Agrosluzby Bardejov Lifestyle magazine.

Steven Seagal is Against The Dark

I learned a long time ago that Steven Seagal was used up pretty much after his second film, Hard to Kill. Not that he was good in those first two flicks, but rather that he was sort of good looking, could pull off fight scenes believably, and did not come across as being the arrogant prick he does now. Sure it’d be one thing if his arrogance was justified, but does he seriously think he’s that good of an actor that his mere presence in a movie makes it a hit? Hello! Where has this man been for the last 20 years? Did he miss the part where his 30+ films sucked so bad that most either went straight to DVD, or he had such a small role that his presence went unnoticed? (Shock me shock me shock me with that deviant behavior!)

And what the hell is up with Stevieboy’s ponytail? Did someone once tell him that “Hey! That’s a good look for you” so he decided he’d be buried with the damned thing? Is he afraid if he takes it down all his hair will fall out?

And heaven forbid he have any inflection in his voice or facial expressions. I guess it would detract from his “signature” dark and brooding look that he likes to display in all his roles. Pretty hard to screw up monotone.

Then last (but certainly not least) is of course Seagal’s ever expanding waistline. You’d think with all his vast wealth he has earned from all these “hit” films, he’d be able to afford a trainer, but I suppose they would not teach him anything he doesn’t already know, and I would imagine they would quit within the first 10 minutes of training. So instead he wears that same black jacket, movie after movie (or at least they all look the same to me) since as well all know, black is very slimming…. Yet I watch Seagal’s movies - many of them, anyway - probably because being a lover of gawd-awful cheesy movies, I know Steven Seagal will deliver. So imagine my elation when I found out he was in a movie that involved none other than vampires. Hell yeh!

2009’s Against The Dark is another one of those flicks that start out in medias res where a contageous virus has turned all of the infected into flesh eating vampires. Everything about these vampires scream zombie but because they cannot go out in the daylight we learn they are actually vampires. It’s a damned good thing they told me this early on in the movie, too. I needed the clarification ‘cuz I was pretty convinced they were zombies.

So within the first 5-10 minutes we see that Seagal plays the role of Tao (ooohhhh, how symbolic) a “hunter” who slices and dices flesh eating vampires with ease as he rushes in to save the human life of a mere lad. Such a hero.

Scene break to six survivors who managed to be trapped inside an abandoned hospital while looking for meds as they search for an exit while simultaneously staying alive. Not so easy as the hospital is filled with the vambies / zompires that are just itching for yet another meal.

I’m not going to bother mentioning any of the other actors in this movie because true to form they are all basically no-name nobodies. I’m also not going to walk you through the chain of events that causes them to die, one by one, until the last remaining few are saved by our symbolic hero Tao. Nor will I go into detail about how the film is darkly shot in an attempts to hide the many flaws of our hero, as well as add to the fear factor of flesh and gore that is so prevalent throughout the film. I would however like to comment on the movie’s soundtrack and how humorous I found it to be in the selection of music played to enhance our “amazing” vampire hunter. Hand picked by our star actor himself, I am sure.

Against the Dark did entertain me though, thanks in part to the ample blood and gore. Add that to the fact that nothing else was on tv and I was tired. Plus I was surfing the web while I was watching it. Besides, Seagal’s screen time was all of maybe 15 minutes in total spread throughout so if nothing else, that shows promise… right? Almost makes me regret not having watched Lawman yet.

Yeh, rite!

2010's The Crazies

I’m a very sarcastic person. Most people who I associate with in everyday life don’t get that about me angerufen. They usually think I am being a bitch or just simply rude. They all just need to lighten up if you ask me and stop taking offense at everything I say. Why the hell should I have to walk around on eggshells all the time just because they are too slow or too stupid to know when I am busting their chops?

I think it would amaze them if they knew I held a certain affinity for zombies. Perhaps not in a good way; it might actually solidify their suspicions that I am certifiable. Fuck ‘em I say, ‘cuz on that inevitable day when zombies really do come to town we’ll see who the last one standing will be: ME. That’s right. This sarcastic bitch and I will be laughing the whole time saying “I told you so.” Yup. I sure would. Cuz I am a bitch that way.

So speaking of zombies, any of you seen the new movie The Crazies yet? I did. Drug my hubby to it just today, and I gotta say, even though he was not terribly crazy about it, I was.

The Crazies is a remake of the 1973 flick of the same title, although the 1973 version was written and directed by none other than George A. Romano. I can’t believe I haven’t seen that one - or at least, I don’t remember having seen it. I’m gonna have to log onto Netflix after writing this review to see if its available for instant download. I can’t imagine I would have passed it up. Maybe my not remembering is a sign that it wasn’t worth remembering…??

