Film Threat Review: Hick Trek/Star Warp’d

The parody film is rarely necessary and the results almost never approach biting or witty satire. But there is obviously an audience for it somewhere. There must be. Otherwise they wouldn’t keep making those genre spoof films and Carmen Electra and all those celebrity impressionists would be out of work. In that way, the Schuermanns were ahead of their time. Their “double feature” DVD release actually contains four films, each with mercifully shorter running times.

Hick Trek: The Moovie (1999)

One year before the first “Scary Movie” was released, “Hick Trek” found its way onto tape. This slapdash mess of a Sci-Fi send-up utilizes cowboy pun naming conventions and redneck jokes in a completely ludicrous plot involving cats that want to destroy the universe. Captain Slim T. Jerk must battle the threat alongside Mr. Schlock, Horns McBoy and Sueyou. It’s as if Mad Magazine penned an extra long episode of “Hee-Haw.” Granted, the hick theme does lend itself to the low-budget props and shoddy effects. It would almost be cute if they were teenagers making a movie in their garage. But adults should know better. Still, I have to give them credit for one thing: The Trekkie references are slightly less on-the-nose than those in the J.J. Abrahms version.

Star Warp’d (2002)

After learning After Effects and stop motion animation, the Schuermanns returned with an ever-so-slightly less painful Sci-Fi spoof based in the Star Wars universe. They sling three painful episodes at us in rapid succession and then dangle the threat of a fourth over us so that we will never feel completely safe again. In Episode I, “The Fandom Menace,” the conceit is that a tear in the universe allows a mashup of iconic Sci-Fi characters to battle over something-or-other. The two main opposing forces are, of course, punny versions of Star Trek and Star Wars characters. Specifically, Dark Vapor (yeah, it’s a fart joke) vs. Captain Kwirk and Mr. Spuck. They do a good job with the near-score (making a copyright-free ripoff of John Williams’ classic strains) and the animation is decent for the caliber of filmmaking. But beyond that, it’s just as painful as their inaugural outing. 2001, X-files. E.T., Terminator, Predator and Robocop are all name-checked for no real reason other than they could be made out of clay. The result feels like a much less sophisticated precursor to Robot Chicken.

In Episode II: The Good, the Bad and the Ewoquies, the madness continues as Kwirk and Spuck must save the titular furballs from genocide. Episode III: Veni, Vidi, Vapor (I Came, I Saw, I Farted…Yes, the translation is part of the title…SIGH.) brings in a superfluous “Matrix” parody.

What really blows my mind here is that stop motion animation is not exactly easy to crank out. It’s a painstaking and lengthy process. That means the filmmakers had plenty of time to mull over each of their inane gags and they still decided to go with through with it. Fans of Mel Brooks’ more juvenile jokes and people with a lifetime subscription to “Cracked” may find something to love here. The rest of you should watch Robot Chicken’s Star Wars specials and continue to live in blissful ignorance of “Star Warp’d.”

2009, Rated G, 92 minutes, ATOZ Films

X-posted from Film Threat.

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