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:

  • There is no such thing as unnecessary gore
  • Explosions are "radical"
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is "wicked awesome"
  • Heroes (or heroines) who talk to much are "totally gay"
  • Action and Comedy are "two great tastes that taste great together"
  • Adam Ant and Siouxsie and the Banshees will make this the best soundtrack EVER!

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.

  • What's better than a one-eyed heroine with a robot eye?  Umm.. how about a two-eyed heroine with a robot eye.  Or, better yet, a two-eyed heroine with like six robot eyes.  I mean, if that freaking robot eye is so awesome when why doesn't everyone in the squad get one?
  • You are in a completely destroyed, run-down city living on human remains when just miles away is beautiful green countryside literally over-run with cows.  Huh?  Are you telling me that human flesh is more tasty than cow flesh, because I'm never going to believe that.
  • If there is a secret tunnel that is used almost every day, how believable is it that this same secret tunnel has a) functioning backup generators after 23 years b) piles and piles of unopened crates (including a car with unspoiled gasoline)?
  • If you were raised in some sort of post-apocalyptic medieval castle and then were taken prisoner by the "punk rock" guys (who all ride motorcycles and drive cars).  How believable is it that you don't know what a car does when you find perfectly mint car in the unopened box mentioned above?

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.


Finished the Road, on to Wastelands?

Well, the same day that I posted, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, I finished the book.  I stayed up till 2am because I couldn't stop reading.  Also, it too me a little longer than it normally would have because I kept having to get up to check on my two sons.  Not because they were restless but because the relationship between the father and the son, in The Road,  got to me that much.  This book might be one of the most realistic portrayals of the apocalypse that has even been written (or filmed, for that matter).  And, that realism hurts.  The tension and foreboding never let up and I found myself having to pause and take a breath.

I won't give anything away (surprise, surprise, I used to be the spoiler king!), but if you have children, expect The Road to really get to you.   Next thing you know, you'll be building bomb shelters and protective force fields in your backyard.  Just because you will never want to have your children to have to go through any of that nightmare.

Ugh.  So, now I need some post-apocalyptic, but somehow more light-hearted.  I did a brief look around and found Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse.  Has anyone read this collection?

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (Paperback)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Ok.  So, I realize that in my post Oryx and Crake (maybe I should start reading?) I somewhat promised to start on Oryx and Crake as my next book (hopefully becoming a string on post-apocalyptic books to be consumed by yours truly).  Well, here's what happened.  I've been traveling for a few days (nothing fun, just stupid work) and I was without a book the entire time.  So, when I got home on Saturday, I devoured the rest of Blue Mars and suddently found myself without a book.  I read just about every night and whenever I can throughout the day, so to be without a book is something I couldn't tolerate, especially because I'd spent 3 days traveling in just such a predicament.

Well, Oryx and Crake was going to have to wait (because I haven't gotten it yet) but I didn't want to let down my post-apocalyptic buddies by starting another Hugo-award-winning sci-fi book.  Then I found a copy of "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy that someone must have given to me as a gift.  I've been pretty excited to see this film ever since I first got a glimpse of the trailer.

So, I picked up my copy and hopped in the bath.  An hour later I was shivering in barely lukewarm water and I didn't want to go anywhere.  So far, I love The Road.  As you know, I'm a drunken goofball who loves shoddy movies, but I do appreciate a well-written book.  McCarthy's style is reminiscent of Hemingway, if you ask me.  It's very terse and it moves along very quickly.  However, when he does go into some narrative detail, he does so very well.  (describing a creature's eyes as "as blindless as spider's eggs" is a good example)

Anyway, has anyone seen the movie yet?  How does it compare?  I don't mind if it can't capture the book (people need to quit bitching about that, it's virtually impossible anyway).  But, does it stand up on its own?

