Zombie Movie Night- Halloween Edition

In the spirit of the spookiest month, we try to jam as many movies into October as we can.  With that in mind, it was time for the second get together in 4 weeks.  It’s Halloween so hopefully they would be reeeeeally scary.  Muwahahaha.

First up was Quarantine 2: Terminal.  I found the first Quarantine to be genuinely frightening and was looking forward to the sequel.  I was surprised to see on imdb that a lot of people liked the second one better because for me, it felt like a standard retread of horror staples and was not very scary.  The setting is part of the problem.  It could have worked as a claustrophobic nightmare on a plane, but I guess that was already done with snakes and even zombies in the terrible Flight of the Living Dead.  Quarantine 2 therefore immediately lands the plane and traps the passengers in the back rooms of an airport terminal.  While the first film felt like a home invasion with no escape, the sequel is just another dark warehouse and I got no sense of intimacy from it.  I’m scared of not being able to leave my apartment because my friends and neighbors are monsters.  I’m not scared of being stuck in the bowels of an airport because random strangers I don’t care about are monsters.

The film also uses the lazy style of the magic disappearing/reappearing villain.  When a zombie is on screen, he is loud and roaring, but when the heroes are looking around, they can’t find them anywhere until the jump scare.  Ridiculous.  I don’t think someone with rabies has the capability to be stealthy.  Even the fattest guy in the movie can hide before attacking and that part was still on the actual airplane!  You know, the thing that’s 90% aisle and seats.

All that said, Quarantine 2 is not bad.  It’s just kind of there.  And ultimately, with two versions of the outstanding original available out there, it was quite unnecessary and I can’t fully recommend it.  Grade: C

In the air, no one can hear a zombie scream

 

 Guess what!  I got to use one of the dusty buttons on the DVD remote that no one ever uses!  Our second film of the day was Die Zombiejager, which is a German film set in Sweden that still has some English in it.  But not enough to understand what’s going on.  I had to press the subtitle button and thankfully, that worked.  Well, perhaps “thankfully” is not entirely accurate.  Even with subtitles, it’s still pretty hard to work out what’s going on in this film.  It has a solid foundation and an interesting premise, but that’s about it.  The filmmakers really failed to reach their movie’s full potential and it’s slightly painful to watch.  Basically, there are three badass zombie hunters (Die Zombiejager!) complete with their own swirling Batman logo and theme song, who are sent into the city to take care of the local zombie problem.  That sounds cool, but the problem is everything else.  There is an evil mastermind behind the zombie plot and it is unclear if the heroes ever even know about him.  There is a former zombie hunter turned into a super zombie and in some scenes our heroes are tracking him, in others, they don’t seem overly concerned.  The direction is pathetic.  Pointless lingering on nothing.  Pointless focus on zombie deaths, such as a fat woman studying her open wound and eating herself for about five excruciating minutes.  Even though we’re set up with a plot, we’re never actually given any kind of narrative structure.  And for a trio of badass zombie hunters, there is not an original or stylish kill in the bunch.  Hack or shoot, hack or shoot.

@Zombieshakes disagrees, but I was still able to find a certain amount of charm in this movie’s laughable badness.  I found it to be bad enough to enjoy more than some of the American crap we’ve watched.  I’d rather watch a weird German movie that goes nowhere than ever sit through something like the boring Mortuary again.  Grade: D+ 

Die Zombiejager is German for The Zombiejager

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Zombie TV Night: The Walking Dead S2 Premeire

WARNING: The following blog post will contain spoiler-y stuff about both The Walking Dead TV show and comic book.

 

I love zombies and I love that they’re popular enough to make a wildly successful television show out of.  This is good for my writing career, if nothing else.  But loving zombies doesn’t mean I’m going to automatically love anything that has zombies in it.  Hell, the movies my brother and I watch every month are sometimes the biggest pieces of garbage ever put on film.  It’s just like every other form of entertainment.  I love football too, but I haven’t loved every game I’ve ever watched.  All of this is a roundabout way of saying that I didn’t much care for the second season premeire of (AMC’s) The Walking Dead.  Let me count the ways…

Right off the bat, Rick’s speech into the radio was super lame.  And even worse than that poorly written monologue was the fact that it borrows heavily from the comic version of Rick who almost psychotically talks into a telephone he carries with him.  Those who know why he does that will also know that it is a much more compelling window into the character of a crumbling man in a crumbling society.  This Rick sounds like he’s talking into the radio just to hear himself talk.  What if Morgan was on the other end, patiently waiting for his turn to talk but never gets the chance?  Anyway, the telephone is one of the best parts of the comic and now either they won’t do it at all OR when they do, non-readers will complain that they’re repeating themselves.

