Saturday, April 21, 2012

Monster Crap Induction: Graveyard Shift (1990)

Monster Crap Inductee: Graveyard Shift
Ain’t This A Kick In The Nuts…..


Before I begin this induction, I have to talk to people who are upset that this film is getting inducted because they liked it. Just because I induct something does not and I mean DOES NOT, mean I hate it. I mean, the reason I started doing this was because there were plenty of bad movies that I found myself enjoying and I wanted to highlight those films as well as some of the films I hate. If you liked a film and I hated a film, I would see your argument. Other than that, don’t take this too seriously as if I am going to destroy your movie because if I like it, trust me…..I am not going to do that. So relax and enjoy the induction.

After the pure bile that I spewed forth on The Thing prequel, I need a movie to calm me down and make me remember why I liked movies with monsters in it. And thanks to coincidence from the fans, my next film will fit perfectly into that role so let’s get into some back-story.

Stephen King is one of the best authors as far as horror goes that has ever existed. He has written such classics as Carrie, It, Cujo, Pet Semetary, Misery, and the list goes on. But even Stephen King likes to do things that are out of the horror novel realm. He penned a series of books as Richard Bachman, has written books for other genres, and has written books containing short stories. And Graveyard Shift is one of those short stories.

Off of his most famous collection of short stories Night Shift (which features other well known short stories like The Mangler, Sometimes They Come Back, The Lawnmower Man, & The Children Of The Corn), Graveyard Shift was about people trying to clean up a textile mill that had been abandoned years ago and have discovered an infestation of rats. They also find different types of rats never before imagined and find out that these rats aren’t very friendly at all.

It was then decided that Hollywood would adapt this short story into a full feature film and boy did they get a great cast and great location for this film. However, I will keep this brief and bring up the two names more people will know (and oddly enough, neither is the protagonist.

First they got Andrew Divoff, who at this time doing small roles……….but later on, would be recognizable as a bad guy in a number of films including the Monster Crap Inductee…..

*Gets whispered in his ear.*

What? We haven’t inducted a film with Andrew Divoff on this site? That is very strange.

Anyways, the other is Brad Dourif, who has already become one of the more dependable guys in horror movies because he looks kind of scummy, but weak…….yet he had a voice that would intimidate anyone. He had already been the Gemini Killer in The Exorcist III, Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and of course,

Charles Lee Ray & The Voice Of Chucky In Child’s Play

But like many horror actors, he has not been able to escape the halls of Monster Crap as he did….

*Gets whispered in his ears again*

You’re shitting me? I can understand that Monster Crap has not done a film featuring Andrew Divoff, but you are also telling me that we are near 100 inductions and yet we haven’t done a film starring Brad Dourif?  That’s not right!!! So let me say to both Andrew Divoff and Brad Dourif, welcome to Monster Crap……trust me in saying that we will be seeing you two in the future.

Let’s just get to the movie before I look any more like a fool than I already have because it is time for us to take the Graveyard Shift.

We begin this movie by seeing the inner workings of a textile mill before we see Jason Reed in the basement working the cotton picker. We also notice that this mill is overrun with rats as there are several shots of them running around the mill.

Jason looks at the thermometer in the room to reveal that it is a 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the room. This ticks off Reed as he pounds the wall in anger. However, there is a nail sticking out so he cuts himself while doing that. He goes to the chair and gets some bandages to take care of that cut before he notices a rat sitting in the chair opposite of him.

Jason calls her Doris and asks if she can do him a favor in helping him with the next load of cotton. However, Doris just pisses on the seat. He then notices the rats are everywhere and decides to put on a show, acting like a teacher and calling the rats his class. When he asks the rats if they had done their homework, the rats don’t speak so he says that it is too bad they didn’t and starts throwing rats into the cotton picker where they are grinded by the machine. Suddenly, a shadow looms from behind, Reed thinks it is his boss Warwick and gives a speech about how he wants to quit the company, but when he turns around he screams because it is not Warwick and falls into the cotton picker, grinding him up into pieces.

