Saturday, August 29, 2009

God Bless the Canadians

Because they're the only country taking zombies SERIOUSLY. And the BBC is reporting it, y'all.
'Science ponders zombie attack'

And basically, people, the news ain't good.

A couple of professors from Carelton University and University of Ottawa decided they wanted to know what would happen if there was a zombie outbreak. Who would win?

The professors say : "We model a zombie attack using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies.

"We introduce a basic model for zombie infection and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions."

Which loosely translates to: We smoked a bowl and watched Dawn of the Dead and then we got out our calculators.

God I love horror nerds.

Then they went and published their paper in a book called Infectious Diseases Modelling Research Progress. You can buy the book for 70 bucks on Amazon, or you can just download the pdf "When Zombies Attack! Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of a Zombie Infection" here. A warning, though. This sucker is 18 pages and contains all kinds of charts, equations, and other things that look like this:

the number of zombies destroyed through this process per unit time per susceptible is:
( N)(Z=N)S = (alpha)SZ

The ODEs satisfy
S0 + Z0 + R0 = II

and hence
S + Z + R = infinity

Huh, What???
I suggest going right to the summary of the paper:

In summary, a zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilisation, unless it
is dealt with quickly. While aggressive quarantine may contain the epidemic, or a cure may lead to coexistence of humans and zombies, the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often. As seen in the movies, it is imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly, or else we are all in a great deal of trouble.

Which again, loosely translated means:
Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.

And in other reasons for me to do the happy dance, AMC is announcing they're about to develop a zombie tv show! The series will be based on The Walking Dead and possibly directed by Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption)

Zombie TV show

Going to board up my windows,
Mother Firefly

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Race With the Devil

What do you get when you cross Loretta Swit, motocross, Peter Fonda, a couples' vacation, a cute puppy, and a decked out RV with all the trimmings, including a full stocked bar? Yep, you guessed it - you get SATANISM.
I don't know why the DVD didn't use this great poster as cover art instead of the cheesy collage of photos they slapped on the cover, but whatever. The poster suggests that this is some kind of RV racing action film, but its not. Which is good, because I would A)not spend five bucks on a RV action film, or B)review it on my blog. But lucky for you, I would spend five bucks on a 70's RV Satanism film AND review it on my blog.

The motocross thing is actually pretty incidental - besides it being featured in the beginning of the film and once in a friendly race between Peter Fonda and Warren Oates, it's really not that important. What IS important is Peter Fonda's shag haircut:

Do you think Kristy McNicol stole it from him or vice versa?

Anyway, the two couples set off for vacation in their kick ass RV, complete with all the trimmings:
Dog not included.

They have a friendly motorcycle race and then later that evening notice that there's a big bonfire on the other side of the river. Of course, the fellas need to take a closer look.

They decide that it's just some dancing and chanting, no big deal. No, really, take another look:

Yep, just friendly dancing.

Oh shit!

Finally these morons (seriously, have they never left the house?) figure out that maybe what's going on across the river is BAD and they shouldn't be WITNESSES. When is exactly when Loretta Swit decides to start yelling at the guys to come in - and then the party across the river knows they're being watched. Peter and the gang hurry up and pack it up but not in enough time :

I couldn't get a good screen capture of the satanists jumping on the RV (with capes on!) but the lady who isn't Loretta Swit and her puppy are REALLY, REALLY SCARED:

They head straight to the local law to get some help and end up going back to the site to show them where they saw the sacrifice. At this point in the movie, the plot becomes really transparent and you get a sense of exactly where this movie is going.

don't they look like nice, decent, helpful policemen? Uh-huh.
They find an area that looks like blood, and the cops take a sample, but they're pretty sure it's just from some animal or something - nothing to be all concerned with, people!

Meanwhile, Loretta and not-Loretta find a piece of paper jammed in their broken window with a bunch of weird letters and symbols on it. They have no idea what they could mean so they decide to investigate at the local library.

