Wherein the movie rants are overexplained in excruciating detail

Sweet blissful nomenclature, organisation, and the typing out of detailed information about specialised topics are the meat and drink of those fortunate enough to suffer from certain compulsive disorders. It's like a creative form of mathematics, or the simple pleasure of thinking about something that doesn't stab my brain with red hot pokers. Just going to indulge myself for a while here. You're probably not supposed to actually read this.


Okay so here's how the movie blabs are laid out.

Firstly in the header the movie's title will be displayed, followed by its year of release, genre, and official rating, which will be fully explained below.

Beneath this will be The Blurb - a short notice describing in broad terms what this movie's trying to sell you. I'll try to be brief here because I believe the movie viewing experience really is better when you haven't seen the whole damn thing already in trailers and read the entire script reproduced in reviews.

In fact a perfect world I'd rather know nothing about a movie, and have it start without even a descriptive title. Imagine the fun of watching Random Horror Movie Of Terror and being all "holy crap dead bodies are coming back to life! God they're...eating brains! Hey are people gonna hide in that shopping mall? Oh no it's a biker gang!".

But sadly it's not a perfect world, and if you let strangers into your house one of them might be a Sci-Fi Channel original movie or something. And sometimes a person's just in the mood for a horror movie on a train or about cannibals or with no leprechaun, so I'm just trying to give you enough rope to hang yourself here.

To help you out a little further my old friend Gobbly the Jack O' Lantern will grin with fiendish delight at the movie's best part,

while the odious Mister Yuck hands out some stank eye to aspects of the production that may be substandard.

At that point you should probably stop reading if you have actually decided to view the motion picture, as the rating and blurb are scientifically formulated to provide the precise amount of information you need to determine whether to take the plunge or spend that hour and a half following your dreams instead.

Of course if you still can't make up your pretty mind feel free to go ahead and read the Main Rant which follows, but this section is meant more as a place for us to compare notes afterward over a brandy and cigars, and make sport of movies that don't share our views about Imperialism and the Bolsheviks.

I don't worry much about spoilers there, though I will at least try to avoid or warn of any real whoppers like that thing at the end of Sleepaway Camp. Also I generally do not give a blow-by-blow of the movie like proper reviewers do, 'cause you know, who even cares what happens in Puppet Master VI or some shit? (Puppets come to life).


There is much debate among people with opinions about how best to convert those opinions into units of measure. At the high end of the spectrum are the percentile and twenty point (1/2 to 10) scales, and at the bottom the basic thumbs up/thumbs down. I'm not comfortable with the dangerously high 50% rate of 100% failure in a binary system, but the commonly used ten and twenty point scales seem too fine to be of much use considering the fact that you're a whole different entity than I am. I mean I don't even know if the colour red means the same thing in your brain, let alone a 6.5 rating for some slasher movie. Hell I don't even think I could keep my own ratings consistent in that system, and I don't want to get sued by some asshole because I forget and give Night Of The Grizzly a 1/2 point higher rating than Night Of The Lepus, which is a clearly superior film.

Ultimately I've decided to go with a 5 point system, but with a difference: the numbers represent specific attributes rather than equal increments of measure. In fact I could just use 5 different symbols, but expecting strangers who don't even care to memorise symbols would be pretty delusional. Numbers that indicate increasing quality will basically be understandable to anyone so you don't really have to worry about all the math here. I only show it to demonstrate that I'm not just making this shit up.


After much careful consideration and number crunching I've settled on monkey skulls as the unit of measure. Overall I believe monkey skulls offer the highest degree of versatility and accuracy of any graphical representaion of movie quality. Sure hockey masks are great for slashers, but people will laugh at you if you rate Frankenstein in hockey masks. What would that even mean?

The other obvious choice would of course be the Tom Baker. I almost went this route, but you can run into compatibility problems when rating animated or stop-motion films in Tom Bakers. Not sure I'll be rating any of those, but if I do I won't have to worry. In case your system is already calibrated to Tom Bakers, the conversion rate to monkey skulls is 1/1.46. So 3 Tom Bakers will get you about 4 1/2 monkey skulls.


In addition to number, the monkey skull ratings will also have the attribute: colour.

The ominous presence of Black Monkey Skulls indicates straight up sinister horror that's trying to scare and bother you. There may be occasional moments of levity but for the most part these are horror movies in the traditional sense of the word, and will represent the bulk of our experience.

I personally classify most monster movies as horror, but Golden Monkey Skulls are associated with monsters who don't give a damn about creepy vibe or lurking on the shadows. Typically these will be the big city stompers like Godzilla, but may also include plagues of bees or sharks or that stupid one about lampreys.

