Sunday, July 8, 2007

Troy Hickman: Let My People Go (But Not To This Movie)

Sweet sassy molassey, I've lost the will to live.

As a few of you may know if you've read my posts elsewhere, I've maintained that Terror Toons is without a doubt the WORST movie of all time. Well, I'll stick to my guns with that contention, but I think I may have found First Runner Up.

But let me start at the beginning. A few weeks ago, my son Gabriel and I went to our local Blockbuster to exchange some movies (we belong to one of the "all you can rent for $20 a month" plans, and you're able to take the DVDs you receive in the mail into the store for immediate replacements, making it twice as good a deal).

So there we are, wandering through the racks when Gabriel, who has a real gift for camp, picks up a DVD box and says "Hey, how about this?"

There before me was something called The Watermelon Heist, with a cover depicting a lot of smiling black folks, including TV favorite John Amos, and Last Comic Standing's Corey Holcomb. It looked like a particularly goofy grade D comedy, and we had a good laugh over the cheesiness of it all.

"OK, we'll get it next time," I said to Gabriel, CLEARLY joking.

But genetics are a powerful force, and my kid has apparently inherited both my sense of humor and my penchant for tossing a monkey wrench into the ointment. So when we stopped into Blockbuster yesterday, I found myself once again face-to-face with The Watermelon Heist.

"You said we could get it this time, Dad."

Sometimes I think the part of me I most abhor is my near-obsession with keeping my word. Before I knew it, we were driving home, with John Amos' grinning face staring up at me.

Today, before I knew it, we were putting the DVD into the player.

An hour ago, before I knew it, I had spent 89 minutes of my life watching The Watermelon Heist.

And dying a little bit inside.

I...I really don't know what to say about this movie. I'm not even sure I can call it a movie. It's more like something Josef Mengele might have used to test human endurance. It's like something out of Lovecraft, except that if it were, at least it might be mercifully unspeakable.

But how can I truly convey how gut-wrenchingly awful this THING is? How can I get across that it makes a Stygian septic tank look like an Al Jaffe pile of doggy doo?

Do I tell you about lack of a better word...plot? That it's about half a dozen black hillbilly types who have spent their lives on welfare, can't pay their property taxes, and therefore have to steal watermelons from farmer John Amos to win a "best watermelon" contest and collect $25000?

Do I tell you that, while the movie is mainly filmed, about 10% of it is made up of quick shots taken ON VIDEO? Do I tell you that the closest thing to a laugh you'll get here is when Amos is watching Chris Rock on TV for about two minutes, so they just insert the stand-up footage directly into the movie (and I'm guessing it's not with Rock's permission)?

Do I tell you about the "characters"? Included are Holcomb as Nicodemus "Nicker" Brown, his semi-retarded, constantly humping and masturbating brother Horny, his brother Numbers (thus named because he...uh...loves to count things), their Bryant Gumbel-sounding brother Whitey, and their sisters, the head-bobbing, talk-to-the-hand twins Mercedes and Caprice.

Do I tell you how the film seemed to have been written and directed by the Grand Wizard of the Novi Michigan chapter of the Ku Klux Klan? Do I tell you about the main characters dressing in chicken costumes to make a buck when the welfare checks just aren't cutting it? Do I tell you about "Horny" professing his love for "blond white women" and his attempts to hump his own female relatives? Do I tell you about how practically every other black character in the film is a Kool-Aid swilling, menthol-cigarette smoking, collared green-eating pimp?

Ya know, I would be remiss if I didn't point out two things about the film's "big name," John Amos: (1) He played the adult Kunte Kinte in Roots. (2) He left his role on Good Times in part because he (and his co-star Esther Rolle) believed that Jimmy Walker's "J.J." character was insulting to blacks (which in itself was ironic; while Walker was possibly the only thing funny about that truly awful sitcom, the influence of Rolle and Amos gave us such war atrocities as the episode about racially-biased testing in schools, a bit of excrement that may well be one of the most offensive and singularly mind-numbed episodes in all of 1970s television).

Given that, you'd think he'd be at least a LITTLE hesitant of taking part in a movie that makes David Duke look like Desmond Tutu. But not only does he dive into the dung heap headfirst, but also brings his entire family along for the trip (the film is directed by his son K.C., and supposedly "inspired by a true story" told to him by his father, John Amos Sr.).

Shame on you, John Amos. Shame on anyone who had anything to do with this drizzingly shitburger. And not because it demeans blacks, but because it demeans us all. I would suggest some appropriate punishment for your crimes, but truth be told the only torture sufficient would be to make you watch Terror Toons, and I'm afraid that would just give you ideas.

The Watermelon Heist is the only movie to ever cause my son to turn to me and say, sincerely, "I'm sorry I picked this one, Dad. I really am."

On the plus side, we feel closer than we ever have, much like the guys who braved mustard gas together in the trenches of Ypres.

If you find yourself staring at the DVD box of this film on your video store's shelves, folks, just remember that sometimes the abyss stares back at you.


  1. So I guess you're saying this is a definite 'must see'?

    Come on, don't hold back. Tell us how you REALLY feel about it. You know deep down inside you loved it =)

  2. Some movies are not made so much as excreted.

    A man covertly disappears into a bathroom stall, reamerging minutes later with film reel in hand.

    This is why Tom Shadyac eats so much fiber.

  3. Tau, that was NOT an image I needed, lol =)


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