Cinepub


Zombie Month: A Virgin Among The Living Dead by Jamie

Well, I honestly thought that the recent Zombie craze which saw itself rise like… well, like a Zombie, in the early 2000s was kinda coming to end, replaced by a love for creatures which called themselves vampires and werewolves which in no way resembled vampires or werewolves. (Seriously, why is the Twilight series named after things relating to the night? None of the creatures powers in that series are linked in anyway to the night.) But the Zombie trend continues to shuffle on relentlessly like… well, like a Zombie, buoyed most recently by the awesome small screen adaptation of the awesome comic book ‘The Walking Dead’.

Because of this I’ve found myself more obsessed with Zombies than is probably legal. To try and get over this I have decided that December will be Zombie month at Cinepub. And really what better month than December to pick? For was December not the month that the man who would grow up to become the first Zombie, Jesus Hubert Christ, born? Well in reality probably not but the legend says it so and what’s better? The truth or an entertaining lie?
 

Clearly an entertaining lie.


So with all that in mind I went to Wikipedia’s list of Zombie films and arbitrarily picked thirty-one titles to watch and review. I decided to ignore the old classics such as Romero’s body of work and the beloved splatter films of the 70s and 80s because, well, what more can I say at them. (With the exception of one classic from the 80s because I haven’t seen it in years, I had a damn hard time finding it and this seems like a good excuse to finally rewatch it again). For the most part, many of the films seem to be made during the recent craze and many seem to be very, very low budget. I’m hoping that I’ll find a few modern gems amongst what I’m sure will be largely a pile of shit but hey, negative reviews are always more fun to write and read than positive ones so I’m sure we’ll have some fun.

Today’s entry in the marathon is one that didn’t come from the modern era. It’s titled ‘A Virgin Among The Living Dead’ and is from the 70s. It’s also European but I’m having a hard time pinning down exactly where. The opening titles are in French but according to IMDB the original language was German (my copy is dubbed) and it lists the country’s involved as France, Belgium, Italy and Germany but it certainly has a very French feel about it.

The basic story is… Well, it’s difficult to say. Let’s just say the film is a huge confusing mess, right of the bat. I’m also not sure exactly why it’s listed in Wikipedia’s list of Zombie films. We’ll come to that though. I guess the basic story is that a girl, Chirstine, who had been living in London returns to Miscellaneous European Country upon hearing the news of her father’s death in order to attend the reading of his will. She had never really known her father as he had sent her to private school in England after the death of her mother and had never met his extended family either.

Upon reaching the family castle (A ‘castle’ which it must be noted looked smaller than the villa I spent my summer holiday in Ibiza in) she learns that her father’s second wife is dying. Upon her way to see the dying woman she encounters a weird mute housekeeper who looks like an old version of Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite who had really let himself go, her uncle, her aunt and a woman who I’m guessing might be her cousin or something (Apart from the main girl, I never really picked up the character’s name). There all a bit kooky and weird and her uncle at least is strangely cold to the touch. I imagine she reconciles this in her mind by just assuming it’s because they’re from mainland Europe, a fair assumption to make, but it’s soon clear that there’s more going on here. Unfortunately the movie never makes it clear what that is.

So as time progresses, Christina has weird dreams about her dead father calling her name and he appears to her as a being caught somewhere between life and death. But I have see no real reason for him showing up because he doesn’t do anything except warn her about things at too late a juncture for her to do anything about them. And seeing as this is a European horror film made in the 70s, there’s also plenty of shots of Christina and others completely naked for no real reason. There’s one bit where Christina goes swimming naked in a pond and two characters who never appear again leer over her until they are shooed away by a third character who also never appears again. Basically it’s an excuse for the girl to frolic about with a kit of for a bit. Still she’s kinda cute and has a well managed bush by 70s standards at least.

