Those of you who regularly read the drivel I post on this site, first, thank you, second, I'm sure you are aware that I recently spent two weeks traveling around south east Asia on a vacation/exploring tour. This trip included two very long (16 hour) plane rides between JFK here in NY and Hong Kong. During that time, not only was I was able to read Stephen King's epic "Under the Dome" in anticipation of the mini-series coming in June on CBS, but I was also had the chance to take in a few films, thanks to the good folks at Cathay Pacific. A couple of days ago I posted a review of Hitchcock, which you can review here. I also watched The Hobbit (for the sixth time), This Is 40 (which sucked) and the subject of this review Warm Bodies.
Controversial as soon as it was announced, Warm Bodies was written and directed by Jonathan Levine (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane) and produced by Summit Entertainment. And therein lies the the root of many peoples consternation as the Summit are the same folks who unleashed the scourge that is the Twilight franchise on the world. From the time the first trailer hit hard core zombie loving horror fans decried the film as an act of heresy akin to pouting, shiny, vampires. One that should be driven to the depths of hell, never to be seen again. Are they right?
Nicholas Hoult is R a member of a group of undead that to hang out at the airport and in very Dawn Of The Dead style, subconsciously engage in many of the same routine behaviors they did while still alive. R, via voice over, takes us through his mundane existence since the world went to shit. He has a best friend, M (Rob Courddry) whom he meets for "breakfast" every morning. He has a really cool plane (all to himself) with a great vinyl collection and working record player! But life (death?) is not all wine and roses. A subculture exists within the undead. The creatures lurking on the outside of the corpse community, called "boneys," and have given up all hope, surviving only to kill. Outside the airport R's kind are hunted by humans who have legitimate beef with the fact that corpses, well, eat them.
One morning at the breakfast counter, R and M decide they are hungry. Along with a larger pack of their friends, they leave the airport hunting for food. They run across a group of well armed civilians out scouting for medicine. Conflict ensues and R falls head over heels for Julie (Kristen Stewart look alike Theresa Palmer), but not until he eats her ex-boyfriends brains and gains some of his memories. R decdes that rather than eat Julie he is going to save her. He sneaks her back to the airport and up to his bachelor plane where he holds her not quite captive.
As they spend more time together R begins to regain some of his more human qualities. Julie eventually tries to escape. She is cornered by M and the rest of the airport crew. R steps in and saves her. In doing so, this very human act awakens something inside the rest of the corpses inheriting the airport, well the act and a picture of two people holding hands. Unfortunately for M and the rest of the crew their humanizing makes them a target of the boneys. Julie makes her way back to the pseudo military camp she lives in that happens to be run by her nut job father (John Malkovich). R is sad. M pledges to help him, but first war with the boneys.
R and Julie are reunited. She introduces him to her father and that goes just about as well as you'd expect. Her father changes his tune after teh corpses are witnessed fighting the boney and R starts to bleed. Boneys are eliminated adn the corpses start evolving back into humans. The end.
Reading those paragraphs it doesn't sound like too bad of a film and there are some clever lines and even classic Guns N' Roses. But in truth, Warm Bodies a bad film. It's not scary. It's barely funny. It's not romantic. It's almost clever. It's certainly not smart. It's just there and 10 minutes after it's over you forget it even exists - disposable diapers. Levines script takes a lot of liberties with the zombie sub-genre. But that's not really an issue. The addition of the boneys and brain eating equaling memory gain are both acceptable, even intriguing additions to the zombie mythos. It's the rest of the film that just insults the shit out of the movie going public that is absolutely infuriating. Julie may be the dumbest film character I've seen in quite a long while. Potentially interesting conflict points are brushed aside to get to another mind numbingly boring voice over by R. John Malkovich is dare I say, (yes, I think I do) criminally under used. That's just the tip of the iceberg of the problems with the film.