Turns out that it's runes and witchcraft and spells and evil 'n shit. (They're about as freaking vague -not to mention the completely WRONG definition that runes are used as 'evil spells'- as they can POSSIBLY be with their research)

So they leave town (with a blood sample of their own to have tested somewhere else)
but not before they stop at a gas station so this guy and his cat can fix their window.
(Oh, I'm so not kidding about that part)

and end up at an RV park with the most annoying neighbors ever.

And this is why I don't go to RV parks, people.

Of course, shit goes down at the RV park, and they end up feeling it's not such a friendly place after all. More hi-jinks follow, such as finding that someone has stocked their RV with two pissed off serpents:


And the rest of the movie pretty much continues this way, with the Satanists trying to kill them and Peter and the gang really never knowing who to trust. I'll save the 'shocking' ending that the DVD box advertises (although you can really see it coming the whole time).

Bottom line is, if you like RVs, Satanists, and Loretta Swit, this movie is custom made for you. Or - if you enjoyed the cheese fests called 'Devil Dog' or 'Devil Times Five' (starring a very young - and murderous!- Leif Garrett), you will freakin' love this. I had fun, I laughed (where I wasn't supposed to) and I didn't even need a martini to make it go down smoother.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Here Comes the Apocalypse - 60's Style

In case you're wondering if I continued working my way through my unwatched DVDs by decade - wonder no more. Because I have. But with October approaching (and therefore the 30 days of Halloween!) I'll be saving some of my reviews to post then.
I watched this MGM Midnite Movies double feature:
I wanted this set mostly so I could have a decent copy of Last Man on Earth - it's a public domain film and the other copy I had was of the 1.99 variety.

As far as Panic, it's an interesting film if you want to know how people might behave in an 'end of the world as we know it' 60's style. Milland and family have packed up their camper and are on their way out of town, when oops, nuclear bombs fall in Los Angeles. They try to return home, but when that fails, Milland slips into 'preservation mode' and goes about doing what he needs to do to protect his family. I thought this was an interesting film in that you can see what people in the 60's may have thought a nuclear war might bring as far as trying to survive and what people might have to do - and how a nice, ordinary, everyday typical 'nuclear' (!) family might have to behave in ways they never thought they would.

I liked Last Man on Earth before I bought this, and I still enjoy it. Years ago I read 'I Am Legend' when I heard that it was the inspiration for Romero's zombie films. As you probably already know, three films have been made from that book by Richard Matheson, 'Last Man', 'Omega Man' (with Chucky Heston), and 'I Am Legend'. I have seen 'Omega Man' but hardly remember it. All I really remember are these spooky lookin' folks:
And unfortunately I don't think the rest of the film is as fun as that picture might lead you to believe. I can't say for sure but I don't have any urge to go back and rewatch it - so I must have been barely entertained at best.

I did enjoy I Am Legend - out of all three films, it has the benefit of a large budget and the full Hollywood treatment complete with CGI.

But there's something about the simplicity and barrenness of Last Man on Earth with the added benefit of watching Vincent Price deal with being, well, the last man on earth. I think the film captures a certain creepy isolation that the other films don't quite have. Or at least not in the same way. Especially haunting is the scene where soldiers are tossing bodies into a huge fire pit and Price is there searching out one of his deceased loved ones - not wanting them to go into the fire - but ultimately realizing that the body has to be disposed of that way.

Once I got into the 60's, I went to another Price double feature - but I'm going to stash that review away for October. After all, no Halloween season is complete with a Price film or two. I'll continue to work my way through the 60's and beyond - but I'll probably only post every other review for now, and keep the rest until then. I'm taking the advice of other bloggers who do the same since I was unable to keep up last year.

I'll post a link to the full list of Halloween bloggers once the list is compiled. Big thanks to John Rozum for putting this together once again! Check out his fantastic blog here.

-Mother Firefly


Since I'm on break this week and therefore subjected to the constant loud drone of construction outside my window for 12 hours a day, it's the perfect time to use my headphones and take advantage of Netflix streaming. So I decided to check out this little film -->

This is a fun little movie that goes along great with the summer season. If you're a fan of 'nature goes wild' or even zombie films, I encourage you to check this one out. For my part, it appealed to my fear of 'don't touch it or you're dead' kind of The Blob mentality. When I was a kid, the idea that if you even so much touched with one finger, you were done for, was terrifying. The same goes here - except that The Blob couldn't reanimate corpses or chase after you.

