I kind of wanted to see this in the theater, as I simply can’t get enough of nasty bat-like beasties devouring hot young flesh, but due to general agreement that it was tepid crap, I never made it that much of a priority. Too bad, because this would have been an excellent candidate for my successful ‘Take a Bottle of Vodka to the Movies’ outreach program. But there’ll be another movie like it in a month or so, so who cares.
We begin in Cold War Romania. But no need to worry, this title does not indicate a carefully laid political subtext, unless it went completely over my head. These hot, tattooed Romanian grave robbers are looking to loot an old church, where they hope to get an antiquities haul that would constitute “a gold mine.” They detonate a small explosive which causes the floor to collapse beneath them, then triggers an avalanche that destroys the church and buries them for like, ever.
Flash forward 30 years to the present day, where we meet our hot young archaeologist cru, who are all daring and stuff. I was thinking that the thing about a movie like this is that you, the audience member, are assured that there will be no one smarter than you in the movie, despite the fact that the heroes occasionally spout some technobabble or are ichthyologists [but hot ones]. Perhaps there are in fact teams of X-Treme archaeologist spelunkers out there, but somehow I suspect that if they were so interested in caves they wouldn’t have the time [or interest] in fastidiously maintaining their hair and abs. Nor, suspect I, would they shout “Sick dude! It’s totally rockin’!” upon exploring a new cave. I also thought about how this movie and the millions like it have encouraged values that have led to the past few years of Republican dominance, as all of these supposedly smart explorers are always ready to take aggressive, decisive action with no room for reflection, and usually turn out to be right. You see this in the last few elections, in which the public favored those whose instant response to a crisis is “Blow ‘em up!” as opposed to those who would choose to take some time to think and agree on the best course of action. The difference is that in the movies, the “deciders” are usually always right.
Anyway, our ethnically-diverse set of ludicrously hot explorers—who always have one older male friend [see: Timeline]—go into the cave we saw at the beginning looking to reconnoiter. One thing these kinds of cheapo movies, which are half movie and half sales tool, always shove down the audience’s throat is a love of gadgets, gadgets, gadgets. There is ALWAYS someone in these movies with a video camera [The Fog, The Descent, House of Wax, House of the Dead], and the heroes always have an array of super-cool products that serve to reinforce the audiences’ aspirations to own ever-cooler gadgets, and teach us that advanced technology is indeed the answer to almost any problem. Come now, you didn’t think we were really going to discuss this as a movie, did you?
Well, I guess we can a little bit. So the hot spelunker cru dive down into the ridiculously well-lit cave [above]. I know in this scene there are abundant lights, but later on, when they are far away from their equipment, there is still quite adequate illumination. Contrast this with The Descent, which is essentially the same movie, only good, which had the sense to get all the mileage it could [considerable] from the fact that no one, including the audience, could ever see further than a few feet at a time.
So our characters—well, you know what I mean—keep going deeper and deeper. As they do, you start to be unable to ignore lines such as “A toast to virgin caves!” which is met with the response “to virgin everything!” [I assume he is referring to virgin olive oil and possibly Virgin megastores]. These are soon followed by lines such as “I just want to be first in a place no one has ever been,” “Tight hole!,” “About how far in would you say you are?,” and “I haven’t seen a hole like this in a long while!” and all of a sudden you say “Oh, I get it, this movie is all about PUSSY!” and then you slap your head and remember the title of the film: The Cave! Duh! But in fact this movie isn’t really about pussy, it’s about how women that aren't virgins are dirty. You see, we’re about to find out that this cave ISN’T a virgin… remember those evil, hunky Romanians who gang-penetrated it first? [I’m just trying to get into the spirit here.] Well, they’re still there, only they have been mutated into horrible beasties by a parasitic virus. So the lesson we must take away is: if you stick your dick into a hole that isn’t virgin, you’ll probably catch a deadly, contagious virus that she caught from one of the other guys that was up there. So obviously this movie is not one giant step for womankind.