So as far as the 2010 Breck Eisner’s version of The Crazies goes, I’d have to say it was pretty entertaining. This version jumps right into the suspense factor with Roy, the local Otis Campbell, who comes strolling onto the high school baseball field with loaded shotgun in tow resulting in his getting shot dead by town sheriff David Dutton. That same suspense continues to build, as we see Bill Farnum when he snaps and burns his wife and son alive. But don’t think the fun stops there. The Crazies pretty much doesn’t let up until the very end.

In a Nutshell Focusing on sheriff David Dutton and his pregnant doctor wife Judy, The Crazies is about a big ass plane that goes down in the local water supply of the town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa. We soon learn the plane has contaminated the water supply with a viral pandemic, and the unlucky townsfolk who manage to become infected turn into veiny, bloody, unemotional killers. Luckily the government is on top of the plane fiasco and quickly send in troops to contain the situation by brute force, if necessary. True to form for this type of movie, this translates to everyone needing to be killed otherwise how else can we really know for sure if the pandemic has been eradicated?

So David, his wife Judy, his trusty deputy Russell Clark, and a couple of other survivor wannabes, are left to their own devices trying to stay alive, uninfected, and un-captured by the two faced militia.

The Delivery The main character selection in The Crazies are most all faces you will recognize: Timothy Olyphant as David (The Perfect Getaway, Hitman, Stop-Loss, among many more); Radha Mitchell as Judy (the Surrogates, Silent Hill, Man on Fire) and Joe Anderson as Russell (The Ruins, Control.) Their acting was pretty mediocre but definitely above B status which is a good thing considering the size of the paycheck I am sure they will rake in. I actually found Anderson to be the most convincing of the bunch. Their reactions and actions in general were pretty realistic, but a little whiny on the part of David and Judy. I am sure the idea was to show the movies “softer side” but it came across as just plain annoying.

The military aspect was pretty believable. If you pay attention to the movie, you see it was obvious that the town was being watched and orders were being given and the military’s response time and reaction to the infected were to be expected. We are also offered little bits of information throughout the movie that let you know the plane was government issue and its going down was the reason for the subsequent events, which tied the time line together pretty convincingly. There really wasn’t a gore element in The Crazies, but there was blood and really cool makeup effects on the infected. It certainly looked realistic and that is always a plus in my book, even if I am a fan of rubber creature features. The infected had a sadistic side and liked to inflict this sadism onto the uninfected in some pretty inventive blood splattering ways. I actually found myself cringing from the - dare I say brutality? - of the movie.

My .02 Cents Although The Crazies is no where near as good as Carriers or Quarantine, it is definitely ginormously better than 2009’s Pandemic (a movie I can’t review because it was so bad that 30 minutes after having watched it, I forgot most everything about it.) And although its rather predicable (what horror movie isn’t these days?) I think its safe to say that The Crazies is definitely my kind of flick. Sure a couple of gratuitous boob shots would have improved the movie, but Breck Eisner (who is also directing the 2012 remake of Flash Gordon) made up for it by having no real slow spots, not too terribly many holes, and offering plenty of violence. I was actually surprised more than once. Kudos, Breck Eisner!

Stephen King’s 1986 Maximum Overdrive

Why is it all the movies I love are gawd awful movies of Hollywood? For example, I love Tremors telefon. Talk about a DUMBass movie - Tremors tops the charts. Bad acting, totally unbelievable story line, no boob shots or blood (although the graphics used to create the grab-oids was pretty cool.) And I gotta tell ya’, I have watched that damned movie more than 20 times and have loved each and every viewing.

But Tremors is not what I want to talk about today. No, today is reserved for another one of my ridiculous B pleasures….. Maximum Overdrive. Oh yehhhhhhhhhh!

For whatever reason Stephen King’s books have never been able to capture the same mood on screen as they do on paper. While his books leave you frighteningly chilled and speculating the “what ifs,” the more recent movie versions always come across rather comical, silly, and most decidedly B. Rarely do you see his movie adaptations deliver the same effect as his earlier works such as Carrie or The Shinning. It’s too bad really as his books can be amazingly disturbing.

Though not billed as a comedic horror film, Maximum Overdrive certainly has the feel of one. The basic premise of the film is that the earth passes through the tail of a comet at which point most all mechanical things seem to spring to life. Electric carving knives, blenders, remote control cars, trucks, semis - you get the picture. And for what ever reason, these mechanical things all seem to be rather angry and begin attacking humans indiscriminately.

I think one of my favorite scenes is where a mailman is delivering mail (on foot no less. You don’t see that anymore) when out of no where a remote control truck begins to follow him. In a matter of minutes the toy knocks the mailman to the ground and proceeds to bash his brains in by repeatedly running into his head.

