A poster gallery of the psychotronic flicks we’ve been watching over the past month.
A poster gallery of the psychotronic flicks we’ve been watching over the past month.
The Screaming Minis is an experiment in short (well, shorter) individual reviews, as way for us to talk a little more about the other movies of note we’re watching but without the involved, in-depth discussion delivered as a duo. The name comes from The Screaming Mimi, the 1949 pulp novel by Frederic Brown that inspired Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.
Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Chad Villella & Justin Martinez)
Starring: Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard, Hannah Fierman, Joe Swanberg, Kate Lyn Sheil, Jason Yachanin, John Walcutt, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Chad Villella
Running time: 116 minutes
As a fan of found footage, anthologies, and Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) and Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead) I’d been looking forward to this movie. With its recent release to VOD and a few other outlets, I had to check it out.
A group of hipster thugs that spend most of their time doing crimes, being dicks, and making a buck with sharking videos are hired to steal a VHS tape. They burgle their way into the home of the man in possession of the tape, only to find him dead in front of a mass of screens and a mountain of cassettes. As they split up to search the rest of the house, one member of the group begins reviewing the tapes. In the first, some brosephs try to pick up some drunk girls and secretly record their own personal porn. They’re moderately successful, but probably wish they hadn’t been. The second tape is a travelogue of a young couple second-honeymooning in the American Southwest who picked precisely the wrong motel to stay in. In the third segment, a girl takes a group of new friends on a camping trip. Always a bad idea. Tape number four contains the webcam conversations of a man and his troubled friend who believes her house is haunted. And the final tape shows a group of guys heading out to a Halloween party. They may’ve gotten the address wrong.
I wasn’t sure whether I liked V/H/S or not after first watching it. I knew there were scenes I enjoyed and I liked the overall concept, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about its execution as a whole. It’s flawed: Some of the tapes work better than others. The third segment, “Tuesday the 17th,” isn’t quite as good as the rest, though it does have its moments. Some of the characters (especially the dudes in the framing sequence and the first tape, “Succubus”) are EXTREMELY annoying. I think “10/31/98” went a little too crazy toward the end. It features a haunted house and with hauntings, subtle is usually better. Think The Haunting (1963) versus The Haunting (1999). And the second and fourth tapes don’t provide much of explanation and can be a little disorienting.
The day after seeing it, I tried to describe the movie to, shockingly, someone who wasn’t Fisty. (I still feel guilty.) I found that there was a lot that I wanted to mention. There are plenty of freaky little details as well as big payoffs from each segment. That’s when I started to feel that there was more about the movie that affected me than I was immediately aware. Just hearing about the stories from the movie secondhand had that someone interested. She wasn’t just listening to the scenes I was describing, she was reacting.
Fulci said his film The Beyond was “[An] absolute film, with all the horrors of our world. It’s a plotless film: a house, people, and dead men coming from The Beyond. There’s no logic to it, just a succession of images.” I think V/H/S works in the same way. (Not as well as The Beyond. Don’t think I’m praising it THAT highly.) It’s a collection of nightmare clips not designed to flesh out every detail, make perfect sense, or just go from story point A to story point B, but rather to tap into our fears and freakouts. It’s a handful of video equivalencies of the urban legend about the mad man under the bed, pretending to be the family dog, licking the little girl’s hand. This is why just hearing my spoken account of the movie could affect someone. That’s the level V/H/S works on, that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark level. It does it well and that’s why I’m still thinking about the movie days after watching it. It affected me. It was freaky. It was scary. Bravo.
Also, there was A LOT of nudity … male and female!
V/H/S, while not being great, is still a good found footage anthology whose successes outnumber my nitpicks. Shockingly violent, disturbing, scary, and bizarre, it revels in its own freakiness and the disreputable nature of the genre.
Halloween is on its way. This is my favorite time of year and I wanted to kick off the season right. What better way to do that then with hordes of the shambling undead? I decided that I’d spend a week watching nothing but zombie movies, beginning on September 18th and leading up to Old School Sinema’s 6th Cleveland Charity Zombie Walk, which I knew was coming up on September 25th. If I managed to survive 30 hours of gutmunchers and the company of hundreds of brain-ivores, this week of extreme carnage would serve as my official beginning to this years Halloween season.
Blaxspoitation voodoo zombies in the funkified seventies, killing organized crime thugs.
It’s a low rent Foxy Brown with zombies by the people who brought you Blackula. It’s all very cheesy. Also very fun. The zombies have bulging eyes devoid of pupils or irises, discolored skin and cobwebs on them. They look slightly moldered more than straight out rotted. It’s a look that is, at once, really corny and still pretty cool. Nothing to see in terms of gore or nudity, sadly, but plenty to laugh at. Noisiest jungle ever. And Baron Samedi is hilarious.