The chattering of Green Monkey Skulls is a sure sign the movie you're watching doesn't take itself terribly seriously. It may not be outright horror comedy and may in fact be the most ridiculously gory thing you've ever seen, but it's going more for kicks than making your lip tremble.

Most difficult to define are the enigmatic Red Monkey Skulls. These are typically found in the company of cult horror, attracted to phenomena like freaky vibe, ultra kitsch, the words "Herschel Gordon Lewis", or production values of questionable mental hygiene. These are the movies you may watch for reasons other than their cinematic brilliance. Unwholesome reasons. I don't even know. I don't fully understand these monkey skulls myself, but when they show up it's gonna be some kind of trip.


There's one problem with monkey skulls however: they can only measure how good a movie is. Some movies are actually so bad they're good, or more accurately so bad they're entertaining. I need to make one point very clear though; I'm not talking about the bizarre Ed Wood sort of "so bad it's good" here. Something like Plan 9 From Outer Space actually has a demented sort of camp value to it and would draw the attention of red monkey skulls. The movies I'm referring to now are just pure bad, enjoyable only as horrible train wrecks.

For these movies the normal rating system will be set aside and repulsive yet oddly endearing Cane Toads will be called in to evaluate the picture. Please note that the number of Cane Toads a movie recieves DOES NOT REPRESENT CINEMATIC QUALITY! Any movie displaying Cane Toads is an absolute howling disaster of filmmaking. The numerical rating is instead an indication of how...bad it's good, if you get my drift. More toads equals more bad, or bizarro good if you will, so it depends on your personal appetite for bad whether more or fewer toads are better. It's like the Scoville rating for chile peppers. Cane toads only go to to four; a five cane toad movie is somehow an impossible oxymoron.


Lastly there are movies that go far below merely being dull and kind of annoying, and actually piss me the hell off. They may not even be bad technically, but they do something that sticks right in my craw and no sir, I don't take to their kind. Such movies are abandoned by all the good rating icons and are instead assaulted by a shit flinging hate monkey. A movie will only ever recieve a single shit flinging monkey, with the exception of the one movie I deem to be the very worst of them all. That place is held by Phantasm III, and it will be soiled by as many shit flinging monkeys as I can stick on there.
{manager's note: the park has not yet acquired the services of a shit flinging monkey. Candidates are currently being interviewed. If you're a shit flinging monkey looking for opportunities please apply at the park office. You need to have a strong and accurate pitching arm and be able to, you know, go whenever.}


Oh no we're not done yet. I haven't even explained at tedious length what the numbers represent. So, from high to low:

Five Monkey Skulls
The rare gathering of a full troop of monkey skulls heralds one of my personal all time favourite movies. I debated long and hard whether it would be of any value to include this as a rating, but in the end I just had to have something to give those special movies that make my heart grow three sizes or more. I believe experiencing cool things is the only reason to bother remaining alive in this dump, and these are the cool things. Thus, in a manner of speaking, it's a matter of life and death that you see these movies.

Four Monkey Skulls
Only the good movies can get a monkey skull to shriek for three of its friends. Come watch with us! These are the purchase-worthy movies that we will enjoy many times over the course of our sojourn through this mortal coil.

Three Monkey Skulls
Again I must remind you that the numbers do not represent equal increments. My system is top heavy, so this is better than merely average. A standard patrol of three monkey skulls indicates a pretty decent movie you can watch and enjoy without feeling like you flushed your evening down the bog afterward. Let's face it, there aren't many truly great movies, or great anything for that matter, so these represent our basic staple food of horror watching. That said, it may have significant flaws and probably won't blow you away. You can still live a full and meaningful life without seeing it.

Two Monkey Skulls
When a movie can only hold the interest of two monkey skulls it's going to be average at very best. If you really dig its genre or something you might be okay with it, and it could possibly form part of a bleary-eyed week long drunken horror binge after some chick dumped you, but really you probably ought to have something better to do. It might be okay to have one of these on and look up when there's a commotion while you're messing with your other horror DVDs or something, like organising them by genre and looking at the liner notes and such. Do you put Halloween next to Friday the 13th since they're both slashers, or will they fight 'cause they're rivals? Stuff like that.

One Monkey Skull
Monkeys are naturally curious so usually at least one stupid one will hang around to see what happens, but man this is a shitty movie. Bland and possibly even irritating. About the only not mean thing I can say is it's a horror movie, and as such still better than the greatest romantic comedy of all time.


Our skull monkey here at Pokoli Park is a Vervet, Chlorocebus pygerythrus, who once happily frolicked in Southeastern Africa doing all kinds of fun monkey stuff like screeching and picking nits and not wearing pants. When its career as a live wild monkey was over I was fortunate enough to bring it aboard my team to help graphically rate horror movies. So if you like any of the ratings please don't forget its contribution.