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
With Friends Like These
If you are taking even a passing interest in reading this review, then there is also the very real possibility that you might also take the same interest in finding and watching With Friends Like These. Whilst your business is your own and you are free to do whatever tickles your fancy, on this one occasion, just do as you’re told and DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM.
Yes, that’s correct inquisitive reader, this will not be a glowing review, full of beans for a film I’m eager for others to experience, and as you may have noticed, this 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, you MUST NOT watch this embarrassing rubbish.
“But why?” you may ask. Well…
The genre of Bad Movies is a fascinating one to explore, and attempting to pinpoint what exactly it is that makes a Bad Movie entertaining is not as simple as it might seem. Surely low budget, poor acting, terrible script, inept production team, and a director with a birds nest inside his skull are all elements that one might think almost guarantee a Good Bad Movie. However this is not always the case, and in fact, the combination of these elements actually resulting in an 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 into the ocean (I’m looking at you Killjoy.) With Friends Like These serves as an example of this problem as it contains all the necessary prerequisites for shits and giggles, yet only delivers the shits. It exists as an utter travesty of hideousness and banality that achieves absolutely nothing other than to bore 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 As much as it often grates me to see this in other written works, I am going to abbreviate With Friends Like These into the much less annoying to type WFLT, because every time I type the full title it makes me realise how much time I am wasting on the thing. Even taking the time to explain this was an aggravating waste of seconds. Actually, to save even more time I’m going to just use WTF instead. It’s more accurate anyway.
So, onwards to the review.
WTF is a direct-to-video unsuccessful attempt at horror, and waste of money created by Whalen Castravelli Productions in Canada. This film is the fourth movie made by Whalen Castravelli and is, bizarrely, the last thing they produced. I’d say that makes an important point regarding the quality of output of the formerly known production company Whalen Castravelli Productions.
What strikes me as mildly interesting is WTF appears to have at least two different tag lines. One of which is 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 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. And yes, that’s it. That’s all they had to say about WTF. That flaccid blurb was apparently enough to persuade people to actually hand over real money for a chance at witnessing some ‘extraordinary experiences’. Well, I suppose they were right because it certainly peaked my interest enough to drop the 50p cover charge to such storytelling magic. And what caliber of plot are we dealing with here? Let’s go deep…
What I didn’t realise at first, and therefore confused me greatly, was that WTF is actually a very loosely connected collection of three short stories, all linked by each chapter’s protagonist taking the same ride on a bus at the start of each riveting tale. 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 so that’s what we got: Three people on a bus being patient and waiting for extraordinary experiences. Joy.
What follows is a condensed description of each of the chapters of WTF, and as brief as they are, they are absolutely accurate and require no further detail.
Part one of ‘What the Fuck?’…sorry…’With Friends Like These’
In the first story, a useless dickhead of a man, who’s primary function is to piss off anyone who has to hear his nasally complaining, discovers – shock (!) – a talking car.
However, the talking car turns out not to be as friendly as he expected, although what he expected from a talking car is anyone’s guess.
Pictured: Hightened tension scenarios
The talking car convinces dickhead that driving at night wearing sunglasses and picking up slappers are progressive life choices.
WWI fighter ace or wanker, you decide.
So after a heart-thumping driving sequence in which nothing happens, he abandons the car and gets on with his life.
Which is more than can be said for Mad Max
Part two of ‘Why Did I Bother?’
In the second chapter of WFT, a complete slob and E-Coli enthusiast discovers the top half of a green slime man that has mutated out of a bowl of rotting tuna casserole in his fridge.
Pictured: The combined efforts of the scriptwriter
and costume department
But after listening to not just the philosophical musings of a bowl of salmonella, but also it’s hatred for dickhead’s girlfriend, things get serious, as the monster turns out not to be as friendly as he expected.
He also has no genitals,
which is a detail worth remembering
But instead of sacrificing his girlfriend to the contents of his fridge, he kills the monster and gets on with his life.
As did the fridge
Part three of ‘Why Hasn’t it Ended Yet?’
In the third story, nothing of any consequence happens other that a woman discovering that her boyfriend is not as friendly as expected, and a robot.
