Night of the Living Dead

October 27, 2013


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

The classic George Romero movie from 1968, the first zombie movie (although that word is never used in this film).

It’s almost Hallowe’en, and our local movie theater was hosting one of those Fathom events, where they charge you extra to see something that’s not the usual moviegoer fare.

This time, it was the Rifftrax guys…doing Night of the Living Dead.

Ooh, I said to Mr. Otter and Spider Jerusalem and Maid-of-Awesome and Soccer Sam. Wanna go? The first two said yes, the second two said no…so I got tickets, and we went.

Rifftrax is run by two guys who used to do Mystery Science Theater 3000; one of them is Mike, and although he was not our favorite writer (we’re fans of Joel Robinson) he is funny, and I’ve seen Rifftrax before, it’s pretty good.

And I had never seen this seminal movie in the zombie ouevre, so I was excited about that.

Now, I do remember an afternoon when I was growing up, when I started watching what I remember was Night of the Living Dead on the TV in my room (yes, we each had our own TVs, an American family in the 70s? of course we did!) and after a bit, thought, well, this is stupid, they’re all just going to get killed, who cares?

But I also remember the movie I saw having vivid colors, especially the blood…so it might have been a different movie.

On the OTHER hand (and I’m borrowing one from someone here) the TV in the room where I remember starting to watch it…was a black and white tv (with TUBES, okay? Yes, I am old.) so I COULDN’T have seen colors, which means this probably is the movie I started to watch.

I don’t know, it’s been 40 years. Brain cells deteriorate…

Anyway. I was glad to see this, movie food is always yummy (hot dog and popcorn, noms.) and it was fun to hear the Rifftrax guys going to town on it, because really? it’s kinda silly and boring. There isn’t much for the actors to do except nail stuff to other stuff, react to zombies, and die horribly. Oh, and yell at each other, they did a lot of that too.

No special effects budget; the zombies are kind of silly looking, wearing whatever they threw on on their way to the house. The captive people are idiots, but that’s a given in almost every zombie movie, since if people don’t act like idiots, if they communicate and get along and think a bit and pull together…zombies aren’t that much of a threat…

But it’s a classic, and now I’ve seen it.

World War Z

October 27, 2013


Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

From the book of the same name by Max Brooks.

And there the resemblance ends.

Because the book was REALLY REALLY GOOD.

It’s a history of the Zombie Wars, told after the fact, by the writer interviewing survivors from all over the world, giving a picture of what happened, and how the world is coming back. I’ve read it twice, and it is amazingly good- full of great characters and riveting details, a wonderful read.

So when we heard that they were making a movie of it, Spider Jerusalem and Mr. Otter and I were excited. Starring Brad Pitt? even better. Shot all over the world? great, the book takes place in many locations, that’s perfect.

And then we started hearing about the rewrites…and our hopes plummeted like a zombie thrown out of a 747 when Brad Pitt blows the back end off the plane.

Because by the time they released the movie, it was clear that the movie and the book had NOTHING in common except the title. So when it came out at the theaters…we saved our ten bucks and waited til we could rent it cheap. Which we did last week. And we were so glad we didn’t pay for it in the theater.

Because it SUCKED. Within the first fifteen minutes, I was making snide comments. Spider Jerusalem turned to me, amused, and said, you’re msting it already? it’s that bad? Yup, I said, it’s that bad.

Not only the idiotic plot, which has Brad Pitt flying from one part of the world to another trying to chase down someone who supposedly has a cure for the zombies or an immunity or something…but so many things that were just STOO-PID, as we say Chez Otter:

  • If people turn into zombies within 10 minutes, how did they spread? there’s no way someone could get on an airplane without people finding out, and the one scene where one did, the only way he got loose was because someone did something stupid. Not believeable.
  • If the zombies could pile themselves up and get inside the walls around Jerusalem (those huge walls were built in a week? really?) then why did they wait til Brad Pitt showed up? and if the whole country around J is overrun with zombies, where did the line of refugees entering the gate come from?
  • If a communicable disease like typhus keeps zombies from noticing you, and someone in Jerusalem has it (as we saw) there should have been a WHOLE LOT of people being ignored by zombies…that’s what ‘communicable’ means, especially in crowded living conditions.

And…no, there’s no point, it was just stupid. Skip this dog (special effects notwithstanding) and read the book instead.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

October 27, 2013


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Four people whose lives coincide violently over the space of a week.

I saw this movie in the theater when it came out, and loved it.

I was pretty much the only person of my acquaintance who did…EVERY OTHER WOMAN I KNEW who saw it WALKED OUT OF THE THEATER. I’m not joking. Personally, I think this one is on my top ten movies of all time list…but certainly not one for everyone. Spider Jerusalem did not like it at all. Why doesn’t someone just kill him? he kept asking. That’s not the point, I said, it has to proceed to its inevitable conclusion. And yes, it’s hard to watch knowing that Things Will End Badly.

There is a reason that the very beginning of the movie shows theater curtains opening; that’s our tip-off as to what Greenaway is doing here. And it works-this is a perfect example of Grand Guignol- theater made to push the limits of fear, horror, sex, death…you name it.