Secondly, there was NO plot to speak of.  I’m happy that there will be more epsiodes this season, but I would also like stuff to happen.  The herd of zombies walking by was the only part of the episode that I truly enjoyed.  That was well done and scary.  But everything after that seemed like filler that could have been left on the cutting room floor.  Do we really care that much about Sophia as a character that we are desperate for them to find her?  And why would she take off?  They should have at least edited it to seem like more time had passed by and she felt obligated to leave.  The zombie autopsy was kind of cool, but ultimately, it wasn’t necessary.  You knew they weren’t going to find the girl in the stomach so it came off as just more padding of the runtime.  Maybe it’s unfair to compare TWD to the modern masterpiece that is Breaking Bad, but given that they aired a week apart on the same channel, I have to say I was much more buzzed at Sunday at midnight (and many days after that) about the human chess game’s conclusion on BB than I was about the “let’s look for that girl” “plot” of TWD.

Third, I LOVE that Shane is still alive.  I understand the reasoning behind killing him in the comic, but it really could have been more played out and this is a second chance to tell that story.  But I think they’re stumbling a bit with it and what could have been a MUCH more interesting storyline than the comic one is turning into simply a more drawn out rehash.  Comic Lori instantly regrets a one night stand with Shane even before Rick returns.  She still loves her presumed-dead husband and it is never a question who she is with when he miraculously returns.  The TV show told us in the very first scene that the marriage was on the rocks and later showed an ongoing affair that TV Lori was kind of kinky and into.  They set this up to be a true love triangle with a genuinely torn woman. But instead, there has been virtually no character development.  Is TV Lori suppressing her feelings for Shane and pushing him away out of a sense of obligation to her marriage?  Both Shanes are being driven mad by rejection, but I feel like TV Shane is more justifiably upset and deserves a little more than the cold shoulder he’s getting.  I’m excited that he’s going to set off on his own as that will be a chance to not EVER know what is going to happen…which leads me to …

Finally, I felt a little robbed of a great television moment.  The entire premeire of Season 2 was 89 minutes and 30 seconds of brand new material.  None of it is in the comic and Kirkman even said that he wants to preserve the TV experience for people who have read the comic and anything can happen.  So why is the twist ending something lifted directly from the comic where I’m sitting there going:  He’s going to get shot NOW…ok NOW…ok NOW…I knew it.  Bleh.  Carl getting shot is an awesome twist.  I just can’t help but wonder how much more jazzed I would have been if I hadn’t seen it coming. 

And if they’re going to run him over to Herschel’s farm…does that mean they’re skipping over the stop in the gated neighborhood?  They’re skipping over TYREESE!!!

I give this episode a C+.  The herd saved it.

 

Zombie Movie Night Oct ’11

October is a special month for Zombie Movie Night.  It’s the anniversary.  It’s the month most associated with horror, so everyone’s more in the mood to be scared.  Last year we decided to kick off Year 2 by watching four movies instead of two.  What a mistake!  It was a little tedious and we were falling asleep during Movie #4.  (We’re not young!)  So to kick off Year 3, we decided to watch four movies again, only this time much more reasonably over the course of two nights.  Will Year 3 be the year when we run out of good stuff to watch or are there still some gems out there?  Only one way to find out…

FRIDAY

We kicked off our anniversary special with Days of Darkness, a low budget affair (aren’t they all?) centering on a young couple in love who find themselves joining other survivors after a meteor delivers the zombie apocalype via alien breeding.  There are some interesting twists and new takes on the zombie genre but not enough to make the movie itself entertaining.  As per usual with this kind of film, the problem lies in the acting and the writing.  Characters are all over the map in terms of emotion, reactions and motivations …so much so that you can never get a good feel for what’s going on.  One guy’s a hothead, then he’s okay, then he’s super pissed, then he’s nice, then he’s pissed, then he’s obsequious.  It’s ridiculous.  Also, the way to defeat the aliens is so easy, my niece could have figured it out.  Though it doesn’t help much long term when the cure kills the human host, now does it?  Better just drunkenly stumble off into the sunset and roll credits, eh?  Not a good start to Year 3.  I give this one a D

Hopefully just the name of a movie and not what lies ahead for Zombie Movie Night...

