New Review: Infestation

Before we get started, let me tell you what motivated me to work on this review today.  I saw a new e-mail in my inbox, it was from "bob" and the subject was "stuff".  Instantly, I figured it was my good friend Bob Marshall (of Biga Pizza fame, drummer for Volumen).  I started the e-mail and then my brain started reeling with me wondering how I'd wronged Bob.  He sounded pissed.  Here's the e-mail:

the stuff you wrote about hitting a wall was totally lame. Getting old sounds fucking typical at your house. break the mold homeboy. your page is to good for that type of talk.

Instantly I'm rejuvenated!  I'm ready to watch just about any steaming pile of horseshit and write a review.  Hell, I might go back and watch Diary of the Dead now.  Hell, I might even re-watch The Stand and Waterworld and that's saying alot.

This site gets roughly 300 unique visits a day, but sometimes it's easy to forget that.  I mean, I guess if I don't get angry or crazy e-mails then I feel like you guys aren't out there.  Turns out, you are.  Heh.  And you are as crazy and pissed as ever.

So, on to Infestation, or as it's known in Japan "Big Bugs Panic".  (Aside: They've got movie naming down to a real art form over there in Japan.  Big Bugs Panic tells me everything I need to know and it sounds fun as hell, right?)  Infestation is kind of a cross between Waiting... and Them! (Damn, I need to review Them!).

Now, before you get your panties in a twist, it's not totally accurate to say that Infestation is post-apocalyptic.  But, you can't prove to me that what happens in the movie didn't happen everywhere on Earth, so I think I can get away with it.  Also, the ending provides a silly clue that maybe there's more to this.  Regardless, I knew I was going to try and sneak it in once the movie got rolling mainly because I like to fill out the "Apocalypse by Miscellaneous" category.  Everything is freaking Zombies these days!  I get it, though, in the 80s it was all Nukes,  90s had more Plague.  But, I'm ready for giant bugs and space slime again.

So, the star of Infestation is Chris Marquette and it's looking like guy has put on some weight since Fanboys (which, by the way, is pretty freaking rad as well).  Basically, think of Chris's character as a sarcastic slacker-type who is thrown into a Giant Bug Apocalypse and you are ready to roll.

Now, look, I'm not saying this movie is Delicatessan or anything, but it definitely has more than enough moments to keep you entertained.  Also, the giant rubber bugs are pretty freaking rad.  There's some CG as well, but it's all cheesy enough to be charming some how.

Oh crap, I almost forgot!  It's got Ray Wise!  You know.... Ray Wise!  Huh?  C'mon.  Leland Palmer from Twin Peaks?!  Yah!  I dunno why, but I freaking love Ray Wise.

So, summation time.  Giant Bug Apocalypse, Hip Ironic Smartass, Ray Wise!  If that isn't enough for you, then check out this picture..... Gah!  Nevermind!  I was trying to find a cool picture of the half bug, half spider mutant creatures.  Don't ever do a Google Images search for "Infestation".  Freaking gross!  I'm going to go wash my eyes now... with beer.

I'm back baby.  I'm back!  Luv, Shane

Un-review: Diary of the Dead

So, I guess it's officially happened.  When I started this page (back in 1996) I would watch any post-apocalyptic movie, at any time, for any reason.  That's an easy mission to complete when your life otherwise consists of PBR, insanely loud rock music and ditching class.  Apparently, I've hit the freaking wall.  And that wall is called... OLDNESS.

I say that because anymore it might be several weeks before I watch ANY movie, let alone something post-apocalyptic.  A foxy wife, two kids, two businesses, a rock band, etc, etc, really takes it's toll on a guy.  I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it does cut into my cinema time.  Well anyway, it turned out that tonight had potential to be a movie night.  The kids were already asleep and it was only 8pm.  Hell's yeah, right?!

So, I started a few movies and stopped them right away for various reasons.