So through all of this incomprehensible mess, there aren’t any actual zombies in this zombie film except for the vague implication that her family might be the living dead. And by vague implication I mean that but where she notes that her Uncle is cold to the touch. Her cousin also has a habit of drinking blood from her blind cousin’s breasts (who shows up vaguely warn Christina about something) and someone goes around putting the desiccated bodies of bed all over place because… well, because. I understand there is a later cut of this film where the director added scenes of traditional zombies and it’s apparently even more confusing than this version. That surely takes some doing.

By the end of the film Christina has gone quite mad after being attacked by her family some reason. Then she has another dream where Lady Death takes her into the pond she swam naked earlier and her family follow her. Seriously. I have no fucking idea what the hell happened in this film. When there weren’t naked people on screen, people were talking in vague and philosophical terms about death which is why I said that the film had a French feeling to it. That’s the kind of thing French people do.

So the first film of Zombie month has no Zombies in it and was completely incomprehensible to boot. This is not the best start to this marathon. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s film kicks things up a notch. Bam. I rate ‘A Virgin Amongst The Living Dead’ one pint out of five because the vaguely cute girl got vaguely naked a vaguely large number of times. Laterz then.

You can buy a version of ‘A Virgin Among The Living Dead’ from the Cinepub Amazon.co.uk Store for £3.99



Zombie Month: A Virgin Among The Living Dead by Jamie

Well, I honestly thought that the recent Zombie craze which saw itself rise like… well, like a Zombie, in the early 2000s was kinda coming to end, replaced by a love for creatures which called themselves vampires and werewolves which in no way resembled vampires or werewolves. (Seriously, why is the Twilight series named after things relating to the night? None of the creatures powers in that series are linked in anyway to the night.) But the Zombie trend continues to shuffle on relentlessly like… well, like a Zombie, buoyed most recently by the awesome small screen adaptation of the awesome comic book ‘The Walking Dead’.

Because of this I’ve found myself more obsessed with Zombies than is probably legal. To try and get over this I have decided that December will be Zombie month at Cinepub. And really what better month than December to pick? For was December not the month that the man who would grow up to become the first Zombie, Jesus Hubert Christ, born? Well in reality probably not but the legend says it so and what’s better? The truth or an entertaining lie?
 

Clearly an entertaining lie.

So with all that in mind I went to Wikipedia’s list of Zombie films and arbitrarily picked thirty-one titles to watch and review. I decided to ignore the old classics such as Romero’s body of work and the beloved splatter films of the 70s and 80s because, well, what more can I say at them. (With the exception of one classic from the 80s because I haven’t seen it in years, I had a damn hard time finding it and this seems like a good excuse to finally rewatch it again). For the most part, many of the films seem to be made during the recent craze and many seem to be very, very low budget. I’m hoping that I’ll find a few modern gems amongst what I’m sure will be largely a pile of shit but hey, negative reviews are always more fun to write and read than positive ones so I’m sure we’ll have some fun.

Today’s entry in the marathon is one that didn’t come from the modern era. It’s titled ‘A Virgin Among The Living Dead’ and is from the 70s. It’s also European but I’m having a hard time pinning down exactly where. The opening titles are in French but according to IMDB the original language was German (my copy is dubbed) and it lists the country’s involved as France, Belgium, Italy and Germany but it certainly has a very French feel about it.

The basic story is… Well, it’s difficult to say. Let’s just say the film is a huge confusing mess, right of the bat. I’m also not sure exactly why it’s listed in Wikipedia’s list of Zombie films. We’ll come to that though. I guess the basic story is that a girl, Chirstine, who had been living in London returns to Miscellaneous European Country upon hearing the news of her father’s death in order to attend the reading of his will. She had never really known her father as he had sent her to private school in England after the death of her mother and had never met his extended family either.

