BBC’s “Survivors” – Psyched so far!

So, after all of @Ebouc‘s constant urgings on twitter, I decided that I had to give Survivors a shot.  I was wary because it seems like post-apocalyptic television (Hell, post-apocalyptic anything, for that matter) is often done pretty poorly.  I’ve just gotten used to lowering my expectations so I can at least enjoy the movie or show a little bit.  I was also a little wary because Survivors sounded slightly reminiscent of The Stand (the TV mini-series, not the book), and while I was drunk enough to forget much of The Stand, I do remember completely despising what I remembered.

Well, the kid’s were in bed and we didn’t have any episodes of Big Love or Lost to watch, so I managed to convince my wife to check out the first episode of Survivors.  We were both really impressed.  My wife likes it so much that last night I asked if she wanted to watch the most recent episode of Big Love or Survivors and she picked the latter.  She freaking loves Big Love, so I think that says a lot right there.

Anyway, the concept of the series is effectively Apocalypse by Plague (my favorite kind) and it follows the lives of the six (or so) main characters as they try to stay alive in an apocalypse-ravaged land and also try to connect with family members who might still be alive.  However, the plague has less than a 1% survival rate so finding any living family members seems pretty unlikely.

I think we are through episode four of the first series so far and my complaints are pretty minor (and they are vastly outweighed by my kudos).  My biggest two complaints are:

1) Music – the music is a little sappy.  It sounds like a full orchestra and sometimes that can be a little much.  I think it would have been better if they’d stripped it down a little bit and left a little more space.  But, that’s minor.

2) Peter – I don’t want to give anything away, but I can tell that the quest for the elusive Peter is going to get on my nerves.  He’s going to be the equivalent of “getting off the island” in Gilligan’s Island.  You know what I mean, right?  It’s always “this close!”.  Ugh.

But, don’t let my bitching discourage you.   I’m just a grouchy old drunk guy.  You should definitely watch it now before they make an American version that completely sucks.

Zombieland Review

Well, I finally got off my ass and decided to write another new review. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my old review style (I started this site in 1996 or so), what I used to do was get fairly drunk, watch the movie, get a little more drunk and then write a nearly incomprehensible review. I’ve been adding the old reviews back to the site but I’m trying to trickle some new reviews in as well. Hopefully, this will paint me in a better light. At least, I’d like to think I’m not the same goofball that I was 13 years ago. Heh.

Anyway… Zombieland!  I think we have such classics as Shaun of the Dead and Dead Alive (aka Braindead) to thank for the creation of this little gem.  I mean, I’m trying to think of other movies besides those two in which zombies (and especially such over-the-top gore) has been so hilarious.  I mean, I’ve watched plenty of terrible zombie movies that I considered to be funny, but they certainly weren’t intentionally funny.

So, it’s nice to be able to satisfy all of your movie-going needs at once, right?  Also, if you’ve ever read any of my reviews before, then you know that my favorite cause of the apocalypse is Plague!  It’s just not used enough.  Although, I guess that’s been shifting more and more these days.  Back in the 80s and early 90s it seemed like post-apocalyptic and nuclear war went hand in hand.  I guess, I just like a little variety.

Ok.  On to specifics.  Zombieland stars Jesse Eisenberg as our anti-hero.  If you are drunk, then you might have thought he was Michael Cera, because he does a pretty good Michael Cera impersonation throughout the whole movie.  But, that’s fine with me.  It’s still pretty damn hilarious.  Woody Harrelson stars alongside as a more typical example of what we’ve come to expect in our post-apocalyptic heroes.  He’s like a redneck, wise-cracking Mad Max…. umm… only he kills zombies.

There are quite a few things about Zombieland that really stood out to me.  Here’s a quick summary.

