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The HOST

The Fishmongering ROSSMAN

South Korean cinema has taken off like a supersonic bullet over the past few years. South Korea has already overtaken Hong Kong as the creator of the best kick-ass Asian action movies. That's why I was so excited to hear all the fantastic buzz surrounding what appeared to be South Korea's entry into the monster/horror movie business, with the gigantically budgeted and gorgeous looking The Host. From the previews I'd seen The Host looked like it was set to become South Korea's very own Godzilla (Gojira) -- a blockbuster, genre-bending, monster movie that took expectations to the next level!... Instead, and most unfortunately, it turned out to be South Korea's very own AMERICANIZED Godzilla (aka GINO, aka Godzilla In Name Only) -- a retarded, pathetic, and paltry attempt at a monster movie. Yes, The Host sucks as bad as the '98 shitfest American Godzilla movie.

"Abso-no-fucking-lutely way," you piss. "The Host looks awesome! There's no way it can be that bad! You just suck! You suck your father's balls!!!!!!" First of all, ewww, God, man, that's the most disgusting insult I think I ever... Ugh. I just threw up a little in my mouth.... Second of all, yes, I couldn't believe it myself. Everybody online (and I mean pretty much EVERYBODY) was jizzing over how great this movie was supposed to be. This makes me wonder if there are two versions of The Host out there: one in which there is plenty of drama, good scares, incredible characters that you don't hate for being mentally handicapped, and an ending that will make you think for days after seeing it; and one version in which none of that is true. FYI, I must have seen only the second version.

The Host fooled me for a while though. For like the first 30 - 40 minutes I was really buying into it. True, it wasn't all that scary, but it had some sick, black laughs to it -- mostly all to do with the fucked up family whose lives are all a mess thanks to the titular fish-monster and its annoying shenanigans. It kind of felt like The Quiet Family moved away from their mountain house and into Seoul, right on the Han River (i.e. it was quirky, almost goofy, but there were tons of deaths and some extreme violence peppered throughout, just like The whole of The Quiet Family, only in a different location... Did I really need to explain all that? Am I just typing all this because I like to hear these words in my inner voice? La la la, Tyrannosaurus butt! La la la! Peter Piper picked a pack of plesiosaur penises). So, the tone was good for a while, then it just got retarded, which soon turned to all out annoyance. But I'll get to that in a bit. Now onto the plot!

The Host goes a little something like this: Years ago some stupid (American) doctor at a US Army base in South Korea orders his assistant (a smarter than the doctor, local Korean guy) to dump gallons upon gallons of formaldehyde into the sink -- and thusly directly into the Han River -- just because the bottles that all that stuff was in were dusty. Okay, that's a pretty lame beginning to a monster movie (not as cool as finding a forbidden jungle with a giant monkey king, or nuking a lizard with an A-bomb), but as long as it eventually gets us to the giant monster, I'll forgive it. So, somehow this formaldehyde mutates a bunch of fish (and what appears to be a lizard) together into one massive, fleshy, hungry creature that grows into something the size of a city bus, and for some reason it waits close to 6 years to start attacking humans (despite the fact that we're shown in some quick clips through time -- from the initial chemical dumping till the start of this creature's man hunting -- that it's remained in the Han all its life). But once it starts the slaughter, it doesn't let up!... Well, no, that's not true. See, the creature doesn't even eat all that many people throughout the course of this movie. The main reason that the Korean government fears it is because anybody who came into contact with the beast on its first excursion onto land may have become contaminated by a strange virus that can't be stopped and kills its victims with disgustingness (they were pretty vague about the properties of the infection, but I'll get to this in a bit)! *Gasp!*

Anyway, into all this comes slacker/retard Gang-du (seriously, the man is mentally challenged. That's not a joke. He's got the brain of a 4 year-old mongoloid child). Gang-du lives and works with his dad in a small convenience shop in a park by the Han River, and he falls face first into the shitter when the mutant creature pops up out of the water one day, causes a huge commotion, eats a lot of people, and then runs off back into the depths with Gang-du's teenaged daughter, Hyun-seo, wrapped in its tentacle-like tail.

