“YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!”
Writings on Bruce Willis, Badass Cinema and Other Important Topics
VERN (Titan Books, 2010)
Die-hard [dahy-hard] - noun
1. A person who vigorously maintains or defends a seemingly hopeless position, outdated attitude or lost cause.
This definition epitomises the mysterious online critic and Bruce Willis acolyte, known only as Vern, the self-styled outlaw, ‘documenting Badass Cinema, one film at a time.’ With a particular affectation for films that ‘blow things up good,’ with this collection of reviews he takes a stand, celebrating obscure, unsung actioners, while also exploring an eclectic variety of ‘other important topics.’ Shooting from the hip, Vern tackles overlooked ‘classics’ like bonkers killer-cookie slasher Gingerdead Man and ninjas-vs.-klansmen epic Ninja Vengeance, while also taking aim at more worthy, arty flicks like Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain, awesomely described as ‘The Die Hard of surrealist alchemy comedies.’
Refreshingly unpretentious, Vern peppers his colloquial, ramshackle scribblings with slang, swearwords, and spelling mistakes. Stylistically shoddy, but endearingly so, the author’s imagination and burning enthusiasm shine bright. There is something spellbinding about this abrasive, opinionated pundit who compares the jarring stylistic flourishes of director Tony Scott to someone attempting to tell you a joke while simultaneously urinating on your leg.
Frequently side-splitting, but always accessible, Vern is fearless and provocative, thinking nothing of drawing parallels between berserk Jason Statham vehicle Crank and a defiant child, proudly defecating on his shocked parents’ carpet.
Though extremely opinionated, his street grade language and potty humour don’t obscure the genius of his work, relating his worldview like an accomplished comedian, employing clever, arresting anecdotes to draw us in. Going to great lengths to articulate the ways in which Batman is similar to Mary Poppins, and how Brokeback Mountain actually echoes Snakes On A Plane, it is engrossing, silly stuff.
Many of these articles are as barmy and fun as the movies they describe, the outlaw frequently shooting off on compelling train-of-thought style rants. A simple review of Ice Cube’s Friday After Next quickly becomes a rampaging tirade against cinema advertising, while elsewhere, Vern unleashes a torrent of vitriol on Michael Bay’s Transformers in a furious appeal for Summer blockbusters to up their game.
Vern is not kidding when he describes George Romero’s knights-on-motorcycles adventure Knightriders as the Best Movie Ever. His review of this offbeat gem is surprisingly uplifting, proclaiming it a moving melodrama, an inspirational poem about living by your ideals. Claiming it is so good it makes him cry, you’ll be desperate to track it down.
Consistently enjoyable, Yippee Ki-Yay… is full of beguiling surprises. For all his macho grandstanding and fighting talk, Vern occasionally reveals a sweet centre. A poignant visit to the urology clinic becomes the basis for an examination of the fragile male ego, introducing his ‘Theory of Badass Juxtaposition’ - the idea that a Badass’ potency is magnified by the presence of a sentimental, softer side. Vern’s prose has a similar effect: This winning collection often has the impact of an explosive roundhouse kick directed straight at your funnybone, but if you let your guard down, Vern might just break your heart.