Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Diagnosis: Death

Before I get to the film, please indulge me this minor rant. Don’t you just hate misleading movie covers? It’s total bullshit is what it is. It shows what little respect advertisers have for the fans that pay to observe their "product" for two hours. They either think we’re too stupid to notice the bait and switch or else assume we're too lazy to call them on it. Here are some examples that stir my inner rage.

Trick or Treat (1986) - You lying sacs of shit! Gene Simmons is in the movie for less than two minutes and therefore has no business on the DVD box! How dare you play with a KISS fan’s emotions like that!

Executive Decision (1996)- How the hell do you sleep at night, you evil lying bastards! Seagal is killed off in the first fifteen minutes and YOU KNOW THIS. Suggesting otherwise by awarding his stern face half of the poster is dishonest at best (and I assert that it's an affront to basic human decency.)

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)- I know Ed Wood was all about shamelessness but even mentioning Bela Lugosi’s name on the poster is inexcusably disgraceful. Bela’s only appearance in Plan 9 is a ten second posthumous sequence consisting of walking around while wearing a cape. I knew you were low Mr. Wood, but the truth is I am shocked.

And so it goes. The above picture featuring Jemaine, Bret and Rhys Darby (manager Murray) from Flight of the Conchords lured me to Diagnosis Death but alas the HBO actors play only very minor roles. The "hero" and focus of the movie is Andre, the guy poised rightfully in the middle of the poster. Likely filmed before FOTC took off, this release is clearly a stab at cashing in on their newfound fame. Jemaine Clement (who is capable of making me laugh with a mere glance to the side) appears only in the very first scene, portraying a parent bribing the protagonist schoolteacher. His sole function is to establish Andre as a likable asshole.

We're supposed to warm up to Andre once we’re informed that he has a terminal disease. Rhys Darby nearly steals the movie as the blunt doctor delivering sobering news. When detailing Andre's survival chances, he callously states “imagine a satanic torture from which death is the blessed release".

With months to live, Andre agrees to take part in an experimental drug treatment held at a former insane asylum. Soon he sees (Japanese style) ghosts doing creepy things; but are they real or merely drug influenced hallucinations? Don't look to cold nurse Bates for answers as she is obviously the ringmaster in this twisted mad scientist experiment. (Bret McKenzie plays a lovable orderly who offers multiple helpings of comedy relief.)

Diagnosis Death sounds win-win on paper (or blog) but it's tarnished by a romantic comedy framework that is neither necessary nor believable. Andre falls in love with an eighteen year old patient and much of the film is devoted to their unlikely relationship. Regardless the film serves as an entertaining New Zealand homage to Peter Jackson's early comedy/horror films such as Dead Alive.

Though this preview overemphasizes the FOTC cast members' roles, you can tell whether or not you'll likey:


Catfreeek said...

Excellent point about those misleading covers, I think we can all say we've gotten sucked in at one time or another.

DCD said...

Well that's a total bummer that it didn't come through! I thought the trailer made it look pretty good.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

DCD, this one isn't bad at all. It comes down to whether or not you can tolerate Andre. (I thought he was fine but the general consensus is that he's annoying.)

Whirlygirl said...

Great review! Love the rant.

Octopunk said...

I see your point, but everybody knows that the best thing about Executive Decision is that Seagal buys it fifteen mintues in.