So Bad It’s Good: Simon Says (2006)
*CAUTION! Simon Says there may be spoilers…and lots of axes*
What initially attracted me to Simon Says was the presence of Crispin Glover. I have a thing for Crispin Glover. I don’t know exactly what type of “thing” it is, but if a film has Crispin Glover in it, my interest is sparked immediately. He intrigues me, and has done since his small and memorable performance as cousin Dell in David Lynch’s Wild At Heart. Only about two years later did the “Holy shit, that was Marty McFly’s Dad?” realisation hit. He’s delightfully off-the-wall, and I like that.
Glover plays a double part, so that was another draw – two Crispins for the price of one? Why, yes please, that’ll do nicely. In fact, if I’m honest, the categorisation of “So Bad It’s Good” belongs more to Glover, than the film itself. His performance is of the kind that is so ridiculously awful, it reaches the heights of B-movie greatness by default. This is no Willard. This is strictly a hamming-it-up-for-fun-and-a-pay-check kind of gig, allowing him to then go off and do his own project. And for that, I have maximum respect for the man.
Glover plays Simon, simple of mind and fair game for relentless teasing by his cruel twin Stanley, again played by Glover. The twins seem to have been instrumental in the deaths of their parents many years ago – cue appearance from actual Daddy Glover, Bruce, in a flashback to a fateful day round a picnic table when Simon finally cracked after years of torment. Or hang on, was it Stanley that finally cracked after years of neglect while his parents favoured Simon? One of them gets his head caved in anyway, with parent-slaying next on the menu. Having now seen this film three times, I’m still no clearer on which twin did the deed. In fact, I’m no clearer on which twin may or may not have ended up in a coma, or which twin may or may not be dead. Nor indeed am I sure if both are fine, well and looking after their fucked up basement-bound offspring in very messy three way with their pretty dark-haired “dreamgirl” prisoner. Again, I am no clearer as to why a vast number of people disappearing in the same location over so many years has gone without further investigation from the authorities. Considering there’s a highly unstable gentleman, with prior convictions, kicking about in a massive storage shed full of tools. Anyway, due to this lack of clarity, from now on I shall simply refer to Simon/Stanley as “The SS” – somehow, in my head at least, it seems to work.
Of course none of this confusion matters when you have generic teens to have fun with. Yes, we have the jock, the slut, the nice girl, the straighter-than-straight girl, and my personal favourite – the stoner, who would “buy the Seaquarium where Shamu lives, and make a giant bong out of it!” should he ever strike it rich. Maybe he’ll get there one day, but right now, he looks like a twelve year old wearing stick on fancy-dress sideburns. Hang on, what’s that? He was the con artist teenager in Deadwood? No way! He’s the same age as me? Get the fuck outta here! Good god, he’s whipped a guitar out and is now singing like a woman? Seriously, enough. Oh my, have The SS got a special surprise laid aside for you, “boy.”
Simon Says really hits comedy value when the full extent of the inventive arsenal of The SS is unleashed. The SS know the forest, therefore have turned it into a booby-trapped maze of death. Projectile “death-cogs,” spike laden tree-trunks-of-doom, and top prize goes to a tripwire that triggers a shower of about a hundred pick axes to fly from all directions. Sheer fucking genius. No one here gets out alive, as that man with his cock hanging out of his leather trousers once sang. This list includes not only the teenagers, but hitch-hikers, paintballers, and worst of all…a tiny dog. Oh Christ, isn’t that a bit too far? No, it’s just Crispin Glover stamping on what’s clearly a cuddly toy, and all I can do is laugh.
After the mayhem, The SS turn their attention to dreamgirl – the nice girl mentioned earlier, who is now starting to look like she should be in an Argento movie – taking her to meet mummy and daddy, or the skeletal remains of them anyway. Our little stoner friend tries in vain to rescue the unfortunate lass, only to face a fiery death via the medium of his own bag of grass. “See! I told you smoking would kill ya!” comes the cry from The SS. Ah, we get it, SS, we get it. That’s a good one. Poor dreamgirl, however, now has to resort to letting The SS feel her tits in a bid to escape. She ends up hiding within the charred corpse of her blazin’ buddy, bursting out to axe her tormentor in the head.
The SS lies dead.
A twig snaps, dreamgirl spins round for a second, and The SS is gone. Oh for fuck’s sake. This cunt’s still alive? Hell, yes, ready to face the next campervan full of young bodies by the looks of it.
If you overlook the plot holes and back story confusion, you may have a good time with this. There are nice nods to the genre with the guest appearance from an Evil Dead II edition of Fangoria, and the sight of The SS running injured through the forest with his pick axe brings thoughts of Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in The Shining. There’s no way this is on any sort of par with The Shining though. Holy hell, no. It’s shit, but amusingly so. Just sit back, enjoy the madness and take in the joy of Crispin Glover’s ludicrous accent. He seems at times to revel in playing the madman, and this is a glorious example of over-the-top acting at it’s finest. In the worst case scenario, at only 80-odd minutes, you won’t have wasted that much time.