Warm Bodies isn't an affront to zombie films. It's not going to set the sub-genre back 20 years. It's not the Twilight of the undead. It's simply just a bad film. A bad film, made worse by the fact that it comes so close to being something watchable, but makes all the wrong decisions at all the wrong times.
If you are a zombie purist, no this film doesn't signal the beginning of the end for your beloved sub-genre. Ditto for all you hard core horror fans. It's just a movie. Albeit a bad one, but still just a movie.
* and 1/2 out of *****
Thanks for reading! "Enjoy every sandwich."
Two weeks touring southern Asia can really rip a guy out of the loop. A Gremlins remake? Really? Sometimes I just want to throw my hands up and say "Fuck you Hollywood. I'm done." But then I come to my senses settle in to a 16 hour flight from Hong Kong to NYC and check out what films the good folks at Cathay Pacific have decided to bless us with this time. Now I have to confess I did watch The Hobbit film first...but then I fired up Hitchcock (FKA Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho).
First things first, Alfred Hitchcock is probably my favorite director of all time. It's hard for me to watch any film, be it horror or not, and not see his finger prints somewhere. When this project was first announced with Sir Anthony Hopkins and the indomitable Helen Mirren attached I immediately took to it like a fish to water. The fact that I hadn't had the opportunity to see it until now is one of the greatest crimes ever perpetrated on humanity.
Hopkins is, of course, Hitchcock and being Sir Anthony Hopkins, he is of course wonderful. But it's Mirren as Hitch's wife Alma who is really the star. Alma's struggle with her place in Hitchcocks world is really the driving narrative of the film. She, as Hitchcocks wife, had resigned herself to everything that comes with that post, including Hitch's emotional, lets call it aloofism. So when someone else comes along that may be able to give her something that's missing from her primary relationship, she is forced to confront some long standing demons.
Hitchcock is ultimately a love story. The love between Alfred and Alma and Alfred and film making. Director Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story Of Anvil - which I fucking love!) slides effortlessly between the two stories. This is, unfortunately, the biggest issue with the film. With such an iconic character and two compelling story lines, ultimately you are left wanting more from all of them. Gervasi wraps everything up in a nice little bow at the end, but it all just seems thin.
It's a shame that it feels that way because there are so many great things happening in the film. Like I stated before there are a bevy of great performances. Mirren received a number of nominations for her part as Alma. Scarlett Johansson is great as Janet Leigh. And of course Hopkins is superb as the legendary director and title character. The only nitpicky acting thing is Jessica Biel as Vera Miles. Playing against such heavy weights, she often struggles to hold her own.
Hitchcock, is a very good film. It had all the potential to be great. if you are a fan of Psycho, or Hitchocks work itself - this is a must see film. If you are looking for a comprehensive docudrama regarding Hitchcock or his filmaking look somewhere else. This is not the place for you.
***1/2 out of *****
Last Time On "Hemlock Grove": Olivia coughs up flesh. Shaggy and Scooby investigate the haunted mill. Novelist Girl's date goes very badly. And who stills goes to the library?
This Time On "Hemlock Grove": We start (as all teasers seem to start) with some Shelly back story. The good news is, I guess, if you onlywant Shelly's story, then you only need to watch the teaser (lucky you). At Shelly's funeral, Normans brother asks him to start counseling Olivia. Norman protests knowing it's a bad idea. But he concedes because if there's one thing we've learned about Norman - he's a pussy...and he hates yellow paint. That whole thing leads us to the Dexter/Masters Of Horror Opening Credit Sequence! Sadly, this show will not be as good as either one of those.
There is some major distention in the ranks of Miami Metro as Crockett is pretty much finished with Tubbs, or rather Peter is still pissed at Roman for leaving him at the abandoned mill and making him walk 5 whole miles home. Seriously? Dude's a gypsy and a werewolf, 5 miles should be nothing. Roman want's to make nice but Peter is playing hard to get. Roman, being the stable person he his threatens to kill Peter if he (Peter) fucks his (Romans) cousin (Letha).
