susan and finds she’s given birth to insect-like creatures.  Don, Fred, and Doug attempt to put a stop to these monsters.

Things attempts to capture the viewer’s interest with healthy doses of sadism and gore. Decapitation? Skull-drilling? Creatures bursting from a person’s stomach? Normally I would wince or be taken aback, but I spent most of that time laughing at the horrible effects. The monsters resemble toy insects you’d find at the bargain bin of Toys-R-Us. And when people or things aren’t getting dismembered, the movie just lags.The characters just talk nonsense and drink beer in their downtime. The only interesting thing about those scenes was noticing Don mix the beer with tap water. Do people seriously combine the two?

Andrew Jordan shot Things in Super 8. As a result, it has the jittery appearance and abrupt editing of a home movie. There isn’t consistency to the lighting; certain scenes are bathed in a red glow while others have a blue tint. And then we have the music, which never fits the scene it’s accompanying. The worst offender is a 50′s doo-wop tune playing as Don is cauterizing a wound, although the love song playing over the closing credits is also a curious choice. Most of the score consists of a mournful piano tune or synth beats that resemble a forgotten recording from New Order or Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark. Regardless of what it sounds like, the music never properly sets a mood and always feels intrusive. Somehow the crew wasted $40,000 on this mess. The majority of that money must have consisted of Amber Lynn’s salary, because it sure didn’t go towards the special effects.

I can’t conclude this review without a reference to the acting. I can’t accuse anyone of overacting or even just regular acting. Everyone shows less emotion than is required. I was especially amused when Don and Fred started groaning when they first saw the monsters. I presume Gillis and Roach were trying to demonstrate terror and shock, but they acted as if they were suffering stomach pains. P*rn star Amber Lynn plays a reporter whose appearances are interspersed throughout. I guess memorizing her lines was beneath her as she appears to be reading from cue cards.

Don’t bother with Things. It fails even as “so bad it’s good” entertainment. I was so disinterested I had to pause and take a break, even though it only lasts 81 minutes. If you must see it for yourself, drink heavily or take mind-altering substances beforehand. I doubt you’ll be entertained otherwise.

Things (1989)

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