Saturday, March 10, 2012

7 Terrible Candidates for Scratch n' Sniff Films

Odorama. Smell-O-Vision. Whatever the method, the crappy idea is still the same: deliver smells to a theater audience that coincide with what is seen and heard on screen. Both were rather short-lived concepts, and for good reason - most movies aren't filled with apple pie monsters and gingerbread guns. They're mostly fart jokes, dead bodies, sweaty pits, and marijuana. But, among all the pot smoke and toilet humor, there are a few choice movies that would not only upset an audience's collective stomachs, but probably leave half of them dead.

7. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy 
The epic fantasy series by Peter Jackson and crew is based on perhaps the most well-conceived fictional world in storytelling history. Much of its appeal lies in the same arena as what made the original Star Wars films so timeless: realism. Both series feature gritty, rundown locales populated with hideous creatures and depressingly flawed characters. They're not shiny and new and perfect - they're falling apart at the seams and trying their best just to sputter on to the next day, like our own world. But the "hideous creatures" that more-or-less infect the lands of Middle Earth are extra hideous. Like... Resident Evil hideous.

9 out of 10 dentists recommend NOT being a puppet of Saruman.

You know every single one of those orcs and uruk-hai were severely lacking in proper hygiene training. And, like tauntauns, if they smell something fierce while still alive, their corpses - split open like a watermelon on a Japanese beach - are bound to knock a buzzard off a gut wagon. Now, multiply that by, uh....

... this many.
It's a pretty daunting task just enduring the stench, much less tossing dwarves, or counting kills, or skating on shields, or being every other variation of bad-ass. But, that's why those people are heroes, and we're... well, we're fighting battles of a different breed. But dirty orcs are just the tip of the iceberg. From the presumably sulfuric Balrog to sweaty-loincloth trolls to turd-factory oliphants, the range of putrid smells is only limited to the imagination.

And then there are these:

Nuff said.

6. Scarface 
Any good action film could be considered for this list, since gunpowder smells like a mixture of dirt, burnt paper, and a hint of rotten eggs, thanks to its sulfur content. And Scarface has plenty of guns.

And in Hollywood, "plenty of guns" always amounts to plenty of corpses.

Aaaand, Jazz Ha-ohnevermind.
But glorious gunplay and rotting extras aren't the only reasons Scarface landed this list. Tony Montana and his buddies - at least for the first half of the film - are greasy, grungy, bottom-feeders, dashing from inevitable crime scene to inevitable crime scene, getting into scrapes, and baking in the Miami summer sun, until they look like this.

Close your eyes and breathe it in.
And to top it all off, the central motif throughout the entirety of the film - the single greatest defining element in Tony's ever-dissolving lifestyle - isn't the money, it's the means to the money: drugs, drugs, and oh yeah drugs. Aside from the iconic scene of Al Pacino and his "leetle fren" doing what they do best, perhaps the most notable shot of the film comes just prior to the climactic end. And it involves literal mountains of cocaine.

"What? I'm just planning out my ski resort."
Now, whether or not scratch-n-sniff coke cards would enhance the viewing is left to the individual.

5. Ratatouille
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. "Man, why am I still reading this? Do I really not have, like, chores or something to do?" And still others of you are thinking "Not Ratatouille! It was such a cute movie and it had all that wonderful Parisian cuisine! It would be ideal for scratch-n-sniff!" And I'm with you there, at least partially. Because, yes, getting to smell the kitchen of a four- or five-star French bistro would probably be an awesome sensation for any nose; but you have to remember that the entire film, and all of its awesome smells, are consistently interspersed with sewer rats and all of their... less awesome smells.

"Remember me? My family and I are nesting in your feces underground."
So every time you start to slide back in your chair, soaking in the ethereal symphony of aromas- BOOM! Sewer rat. And what's that? He's eating some larger animal's droppings? Delightful!

"What is that, another one of those list articles?"
By the end of the film, your brain would be trained like Pavlov's pooches, so every time the scent of delicious French cuisine wafted by, you'd automatically smell filthy rodent mange. The only reason this film isn't lower on the list is that you have the option to not scratch or sniff the gross parts. In which case, it might be pretty awesome.

4. The Pirates of the Caribbean Films
Look, pirates (modern or otherwise) aren't really world-renowned for their good looks, their charm, their modesty, their manners, or their hygiene. They are world-renowned for their drunken revelry, their drunken bad-assery, and their drunken drunkenness. A pirate's only interest in water is sailing it in search of plunder. And the Pirates of the Caribbean are no different.

There are a number of things in that swamp, and none of them are soap.
Pirates were known to spend prolonged periods of time out at sea, as that's where their... "clientele" were most available. Seafarers naturally only had limited cargo space, which on pirate ships was usually reserved for booty, prisoners (if they were in the mood), food, and fresh, clean, drinking rum (because salt-rum just makes you thirstier). And while saline-heavy sea water is actually good for your skin, it's not likely the pirates of anywhere took the time out of their schedules to freshen up for all the women they were likely to encounter aboard the Dreadnaught Sausagefest. After all, this was a time when, according to this history of bathing, "washing before praying or at night before bed could mark a Spanish converso as a recrusant Jew during the time of the Inquisition, as these were Jewish (and Islamic) requirements." So, yeah. Not really the best motivators for cleanliness. The fact that the toothbrush had yet to really be mastered didn't offer much help for their rum breath either.

