Ein! Zwei! Die!
Dead Snow: while staying at a remote cabin in the woods a group of friends are attacked by hordes of Nazi zombies! You immediately warm to this film as it put all the horror movie tropes front and center: horny “teenagers” in the remote wilderness with no phone signal, then they realise that it’s is how horror films start (ay oh!!). There’s also a film geek thrown in for reference-o-rama – we get everything from a braindead t-shirt to Arnie impressions. Once the setup – complete with creepy old local warning them – is out of the way we’re treated to a barrage of old school jumps, dark horror comedy, and loads sensational barnstorming, limb-pulling, head-rolling, splatter-tastic blood and guts – that puts the film somewhere between Raimi and Troma. Everyone involved looks like they’re having fun, and the ‘zombie cast’ are also fantastic – even tougher when they’re not strictly zombies: faster, smarter etc. The last hour romps through so much entertaining gore and dark jokes that when one of the last scenes gets a bit serious it feels like a hefty dramatic gut punch. If you’ve read this far, you probably don’t mind the idea of watching a Nazi Zombie film; and I can’t imagine many being better than this. Dead Snow is an absolutely solid (Nazi) gold, gory-AF horror-comedy.
B-Movie Score: 9/10
Lone Survivor [Title Spoiler: only one of ‘em survives]: follows a Navy Seal team as their recon mission goes south and they’re ambushed by Taliban militia. From the get go it’s a flag-waving military recruitment advert; glorifying the ‘Army Bro’ lifestyle and full of manipulative shots: wide aperture, emotional music, golden hour lighting. It takes a while to get going, but when the action starts the movie completely shifts gear. After a quick round of various viewpoints on killing potentially dangerous civilians (also the only real characterisation we get) there’s an epic, sustained and very intense action scene, that goes on just long enough to become a bit silly; as the protagonists are shot dozens of times but keep limping on, literally throwing themselves face first down massive cliff faces while mowing down seemingly infinite hajis with seemingly infinite clips of ammo. This set piece is grittier than most too, with blood splattering headshots, close-ups of wounds, shrapnel surgery – not much left to the imagination. This kind of action, and the way it’s shot make the film feel more like a HK influenced heroic bloodshed film than a traditional army or Hollywood action movie. The final five minutes are a tribute to the dozens American soldiers that died in this operation; a nice touch, but ultimately raises more questions about why America perpetually sacrifice so many young people to interfere in the middle-east. As a War Movie, Lone Survivor is pretty light, but as a no-brainer action film it works spectacularly, with one of the best gun battles in recent memory.
“Been around the world twice. Talked to everyone once. Seen two whales fuck, been to three world faires. And I even know a man in Thailand with a wooden cock. I pushed more peeter, more sweeter and more completer than any other peter pusher around. I’m a hard bodied, hairy chested, rootin’ tootin’ shootin’, parachutin’ demolition double cap crimpin’ frogman. There ain’t nothin’ I can’t do. No sky too high, no sea too rough, no muff too tough. Been a lot of lessons in my life. Never shoot a large caliber man with a small caliber bullet. Drove all kinds of trucks. 2by’s, 4by’s , 6by’s and those big mother fuckers that bend and go ‘Shhh Shhh’ when you step on the brakes. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards. I’m a lover, I’m a fighter, I’m a UDT Navy SEAL diver. I’ll wine, dine, intertwine, and sneak out the back door when the refueling is done. So if you’re feeling froggy, then you better jump, because this frogman’s been there, done that and is going back for more. Cheers boys.”
American Mary: a broke-but-talented medical student accidentally stumbles across the world of extreme body modification, which helps pay the bills, and then some. This opens up with a sexy woman (yes)… in sexy lingerie (YES)… stitching up a raw chicken (oh…). The directors picked their target market (body mod goths) and just threw as much of the weirdness that comes with the territory into the movie: there’s a ton of bizarre faces and characters, leathers, latex, and awful techno metal – like a budget Matrix Soundtrack. It ends up feeling a bit like weirdness for wierdness’ sake – a bunch of ‘that would be cool/gross’ scenes stapled together: part rape revenge, part Saw, part Hostel, part Audition… The story also runs out of ground fairly quickly, after Mary’s career change it fumbles along ’til the fairly lame ending. Mary herself is a strange character: not really good or bad, just a bit ridiculous: would have been better and creepier to play it straight. Generally, it’s bad B-movie acting all round, which matches the sloppy dubbing and editing. If there’s one thing done well here, it’s the SFX, which are gut-wrenchingly slick – and provide the silver (or crimson) lining. With films like this and Dead Hooker in a Trunk the Soska Sisters seem to be doing a low-rent Tom Six thing.
Prometheus: a team of crack scientists travel to a distant planet to discover humanity’s beginnings, however, what they find could finish us all off! The opening aerial shots of breathetaking, sweeping landscapes are geography porn, it’s so beautiful that it’s worth the entrance fee alone. The rest of the film looks just as great, with sumptuous visuals, well-designed costumes & sets, and totally seamless impressive CGI. To match this, the acting roster’s impressive, although it’s absolutely owned by Fassbender‘s portrayal of David the android; he’s efficient, calculating, and believably robotic – surprisingly, he’s also by far the most interesting character, and the film’s biggest driving force. Charlize Theron’s role disappointingly amounts to nothing more than “hottie in a cat suit”. Frustraitingly, the film spends most of the runtime raising, contemplating and flirting with massive questions & themes – religion, evolution, why are we here, meeting our makers… – It’s just a shame that it spends next to no time resolving or answering any. As for being an Alien prequel, it feels intentionally distanced, with not much more than a fleeting post-script that is clunkily added-on. All in, I think Ridley’s hoping that the big loud grand spectacle will serve as a distraction from the fact that the story is neither strong, nor particularly original – which is epitomised best in Fassbender’s time in the fancy, flashy galaxy simulator thingmy-bob.
Repo Men [Blu Ray]: when organ replacements are bought on hire purchase, people who miss payments have said organs removed by repo men. Jude Law is in the future again, hanging out with cyborgs again, sporting an awful accent… again. Live Schreiber is a snake oil salesman / shark in a suit… again. So the casting’s not very imaginative. Storywise, it hurts your head to watch such an incoherently directed film: three months pass in 5 minutes. One character goes from rich to unwell, to a hobo, then finds hobo love, then becomes an action hero, then a blood fetishist… Then from out of nowhere someone gets a conscience. It’s generally hard to know what’s what in the mangled plot, as well as how much time has passed and what’s supposed to have happened between the scenes. There’s some heavy flow gore (done well), cheeky product placement, a ridiculous voiceover, and it’s the only film I’ll probably ever watch and shout “Scan her tits!” at the screen. Things eventually pick up with a semi-redemptive OTT knife-and-saw fight near the end, followed by an insane blood orgy and a half-decent ending that made me add a 1/2 mark out of pity. The other two points are for Whittaker and the soundtrack. Blu Ray picture and sound are both solid – but just don’t waste your time with the film! Repo Men is a classic case of great idea with batshit terrible execution; rendering it the definition of idiotic.