Posted by Maggot Man
Released on: 2006

We put our collective heads together a couple months back and decided our movie night needed a theme. Well, a monthly theme, ‘cause we already got our “how can we get money to make movies that suck too” millennial theme. Anyhow, March was Leprechaun month so we decided that April should be Spring Break month and logically picked Troy for our first of two selections. Okay, April was Spring Break And The Doctor and YASZ Have Brad Pitt Pec Envy month. (Something tells me ol’ Maggot Man’s gonna pay for that last remark)

I won’t waste much time and bandwidth reviewing Troy save to say city sacking’s the job for me (maybe city sacking’s the spring break hook). For the true Spring Break part of our theme, we went for Turistas, a sumptuously filmed allegorical dig at Western World economic imperialism and resource exploitation disguised as a horror film along the lines of Hostel and Saw. The imperialists and exploiters in this case were bunch of young Brits and Americans vacationing in Brazil. After a bus accident near some backwater village, the protagonists decide to back pack to their planned destination rather than waiting for the replacement bus. They stumble upon a conveniently located beach bar strategically placed in the middle of nowhere and get befriended by a local Brazilian polishing up his English. Being imperialists and exploiters, the backpackers and another decidedly Nordic couple they befriend promptly get drunk, laid, drugged and otherwise reduced to Third World status, finding themselves cleaned out of cash when they finally come to on the beach the next morning.

Well, most of them come to on the beach, since while the westerners were cavorting the day before, one of the bartenders placed a cell phone call to a local doctor, who in turn mobilized a select set of toughs to grab the Nordic couple during the bacchanalia. As our Anglo-Saxon protagonists get their shit together, the action cuts to the Nordic couple getting schlepped into the jungle hanging upside down from poles. After the Nordic couple blow an escape attempt, ending up dead in the process, we rejoin the surviving tourists as they stumble into a local village, hoping to enlist the local constabulary in an effort to resume their trip. They spot some local kids who’d been hanging out at the beach bar the day before (proving Brazil’s educational system is modeled after Wisconsin’s), bean one of the kids with a well-thrown rock while chasing them down, then get herded out of town by their suddenly resurfaced erstwhile Brazilian friend when the villagers become agitated because kid-beating is a local privilege.

Broke and on the run, the Turistas naturally take time out to take a dip into a jungle pool, complete with underwater caves. Their “friendly” Brazilian guide, who was leading them to the compound of the local doctor, coincidentally his uncle, begins to warm to his charges. It seems he’s never met prospective victims who treated him well before or never had a conscious before—take your pick. At any rate, just as you sense he’s on the verge of steering our heroes and heroines clear of his self-righteous uncle, he manages to bang his head against a rock. The tourists do the only decent thing and tote their unconscious new bud to his uncle’s empty jungle compound. While waiting around for the Judas goat to come to after an amusing stitch application with a staple gun, our Yank and Brit protagonists become uneasy after finding things like passports from prior organ harvestees. Slowly put on edge by the deepening gloom and disturbing discoveries, the kids tense up when Dr. Uncle shows up with his entourage of local tourist wranglers. Faster than you can say “Girl From Ipanema”, the Turistas are captured and the organ harvest begins. The organ doctor only manages to de-kidney a buxom blonde (there not being much demand for used tits) and start on a Brit after sufficient exposition covering why he thinks harvesting gringo/Western organs has a moral equivalency to past presumed outrages before the surviving Turistas escape. After a satisfactory body count accumulation that includes just about every one but a turista brother/sister duo, the doc and one of the Brazilian toughs, the Doctor gets his when he insults his minion one time too many. After our 21st century Igor turns on Dr. Frankenstein, the remaining vertical turistas clear out, touring happily every after.

Y’ know—between urban legends, Chinese organ harvesting rumors and that gang in India they broke just recently, the concept does have an intrinsic worth. Hollywood being Hollywood, an American audience shouldn’t be surprised to get lectured on how evil western civilization is, so evil that even Ol’ McDoctor looked Mediterranean aristocracy European—no Third World villains in our PC Universe, nossir. Tthe decidedly minority looking Brazilian guide and surviving flunky have back stories to excuse their mendacity—Sacagawea musta been dissed by members of the prior organ crops he took to harvest and the flunky is a druggie, hooked by our doctor friend and therefore having no will of his own. And besides, the frikken’ country’s poor so westerners have it coming. The producers seemed incapable of presuming the same motivation that drives it to put out blah movies, i.e., pure greed. After all, the doctor has a helicopter, hidden jungle compound and cabana-boy nephew to pay for.

Besides that major bitch, a polemic against perceived polemics, if you will, I got a couple minor ones. First of all, if the good doctor was taking in a bumper crop of hearts, kidneys, blood and whatever, don’t you think foreign governments would notice and launch a plethora of inquiries in sufficient numbers to trigger an investigation by tourist-friendly Brazil? Second, do the producers suggest Brazilian medical authorities are simultaneously so advanced as to support a healthy organ transplant industry and so lackadaisical as to not track where said organs are coming from, especially since an inordinate number of them seem to show up courtesy of a back jungle sawbones? And why would you keep the passports around? In case you have to produce a receipt for tax purposes? Tracking crop rotation?

Ultimately I guess the movie was okay. The acting was acceptable, the protagonists likable and believable and the scenery and filming good. The pacing, on the other had, was (pun alert) pedestrian and some of the characters’ decisions senseless given the context they were made in. We’re thinking of doing our own version of Turistas, set in central Wisconsin with uniquely Wisconsin flavor. Our own Doctor can play the villain, YASZ his nephew and me a drug-addled flunky. Illinoisans make a reasonable stand-in for the tourists, especially since it’s pretty unlikely anyone would bother to raise a fuss if they go missing, either. The one thing we’d have to change in a big way is the whole organ-harvesting motive.

No, up here, people ain’t missing organs so much. Up here, the tourists would have to be kidnapped for their teeth.

Rating: My rating on the Teletubbie Most Able to Back You Up in a Bar Fight Scale (Worst equals Po, best equals Dipsy)-Tinky Winky without his purse

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