Mom: The boys are watching zombie movies tonight.
Dad: Awww, geez!
Mom: What does that mean?
Me: I think it means that it was cute at first, but now we’ve been doing it for almost 3 years.
Yes, dear father may think it’s weird that his two grown sons get together to watch a sepecific kind of horror movie every month but 1) Who else can say they spent a night watching films that not only explore the politics of humanity AND ponder the philosophies of the meaning of life BUT ALSO feature a stack of zombies assembled into a functioning automobile and zombies who react to being electrocuted by starting to breakdance? 2) Dad came over for the first one cuz what else ya gonna do?
The night’s first feature was Helldriver, another in a long line of entries from Japan. Young Kika has a problem. Her abusive, cannibalistic, murderous, psychotic mother and uncle are out to get her once and for all. But then a strange comet punches a hole right through mom’s torso. Her response to this problem is to rip into her daughter’s chest and secure an emergency back-up heart for herself. Also, an alien force has taken her over and made her the epicenter for a viral zombie outbreak that causes six million citizens to sprout horns on their heads and crave human flesh. So the government builds a great wall seperating man from zombie. A political debate develops between those who want to kill the zombies and take back the country and those who want to spare the zombies and find a cure for the disease. Kika, who the government has turned into a literally heartless bionic zombie-killing machine gets caught in the middle and agrees to go behind enemy lines, thanks in no small part for to the chance to kick her mom’s evil ass.
Helldriver is a perfect blend of gory zombie action and Japanese comedy, which for once seems to be mostly intentional and doesn’t come off as the headscratching cultural difference we usually feel while watching Asian films. Sure there’s a hailstorm of decapitated zombie heads launched by a big zombie cricket player and the final battle takes place on top of a fighter jet made out of connected zombies holding onto two missles, but it never feels like the movie is not in on the joke. Even the political stuff, which is handled a bit more seriously, plays pretty well and doesn’t detract. It actually brings up a good point so often ignored in other zombie gore-fests. If your zombies are sick people, should you really be slaughtering them, even in self-defense? Or do they still retain their rights as people? Oddly, nothing is decided in the end as they instead go with the classic deus ex machina ending of everything going back to normal once Mom is defeated. But Helldriver is ultimately great fun and I would put it near the top of the list if you are seeking out Japanese zombie flicks. The grade is A.
Our second film (after Dad ditched us) was Choking Hazard, our first and possibly last entry from the Czech Republic. A small group of people are spending the weekend at a remote hotel as part of a philosophy class taught by a blind professor. The first night is almost ruined when a porn actor shows up thinking it’s the set of his next film. Then it’s definitely ruined when a large group of zombie woodsmen emerge from the forest to start eating people.
Choking Hazard is a solid comedy that lands almost every joke and despite its philosophical debates, never feels the least bit heavy. There are actually some interesting points made by the professor during his teaching of the class, but it doesn’t bog anything down. It’s not very long at all before the zombies are being lured onto treadmills or having buckets with smiley faces drawn on them get stuck on their heads. It’s all good fun and when the weekend hunt is over, the woodsmen return from whence they came and the survivors get to go home. Simple fun and another strong recommendation. Another grade of A.
Due to a glitch in the Netflix matrix, Jeff was unable to secure his originally intended film until Saturday, so we gathered again the next afternoon to check out Descendents, our first and possibly last entry from Chile. Sadly, after two movies that ended up strongly in the top half of our rankings, this one turned out to be a boring waste of time, even at a running time of only 75 minutes.
Ten years ago, an airborne virus turned almost everyone into zombies. Eventually some kids were born who were not only immune, but also not susceptible to attack from the undead. Sadly, these children have to wander the ravaged country looking for scraps of food and any kind of humanity. The zombies don’t attack them but for some unexplained reason, every adult human they encounter starts shooting at them. Jealous much? After a lot of boringness, flashbacks, flashbacks that show the same thing the last flashback showed, and a ten minute scene of children playing in a playground, the last survivors make it to their destination of “the sea.” And then they turn into mermaids and a giant octopus destroys some helicopters. Not making that up! Still as awesome as that last part sounds, it’s way too late to save this turd. They even manage to screw up the post-credits bonus scene. It’s just some more boring footage, this time of news coverage of the zombie outbreak. It adds nothing and if anything should have been used at the beginning instead of the voiceover provided by a bad child actress. Grade: D–