Upon reaching the family castle (A ‘castle’ which it must be noted looked smaller than the villa I spent my summer holiday in Ibiza in) she learns that her father’s second wife is dying. Upon her way to see the dying woman she encounters a weird mute housekeeper who looks like an old version of Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite who had really let himself go, her uncle, her aunt and a woman who I’m guessing might be her cousin or something (Apart from the main girl, I never really picked up the character’s name). There all a bit kooky and weird and her uncle at least is strangely cold to the touch. I imagine she reconciles this in her mind by just assuming it’s because they’re from mainland Europe, a fair assumption to make, but it’s soon clear that there’s more going on here. Unfortunately the movie never makes it clear what that is.

So as time progresses, Christina has weird dreams about her dead father calling her name and he appears to her as a being caught somewhere between life and death. But I have see no real reason for him showing up because he doesn’t do anything except warn her about things at too late a juncture for her to do anything about them. And seeing as this is a European horror film made in the 70s, there’s also plenty of shots of Christina and others completely naked for no real reason. There’s one bit where Christina goes swimming naked in a pond and two characters who never appear again leer over her until they are shooed away by a third character who also never appears again. Basically it’s an excuse for the girl to frolic about with a kit of for a bit. Still she’s kinda cute and has a well managed bush by 70s standards at least.

So through all of this incomprehensible mess, there aren’t any actual zombies in this zombie film except for the vague implication that her family might be the living dead. And by vague implication I mean that but where she notes that her Uncle is cold to the touch. Her cousin also has a habit of drinking blood from her blind cousin’s breasts (who shows up vaguely warn Christina about something) and someone goes around putting the desiccated bodies of bed all over place because… well, because. I understand there is a later cut of this film where the director added scenes of traditional zombies and it’s apparently even more confusing than this version. That surely takes some doing.

By the end of the film Christina has gone quite mad after being attacked by her family some reason. Then she has another dream where Lady Death takes her into the pond she swam naked earlier and her family follow her. Seriously. I have no fucking idea what the hell happened in this film. When there weren’t naked people on screen, people were talking in vague and philosophical terms about death which is why I said that the film had a French feeling to it. That’s the kind of thing French people do.

So the first film of Zombie month has no Zombies in it and was completely incomprehensible to boot. This is not the best start to this marathon. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s film kicks things up a notch. Bam. I rate ‘A Virgin Amongst The Living Dead’ one pint out of five because the vaguely cute girl got vaguely naked a vaguely large number of times. Laterz then.

You can buy a version of ‘A Virgin Among The Living Dead’ from the Cinepub Amazon.co.uk Store for £3.99



Review: Piranha (1978) by Jamie

Spoilers Ahead!

The Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’ has been and gone, you’ve watched Jaws and it’s sequels a thousand times and Mega Shark VS Giant Octopus has begun to lose it’s lustre so what the hell are you going to do when you’ve still got an appetite for killer fish? Well, there’s always a few films involving killer fish that aren’t sharks. That’s right, I’m talking about those other fish which people seem to have hyped up as being some kind of serial killing eating machines, Piranha.

I’ve always loved Piranha. Even if their reputation is massively, massively exaggerated, they still look fucking awesome. They look like the kind of fish that deserve to have said about them the things that people say about them. Despite my love of the toothy little bastards, however, I have never watched any of the films in the ‘Piranha’ series. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever watched any films about piranha at all. Still, if there’s any time to start, now seems to be it what with the recent release of ‘Piranha 3D’. So over the course of the next few days, I’ll be reviewing each Piranha film plus a couple from outside the series including the Asylum produced mock buster ‘Mega Piranha’. Anyway, let’s begin at the beginning for it is a very good place to begin with Joe Dante’s original film, Piranha from 1978.

