28 Days Later (2002) directed by Danny Boyle
Mrs. K has been begging to watch this one again (last year, I suggested the remake of Dawn instead) -- for some reason -- and I finally relented this afternoon. I think most folks call this a zombie movie, even though none of the dead are doing any moving. If that's true, then I wonder where the zombie movie limit is? If people with what is effectively super-rabies are zombies, who else can we net into that category? I'm going to say they need something incurable to count. How about a terminal cancer patient doped up on painkillers? Maybe people with advanced syphilis who are crazy due to the holes in their brain tissue? People with severe alcoholism, perhaps? With zombies currently reigning as monster supreme in our culture, I guess we're lucky no wannabe zombie hunters have attacked AA meetings or hospitals.
Anyway, like most everyone, I love the first half and think the movie changes into something completely different when they get the military base. I do dig seeing the Ninth Doctor in other things, though. (7/10)
ZMD: Zombie of Mass Destruction (2009) directed by Kevin Hamedani
This was the Horrorfest movie I was most looking forward to this year, purely due to its name. I really should know better than that. It's a zombie comedy about a conservative small town that experiences a zombie plague. It's supposed to be a political satire in the same vein as Joe Dante's Masters of Horror episode "Homecoming" -- and it's even set in 2003 right after the Iraqi war began -- but the comedy just falls completely flat. The bad guys -- outside of the zombies -- are a conservative politician, a fire-and-brimstone preacher and redneck. The good guys are a gay couple, a liberal politician and an Iranian who is mistaken for an Iraqi constantly. With a cast of stereotypes, one would think the humor would be broad and silly and constant, right? Not really. The movie seems to spend a lot of its time attempting to tell serious stories: the Iranian is ashamed of her father's culture, one of the gay guys is scared of coming out to his mom, etc. This is punctuated occasionally by some admittedly fun gore effects that seem to be inspired by Evil Dead 2 (particularly, the mother's eyeball) and the aforementioned lame comedy. It's not a good mix. I spent most of the time bored or sighing at the stupidity of the politics of the film. (5/10)
And that was the final Horrorfest 4 movie. As is the average, I only liked two of the eight films this year: Dread and Kill Theory. But, that's really a microcosm of the horror fan's lot in life, isn't it? We watch tons and tons of bad movies in the hopes of discovering those gems or semi-gems that make it all worth it. Think I'll dive into those Ghost House films next.
Saw III (2006) directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
While I'm not a huge fan of the movies themselves, I do like their continuity. This one picks up right after part II ends and proceeds to backfill more story into the previous two movies as it tells its own. There are also a couple of unexplained or unexpanded on bits -- Jigsaw's dreams of a blonde woman, for one -- that make me feel like they had a bunch of these sequels kind of mapped out already. It'll be interesting to find out how they bring Jigsaw back to life for the next 4 movies. It's hard to see how he could've predicted being cut in the throat by Jeff -- given all of the torture tools around -- in order to put a fake blood pack there. Then, again, Danny Glover survived the same injury in the first movie. Then again, he wasn't nearly dead from cancer at the time. I suppose part IV can retcon anything they need to explain it away, like Jigsaw knew Amanda would fail and had a backup assistant hiding and waiting to sew his throat closed. Well, I shall see.
Storywise, I had a hard time empathizing with Jeff, which makes his trials a little less than effective. Him dragging his feet for each victim, first yelling at them and crying before finally deciding to save them, seemed forced. His son died in a car accident in which the driver wept on the scene. C'mon. That sucks, but wouldn't it have been much more challenging if his son had been, I dunno, caught in a gangland drive-by shooting accidentally? That would've made his decisions to save the victims much more challenging.
Also, that twisty-rack device was about a thousand times more gory than anything so far in the series. This was released a year after the first Hostel. Maybe Saw decided to it needed to keep up to compete? I'll be curious if they keep pushing the envelope and if they can keep thinking of new devices without getting completely ridiculous. (6/10)