Tag Archives: zombies

Boner Juice

Everyone who’s anyone has already heard that AMC is adapting Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead” as their fourth original series. The pilot began filming in Atlanta this month, and we all woke up a couple of days ago to this sweet little Christmas-in-June…

Isn’t that cool? The show bows in October, so look forward to a lot more of this in the coming months.

“We’re in trouble.”

Unless you’re fifteen years old and very easily satisfied, there’s not a whole lot to expect from horror movies these days. Most are riffs on the same old themes. Get a bunch of people trapped in some crazy person’s warehouse or out in the desert or in Slovakia, and make sure their guts are hanging from the rafters by the time the credits start rolling. Easy enough, amirite?

Because I’ve had my heart broken before, I wasn’t expecting much more than that from The Crazies. It looked like it had some good zombie-movie-type thrills and I have a hard time saying no to that sort of thing, so I was happy to waste an hour and a half watching it. Still, there was a dark corner in the back of my mind that told me I would be horribly disappointed by the entire thing. You know what? I was pleasantly surprised. The movie didn’t have me up on my feet and clapping at the screen, but I thought that, overall, the movie was competent. Would you believe, very competent?

I’ve never seen the 1973 original, but from what I’ve read the plot isn’t that different. There’s a man-made virus that’s gotten into the water supply of a small rural town, and it’s driving the people there insane. As the military moves in to contain the entire thing, the sheriff and his wife try and make it out of town without getting themselves killed. The Crazies scores major points for not relying on the same old horror movie cliches. There are points in the movie where it looks like things are being set up to give us some big, gory payoff, only to switch tracks at the last minute and give us something altogether different. The movie relied much more on the plot’s natural tension and the audience psyching themselves out rather a bunch of mindless violence. I thought it was a good change of pace.

But if you are indeed fifteen years old and Hostel had you wetting your pants, you too will not be disappointed. There’s plenty of people getting shot and stabbed and cut up to satisfy most fans. There’s a knife fight in there that was a little over the top, but for the most part none of the violence felt gratuitous. Just the good ole’ necessary kind. Your parents and teachers may tell you otherwise, but trust me, it is necessary.

Timothy Olyphant as Sheriff David Dutton has a couple of ham-it-up moments in the movie, but those are few and far between. After Deadwood, The Crazies, and now Justified, I wonder if we’ll ever be able to look at him without a sheriff’s badge or sticking a gun in someone’s face. Methinks not. Radha Mitchell plays Olyphant’s pregnant wife, and I managed to go the entire movie without remembering how much I hated her after Silent Hill (not for her performance, but for how much Silent Hill sucked), so I consider that a win for her. The movie’s breakout star is Joe Anderson, who plays Deputy Russell Clank and was able to bring some emotion into the film that I actually thought felt genuine and not trite.

The Crazies probably won’t go down in any Hall of Fame, but neither will it go down in any sort of Hall of Shame (a ridiculous idea!). It’s a solid story that understands what it is and honestly doesn’t try to be anything more than that. Because of that, I felt it really succeeded at what it set out to do. It’s probably one of the more down to earth horror films we’ve had in the past few years, which I think is a good thing. Definitely worth your money. B

“Nut up or shut up.”

I’ve got a short Zombieland review and a long Zombieland review. The short review: Go see Zombieland. Go tonight. Hell, go right now. Not convinced? Read on for the long review.

Zombie movies have a long, proud, history. It stretches from the shambling, not-so-scary zombies of Dawn of the Dead (1978), to the running, scary-as-f**k zombies of Dawn of the Dead (2004). Of course, it’s valid to look at the majority of zombie fare out there and say, “Not much variety here.” Zombieland is one of a few movies that have come along and helped mix things up.

The movie is set in – as Colombus calls it – the United States of Zombieland, after a zombie virus has killed off most of civilization. Colombus (Jesse Eisenberg) is heading to Colombus, Ohio (do you get the name now?) to find his family. Along the way he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a badass country boy who takes his rage and frustration out on the movie’s hoards of undead. Eventually they come across sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who when they first meet take them for their car and supplies. Eventually they come together and head for Pacific Playland, a west coast amusement park which is still zombie-free.

I had been watching the movie for about five minutes before asking, “Is Jesse Eisenberg supposed to be playing Michael Cera?” Eisenberg as the stammering Colombus isn’t exactly mind-blowing, but watching him together with Woody Harrelson is comedy gold. The chemistry between the two characters almost makes the movie. And while Colombus’ relationship with bad girl Wichita is central to the character’s development, you’re always drawn back to his scenes with Tallahassee. And speaking of the cast, there’s a fantastic cameo in here that I won’t spoil for anyone. Let me just say that it’s probably one of the most brilliant things about the movie, and if Eisenberg and Harrelson weren’t doing enough for you, there’s no doubt this guy will.

The small glimpses we catch of the zombie apocalypse aren’t very realistic. We miss a lot of the large-scale destruction and zombie mobs, but it fits the movie fine. And there’s still plenty of violence and gore for those who are expecting it. But while other films may give you a sense of the trauma and destruction the world has gone through, that’s not what Zombieland is about. It’s about these four characters, their relationships with each other, and the things they do to help each other survive. They each build the group up, and rely on the group to do the same for them. The family dynamic between them is the most believable I’ve ever seen in a movie like this.

When you watch other zombie movies you realize that half, if not all, of the cast is there only to be killed off later on. You always find yourself asking, “Are they gonna survive?” That was never a question for me. Everyone is playing a bigger role here, and as a result, you find yourself caring about them more than characters from anything Romero ever did. Shaun of the Dead headed in this same direction, although I think Zombieland did a better job of pulling it off.

The movie’s runtime is a little short – it clocks in at just under 90 minutes – but I didn’t walk out feeling shortchanged. This is a little comedy that delivers in a big way. The movie’s outrageousness is presented so that you never feel like anything is over the top or cliched. You connect with the characters, and although the landscape is bleak, the movie leaves you feeling hopeful. And it’s the funniest damn thing I’ve seen all year. As for whether or not you should check this one out in the theaters, refer back to my short review.

And holy hell, that cameo was awesome.