Halloween Endurance Test: They Bite (1996)

They Bite is another one of those mixed bag horror films.  Whenever a filmmaker is unsure whether they have the budget to make a scary film, they’ll hedge their bets by adding other elements.  Such as comedy that’s always as unfunny as the effects turn out less than frightening.  Comedic elements, in this case, provided courtesy of that stand-up master, Ron Jeremy.

Why do porn stars even try to break into legit films?  I understand why Traci Lords had to; she couldn’t get work after ratting out the industry.  Ron Jeremy?  If your script needs some (imported) star power, try getting Steve Buscemi.  Can’t attract Buscemi?  Then perhaps you shouldn’t be making a film in the first place.

This movie is essentially the Creature From the Black Lagoon if that classic was actually focused on two feuding homeowners located a few miles from the lagoon.  You’ll see the creature(s) pass by in the background every once in awhile.  Yet the director always covers verbal fireworks instead of the bloodletting.  Verbal fireworks about a dispute centered around whether renter’s have the right to shoot a porno in the room next door. 

I know, I know, this sounds like a great premise for a horror film!  They Bite manages to do a disservice to both horror and porn at the same time.

Story bashing aside, the director does capitalize on one interesting diversionary technique.  He uses a story device, in this case a dilapidated sea monster costume, to disguise They Bite‘s own small budget.  With all the viewers’ eyes focused on the purposefully shoddy in-movie suit, no one will pay attention to how poor the “real” sea monsters look.  It’s a novel way to bypass the production’s own financial hardships.

If you’re looking for anything other than ways to disguise your film’s minuscule budget, They Bite will be of no assistance.  Other than bankroll pointers, the film’s nothing but a giant tease.  Who’s ever heard of shooting a porno with the actors’ clothes on?  It’s not as if it was one of those x-ray shoots either.  That’s my first problem, instances such as this annoy me almost as much as watching (film) foreigners speak English in their native country.

Perhaps even more frustrating is the decision to make the last fifteen minutes the most interesting part of the film!  That’s not how the denoument works, asshole!  They’ve violated one of the founding principles of plotting: conclusion, the denouement.

After a huge bar fight/lackluster wet t-shirt contest/massacre the federales show up and start vaporizing bodies; both live and dead.  Finally, you think, a conflict over something other than Ron Jeremy’s penis.  Only, just as you finish thinking that line above, the monsters return to their undersea craft and fly away. 

Exactly, a total rip-off of an ending.  That’s the reward after investing ninety minutes into this mess?

Come to think about it, the ending does work in an over-analyzed, postmodern way.  Just as the film’s plot documents (what amounts to nothing but) a banal argument with all the fantastic events occurring in the periphery.  This dramatic side-stepping ends up working the same way for the monsters.  The sea creatures are also completing a routine task; here, fixing their incapacitated spaceship.  All the porno fights, investigative reporting that constitutes our film’s plot is only the fantastic, alien happenings in their own story.

I think I just convinced myself that I can enjoy this film!


2 Responses to “Halloween Endurance Test: They Bite (1996)”

  1. […] https://shenanitims.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/halloween-endurance-test-2008-they-bite/ FYI, I basically can’t find ANY image stills from this movie online. Sorry about that.  It’s not as bad as the DVD cover suggests–but it’s bad. […]

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