After his death, the rats start to feast on the bloody remains.

This leads us into our opening credits and title screen.

We then see clips of a graveyard, which just so happens to be next to the textile mill. There we meet Brad Dourif as our exterminator Tucker Cleveland.

This scene basically amounts to Tucker putting a hose into a small inner storm drain and washing several of the rats into the river, much to the glee of the exterminator.

Tucker Cleveland: Goddamn!!!!! Woooo!!!!! Adios, Mother Fuckers!!!!!

Would it surprise you to know that he is one of my two favorite characters in this film? That day, we also meet a drifter named John Hall.

He sees a sign on a restaurant bulletin board that says there is a room to rent and takes it. Because of his okay looks and his good manners, like holding the door for ladies, he gets treated like shit by the locals named Danson and Brogan.

By the way, Danson (The Long Haired One) Is Andrew Divoff

Oh and the two ladies he was holding the door for, they are the only two main female characters with names that we will get in this film.

Their Names Are Nordello & Jane Wisconsky

Nordello talks about how she would like to have his boots at the bottom of her bed and Jane says to get that one more pair of boots, she is going to have to open a boot shop. If you didn’t get that joke, it basically signifies that Nordello is a bit of a slut. We learn that the textile mill is called Bachman Mills, which is a nod to Stephen King’s other name Richard Bachman. John Hall goes to the office, hoping to fill the opening left by Jason Reed and he is of course immediately noticed by Danson and Brogan before they walk away. We then meet the foreman named Warwick.

As you will learn in this movie, if there was a picture next to the word “Sleazeball” in the dictionary……Warwick would be that picture. In fact, Stephen Macht (who plays Warwick) is so good at this role that he is my second favorite character in this film despite the fact that every time you see him in this film, you want to punch him in the face. Anyway, in the sub-basement……the inspector of the mill says that this place is a death trap and with one worker dead, he might have to close the mill. Warwick however bribes the guy with two hundred dollars and promises that with a handful of crew and the exterminator, he will have this place clean after the July 4th weekend. And of course, our inspector takes the bribe.

John Hall then gets his interview with Warwick and we learn a bit of back-story about John Hall as a drifter, which trust me is not that important if only to say that he is a drifter. We also learn that he can start on minimum salary and that because of the heat, they can only run the picker in the night, or as Warwick calls it “The Graveyard Shift”. We also see Warwick’s secretary screaming and running away as Tucker comes to where she was running from, sees that it is a rat, and sprays it with what I believe to be some sort of pesticide. He then tells the rat to “spread the word, fucker”

That night, while working the graveyard shift in the basement, John finds rats in one of the bags of cotton and some of the rats are coming out to greet him. John responds to these rats very differently than Jason, instead of talking to them…..he just gets out a slingshot and shoots empty soda cans at them with great accuracy.

This impresses Tucker who shakes his hand. When John asks if he works here, Tucker says that he has no choice and talks about what the Viet Cong would do with rats, basically they would stake a prisoner of war through his hands & feet, cut an entry wound, stick a rat’s (normally a hungry one) face at the wound and then put a flaming rice bowl over the rat….knowing the only way the rat can escape is to chew throw that wound and eat that person’s body from the inside. He also states that there is only one way to deal with these rats, he then shows a gun and says on their own terms. This is a very good speech by Tucker and really one of the highlights of the films besides all the death that we will see.

Above the basement, we see Ippeston making fun of Warwick to the other workers while Warwick isn’t around, but the foreman hears it and claps. He says that they can now get him that audition on Star Search and then humiliates Ippeston in front of the rest. The sleazeball tries to hit on Jane, but Wisconsky turns him down. Warwick then offers her a chance to work with him and several other people on cleanup of the sub-basement during July 4th weekend. Since there is a bonus for all workers who accept this gig, she accepts.

Meanwhile at the sub-basement, Stevenson is setting up the lights. He is complaining about having to work this area and says that attempting to get this area clean in a week is bullshit. When he hears some noises, he thinks it is Brogan and taunts him, but what he does not see is a wing coming out. The wing takes a hold of Stevenson and kills him.