  1. This movie has subtitles, my wife is working on her computer and watching movies (somehow) so subtitles aren't going to work... moving on
  2. Another movie looked to be some sort of kung-fu action, also seemed like a hard sell to said foxy wife.
  3. More subtitles?!  Seriously, do I have any non-foreign movies?

Then I stumbled on Diary of the Dead.  Instantly I was stoked because it's very rarely that we can watch a post-apocalyptic movie that I haven't seen already that is also a major production (that is to say, filmed after 1990 somewhere besides Italy).  I started the movie and was encouraged by the opening scene.  Then there was this 20-something person doing a voiceover about uploading video and true stories and other nonsense.

That's when I realized that, in some sort of evil Reese's Peanut Butter cup moment, someone got shitty reality TV in my horror movie.  Yup, the ole movie inside the movie gag.  Ugh.  I let it roll until they got the point where they were literally filming a horror movie inside of the movie inside of the horror movie I was supposed to be watching (about 6 minutes in, I think?) and then I turned it off.

That's right.  I turned it off.

Why?  Frankly, my freaking life is too damn busy to watch shitty movies.  I have hit the wall.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still all over B-movies.  In fact, I just watched Infestation (I'll write something about it soon) and I enjoyed it.  So, it doesn't take top notch production or story to keep me going.  But, if you have fucking millions of dollars and your name is already famous, then I don't have time to watch your movie if it sucks.

Hmm... maybe I'm just grumpy today?  I invite any of you to write your own review of Diary of the Dead, if you want.  I'm not saying you are an idiot if you liked it.  I'm just saying that it was 90 minutes that I didn't have time for.

Guest Review: La Jetée (1962) by Kenny Couch

ATTENTION: Spoilers possible

Well, I didn't find a review of La Jetée on your sight but you should watch
it some time.  It was the inspiration for 12 Monkeys and is a realy great
little film.  I think you'd dig it.

Wow, I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without seeing this movie.  It’s
freakin’ amazing!  La Jetée feel like a 28 minute long nightmare.  The story
is told from a narrator over series of still photos, giving the feeling of
leafing through an old photo diary with the photographer telling you the
story as you go along.

La Jetée a group surviving beneath Paris after World War III has turned
Paris into a “desert”.  "The Experimenter" has been working on theories of
time travel, as space travel is basically not going to happen.  Many
prisoners are broken by his experiments because mentally they cannot handle
the intense procedure.  While monitoring the prisoners dreams they find a
man with an obsessive memory from his childhood at the Orly Airport of a
woman's face and a man being shot.  Using this memory as an anchor point
"The Experimenter" begins a series of successful trials in time travel.  The
man repeatedly goes to the past meeting the woman at different points in her
life.  Soon though it is realized that the past will not help mend the
present, a trip to the future offers the only hope.  Luckily, the man is
successful and gains a new energy supply for his people.  His usefullness
gone he realizes that he will be executed by his jailers. The man is then
visited by those he met in the future and offered safe haven with them.  He
accepts but asks to be returned to the past to find the woman.  His request is
fulfilled and he finally finds the woman at the Orly Airport only to be
executed by agents from his own time.  As he lay dying he realizes that he
is the dying man in his memory.

Both films share many plot elements and ideas but I think La Jetée gets
credit for being the more creative of the two.  I’m not giving shit to
Gilliam borrowing from this film but the presentation of
La Jetée makes the
whole experience truly rewarding.  The visual presentation and the sound
design put the movie in your head instead of in front of your eyes.

Plus it never hurts when your post-apocalyptic movies happen to be very
artistic and French.  It helps in getting your girlfriend to actually sit
down and watch it with you.

Editor's Note: This review was submitted by Kenny Couch. Everyone else, feel free to send me some reviews!

