Friday, June 27, 2008
Mailorderzombie.com features a weekly audio podcast celebrating straight-to-DVD Zombie flicks, and is a really well-done site to boot!
Zombie fans will want to shuffle on over, and provide their own input. The site can be found here: MailOrderZombie
Saturday, June 21, 2008
So who's up for an all-night "grindhouse"-style movie marathon?
The Fox Theatre in the Beach is playing host tonight to "Shock and Awe" from 11:30 to 10 a.m. tomorrow, with six reels of 35-mm B-movie glory, ranging from the obscure to the macabre. Admission is $25. (Call the Fox Theatre at 416-691-7330 for showtimes and info.)
"Our motto is `Sleep is for suckers.' We just want people to have a really good time. These are all fantastic films that you're not going to see every day anywhere," said Dion Conflict, the cinephile/archivist/collector who assembled tonight's bill.
The esoteric collection takes its cue from the "grindhouse" theatre experience of New York City's 42nd St. and, in Toronto, the former Rio on Yonge St., where the Oshawa native in his younger days used to come to sit and watch "four great movies for $4.75."
Unlike the grindhouse theatres of yesteryear, which Conflict said had a tendency to "slap it together" in terms of their movie choices, tonight's marathon was carefully calculated to be an "authentic movie experience" in an age of blasé audiences used to renting their movies on DVDs and "distinct from going to a multiplex and seeing `whatever,'" he said.
Conflict has travelled far and wide in search of many of his lost treasures and mounted screenings in locales as far-flung as Helsinki, Finland – where tickets sold out in a flurry – to Youngstown, Ohio.
"I've basically amassed stuff sourced from all over the globe and the search for these lost celluoid treasures is almost as interesting as the film themselves," Conflict said.
"I've got films that were thrown on a blanket in a Russian flea market and gone into a dumpster that was overturned at a gun range in North Carolina, which also housed Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's old PTL television equipment."
To add to the authenticity of tonight's lineup, during intermission, moviegoers can browse tables filled with obscure collectibles, including Super 8 films and B-movie DVDs and alternating snack bar foods that will be themed to particular films. He'll also be showing old grindhouse movie trailers, lost music videos, short films by local directors and a couple of "surprise celebrities." The lineup includes:
The Black Six (1974)
A blaxploitation biker flick, featuring the leaden performances of some ex-NFLers, directed by Matt Cimber, a former boyfriend of late movie bombshell Jayne Mansfield.
Naughty New Orleans (1954)
From the only 35-mm print known to exist, featuring burlesque and vaudeville performers and a hammy storyline about a stripper/hooker and her boyfriend against a backdrop of the Big Easy of bygone years.
A killer tiger shark wreaks havoc on swimmers in what Conflict describes as "a Jaws rip-off and threesome love-triangle flick."
The Boogeyman (1980)
This art-house horror film comes from German director/screenwriter Uli Lommel.
Danish Pastries (1976)
This is a slice of Euro-erotica, with English subtitles, that has little to do with baked goods.
The event's "pièce de résistance" is an early horror-comedy by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. This bloody zombie flick premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in the early 1990s and wasn't picked up for wide theatrical release, Conflict said, adding it's definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
This week brings news about three different zombie/undead projects, and they're not even all of the zombie projects out there (Brad Pitt's World War Z being the highest profile example, I think).
First off, there is Army of the Dead, which was formerly announced, but it now has a director signed in the form of Matthijs van Heijningen, a commercial director making his debut with this Warner Bros. project about a father trying to rescue his daughter from a Las Vegas over run by the walking dead, in a project that I've heard will have a fairly massive scale for a zombie movie.
Next up is The Harvard Zombie Massacre, which sounds like a Shaun of the Dead-ish comedic romp, telling the story of what happens when a zombie outbreak forces Harvard's smartest students to defend themselves against Harvard's smartest... zombies. The Harvard Zombie Massacre will be produced by Warren Zide (the American Pie and Final Destination franchises), with filming expected to start in early 2009.
Finally, there is Wake the Dead, which is technically more of a "reanimated corpse" (ala Frankenstein) story than a straight "zombie" tale, but I figure it's more or less in the same category. Dead is dead, except when it ain't. Anyway, Wake the Dead is based upon the IDW comic book series of the same title about a strange high school kid who tries to bring one of his classmates back to life, and will be produced down in New Zealand, with Peter Jackson's WETA handling the creature effects. Jay Russell (My Dog Skip, The Water Horse), who usually does kids movies, will be directing from a script by James V. Hart (cowriter of Muppet Treasure Island and The Last Mimzy).
