The 4 Movie Beasts Creepier Than Michael Bay's Ninja Turtles
Michael Bay is our generation's polio. He does terrible, destructive things and yet is somehow presidential. His latest assault on our senses is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which, even though it isn't directed by him, looks exactly like every movie he's ever made, only with turtles instead of robots/asteroids/Martin Lawrence.
Unless you've been consciously avoiding the trailers for the film, you probably saw the turtles already and had that moment we all had when you think, "Huh. That's not right." And maybe you left it there, or maybe you ranted on an IMDb board for several weeks, whatever it takes for you to get to sleep at night. Whatever you chose to do, we can all agree that the turtles in this new film are reptilian night terrors with ugly lips, and no good can come from their continued existence. But don't let that go to your head. While these creatures are abominations that will weirdly alter your Megan Fox-themed boners from here on out, they're not the worst anthro beasts film has produced in recent memory. Hollywood has been making us uncomfortable for years with man-things, and some are just so much more unnatural than the turtles. So, as a public service, before you go see TMNT and hop on Twitter to express your disgust, take a minute to reflect on these creepy buggers.
Howard the Duck
In 1986, America was crying out for entertainment. 1985 had given us The Goonies, The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Commando, Return of the Living Dead, and Tom Cruise's single best unicorn-themed film ever, Legend. 1986 had a lot to live up to. And sure, it gave us Aliens, Labyrinth, Stand by Me, The Fly, Top Gun, and a host of others, but they were all baked in the same oven of potential that gave us Howard the Duck. Howard the Goddamn Duck.
In the way Guardians of the Galaxy was based on a comic book few people outside of hardcore comic nerdliness have ever read, Howard the Duck was based on a comic book no one really ever read that took Donald Duck and asked, "What if this talking duck was real, surly, and had to deal with the horror and ennui of real life in a satirical and often dark and morose way?" But then the movie ignored the satire part and made it about a space duck with a personality disorder.
The resulting film asks you to accept a child-size man-duck who wants to bang Marty McFly's mother and who has to fight the pedophilic principal from Ferris Bueller. That sentence is horrifying, and your asshole should be clenched up like an old lady gripping her purse on the bus.
"I'm just a midget in a smelly suit."
Why would a duck want to have sex with a woman anyway? How does a duck pronounce B's and P's without lips? Why don't Howard's eyes move? And why would anyone base a movie on a character with no redeeming qualities beyond the fact that he's a duck?
The Ninja Turtles crack wise, practice ninjitsu, and are also heroic. They have a lot going for them. Howard the Duck was a small asshole. He was a downer, a cynical loser with sexual charm on par with a creepy uncle and the ability to land jokes like a blind guy lands planes. So in case you were wondering why no one liked the Howard the Duck movie, that was pretty much it.
The Mel Brooks classic Spaceballs gives us a two-for-one on creepy anthro characters, although we get to see one for only a few moments. The other character, Barf, is so well executed in this movie that you probably completely overlooked how potentially off-putting the reality of a John Candy-size dog-man would be.
Barf is introduced as Lone Starr's faithful sidekick, the Chewbacca to his Han Solo. The difference is that Barf is a Mog, half-man, half-dog. Doesn't mean much, right? Good for a laugh, there's a sight gag with his tail wagging and his ears standing up at some point, it's pretty funny. Now think of everything you have ever known about dogs. Everything. Now picture John Candy licking his own asshole.
"Shins break when I hump legs."
I should stop the article right here and take a shower, and so should you. I loved John Candy, I loved every movie that man made, even Who's Harry Crumb? No one could make me laugh like John Candy, so don't think this comes from a place of disdain or mocking dislike. But no one should ever be led down a road where the conclusion involves John Candy licking his own ass, but that's what Mel Brooks gave us. And that's just one aspect of Mog life we have to imagine Barf engaging in. There's also leg humping, eating poop, and scooting his itchy butt across your carpet.
Spaceballs gets bonus points for the inclusion of Pizza the Hutt, who of course isn't an animal but is still an anthropomorphic pizza man who gets eaten by a robot at some point during the movie. As cool as Aqua Teen Hunger Force is, and as much of a one-off joke someone named Pizza the Hutt is, living food has always been a little unsettling to me. There's an entire segment of society right now that won't eat meat because it once was alive. How would those people react to eating food that not only once was alive, but still is alive and can crack wise, wear sunglasses, and make threats again people for not paying their debts on time?
"Say no to the Stuffed Crust. Trust me."
The very idea of a living pizza man is entirely too disturbing for words in this context of sentient foods. Were his constituent parts once alive, like the cheese and the pepperoni? Did they die so the greater beast could live, or was their genetic uniqueness added to his own and he's like a hive mind, a dozen ingredients thinking in unison, none of them aware that their shitty jive-robot sidekick is slowly devouring them? It's just uncomfortable to think about.