Aquatic, grimoire-raised, zombies in a reservoir over a submerged town, killing anyone that goes near the water. (Great idea!)
Brian Yuzna always makes good with bucketfuls of awesome gore and make up and some nice, healthy titties and, really, that is usually enough. He doesn’t disappoint here, bringing both in good supply. With Beneath Still Waters, however, he really goes out of his way and also gives you some creepy atmosphere and it’s a great concept. Based on a novel, I believe. Thank you, Brian Yuzna, for Melinda Clarke in Return of the Living Dead 3 and thank you for Beneath Still Waters, a movie that lets me have my cake (smooshed all over a woman’s breasts at an orgy) and see people get eaten, too.
3. Bio Zombie
Chemical weapon, soft drink zombies inside a mall, killing the people locked in with them. How’s that for a twist?
Bio Zombie is a fucking awesome zomcom. Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee are my new heroes. They are like the Shaun and Ed of zombie movies. Well, the Shaun and Ed of Hong Kong zombie movies, I guess. Or maybe I should call them the Brody and T. S. of zombie movies. Or if Shaun and Ed were the Brody and T.S., then Crazy and Woody could be the Jay and Bob of zombie movies. Regardless of what I call them or if any of this jabber makes any sense to you, they fucking rule. The make up is shit and the movie is weird as all hell, like most Asian comedies I’ve seen, but the flick has heart. And, while Jelly isn’t that hot, her friend, Rolls, is sexy as hell.
4. Zombi 3
Chemical, or possibly viral, zombies (and zombirds!) on a tropical island with one radio station, killing a lot of lousy actors.
So, so very bad. It steals outright (not pays homage to) Return of the Living Dead, The Crazies and Day of the Dead. The head scientist over acts so hard I started to sweat just watching him. He yells every line and throws his arms about wildly and pauses in very odd places. If Jeff Goldblum and William Shatner had a baby that developed some nervous condition that caused uncontrollable muscle spasms and was always screamingly angry, that child would have given a subtler performance than this guy. Throughout the whole movie there are zombies throwing themselves off of roofs at people. Why and how did they got up there in the first place? Beats me. Oh! There’s a helicopter escape, too! Two of the three remaining survivors get to da choppa and begin taking off, hovering and calling for the third survivor to jump up and grab on. They do this instead of just waiting for him to get in, which they could have done, since there were no zombies anywhere near them. Or were there?! As he’s hanging off of the skid of the helicopter, zombies leap up out of the hay beneath him. They were hiding there all along! BASTAAAAARDS!
So bad. I didn’t even mention the deejay, the zombie deejay.
Evil, blind, Templar Knight zombies in a village of assholes that beat retards with sticks, killing beautiful young maidens.
Ah, I do love the Blind Dead series, of which this is the fourth and final film. How can anyone not love them? Gorgeous women, great concepts, creepy atmospheres, awesome sets and those wicked, eyeless, sword-wielding, zombie horse-riding, skeletal knights are some of the coolest risen dead in all of film history. Even though they’re blind, they’re always nice enough to rip open a young maiden’s dress before killing her. They do this for us, you know, since they can’t see ’em. What a considerate bunch of corpses.
Grimoire-raised, criminal zombies on a misty island with a graveyard for undesirables, killing a local theater group and their slimeball director.
Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is amateurish in every way. Still, some of the one-liners are clever and the movie can be fairly funny at times. I especially liked one character’s repeated confession to having pissed in his pants. It isn’t something that I can bring myself to watch often, but I do like it for a couple of reasons. One of those being the bitchin’ title. Seriously, one of the coolest titles ever. The other being that the entire movie has the feel of the kind of local station-produced tv segments that would be hosted by some Elvira-type character. I can’t watch this movie without getting nostalgic for my days as a youngster, watching all sorts of horror flicks with my local, Cleveland area, horror hosts like Super-Host, Big Chuck and Lil’ John, and The Ghoul. Ah, good times… Call me old, but I think TV was better before we all had cable and knew what an infomercial was.
Aquatic, Nazi zombies on, and in the water around, The Isle of Peter Cushing, killing a boat-load of stranded tourists. Hmmm… That’s three different zombie infested islands already.
Come on… It’s underwater Nazi zombies in cool goggles and Peter-fucking-Cushing! Like I have to say anything more about that?
Philadelphia Experiment, Nazi zombie, masters of time and space in an old, abandoned bunker, killing an international bunch of badass mercenaries .