  1. Slow-Mo Title Sequence – Make sure and pay attention during the opening credits because all of the slow-mo zombie kill gags are awesome!
  2. Zombie Kill of the Week – Kind of a running gag and possible commentary on the use of gore in zombie movies.
  3. The List – Columbus apparently suffers from some fairly severe OCD.  As a result he’s compiled a list of things that keep you alive in Zombieland.  The list should be standard reading for anyone facing a Zombie Apocalypse… or anyone who’s found themselves in a horror movie, for that matter.  I expect that such rules as the “Double Tap” and “Always Check the Backseat” will be shouted at witless horror movie characters for many years to come.
  4. Bill Murray – I’m not sure how, but I wasn’t even aware that Bill Murray was in this movie.  How freaking great is that!  Bill Murray, everybody…. Bill Murray.  I’d like to go on record and say that we could all use with more Bill in our post-apocalyptic/zombie/horror movies.  More horror… less Garfield!
  5. Van Halen – I’m sure I’m missing other uses of “Everybody Wants Some” in Cinema.  But, honestly, the last time I remembered enjoying this song during a movie was Better Off Dead.  Ahh.. Van  Halen.. back when they were still arguably cool.

Well, I don’t want to give away too much of the movie.  But, to be honest, you know exactly what’s going to happen.  A handful of people loot and blast their way through the Zombie Apocalypse and it’s a wicked good time.  Just enjoy it for what it is…. pretty damned fun.


Oh yeah!  Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer for Zombieland:

New Review: Doomsday (channel your inner 9th grader)

Well, I figured that after a break of, at least, a decade, it was time to actually start doing new reviews again.  I think I put it off for so long because I am no longer that happy-go-lucky drunken buffoon that started this site in 1996 and I wasn’t sure I could capture the same goofy enthusiasm.  But, I do still enjoy movies and I’m still pretty obsessed with the apocalypse, so hopefully I don’t always have to be Debby Downer in these reviews.

Well, if I didn’t want to be a downer, then I probably should have picked a different movie to start with than Doomsday.  But, there is good news… Doomsday proves that time travel is both real and possible.  I say that because I believe the creators of this movie harnessed the power of time travel to go back in time to 1987 and ask the 9th grade version of myself what would make a truly awesome movie.  Here’s what I must have told them:

Yup, that prety much sums it up.  To really enjoy this movie, I just channeled the 9th grade version of myself and turned off my “old guy” brain.  It really helped.

If you want the quick summary.  This movie is the lovechild of Excalibur, Thunderdome and Escape from New York.  Yup, it’s like that…. only not that good, really.  Although, if I could put nostalgia aside and put this movie, side by side, up against Escape from New York, I bet I would be surprised.

Why do I keep mentioning Escape from New York?  Well, Doomsday is pretty much the exact same format.  The hero needs to get into the destroyed city (or, in this case, country) and get something important out.  But, what’s more, the heroine even sports a Snake Plissken-style eye patch!   (My inner 9th grader just said “Awesome” again at that mention of the eye patch).  Also, many of the survivors in the destroyed area dress just like your standard punk rock apocalypse kids.  You know the drill, gas is scarce but hair gel is growing on trees, so everyone has Mohawks.

At times, I started to suspect that this movie was actually an homage to the classic 1980s post-apocalyptic movies of my childhood.   But, there’s a fine line between homage and plagiarism.  So, I had to revert back to 9th grade form and just “shut up and enjoy the ride”.

Thankfully that helped me ignore some of the following cinematic moments that would have driven my inner “old guy” completely nuts.

Anyway, I’m just letting it all slide and trying not to get too discouraged.  I mean, the movie was fun and it was apocalypse by plague (which is my favorite kind).  But, the premise of the movie is my least favorite.  I don’t like it when the rest of the world is ok and just one tiny section is screwed up because not enough of the movie is spent on looting and scavenging.  Why scavenge when you are equipped with fancy modern weapons and super-suits?  I’ll tell ya why…. Scavenging is freaking awesome!  That’s why.

Also, after the crushingly realistic apocalypse portrayed “The Road” (which I just recently read), it’s hard to enjoy a fun make-believe apocalypse.  And that really bums me out.


