Saturday, May 28, 2011
Play Dead 2011 - *** Steve and I are beginning to think that the short film is the perfect medium for the zombie tale. Like most Saturday Night Live sketches there are zombie flicks that start with a good idea that is suitable for a short duration, but must add too much filler for a full length feature. This is an example of the right amount of time for an idea, 17 minutes is a perfect length for this premise which shows what might happen to our dogs when the apocalypse occurs. It is by turns witty, gory, and heart wrenching to anyone who loves dogs like we do. The film was conceived and directed by brothers Andres and Diego Meza Veldes, who show great style here. We hope this venture will allow them to pursue a career in film. We are pleased to present the short to you in its entirety:
Portrait Of A Zombie 2012 - ** This film from Ireland is a curious hodge podge of elements. When young Billy is transformed into a zombie his family makes a questionable decision to keep him at home in an attempt to hang on to their son. An American film making crew enters the scene after becoming interested in chronicling his plight for a documentary. At points, this film is reminiscent of the British film, "Colin" as the viewer is privy to the transformation from human to walker. There are several sub plots involving gangsters, who the citizenry entrust to protect them from the growing population, zombie rights, and the importance of family. While this provides some dark, amusing, and thought provoking satire, it tends to stifle the narrative flow, and one has trouble suspending their disbelief as events unfold towards their inevitable conclusion. It is hard to feel any sympathy for the family as they are victims of their own ignorance and stupidity, We should mention that the zombies themselves are very well done, very convincing, and the gore factor really picks up in the third act. This is an unconventional entry in the zombie genre, and while it is not great, it is worth checking out.
The Post Lifers 2011 - *** The zombie comedy is a hit or miss venture at best, but this 14 minute short is one of the best that we've seen. It's a mockumentary revolving around a journalist who convinces a group of the undead (they prefer to be called "post lifers") to be interviewed about various aspects of being zombified. It is raunchy, hilarious, gory, and worth seeking out. It is a favorite on the festival circuit, so keep your eye out for it.
Post Mortem, America 2021 - 2011 *
During the production of “Post Mortem, America 2021”, a hard drive was stolen which contained key audio and video clips. It was never recovered. The following movie was assembled from the best available elements. We hope this will not detract from your enjoyment of the movie.
Those words appear at the beginning of Post Mortem, America 2021, and I would like to assure writer/director Cameron Scott that it wouldn’t have made one whit of difference to my enjoyment whether the contents were recovered or not.
I’ve been struggling with how to approach this review without it seeming that I am giving partisan and preferential treatment to lead actress Linnea Quigley. I am not about to jeopardize the trust of you, the reader of these reviews, by being anything less than objective because of my relationship with Ms. Quigley.
Having gotten that out of the way, Linnea Quigley’s performance is the only reason to sit through this poorly written, poorly produced, and poorly acted mess of a film.
If I heard someone say, “Why don’t we take the basic premise of “Kill Bill” and add a supernatural element to it”? I might think that’s an interesting idea. Indeed the film starts out that way. No, actually, it starts out with low budget indie horror mainstay Edward X. Young spitting and drooling while he delivers his lines regarding the upcoming apocalypse without a trace of nuance or conviction.
The first half of the film revolves around Lucille (Quigley) an assassin who was murdered by her fellows, has spent the last five years in Hell, and has returned to wreak vengeance of those who have done her wrong. The fellow who murdered her, our primary antagonist Severin is played by Jim O’Rear. O’Rear ‘s performance never manages to convince the viewer that he is a badass capable of leadership over a group of badasses. Mostly he just says "fuck" a lot.
Which brings us to a major problem with this tale, there is not a single likable character to be found here. One can certainly say the same for “Kill Bill” however Quentin Tarantino’s characters were more complex and well rounded. Tarantino also knows how to draw compelling performances from his actors. Here director Scott tries to establish his group of killers as menacing by having them interact competitively and boast of their prowess. These scenes are long, and take up far too much screen time. As it turns out none of the group are particularly dangerous, actually they prove rather incompetent and easy to kill.
The biggest problem with this film though is that there are far too many characters. They all have to have a back story, and the first half drags because of this. A good example is the character of Maggie as played by Jessica Cameron. Maggie is a hooker who gets herself into trouble through misadventure with a client. There is absolutely no need for her story in the film, and she would likely end up on the cutting room floor with a tighter edit. This would be unfortunate because Cameron performs well in this small role. She is one of the few highlights.
