For those just joining us, PBT is me watching bad movies and commenting on them as thoughts come to mind. Normally as I'm watching them, but I've yet to fix my laptop, so this installment is after the fact. The phrase "Paying the Bills" refers to these movies being pretty damned bad, and the only reason I can see some otherwise good actors taking these parts is because they have a house payment to make.
The Shaft, called Down outside of the US, stars Naomi Watts, and perenial PBT type names like Ron Perlman, and Michael Ironside.
So, the movie starts off with your typical horror movie fare, of people dying in bizarre ways, all in an elevator of NYC's Millennium Building; 102 stories, and 73 or so elevators.
Is it a ghost? Is it a murderer? Is there some 'ghost in the machine'?
Well, we've got Naomi Watts as a sleazy reporter checking it out, so we know it'll be worked out! She just needs to watch out for giant monkeys. And when I say she's a sleazy journalist, I mean it. She works for a paper that's only slightly above the Weekly World News and Inquirer. She tries to talk to an elevator victim as she's being rolled into a an ambulance, by claiming to be a nurse. I could almost have let that slide until she's on her way into a later crime scene, and tries to follow the elevator repairman (Our hero, only slightly more credible than Nick in Time Chasers), and when the cops stop her from passing the yellow tape, she calls out that the guy raped her and tries to get him arrested. Ugh.
There's some decent kills here, at least. The elevator moves up a floor more than it should, and a blind man falls down the empty shaft, taking his dog with him, which horrified my mother. A security guard gets his head caught between the doors, and an elevator car comes down to decapitate him...
I could almost have gotten behind the movie if it stuck with deaths of this nature.
But no, we had to go into magic territory.
Instead of sticking somewhere in reality, it decides to grab some rollerblader dude from the parking garage on the ground floor. The doors opened up, bright glowy thing inside, and it literally sucked him about 20 feet from where he was standing and into the elevator. I can buy some sort of technology making elevators go haywire, decapitating people, or sending blind men to their doom, but suddenly becoming a vaccuum cleaner and creating enough suction to pull a human into a car? That's beyond absurd. And it doesn't end there! The elevator than proceeded to shoot up to the observation deck on the 86th floor, and somehow channeled that momentum from vertical to horizontal, and launched the guy out of the car, through a window, and off the deck, to plummet to his doom.
Not to mention the silly lines that he went up faster than he came down. Possible, but after all that, it just seemed goofy atop of goofy.
The elevator company, and owners of the building cover these incidents up as accidents, and nothing to worry about. I buy that, I can see a company doing that, and I'm pretty sure it has happened. But after a few more incidents, things get absurd when they blame Our Hero's partner, found dead in those lovely elevators, and used as a scapegoat to cover up the incidents again, saying he was a crazed murderer, going on a rampage. In one elevator.
And that's not the first person they've had killed to cover up the Evilvators!
Absurdity once again strikes the Millennium Building, when a car full of people starts zooming up once again, showing no effects whatsoever from the speed, and the floor flips away like a trapdoor built to do so, causing people to fall down. Ahh, there's the gravity kicking in at last.
Mom piped up at this point, "This is almost enough to make you not take an elevator!" Yes mother, only if you're an idiot. While you can't blame folks for being wary of sharks after Jaws, most people should have enough of a brain in their head to know that ELEVATORS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! Sharks may indeed kill the odd person, but to my knowledge, there's been no reports that elevators will suck you into them from across the lobby.
After THAT incident, the president gets involved. I shit you not. They believe that there are terrorists targetting this building, for no apparent reason. Sure, there's a lot of deaths, but terrorists? Really? That's a bit of a way to go. And to be so specific as to target a single elevator?
I should be clear, I'm not sure if it's just one elevator, but it always seemed like it was the same one causing all the troubles.
Our Hero, ostracised and fired for various reasons, sneaks into the SWAT team covered building, where they are bringing in stinger missles (!!) to deal with the hellevators, I mean, terrorists.
He sneaks around sneakilly, and gets in a freight elevator to move around. The movement registers in the security control room, and one of the guys shouts out, "But that's impossible!" Yeah, an elevator in this building, actually moving up and down normally? That is impossible! Once an elevator sucks a guy in, 'impossible' becomes relative.
So, Our Hero is crawling through elevator shafts, trying to find the cause of all this trouble.
Want to know the cause?
Course you do!
It turns out the company was using top secret biochip technology to make better, more efficient elevators.
But wait, there's more! They've gone beyond biochips that they were using dolphins for! They never say just WHAT they started using after that, but it was huge.
Our Hero opens a panel in a shaft, and finds the cause: A GIANT HEART. Beating and everything.
Yes. Someone thought that somehow installing a giant heart into the system would make the elevators better, and got this idea approved by other, like-minded nutbars. And this giant heart somehow is unhappy with this situation, and is thus killing people for shits and giggles.
He starts stabbing at the heart, making it even angrier (Don't we need a brain for that? Oh, fuck it, science is way out the window by now...), and the building sets an elevator car on fire (!) and shoots it down a shaft, and our hero barely escapes it.
Others, including the scientist who created this uh...technology, played by the wasted Michael Ironside, converge upon the doors near where Our Hero is making stabby, and there's an absurd confrontation. Would you expect anything less? Oh yes, and the doctor is German. How cliche. A German doctor doing obscene biological experiments, all in the name of bettering things.
Our Hero stole a stinger (!!) and has it pointed at the giant heart (!!!) while Dr. Germanstein holds a gun on him. Dude, stinger beats pistol. Naomi returns, and gets the gun from Ironside, shoots him...then the SWAT team shows up, letting Ironside grab ahold of her and use her as an utterly random hostage.
But the science challeneged elevator heart shoots wires out at Ironside and pulls him into the open shaft. Must every "Evil building" movie shoot wires and cables out to pull people into a room? Where do these things come from? I hope they weren't elevator cables, because that makes even less sense, with being under tension and such. Note to future architects, don't fill your buildings with more wire than you need! You may think it's cool to stuff fifty miles of wire in there as insulation, but it's not needed, and when your building turns evil, it's just a problem for those of us trying to stop the bad house!
Anyways, it grabs Ironside and Our Hero as well, but fortunately, our saviour still has the stinger missle, which still amazes me that things got so bad they needed to bring in missles/rockets whatever. He launches it at the heart, it burns and dies, I assume. And so does the evil German scientist, so all is well. Except we don't know where the biological tissue came from. They said it was no longer dolphins, and they may have implied humans, but that heart was as big as one guy, what was it from? A whale?
The movie ends in the most hilariously awesome ways ever, with Our Hero getting out of the hospital after his injuries, Sleazy Reporter helping him out, they get into an elevator and...
IT COMES TO LIFE AND KILLS THEM! Oh, not, it's not ov...no wait, that would have been a much better ending.
Instead, they start making out, and as the movie fades to black, the movie rolls...Aerosmith's Love in an Elevator over the credits! Bwahahahaha. What a perfect song to play.
Overall, I'd have to give this one three out of five seeing eye dogs. It's bad, that's for sure, but almost worth seeing for the sheer absurdity of a maybe-dolphin hearted building going evil and being thought to be a terrorist and taken down with a stinger missle.