 

The second movie would almost certainly have to fare better than that crapfest.  It’s a wacky entry from Japan called Battle Girl: The Living Dead in Tokyo Bay.  Except for…zzzzzzz

Oh sorry, fell asleep during it.  How could something with that title from that country be so boring?  Well, they pulled it off.  The cast includes pro wrestlers doing pro wrestler moves, a villain who uses an electric stick to shock his enemies and a team of comic relief punks and yet…I almost fell asleep. For real??  It’s amazing that a movie could take all that potential and squander it with lots and lots of nothing happening, unclear motives, lack of clarity as to who is on what side, surprisingly few zombies, dated politics and did I mention boringness.  I was shocked and disappointed.  I give this one a D also.

on right: Battle Girl. on left: Metal Mouth Claw Hands. I wish the movie was as good as this picture makes it look.

 

If it had ended there, it would have been one of the saddest, most disappointing Zombie Movie Nights in recorded history.  But alas, there was a chance for redemption…

SATURDAY

Admittedly, I was demoralized by the events of Friday night and had little hope that Saturday would be any better.  I mean the name of the day has TURD right in it, for Christ’s sake.  And someone thought it would be cute if we could get the whole family involved and watch Scooby Doo on Zombie Island.  This couldn’t be good.

I haven’t been the target audience for Scooby and the gang for quite some time, but I’ll give them credit for getting a few laughs out of me.  Like Shaggy having an entire suitcase full of green shirts.  I usually like that wink-wink meta humor.  Could have used more of it.  No guys in masks this time around.  The zombies are real.  So are the …cat worshiping immortals…  Things get a little weird in this one…even for a cartoon.  Still, compared to Friday night, Scooby Doo came away smelling like roses.  I give the Mystery Team a C. 

Guess who ate hot peppers! If it's funny once, it's funny three times!

 

So if you’re keeping track, that’s two duds and a cartoon.  Not exactly our crowning achievement as zombie aficionados.  Luckily, we still had one more to go and it was…ugh…sigh…Zombie Women of Satan.  How could that possibly be any good?  I jokingly told the Top 10 to move over as I did not have high hopes for this one and yet….and yet…what’s this?  A Hail Mary in the 4th quarter…caught!  Zombie Women of Satan was GREAT.  I laughed my butt off.  I did not know what this movie was going into it, I don’t know what I expected it to be, but what I definitely did not expect it to be was a raunchy British comedy. 

Basically, a troupe of idiotic sideshow performers stumble into a cult compound to record a promotional spot for their act on an internet TV show put on by the …cult leader.  It’s a weird set up, but when your main character is named Pervo the Clown, plot is not really all that important.  Though not technically Satanic, the zombies are definitely women and most of them have their boobs hanging out, much to the delight of Pervo.  This movie obviously doesn’t take itself too seriously, is really funny and even manages to turn a few horror conventions on their head.  Surely the guy taking a dump will die…or not?!!?  Surely the guy who splits off to masturbate will die…or not?!!?  Even the people who live, the people who die and how the deaths occur are somewhat surprising…and also hilarious in one instance.  Not to mention that I crowned a new favorite gag in a zombie comedy.  One character tries to console another who is remorseful over a former-friend-turned-zombie they had to kill.  *dramatic moment* “That wasn’t [so-and-so]!!”  *looks again*  “Oh, wait, yes it was!”   Unexpectedly, inexplicably, Zombie Women of Satan salvaged the Zombie Movie Night Anniversary Weekend and gets a solid A grade.

"Time for some Pervo magic!" Trust me, you do not want to know what that means...