Now there’s one thing that confuses me about this film. Why is it always touted as being a parody of Jaws? I understand that the reason it was made was because Jaws existed in the first place but a lot of nature horror films followed the sharks release into the cinema and they’re not all considered parodies. Yes, the poster for the film certainly parodies Jaws and the film is definitely funny but then so was Jaws. The main reason I don’t buy this film as a parody is that the titular piranha are an actual threat in the film. The kind of thing I would expect in a parody would be the piranha doing weird and wacky things but in this film they are presented as a real threat. There’s no sense of parody in the piranha’s behaviour whatsoever. There aren’t any even any characters that I would consider a direct parody of the characters in Jaws either. Sure there’s that guy who always appears in Joe Dante films (Dick Miller) playing the owner of the water park who’s kinda like the mayor in Jaws in that he doesn’t want to close his water park because of the money he loses but those characters are invariably always in films involving killer fish so again, not really a parody. Sorry I went off a bit there but I jut don’t think it’s fair to just label this film as a parody of Jaws. It has merit of it’s own.

Anyway, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about Joe Dante over the years it’s that he makes really good films about small things attacking people. Gremlins, Gremlins 2 and Small Soldiers (admittedly the weakest but still enjoyable) are all examples of this and Piranha is no exception. The basic gist is that the military had bio-engineered a new strain of piranha to use in the Vietnam war. The project was discontinued but the fish survived, studied under the watchful eye of Dr. Hoak (Kevin McCarthy). Unfortunately his watchful eye doesn’t prevent a pair of skinny dipping teens going into the piranha’s tank with predictable results.

The couples disappearance prompts the arrival of Maggie McKeon (Heather Menzies), a private investigator trying to find out what happened to them. She enlists the aid of local alcoholic Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman) to guide her to where the teens may have gone. They head to the apparently abandoned military base and, finding stuff belonging to the couple, decide to drain the pool to see if they have drowned in it thereby releasing the mutant piranha into the local river. Hmm, guess Dr Hoak doesn’t have that much of a watchful eye after all. In fact he really, really sucks at watching out for anything.

The trio decide that they have to try and stop the piranha from reaching the summer camp down stream where Grogan’s daughter is in attendance. To do this they take a raft down river, hoping to reach the dam operator at the bottom in order to prevent him from flushing water through, granting the piranha access to the summer camp as well. As they travel they discover gruesome evidence that the piranhas are indeed incredibly vicious such as the half-eaten body of Grogan’s friend and a boy stranded on top of a capsized canoe after the piranha had eaten his father. Dr. Hoak meets his end whilst helping the boy onto the raft, perhaps hoping to make up for the mistake he made in creating the piranha in first place. Well, it doesn’t really. That boy’s father is still dead and so are you now, Dr. Hoak. The solution to death isn’t more death unless that’s what the voices in your head tell you in which case they are absolutely right and must be obeyed without question.

Anyway, they manage to prevent the flushing of the dam but unfortunately there is a tributary which circumvents it. Double unfortunately the military show up and prevent them from contacting the media in order to keep Operation: Razorteeth (The best name for a military project in the history of forever. In fact, I hope that the military is actually working on creating vicious, mutant piranha just so that they can use that name for real. That would be awesome.) top secret so there’s no way to warn anyone about the the school of killer fish heading for the summer camp and subsequently a summer water park (having it’s opening day no less, so you know it’ll be busy. What are the odds?) further down river. They even go to the length of having the local law enforcement lock them up so they can’t fuck up the secrecy of their little fish project.

I’ll be honest, this confuses the fuck out of me. They don’t even seem to do anything about the killer piranha heading for civilians so how the fuck they think keeping everything hush hush will work out well for them is anyone’s guess. Seriously, just admit you created a race of super piranha and they were accidentally released into the river. It’s going to go a lot better for you publicity wise than having the super piranha kill a bunch of people. Reporters will find out what happened, especially reporters in 70s America. They were all bolstered by the Watergate Scandal and that. They will find out that the piranha came from your facility and that you did nothing to prevent the deaths of innocent people. Shit will not look good for you, that’s all I’m saying.