Now I can understand why some of you might find this frightening but keep in mind that this remote control truck is no taller than 10 inches so there is no reason why this mailman could not have just stomped on the blasted thing when it first ran into his ankle. Instead however he becomes a giant sally to the point the that truck is literally taking him down at the ankles (the term ankle-biter comes to mind.) And if that wasn’t enough, instead of grabbing the truck with one or (here’s a thought) BOTH hands, he instead cowers in a feeble attempt to use his arms as a shield against the attacking toy.

Ok, so I realize these numb-nuts are necessary in order to create a movie such as this; after all, had the mailman done what I suggested the movie would have taken a dramatically different turn and not been anywhere near as entertaining. So I suspend disbelief and find the humor in its delivery….

….which makes this next scene hysterical! It’s when a soda machine decides to get even with some kid who was a little less than gentle in trying to enjoy a beverage…. and who wouldn’t want a steam roller for backup?? Classic stuff!

So in a nutshell, Maximum Overdrive is the story of Billy (played by Emilio Estevez) who appears to be the “brains” behind a small group of humans that are trapped at the Dixie Boy Truck Stop where the possessed vehicles decide to “stock up” as it is right off the interstate. Billy quickly surmises that the trucks will allow them to live in exchange for pumping the life sustaining gas the trucks so desperately need. The only problem is that the gas will only last for so long, and the comet was to pass over their little world for a total of eight days. To survive those eight days while trucks and rigs have thought processes, can read the minds of humans, and exhibit homicidal tendencies proves to be an uneasy task for sure…. and if the gas does run out, what will become of them all?

What was curious about Maximum Overdrive was that cars, boats, and motorcycles never came to life, yet carving knives, blenders, and toy autos did. I can’t help but think this is some type of prejudice on the part of the writer/director, Stephen King. What does he have against boats and motorcycles? Do muscle cars intimidate him? I find it hard to imagine Stephen King would overlook such an important detail; he loves detail!

Ah well, I guess it’s a good thing I don’t obsess about these things. If I begin to, I’ll just pop in the soundtrack for this baby cuz every last song on it is performed by AC/DC, and that alone makes this movie worthwhile. Of course, so does the campy humor, blood (dare I say “gore”?) effects, and classic B dialogue. Yes, Maximum Overdrive is definitely a keeper for any true B movie lover.

ZMD Zombies of Mass Destruction

In a nutshell, it’s safe to say that if zombies are the subject matter volajuci, I am drooling. It’s also safe to say that based on my affinity for B movies, it does not take much to impress me. Meaning it can be a pretty gawd awful movie and 9 out of 10 times, s’long as zombies are involved, I’m gonna love it. Unfortunately that is not the case with this movie and I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am that the AfterDark release of ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction fit into that 1 out of 10 category.

Allow me to give you the meat and potatoes of ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction:

Port Gamble is a little island town where everything appears to be sunshine and roses. White picket fences line each yard and everyone knows everyone else and waves to all in welcome. On the surface, life in Port Gamble is grand and everyone is happy, yet we see subtle clues alluding the to discontent of the townsfolk, a not so subtle foreshadowing of unpleasant things to come.

We see a blind man stumble upon an undead corpse washed ashore the local beach and before you can say “brainnnnnsss” he is bitten, and peaceful Port Gamble is mobbed by hungry zombies. Don’t be fooled however, as these zombies are not where the true horror of ZMD lies. Instead, we learn the real horror lies in the masked bigotry of the townsfolk.

ZMD’s main focus is Frida, an American of Iranian descent, and gay couple, Tom and Lance. It seems the townsfolk have kept buried their true feelings of these individuals, and the arrival of zombies has given voice to their prejudices, as well as granting them arrogance to inflict upon them physical torture. The townsfolk felt they could not cleanse their town of zombies until they cleansed their souls of their inner demons (zombies if you will.)

Was there blood in ZMD? Oh Yeh. lots of it actually. Were there humorous moments that made me laugh, albiet briefly? Sure. But was I bored out of my mind with the “message” of “the demon you don’t know is sometimes worse than the demon you do know”? You better frickin’ believe it. See, I live in the South; the Biblebelt South. And in my antiquated city, prejudice and ignorance is more commonplace than grilling out on game day. If I wanted to see a movie about such things, I’d take a trip into town with my snazzy Canon camcorder rolling, and replay it on my flatscreen tv….

I watch these movies to escape reality, not be reminded of it.

What happened to the good old days of the Evil Dead when a zombie movie was all about flesh eating corpses and really cool boom sticks? Or Planet Terror where there was so much action and bloodshed that no one gave two shits as to whether or not there was a hidden message. Am I being too harsh? Expecting too much?

Probably. And I would imagine if I were to watch it again, on a weekend perhaps, in a different state of mind (and with a bottle of wine in my belly) I would most likely actually enjoy it…. maybe. Once I embrace the “Political Zomedy” aspect of it rather than roll my eyes at it’s message….

Ah, who am I kidding? This is one zombie movie that will NOT end up in my vault of keepers.