And that’s the story 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. And the woman in the third chapter didn’t realise her boyfriend is a robot. But the problem is that in order to make something better of his life and to live it to its fullest, the first guy takes blatantly terrible advice from a talking car, and in the second story, the main character tries to befriend a mutated bowl of tuna casserole. And of course, there is the woman who finds out her boyfriend 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. And if I accidentally grew the top half of a slimy man in my fridge I’d also not take dating tips from it, although to be fair there aren’t many other options. 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 and then cut to credits like she does.
But this does highlight some of the problems the film has around its writing. For example, the plot keywords on IMDB are ‘Car’, ‘Landlord’, ‘Kitchen’, ‘Girlfriend’, and ‘Fridge’. And I sleep better at night knowing that this was precisely the tourettes fit the executive producer had during a pitch meeting. But as best suited to a padded cell as he clearly was, he actually had the right idea, as those five disjointed words encapsulate all the drama, tension, and excitement of WTF. As long as a drooling simpleton spits those words at you then surely what else could the movie offer? That’s right, nothing.
The movie is shit. It isn’t entertaining, and it certainly isn’t scary, despite the film’s opening monologue about relationships set to spooky keyboard noises. That said, I wasn’t entirely honest earlier about my description of WTF as an attempt at horror. It technically is an attempt at ‘comedy horror’ but it does still fail at both, don’t worry. But that difference does raise a very important question with regard to WTF’s classification. In fact, after my initial impression of OH GOD WHAT IS THIS, one of my first questions was “why is this film rated 18?”
That is still a pressing question, so let’s answer it!
Caution: Questionable shenanigans ahead…
I do very often, much to my shame but with also great relief, turn off horrible films if they are not entertaining enough to sustain interest. But, to my surprise, I made it the entire way through WTF. “Ah, so it’s entertaining then, and you were lying about WTF having no redeemable features!” I hear you cry.
No, I was not being dishonest, it really is that bad, but it was the increasingly bizarre nature of the movie that kept me going. More specifically, I was waiting to see what, if anything, was going to occur that would constitute the BBFC applying the big One Eight. Because it became evident very early on that this movie would contain no swearing, no violence, no sex or nudity (thank God), and no horror. And indeed, none of those things are contained therein.
Was the BBFC just so generally disgusted at the overall shittiness of the film that they were trying to protect impressionable children from absorbing its drivel and mistakenly forming a negative opinion about all movies, thereby causing the future demise of the film industry? Possibly. However, there appears to be a little more to this question of classification than first meets the brain.
Whilst researching WTF for this review (by researching I mean looking at it’s IMDB page) I noticed an interesting detail: They list it’s classification as being PG. Never mind the fact that any ‘parent’ applying ‘guidance’ towards their children that involves allowing them to watch this crap would in and of itself prove the steady decline of parenting standards in the modern era, this of course highlights the puzzle of why my Hollywood DVD released copy of WTF has a definite 18 certificate in plain view. Front, back, and sides, it’s there.
So what’s the deal here WTF? Did you get scarier in the time between you were a shitty direct to video movie to when you became a shitty DVD re-release? I doubt it. But let’s delve deeper, shall we? Don’t be afraid, it’ll be fun!
To address this issue we must first understand a bit more about what murky themes are contained within WTF. IMDB is our friend and as such, we can rest assured that they will shine the light and point the way. So IMDB, what can we expect from WTF..?
In IMDB’s ‘Content Advisory’ page for WTF, it lists the following… And no, I am not making any of this up and I didn’t write it myself. However I will shortly be creating/editing the Wikipedia page for WTF in which I will make up lots of stuff, so check that once you’re done reading this.
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’.
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.
As for the pressing classification problem, my suspicion is that Hollywood DVD, those wily fiends, applied the 18 cert themselves in order to make their redistribution of WTF more profitable (?). But in all honesty, I don’t know if this is even possible (it’s certainly not legal if it is), and I also wonder if Hollywood DVD ever redistributed anything else with a certification that differed from its original one. I certainly can’t ask them because the company was liquidated in 2008.
But it hardly matters now and doesn’t actually help with this review, to be honest. Just know this, that if you want to buy ‘With Friends Like These’ now, and you are under 18, the person that sells it to you IS A CRIMINAL. For more reasons than one.