It is usually a bad sign when a movie has me riffing on it Mystery Science Theater style from the git go, but I was powerless to stop myself here. There is a scene I like to call, “The famous “Lucille unpacks her weapons bag” scene. The audience watches Lucille emptying an assortment of weapons out of a large duffel bag and place them on the bed in front of her. The bag is like a fucking clown car, she pulls weapon after weapon out. This goes on for about a minute, does nothing to advance the plot, and makes one wonder how someone could realistically tote the thing into battle. Naturally none of these weapons in her arsenal are ever used when she needs them.
Now we come to the reason why this film is being reviewed on this particular site, and that is because at about the halfway point the zombie apocalypse breaks out. Now the story becomes one of various assassins trying to kill Lucille before she kills them, while they all try to avoid zombies.
I have seen other reviews likening this film to a modern day western. If by western they mean a lot of gun play then maybe they have a point. The second half of the film devolves into long shoot em ups, and clichéd character reveals.
Thankfully the film is presented in black and white ( a trick more often used in B films these days to hide deficiencies in FX rather than provide atmosphere.). The below average quality of the zombie makeup, the ridiculously poor CGI muzzle blasts and blood splatter appear somewhat less glaring this way. I have also heard this film referred to as ultra-violent, what bullshit. There is nothing here that is overly graphic. The best scene of violence involves Lucille employing a power drill to gain information from one of Severin’s flunkies. The violence here is suggested rather than explicit, and features some of the worst computer generated blood spray that I’ve ever seen.
When all is said and done, the whole zombie element here is quite secondary. But there is such a lack of cohesion in the plot that this seems par for the course. For example, Scott spends the entire move trying to convince us that Severin is a hard as nails villain, but suddenly in the third act he is inexplicably cowardly. We see him terrified of Lucille in a total 360 of what has been previously established. This lack of believability in the events unfolding on the screen is relentless. A good example is when Severin informs others that, “Lucille’s back”. Everyone reacts as if he said, “They’re forecasting rain for tomorrow”. It’s as though coming back from the dead after five years is a common place occurrence.
Rumors of the troubles this production faced were rife in internet horror circles. Numerous re-shoots, stolen hard drives, it’s hard to know where the truth lies. The fact that the movie has sat on the shelf since 2011, and is just now going to be released in 2013 speaks volumes. One story suggested that there was so much footage shot that it might be presented as a series of movies. Perhaps that may have turned out better, no probably not given the actors that were cast. There is simply too much story here to fit into a 100 or 120 minute film. In order to get the gist of it across to the audience you sacrifice the important elements of the tale. This should be Lucille’s story, and that gets lost in the mix. It is truly unfortunate because as I said Quigley’s performance here is the one reason to sit through all of this. This is the first leading role she’s had in a while, and she proves that she can handle it. She brings humanity and pathos to her role, and conveys true heartbreak in a scene pivotal to her story.
To add insult to injury Lucille states several times in the film that she will tell all about where she’s been and what it was like, which of course never happens. That scene is the payoff, It would show what she had to endure, and explain the deal she must have struck in order to return and exact her vengeance.
My final thoughts on this film are these:
It is a must see if you are a fan of Linnea Quigley. If you are looking for a good zombie film or just a good horror film run the other way.
Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead 2006 - *1/2 If "28 Days Later" can be considered a zombie flick, we see no reason why this can't be either. We'll start off by saying that movie pretty much exemplifies what Troma films are all about, Lloyd Kaufman even directs and has a small role in it. If you understand the implications of the previous sentence you are aware that this means that this is not a date movie, and that very few women are going to dig it. This film features scatological and sexual humor, plenty of gratuitous nudity and gore, misogyny, political incorrectness, racial stereotyping, social satire, a scathing indictment of the fast food industry, a love story, and is a musical to boot. We found ourselves laughing out loud at a lot of it because it is so over the top, but by the third act the humor grows a little wearisome. The film revolves around a fast food chicken restaurant that opens on Indian land. The spirit of the natives takes possession of the food and all who eat it, turning them into large chicken zombies. Though not a traditional zombie film as such, there is a lot of gore, a lot of laughs, and some very dirty songs. Watch this one with the boys and some beer, and share some laughter
Posted by guttercat at 9:16 PM