Saturday, May 31, 2014

One-Eyed Monster (2008)

The Movie: Ten people, including veteran porn stars Ron Jeremy and Veronica Hart (playing themselves), head up into the Northern California mountains to make an adult film. All the weather predictions indicate that a huge blizzard is going to hit them, so the cast and crew are pretty much resigned to being snowed in for the weekend. However, that’s only a small part of what they’re going to have to deal with.

That night, when Ron goes outside for some fresh air between takes, a weird, glowing light falls out of the sky. It heads straight for Ron, and hits him head on. Ron heads back inside feeling a little ill, but the real problems begin when they start rolling again. Suddenly, Ron starts spasming uncontrollably, then collapses and dies. When the crew checks his body, they find that a rather important part is missing; his penis. A check of the film reveals that it seems to have detached it itself from his body and wondered off.

The detached organ very quickly proves itself to be deadly. It seems that some alien force hijacked it, and is using the body part for some nefarious plan. What’s worse, it’s quick to kill whoever gets in its way. Trapped by the blizzard, the surviving cast and crew try to figure a way to trap and destroy the organ. However, this is no ordinary detached, alien-possessed penis, this detached, alien-possessed penis used to belong to Ron Jeremy; who was known for having the biggest and strongest one in the industry…

The Review:

I have a theory. It’s a little way-out, but I saw a dick scurry out of a tailpipe today so I’m willing to consider just about everything.

I’m in the habit of watching the movie previews on my DVDs, and that’s how I discovered this particular little gem. Said preview showed what, at first, appeared to be yet another generic spam in a cabin movie; a small group of people are trapped in an isolated location with a murderous creature, individual or force. However, my interest grew when I realized that this particular group was the cast and crew for and ‘adult’ film, and that the monster was a detached penis possessed by an alien force. The title, One-Eyed Monster, just cemented things; for obvious reasons, I had to see this movie. If the reasons aren’t obvious to you, you must be new to this blog. That’s okay, just take some time to go through some of my older reviews and you’ll get it. Thanks for reading, by the way; it’s good to have you.

I should probably start by disabusing my readers of the idea that One-Eyed Monster is in any way a pornographic movie. Simply put, it’s not. There’s barely any nudity or (implied) sex, the ‘porn’ elements are only plot devices, and the ‘monster’ is obviously special effects. At least, I hope it is. One-Eyed Monster is, at its core, a spam in a cabin flick. For the most part it hits all the usual notes of that subgenre, but there are some interesting exceptions.

One of the two main exceptions is the who and how of the monster’s victims. There are a few exceptions (flaming asshole characters always get it in these movies, it’s just a question of when), but for the most part we don’t know beforehand who will live and who will die. The black guy doesn’t get it first, there’s no wacky practical joker to attempt a prank on the wrong person, and ironically (or maybe not, considering who the characters are), how sexual an individual is has no relevance on their life expectancy. On the one hand, we get a sense of suspense absent from the survival horror flicks where it’s obvious from the beginning who has the big target on their ass. On the other, the whole character’s sex life not having any relevance on their life expectancy means that this movie lacks the judgmental “they deserved it” attitude we find in so many horror movies; which I, personally, find refreshing.

The other main exception is this movie’s sense of humor. One-Eyed Monster is a funny movie; and what’s more, it’s intentionally funny. No movie where everyone isn’t in on the joke would have a scene like the one where the first victim’s roommate comes running in screaming “Angel has a dick in her mouth!”, and then has to add “there’s no one attached it” when her first pronouncement is met with indifference. The whole premise of the movie is ridiculous; as is the how our heroes first try to destroy the monster and how they finally succeed. There are many hilarious lines of dialogue and one-liners, my particular favorite being the conversation between Jeremy and the bus driver at the beginning of the movie.

But here’s the thing, it’s all played straight. One-Eyed monster is obviously meant as a spoof, but all the most ridiculous scenes and lines are played either completely deadpan, or with tongue slightly in cheek. Personally, this is why I find it so funny. These days, ‘spoof’ or ‘parody’ in a movie means playing every joke up in a way that practically screams “look how funny we are! See, this is the joke, this is where you laugh.” I know humor is a subjective thing, but I find it really doesn’t work for me. That way just drips with desperation. The main reason One-Eyed Monster works so well is because they don’t take that route. Everyone’s obviously in on the joke, but nobody is actively treating it like one.

Personally, I’m not big on watching porn; largely due to the fact that watching other people screw bores me to tears. As a result, I’m not all that familiar with Ron Jeremy. I’ve heard the name here and there; and I’ve seen him in cameos in a few other movies I’ve watched, albeit without having a clue of who he was. However, the thing is that I am fascinated by porn as a subject. It’s one of those incredibly controversial subjects that is bound to make people react; even just saying the word porn. While I’m not big on actually watching porn, the fact that it is considered so taboo makes it fascinating for me; which is why I found Jeremy one of the most fascinating parts of this movie.

Ron Jeremy and Veronica Hart are long-time veterans of the porn industry, and they have worked together a very large number of times. Both of these things are very clear in how they carry themselves in the movie. With our first look at them on the bus ride up, it’s clear that these two share a bond. Likewise, when they talk about how the industry has changed, or especially, in the scene where they’re commiserating about how they don’t get any respect anymore, it all seems real in a way that doesn’t require any suspension of disbelief. This authenticity helps ground the movie so that when the more ridiculous elements first show up, they’re much easier to accept. I’d also like to add that there is a feature on the DVD where Jeremy and Hart just sit down and discuss their experiences in the industry, which I, personally, found interesting.

The other individual who caught my eye was Amber Benson as Laura the makeup girl. Benson is fairly prolific these days; not just as an actor, but also as a director, producer, author, scriptwriter, and probably a few other things. Sadly, I mostly know her from her role in the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I found Benson’s character to another one of the more interesting parts of the movie. Laura is a socially awkward young woman who nurses a major crush on Jeremy. The thing is Hollywood rarely gets socially awkward right, usually just making the character situationally clumsy and passing that off as awkward. Speaking as a socially awkward individual who has dealt with many others throughout my life, social awkwardness can best be defined thusly: you’re not playing by the expected script. As we grow up we tend to absorb certain expectations about others’ behavior, a script if you will. And it’s not just big things either; most of it consists of little things that should be pointless. Social awkwardness comes in when you or somebody else isn’t behaving by the expectations of those around you. The reasons why vary; it could be because you have a completely different script (such as mentioning to those who don’t get it how and why a somewhat well-adjusted individual might enjoy movies about detached, alien possessed penises), it could be you just have trouble knowing what is expected of you (this is often my problem), or it could be that you just don’t care.

Anyway, Benson as Laura establishes that social awkwardness perfectly and believably. Admittedly, in the other role I know her from; she did socially awkward just as well. However, in Buffy Benson did a kind of cute, lovable, social awkwardness; here she does it with a touch of creepiness. And again, it’s convincing; socially awkward people so often come off as creepy because you don’t know what to expect of them, as they aren’t playing by the expected rules. In short, I found Benson’s Laura to be a convincing character, one I’ve had to deal with (and even been) all too often.

So in conclusion, it’s pretty obvious that I thoroughly enjoyed One-Eyed Monster. The fact that a movie with this premise even got made deserves major kudos; that it turned out so well even more so. If you’re a certain type of person, and you know who you are, this movie is a must see.

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