The cast is small - just four people if you don't count the reanimated corpses already infected that they encounter. There's the unfortunate couple who attempt to go camping and the other unfortunate couple on the run from the law. They cross paths - and what begins as a kind of action/thriller soon descends into an all out horror film as they find themselves defending an attack from something they don't understand (and neither do we since we never get a real explanation for this thing - but that just makes it scarier).

One interesting thing about this movie was the dynamic between the couple celebrating their anniversary. The woman was the one who knew how to drive the stick shift, who knew how to pitch a tent, while hubby was a kind of whiny nerdy science loving stereotype. At first I found it a little hard to believe that these two could really be a couple until the shit hit the fan and Mr. Biology Degree actually came in handy as far as observing and understanding how the monsters worked.

The reanimated corpses are scary and nasty looking and move in really messed up ways. My only complaint was that sometimes the movie was edited in a way that made it hard to really get a good look - I thought that the camera could have lingered longer on the corpses as they shuffled around.

The Splinter website says the movie has won multiple awards at Screamfest and other festivals - and they're certainly deserved. You can read about those here:
Splinter website
and also have a look at all the places online that it's available.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I have two things to say.
1) It's hot and I'm whiny; and
2) I watched a movie two weeks ago that blew my mind and I'm finally ready to say something about it.

I literally had to take some time out to let this movie roll around in my head a while to decide what I wanted to say about it. Which is about a third of the time it took for me to get the nerve up to watch it. It sat at the top of my Netflix list for about six weeks listed as available. I lost track of the number of times I moved it from the number one spot to a somewhat safer placing a little further down the line. I'd heard so much about this movie yet I somehow (thankfully) managed to avoid hearing TOO much. Finally I decided I better watch it because the hosts (and call in guests) of my favorite horror radio show,, were talking so much about it that I was afraid I'd end up hearing the whole plotline before I finally sat down to watch it.

What I knew about the movie was that torture was among the main themes of the movie. What I kept hearing was how horrifying and difficult to watch it was. But - what I also kept hearing was that it was worth it, and that it was possibly the best horror film of the year. Plus - it was also French - and if you're any kind of horror fan whatsoever, you've got to be somewhat aware that France has been kicking out some pretty intense (but fantastic) horror movies in the last few years. While we in the good old USA, home of Hollywood, tend to either get Saw sequels or remakes of movies that were actually good. Or we get lame crap like The Unborn, The Haunting of Sarah What'sHerFace, or The Orphan.

So I tend to either rewatch my favorites or search out independent or foreign horror movies when I hear about them on the grapevine. I again give a shout out to Deadpit, because as a grad student I don't always have time to keep up on the latest, but I always have time to listen to their show while I do mindless (but necessary) tasks like cooking dinner and doing laundry. I just want to take a moment of silence to give thanks for the internet, mp3 players, and podcasting.


So between Rue Morgue, Deadpit, and my brother (here's his review) this movie was definitely on my radar. So I finally left it in the number one spot and it came. And then I took a week to watch it.

Part of my trepidation concerned another French film that I think is just about one of the most frightening films I've ever seen, called Inside. I lost track of the number of times I either swore or covered my eyes, or both. I recently watched it again with a friend (who asked me before hand if the warnings on the box really lived up to their promise - and wholeheartedly agreed afterwards that they did) and I had just as much trouble and turmoil watching it the second time as the first. So based on my experience of Inside, and everything I heard going in, I was scared as hell to watch it.

Now - I am a true horror film fanatic. I've been watching horror films since my preschool years. I love them all from the silents to the Universal classics to Hammer to exploitation to the slasher films of the 80's. I'm constantly searching out new things from the 30's to the 80's looking for films I may have missed. Unfortunately with that many films behind me, I'm also somewhat jaded, as we true horror fans tend to me. I'm lucky if I blink fast during the 'scary' parts. The most I can hope for is maybe some well done makeup effects or some memorable imagery. I don't ever watch horror films anymore expecting to be scared.