Speaking of Letha, she's become a regular Nancy Drew herself. Snooping and prodding around her fathers office until she manages to find Norman's brother's suicide note. Which she promptly reads, steals and gives to Peter on the school bus. Wait, I thought Letha had a car? A blue Toyota electric deally? She was driving it when she went to Peters house a couple episodes ago. But continuity is not the series strong suit so I guess we'll just roll with it.
As for the note you ask? Well turns out Normans brother knew all about the affair and had some words of warning for his bro. Mostly they were: "I know you're fucking her. Enjoy it now. Last laughs on you. She's a crazy bitch and will kill you." Norman waxes nostalgic about the beginning of the affair and how much of a dick he is to his wife. This includes a slide show on his lap top with pictures of his little toddler Letha, his lovely wife and her smart phone. Wait. What? Yup. Letha is maybe 3 in the pics, but her Mom has the latest Droid phone...13 years ago. This is some wacky time traveling town! Seriously, more LAZY BULLSHIT! Is anyone paying attention? I think you, me, the Pennsylvania washroom and the Samsung Galaxy 3 from 1999 know the answer to that.
Speaking of 1999, Peter and Letha begin to reenact an episode of The OC from that very year. Peter plays the part of the flirty guy who gets the girl back to his place but then gets all emo because he thinks the stand up, good guy thing to do would be to not fuck her. Letha is the pregnant slut who wants to get it on, long and hard. She uses all her wily charms, which is really nothing more than asking about her hideous shirt, but then again she is a 17 year old pregnant virgin, so her game probably isn't as refined as a semester at Sarah Lawrence would make it.
Roman on the other hand is dealing with the Peters rejection in the most logical way possible - by standing in his bathroom and doing line after line of coke. Don't these kids ever study? Not happy with the cocaine high, Roman decides to step things up a notch and take the razor blade to his face. The blood starts to flow when the doorbell rings. It's our favorite wolf slayer Dr. Chausser. She has some rather pointed questions for Roman. He resists at first, but after a couple of minutes succumbs to her weird colored eyes and starts whining like a baby. Luckily, Olivia arrives and saves us from watching a grown man blubber. Roman gets a call from Norman looking for Letha. He knows exactly where she is.
Letha finally breaks Peter and gets him to drop his pants. They get it on. Where the hell is this kids mom? Outside, in the driving rain, Roman watches the whole thing go down. Angry (of course) he heads over to the maybe Native American, maybe Asian chick who wanted to dance with him a few episodes back house (how is that for a terrible sentence?). Her parents are also no where to be found as Roman turns all crazy again and rapes her (maybe in the butt, it was hard to tell). He uses the staring eyes power thing to convince her none of this happened. I think her asshole might disagree in the morning.
SIDEBAR: More fucking laziness. Roman cuts himself on the cheek with a razor not an hour before the raping. Yet, but the time he gets to confusing ethnic girls house...NO CUT...you have to be kidding me. I can make an exception for the band aid (which her was wearing) falling off. That was a pretty heavy Hollywood rain storm. But to have the cut just totally disappear. I'm calling bullshit. Not only that, I was going to let it pass but my bloods all angered right now...the huge fucking cut on his chest from a couple episodes ago seems to come and go as well. We get some scenes where he's heavily bandages and then some scenes where he's wearing a wife beater so see through you can see his nipples, but there are no bandages visible through the shirt. Again pure laziness...
