Archive for February 2, 2013

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It can’t be easy being Steve Guttenberg. Think about it — in the ’80s, this guy had “leading man” roles in not one, not two, not three — but four big-time Hollywood “franchise”-type properties : CoccoonPolice AcademyShort Circuit, and Three Men And A Baby. Top o’ the world, ma! Fast forward to 2009 and he’s down to straight-to-video horror work like one-time-only (at least to date) director Daniel Maze’s Cornered! Sure, Steve-O gets top billing here even though he’s probably only putting in about two days’ work, but still — it’s gotta be a come-down.

Even so, this has gotta be one heck of a good little indie horror project to attract the likes of  a former Hollywood “A-lister” like Guttenberg, right?I mean, flicks like this are a dime a dozen, surely there must have been something special in this script  to have attracted the attention of a recognizable, formerly-quite-bankable name? Something? Anything?

I dunno, friends. I just finished watching this flick on DVD courtesy of Netflix (it’s released by Lightning Media with widescreen picture, 5.1 sound, and a little “making-of” featurette as its only extra, for those of you who like to know the technical specs) and I have to say that if there is, indeed, some special standout feature in here that sets it apart from the hundreds of other movies of its ilk, it’s hidden pretty well. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t find it anywhere.

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Apparently, there’s a serial killer going around carving up folks in greater Los Angeles-area convenience stores, but so far the cops, who have offered up a half-million dollar reward for the killer who wears a — yawn! — bondage mask, are having a hard time tracking him down because he steals the security-camera video tapes from said stores on his way out the door. This means that our principles here — asshole convenience/liquor store owner Steve (Eduardo Antonio Garcia), his junkie nephew/employee, Jimmy (James Duval) , his donut junkie/other employee, Donny (Peter Story) and their beer-and-soda delivery guy, Morty (Guttenberg) are in a pretty dangerous line of work.

One night, through the absolute most contrived set of circumstances you could possibly imagine, Steve, Jimmy, and Donny, along with store regular/phone-sex operator Mona (Ellia English) and a hooker that Donny’s sweet on named Jess (Elizabeth Nicole — who wants to lay odds on that being the name on her birth certificate?) — all of whom, collectively, represent one of the least-likable ensembles ever put together in a slasher flick — end up locked in the store with no keys. no cell phones, and the killer in the basement. What do they decide to do to pass the time? Play fucking cards.

And holy shit, speaking of contrived — Steve lives above the store in a shitty, roach-infested apartment, the building housing Steve’s store and residence is in the ‘hood, so all windows on both floors are barred up (thus preventing escape), and  best of all, back in the ’70s the place was actually a butcher shop, and when the meat-cutters cleared out they left all their shit in the basement!

So — five fuck-ups locked in an inescapable building with a killer who’s got all kinds of butcher’s tools at his disposal. What could possibly go wrong?

cornered_45973445_1If all this sounds just a little too contrived, I assure you, it only gets worse — ya see, when all these folks were hanging out in the store earlier, they all described, in graphic detail, the ways in which they would dispatch the so-called “convenience store killer” if he ever crossed their paths. They indulged in some pretty vivid and gruesome flights of fancy, and now — gasp! — he’s killing all of them, one by one, in the exact same ways that they said they were going to kill him! And in case that’s all just a bit too subtle for ya, don’t worry — one of Jess’ actual lines in the film is “He’s killing us in the exact same ways that we said we would kill him!”

In short, it’s all pretty embarrassing stuff, and the half-assed “performances” delivered by each and every one of the actors don’t help much. By the time Morty (who so far has only logged about five minutes’ worth of screen time at the very beginning) stops by the store on his early-morning delivery rounds and finds the two remaining survivors trapped inside, you’ll know who the killer is and have a pretty solid idea how the film’s final act is going to play out. Maze, who’s depicted the film’s previous killings (which to their credit are sorta brutal) with a rather sadistically mean-spirited technician’s eye thinks the final one he lays on us is quite funny, but in reality it’s pretty stupid, and trying to pull some humor out of your ass when you’ve spent the previous 70 minutes or so showing what a bunch of craven, shallow, hopeless douchebags your characters are is a textbook example of too little, too late. Honestly, this is one of the few films I’ve seen where the director actively telegraphs to the audience how much he hates his own movie, yet tries to impress us with his supposed technical prowess at the same time.

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Cornered! is a mean-spirited, dull, thoroughly uninspired, completely hokey flick that could only possibly be viewed as being even remotely interesting somebody who absolutely, positvely cannot see anything coming , including holidays and their own birthday. Its director seemed to view the entire exercise as, essentially, an expensive demo reel to showcase his “talent,” and Steve Guttenberg did it for a quick paycheck, plain and simple. Rancid stuff, made by idiots, that will only appeal to even bigger idiots.