31 Nights of Horror, Night 17: Dance of the Dead (2008)
Three sentence review:
If you think Shaun of the Dead is the definitive zombie comedy of our generation, well, you’re absolutely right, but Dance of the Dead is terrific and totally worth your time. The plot is mindless: scores of cadavers reanimate in a graveyard next to a nuclear power plant (go figure) in a small, Georgia town and the local high school outcasts try to save everyone from the zombie attack on prom night. Dance of the Dead far exceeded my expectations when I watched it in 2009, and has quickly become one of my favorite nerdy horror films thanks to its quirky characters, sharp wit, and fantastic low budget effects… if that doesn’t convince you to watch, it has an 80% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes!
To give credit where credit’s due: good acting, musical score, and cinematography, but unless you’re a professional horror writer, regular film festival goer, or desensitized to absolutely everything horrific you could possibly imagine… PLEASE skip this one. A Serbian Film made V/H/S 2’s “Safe Haven” look like Disney’s A Haunted Mansion; don’t look it up, don’t watch it out of morbid curiosity, don’t watch it to see if it’s really that shocking, don’t watch it to see what the fuss is all about. I went through with it, I handled it, I don’t feel good about it – out of all the horror sub-genres, exploitation is my least favorite.
I completely understand that the director uses this film as an analogy to the horrors the Serbian government bestowed upon its citizens, and I am not of Serbian descent so I can’t speak to that perspective. I also get that no one would be constantly talking about this movie without the presence of some of the scenes it includes. But, seriously, if the director never came out and told people that was his intention, would we have gotten that or would it just have been dismissed as – quite literally – torture porn? There was one scene between Milos and Vukmir that discussed this, but very briefly.
I also understand how some extremist defenders of cinema will argue forever that this is art and a metaphor for the government fucking its people, and how far a person would go for money, blah blah blah. I respect your opinion, and your right to say it. Watch it all you want – it’s there. It’s on freaking YouTube for free.
Here’s my opinion: I will absolutely never condone the visuals presented to me as a viewer of this film. Horrific. Give me Leatherface going to town on some dude’s leg with a chainsaw any day of the week, don’t ever give me this.
Ah, the good ol’ years between 1998 and 2002 were positively majestic for the Disney Channel original movie business, with Disney just absolutely crushing it with treasured cinematic classics like Brink, Cadet Kelly, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, Johnny Tsunami, Alley Cats Strike, Emmy Award winning The Color of Friendship, and tonight’s feature, Halloweentown (I know you are total fangirling right now!) Halloweentown stars the FABULOUS Academy Award winner Debbie Reynolds (The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Carrie Fisher’s mom, your fantasy grandmother) as Aggie Cromwell, Judith Hoag (April from TMNT) as Gwen Cromwell Piper and Kimberly J. Brown (Bringing Down the House, a couple episodes of Two of a Kind) as Marnie Piper – three generations of Cromwell women who are – GASP – witches and find themselves battling to save Halloweentown from the evil Mayor Kalabar – MWAHAHAH! The cutesy characters in the quaint little village of Halloweentown, the horrible acting, predictable story, great costumes, and festive sets really make Halloweentown a fun, family watch (AND I LOVE IT SO BACK OFF) – this one is definitely pumpkin carving party approved.
I went to Redbox after work to see if I could rent The Purge for $1.20 because I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be that great, but it wasn’t available via Redbox yet so I drove home and ordered it from on-demand (can Blockbuster make a comeback, please?) Well, I wish I would’ve waited until it was available for only $1.20 because The Purge is a victim of having a fantastic concept (future America has a booming economy and 1% unemployment because the government allows murder to be legal for one night per year, aka”the purge”) but lackluster writing (kind of like this blog) and almost-but-not-quite-there performances. I’m a big fan of Ethan Hawke and the home invasion sub-genre, but this one left me saying “meh”.
Blessed be the new Founding Fathers, let us purge,
Take a cue from Britney Spears and “go call the Guvanah” because the Walking Dead is back, y’all! The once dreary prison is now a bonafide farm/school/apparent brothel cause everyone in the whole damn place is shackin’ up together and there are a whole lot of new characters to get to know. Judging from the end of this episode, I’m guessing there’s a swine flu storm a-comin’ except this swine flu turns you into a zombie – totally jazzed for this season!
There’s so much I love about Rob Zombie’s best movie to-date, The Devil’s Rejects, and I proudly consider myself a dedicated member of its cult following. Sid Haig reprises his role as Captain Spaulding; a psychotic, vulgar clown and patriarch of the Firefly family, and the movie focuses on the Firefly’s cat-and-mouse game with the ruthless local police department (meanwhile they run amok in a murderous rampage). The Devil’s Rejects is equal parts grindhouse, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Manson family – nonsensical violence mixed with campy humor and lots of gore – and I’ll always wonder how Rob Zombie ended up marrying someone as pretty as Sherri Moon Zombie.
31 Nights of Horror, Night 10: American Horror Story Coven, Episode 1, Bitchcraft
Three sentence review:
I love that American Horror Story is an anthology television series and was excited to close the door on AHS: Asylum and start fresh with a brand new story in AHS: Coven – especially since Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett joined the already stellar cast (also, witches are totally in right now – zombies, whaaaa?) The first episode, the aptly named “Bitchcraft,” felt refreshingly stylish and modern (a stark contrast from the dark and antiquated feel of the first two seasons) and I nearly passed out from excitement watching Kathy Bates play the insanely evil Madame Delphine LaLaurie – murderous socialite from 19th century New Orleans . The young witches, Zoe, Madison, Queenie, and Nan played respectively by Taissa Farmiga, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sibide, and Jamie Brewer are fun to watch (Zoe’s “power” made me slightly uncomfortable) and I’m ridiculously excited to see how New Orlean’s Voodoo history ties in – this season seems to have big potential!