Anyway, the piranha make it down stream and attack the summer camp though Grogan’s daughter is saved due to her fear of water and they head even further down to the water park with results that are just as predictable as those earlier involving the skinny dipping teens. There’s even bigger problems though. Grogan remembers that the pool in the research facility contained salt water meaning these super piranha can survive in the sea which further means that if these fish keep heading down river they’ll make it to the ocean and be virtually unstoppable.

Grogan and McKeown head to a smelting plant where Grogan intends to open the refuse tanks so that the industrial waste can kill the school. Unfortunately the control room is now underwater and so he must dive into the water in order to carry out his plan. He ties a rope to himself and tells McKeown to count to a hundred and then drive their speed boat away as fast as she can. He struggles to turn the valve that would release the waste and the school begin to attack him until finally he manages to release it and he is pulled away to safety. The industrial waste is released, killing the school and proving that pollution can solve any problem. Fuck you Captain Planet and that kid who‘s power was Heart. Heart? What the fuck is that about anyway? You know what eats hearts? Super piranha, that‘s what.

Oh, I guess the pollution didn’t completely work because it’s heavily implied that some of the piranha made it through when there characteristic sound effect is played over an image of waves breaking over the shore. My apologies to Captain Planet. Not you though Heart Kid. You suck.

So that’s pretty much it and you know what? It was a damn enjoyable film. You don’t really see the piranha that much which works to the films benefit because it kind of suffers special effects wise in the same way that Jaws did except more so because the piranha puppets are no where near as complex as Bruce the shark but hey, at least they worked under water! The acting is really quite good, Grogan in particular is a very enjoyable character and his general surliness is kind of endearing. McKeon is also entertaining. Her character is clearly quite intelligent yet also a little ditzy as well. Also she flashes her tits for a brief moment and they’re not bad. Not bad at all.

Too sum up, Piranha is just a damn fun film. It’s certainly far better a film than something dealing with it’s rather schlocky subject matter has any right to be and I’d probably be surprised if it where anyone else directing this other than Joe Dante. He just does this kind of thing really, really well. So if you haven’t seen the 1978 classic creature feature Piranha then I highly recommend it. Four pints out of five. Join me again tomorrow for a look at Piranha 2: The Spawning. This time the piranha can fly! Will it make the film any better? Who can say either way? Me and I will tomorrow.



Chick Flix With A Dick: Mamma Mia! by Jamie

I hate fucking ABBA. Their music is really only appropriate in two places, at a wedding party and at a New Years Eve party. In other words when people are massively, massively, massively drunk. When our pub had a jukebox I had my own personal ban on ABBA. If one of their songs came on when the Jukebox was on random play I demanded it was skipped. I did let it play if someone had actually paid for it. I may be a dick but I’m not that much of a dick. Besides, those times were thankfully very few and far between.

Which surprised me to be honest because this film, this fucking film, did better at the box office in my hometown of Braintree, Essex than ‘The Dark Knight’ did. Apparently this town is filled with repressed ABBA fans, glad for a film to come out featuring their music so that they could sit there in the dark cinema where people might not recognise them. So yeah, thanks for that Braintree.

In fact a quick check of the internet reveals that Mamma Mia! Is the highest grossing film of all time in the UK. Yep, we had an empire that once spanned the globe and now we’re going mental for films based around the songs of a 70s Swedish pop group. Rule Britannia indeed.

Anyway, back to this movie. It basically tells the tale of a woman and her daughter who run a villa on an island for some reason. The daughter has met the boy of her dreams and intends to marry him. There’s one problem though. She’d really like her father to give her away at her wedding but because her mother was something of a slut in her youth, she has no idea who her father is. She finds her mother’s diary and sends invitations to three potential fathers, without telling her mother, and waits for them to arrive. They do and shenanigans ensue.

Now, as I previously stated, I fucking hate ABBA but today I found out that I actually hate something more than their songs. It’s their songs sung by people who can’t sing. This was like watching a bunch of drunk people on a bad karaoke night. A really bad karaoke night. Except that I was watching it at work so I couldn’t drink. Dear God, I’ve never wanted a drink so bad in my life.

Well, I suppose that’s a little unfair. Meryl Streep ain’t bad. Not great but not bad. Still, the worst offender when it comes to aural raping is Pierce Brosnan. What the hell are you doing man? You were James Bond for fuck’s sake. You were the James Bond I grew up with, for better or for worse and now your singing ABBA songs whilst making a face that makes it look as if you’re trying to cough up a tortoise.

But it’s not just the singing that’s bad either! Some of the actors in this film are the worst I’ve seen outside of a B-Movie in many a year. In particular I’d like to say that the guy who plays Sophie’s fiancée Skye is a terrible actor. He was so wooden and insincere that I thought that he was being played by some kind of sarcastic puppet.

Oh, and another thing. Half the dialogue in this film seems to be delivered in some kind of strange, shrieking language that I’m fairly sure only women can understand. If you are going to do such a thing then you should probably have included subtitles for those poor bastards who got dragged along to see this by their wives and girlfriends.

Now, there were a couple of times when the film elicited a chuckle out of me. One was when a drill was used as a euphemism for a penis, telling me more than I wanted to know about exactly what childish level my sense of humour is at. The other was at the image of Pierce Brosnan dressed as a hippy. That was kinda funny. There was also one scene which I thought was kinda cool for a split second. The guests at the daughter’s hen party are looking over some kind of cliff ledge and a bunch of people are crawling up it. For one sweet second I thought it was some kind of zombie attack and I thought wow, people kept this twist quiet but alas, it was just the bachelor party on some kind of panty raid. I was sorely, sorely disappointed.

Perhaps the point where the movie really stretched the limit of believability was when all three potential fathers figured out the reason that they were invited out of the blue. They all came to the conclusion individually that they were the girls father and she wanted them to walk her down the aisle. However, they had all spent quite some time together at this point and they all knew that the other two had received equally mysterious invitations. How the fuck did they not realise that the other two were there for exactly the same reason and that Sophie hadn’t yet figured out who her actual father was? That’d be the first thing that came to my mind.

Perhaps the best thing about this movie is the fact that I watched Tremors directly before it. Man, Tremors is such an awesome film. Kevin Bacon is at his finest and you really believe that him and Fred Ward have worked together and been friends for quite some time. And who doesn’t love crazy survivalist Burt? And the Graboids still look fucking good even by today’s standards. Sure you can sometimes see the strings used to operate the tentacles in some scenes but it just adds to the charm of the movie. One thing that does confuse me though is the DVD cover. Seriously look it up now. I’ll wait.

Ok, you back? Right, what the fuck is that creature on the DVD cover with all the teeth and stuff? That looks nothing like the Graboids in the film. It just confuses me. Anyway, overall I’ll give Tremors four pints out of five.

Wait, what? Mamma Mia? Oh fine. I give Mamma Mia! one glass of white wine out of five. And you wanna know what the worst thing is? There is one ABBA song, one song that I can kind of stand. That song is Waterloo. Not sure why I don’t mind it. Maybe I’m just OK with songs based on historical events. Anyway, it’s not fucking in the film until the end credits. I kept thinking, oh just suffer through, at least Waterloo isn’t the worst thing in the world and they must have included it and then it turns out you have to watch the entire fucking film to get to it. And it takes place during this bizarre credit scene where Meryl Streep and her two friends yell at the audience asking if they want another song. Waterloo then follows filled with some of the most embarrassing dancing I’ve seen outside of a wedding reception… Which I guess is appropriate. Still, it well wasn’t worth it.

Fuck, this film has put me in a bad mood for the rest of the goddamn day. Still, if people like this kinda thing, and apparently they do, then it does give some hope for my planned film ‘Snooker Loopy’ featuring the music of Chas and Dave. Laterz.




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