Christian Slater, Tara Reid, and the italian guy with no teeth at the fresh pasta store in West Palm Beach. What do all these people have in common you ask? They have all managed to scare me in one way or another today. Let's start at the end and work our way forward.
My wife's grandfather wanted to go get fresh raviolis for dinner tomorrow night, so we drove him over to this little italian hole in the wall to have it made. The place is the size of my cubicle at work, and had roughly the same level of cleanliness, only, you know, without the cheetoh dust ground into the rug. We walk in, and there's a pleasant looking young woman working the big pasta machines. She's making spaghetti, and it's coming out of the machine and mostly falling into a five gallon plastic pail. When it's done, she takes it up and starts combing it with her hands -- rather an interesting process, really -- and pretty soon it's hanging in a very neat bundle.
I notice that the last 5 inches of it also happens to be hanging on the floor, next to her sneaker. She sees it too, and those strands don't make it to the table. So I'm thinking, OK, maybe this place isn't so bad. Then her mom comes out from the back, and greets us with a big smile and an italian word that sounds like that brand of frozen pizza that nobody really thinks tastes like delivery except for the people on the commercial and the people in prison for life.
It's right about then that I realize that the health requirements for food related businesses on the Florida coast must be much more relaxed than they are in New York. Nobody in the place is wearing the gloves or hairnets. Now, I know that those are really just there to preserve the illusion of cleanliness, and that it's just as easy and convenient to scratch your ass with a glove on as not -- probably more so -- but let me live the lie, will you?
She and my wife's grandfather converse in italian for a few minutes, and apparently whatever it is that they talked about shouldn't take more than ten minutes, and the only reason I know that is because she said the "ten minutes" part in english. Before that, they could have been talking about ravioli, or she could have been inviting him to partake of a lap dance, I have no idea. But since he didn't follow her into the back room, and no phone numbers or cash were exchanged, I'm pretty sure it was about the ravioli.
So we hang out for a while, and I continue to watch the pasta being made. The pasta girl switches the nozzle on the machine, and sets up a wooden frame with a screen stapled to it directly below the nozzle. The machine starts making cavatellis, which look like small, tight shells up close, but look like albino deer shit when they're being squeezed out of a 3 inch nozzle ten at a time across the room. They're hitting the screen, and most of them are staying on. To her credit, the ones that bounce onto the floor go in the garbage. I'm pretty sure it was only because I was watching, but again, I like to preserve the illusion. The mom comes out again with all the raviolis on a screen in a big pile. She leaves them on the work table, and returns to the back room.
Shortly thereafter, the proprietor came out. He was a small, balding italian gentleman with a gigantic nose and huge ears, and a major crop of wild hair residing in each. He gives us a big smile, and I notice the man is not sporting the center teeth on top or bottom. I also notice that he's not wearing the expected gloves either. He DiJournos us as well, and in the time it takes to cross from the back room door to the tray of raviolis, literally a distance of about 12 feet, he manages to (a) rub his nose, (b) stick his pinky finger into his hairy ear and wiggle it around a bit, and (c) cough into his hands at least twice, and (d) scrounge around in his crotch for some reason. (thankfully, from the outside of his pants.)
He then proceeds to flour up, and start stacking our ravioli into a nice cardboard box, handling every single one in the process. And nobody but me appears to have any problem with this. It must be an Old Europe thing, like how it's ok for everyone in church to slurp wine out of the same chalice, or for the french to not bathe and just cover up the stink with expensive perfume. I know it won't kill me, and I know I've eaten much worse stuff while backpacking, or even visiting the local McDonalds, but I've never actually had to WATCH the high school student spit on my fish filet.
In retrospect, I guess it's a step up from the flaming transvestite at my local pizza place back home. He doesn't wear gloves either, and you really have to wonder where his hands have been. But you're way better off if you don't.
So that was Horror Number One. Not really horrible, but still, kinda gross.
Later that night, my wife and her grandmother wanted to see "The Phantom of the Opera." I really couldn't take that much singing and dancing while I'm stone sober, so I opted for the only other movie that was playing at the same time, "Alone in the Dark." This was Horror Number Two.
This movie scared the shit out of me. It was so incredibly bad, I was scared for the future of the entire horror film genre. It scared me that it was even made. This total hunk of flaming crap movie has really just solidified a few things in my mind. One, Tara Reid is looking like ten miles of bad road. Two, her acting abilities make Christian Slater look like Marlon Brando. At one point, I would swear on a stack of bibles that she was reading a teleprompter. She sounded more woodenly fake than Carmen Electra presenting at an awards show. Three, this movie really shows how far Christian Slater and Tara Reid have fallen. The entire movie just reeked of quiet desperation. I was embarrassed and saddened for both of them.
So save your money. I mean it. Don't even rent the DVD. I didn't go in expecting much, and I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to B horror flicks -- I love them. But I probably wouldn't watch this movie again unless the entire point of doing so was to get ridiculously drunk and make merciless fun of it. You do get to see Christian and Tara roll around in bed for about 15 seconds, and apparently Christian Slater has sex with his Calvin Klein navy blue briefs on, because they are clearly visible in the shot. Either that, or it was a blooper. Given the utterly fantastic cinematography in this movie, which is more likely? I'm not really sure. He always struck me as a weird dude.