Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Quick and the Undead

Directed by Gerald Nott, 2006

Oh my God; it's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly with zombies. To my knowledge (which is extensive though admittedly imperfect) this is the first film to transplant zombies into the Wild West. The Quick and the Undead benefits from this additional genre, as it effectively cannibalizes (pun intended) horror, comedy, and westerns.

In fact, fans of westerns will probably get more out of this than I did with my limited exposure. I identified character analogues of Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes right away but I'm sure I missed plenty of cinematic homages. Everyone's familiar with the showdown trope, though, and it's particularly delicious when mapped onto horror: the zombies won't voluntarily come out and fight you in the middle of town, so you might have to lay a trail of dismembered body parts before you can start shooting. Cool.

The familiar storyline takes a right turn soon enough, and comes down to two groups of zombie bounty hunters. Their career depends upon compensation for zombies' index fingers, and there are a few ways to maximize your payout. You can steal a bag of fingers from your rival, for starters. And the bad guy's thought of some even juicier methods.

The director's style reminds me a bit of David Twohy's Pitch Black. Jump cuts add a feeling of action to something as simple as a walking scene. As the landscape holds still and the raiding party jumpcuts their way along it the audience is reminded of the permanence of the land compared with the transience of humanity, especially when a virus has made most of humanity into zombies for the past 85 years. The look and feel of the movie is so vital that I'm surprised I hadn't heard of this before-- seems like this could have been given an effective marketing push due to its original mix of genres. It might be too vital an editing style-- but I've seen a dozen low-budget zombie films with interminably overlong timing and I'm favorably disposed toward the MTV style at this point.

Zombie explanation: Virus.

Contribution to the zombie canon: Introduction to a good old-fashioned western.

Favorite zombie: The bloated, bald, pale zombie in the early shootout. Something about all those folds of flesh makes for a scary zombie-- there's a big fat zombie in Savini's Night of the Living Dead remake that scares me, and there's Henrietta in Evil Dead 2, too. It probably all comes back to Tor Johnson.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hide and Creep

Directed by Chuck Hartsell and Chance Shirley, 2004

Before the opening credits were over I was laughing out loud. "Evil Dead's not a zombie movie. No it isn't. It's Kanderian demons that take over the living." "Oh, you want an American zombie movie? There are only about three good American zombie movies, and Romero made those." Oh, Hide and Creep. You know me from tip to toe.

The humor continues in this good-natured Alabama piece about a small town and its archetypal residents battling the zombie menace. Southern rednecks and zombies are both inherently funny, and the film cleverly goes for comedy over horror.

The zombie makeup is pretty rudimentary, but so affable was the script that I didn't mind a bit. Apparent budgetary constraints mean violence is implied through clever cut shots and gore is minimal, but the camera tricks are nicely timed and it doesn't come across as particularly cheap. The makers of Hide and Creep acknowledge their limits and work so well within them that the end product is perfectly charming. This movie reminded me that indie zombie films can be a pleasure to watch.

Zombie explanation: Aliens! Or possibly Communist China. It's really not particularly important-- like Romero's films, Hide and Creep knows the meat of the movie isn't in the "how," it's in the "what now?"

Contribution to the zombie canon: Low-budget zombie comedy that works! Small town caricatures dealing with the undead is not a new scenario in zombie cinema, but it rarely fails to be entertaining. I would also like to note for the record that there was arguably more male nudity than female.

Gratuitous zombie movie in-joke: The discussion of zombie films (parts of which I quoted above). A VCR used as a zombie-bashing weapon falls to the ground and spits out a copy of Night of the Living Dead. A lead character is named Barbara.

Favorite zombie: Naked stripper zombies, who made making out and consuming one another indistinguishable.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

RSS vomited.

Blogger moved to a new platform and updating the blog spit out the entire RSS feed all over again. If the site could apologize I'm sure it would.

New zombie movie reviews and information coming soon.