The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2009)
The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2009)

Damnation Alley

Damnation Alley is one wacky monster of a movie.  It stars both Jan-Michael Vincent (the guy from Airwolf) and George Peppard (Hannibal from the A-team).  In fact, you can just mash both of those old TV shows together, substitute a tank machine for the Airwolf, keep Hannibal exactly the same and you've got Damnation Alley. But, I'm not saying that it's all bad. Good mixes of giant scorpions and killer cockroaches keeps it interesting.
My favorite part of the movie was when they are in Las Vegas. Thank god it wasn't destroyed! Anyway, they have these quarters and nickels and start playing slots like mad. I get shaky just thinking about it. See, there are casinos here and I think I'm addicted... so I went cold turkey. Ugh. I also figured out another valuable lesson to surviving the apocalypse.
LESSON: If you are traveling across the barren wasteland, that is the post-apocalyptic United States, in a giant killer tank-van, then keep this in mind. Every other time you stop the van, something bad will happen. The other times will prolly be to pick up freeloaders. In this movie, this lesson was pointed out as follows.
Stop 1: Nerdy guy dies.
Stop 2: Las Vegas, freeloader chick hops on.
Stop 3: Soul man eaten alive by giant mormon cochroaches.. heh.
Stop 4: Pick up little kid. (freeloader)
Stop 5: Stop at evil gas station, attacked by hicks.
Stop 6: Have a nice dinner outside.
etc. etc. etc. Anyway, it's good. Well, it's at least o.k. I still miss B.A. Baracus.

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. 😉

Damnation Alley (1977)
Damnation Alley (1977)

Oryx and Crake (maybe I should start reading?)

So, when I originally created this site back in '96, the running gag was that I was this barely-literate drunken goon.  Well, two out of three ain't bad, right?  Turns out, I can read.  Although, truth be told, several years ago I decided to only read books that had won the Hugo or Nebula.  But, of course, each of these books would send me on a side journey to read all the works of each of these authors.  In some cases that took me something like a year just to read the author's collected works (Thanks a bunch Ursula K. Le Guin).  Well, it sure seems like I should be reading some post-apocalyptic books, right?  I mean, I know the site isn't called but we can still randomly talk about books, right?

Anyway, I think the first book I'm going to read on my quest for apocalypse-related books is probably going to be Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.  I don't know a ton about her or her books, but it seems like every time I'm googling for apocalypse-related material, she pops up.  So, there has to be something there, right?

From the synopsis and reviews, the apocalypse sounds like it was by plague (which I think is the most likely kind we'll get these days).  The book follows the life of Jimmy (aka Snowman) before and after the apocalypse and it sounds like there are some pretty creepy moments.  Something about green-eyed "Children of Crake" and whatnot.  Anyway, can anyone recommend this book?  Because I'm just about done with "Blue Mars" and I need something new.

Oryx and Crake (Hardcover)
Oryx and Crake (Hardcover)

Roger Corman’s GAS-S-S-S

Wow.  I'm not sure how it happened that I never heard of this movie.  The full title is, "GAS-S-S-S, Or It Became Necessary To Destroy The World In Order To Save It"  Apparently the concept goes something like this: The world is in crisis (I'm assuming maybe it's a population issue?) so the government releases a toxic gas that kills everyone over 25.  I guess the assumption is that the young folks will get it together and fix the planet.  I bet you can guess what really happens, though....

Yup, you guessed it alright.  Wah-wah pedals come out of the woodwork, everyone drops acid and "freaks out"!  Umm... awesome!  Roger Corman is the master of making movies on effectively no budget, but somehow he managed to get Country Joe and Fishto make a guest appearance.  The set-up is simple, all the old fogies are dead so what do the kids want to do?  Well why not have a Woodstock-style 3 day rock fest?  Why not have it in a motel?!  Um... what?  Couldn't they just crash the Hollywood Bowl or something?

I'm seriously considering buying the Roger Corman collection, but then somehow I'll have to explain to my wife why we are watching bad movies on purpose.  These days, that's getting harder to explain to myself.  Heh.

Roger Corman Collection (Bloody Mama / A Bucket of Blood / The Trip / Premature Burial / The Young Racers / The Wild Angels / Gas-s-s / X) (1967)
Roger Corman Collection (Bloody Mama / A Bucket of Blood / The Trip / Premature Burial / The Young Racers / The Wild Angels / Gas-s-s / X) (1967)

Trailer: Duty of Living

So, I'm wading through 800 old e-mail messages (apparently I caught senior-itis in October) and I found one from the producer of a new movie called The Duty of Living. It looks pretty great, but check out the trailer for yourself.

