Simon Says (2006)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 2, 2009  | 
DVD
Peacock Films (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 84 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: William Dear
Starring: Crispin Glover, Margo Harshman, Greg Cipes, Kelly Vitz
Screenplay: William Dear
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
As much as I loved the ol' VHS days, one thing always really ticked me off: VHS covers. You'd pick up this righteous looking painted cover (which should have been a warning immediately) with a cyborg dude holding a chainsaw and a shotgun, killing a dragon while a busty goddess wielding a .45 dispatched an army of zombies, but when you got it home and stuck it in your VCR, you'd get some crapola early seventies sci-fi shitfest from Yugoslavia with special effects that involved the use of papier mache and tomato paste.

Yes, those covers could be deceiving, and nowadays, in the era of DVD and Blu-ray, not to mention the fact that the internet can provide copious amounts of information, you can't get fooled like that anymore.

Or so I thought.

While wandering through my local DVD rental facility the other day, I came across a cool DVD cover: all black, with a skull with just mild touches of flesh attached to it, and a hole punched in the front of it like some major league trepanning had taken place, a quote from Fantastic Fest saying the film is "Bloody and demented" and the name 'Crispin Glover' emblazed before the films title. Ok… so far so good. I turned the DVD over and looked at the pictures on the back: a dude dragging a body with a pick-axe in it; a head with the eyes and mouth sewn shut; a girl strapped to a table with two well-rotted bodies sitting with her; the bloodied desperate face of another girl; Glover himself looking all…nutso-like brandishing a pick and a gigantic machine….all looks cool.

…but I made a mistake that someone of my horror pedigree shouldn't make. I should have looked at the details of the cast and makers of the film, you know, usually found on the bottom of the back cover of a DVD, and I would have seen that Peacock Films, the company responsible for the release of this DVD had forgotten to fill out the details, so all the names are actually just mixed, random letters, and not the correct names at all…. An almost unforgivable editorial mishap….and so I took the DVD home.

From a storyline point of view, Simon Says sounds awesome.

The film opens with black and white footage of a pair of twin boys frolicking in their yard - actually it is only one boy, with some of the worse superimposed special effects this side of Luke vs the Rancor in Return of the Jedi - and we are shown that one of the twins is a lot more violent than the other. Flash forward and the boys, Stanley and Simon are teens, camping with their parents in the woods (the father being played by Glover's real father Bruce, probably best known for playing gay assassin Mr Wint in Diamonds are Forever) when one of the boys, Stanley, smashes his twin's head with a rock, swaps shirt with his unconscious brother, and proceeds to kill Mom and Pa.

Travelling forward again to today, we are introduced to five of the most malodorous and stereotypical college kids you will ever meet: whiny bitch and maybe-psychic Kate (Margo Harshman), her boyfriend, jock asshole Riff (Artie Baxter), stoner loser Zack (Greg Cipes, who has a surprisingly good Billie Holiday style singing voice), superslut Vicky (Carrie Finklea) and boring fun-gobbler Ashley (Kelly Vitz) who decide to go camping out in the woods. First they accidently go to some gravesites rather than campsites where they meets some strange locals (who may or may not be ghosts, it is never quite made clear) who decide for some strange reason to tell them a story about the twins' violent outbreak from many years ago, and also show them the grave site of Billy the Kid. The kids hightail it out of there and go to town, which is really just an old garage, where they meet Stanley and Simon (Crispin Glover) who unsettle the group as they venture off to the campsite.

Once at the campsite, the usual shenanigans that these generic type of characters get up to take place: smoking dope, drinking, and titty-flashing, but they are being watched, but by who? Is it the throwaway 'ghost' characters from the graveyard? Or is it Stanley… or Simon… or both?!? Or neither?

Luckily for writer/director William Dear (Northville Cemetary Massacre and Harry and the Hendersons) he has filled the film with enough gore to keep you interested, as I doubt even Crispin Glover's performance could hold your interest all the way to the end otherwise. That's not to say Glover's performance isn't a grand one though. Glover hams up the roles of the quiet mentally challenged Simon and the extroverted psychopath Stanley so much that I would advise anyone with an aversion to pork to avoid this film. His southern accent is straight out of 2000 Maniacs, and his mannerisms flip flop between Rain Man and Roscoe P. Coltrane. In all honesty, it seems to be that the director had decided that if he was lucky enough to get Crispin Glover he may as well let him do whatever he likes! I also have to give credit to Glover's physicality. Gone is the sunken chested geek of Back to the Future or the lithe, svelte creep from Charlie's Angels - instead we have a barrel chested, imposing beefcake who actually looks capable of being the woodsy survivalist type he is portraying.

Unfortunately though there is a hell of a lot to criticize this film about. I am no opponent of CGI, but in this film it really is terrible. There is a machine that the killer uses to dispatch losers in the forest that has to be seen to be believed. It launched pick axes, but when you see the scenes of the picks flying through the air, they seem to come from nowhere and go the same way. Also, continuity seems to be a thing of the past: buttons are sliced of shirts, and then grow back, paintball hits move mysteriously around people chests and stomachs and just general bad editing runs riot throughout the film.

In addition, there are plotlines that seem to be something important, but end up not being so. The 'ghosts' at the cemetery belong in a completely different film, and the 'psychic' connection between Stanley and Kate is never explored. Sure they have seen each other in dreams, but why?

And why is something you shall be asking yourself a lot in this film. Why isn't there a character I can relate to? Why would Ernie Lively choose this to be the first film he would produce… well except for the fact that his entire family seems to have bit roles through it. Why did I rent/ buy it?

I do have to give this film a few marks though. Crispin Glover delivers a hilarious line about the joys of pretending to be your mildly retarded twin brother, which is possibly, actually probably offensive to twins, schizophrenics and retarded people everywhere, and the director also gives him an opportunity to do the famous 'George McFly clenches his first fist' scene from Back to the Future.I have to admit, given the opportunity to direct Crispin Glover, I may do the exact same thing!

The gore was plentiful, and gore lovers will find that a big plus in this film.
Video
This film is presented in 16:9 and is a clear, artifact free picture.
Audio
A nothing special Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack; it's good, just not spectacular. Really, the only time it gets to shine is when Simon's pick launchers KA-CHUNK into action!
Extra Features
There are no extras to speak of, not even any audio options, though when you actually select 'Play Movie' the disc plays three trailers first: for The Third Nail (which looks confusing), The 18-Year-Old Virgin (which looks stupid, but has a hot chick in the title role) and Big Game (which stars an unrecognizable C. Thomas Howell as a kidnapper).
The Verdict
A color-by-numbers backwoods flick that oozes 80s essence, but none of the charm. Really the only two reasons to watch this film are to see Crispin Glover's ridiculous performance and the old school gore effects.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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