Here, we have something new! Some kind of electromagnetic, unified field theory, universal vibration gobbledygook machine has created a breed of Nazi zombie that can blink in and out of existence at will. I’m not even sure if they would qualify as zombies, since they seem awful ghost-like, but they look like Nazi zombies and they’re solid enough when they’re there. Bullets hit them, but don’t stop them. They sure as hell can kill in some pretty nasty, physical ways. AND I LIKE THEM! The mercenaries in the flick, lead by DC (Ray Stevenson, who made an even better cinematic Punisher than Dolph Lundgren, if you can believe that) are some badass guys, but don’t stand a chance against these inviso-vibro-zombies.
I love weird war tales. Outpost fits that genre well and would make a great double feature with Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers, which, itself, is one of the better action-horror, weird war movies from recent years.
My only real complaint about Outpost is the lack of color. The damn movie is practically in black and white. I understand that this is a stylistic choice and that sometimes it even works for a movie, but I’m getting really tired of it. Still, it is a spiffy addition to the zombie Nazi sub-subgenre.
Classic, Romero zombies outside of a farmhouse trying to eat the people inside and a few animals outside, because meat is meat and a zombie’s gotta eat.
How about that cast! Tony Todd, Bill Moseley, Tom Towels, Tom Savini! And, man, is that Patricia Tallman a looker or what? Savini does almost everything right with this remake. My only issues with it are some of the more melodramatic moments, like Ben looking to the sky and screaming, “Damn you! Damn you all!” I was waiting for him to say, “Get your rotting paws off me, you damned dirty zombie,” all Chuck Heston-like. Or Barbara’s, “They’re us. We’re them and they’re us.” Just seeing the look on Tallman’s face was enough, we didn’t need the sledgehammer to drive the point in.
One awesome moment: When Ben first steps out of his truck, all you see are his boots, then the hooked end of his crow bar comes down into the shot. I would swear on my life that this was a nod to Tony Todd as Candyman, except I know that Candyman didn’t come out until 2 years after NotLD’90. Savini is a horror prophet!
Red Bull-infused, athletic, viral zombies, outside of a mall, killing the people hiding inside, but dogs are safe.
I like this movie, I do, but, while I mostly love the script, the more I watch this, the more I have to roll my eyes at Snyder’s direction. How about we turn this into a drinking game? Whenever you see a slow-mo explosion from far away with muted sound, drink. Whenever someone is about to be shot and the movie cuts to another shot before you hear the bang, drink. Whenever the camera gets all up close on a gun barrel with a whoosh sound and hints of slow motion, drink. Whenever a digital gore effect is shown in slow motion, drink. Whenever you see shell casings fall and clink and clack to the floor in slow motion, don’t drink. That would be way too much alcohol and you would die. If I seem like I’m being extra harsh on this flick, while being very forgiving to others, that’s because I am. It bugs me that this is just an ok movie. It really could have been great, but it’s held back by one man’s obsession with quick edits and slow motion and zombies that consume as much Gatorade as they do flesh.
Viral zombies (with the proportionate speed, strength and agility of a spider) in a small town, killing everything.
You know, when you get over the fact that they’re using the name Day of the Dead and realize that it has so little in common with Romero’s movie that it is really a remake in name only, it’s not any better or worse than a lot of other shitty movies, which can be enjoyed as such. Hell, it’s really more like the Zombi 2 of Dawn of the Dead ’04 than a remake of Day of the Dead ’85. Sure, Mena Suvari is completely unbelievable in her role, but she has a shapely enough ass that it shows through, even under her army duds, so that’s ok. Yes, Nick Cannon is the Jar Jar of zombie movies, but legless zombie Ving Rhames is cool enough that I think he should be a legless zombie in every movie he’s in, so that almost balances out. Also, Cannon’s P. Diddy line made me laugh. And, ok, zombies with 6-foot vertical leaps and the ability to crawl on ceilings is pretty dumb, but the airborne transmission of the virus and flu-like symptoms are kind of neat. And, I mean, this movie begins with four teenagers making out in an abandoned building. That’s a clear sign that they weren’t aiming to boggle your mind with their brilliance. If they had named it anything other than what they did, you could probably watch it just as dumb movie that’s easy to laugh at and make fun of.
I don’t know! Some kind of zombie, voodoo, I guess, on another island, killing whoever happens to be around, including bisexual porn stars, really ugly mercenaries and a girl who may have been able to run across the ocean as a child.
JEFF STRYKER! I totally used to sell the Jeff Stryker Cock and Balls dildo at work! This movie rules! Except it sucks! As bad as Zombi 3 is, Zombie 4: After Death is on a whole ‘nother level of bad. It is AMAZINGLY bad! Nothing in this movie makes any sense whatsoever! NONE!