Our subtext neatly decoded, we can now sit back and enjoy the silliness. So they have sent one guy in, and lost contact, so they all go after him in quite cheerful spirits [Piper P. uttering the aforementioned “Sick, dude!” line], even though the last thing they saw of their friend was him reacting in terror before the transmission was suddenly cut. There are also 18-inch feral mutated rats that they don’t seem to be bothered by in the least. Now for some reason our explorers have brought what seems to be a missile with them [they have about 15 tons of highly advanced equipment that apparently fit into their knapsacks], and this explodes and seals them all inside. Then Cole Hauser addresses the group with “Listen, people!” and I’m like… “I thought he knew them.” We also discover that in addition to being brilliant archaeologist-spelunkers with rigorous gym schedules and regular hair appointments, many of our heroes are accomplished kickboxers. And this is before they whip together [in seconds!] some flamethrowers with two matches, a sterno can and some electrical tape, all of which they conveniently have on hand.
So it turns out that these caves not only have super genetically-modified eels and rats, but also armies of nasty super-scorpions, which pretty much makes this movie aces with me. They also have nasty bat-beasties, our main villain, and one of them scratches Cole Houser, the actor no one ever asked to see, and soon enough he’s acting all erratic and his irises [in his eyes, he did not bring along flowers, but who knows, they seem to have packed everything else] start going all X-shaped. He’s brought along with him a claw from the beastie, which they analyze by using the full biomolecular lab one of them tucked into her hip pocket. They see this parasite that invades other cells [VERY sperm-into-egg], and we have a shot of the ripped flesh where the claw was severed undulating in a wholly unnatural way. But whatever, it’s probably perfectly safe to grab with your bare hand and tuck away into a Ziploc bag. No big.
During this sequence, one of our heroes says “Great! So now we’re part of the food chain!” to which one of the sassy female scientist-spelunkers retorts: “We always have been. We’ve just forgotten that in cities.” If you are unprepared to have your assumptions about nature vs. nurture, the dominance of humankind and the downside of large-scale urban planning called into question, I highly recommend that you view this film only under highly supervised conditions.
SPOILERS > > >
So they have to do some whitewater rapid-running five miles underground, sure, and after a while you’re like “Are they going to get attacked by monsters here, or what?” but, 54 minutes in, they finally realize that there are serious monsters in the cave and not long after that the attacks begin. First Piper, whose character is named Charlie [because real women cannot be powerful or capable without some hint that they are like a man], goes all Mountain Dew and climbs this steep rock face to get to this tiny hole which is stuffed with beastie filling. She jumps out, falls several hundred feet, and is yanked to an abrupt stop by a cord around her waist, which surely would have broken her back, had she been less X-Treme. No, she’s fine, and in the bright illumination of the earth’s interior, she goes all De La Guarda, running along the rock wall [please view the Power Piper® photo presented below] to blast the beastie in the face with her improvised flamethrower. Then the monster lands on her and HUMPS her. I am not kidding. He may have been doing more, only we are unable to see it. She kills him, but he also kills her, and although you might have thought, based on her male name, that Piper was going to make it to the end, she obviously traded that in for a showcase sequence in which she out-wonders Wonder Woman and goes out in a blaze of glory.
From here we get a lot of various attacks, most of which don’t show us anything except second-long edits of objects in a blur of motion. But such is PG-13 horror that doesn’t have the smarts to make the most of composition, editing or sound [or cinematography, or writing, or music, or…] to create scares without gore. At one point they are in this huge ice cave, which we find out is a mere few feet from the fire cave. Blah, blah, blah, attack, attack, until finally at the end there’s a huge underground explosion [they sure travel with a lot of hardcore explosives], and eventually they take a right turn and end up in the open ocean, and are fine. Then there’s a short, stupid epilogue in which they pack Morris Chestnut [who can nut on my chest anytime, btw] into a cab, then we see that the surviving woman is part beastie now, meaning that she has brought the venereal disease out of the cave and is now going to go about spreading it to the general population. Evil, diseased women! Stick with virgins, fellas! The hymen is your friend!
< < < SPOILERS END
Overall, massively dumb, but kind of fun. Probably fun precisely because it’s so massively dumb, and keeps whipping out new massively dumb elements every few seconds. Woe to anyone who saw this hoping for something genuinely scary, but if you’re up for a silly and stupid amusing time, go for it.
Sure, just go in expecting crap. This would be a good one with some friends and a good buzz, although I enjoyed it just fine with a comatose bunny and some Crystal Light.
THE DESCENT is almost the same movie, just good. It has real scares, real gore, real characters, quality direction, intense scenes, and does not have a subtext about how women’s vaginas are unclean and if you stick your dick in anyone who isn’t a virgin you’ll get a horrible, flesh-mutating disease.