Sunday, June 1, 2008
365 Days of the Dead
I've never understood people who need to get high in order to enjoy a movie. Sure, I can see firing one up before a Cheech and Chong marathon to get in the right frame of mind, but for the life of me I don't get those who can't sit down to watch films--particularly horror or science fiction/fantasy films--without a proper buzz. Maybe it's a lack of imaginative capabilities on their part, but why would you spend good money on drugs when there are movies like SARS WARS: BANGKOK ZOMBIE CRISIS which do all the work for you.
A supremely delirious action/horror/comedy with a generous dollop of romance, this 2004 Thai film comes from the feverish mind of director Taweewat Wantha (who recently followed up this film with something called THE SPERM--Lord, I can't wait to see that). A movie this chaotic defies a mere synopsis--think an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plot like WILD ZERO filtered through influences such as Peter Jackson's BRAINDEAD, David Cronenberg's SHIVERS, and the films of Stephen Chow and, naturally, George Romero--so let's just say it takes a distinctly non-traditional approach to some of the standard elements of the zombie genre.
A mutated strain of the deadly Sars virus travels from Africa by a poorly-rendered CGI mosquito (all of the digital effects here are pretty lousy, saved only by the picture's anything-goes mentality) to Bangkok, immediately turning those infected into snarling, flesh-hungry zombies. A ruthless FEMA-like agency quarantines them in a downtown high-rise, where earnest young warrior Khun Krabii (Supakorn Kitsuwon) and his master (Suthep Po-ngam) are trying to rescue a kidnapped girl named Liu (the relentlessly adorable Phintusuda Tunphairao) from the clutches of a criminal gang.
And that, my friends, is just the set-up. The thugs responsible for Liu's kidnapping would make for an entertaining flick on their own--a colorful bunch with a, shall we say, flexible grip on their sexuality (their mastermind even sends the most homoerotic ransom demand in cinematic history)--but Wantha keeps throwing in Thai drag queens, coercion by tickling, even an enormous digital snake, until your mind threatens to boggle. Though not every joke works, and some of the humor may not translate well to these shores, but there's some extremely hilarious moments here--an inspired bullet ricochet in a crowded elevator, the master's lightsaber-ish sword that needs fresh batteries, and a vengeful CGI fetus are definite highlights (I haven't laughed this hard at a movie--at least, a movie where I was supposed to--in quite some time)
The problem with such a creatively erratic first act is that the action tends to peak too soon, leaving the film to lull a bit during its midsection; here is where Khun Krabii and Liu explore their feelings, leading to one of the most hilariously inappropriate lovemaking scenes in recent memory (Wantha pulls a fast one, playing the scene straight, with a little of SPIDER-MAN's rain-swept flavor, before going balls-out with the humor; maybe he didn't realize that he'd struck just the right balance of zaniness and character, and actually damaged what could have been a very moving scene. Oh well, "Crouching Tiger Eats Noodles" makes up for it.)
SARS WARS picks up plenty of steam for its final act, chugging along nicely to a climactic CRYING GAME-inspired reveal, as well as a deus ex machina remote control gag that, even with all the insanity preceding it, is still an incredibly stupid way to close a picture.
The good far outweighs the bad in this ready-made fanboy favorite. Wantha even spices things with a quirky visual style (including energetic anime sequence-flashbacks) and a catchy-as-hell heavy metal theme song (which you can check out the video for below, after the trailer). SARS WARS: BANGKOK ZOMBIE CRISIS is not to be missed. Highly recommended.
"365 Days of the Dead" is a blog experiment in which Scott Emerson, a projectionist and writer living in Meadville PA. will watch one zombie film a day, reviewing each one, for a full year.
I contacted him recently, and congratulated him on this gargantuan effort (and truly tolerant and understanding wife).
"365 Days of the Dead" contains well written, often irreverent and witty reviews (and often with Youtube clips from the films). Scott knows his stuff-- he should-- he's spent every evening for over half a year in front of his television.
His reviews have a certain continuity -- watching these flicks back to back definitely gives Scott a unique comparison viewpoint worth reading.
Scott is on Day 213! Wander over to his blog, and drop him a line of encouragement:
"365 Days of the Dead"