Thumped’s Random DVD Trip #11 – The Devil Inside & Iron Sky

Thumped’s Random DVD trip: Wherein Hector Grey enters the Xtravision across the road and grabs the first couple of things that appear in the shelf. This week: The Devil Inside & Iron Sky.

Iron Sky’s Space Nazis are coming, and they’re going to bore you to tears, while the Catholic church, and anyone with eyes, does not want you to watch The Devil Inside.

Oh no! Why isn’t there a sticker on these dvds, declaiming: hand held footage inside. AVOID. The trailer suggested so much more, a romp of Catholicism and exorcism and scares aplenty. But it isn’t really, it’s a “documentary”. Worse than that, it’s a fucking mockumenntary. Is it supposed to be taken seriously, at any point? It’s hard to tell. Did the producers come up with this idea and fall about laughing and wanking and thinking; the cinema-going public, the dvd renting masses, they are fucking idiots, my friends, and we are quids in! Or, and this is much, much worse, did they think they were doing something with merit. Something good?

It starts in the past, cobbled together news reports and Police handheld footage showing us the crime scene, while a polis officer drawls a commentary. Three clergy have been murdered, bloodily, in a suburban home. It’s an exorcism gone wrong, see, and claret has been spilled. The suburban housewife responsible is caught, tried, found mental and sent to Italy, of all places. 20 years later her daughter, Isabella, decides to make a documentary about her travel to Rome to meet her mother and find out more about exorcism and some other shit. Why, oh why, did it have to be a documentary? Why couldn’t they just have made a film, a proper one, with steady cams, and a script and, let’s be fair, some actors? It could have worked, it could have been a jolly. The silliness of the Vatican’s “Exorcism School” could have been a ludicrous plot device that would have alleviated the tension between scares. Disbelief could have been suspended, dialogue could have been edited. But no, the cheap trick of sticking a nausea inducing camera in the hand of an oaf was supposed to give us the impression that what’s going on is actually real, and in tearing down the fourth wall, they just destroyed their own premise. What fuckwit was going to believe any of this?

At one stage, during an inopportune blackout, one character cries to the director: “grab the camera, we’ll need the light” to further illustrate how and why a man would be walking around with a camera attached to him at all times. You see, it doubles as a torch. Not long before Sony are making camera with coffee making attachments; “Quick, and bring the camera. We’ll need frappacinos!”

The entire idiom is not yet lost however, and a handheld film can still intrigue by way of plot, or action, or actors, or, even better yet, Trolls. These things are conspicuously absent in this movie, and the pay off, the end, the dénouement, is SO FUCKING BAD, so poorly thought through, that I actually laughed long and hard. The shock of it all, the you-cannot-be-serious-ness of the end was the film’s high point. Did they really just do that? How could a film with apparently no budget have run out of money, because that’s how it looked, as if the bailiffs were standing by to take all the cameras (and no doubt, film themselves while they did it) and they needed a new ending on the spot. As ever, the only terrifying thing here is the unedifying image of the director high fiving himself in the editing suite when it was all finished. Really? ARE YOU FUCKING BLIND?

I was always going to watch Iron Sky. How could one resist the trailer which appeared on the internets way back in the 1980s it seems. Nazis, alive and well, and living on the moon? It was a deliciously idiotic notion, that couldn’t possibly go wrong. Nazis, as astronauts? As moon dwellers? It’s so heavenly. Nazis, cinema gold, always suave, always cool. Even Amon Goeth, the mass murdering Kommandant of Plaszow, got to be rendered on screen by loveable dish and all round weird fish, Rafe Fines. He’s so fine, it’s in his name. The real Amon looked more like a tortured paedo, a constipated librarian, a bit like George W. Bush. Amon Goeth made Jews pay for the ammunition that was used to execute them, but Rafe Fines is fine. Ah, Hollywood Nazis, arcane, aloof, above all illicitly sexy. It’s not too much of a stretch to see them living on the moon, like some uber-mensch, leather clad, sexy Jetsons.

The year is 2018, A Sarah Palin-alike is the presidential incumbent, seeking re-election. In order to garner public support she sends some lads to the moon, for the first time in 50 years. But, apparently there’s no black astronauts, so they send a male model instead, to bolster her standing among the African-American voters. He finds the Nazi hangout on the dark side of the moon. They take him prisoner and turn him white. They launch a probe and land on earth, and convince the Palin-alike to align with their ideals, in preparation for Gotterdammerung, the invasion from space. Palin-alike borrows from their rhetoric to fly up in the polls.

It sounds like nonsense, but it’s actually much, much worse than that. This camp mess thinks that we’re all howling in the aisles, holding our sides, begging the hilarity to end for just a second, so that we can gather our breath. The howls are the cries of the anguished, unfortunately. The silly idea had a soul, but it’s stripped out during this cinematic goulash. Whether there’s a subtext about modern right wing America, or a correlation between political spin and Nazi propaganda seems pretty unimportant. The problem is the script, plot, acting and music are all terrible. Perhaps if they hadn’t played it for laughs, but with a little tongue in the cheek. The way Outpost did, with its hilarious, superannuated Nazi warriors, or Dead Snow with its zombies. But the movie keeps trying to funny. It tries to be a howl. It tries to poke fun. It tries to be Dr Strangelove. It’s simply trying. It would appear that jokes need more than an amusing premise to work. They need oxygen, they need to be written. The whole scam here seems to be: Nazis on the Moon! Sarah Palin as president! Black guy is white! HA HA HA! That’s supposed to be enough, but it isn’t. When the trailer hit the web all of five years ago, the central tenet was slight, but it had potential. Oh boy, but did they Mengele the fuck out of that potential.

At a mere 90 minutes long, it’s 85 minutes too long. It took me two weeks to watch it, in five minute bites, as it was too fucking boring to sit through in its entirety. How disappointing was this? Very. Space Nazis on the moon? It had all the ingredients to be great. But it wasn’t, and well, to be honest, I couldn’t watch it all, and I love shit movies with great premises. A billionaire, dressed as a bat, fighting crime? YES! I’ll watch that.

In an attempt to be all serious about the Catholic church’s black arts, and with the shaky “realism” of the oaf-held camera, The Devil Inside was unintentionally (or perhaps, in a moment of rare genius, actually intentionally?) hilarious, whereas Iron Sky, laden down with prosaic jokes and with the CGI budget of a low rent Michael Bay flick, was a plodding, dull, scrape of excrement on the rim of the toilet of the entire genre of the sexy Nazi. What would Amon Geothe say? He’d fucking kill you all, is what he’d do.

Next up, I’m going to find a film that isn’t terrible. Is there such a thing?

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