Moving on...Shelly (get the Frankenstein reference...she's been rebuilt after dying? Amateur hour here folks) took the bus into town to buy those earrings the clerk showed her. Olivia is mortified by both the bus and the earrings. Roman sticks up for her. When Olivia tries to shut him down, he makes the startling revelation that his father left the whole company to him. What? On his 18th birthday he inherits the whole fucking thing. Where to start here...first of all estate planning 101. If you are the millionaire head of a huge corporation you never leave the entire inheritance, the money, business, the real estate to one person. You set it up in a trust managed by many people. The trust managers along with someone from the bank or investment company (usually a combination of both) will deem when a person is set to receive any sort of inheritance. Second, you never, ever leave it all to an 18 year old. Sure the conservatorship could dole out funds when necessary, but never all at once. So either this is just writing laziness again or...Romans father was the dumbest man on the planet. Either way Roman now has this to hold over his mother.
Who by the way comes crawling on her hands and knees to Lily Taylor for more of her funny eye drops. Lily charges her 5000 a bottle, Olivia is shocked but agrees. Then she eats a shitload of raw meat - showing us once again that she's some sort of werewolf.
If you didn't get that from that scene or the scene an episode before where she coughed up raw meat in the teaser. Then the scene where Dr. Chausser finds the rest of the body at the mill right next to a size 10 Manolo Blahnick should do it for you.
That's it for me this episode. Sorry, but it's just so stupid. I will continue to watch and review simply for the train wreck possibilities, but I've pretty much given up hope of this thing turning around. It's not that the story is bad. It's just that it's lazy, and that's worse. I can deal with bad if they try, but bad because of lack of effort is unacceptable.
As always, thanks for reading. "Enjoy every sandwich."
That's right folks, like I I told you last week, the Hudson Horror Show is back for it's seventh incarnation (reincarnation...reanimation?). Either way it's sure to be a hell of an awesome time. The good folks who run the HHS have compiled what, in the is humble bloggers opinion, is their strongest show yet.
Featured will Be Monster Fu Classic - INFRAMAN, The Hudson Valley Premiere of GONE WITH THE POPE, (complete with a rosary bead give away to the first 50 people through the door!), Tobe Hooper's much discussed sequel TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, and the piece de resistance...ARMY OF f'n DARKNESS. Plus a special unannounced film...what will it be? Well you have to show up to find out! And the wonder of it all? Every single on e of the films will be shown in glorious 35MM! Yup, 35MM.
Need more convincing? Check out the awesome trailer :
Hudson Horror Show VI will be held on June 7th, at the Silver Cinemas located at the South Hills Mall in Poughkeepsie, NY. Right there off Rt. 9, there is a Burger King across the street if I am not mistaken so you can get your Whopper on between flicks. Did you know South Hills Mall (where the theater is located) used to have a Media Play? You should go just to wax nostalgic about that!
So head over to hudsonhorror.com and pre-order your tickets now. Don't leave it up to chance that there will be room left on the day of the event. Plus, a pre-order saves you a little scratch, money you can spend at one of the numerous vendors that will also be present at the show!
Last Time On Hemlock Grove : Roman is a whole different kind of crazy. Tequila really is the best chaser for swallowing the worm and most disgusting of all - Peter and Letha share a straw.
This Time On Hemlock Grove : Olivia is checking out some spooky haunted mill or something for some reason. Then she pukes up some flesh and doesn't even bother cleaning it up. That's a 50 dollar fine from the HOA company if you ask me. She then call the cops and tells them to increase patrols at the mill. This bit of obvious foreshadowing brings us to the (lazy) Opening Credit Sequence!
The Hardy Boys (the dudes from the books not the awesome tag team) are in some neighboring town staking out the Willoughby (I do smell a Twilight Zone reference I believe) house. They are looking for some sort of invitation the dead chick may have received that led her to Hemlock Grove. Tired of waiting, Roman decides that he's going to just ring the bell. He uses his weird eye/mind control thing to put the dad to sleep before they make for the dead chicks bedroom. They have just enough time for Roman to steal the dead girls panties before her sister interrupts the sacking of the room. She's cool with them being there (o.k. I guess) and gives them the invite they so sorely seek. The invite asks her to go to the old mill a.k.a. Godfrey Castle. Outside they eat some tacos and make some rape jokes (seriously) before Peter gets a text from Letha. He lies to Roman and says it's from his mom. They need to pick up their sleuthing later - at the Old Mill, closer to sundown. Hmmm, but Olivia...the patrols...here's a sledge hammer, it's gentler.
