Sunday, February 13, 2011
Two Birds, One Stone: Reviews of Two Unsatisfactory Zombie Films
This will be my first blog post, so allow me to introduce myself. I am the Pop Tart Fine Diner. You can say I am a connoisseur of the trashy things in life, but one man's trash is another man's treasure. I do reviews from time to time, video games, films, books, you name it. But to whomever happens to read, I hope you enjoy. Feel free to comment on anything.
I've watched several zombie films, ranging from metaphoric examples of what society could become to the downright cheesy and gory deaths. I usually prefer the previous over the latter category, but I enjoy both kinds of zombie movies all the same. The hype of a movie doesn't affect how I will enjoy or perceive it: it's all a matter of how well the director portrays the atmosphere, culture, people and zombies in the films.
Anytime I go to rent a movie, being bored on the weekend or procrastinating from writing another paper, I usually just look around for anything zombie-related. The cover of a film doesn't ever dissuade me from picking it up. It's pretty evident that "judging a book by its cover" is something that you really shouldn't do with films--but you'd probably end up being right either way with some films. In particular, these two.
I ended up renting the tribute/homage Night of the Living Dead Reanimated and Wolf Wolff's Beast Within, probably better known to a Western audience as Virus Undead. The two films try to persuade viewers in both synopsis and comments on the movie covers. Reanimated emphasizes that the film is a homage to the original Night of the Living Dead, using several artists to recreate scenes from the original film. Beast Within bears the statement "Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds meets Outbreak" on its movie cover to sell itself, with no indication of who originally spoke it. If true, both films should hold some very profound artistry and enjoyable content, thrilling a viewer with familiar yet new material that they would hold dear to the original. Sometimes the originals should be left alone and I believe these two films to be proof.
Night of the Living Dead Reanimated began with a scene that prefaced a movie with a man dressed as a vampire, describing the exquisite corpse that was being brought forth to the viewers. I totally understood that this was a homage, tribute and simply a fan-made movie, done for free by the artists involved, but the fact that I was watching a guy who looked like he worked in a gag shop imitate a Transylvanian accent with a generic rubber chicken hung from a noose next to him should have been my first warning. That and the random sponsors that included Demonoid.
The film had several artists, mostly collected from Deviantart, which was painfully obvious. The first groan of disapproval came at the horribly rendered scene where Johnny and Barbara are standing over the grave in the graveyard. The scene in particular, looked like it was half-assed within ten minutes in Microsoft Paint. The giveaway was the Times New Roman font typed into a crudely drawn semicircle in the background, supposedly representing a gravestone. From then on, my expectations became crushed, like a zombie having its brains bashed in. Although a lot of scenes actually had great artists, such as the penciled animation reminiscent of Aha's Take on Me, charcoal drawings and single extremely detailed sketches, the downside to these better artists was that they were only used for a single frame or discretely to the point where their involvement in the movie could have been anonymous or even unknown. What annoyed me about the more superior art was the camera would often shoot around, shifting rapidly in chaos, trying to recreate some implied locomotion or struggle in a scene. The "3D" supposed "artist," and I use that term for this individual very sarcastically, used Garry's Mod from the Half Life 2 Source Engine in order to create a number of scenes. It might be my hate for Machinima, but that doesn't even strike me as something artistic at all. This could be because the person didn't make any skins (which would have been impressive) for the characters. They simply used what was already there and half-assed it. Another art style that only annoyed me was the amorphous blobs was random crude detail of implied shapes, that inverted the white and black colors rapidly, almost to a seizure-inducing level. The art for the most part, in the film, caused a headache and boredom that wanted me to reach the end of the film as quickly as possible.
My biggest complaint with the film was that it wasn't exactly clear until the film started that it was meant to be a mediocre parody, which the humor sadly comes from some of the terrible art styles used in the film. If I picked up the movie and knew it was going to be a shoddy tribute using, for the majority, craptastic art in parodied fashion, then I would have been expecting it and possibly enjoyed it a bit more. Honestly, anyone can defend it and call it a tribute or homage, simply celebrating the love of the first film. I understand that. To put it personally though, it's like building a "tribute" model of a muscle car by finding used and rusted parts from golf carts, snow blowers and lawnmowers. Sure, it may get a laugh because of how it looks in the end, or a few claps in the audience for effort, but once someone tries to start the ignition, there's going to be a lot of disappointment--which was my case.
The other movie I watched was Beast Within by director Wolf Wolff. I'll be absolutely honest, I may have made it anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and ten minutes into the film, then I turned it off. Why? Well, besides my girlfriend complaining about how terrible the movie was (she was justified for the whole portion of the film that was watched), I just couldn't get into it. It was boring, the characters were deattached from themselves and it seemed like it was overall terribly written. Every single one of the male characters had some sort of hybrid accent that I could not for the life of me figure out where they may have originated. I started to realize that the accents of the male characters sounded like they were all trying to imitate the voice of Sulu from the Original series of Star Trek. The "bullies" were just absolute douchebags for no reason given whatsoever; the "cop" was always seen eating a doughnut and couldn't give any less of a shit when he heard a gunshot in the town; the two girls at the gas station seemed like they were imported Americans who threw a fit over absolutely nothing and the two guys ditch their third guy friend to get laid at the mansion later on. Yeah, seems like legitimate human interaction to me. The movie "put down" when the zombified versions of the former bully douchebags started entering the mansion. Whatever disease/solution was based on battling the Bird Flu had caused the outbreak, turning assholes into even bigger assholes.
Overall, they both ranged from mediocre to garbage. I would rather watch a terrible movie than a boring one.
Night of the Living Dead Reanimated: 4.5/10
Wolf Wolff's Beast Within (First hour): 2.0/10
This is Pop Tart Fine Diner, signing off.