Monday, July 11, 2005

Weekend Movie Roundup

Resident Evil: Apocalypse - Yippee, another bad zombie movie. When they're done well, zombies are one of my favorite horror monsters. When they're done poorly, it's amazing how boring they can be. First of all, here's a thought: When the bio-weapon virus your company has created gets loose and starts turning dead people into flesh-eating zombies that can only be stopped by shooting them in the head, and a crowd of people has gathered around the gigantic concrete gate you've just closed to seal them inside the city to contain the virus, (A) is it really all that necessary to disperse the crowd? Are you afraid they'll form a human pyramid and climb over the wall? And (B) if it is necessary to disperse the crowd, perhaps ordering your troops to fire machine guns indiscriminately into the crowd isn't the best way to accomplish this goal, since it will result in a large number of people who are dead as a result of injuries other than a shot to the head. You see where I'm going with this? Here's another thought: When you are surrounded by hordes of flesh-eating zombies, the reanimated corpses of the dead, perhaps the shortcut through the cemetary isn't the best way to go?

House of the Dead - Wow, this one's bad. Way worse than Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Almost bad on an Ed Wood level. As in, the director thought that since it was based on a video game, it would be a good idea to just randomly insert a few frames of footage from the game into the film every few minutes. As in, the "rave of the century" appears to consist of about two dozen people standing aroung talking, rather than dancing to the music. As in, there's a long action setpiece in which we see Matrix-y slo-mo revolve-around shots of every single character, of which there are half a dozen or so remaining at that point. I think there may even have been a couple of characters who got multiple shots like that. They were so generic, and the scene went on for so goddamn long, it was hard to tell after a while. And boy, are there plenty of gratuitous breast shots in this movie. Speaking of which, the zombies in this film are apparently both relatively intelligent and downright mischevious: During one gratuitous breast shot of a random woman/victim skinny-dipping, her boyfriend (who remained ashore) disappears. She goes looking for him, enters the creepy ancient house she wanders to, and finds him, standing there looking dazed with some blood coming out of his mouth, at which point a zombie arm emerges from his abdomen for the Big Scare before she gets eaten. Which means the zombie must have subdued the guy (without actually killing him), dragged him up the beach, through the woods, and into the house, and then stood there waiting for the girlfriend to show up, so that he could stick his arm through the guy and freak her out. I'm just surprised the zombie didn't yell "Boogidy-boogidy-boo!"

Punk: Attitude - This was a documentary on IFC about punk rock and the related "scene". Very well done. One of the things I particularly liked was that the time normally thought of as the core punk period only took up about the middle third of the film. There was a lengthy section at the beginning tracing the roots of punk through the early proto-punk bands, and even back to folks like Little Richard, and then a chunk at the end tracing the influences of punk and things like the brief connection between punk and hip-hop. I liked that, because there is often a tendancy to treat punk as if the entire punk scene had sprung fully-formed from Malcolm McLaren's brow, and it's just not true. I suspect that myth endures largely because of McLaren's gift for self-promotion. My main criticism is that with such a wide domain to cover, the film barely scratches the surface. There's virtually nothing about "new wave", which was closely related to punk in many ways. The film also really glosses over the whole neo-nazi skinhead movement (other than briefly mentioning the Dead Kennedys song "Nazi Punks Fuck Off"), which was a rather unfortunate outgrowth of punk (it sort of evolved from punks wearing swastikas just to piss people off, into punks wearing swastikas because they admired the ideology behind it...). Watching this, I think you could very easily expand the history of punk into a Jazz-like miniseries.

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