Guest Review: Virus (1980) aka Fukkatsu no hi

Guest review by tetsuo:

There are two versions to this film: the first is edited export version in which they cut out most of the Japanese scenes(obviously translating them to English is a hassle) which were about 30 to 40 minutes of the film and the unedited Japanese version. The movie is about a russian virus which is accidentally released and then goes to contaminate the rest of the world, it kills so fast that civilization collapses in a couple of months, the only survivors are those in antartica because the virus becomes dormant in extreme cold temps. From their they learn that there will be an impending earthquake in washington(as to how they found out, I have no idea) and this will automatically launch all the nukes at russia then russia will launch….(you get the idea). This is film is nicely shot and well done, the casting is somewhat biziarre with Chuck Connors playing a british submarine commander! Some scenes here are downright funny such as in the Japanese version, there is a scene featuring virus victims doing the disco(yes the Travolta style) before they drop over, another scene is when a lover of the Japanese guy in antartica tries use a speed boat to get to the north Pole from Japan!(well good luck). There are also two endings for this movie, the good ending is in the Japanese version and the bad ending is the export version(as I watched it when I was in the Phillipines). This movie is supposedly the most expensive Japanese film done(because of all those famous actors), it is well shot and done(it better be worth it). Also watch out for other actors such as Robert Vaugn, Olivia Hussy, Glenn Ford, Edward James Olmos(before Blade Runner), Bo Svenson, Henry Silva(the bad guy from Escape From the Bronx) . Recomended.

Virus (1980)
Virus (1980)

Old Review: The Stand

I’m not sure I’m qualified to review The Stand yet, as I’ve only seen part I. But, it sucked so bad that I feel safe to say that the whole movie is gonna bite. The characters were some of the lamest stuff I’d ever seen. It’s like they had a big barrel full of lousy stereotypes and they just picked at random.
I admit that I liked the fact that it was apocalypse by disease instead of nuclear war, But that was the only thing that kept me going. Well… that and Molly Ringwald. Grrrrrr.
People keep telling me that the book is really super great, but I wouldn’t know because I am illiterate. But for that reason, I won’t slam the movie too hard. But, unless it is $.50 at the Video Store… then get something good like “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls“.
O.K. I finally finished the other part of this movie. If it is any indication what the end of the world is going to be like, I’m gonna kill myself. If they pay you $2.00 to rent this movie, don’t take it. It’s 6 hours of your life you will never have back. Think about it. That is 12 episodes of the Simpsons. Here is what makes you watch it, though. After tape 1) Hmm… Pretty crappy, but maybe it gets better in tape 2? After tape 2) I hate life and this idiot movie. But then again, maybe it gets better in the second half. After tape 3) Man, I’m really ruined now… there is no chance of this being good, but I’ve already wasted 4 1/2 hours of my life. Might as well screw it all up.

Stephen King Gift Set (The Langoliers / The Stand / Golden Years)
Stephen King Gift Set (The Langoliers / The Stand / Golden Years)

Note: This original review was written sometime during 1996-1997, when I was a drunken, twenty-something nincompoop.  I am no longer that person.  Or, that is to say, I am in my thirties now. 😉

The Omega Man

I watched Omega Man one right after I force myself to sit through Metalstorm: the destruction of Jared Syn, which I won’t be reviewing. Some nut told me it was post-apocalyptic, where it’s actually like a cross between Beastmaster and Spacehunter. Just some stupid future movie in outer space. Anyway, I was really down after that… I didn’t wanna watch anymore of these movies. Well, I gave it one more chance and watched The Omega Man. Ahh… sweet bliss.
Here’s what’s good about this one. 1) Apocalypse by plague, 2) Zombie-ish cultists, 3) Charleton Heston as a nutso trigger-happy doctor, 4) the foxy afro lady. Heh heh… dang. Most of the movie is just Chuck wandering through abandoned Los Angeles, shooting and looting. Heck, I could watch that for hours. But then, of course, we get trouble in paradise. Evil anti-tech troglodytes have to muck everything up. But then there are these kids and a sweet-talking soul sister, who is attracted to Chuck for god-knows-why. (the pants I bet)
Anyway, this one is a whopper. Not hard to watch at all. I’ve heard it’s a little slicker than the original, The Last Man on Earth“, with Vincent Price, but that the original is still pretty good. It only gets silly for a moment at the end. Chuck is dead and bleeding into a fountain and he collapses in a christ-pose. Then the movie goes all psychedelic looking. Actually.. that part was o.k. Like I was saying though… this one rates at least in the top ten… I’m glad I got to watch it… because tonight I have to sit through Damnation Alley… ugh.

