Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hey! It's October!

So I'm once again going to try, and most likely fail, to watch a horror movie every day of October and come up up with some lame insight based on what I watched.

Yesterday, October 1st, I went looking for something to start off with...
I had some criteria.
I wanted to start with something somewhat decent, hopefully classic.
I also wanted to watch something I'd never seen.
It's kind of hard to hit both... I've seen most of the good old stuff... that I know of... that's available to be seen.
What I settled on was Dr. Cyclops. I'd never seen it all the way through, it's something of a classic in that it gets name-dropped in several other genre films.
Too bad my internet crashed at the last minute and I couldn't get to it...

So, instead I ignored my rules and just shoved in Undead, the Australian zombie/alien movie from a few years back.
Now, I hadn't seen Undead, so at least that box got checked... but it wasn't 'classic'.
I'm still not sure if it was 'decent'.
For one thing, I went in not knowing it was a comedy. A fairly broad comedy at that. It reminded me a bit of Peter Jackson's early films... though not nearly as gross or funny.
It's definitely one of those movies where people/zombies are big bags of red juice... waiting to be split asunder by any handy implement of destruction. Fists go through heads, a man is split in half by a steering wheel lock, a head is knocked off by a weaponized zombie-arm. All of that in the first several minutes of the movie.

So, lots of red on everyone.
The dialog is very 'wacky'. The characters are obvious archetypes.
I seem to remember reading a bit of chaff about this movie back when it came out... something about it doing a bait-n-switch on viewers by not being a 'real' zombie film. Having watched it though, I don't see how anyone could have gone further than a few minutes into it without it being obvious that some sort of sci-fi mumbo jumbo was going on... 'things from space' doing bad/weird things.
Maybe the complaints I read were about the ending... which does get pretty wild and weird, compared to the early bits of the film which are just kind of silly/dumb. Not that the ending is entirely opaque... but a lot of stuff goes vague or unexplained. It's never made quite clear what the 'aliens' are or what they're up to... what the 'zombies' were or weren't.
None of that bothered me though. I much preferred the second half of the movie over the first.
OK, two things I took from the movie...
First, I still like zombies. Despite the glut of zombie stuff from the past few years, on film I still like them as monsters. Yes, too much damn zombie crap being made... too much zombie merchandise... but when they're done well they make for great creepy monsters. (all of this goes for Cthulhu as well).
Second, despite my ersatz prejudices about Australians, they make some of my favorite movies. Just about always surprising and willing to shift around genres... a bit like Bollywood films in that.
One of my favorite movies is Muriel's Wedding. It's usually marketed as a wacky comedy... but anyone who's seen it knows that it shifts all over the couch... from slapstick to black comedy to tragedy... even a few moments encroaching on horror. It all comes together into something that's a bit surreal... and despite the feel-good ending there is a good bit of badness that remains under the carpet.
Undead has those elements as well... it shifts around. It's never really scary, but it has moments of weird and moments of sad.

Favorite bits:
The running grudge between the small-town beauty pageant contestants.
The scene late in the movie with the 'levitating' van.
The scene where the fisherman fights the zombie fish.

OK, hopefully I can get Dr. Cyclops to work tonight...

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