The next day, Warwick’s secretary puts up a new sign that there is a position open.

The word on Stevenson is that he apparently left in the middle of the job and didn’t pick up his pay. John comes into the restaurant where he is hassled by Brogan again who presents him with a rat burger.

And I Mean That Literally

Brogan laughs about this and John doesn’t get mad, he just moves the sandwich to the table behind him. Jane sees all of this and when John leaves to go to his rented room, Jane offers him a ride……which Warwick sees and obviously not happy.

We see Nordello come on to Warwick and he reprimands her by saying we shouldn’t be doing this in broad daylight, to which she tells him that we should do this in the dark. Warwick is about to accept her offer, but Carmichael comes in, wanting the job that Stevenson “left”.

Warwick decides to show Carmichael to the office for the interview while he tells Nordello that he will do this later. This makes her unhappy and she leaves.

In the car ride, Jane and John get to talking and we learn that John is from Wheely, West Virginia and Jane is from Castle Rock, Maine. Of course Castle Rock is not a real place, but it is a spot that Stephen King features in his novels a lot of the time, just like Derry, Maine. Yes, Stephen King was born and raised in Maine and normally lives there, except for the winter as he has a house in Florida for those times. Once she drives John to his place, she tells him about the opportunity that Warwick is giving for the holiday to clean the sub-basement. John says he has not been offered it yet, but Jane says that knowing Warwick, he will. We also learn that John had a wife who died.

Meanwhile, we see that Warwick has hired Carmichael to do Stevenson’s job of setting up the sub-basement for the holiday work. There is a brief moment that you would think Carmichael is going to get killed, but it is a fake out as it is just Warwick checking on him. Carmichael asks what happened to the gentlemen who worked this job before and Warwick just says that he just “didn’t work out”.

Above Nordello finds out that she made the clean-up crew list and is not happy. She decides to take her anger out on Warwick’s car with an axe.

This of course pisses off Warwick who confronts her and is about to punch her when John stops him, which you can see foreman is shocked by.

Warwick then gets his composure back as he tells everyone watching that this show is over and to get back to work. That night, John is cleaning up the picker and hears some noise and sees a shadow. He grabs his slingshot and a soda can and shoots it over, but it is not a rat, it is Warwick. We then get a good bit of delivery here.

John: Sorry…..I thought you were a rat.
Warwick: You’re not the first….

Afterwards, Warwick thanks John for stopping him before he did something stupid and then offers him the extra pay for working on the cleanup crew all the while, creepily eating an apple. John accepts the offer. The next day at the restaurant, Danson and Brogan continue to pick on John. Jane wonders what is going on and John says that he guess he made the cleanup crew. Jane congratulates John and takes him to her place. There we learn that Jane had to divorce her husband and shortly afterwards….Warwick offered her a chance to make extra money if she would put out for him. She tried to bring him up on charges, but was advised by personnel to see a therapist. She then says that despite that, Warwick couldn’t get rid of her because he would look bad.

That night, Nordello breaks into the Warwick’s office and breaks open his desk, seeing a picture of Warwick and his wife (who is never seen in this film) as well as seeing the paper that says the place needs to be condemned. She plans on getting back on Warwick for firing her by showing these documents to certain people. It seems her plan is going to work, but somewhere along the way, she trips and falls down the stairs into the basement. Due to her injuries she is unable to move and is easy pickings for our monster.

We cut to July 4th in the sub-basement where we hear the Beach Boys “Surfin’ Safari” as Brogan, Carmichael, and Danson are using the hose on the rats and several other rats are trying to stay afloat on random debris. Also on the cleanup crew are John, Jane, and Ippeston. And of course, they are all being monitored by Warwick. Warwick is tells them to stop playing a stereo (or as he says “Leave the ghetto blaster in the ghetto”).

Bad News Brown Is Not Amused

He also tells the three using the hose to stop playing with it because they could accidentally put one of them in the slab (I believe that means morgue). Warwick tries to tell them that if they work evenly, this should be done in no time and John asks what happens; do they get a gold watch? Warwick shows his disdain for that smart-aleck talk by spraying a rat with the hose dangerously close to him.