And, to top it all off, Captain Jack and his merry band of swashbuckling, alcoholic hobos are joined by a bunch of barnacle-encrusted seaweed-rapists trying to pass as legitimate pirates.

Yarr. There be plenty o' fish in the sea alright. Tell 'em, Steve!
Seriously. If half of your outfit is other sea-life, you're probably not getting any colognes named after you any time soon. Not to mention getting molested by a centuries-old Cthulhu groupie.

3. Osmosis Jones
This entire movie is pretty much nothing but gross-out humor. Bill Murray's character, Frank Detorre, not only serves as one of the main roles, but also the main setting of the film. He is the epitome of lazy, unhygienic, unhealthy, and un-awesome America. He's the kind of guy who would swoop in on his Rascal the day after your weekend party to guzzle down all the flat, half-empty beers left around the house. Or eat an egg that's been defiled by a hormonally imbalanced monkey-thief. Oh. Yeah. Also, he works at a zoo. With his even lazier brother. Named Bob.

Classic family values.
And even with all the beer guts, and the ingrown toenails, and the exploding zits, and the globs of runny snot, and the vomiting on Molly Shannon, it's (again with the tauntauns) not the outside that proverbially smells the worst. It's the microscopic world inside Frank's hefty build that really takes the cake (like, literally... that guy probably eats a ton of cake).

The film takes us on a fantastic voyage (see what I did there?) through the wonderful world of Bill Murray. Willy Wonka this is not, for deep beneath the pounds of flabby skin, lies a horrifying jungle of putrid atrocities. Not to mention mayoral politicking that would make Chicagoans blush.

Did I say blush? I meant reminisce.
The whole point of the film is that Frank's crappy diet and lifestyle have left him susceptible to a deadly virus named Thrax, who promptly gets to work setting all of Frank's insides ablaze. So, not only do we get trips to the armpit, the forehead acne, the stomach, intestines, bladder, and yes even the rectum, we are now blessed with seeing (and thus, hypothetically smelling) all these things on fire. Because everything smells better when it's burning.

Shut up.
Speaking of heat, I would also like to add that Elena Franklin, who plays the daughter, is now all growed up and extremely hot.

Sadly not scratch-n-sniff.

2. Any Film Involving Zombies
As we are all well aware in this day and age, there are certain things about the living dead that will offer fair warning to those of us still lucky (or unlucky) enough to be alive. They often tend to moan, they shuffle and trudge their feet, and they reek with the stench of the decomposing meatsuits they so half-heartedly wear.

Rotting flesh after Labor Day? Trés chic!
As shows like CSI are wont to remind us, the deceased have very little concern as to how they look or smell, and more often than not, they smell rank. Reanimation has no affect on this, as the modern zombie is likely to care only about its constant hunger pangs, and the lack of any and all vital fluids is not going to do wonders for their skin. (Post-modern zombies are more likely to hang out at local coffee "shoppes", moaning about all the sheeple in their Intro to Philosophy class). Incidentally, CSI would definitely make the list of Worst Candidates for Scratch n' Sniff TV Shows, right after Dirty Jobs and Terrance and Phillip.

The mind-numbing smell of thousands of rotting has-beens is no more poignantly expressed than in a classic scene from The Walking Dead, in which two of the main characters get surrounded by a city full of zedheads (I'm out of synonyms), so they nut up and slather themselves with rotting zombie juice in order to blend in, just about vomiting a dozen times, as would any sane, non-putrefied human. And the plan works. Right up until nature says "screw you" and sends a rainstorm to wash away all their hopes and dreams.

The reason the undead (and their just regular dead cousins) possess such a unique odor is due to the multi-stage, months-long process of decomposition. As the human body deteriorates, it releases all sorts of gaseous buildup, bloating the body temporarily, until said gases can *ahem* find a way out. A lot of people think it's the methane, 'cause hey, we fart methane, so that must be it; but methane is actually an odorless gas. The main culprit is a nifty little molecule called cadaverine, from which we get the word Dave. Also, cadaver. In any case, there are very few smells that can compete with that of a rotting corpse. Perhaps only....

1. Any Film Involving Babies
Historically, babies have only held three jobs: Eat, Sleep, Poop. And they're masters at that last one. I don't have kids, but I've been around enough babies and I've emptied enough garbage bins from the ladies' room at my old job to know that baby poop is in a class all its own. Sure everybody poops, and everybody's dinner smelled better going in than it did coming out, but babies (particularly formula-fed tikes) have a natural-born gift for burning our nostrils and engaging our gag reflexes. And, oddly enough, that's kind of a good thing. Babies have a number of built-in survival mechanisms and, along with crying, smell is one of them. If they always smelled like cinnamon sugar, we'd never know to change them, and they'd just wallow in their feces forever.

And propagation of the species is good and all, but in every movie revolving around a baby (or a collection of babies, if the writer really hates his prospective clients), there is always at least one inevitable diaper-changing scene, where the clueless caretaker gets laughably covered in recycled Gerber. I mean, really, that's about the funniest thing a baby can do, other than laugh hysterically, so filmmakers naturally milk the smelly baby gig for all its worth (and so much more). And frankly, I'd take a horde of the undead or a field of rotting orcs over a used diaper any day.

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