The Omega Man (1971)
The Omega Man (1971)

Note: This original review was written sometime during 1996-1997, when I was a drunken, twenty-something nincompoop.  I am no longer that person.  Or, that is to say, I am in my thirties now. 😉

12 Monkeys

Terry Gilliam is a genius. Plain and simple. I remember as a kid that Time Bandits always freaked me out everytime it was on HBO, but I couldn’t turn it off. It was so creepy and dirty looking. Then came Brazil (or at least, that’s the order I saw them in) and my fear was replaced with confusion. I still don’t completely understand Brazil, but I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you, I hardly understand the Dukes of Hazzard. Anyway, I had very, very high hopes for this here monkey movie… and I wasn’t disappointed.
This is neat because we can see the world from all sides of the apocalypse; before, during and after. The future looked great. Reminded me a lot of City of Lost Children, as far as the neat devices and low-tech gadgets went. (I think the trick to make those look neat, is to make them brassy). Anyway, apocalypse by plague, which is always a nice change. And I really liked the actors… yes, yes, I know that Brad Pitt was in it, but I thought he did pretty good. We can argue about it later.
Like I was saying, 12 Monkeys makes you feel dizzy and almost nauseous, during and afterwards. I took that as a sign that it was actually affecting me, rather than my usual movie-watching state. (i.e. Beer, Popcorn, Bathroom, Beer) I mean, I was really interested in what was happening. So, I recommend this one through the roof. If you want a really disturbed, but fun, evening, then get this one and City of Lost Children in one night. I guarantee you will feel weird afterwards. Just remember to pay very close attention. There is much you will miss otherwise.
Doh! I almost forgot. I wanted to ask peoples opinion on the dream sequence. You know, how the guy with the briefcase who gets shot is always different? My theory is that they were actually changing time with their actions, even though they didn’t think this was possible. Or, maybe Bruce Willis just had a lousy memory? Let me know what you think.

12 Monkeys (1995) Starring: Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis
12 Monkeys (1995) Starring: Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis

Note: This original review was written sometime during 1996-1997, when I was a drunken, twenty-something nincompoop. I am no longer that person. Or, that is to say, I am in my thirties now. 😉

City Limits

I saw City Limits in its MST3K version. And thank god for that. I would have had to question my desire to continue in this project if I had seen this turkey in its regular form. You know what is wacky though? It has James Earl Jones in it… What the hey? Also, its got Kim Katrell , grrrrrrr. Of course Croooow was going wacky all over her. He’s in love you know.
Anyway, on to the movie. It was death by plague which was nice to see. Considering the lack of ideas in this film, you would have guessed they would have copped out with Nuclear War. But, that’s about as far as the originality went. Oh yeah… plague… O.K. Anyway, only kids are left, for the most part, and they form roving motorcycle gangs which divide the city and rule according to issues of the comic book “Insect Man”.
I know what you are going to say, “So what’s the bad part?” Don’t make me bludgeon you with sausage… Because I will do it.
I wish I could remember more of Joel and the Robots dialogue, cause they worked this movie up and down. I do remember two things; 1) They went off on this tangent about creating their own super heroes which ruled, and 2) They make fun of the standard Post-Apoc convention of theme costumes. With 1) They had some gems, like “Really Deep Man! — he’s realllly deeep man”. And “Man Man! — All the powers of a normal man, but he’s a man.” That killed me. For 2) Joel made some crack like, “We gotta get more theme costumes, these guys are kicking our butts.” This was because the bad guy bike gang were equipped with Napoleon costumes and junk like that. The good guys just looked like Soundgarden or something.
Anyway, unless your friend has a copy of this on video from Joel and the bots, don’t bother. It will make you wanna poke your eyes out with cocktail franks.

City Limits (1985) Starring: Jennifer Balgobin, Kim Cattrall
City Limits (1985) Starring: Jennifer Balgobin, Kim Cattrall

Note: This original review was written sometime during 1996-1997, when I was a drunken, twenty-something nincompoop.  I am no longer that person.  Or, that is to say, I am in my thirties now. 😉