Gang-du and the rest of his family (his brother, his sister and their father) then ban together to mourn the loss of Hyun-seo (in the funniest scene in the movie -- and unfortunately and ultimately the best scene by far -- the whole family breaks down crying and wrestling each other in front of a giant, make-shift memorial for the victims of the monster attack in a government shelter just a few hours after the thing got away). Soon though the government is made aware of the virus that the creature (now referred to as "the host") was carrying, and starts to try and contain anybody who came into contact with it... Which includes re-re Gang-du. Then Gang-du gets a call from his daughter, who's obviously still alive, but nobody will believe him enough to try to look for her, or to even trace the goddamn call (and thereby FIND THE FUCKING MONSTER!). Why? NO FUCKING IDEA! Every authority figure Gang-du talks to just looks at the moron and his family as if they were crazy when they even try to argue that Hyun-seo might still be among the living. I can understand them seeing Gan-du and thinking "Holy fuck! How far can that bit of drool dangle from his mouth without breaking?!", but the rest of his family at least LOOKS respectable. Why not just trace the girl's call to fucking humor them? Ugh, the rest of this damn movie made little fucking sense, logic-wise, too! True, most monster movies take great leaps of faith on the part of the viewer to fully enjoy, but at least they make perfect sense in the universe inside the movie. That is most definitely NOT the case with The Host.

Where the fuck was I? Okay, so Gang-du finds out that his daughter is still alive, but being held somewhere by the host, so then his family helps him to run away from his imposed hospital containment (possibly infecting all those around him with his deadly disease) and start doing really dumb things to find either the girl or the mutant monster. What's even more laughable (even more so than the shitfest that the script is becoming at this point) is that this short-sighted and half-witted family actually DOES run into the creature, more times than the army that's supposedly out in force looking for it! Oh, and before I go any further, the sister is a world-class archer (who has a problem shooting her arrows when there's pressure on her), and the brother used to protest a lot in college (where he was the king of the molotov cocktails)... Shitty foreshadowing, anyone? Uuuuuugh.

Beyond all this absurd inanity we find out that there really WAS NO virus being hosted on the creature. It was just a mistake that the American scientists (studying the remains of one human victim of the beast) made. Those silly Americans, always causing trouble by.... Wait, WHAT?! How the fuck do you make the mistake of "discovering" a brand new, flesh-eating virus when there is nothing but AIR there? That's like saying, "Oh my God! That man in the ER just shot himself in the face with a shotgun!... Oh, man, he just died. Wait, Johnson, what did you say? He died because of a new, previously undiscovered virus that you think came from his asshole and ate his brain?! Get me the army on the phone! Code RED! Shut this whole city down! Pronto!" Wouldn't a quick evaluation allow you to see that it was bullshit? Oh, and when the Americans realize that they made a mistake with the initial analysis they STILL pretend that there is a new virus, and CONTINUE to try and give Gang-du a lobotomy to isolate the microbes causing the sickness (that never was) in his itty, bitty brain. I'm not making this shit up. A lobotomy, to the already brain damaged man. I guess that was supposed to be funny, but I wasn't laughing at anything in this piece of shit anymore. It was all just too painful. How is this a credible plot point? It's like if a child has an imaginary puppy for a playmate, but the kid knows full well that the dog isn't real. But then he finds that he's told one too many lies about the dog being real (despite no actual fucking dog to back it up), and has to go around the neighborhood collecting dog droppings to place in his own yard to cover up his fibs... Nobody would fucking buy that his delusive dog was real due to some crap in the grass in a million fucking years! That's just lousy scripting.

After all that shit, some more totally unbelievable crap happens, and soon Gang-du and his siblings converge on the creature in a last ditch effort to save Hyun-seo, and everything you thought would happen does. Gang-du grows a pair of balls, his brother throws some molotov cocktails, and the sister comes through with her bow and arrow like a champ. Oh, but Hyun-seo's dead by this time, so it doesn't really fucking matter. Yes, I just spoiled the whole movie for you. Hate me if you must, but that's two hours of your life that you can now use to look up some porn or rape a woman. You'll thank me later.

In the end, The Host only turned out to be a reeeeeally transparent and lame allegory for the US invasion of Iraq. According to the South Koreans who made this film, the US only invaded Saddam's sunny country because it said that he had weapons of mass destruction (i.e. the host's invisible disease for you slow ones out there). Not for any other reason. None at all. And beyond that, the reason the US didn't pull back out after it didn't find them was because the White House didn't want to wind up with egg on its face when it turned out that poor, misunderstood Saddam didn't have any WMDs, not because if we left the country decapitated without an evil douchebag regime in charge that the country would turn to shit and possibly have Iran invade, or just let all of Saddam's weapons get sold off to terrorist organizations. Yup. I think these brilliant filmmakers hit the nail right on the proverbial Asian head. They're so witty with their pathetic allegories of global politics. What I don't get though is who the mongo Gang-du represents in the real world... My guess is South Korea itself.