New Review: Book of Eli (yup, it pretty much sucked)

In another fantastic example of self-fulfilling prophecy, Book of Eli lived up to all my expectations.  Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to hate it, but I just couldn't get my hopes too high.  I mean, it might sound a little hypocritical of me to blast Book of Eli and then lavish high praise on Warriors of the Apocalypse or something similar.  The difference here is that Warriors of the Apocalypse didn't make any promises that it couldn't keep.  (Hell, it didn't make any promises).  What I mean is that if the Hughes Brothers make a post-apocalyptic movie featuring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Tom Waits, Malcolm McDowell, Jennifer Beals (Flashdance... grrr!) and Ray Stevenson (from Rome) then it better freaking rule.

Book of Eli didn't freaking rule.  It didn't even sorta-rule.  There were definitely good moments.  The fight scenes (while being completely ridiculous) were RAD.  But, the movie didn't give the impression that it was supposed to be taken as fantasy or comic book.  So, these over-the-top fight scenes just felt weird.

Also, I debated long and hard about what to do about the big "reveal" at the end.  The old version of me (the more drunk, less coherent version) would completely ruin the ending for you.  But, I'm not going to do that.  Just let it be said that within the first 10 minutes of the movie I guessed what the reveal would be and then talked myself out of believing it because it was too ridiculous based on what was happening in the movie.

The other problem I had with Book of Eli was the inclusion of Mila Kunis.  I'm sorry, but the voice of Mila Kunis is forever burned into my brain as belonging to Meg from Family Guy.  (Note to budding actors: if you want to do animated shows and continue to act in non-animated format, you should invent a wacky cartoon voice for yourself).

Anyway, maybe I'm getting grouchier as I get older, but there was effectively nothing new about Book of Eli and it didn't really do any of the old tricks any better than they've already been done before.

New Review: Pandorum

Pandorum was a nice surprise. I'm always in a good mood when I "accidentally" watch a post-apocalyptic movie. See, I just set out to watch what I thought was going to be a horror movie, or at least a "run from the monster" movie. So, I was delighted when I found out it was post-apocalyptic. Unlike the old me, I'm trying not to drop spoilers these days, so I'll be slightly general in this review. But, I'm much more sober than I used to be, so I might be accidentally more helpful as well.

Anyway, Pandorum features Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster as two crewmates who awaken from cryogenic slumber into a real shitshow. The mission of their ship (The Elysium) is to act as a seedship to colonize an earth-like planet. The earth, itself, is pretty much already ruined when they launch the Elysium, so it's the last hope for humanity. Anyway, they can't remember anything, everything is pretty much broken and... they aren't alone.

While I was watching this movie, I was trying to think what it reminded me. Sure, the comparison to Alien and Event Horizon are sort of obvious, but I was thinking more of sci-fi stories where an entire population is on some sort of world-ship or seed-ship and something goes wrong along the way. At first I was reminded of Phillip K. Dick's Maze of Death.  But, I knew there was something I'd read that was even more closely related.  So, I waded through my bookshelves this morning and turned up Starship by Brian W. Aldiss.

Now, it's been some years since I've read Starship, but I remember it being very similar to Pandorum.  In Starship, entire sections of the ship have grown over into lush jungle and the humans aboard have de-evolved into superstitious primates.  Anyway, there were a lot of similarities.

So, back to Pandorum.  Did I like it?  Sure.  Why?  Well, there aren't that many post-apocalyptic movies that take place entirely aboard a spacecraft, so that was nice.  Also, I went into it expecting very little.  It's like when I buy a pulp sci-fi book at the used book store based entirely on the cover.  I'm not expecting Foundation or Left Hand of Darkness, I just want it to keep me interested.  And Pandorum this and more.  I would have liked slightly less martial arts (if I can get picky) but there were plenty of other interesting aspects of the movie that allowed me to overlook some of the combat scenes.  (For example, one of the kill scenes is freaking brutal!)

Note: Anyway, as a result of watching, I'm not slightly obsessed about other sci-fi movies and books that share a similar concept.  So, if any of you guys can think of other examples, please let me know.  I'm remembering an  Ursula K. Lequin short short where it takes generations for the ship to get to the planet, but, by the time it arrives, no one wants to be explorers anymore.  They are all scared of the anything outside of the ship, but I can't remember the name of that.

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: