Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Yes, more movies have been watched!


Yes, this is the Elisha Cuthbert movie. Actually I didn't watch more than 20 minutes of it, and that was only because I was amused that it was on TV just a few days after I watched and wrote up the other Girl Next Door movie. So no real grade because I didn't watch it, but the first 20 minutes were very, very dire.


The zombie apocalypse has happened, and US troops are pulling out of Africa. Unfortunately the evacuation was rushed and the plane goes down off the coast of West Africa. Three survivors make it to shore, and this is reduced to one survivor in short order. He eventually teams up with a local soldier who has abandoned his post manning a roadblock (where soldiers are shooting any who are injured) in order to find his son, who was taken away to a military base in the north after their village was overrun.

This is an ultra-purist zombie movie. No explanation for the zombies, they do not run (or parkour or other athletics like some shit-ass zombie movies lately like the Day of the Dead remake or Devil's Playground), bites are infectious, head-shot needed, etc. Big downer ending.

The movie is dreadfully slow-paced. The two buddies (who had been on opposite sides during the not-specified fighting that the US was there to do) basically drive a rickety pickup through the African wilderness, passing many, many, many, many zombies on the way. It's basically an apocalyptic vision of desolation with the gimmick being "It's in Africa!"

Not that the film is poorly done. The lead white guy's acting is kind of wooden (supposedly he had malaria during filming...), but honestly in this sort of movie that's hardly an issue. Everything looks top notch, most of what happens is credible, but...

It's just so damn slow. One of the people I watched the movie with, a self-professed zombie movie nut, fell asleep while watching. I think what they were going for was "constant menace" in their travels, as they can see NOTHING when it's dark, and during the day there are always a zombie or three visible as they travel. They are low on ammo, have no source of food or water, the only signs of civilization are abandoned villages, and of course there's a zombie apocalypse going on. But there just wasn't a lot of tension at all. And about the ending... it's like the entire movie was the water in the bathtub. When the movie ends, it's the final downward spiral, all this drudgery just reaching its inevitable conclusion as it all goes down the drain.

I'm all for depressing movies... or should I say, movies without happy endings. But I don't like these movies where "depressing" is achieved by long stretches of not a lot of stuff happening at all. I guess it's one technique to wear down the viewer though...

Also, when the zombies attack the African villages, it's a little too reminiscent of the village attack scene in Hell of the Living Dead (one of the true stinkers in zombie cinema history).

Grade: C

Nice try, the heart was in the right place, but in the end the adult mature zombie movie just wasn't that enjoyable to watch.


Yes, it's the 1985 vampire classic starring Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, and Stephen Geoffreys.

Basically, it's good fun in the tradition of the Hammer vampire movies (which are lovingly spoofed as McDowall plays "Peter Vincent" (Peter Cushing/Vincent Price, get it?), a former horror actor who now hosts a late-night creature feature program on TV). PG-13 rating in the US in 1985. 18 DVD rating in the UK today. *shakes head*

The story: Charlie and Amy are suburban whitebread all-american high schoolers. Charlie's something of a nerd, and during a makeout session he sees the new neighbors move in... with a coffin. Being a nosy son-of-a-gun, he witnesses the next-door vampire, fangs and all, about to attack a girl who turns up dead the next day.

But nobody believes him. Not his girlfriend, not his weirdo best friend "Evil Ed," and definitely not Peter Vincent, who he goes for to help.

There are few surprises in the movie (easy for me to say, I saw it when it came out), but it's an absolutely well-done and enthusiastic movie that hits all the right notes. Ragsdale (remember Herman's Head?) and Bearse (weird seeing Marcy from Married with Children as the vamped up - ha ha - love interest) are merely adequate but everyone else in the movie just owns the screen in ways that people just don't seem to do anymore. I think McDowall steals the show here, but Sarandon and Geoffreys are hot on his heels.

The best part of the movie is how natural the whole flow of the movie feels. Even the least developed of the characters have enough depth that their actions make sense rather than just existing to forward a movie plot. I can't say the movie is really scary as such, but Charlie draws a lot of sympathy as the guy in danger who absolutely nobody believes, and enough threats are followed through so we know the danger is real.

Grade: B

Still holds up after more than a quarter of a century.


The back-of-the-box copy sums it up well:

"With the spectre of the guillotine looming over him, young Blake (Dominic Monaghan) confides in visiting clergyman Father Duffy (Ron Perlman), recounting fifteen years of adventure in the resurrection trade. His tale leads from humble beginnings as a young boy stealing trinkets from corpses, to a partnership with seasoned ghoul Willie (Larry Fessenden) as they hunt creatures unwilling to accept their place in the ground."

It's a movie about graverobbing, and it's funny. It's funny in the way that RPG sessions are funny, in that the characters involved don't think it's funny at all, but those of us looking at the situation from outside the setting are pissing ourselves laughing at the improbable occurrences therein. It's really close to an Evil Dead 2 vibe and there's one amazingly inappropriate moment of completely insane over-the-top What-the-Fuckery that must be seen to be believed.

In fact, while watching it all I could think was "A graverobbing campaign book would rock. I could call it Gorehounds of London or something." (not likely, but I've had that name in my head ever since hearing about Bookhounds of London) The movie takes place in the 19th century but fashion aside it could just as easily be the 16th or 17th century... and I love how the supernatural is firmly established in the setting without changing the fact that this is the real world the story takes place in.

Bonus points for some outrageously awesome supporting characters - the too-clever-for-her-own-good apprentice, the sinister doctor, the rival graverobbers, the barkeep... and then the switch to animation for scene changes gives the whole thing an old Tales from the Crypt/EC Comics vibe.

Anyhow, the movie is awesome, Angus Scrimm is in it, the DVD has commentaries by both the directors and the two lead actors in character. Good stuff!

This kind of movie is exactly why I go on blind-buying spending sprees on Amazon. My life is better for having seen it.

Grade: A

Straight on the short list for "Recommended viewing to achieve the proper LotFP atmosphere."


  1. I love "I Sell the Dead". As you say, it's very funny, but they do it completely deadpan.