Format: DVD (originally released Direct-To-Video)
Running Time: 81 minutes
Year of release: 1991 (redistributed: 2001)
Director: Chris Malazdrewicz, Thomas Parkinson
Production Studio: Whalen Castravelli Productions
I suppose I should preface this review with the acknowledgement that if someone is taking even a passing interest in reading this, then there is also a very real possibility that the person reading this review might also take the same interest in finding and watching ‘With Friends Like These’. I have a reason for highlighting this seemingly self-evident fact, and that is to scare such a person so much that they just might prevent putting themselves through the blender of shit that I did. This will not be a glowing review, full of beans for a film I’m eager for others to experience. It won’t even be a balanced attempt at allowing the reader to decide for themselves on whether or not to experience With Friends Like These. No, this is me telling you, and absolutely deciding for you, that you MUST NOT watch this embarrassing rubbish. If you do, you will regret it, this I promise.
I find the idea of a “Good Bad Movie” to be fascinating, and attempting to pinpoint what exactly makes a “Good Bad Movie” entertaining is not as simple as it might seem. Low budgets, poor acting, terrible scripts, inept production teams, and directors with birds nesting inside their brains are all elements that one might think almost guarantee a Good Bad Movie. However, this is not always the case, and the combination of these elements actually resulting in a entertaining film is more of a rarity than one might believe.
Quite often a movie will contain every single element stated above plus more on top and still manage to be something worthy of being thrown in to the ocean (stay tuned for my review of Killjoy for another example of this). With Friends Like These serves as an example of this problem as it contains all the necessary prerequisites for shits and giggles, yet fails to even come close to being entertaining. It is instead an utter travesty that achieves absolutely nothing other than to offend its audience and waste everybody’s time.
Out there somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic ocean there is a place reserved especially for copies of ‘With Friends Like These’ that even bottom feeding sea creatures will go out of their way to avoid.
Just to be clear, it is not a good movie.
n.b. I am going to abbreviate With Friends Like These as the much less annoying WFLT, because every time I type the full title it makes me realise how much time I am wasting on it. Actually, to save even more time, I’m going to just use WTF instead. It’s more accurate anyway.
‘WTF’ is a direct-to-video feature from 1991 that’s an unsuccessful horror film, but a successful waste of money. Produced by Whalen Castravelli Productions from Canada, this film represents the fourth movie made by this production company and is, shockingly, the last thing they produced. This really says something about the standards of quality at Whalen Castravelli Productions.
WTF appears to have at least two different tag lines: the thrilling “It’s not going to be just a typical day” and the spooky gibberish “When nightmares come to life, there’s nowhere to hide.” Scary! But the synopsis on the rear of the cover is where things get really mysterious…
‘On a crowded bus,
three people sit patiently waiting
for their stops, unaware that they
are about to have
Well, didn’t we all just shit ourselves? That’s it. That’s all they had to say about WTF. That flaccid blurb was supposed to be enough to persuade people to actually hand over real money for a chance at witnessing some ‘extraordinary experiences’. Well, I suppose it worked, because it certainly peaked my interest enough to drop the 50p cover charge to see such storytelling magic. What are we dealing with here? Let’s go deep…
WTF is actually an anthology film, which I didn’t know going into it. This made the movie all the more confusing as it switched between its three loosely-connected segments, all linked by having the protagonists of each story taking a ride on the same bus.
Where is the bus going? We aren’t told. What is the relevance of them all being on the same bus? I don’t think there is any. Does the bus itself mean anything beyond being a three year old’s idea of screenplay writing? No. But that’s what we’re given.
In the first story, a man discovers a talking car.
However, the talking car turns out not to be as friendly as he expected.
And it even has him driving at night wearing sunglasses and picking up slappers.
So he abandons the car and gets on with his life.
In the second chapter of WTF, a slob discovers the top half of a green slime man in his fridge that mutated out of a bowl of rotting tuna casserole.
The monster turns out not to be as friendly as he expected.
The slob kills the monster by turning off his fridge, and then gets on with his life.
In the third film a woman discovers that her boyfriend is a robot.
And that’s about it. That’s the movie in a nutshell.
I think With Friends Like These is supposed to be a cautionary tale about who you can really trust when you need a friend and the world seems to always deal a bad hand. The first guy has minor life problems and kinda needs a friend to show him the way, as does the second guy. Both seek out friendship with evil or disgusting, unnatural beings – the talking car and the casserole-man. The woman in the third one doesn’t realise that she can’t trust her boyfriend because he is a robot.
I personally found it hard to connect with any of these characters because their decisions weren’t really all that relatable. If I found a talking car I wouldn’t listen to its relationship advice, I’d most likely seek help for my mental problems. If I accidentally grew the top half of a slimy man in my fridge, I wouldn’t take dating tips from it, although, to be fair, I don’t think I’d have anything better to do with it. And if my boyfriend was a robot, well, I guess I’d just deal with it or dump him or something. I wouldn’t scream then cut to credits like this movie does.
The plot keywords for this movie on IMDB are ‘Car’, ‘Landlord’, ‘Kitchen’, ‘Girlfriend’, and ‘Fridge’. After watching WTF, I’m starting to suspect that these were the very words that a producer blurted out while having a Tourettes fit during a pitch meeting.
The movie is shit. It isn’t entertaining, and it certainly isn’t scary, despite the films opening monologue about relationships set to spooky keyboard noises.I’d call it an attempt at ‘comedy horror,’ but it still fails.
As I examined the case that they movie came in, trying to puzzle out an explanation for this horrible film, I noticed that it had received an 18 rating. I was immediately confused. What is this film rated 18?
IMDB’s ‘Content Advisory’ page for WTF it lists the following…and no, I am not making any of this up.
Under ‘Sex and Nudity’ it reassuringly tells us…
“A green slime man masturbates to a book of porn, we hear him banging on the fridge but don’t see anything”
For ‘Violence and Gore’ we learn there is…
“Not much violence but there is a green slimy thing in a fridge and a robots arm falls off “
Under the ‘Profanity’ advice it confirms the presence of…
“Two uses of ‘bastard’…a few uses of ‘bloody’”
For ‘Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking’ IMDB warns us of…
And finally, for ‘Frightening/Intense scenes’ we are advised that WTF…
“May scare sensitive children”
Thank you, IMDB, this is good advice! God forbid my sensitive child should be scared out of his trembling mind by a one-armed robot or a green slime man’s wanking noises. I should also point out that the aforementioned wanking monster appears on the cover of the DVD, arms outstretched as if to grab my sensitive child and show him a ‘book of porn’.
So where does that leave us?
Well, masturbating slime monsters aside, there is absolutely nothing worthy of anything, least of all an 18 cert, in this movie. Nothing. That is what I learned from watching it and I hope you have also learned from me, your pissed off test subject.
0.5 out of 5 (It wasn’t a blank screen for 90 minutes)