Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Cinema File #185: "Heebie Jeebies" Review

Heebie Jeebies is now the fifth Syfy Channel Original Movie I've watched since I decided to do this little impromptu retrospective on the network's recent releases, and while I might be giving it more credit than it deserves just in the wake of the lackluster affair that was Flying Monkeys, I found it to be fairly entertaining. The look and concept of the monster was a bit better than most, and while it started off pretty slow, it eventually descended into that special kind of crazy that I always hope for with movies like this. While not as inspired or as well put together as Tasmanian Devils or BattleDogs, it easily beats out Chupacabra Vs. The Alamo for the number three spot on my Syfy top list so far, if that even matters.

The story follows a hyper phobic sheriff's deputy prone to panic attacks who goes up against an ancient supernatural creature that literally exudes fear, paralyzing its victims with the titular heebie jeebies so it can take its time killing them. Despite the link in the title, this is the first monster so far out of the five movies I've watched that isn't playing the typical Syfy game of seemingly starting with a title referencing an absurd sort of beast and then writing the script around it, and for what its worth I appreciated the relative originality. In this instance, its basically a golem made of corpses, specifically of five Chinese gold miners buried alive over a hundred years prior, that now eats and bleeds gold and kills anyone that gets in the way of its vengeance.

Its probably the coolest looking of the monsters in this first batch of five films, even if the tendency to constantly shoot it in daylight against all established rules of horror movies means we see far too much of the chintzy CGI used to create it. Come to think of it, I'm noticing this in a lot of these Syfy movies, a lot more daylight action than you would think, especially considering they would have more incentive with the budget limitations to want to hide their creatures in shadow. The only one to break this trend so far was Flying Monkeys, and that was only because they were explicitly noted as being nocturnal. Also, there were points where it almost seemed like the monster had the ability to turn invisible, or only appear to certain people, but by the end I have to assume this was just the result of shooting too wide on a scene a few times, just enough to see that its not actually right off screen.

Slightly better than average premise aside, this movie would have most likely been mediocre or worse if not for the efforts of its primary human antagonist, the increasingly psychotic mine owner/cash for gold pitchman played my Michael Badalucco. When he first pops up, I had to laugh at his failed attempt at sustaining what I think is supposed to be a southern accent, which just barely filters through his natural New York brogue, but as the movie goes on, he quickly becomes the standout character not made of CGI zombie parts. After seeing the creature and going slightly mad, he eventually evolves into this weird hillbilly version of the Bond villain Goldfinger, throwing dynamite out of cars and brandishing a golden gun, which it suddenly occurs to me is from an entirely different Bond movie, which just seems really strange in retrospect.

This installment's Cheesy Line award goes to a snippet of dialogue towards the beginning of the film where two teenagers are about to have sex in a jeep, only for one of them to feel uncomfortable with being so public. He asks “Can we just put the top up?” to which his amorous girlfriend replies, “Maybe you should pull my top down.” Overall, Heebie Jeebies easily gets my stamp of approval for a relatively worthwhile Syfy Original. It has a few flaws that pull it down, but never loses its sense of fun and only gets better as it goes along. Being better than the average Syfy movie might not be a great accomplishment in the abstract, but seeing as how I'm the one taking it upon myself to sit through all of them, I'm thankful whenever I get one that shoots for it, and this one does that at least.

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