Thursday, October 25, 2007

Way to Not Suck: 30 Days of Night

Spoilers Ahead

Back when Saturday Night Live was funny, they had a great sketch called "Lowered Expectations."

It was a segment on dating videos where the client was a sack of crap, but figured you couldn't do any better.

Hilarity ensued.

In the same vein, by lowering MY expectations for 30 Days of Night, I was able to enjoy the film to a greater extent than those of you who thought it might be good.

You see, there is a simple fact you need to accept.

Modern films aren't good.

They haven't been good in a long time.

Modern directors think audiences are stupid, so they make sure the plot points are hammered in until you can't stand to hear them anymore. They plant images so obviously in the scenery that your eyes are violated by forced beauty. The music cues your emotions so you don't even have to be involved to emote.

All in all, it makes modern film a pornographic experience rather than a work of love.

When I first heard of "30 DoN," I was very excited. I'm an old school vampire man; I like my undead to be freaky and violent.

Anne Rice is amazing, don't get me wrong, and Interview With a Vampire remains an incredible film, but I want creatures without souls to scare the shit out of me.

Some of you may be confused by the term "undead." Allow me to explain.

Vampires, as they cease to function in the sense of living humans, are clinically dead. Their reanimation is the source of the Devil/a virus/the moon/ the Rolling Stones. The term "undead" refers to the fact that they were dead, but are now the opposite.

The term "living dead" refers to zombies, another one of my horror staples. Zombies (not Xombie, the voodoo variant) are rotting corpses that eat the flesh of the living. Not much is known about Zombies, and I fear that speaking their name too often will result in an early uprising of the dead.

Carrying on, our journey of "30 DoN" begins with the introduction of Alaska as Earth's second asshole (the first being Antarctica, as proven in The Thing). The sun, ashamed of even being associated with such a place, leaves for a month.

At this time, vampires (being crafty and butt-ugly at the same time) decide to have an orgy of blood and violence.

All this is great as far as horror movies go. I've heard worse.

Seriously. How many ways can teenagers find to get into cabins, hotels and other out-of-the-way places so they can be easily butchered? Or tortured by rich Europeans?

The monsters use stealth and ridiculous speed and strength, as well as a screech that haunts my ears. They drench themselves in blood and never once take a shower.

This detail I approve of heartily. In fact, I would say the make-up and movement of the vampires is one of the best in the film genre for the past few years. The effects artists really put some effort in.

Another kudos goes to the cinematographer. I don't know any cool terms to use here, so just trust me. This was a well shot film.

As for the acting, writing, story and characters...well, let's just say I muttered "cliche" once or twice.

"30 DoN" is based off a graphic novel of the same name, and like "Sin City" before it, the movie does a reasonable job of sticking to the source material. I happened to watch the film with an expert, and he only pointed out some flaws at the end.

Now, since I've mentioned flaws, I should say one thing.

This is a bad film.

It's not awful. It does not deserve such a title, but I cannot recommend it.

In fact, I would warn against seeing it.

Hopefully, given that, your expectations will be very low if you do ever find it before you. In that case, you might enjoy it for the buckets of blood it piles on.

And I mean buckets. There is more blood here than in "Saving Private Ryan." The director had a fire hose hooked up to a blood machine and forgot to turn it off.

Josh Hartnett, a fine actor for romantic comedies and--well that's all I'll trust him with--was the wrong choice. Does he try? Yes, and he deserves a medal for really twisting his "I miss my girlfriend" face into something resembling fear.

The other characters are stock and don't apply to logical debate.

The cliches are worth noting: You have the "guy who panics and gets people killed", "the whore", "the separated couple", "the kid brother"...I could go on forever.

As for the vampires, you get the "lithe and psychotic female" who is obviously the love interest of "the leader". If not for the fact that she looked fuglier than Linda Tripp, you could imagine liking her.

And I mean fugly. As previously mentioned, the make-up is incredible. It looks as though they took the face-distortion from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (TV) and hit it with a bat.

Are there holes in the plot? Of course, it's a horror movie and you can't expect people to think these things through. The characters make RIDICULOUSLY stupid decisions in the name of furthering the story, but you forgive them because something explodes bloodily later.

I warn all those who are feint of heart not to watch, as this is one of the goriest movies I've seen in some time.

That said, if you like vampires and must know if someone can survive for 30 days, go ahead and watch.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Watch carefully.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Apple Has Fallen Very Far: Children of the Living Dead

Romero is a genius.

He took the Haitian concept of the Zombie--originally a man or woman whose soul was on layaway due to voodoo--and added a very human sense of mortality to create the shuffling face-biters we all know and love.

Night of the Living Dead was a seminal piece of filmmaking, and set the standard for zombie horror.

Everything that has come since then has tried...and failed.

The only exception to this has been Shaun of the Dead which was just another example of the Brits beating America at good movies.

So now we come to this, the ultimate statement of how NOT to make a zombie movie.

"Children of the Living Dead"

The movie begins with a posse of the uninfected taking on waves of slow moving, poorly made-up zombies. A helicopter flies overhead, providing solid air support.

This was a huge mistake by the filmmakers for two reasons.

One: When taking on the slow variant of zombie, firing from a helicopter leads to wasted shots and fewer killed zombies.

Two: When you waste your budget on a helicopter, you're left with a shitty movie that has no blood, brains, squibs, actors, scripts or point of existence.

Basically, it's awful.

Let's start off with the basic premise.

There are zombies. This has nothing to do with the rest of the movie, but if you don't assume it from the beginning you'll be lost by the second scene.

You see, the rest of the film doesn't really involve zombies so much as a demonically possessed abbot named Abbot Hayes.

Hayes was dressed like a girl by his mother and developed a case of the crazies. He killed a few women and went to jail. In jail, he died.

Somehow he then became possessed by demonic spirits, but the how or why was not important enough to be explained by the writer.

Zombie Hayes captured a group of kids who were in turn rescued by a fat and bumbling policeman. Another man, who's name and purpose mean nothing, dies in the rescue.

Skip ahead many years.

A construction group is building a car dealership where the old Hayes place used to be. In order to do this, they dig up graves.


Are you seriously asking questions at this point?

So, for no apparent reason, Hayes decides to attack the town. He scares a van full of teenagers into falling off a cliff, bites their corpses to reanimate them, and then procedes to attack a diner.

Yup, only the diner.

And then, just to be safe, he makes sure they don't wander anywhere except that diner. Because when zombies wander, they hurt people. And we aren't here to hurt people.

Inside the diner is a fashionable young lad who is the son of the evil man building the car park and the last surviving girl from the original kid rescue.

A little bad acting later, with some of the worst action sequences ever recorded on film, the movie ends.

Hayes is still alive, the fat cop is dead, and the boy and girl look poised to get it on.

And you've died a little inside.

Honestly, there is no way to describe how bad this film is.

The director must have only heard of films through loosely translated exerpts from radio broadcasts received from an old soup can that were beamed from towers deep underground and run by mole people.

The writer was obviously illiterate.

The actors were dead themselves and hooked to strings.

After the movie was shot, rather than take it to an editor, the filmmakers chose to bury it in a pile of rotting roadkill for seventeen years.

I can't make sense of the choices made in this movie, specifically the choice to be made.

Don't see it. For the love of all that is holy, do NOT see this movie.

That's all for now.

Watch carefully.