Novelist Girl is preparing to go on a date with some dude. The twins take her shopping, she has a white streak in her hair, like Laura San Giacomo in The Stand. I doubt she fucked the devil though, since they've made it a point to make sure we all know she is a prude. Post movie novelist girl and pimply faced teen disagree over who invited who to see the terrible film they've apparently just seen (Transformers 3?). Hmmm....suspicious. Regardless, he pulls up to the peer for some refreshment drinking and more by the look in his eyes. After some blatant Coca Cola product placement, they get down to the making out. Only halfway through novelist girl freaks out and rips half of pimply faced teens face off. So no second date then?
The Bobsey twins make it to the abandoned mill, and after some back story about smelting metal, they decide to split up to search for clues. They are apart for all of 8 seconds before deciding to jet. But wait! Not so fast, they really are searching.
Sidebar: This pissed me off. First, they split up for all of 8 seconds. Then they say there is nothing there and decide to leave. However, in the very next scene, they are still looking. no explanation as to why as it previously had been decided THEY WERE LEAVING. Didn't anyone watch the show before releasing it? It caught that bullshit and I'm an idiot.
So the search continues...and wouldn't you know it they find the other half of the dead girl. Just then though (how convenient) Johnny Law shows up. For some reason Peter begs Roman to do the weird eye/mind control thing. Roman decides that insulting the cops wives might be the better part of valor. He gets arrested. He looks at Peter inside the mill before leaving. The cop makes a comment about how there is another person in the mill, but rather than actually go and look they just leave. Stupid cops - how convenient to the plot. Roman leaves Peter alone, presumably as some sort of revenge for his growing fondness for Letha. He is now stuck at the old mill with the sun going down and a full moon coming up.
Elsewhere, Olivia decides to take Shelly with her to the library. Which begs the question, do people still go to libraries? Shelly makes a little guy pee himself. Poor Shelly. Olivia is looking for a specific book. I would have tried Amazon, but then again that wouldn't have led me to bring my daughter to a public place where everyone is scared of her. Olivia takes a seat and sees a kids flashing shoes. This causes her to pass out. Norman runs to her rescue. He brings her home. She tries to seduce him. He resists. Back at his office he gets a message from his wife about nursery paint colors. This causes him to call Olivia so he can fuck her. Seems like a reasonable response for not wanting to go to Home Depot.
One step forward...twos steps back for this show. After two episodes I would even dare to call "good," this one is a mess. I addressed most of the issues in the episodes context, but some it bears repeating. When things conveniently happen to advance the plot it's lazy writing. Olivia doesn't need to go to the library. She has people to do those things for her. Not to mention the whole internet thing. But they had to come up with a way to get her to pass out, and apparently this is the bet they could do. The shit with the cops is also just that shit. Lazy shit. If you are going to have the cop comment about how there might be another person in the mill, then they have to investigate it. If they are not - just take the damn line out. it serves no purpose then.
Sorry for the rant, but I want to like the show, I really do. I can look past the teenage girl shirtless bullshit and all the other crap becasue I like Eli Roth. I really do. Cabin Fever is a guilty pleasure of mine. I love Hostile and even Hostile II, which I though was a lot more clever than it had any right to be. Hell, I'm still waiting for a full length version of Thanksgiving, the trailer from the Grindhouse picks Tarentino and Robert Rodriguez did. So I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But this shit keeps happening every episode. It get's really hard to watch bad shows and it's getting next to impossible to make it through these without throwing something at the TV.
"Hemlock Grove," if you choose to watch it, is now streaming in it's entirety on Netflix.
Until next time: Thanks for reading and as always "Enjoy every sandwich."