Then Brogan grunts every time he sees a rat since he has the hose. Carmichael tries listing all the files, but Jane tells him that there is no need for 50 year old files. I don’t know Jane…..that kind of talk is why we have lost films. Meanwhile Ippeston and John while organizing chairs, find a desk that seems to be in good shape……that is until they find out that there are rats inside it.

When that happens, they tell Brogan to just hose the damn thing, which he does. Of course if you aren’t paying attention, there is also a giant rat tail their which means our monster is near.

Carmichael almost gets hurt by the hose and asks Brogan what the hell is wrong with him. Brogan says there is nothing wrong with him and continues to spray near Carmichael’s feet like the bully he is before John takes the hose away from him. Ippeston breaks up the two and says that they signed up to be clean-up crew, not exterminators. Unfortunately for him, Warwick heard that.

We have a scene then where Warwick asks if Ippeston is speaking for everyone or just himself. No one comes to his aid so Ippeston says just himself, he guesses. Warwick then says that Ippeston can punch out his time card permanently, meaning he’s fired.

Back in his office, Warwick has a conversation with the exterminator. Tucker first talks about how he has a true rat terrier, that is used to kill rats and of course we have a scene where the dog (named Moxy) tries to drink some of the exterminator’s shot of whiskey. Warwick tells Tucker that the neighbors on the river don’t like having their yards polluted by rat stool and says Mr. Bachman has graciously kept his name out of any impending lawsuit. Tucker has this to say about what Warwick is getting at.

Tucker: Ain’t you a kick in the nuts.

Tucker responds that Mr. Bachman personally told him to dump into the river because he was too cheap to pay to do it himself, which Warwick responds that he better have that in writing (which Tucker does not). Warwick threatens to cause Tucker to lose his exterminator’s license if he doesn’t do this one job he wants, which is to clean out the old graveyard because he believes that is where the creatures are nesting.

At the graveyard while Tucker is setting up traps, Moxy senses a rat nearby and goes after it…….unfortunately for Moxy, we hear his yelp which probably means he is dead. Tucker goes into a crypt looking for Moxy, but this graveyard was abandoned for a reason as the floors to this crypt falls down and a coffin slides into Tucker’s head, killing him.

So yeah, my favorite character in this whole movie is dead, but at least we can have more fun with Warwick still being alive. Meanwhile at the sub-basement we hear the reason the company want this place cleaned up since they want to expand and have more office space. John, while cleaning, uncovers a trapped door which intrigues everyone. Warwick comes in and nominates John to see what is down there. John says he will only do this if someone comes with him and he nominates Warwick, saying if he finds any treasure…..he doesn’t want to cheat management out. In the end, everyone agrees to go down through the trap door.

Soon after going down, Brogan gets spooked by some spider webs in his face and gets really spooked when he finds a severed hand.

Brogan tries to run up the stairs, but the stairs break and he falls into giant underground lake. Unfortunately for Brogan, the monster goes into the water and kills Brogan while the others can only look in horror.

This situation conveniently splits up two groups with John and Jane in one and Warwick, Danson, and Carmichael in the other. Warwick finds some Molotov cocktails and decides that since he believes that John and Jane are the problems, he doesn’t mind blowing this place up along with those two. Yep, the foreman has now lost his damn mind, as evidenced by the guy using filth as face paint.

John and Jane find water and believe that is a way out. Carmichael finds a hole and decides to do the put his arm in the hole. You can guess what happens.

Yep, the monster took off Carmichael’s arm and while the other two do the only thing they could think of.

Run Away, Run Away

This bodes badly for Carmichael as the creatures comes through the hole and eats the rest of him.

After all of this and almost falling into a hole himself, Danson loses it and decides that he can’t go on any further and would rather cower in fear.

Warwick leaves him there. Back with John and Jane, the coffin they are using as a flotation device breaks open to reveal a skeleton and for some unknown reason, a Wilhelm scream.