If you want to bash the US, fine, feel free. Just don't do it in movies that we, your audience, aren't EXPECTING you to base the whole goddamn plot on. First Japan with Battle Royale II (which could have been an awesome movie if it kept its contrived smear-campaign out of it), and now this. Fuck! I wanted a good monster movie, not a dumb, global, illogical, political commentary. Even if they simply had to keep the US bashing in there, they could have fit it in a little better and a little less obtrusive if they had really tried. I mean, look at the original Godzilla (1954) . A glorious tale that at its heart was the Japanese fear of US nuclear testing. What the fuck are the Koreans fearing here? Saddam's invisible sarin gas? The US's itchy trigger finger? Fine, if they're THAT afraid of America I say we just leave their region all together and let them deal with North Korea on their own. It was good while it lasted, Seoul.

So, what did I think of The Host? Well, to it I raise no toast. So my final grade will I now post: a low "D" at most. I give the special effects a B+, or possibly an A-... but it's the story and the characters that count in any movie, and quite honestly The Host comes close to utterly failing there. The only redeemable character is the daughter, Hyun-seo, and they fucking kill her off in the end. Awful.


The Fishy SKIPPER

Arrrrrr, I believe I ran into this creature at one point in me journeys a few years ago in Bangkok... No, wait, that was a Thai whore. It must have been in the red light district of Tokyo (which be the entire city, if ye catch me drift! Har!)... Ah, nooo. That can't be right either. That creature had only two hands, two luscious breasts, and one large mouth... but no long, slimy tail. The one with the long slimy tail in Taiwan turned out to be a trained monkey too, if I remember correctly. Arrrrrrr.

Well, maybe I never did happen upon this particular strange being, but if ye ever have an hour or two I'll show you some snapshots of the time we made port in the Philippines, and I stayed in that whore house for a week. Those pictures will scare you shitless a lot more than this pathetic wank of a movie anyway. Arrrrrrr. That they will.

May a diseased monkey hooker throw its sickly waste into the faces of the writers of this filth. Arrrr. What a terrible, terrible feature.


The Disgusted DR. DAVE

Utter hogwash! Nonsense, all of it! How dare they use the term "science fiction" in this mess of a motion picture that they call The Host! There is no "science" in it at all, unless you count the study of trying to figure out if that lead character was missing a few braincells; and if so, was it due to inbreeding or being dropped on his head as a child. And on top of that, how in the world did he ever get a woman to procreate with him in order to create that child who was actually cute and not an ignoramus like her biological father?

But what chops my cheese the most is how they say this entire tale got started in the first place: formaldehyde down the sink, transforming a bunch of frogs and fish into a giant, man-eating beast... You know what time it is, don't you... It's

BULLSHIT SCIENCE time, children!

First of all, the primary use of formaldehyde and paraformaldehyde is to 'fix' proteins. The use that will come to most people's minds is the preservation of human remains prior to burial. Personally I have no real use for the stuff; I just burn all my used up cadavers and carcasses in giant ovens, or by hiding the remains in certain buildings and then setting them on fire... Just a trade secret.

Anyway, If you look at the MSDS for both chemicals you will see that both are listed as carcinogenic. Chronic exposure to formaldehyde can be teratogenic, and long-term exposure to paraformaldehyde can be mutagenic (we're talking years, if not decades of repeated, low doses of the stuff).  Now the scenario shown in this terrible movie would simply be acute toxic exposure. Any life form near the drain of that sink would have died from that massive amount of formaldehyde being dumped right in the river. Any life form that received a dose not enough to straight out kill the poor animal would be effected in only two possible ways: in either losing its ability to reproduce, or (and much more likely) with some disgusting form of cancer. Probably a great big goiter on its neck. Just like my lab assistant Captain Bananas got after eating that naughty, naughty, glowing pineapple. Oh, Captain Bananas, always getting into trouble.

Now to achieve the teratogenic or mutagenic effects of either chemical (formaldehyde or parafomaldehyde... keep up with the Doc, here), the scenario would have to be changed to pouring a liter or two of the stuff every day for years into the drain, as to create a chronic low dose over many generations of fish or frogs to see any true mutation (like size or behavior) other than birth defects.

So, in other words, the writers of this film did absolutely NO actual fact checking. They could have at least used a canister of that green ooze that turned those Thompson quadruplets into those teenaged turtley things a few years back. That would have been oodles more believable.

If there's one thing I cannot stand, besides people who choose to read the wavers I try to get them to sign before treating them, it's BULLSHIT SCIENCE! Thumbs down to this terribly plotted, and terribly contrived "monster movie."