Yes, it is EXTREMELY graphic. This is at the same time one of the most beautiful and one of the grossest, most appalling movies I have ever seen…it’s an amazing story of contrasts, and Greenaway handles them perfectly. The combination of beauty and true gross ickiness, of love and despair and cruelty, of quiet moments bursting into uncontrollable violence…it’s really amazing.

Seeing it again was a treat- I had forgotten almost everything except the scene in the delivery van (ugh) and the ending; it was so satisfying to once again see it unfold, in its inexorable way, with consequences following actions and no escape in sight for any of the characters. Really really good.

Watch it if you have a strong stomach. You’ll be glad you did.


October 27, 2013


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Grown-up amusement park gone seriously wrong.

I actually saw this movie in the theater when it came out in…urk, 1973? wow, I’m old. At least I didn’t drive myself, someone (my older brother, maybe?) dropped me off at the movie theaters and picked me up later. And as is our wont in the family I grew up in, I got there early.

The double feature was Westworld and Soylent Green…and I walked in on the ending of Soylent Green. Dammit. THAT was bad timing.

But Westworld was great; it has always been a favorite of mine, because the implacable THING that will not stop following no matter what is one of the two or three kinds of recurring nightmares I had as a kid…seeing someone else face it on the screen was AWESOME.

And the movie is fun- it was amazing writer Michael Crichton’s screen writing and directing debut, it had good and well-known actors (at the time) in it, and the technology, although laughable now, was right up to the minute. It was exciting, funny, scary, and full of surprises. And James Brolin was a TOTAL HONEY then.

Now, having said that, it was made FORTY YEARS AGO. Compared to movies made now, its pace is slow and stately, the scary stuff is not so scary, the blood and debauchery (which were rather shocking back then, I remember all the discussion about it) are tame, and the ending, although it does definitely end, kind of leaves the viewer hanging…but none of this matters.

This was totally game-changing at the time-it made a huge impact not only on me, but on most of the people who went to see it. I keep hearing rumors of a new version of it being planned with state-of-today’s-art f/x and all, and would like to see that…but I am skeptical that without Crichton’s hand at the helm, the gore and salacious details will be amplified at the expense of good storytelling…oh, this newsflash just in from Den of Geek as of September 2013 (and I’m quoting it below in case the page disappears):

“Westworld, the 1973 cult classic about an amusement park populated by life-like robots that allowed vacationers to live out their every fantasy, is on the fast-track to become an HBO series courtesy of J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot. Yul Brynner was the “bad robot” of the original film, which dealt with what happens when the robotic inhabitants started acting on their own…and targeting the resort’s human visitors. The memorable trailer for the film (which we’ve embedded below) described Westworld as the place “where nothing can go wrong…go wrong…go wrong…”

The pilot will be co-written by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, who will also produce along with J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, and Jerry Weintraub of Bad Robot. HBO describes Westworld as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” I guess this means we’ll be seeing more of the realistic robot hookers from the 1973 flick. Considering the “adult themes” present in Westworld (which sprung from the mind of none other than Michael Crichton), there’s plenty of opportunity for cable TV ultra-violence and gratuitous nudity.

We can’t wait.”

So, we all know J. J. Abrams…but Jonathan Nolan is ringing a bell…imdb…uh oh. On the one hand, he wrote The Dark Knight, which was very good. On the other hand, he is responsible for The Dark Knight Rises and the suckfest that was The Prestige.

Hmmmm…we will see. And yes, I’ll catch it as soon as it’s available to those of us who don’t pay out a chunk of our income for cable television…stay tuned, Truefans!


October 27, 2013


Internet Movie Database         Movie Reviews

Riddick kicks ass and takes names. What did you expect?

Oh, Vin Diesel. You are such an awesome person, and yet you are hard to take seriously in movies. You are buff and scary, and yet you are so dumb lookin’ in the face (as we say Chez Otter) that it’s not as believeable as it might be. Pitch Black was so good…and then you went ahead and actually made Chronicles of Riddick, which was RIDDICK-ulously bad.

Sorry, I really couldn’t resist that. But it was. Bad, I mean.

So I didn’t know what to think about this, except that there would be lots of action and gunshots, and Mr. Diesel would probably survive just in case someone needed yet another sequel.

Spider Jerusalem and I were visiting Ottersis and it was hot. Movies! we said. Let’s go to the MOVIES! Air conditioning and gunshots, yes indeedy!

And we agreed that we would not have ANY expectations that this would be in any way good.

And so we were pleasantly surprised…I mean, it wasn’t GOOD, and there were plot holes you could drive a Mack truck through, but it was decent. The plot moved, the actors had lines, nothing really made any of us facepalm in embarrassment at the moviemakers’ idiocy…it wasn’t bad. Aside from the kind of overexposure and orange saturation that filmmakers use to show that a place is alien, and just makes my eyes hurt after a while.

The biggest problem with it was that it violated Mr. Otter’s Iron Law of Stories: the dog died. Dammit. The cute adorable alien dog that loved and trusted Riddick…got killed defending him. And of course that REALLY pissed him off.

Truthfully, if you can see it for free and have nothing better to do, it’s not bad…but only for free.