Yep……….Unnecessary Wilhelm Scream

Back with cowering Danson, he meets his end at the hand of the monster.

Warwick tries to run away and falls into another hole, which leads to a giant underground area with a lot of bones.

Conveniently, John and Jane get to the same area.

I Think These Two May Have Left Their Own Film And Entered The Set For Scorpion’s Domain In Mortal Kombat.

They find Warwick and not realizing that he has lost his damn mind, try to help him. When Warwick wakes up, he attacks the two. A fight ensues and Jane ends up getting fatally stabbed as Warwick runs away again.

And Everyone Probably Thought She Would Live

This cowardly act by Warwick doesn’t end well as in his attempt in hiding, he runs into the monster and while trying to fight the beast, is killed.

Yes, the creature is a giant bat-like blind rat with no legs while in the novel; it is a giant blind rat with no legs. The reason I find it necessary for the wings is because the creature needs to move somehow and if we went by the novel, this would unintentionally be a comedy because seriously, it would be the same trick over and over again of these guys go to the room where the creature is hiding and scream while the monster slowing rolls towards them.

Anyway, John sees the creature eating Warwick and smartly decides to get away. John is able to get into the basement with the cotton picker and that is where our final battle with the creature commences. It is pretty intense, but the creature gets its tail stuck in the picker and John uses his slingshot and soda cans to turns the machine on, grinding the creature into pieces.

We end this film with the next day and a new sign saying the mill is under new management.

And then we get a credit scene and a music mixing all the best lines. Oh and while you read the credits, you will know that special vocal effects were done by Frank Welker (despite IMDB not listing him as in the film), who I know I have done in the past.

Doesn’t Matter If Frank Was Attached To This Much Crap, I Still Love The Guy

In the box office, despite being met with ire from critics, this film had a modest box office showing and in fact finished #1 in the opening weekend.

Now there are other differences between this and the short story other than the monster. There were other monstrous rats in the short story like albino rats, armored rats, and weasel like rats who can climb walls and burrow underground. The Wisconsky character in the short story was a middle-aged man who was friends with Hall some times while as you know in the film, Wisconsky was a girl who was made to look like Hall’s girlfriend. The exterminator that Brad Dourif plays does not appear in the short story as well. And finally, John Hall in the short story is killed by the rats while of course he lives in this film.

Now only three people are recognizable for having done other stuff after Graveyard Shift: Brad Dourif, Frank Welker, and Andrew Divoff. While I’m everyone knows what Brad Dourif and Frank Welker have done afterwards, Divoff became very well known as the evil Wishmaster in the first two films.

Of course there were others who did something else like David Andrews (who played John Hall) who went on to be in plenty of films like Fight Club, Apollo 13, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Dear John, and did very well in Fair Game as Scooter Libby. Stephen Macht was on General Hospital for a few years, One Life To Live for a few months and has done a lot of work on the stage.

Now for my final thoughts, I like this film a lot. I enjoy the atmosphere because these people look like people who would work hard in a mill instead of many people in films who despite working in harsh conditions, look like a model. This is not meant to be visually pleasing and if someone actually thought that, then they are naïve. The effects are very well done and not CGI shit that we deal with these days. However, this film is not perfect as it does kind of ask you to accept that when people disappear; no one comes looking for them. And some of the acting can be sort of cheesy. But you know what; I don’t sweat the small stuff like that because I can still enjoy a lot of it. So yes, despite me inducting it onto the site, I enjoy this film and it is definitely a welcome departure from the hell I had to endure with The Thing prequel.

Well let’s see what my Randomizer has cooked up for me next month. Well, at least one movie has come out this time instead of two and then I have to use the Randometer. That one movie….

Well, I Have Never Done A Film With Robert Englund In It And This Will “Technically” Do

1 comment:

  1. Adult Roof Rats can grow up to 10 inches including the tail. These rats are nocturnal so majority of their activity is during the night. In comparison to other rats, roof rats are better climbers. When fleeing, roof rats tend to head upwards rather than hiding ground level.