That is until French people started all this nonsense. It started (for me) with a free pass to see a preview of High Tension a few years ago. If you haven't seen High Tension, bookmark this page, turn off your computer, and go watch it. Now. I'll wait.

I had no idea that a movie could still put me on the edge of my seat - literally. I usually rewatch my old favorites with a bit of nostalgia recalling how those movies made me feel when I was a kid watching them for the first time. I've never EVER seen a movie in at least the last ten years that put me firmly and squarely back in my pre-teenage self and made me remember what it was like to watch those movies for the first time. AND a female protagonist to boot. It was a gift from the horror movie gods.

I'll save my reviews of the other French films I've seen for another post - I have a couple others lined up to watch in the next week - and get back to Martyrs. I've said often enough before that you don't need to give me ALL the answers. In fact, I prefer to leave a movie with a mystery or two to ponder in my head. Having said that, there's a fine line between leaving purposeful gaps and creating a stink pile of nonsense that lacks any kind of real logic at its center. (See- Haunting of Molly Hoo-Ha)

I also do NOT enjoy watching movies that contain violence merely for violence's sake. I quit watching the Saw franchise after part 3 when halfway through the movie I felt queasy and kind of, well, dirty inside. Another movie that illustrates this phenomenon perfectly to me is the Australian film Wolf Creek. I went to the theater to see it and honestly just wanted to walk out. I felt like the three characters had no other purpose in the film other than to be maimed and tortured. It was literally a movie where three young people run into a bad man, and he kills them painfully and slowly. And that's the entire film. The End.

I realize that there is an audience for films like Saw (obviously- they still make a mint) and Wolf Creek. And that's perfectly fine with me - I applaud and encourage people to make any kind of film that they choose to. But if you're going to graphically maim and dismember people in front of my eyes, you need to give me more than that to get me to watch your movie. You've got to make your story compelling enough that I'm willing to watch those images. In other words, take me somewhere and make me feel something other than wanting to throw up and take a shower.

Now I know some people might point out that I watch all kinds of films with violence and gore that have absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. And I don't think that every horror movie needs a social statement. Sometimes it's just pure fun. Sometimes gore and violence are tongue in cheek. For instance, I don't take the Friday the 13th or Halloween films seriously at all. To me they're our generation's version of Grimm's fairy tales. Fairy tales contained warnings imbedded within them. If you're naughty, the witch will get you. Friday the 13th has the same message. Do drugs, have premarital sex, and Jason will get you. Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers are all just different versions of the Boogeyman.

Back to Martyrs - so I went into this film with all kinds of trepidation. Hell, even the director provides an intro in which he says that you might hate him after you watch the film. But overall - I have to say that the film was less hard for me to watch (going by the total number of times I literally covered my eyes - once - vs about a half dozen for Inside) than I thought it was going to be. I pretty much attribute this to all the warnings I had going in. It is NOT a pretty film. It is violent and graphic and bloody and there are all sorts of things being done to women in this film that you probably never wanted to imagine.

I don't really even want to get into a plot synopsis - it wouldn't be difficult to find one if you're really interested. I think the less you know about this movie, the more you'll get out of it. I will say however, that it's almost like three films in one - it literally has acts that unfold one after the other - and with every act you slip deeper and deeper into depravity. Instead, if anything I've said has made you curious, take a deep breath, rent it, and hold on. Oh - and probably don't eat dinner while you watch this, either.

I don't think this film is for everyone. It's one of the most twisted things I have ever seen in my life. But it also made me think - and it kept me thinking long after the movie was over. Unfortunately I can't really explain any of that without giving away some major plot points - but suffice it to say I really do feel that this is a film that goes beyond its harsh images to be provocative and to leave its imprint on your mind. And it wasn't the torture scenes that I kept coming back to as I thought of it - it was more character motivation, plot, just the whole general depravity of what was going on in the film. I'm not dying to watch it again - but I'd definitely add it to my collection and someday, I"ll be brave enough to watch it again.