All things being equal, Tank Girl was a visual abomination and deserves to never be watched again by anyone, anywhere, at any time. You would do better to spend two hours scouring your crotch with steel wool than to watch this movie.
The basic story is also the story of Solarbabies, if you saw that, which you didn't, and revolves around an apocalyptic future in which assholes control the water but the cool people find a way to get the water. But different from The Book of Eli and Rango. In the future, there is no water. Nuts. Water is so cool, too. You ever masturbate in the shower? That's top drawer fun right there.
Anyway, Tank Girl is supposed to be some super cool post-punk queen anti-establishment quirky type, but the movie is watered down toilet spray and you don't care about her or any of the other characters because it's so poorly written. What you will notice is that Ice-T plays a half-man half-kangaroo mutant who hangs out with a group of other terrible misfit monsters of the same pedigree, except for one guy who used to be a dog in a past life. Doesn't make sense? Don't worry, it's not supposed to, this movie is stupid. If this movie was a kid at school, it'd be the one still eating paste in sixth grade.
Look, it's Ice-T!
These kangaroo men, called Rippers, were genetically engineered in that someone saw a kangaroo and thought "This complements man well" and needed to merge them. Do you know what admirable qualities a kangaroo has that could benefit a man? Bounding ability, a pouch, and the fact that they can tear open scrota with their feet during fights. That could have been where "Ripper" came from as a name. Of course, a regular man with a fork can also rip your scrotum off, so being genetically modified into a kangaroo isn't necessary -- it just means you have to look like the bastard child of Ice-T and a latex Droopy mask.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
There have been eight Planet of the Apes films to date, likely a ninth on the way in a couple of years, plus a TV show back in the day, and a number of comics and other media. Only one of these need concern you -- Tim Burton's 2001 Planet of the Apes. What a shitshow.
While Charlton Heston's apes were low budget and laughable by today's standards and the current Andy Serkis crop of apes are so realistic that you can almost catch a whiff of banana and poop in the IMAX theaters, the Tim Burton apes managed to nestle themselves right in the middle of the two in a place I like to call "Eeeuuggh." That's the sound you'll make every time Helena Bonham Carter's chimp lady appears on screen in a pseudo romantic moment with Mark "I'm totally a space scientist and this is my wicked pissah monkey" Wahlberg, and it's the beginning of the sound you'll make during the very brief but ghastly scene in which Lisa Marie as a chimp engages in some kind of sexual monkey shines with Glenn Shadix as Senator Nado. It's on screen for about 30 seconds, and it's played for laughs (I hope), but your reproductive organs will still pack a suitcase and recede to the inner sanctum of your rib cage for the next hour or so after watching it.
"I'll escape wicked hahd when my Transformah buddies find out about dis!"
The new films were ingenious in the way they chose to simply have actual apes become infected with something that increased their intellect. They can look like real apes, and those of us in the audience marvel at how Caesar's hair waves just so in the breeze. Back in the 1960s, we all had a good chuckle over Dr. Zaius, his ugly-ass tunic, and the fact that he looked as much like an orangutan as Ambrose Burnside. I can only speculate that Tim Burton had recently received a blood transfusion from a Bangkok transient and was also freebasing something he found in a box branded with a skull and crossbones in the backroom of a Russian mob-owned pharmacy when he OK'd the final design for the apes in his movie, because they're just this side of nightmare inducing. They're that perfect blend of "Yeah, these are good special effects" you feel after watching for two minutes and then "Oh, no, I don't care for this" that sets in about five minutes later when your brain catches up and realizes something is horribly awry but you can't quite put your finger on what.
While all the apes in the film are disturbing, the orangutans are especially regrettable thanks to their poor dental hygiene and the overall sense that Paul Giamatti was actually encrusted in feces for the role. He just looks off. Bad and off.
Mmm, bananas and poo.
The real kicker in the film is the moment Mark Wahlberg actually kisses Helena Bonham Carter in a scene that I guess was meant to indicate that personality really goes a long way when it comes to physical affection, and that an ape who wears scarves and does her hair nicely is maybe worth a poke or at least some tongue slurping as long as you can both do long division. And by that I mean I assume Wahlberg's character can do long division, since he was stationed on what is clearly a science vessel and he is also clearly the scientist in charge of teaching apes to navigate through space, despite how he plays it off like he won the job off the back of a box of Spacey-Os.
Just because Charlton Heston did it doesn't mean you can.
At the end of the day, even if they have similar IQs and political leanings, the relationship is an interspecies romance, and that sort of thing generally doesn't fly with an audience. Mostly because, as you may have guessed from the build-up to this point, it's just so super gross. Don't make out with a monkey. Or an ape.