The Duty of Living - Official Trailer from Brandon Hunt on Vimeo.
Juan Riedinger is starring in this feature (Hardwired, Jennifer's Body, The Day the Earth Stood Still).  I'm actually pretty excited about it.  Based on the trailer, it looks like it will spend more time on the human drama of a zombie apocalypse instead of all the exploding brains and whatnot (don't get me wrong.. both are good).  We just don't really get that angle very often.

I'm also excited for this film because of the sense of tension that you get in the trailer.  You know how the best horror movies of the seventies spent a lot of time establishing tension (almost to the point of uncomfortableness) before the horror really kicked in.  I get that impression from this trailer.... and I like it!

The Apocalypse is Making Guitars Now?

Um.. why was I not informed that there was such a thing as an apocalypse guitar?  As you may or may not be aware.  I am in a heavy new wave (sci-fi themed) band.  We have songs about Dune and Orson Scott Card novels and whatnot.  Anyway, I never even considered that I could combine my love of new wave and rawk music and my love of post-apocalyptic cinema.  What a "you got chocolate in my peanut butter" moment!  Oh wait.. you probably don't know what I'm talking about yet, right?  I found this thing on ebay: SCHECTER V-1 APOCALYPSE GUITAR.

Here's a picture:


Now, I'm not claiming to know much about this guitar.  Hell, it could sound like crap.  (Although something is telling me that it's pretty rad-sounding)  But, just look at it!  It looks like old weathered brass or something?  I could totally see Mad Max playing this guitar.  Actually, it would probably be Snake or somebody else from Escape from New York, but you get the idea.

I love reading the auction notes because they are pretty much without capitalization and punctuation so you get the feeling your reading some crackpot's manifesto or something:


See what I mean?  Awesome!

Zombocalypse Now (Paperback)

So, let me see if I have this right.  It's a choose-your-own-adventure book about the zombie apocalypse and you are (in your role as the protagonist) a pink stuffed bunny rabbit?  That's correct? Awesome!

Zombocalypse Now (Paperback)
Zombocalypse Now (Paperback)

From the description over at Amazon:

You're a stuffed bunny, and it's the end of the world. Between you and your objective are forty or fifty ­zombies gorging ­themselves on the flesh of the living. If you disguise yourself as one of them and try to sneak past the feeding frenzy, turn to page 183.If you grab a tire iron, flip out and get medieval on their undead asses, turn to page 11. Zombocalypse Now is a comedy/horror ­reimagining of the choose-your-own-ending books you grew up with. You'll be confronted with undead hordes, ­internet ­dating, improper police procedure, and the very real ­danger that you'll lose your grip on reality and wind up stark raving mad. The zombie apocalypse has never been this much fun.

Umm... RAD!

Seven Signs of the Apocalypse (2009)

I'm pretty freaking psyched on Seven Signs of the Apocalypse.  My brother called me when it was showing on the History channel pretty much ranting and raving because he knew it was right up my alley.  But, somehow I didn't get the message and I've been kicking myself ever since.  As I understand it, they basically go through various ways in which the world could end (i.e. plagues, war, etc).  Sadly, I see no mention of zombies, but I'm sure it'll still be good.  Here's what description at Amazon says

Are there real, verifiable connections between the prophecies of the past and what is happening in the world right now? Are the signs of the apocalypse happening before our eyes? For example, the first sign is ''Plagues and Pandemics.'' From drug-resistant staph in American hospitals to outbreaks of Ebola in the Third World -- are new and deadly plagues the beginning of the end?

From the writings of medieval seers, to the words of today's most respected scientists, this documentary examines these questions, presenting varying viewpoints from skeptics and ''true believers.'' It looks back at ancient prophecies across every culture including the Mayan Calendar, the Chinese I Ching and the Bible, breaking apart the origin of these signs and looking for connections in our modern world.

Yes please!

Seven Signs of the Apocalypse (2009)
Seven Signs of the Apocalypse (2009)