Weekend at the movies

This weekend there were three films screening at the Starz Film Center we wanted to catch, and one wide release we’d been meaning to see. Sadly, only the film I had seen before was really worth the trouble.

Hot Tub Time Machine

About as mediocre as you’d expect, Hot Tub Time Machine relies too much on low brow humor and shouting, leaving the genuinely funny moments few and far between. I think a dose of Better Off Dead is required to get the bad taste out of my mouth.

The Secret of Kells

I was really torn here. On the one hand you have a gorgeously animated and scored film, but on the other you have a completely uninteresting story. Makes it hard to care about anything.

Night of the Comet

I think this is a fun ’80s zombie romp. My husband thought otherwise. Boo.

Walt & El Grupo

Yet another potentially awesome film that ended up being totally boring. I’m fascinated by both golden age Disney and World War II, but the film has too many family members I don’t care about reading letters. Meh.¬†Of course, now I’m all the more excited for Waking Sleeping Beauty this coming weekend.

Sunday Morning Movie: 28 Weeks Later (2007)

28 Weeks Later (2007)
Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

For breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes

I like to think of 28 Weeks Later as the Aliens to 28 Days Later’s Alien. It’s the brutal, no-holds-barred, balls to the wall, action sequel that is almost the exact opposite of the atmospheric suspense of the original. It may not be the better film, but it’s definitely more intense and I think it does a better job of portraying the ‘rage’ virus, which makes the infected much scarier. Of course, it might just be the fucked up situation these people create for themselves. It goes from bad to worse to just plain depressing, and really if a zombie film isn’t going to be funny it sure as hell better be depressing.

As much as I like the first film, I’ve always found the ending a little too upbeat. Well the sequel more than makes up for that. There is no glimmer of hope, no light at the end of the tunnel — instead we’re left with the haunting images of zombies storming the Eiffel Tower. Despite it’s faults, it’s an unrelenting film and I appreciate its tenacity. Plus the helicopter mow-down is hands down one of the coolest zombie killing scenes ever. Pure. Awesome.

Grade: B+

 

Sunday Morning Movie: 28 Days Later (2002)

28 Days Later (2002)
Directed by Danny Boyle

For breakfast: Biscuits & Gravy

Ah, finally back to the Sunday Morning routine after a hiatus due to travel and house guests. And what better way to start it than with one of the best ‘zombie’ films in recent years. I’ve been a fan of 28 Days Later since I first saw it in the theater with a couple of reluctant and terrified friends, and it still gets plenty of plays at my house. Oddly enough this is the first time my husband has seen it and for a non-horror guy he both enjoyed it and appreciated the lack of gore. Which is a big part of why I love it, it builds suspense using atmosphere instead of excessive gore. I like carnage as much as the next person, but I like a well-crafted film more.

It’s funny, some people I’ve shown this to get the giggles at some of the zombies…err…”infected”, but I’ve always liked Danny Boyle’s revisionist zombies and his refreshingly different vision of a virus outbreak in England that infects live people with “rage” and leaves the country as a wasteland. I love the way he uses surreal, surveilance-like, visuals against the abandoned city-scapes to really hammer home the desolation and bleakness of the situation. He certainly knows how to create tension too, there are some scenes that are so intense they still put me on edge. It’s nice to be reminded of a time when he didn’t distract you from the story with camera shaking and lens flares.

I suppose if I had to complain about something, it would be that the ending feels like a bit of a cop out happy ending. It’s slightly ambiguous, yes, but it’s too upbeat given the rest of the film. At least 28 Weeks Later makes up for that, but we’ll talk about that some other time.

Grade: A

 

The Grapes of Death (1978)

(Note that this was a review written for Film-Talk’s Horror Club, so it contains plot information and spoilers.)

Ever stayed up late at night wondering where you can find the perfect zombie-art film? Well look no further than Jean Rollin’s The Grapes of Death. The story is simple, a young girl, Elisabeth (Marie-Georges Pascal) is on a train bound for a small French village, where her family owns the local winery. Little does she know that a new pesticide has infected the wine and the neighboring villagers with a flesh-eating virus that turns its victims into crazed killers. Okay, okay, so it’s not “technically” a zombie movie…but close enough.

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