So once again we have survived.

Hollow Man

You know what I fucking HATE? Chlamydia.

Just my 2 cents.

Anyway this week is an exciting week because for the first time in my career, I get to review a movie that one of my dedicated readers actually worked on. You see one of my best readers has been working over there in the tippet special effects studios where they did the starship troopers and etc. He has mentioned to me several times that they were working on a movie called Hollow Man. I think I mentioned this in my “summer movie preview” but when he saw some footage coming back he told me it looked like something they didn’t have to be embarrassed of. And I thought, that sounds like a good fucking movie.

Well now I’ve seen it and it looks like the “critical” “establishment” doesn’t agree with me on this one, but I think Hollow Man is some kind of moronic masterpiece. Well, they do agree with the moronic part. So I guess we are almost on the same page.

This is a movie about the actor Kevin Bacon, only in here he is a hot shot scientist inventor man instead of actor. When the story begins he has a pet invisible gorilla. He has already invented an invisibility serum using military funding but is still trying to “crack reversion,” which is fake movie science lingo for “make him not invisible anymore.”

Hollow ManNow let me be perfectly clear, this is another one of those god damn hollywood scientist action movies. It has all of that annoying dialogue like in jurassic park, twister, titanic, deep blue sea and etc., where all the scientists say all of their cool guy science lingo to each other. And there is one funny guy and a laid back guy who is more casual and listens to a walkman. And they all have a morbid sense of gallows type humor, where they make little wisecracks about how crazy each other are and how great they themselves are and how dangerous it is what they’re doing but they don’t care because they’re cool scientists with dark senses of humor. Then they stand in a control room and clickety clickety clack on a computer with fancy animated thingies and sound effects and they start yelling all the scientifical stuff at each other. “Bio-overloads are degrading… down to 96% code red level 7B… heart rate rising… WE’RE LOSING HER! SERVO-INJECTOR STATUS 300%! CLEAR! Pulse diameter stabilizing. Cellular structure breaking up… we don’t have much time… we have liftoff!” Or whatever. Well shit I probaly flunked science but I still have a hunch this is not the true lingo they use in real life invisible man experiments.

Like most of those movies mentioned above all the scientists get trapped in a underground scientifical type lab facing the danger of their invention and then there are a lot of explosions and people hanging from a cable by one arm and getting locked in a freezer and having to build a makeshift invention to escape and saving each other and then saying some corny bullshit referring to some other corny bullshit that happened earlier and all this type of garbage. I mean this is your typical hollywood summer crap. EXCEPT… directed by some kind of demented genius.

You see the director is Paul Verhoeven who I believe is some kind of european. I remember he did Robocop and that is still his calling card. Back then that really pushed the envelope of movie violence and managed to fit a really gruesome satire of dirty harry type movies and corporate culture into an entertaining semi-mainstream sci-fi package. But Robocop was a long time ago. I didn’t know he was still like that. Hell if Hollow Man is indicatory of his usual approach I’m gonna have to track down everything this motherfucker did while I was out of the picture.

Because as the story unfolds as your typical dumb 2000 version of James Whale’s great invisible man tale, Verhoeven never stops throwing in cool special effects gimmicks or little bits of unexpected gruesomeness or perversion that make it transcend the genre. Many people will be delighted by the almost fetishistically detailed special effecting throughout the movie which repeatedly construct and deconstruct bodies piece by piece. When the invisible gorilla is injected with the “reversion” serum, you see her veins reappear, and then slowly every other organ and bone in her body until she’s a full gorilla. There are a lot of visible man type scenes in this movie and they never get boring.

The invisible man effects are also endlessly fascinating because they decide to mold rubber over kevin, and that is why he’s called the hollow man. Because he is just this rubber mask walking around. At first you think hey, maybe this hollow man is a metaphor, he is hollow inside… he has no heart. This is what being invisible does to a man. By losing his outsides he loses his insides. Maybe?

Nah. This character was an asshole long before he EVER turned invisible. Just like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, he was a fucknut long before he snapped. In fact in the beginning I was thinking this guy is such an asshole, obviously he is going to grow a heart by the end of the movie. He is going to meet some kid maybe, and at first he is real cynical and cold hearted, maybe even makes the kid scrub the lab equipment and take the invisible dog for walks and throw out the invisible gorilla shit and what not. But then when the government tries to take the kid away from him he realizes how important the kid was to him. I mean he LOVES that fucking kid. NOBODY is going to take him away. that fucking kid changed his life. And that is when he shapes up and tries to become more responsible, maybe even stops becoming invisible or whatever, to prove that he is a worthy guardian for the kid. And then they are happy and all and in the sequel maybe the kid becomes invisible, who the fuck knows I don’t know.

