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.

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Roaving packs of evil robot dogs (you wish)

So, I'm probably a latecomer to this, but a friend of mine shared a video link with me yesterday that showed off "Big Dog".  Basically, it's like a cross between a robot, donkey, greyhound and spookiness.  In case you haven't seen the video, you should probably familiarize yourself with it before we go any further.

Heavy, right?  During the moments where he stumbles a little bit and then recovers I was feeling a weird combination of sadness (he looks sort of pathetic for a bit) and abject terror.  So, are you saying that when these things revolt and come to destroy their human overlords, that I won't be able to knock them down?  Hmm... I don't think I'm a fan.

Now, don't get me wrong, I completely appreciate the brilliant robotics that went into this Big Dog (I build tiny BEAM robots in my free time).  But, I don't have to worry about my tiny solar powered robots rising up to destroy me.  This is mainly because:

  1. The motors are use are from toothbrushes and cellphones, so they can barely propel their own mass, let along crush my skull with a misplaced kick.
  2. The sun is going to be the first thing we lose in the apocalypse, right?  So, now my armies of solar powered tiny bots are rendered non-functioning.

Meanwhile, Big Dog armies are stomping faces all over the world.  Heh.

I'll tell you who is a fan, though, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).  The guys who created Big Dog got a contract to build LS3 (Legged Squad Support System, aka roving pack of mutant robot dogs that will kick y our face in).  Here's a quote from a Wired article about it:

LS3's proposed abilities impress. The robot will be able to carry 400lbs (about 180 kilos) of equipment, as well as enough fuel for missions covering 20 miles and lasting 24 hours. It also doesn't need a driver because it will either automatically follow a leader using computer vision or travel to designated locations using sensors and GPS.


Teenage Caveman: Guest Review by Steve Paul, of Sketch Zine

Ok. So it's a little weird for me to add this one, but I feel like I need to. This is a guest review from the old site. I think it was submitted around 1997 or so. The reviewer is Steve Paul who was a xerox zine publisher, wicked skateboarder, rabid Nirvana fan and all around great friend. Some years later he was killed in a freak accident and just reading this review brought all of that back. But, I guess it's best to remember his hilarious and sarcastic nature and this review sure does celebrate that. 😉

So what can I really say about the movie, "Teenage Caveman" that we haven't really thought a million times while watching a movie with a clever idea that somewhere in the making stages went completely wrong?
The entire thing's about this young buck in a caveman-style mini-skirt that is going through adolescence in a Neanderthal society, but the entire story takes place after the nuclear holocaust. The general theme is that after the world blew up, the few people in society fell back into a zero technology culture and we all had to start over from scratch again. Kinda a bummer of a future if you think about it, but then you throw in the rebel against the system, "We don't need no thought control, man!" theme, and what you end up with is one gigantic mess.
Teenage Caveman mainly consists of four or five dialogs that are repeated so often throughout the course of the movie that you want to poke No. 2 pencils in your ears to stop the insanity. (Editor's note: "The word is the law. The law is the word. The good is the blah. Blah dee dee blah.") Plus there are lots of neat monsters with really pathetic costumes, and eventually you begin to ask yourself, "Does prolonged exposure to nuclear radiation really lead to a mutated society full of Cro-Magnon beatniks, 60 year old Jimmy Stewarts, and rubber Godzilla wannabes?" Something to think about before you go vote this fall. Stick it to the man and tell him, "We don't want your rules and we certainly don't want your goddamn war!"
Viking Women and the Sea Serpent/Teenage Caveman (1958)

The Drill (yowzers)

Ever since I started this website (1996?) I've been pretty excited (and slightly freaked out) by the e-mails I get.  In the early days almost all the e-mail was from survivalist types and they were usually giving me tips about what I should be hoarding and what skills I should be developing for the End Times.  It got to the point where if I saw that the e-mail was sent from the Contact Form on the old site, I knew it was just going to reek of crazy.

Well, things are slightly changing.  Now I mostly get e-mails from people developing/promoting films or festivals or whatnot.  Heck, I'm not complaining.  Any apocalypse-related e-mail is a good thing in my book.  But, sometimes I really miss the crazy factor.  Heck, what would be better would be a crazy e-mail promoting some sort of insane movie, right?  Heh.. wait for it.

Well, today I was trying to clean up my 900+ message inbox and I found a few messages from the site that I must have skipped over somehow.  One of them was promoting a post-apocalyptic movie called "The Drill".  The old me would have had a field day with this one, but the new me just wants to present the information and let you all make up your own minds.

Here's a plot synopsis from The Drill Website:

In the future, conflict between the entangled world governments and religeons will bring civilization to an end.
From the ashes of destruction a new world will eventually rise

until then...

A farmer, will toil in the wasteland, doing anything to provide for his family. Against drought, famine and opression -they will fight for survival.

their biggest threat...

A mysterious cult (The Tower Of Light), formed in the underground shelters after WWIII, the first and most powerful to rise, will seize the opportunity to dominate and shape the world in their own image -it will fight for control.

there is only one thing standing in it's way...

A lone rebel, surrounded by the lore of murderous-drill-weilding-madman, will do anything to bring down the cult. When his motives are finally made clear, it will be too late -he will
fight for revenge.

Yup.  The hero kills people with drills.  But all sorts of drills, apparently.  Hell, even his motorcycle is a drill!  My favorite still is "The Drill" emerging from the ocean with some sort of speargun drill and a old school deep sea diver's helmet.

"The Drill" - This time, he's enjoying some SCUBA

Click that image if you want to see more images from their Stills Gallery.  There is also a trailer for The Drill and you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't go and check that little beauty out.  Just try and not get any crazy on yourself while you are over there.  Although, in all fairness, this looks like something I would have watched when I was making my way through all of the Italian post-apocalyptic movies from the mid 80s... so I guess it's not really that crazy.  Just be careful.

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: