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IMDB, Train to Busan“Train to Busan” on IMDB

Horror/Action – 2016 – 118 Minutes

South Korea has been quietly, persistently producing amazing filmmakers for many years. Heavily influenced by American cinema, these creators have injected a much-needed dose of creativity and originality into many tired genres with action and horror benefiting especially. While the country’s horror is most inspired by regional legends and myths, it should come as no surprise that zombies would eventually be tapped.

Seok-woo (Yoo Gong [IMDB]) is a workaholic who’s neglected his daughter, Soo-an (Su-an Kim [IMDB]), once too often. In a poor attempt to make things up to her, he begrudgingly agrees to escort her, via train, from Seoul to Busan so that she can spend her birthday with her mother. Other passengers tick off various tropes on the roster: a selfish businessman, a pregnant woman and her hen-pecked husband, a high-school baseball team, a pair of elderly sisters and others.

When the stage is properly set, all hell breaks loose. Mechanically, the movie is similar to “28 Days Later” [IMDB]: an unknown sickness turns people into ravenous, rage-filled monsters shortly after they’re bit. The zombies are fast, relentless and beautifully choreographed. Their movement, especially when in groups, is brutally effective and terrifying. The audience is kept further disoriented by a refreshing “verticality”: stairs, upper-story windows and various other methods are used to draw attention in multiple, dizzying directions at once.

Nothing is said about the source of the infection. “Less is more” is the rule and nothing distracts from the breathless, non-stop race for survival. While this means that the characters aren’t particularly deep, they are pleasantly consistent and true-to-life. Focus is given to the relationships that evolve as events force new responsibilities and dependencies on them. Father and daughter. Husband and wife. Sibling. Friend. It’s surprising how quickly and strongly the audience empathizes with them.

This takes traditional “fast zombie” zombie tropes and, in a word, perfects them. It’s impossible to heap enough praise upon it. It succeeds in all the ways “World War Z” [Our Review] failed and sets a new high watermark for outbreak films.

george-romero-610x914George Romero, father of the modern zombie film, has died at the age of 77. BBC, Variety, LA Times, New York Times, Hollywood Reporter.

“My stories are about humans and how they react, or fail to react, or react stupidly. I’m pointing the finger at us, not at the zombies. I try to respect and sympathize with the zombies as much as possible.”

He reportedly died in his sleep with his family close after a short, but fierce, struggle with lung cancer. He, of course, created the modern zombie film with 1966’s Night of the Living Dead. Made for just over $100,000, the film went on to earn $30 million at the box office despite heated criticism of its graphic nature.

“I always thought of the zombies as being about revolution, one generation consuming the next.”

The word “Zombie” never appeared in the film. He would go on to direct a total of six “Dead” films and inspire countless others.

“My zombies will never take over the world because I need the humans. The humans are the ones I dislike the most, and they’re where the trouble really lies.”

Thank you, George. You will be missed.

BEBE Logo_TransToBlackAlas, BEBE 2017, our eight year, is over!  Movies, games and way too much food! Success!

Let’s see how we did according to the rules of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters:

Watch Some Zombie Movies

Check!  Only three this year, but everybody watched all three, even the teenagers! We’ll be doing full reviews of all of these in the coming weeks:

Of course this weekend was kind of a perfect storm of nerd for us with the new seasons of both Doctor Who and Mystery Science Theater 3000 being released. We admit to cutting BEBE short to enjoy the first episode of MST3k (which we backed on KickStarter), “Reptilicus“. We were worried about the new cast, but the franchise is in very good hands!

Eat Lots of Good Food

Check! Too much Platter’s Chocolate and, as we’ve done since 2015, Crafty Zombie Cupcakes (although these didn’t come out very well since we tried to use last year’s decorative chocolate). Dinner was an obscene amount of ham, smooshed taters and fried corn.

Play Some Games

Check! It just so happens that Sony put the excellent Deadlight: Director’s Cut on sale for PS4 this weekend, so we gave it a go. It’s an excellent cinematic side-scrolling survival horror game set in, you guessed it, a zombie apocalypse. We ended up completing almost half the game. It’s an excellent game for $15, but at $5 it’s an absolute steal.

Spend Some Time with Those You Love

Check! This was a another nice, easy year for us. The kids actually spent with us, everything we did was worth spending time on and the weather was gorgeous; despite a few short rain showers. There’s something incredibly comforting about watching a great movie with your family while enjoying a cool breeze.

We hope that you had a great day with those you love and were able to fit in a little fun and games.  We also hope to see you back here in 2018 for the the ninth anniversary of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters!

BEBE Logo_TransToBlackBoiled Eggs and Brain Eaters, our eighth year, is underway! Following up on the success of last year’s smaller, easier affair, BEBE 2017 will focus on the basics: good fun, bad movies and good company.

We’re going doing our traditional zombie cupcakes and eyeball eggs. As always, we ordered a ton of Platter’s Chocolate, because sometimes only the best will do. Since my teenage daughter is going through a whole regression phase at the moment, she also insisted that we hide eggs.

We hope you’re having a great day too!

IMDB, April Apocalypse“April Apocalypse” on IMDB

Horror/Romance – 2013 – 84 Minutes

This film was a selection for BEBE 2016.

Artie (Reese Thompson [IMDB]) is in love with his best friend April (Rebekah Brandes [IMDB]) and has been since they were kids. For the first third of the movie, this is the only story you’ll get and it’s straight out of a Disney tween show. Artie’s in love and April is oblivious. She dates jerks, he rejects perfectly reasonable alternatives and they both dance around the obvious. He gets his ass kicked by her latest mistake, they finally have a real conversation and she moves away.

The story jumps forward several years. Artie’s still in love with April, but hasn’t spoken to her in forever. He’s living in his parents basement, pouring his soul into a home radio station that nobody listens to and is unable to break out of his depressive rut. When he finally decides to take his chance and leave home to find April – wouldn’t you know it – society collapses into a zombie apocalypse. Artie faces this new reality, sets his jaw… and whines. A lot.

Positively, quality overall is high. The technical work is uninspired, but solid. In line with what you’d expect from a Disney tween show. The same can be said for the acting. Many of the actors are television veterans, but unfortunately most of the them are given small roles with little screen time to work. Those given the most screen time are the least able to take advantage of it, but are still adequate.

Negatively, most everything else. The biggest issue is a complete inability to maintain tone. It seems to have been marketed as another entry in the growing roster of zom-coms, but simply isn’t funny. It poses more as a straight romance, but is unable to muster the focus that requires. Instead, it lathers on ham-fisted romantic pathos through heavy-handed narration (oh lordy, so much narration!) and flashbacks (oh lordy, so many flashbacks!). In turn, this contrasts terribly with the zombie apocalypse which comes off as nothing more than a nuisance.

Scenes fail to flow naturally from one to another. The story feels like a piecemeal a collection of vignettes rather than a single movie. It also lacks a sense of scale. It clearly tells us that April moved far from Artie – too distant to make their friendship work – yet throughout his journey he never seems to leave his home town. In fact much of the trip is inexplicably made via a golf cart. We’re left with the sense that April, our holy grail, was never more than an afternoon bike ride away.

Some massaging of the script, a little rearranging of the scenes and a whole lot less narration might have pulled this one out of the doldrums. As it is, it’s a technically competent film that couldn’t decide what it really wanted to be, so it ended up nothing. That said, if you’re really into Disney tween shows, then hey, this could be right up your alley.

IMDB, Wyrmwood“Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead” on IMDB

Horror – 2014 – 98 Minutes

This film was a selection for BEBE 2016.

Zombie movies can be traditional. Slow shamblers mindlessly hunting terrified survivors clutching improvised weapons and cowering in boarded up homes. Others try to take things up a notch. Fast zombies in hordes of hundreds or thousands flooding through cities and being repelled by military units. Some pull at the heartstrings with infected children or spouses descending inevitably into savage hunger.

Then there’s this one. This one takes a long pull from a warm beer and says, “what the hell?”

The stage is set normally enough: a passing meteor shower has had devastating effects on humanity. It’s turned (nearly) everybody into mindless, ravenous monsters with bad skin, scary eyes and a need to feed. Additionally, because reasons, it has also fouled all flammable liquids. Gasoline, diesel, kerosene and everything else are all useless. None of this is explained: this isn’t that kind of movie.

That would be enough for most, but there’s a whole bag of additional crazy splattered against the wall. Surprisingly, most of it sticks. Sadistic military forces driving around (without gas)? Sure! A mad scientist with a flare for disco? Sure! A random ability to telepathically control zombies? Sure! Most of this isn’t explained, either. Again, not that kind of movie.

The story follows two paths. Our hero, Barry (Jay Gallagher [IMDB]) represents the men with gearing up montages, Motorsports and shooting things with nail guns. There’s beer and swearing and bonding. His segments are more traditional, head-on affairs. His sister, our heroine, Brooke (Bianca Bradey [IMDB]) begins as a cliched damsel, but quickly evolves into a very different kind of badass. Her moments are more subtle, with more of a focus on subterfuge and body horror. The balance between the two, intentional or not, works very well.

In many ways this is a throwback to the good old days of zombie flicks. No social commentary, little pathos and a whole lot of loud, brash badassery. It takes big chances and, probably more through luck than design, succeeds more than it fails. Most importantly, it’s huge fun.