Anyway that never happened, there is no kid, and this asshole just becomes crazy and goes nuts and starts the raping and killing. And since he has the rubber poured on him he’s like Michael Meyers walking around without Michael Meyers inside. Jesus that is creepy looking. And even when he’s not wearing the mask, he can walk around with a blanket draped over himself or something and somehow you can tell he’s kevin bacon. Jesus I never knew you could be invisible and make such an impression.

Yes we’ve all seen great special effects before, and they’re not usually enough to make a bad movie entertaining. But here the stupidity almost works as a secret weapon. The bad dialogue and typical storyline gets you into a complacent multiplex viewing type mode and then Verhoeven repeatedly stabs you in the nuts with shit you don’t expect to see in that context. This movie could also be called The Invisible Perv, or El Perverto Invisible in Spanish speaking countries. I knew the dude would go too far with his playboy model neighbor but there is another invisible groping scene that I couldn’t fucking believe I was seeing.

So where this really deviates from other dumb movies like it is that it never gets too dull or repetitive. For one thing there is an endless menagery of invisible man gimmicks. What would he look like under water? What if rain was falling on him? What if smoke was blown in his face? What if he caught on fire? What if he squooshed a fly on his hand? What if he found a wig somewhere in the lab and put it on?

And all throughout Verhoeven just sprinkles in these little sicko Verhoeven touches. You should probaly skip this paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie yet, but if you’ve seen it you know the kind of things I’m talking about. All the guys in the theater grunted in disgust when there was a heat vision full frontal shot of Kevin Bacon. Hell you see alot of Kevin Bacon for a movie about Kevin Bacon being invisible. And then the little things like killing the invisible dog. Or instead of throwing paint on an invisible man, how about packets and packets and packets of blood? And then slipping around in a giant puddle of blood? How about when she pulled the crowbar out of the dude (improper medical procedure in my opinion) – was it me or did she snap it off? And then she seals it up with FUCKING DUCT TAPE! That is genius! Or better yet how about when they were in the elevator shaft, just like in every other movie, and the elevator went flying past… but only my man Verhoeven would have it actually hit Elizabeth Shue, and take a piece of her with it! BRAVO!

The message portion of the movie is maybe a little more subdued than in Robocop. But there is one scene where the wacky funny scientist says if you think kevin bacon is bad, wait until the military gets this. Imagine what they’ll do with it.

AND THIS FUCKER WORKS FOR THE MILITARY! I don’t know if this was intentional on the writer’s part, but I think this is a pretty good depiction of many of today’s scientists. They are perfectly capable of understanding the consequences of their studies AND THEY FUCKING DO IT ANYWAY!

This is really a dumb entertainment picture but in the long run it may be a political landmark. The movie that made the youth of america finally stand up and shout, US GOVERNMENT STOP ALL INVISIBILITY EXPERIMENTS NOW!

Anyway I would like to congratulate my man over at tippet on his work on the fine stabbed with a crowbar scene. Sorry I didn’t get back to you when you were in town bud I hope you didn’t lose all faith in me. Good work bud you tippet boys are hot stuff in my opinion and I will PERSONALLY beat some academy ass if there is no nomination for you come oscar season. This is a great special effects picture.

Shit I am not trying to say that all movies should be stupid like this. X-Men is still the best movie of the summer because it takes stupid material and treats it like fucking shakespeare. But Hollow Man is an assload of fun and it may be one of the best stupid movies I ever seen!

If you want to see a rubber inflatable kevin bacon walking around being a pervert asshole this is your NUMBER ONE choice of the year!

Put that one the poster guys, thanks.

–Vern

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, August 7th, 2000 at 3:04 pm and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit, Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Hollow Man”

  1. One of my favourite parts of the DVD is where they show in the making of how Verhoeven tries to show Elisabeth Shue how to act when her head gets slammed against a wall, and they do a quick montage of three or four tries and you see Elisabeth Shue standing there and looking more and more desperate and freaked out. Like she’s thinking “What is wrong with that guy? Why is he acting like he gets his head slammed against the wall over and over.”

  2. Rhona Mitra is not a Playboy model

    also it’s been years since I’ve since this, but isn’t there a scene where some guy gets his neck split open, he’s bleeding all over the place and obviously fucked, but for some reason they try to save him? I always found that hilarious

  3. Was going through the Paul Verhoeven movies you had reviewed as we slowly crawled toward The Cop is a Robot-New, and decided I probably like this enough in theaters to check out again well over a decade later. Sure enough, Invisible Bacon was only five bucks on Blu-ray, and it came with Invisible Bacon 2: Translucent Slater. Anyway, this review was right on; I really enjoyed it! I remember being surprised that he actually goes through with raping someone at the time, and it was still pretty fucking shocking today. Also, I did not expect everyone to be horribly murdered by Invisible Bacon, but sure enough. I’d put it next to something like Mirrors, as a movie that takes a ridiculous idea and goes way further with the idea than you’d expect a shitty movie to go, which in the end, results in a non-shitty, fun-type movie

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