The credits will tell you that this was directed by Clyde Anderson, but that’s a damn lie. The man behind this pile is Claudio Fragasso. He is the man who wrote and directed Troll 2, a movie so bad they had to make a documentary about it. This guy is the Sultan of Suck. He is the Pope of Putrescence. And Z4: After Death is worthy of him in every way.
The zombies! They all seem to be just a little over five feet tall. This is never really explained, but I think they were probably all jockeys. They may have also been ballerinas, which would explain their graceful leaping abilities. Seriously, it’s like watching Ice Dancing of the Living Dead Jockeys, only without the skates. They’re also really good at synchronized window and wall smashing and masters of leaping out of nowhere in small rooms where they could not have possibly been hiding.
Oh, and the song! Al Festa’s song, Living After Death, epitomizes every cheesy metal song in every movie from the late ’80s. Not only does it play over the opening credits, but when you first meet the mercenaries, they’re listening to it on the radio. It rocks so hard that I started getting excited near the end of the movie, because I knew they would play it again.
The end! This a spoiler, but I really don’t think that matters with a movie like this. JEFF STRYKER GETS FIST FUCKED IN THE TORSO BY A ZOMBIE! Really. That fist just keeps pumping in and out, with an occasional little twist, through a hole punched into his back and out of his belly. And this just goes on and on while he makes an O-face and the girl who ran across the ocean plucks out her own eye and peels the skin off of her zombifying face. None of this makes any sense at all, but who cares, because as soon as it’s done, YOU WILL BE ROCKED RIGHT DOWN TO YOUR CORE BY AL FESTA! Not only do they play Living After Death over the end credits, as I knew they would, but the song rocks so hard that they let it keep playing over an empty black screen after the credits have finished. FUCK YEAH!
Trioxin zombies in a small town, eating braaaains!
Return of the Living Dead is one of my favorite movies ever, but I actually saw RotLD Part II first. While now, I watch it and laugh at the humor, when I was watching it by myself one night, 12 or 13 years-old, it scared the hell out of me. My house at the time had windows that would rattle whenever there was a strong wind. As I was watching, the window began to rattle and I could almost swear that there was a silhouette of a person out there, beyond the blinds and I knew, it was a zombie trying to get in. To this day, even as an adult, whenever a window rattles, I flash back to that moment and imagine rotting hands smacking against the panes of glass, trying to get in and eat me.
Rage-infected zombies in an emptied-out Great Britain, killing anyone unfortunate enough to catch their attention.
This movie is so great. Sometimes I forget how great it is, until I watch it again. I could easily name off 50 zombie movies from memory and maybe as many as 100 or more, but I can only think of two that have made me cry. 28 Days Later is one of those. Everything about the movie (except for the lame Rage explanation) is perfect. Love the music and the way it slowly builds through the climax until it’s almost maddeningly intense.
More rage zombies in infected Britain, killing the people resettling the island. Yes, it’s an island. That’s five different islands and six movies so far with zombie-plagued islands. How many more are there? Zombie, Zombie Island Massacre, Survival of the Dead, House of the Dead, etc… Why does anyone ever think that going to an island would be a good way to escape zombies?
Jeremy Renner before he made it big! Not as good as 28 Days Later, but still really good. Great cast, great music. Very depressing. 100% less Cillian Murphy penis.
People infected with a madness, akin to 28 Days/Weeks Later infected, only with more mental ability, run all over a city killing the uninfected and each other.
Neat idea. Three different men each direct one-third of the movie, with each segment labeled as Transmission #1, 2 and 3. It makes for some strange tonal shifts in the flick. The first third is somewhat disturbing and played very straight. Scary stuff. The second takes a more comedic angle and had me laughing pretty hard. Then the final segment takes the movie back to the more serious, though not as suspenseful, territory of the first.
Trioxin zombies on the loose in Louisville, Kentucky, eating the brains out of punks and paramedics and anyone else they can get their teeth into.
One of my top 5 most watched movies ever. Infinitely quotable. Tarman and the “Pain of being dead” zombie are amazing! Trash, I love you, codpiece and all.
I was aiming for twenty movies, but I fell a little short. I did watch the beginnings of Zombie Strippers, Don’t Wake the Dead and Burial Ground, but since I fell asleep during all three, it would be dishonest to include them and claim the full twenty. But, if you look at some of the movies I had no trouble staying awake for, that may tell you a little bit about how bad these three are.
The zombie walk, like the five previous walks, was a great success and a helluva good time. A few hundred or so people turned out, massive amounts of food were gathered and the world was made a better place. The streets were clogged with the rotting hordes and cars were attacked, civilians eaten and at least one dog was lightly sampled by the dead. Mmmm… tasty! I can’t wait to do it all again next year. But for now, bring on the candy corn, because it’s Halloween time. Silver Shamrock, bitches!