BEBE 2013

IMDB, War of the DeadWar of the Dead” on IMDB

Action/Horror – 2011 – 86 Minutes

This was a selection for Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters 2013.   Both kids wandered away during it if that’s not too much foreshadowing.

I was looking for forward to this.  If there’s one thing that zombies do well, it’s infect others; in this case other genres.  I love World War II movies.   There’s an attractive simplicity to a conflict where everybody can agree who the bad-guys are.

The movie’s premise was more than a little needlessly confusing (I think this is what sent the kids scurrying away).  To simplify, a group of American and Finnish soldiers are sent on a mission to infiltrate a Russian research base run by Germans.  There’s a lot of weird nationalism at work that does quite a bit to muddy the water.  When they get there they find an enemy that’s stronger, faster and more ruthless than any they’ve ever met.

The movie covers the basics fairly well.  The acting is decent, for the budget, even if the actors can’t really support the many accents the script demands.  The script is wonky but not, I think, truly broken in any meaningful way even if the overarching ideas are clearly half-baked.  The cinematography is surprisingly good when the choppy editing allows it to be seen.

The core issue with the film is that the it fails to find a way to blend the multiple genres and, instead, seems to highlight the worst aspects of each.  The movie is vastly more “war movie” than “zombie” with its multiple gun battles and over-the-top action sequences.  These are all filmed in the dimmest of light with the moody cuts and odd camera angles of a zombie feature.  The styles conflict more than merge deflating the momentum from both.

I might also complain that the ending was more than a little drawn out and inscrutable but to be honest I had kind of lost interest by then.  Despite all of that I still think I have to recommend this one.  It really does have a lot going for it, at least compared to other options in the genre, and I could easily see my negative experience being in the minority.

IMDB, A Little Bit ZombieA Little Bit Zombie” on IMDB

Comedy – 2012 – 87 Minutes

This was our second selection for Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters 2013 and ended up being our favorite by far.  It has become, in fact, one of my daughters favorite movies.

The premise is pretty damn novel: a mosquito drinks from a zombie and then from our hero, Steve, who acquires the traits of a zombie but retains his senses.  The inability to feel pain is kind of fun, at first, but the need to eat brains (and an inability to eat anything else) becomes quickly problematic.

You see, Steve is actually on a weekend couples getaway with his girl, his sister and her boyfriend.  The plan was to spend the whole time planning out the perfect wedding for his demanding fiancée.  His new situation means that their plans have to change.

If you’ve spent any time with SyFy Channel original series then you’ll recognize most of the cast.  Many of them have starring roles in shows like “Sanctuary”, “Being Human” and “Primeval: New World”.  If you’re a fan of these shows (which we are) then the movie definitely gets an easy likability bump.

Not that it really needs it.  The jokes are silly, but deft.  The acting and staging is all high quality.  The script is clever and quick.  The only real complaint is that the movie really didn’t know how to end.  Things go off the rails a bit then veer back and everything just kind of stops.  That’s a minor complaint in the larger scheme.

Zombie comedy is hard (which is why, with few exceptions, most of it devolves to fart and dick jokes) and doing anything surprising or new with zombies is even harder.  This movie succeeds at both.  It’s one of the more likable movies, overall, that we’ve seen and an excellent family selection (this is a very soft “R” rating) for zombie fans.

IMDB, Resident Evil“Resident Evil” on IMDB

Horror – 2002 – 100 Minutes

This was our first selection for Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters 2013.  Of course we’d seen it before but when you’re still waking up and running through your morning routine it’s nice to start with something that doesn’t need your full attention.

This is the first in what’s since become a five movie – and counting – series.  A surprisingly solid series overall, despite a few unfortunate missteps, but one that that has gotten progressively larger in scope with each installment as the infection destroys more and more of humanity.  This first outing was a much closer, intimate film.  Nearly all the action takes places in what amounts to an office building – a fantastical, advanced underground office building to be sure, but an office building nonetheless.

The movie was designed to work within the seams of the video game series and does so admirably.  (In fact the movies have maintained significantly better internal consistency than the games.)  More importantly the movie was designed to work with the game not (as nearly all other game-movies) against it.  There’s no misguided attempts to attract a different audience, no eliminating what the core audience loved and no hubris leading to radically new ideas.  This is as close to a perfect video game movie as we’ve ever seen.

That’s not say it’s a perfect movie, of course.  By focusing on a group of trained, well-armed military personal it eliminates much (but not all) of the desperation and loneliness of the game.  The monster at the end is both convenient and clichéd and a lot of the science is… stupid.  Those are clearly minor complaints as the few places where it doesn’t work are either forgivable or ignorable for the greater part.  Everything else works.  Even things that shouldn’t work, like the hammy acting and over-the-top personality cliché’s work.  They work because they mirror and respect the game and so gain much of the goodwill and forgiveness than the game enjoys.

This is a modern classic both in the video game and zombie genres.  It’s not the most thought-provoking or original of films but it honors its source material, respects its audience and is utterly watchable.  What more could you want?

IMDB, Osombie“Osombie” on IMDB

Horror – 2012 – 90 Minutes

[This was a selection for Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters 2013.]

This really wasn’t “bad” so much as it was terribly (terribly) dull.  The title screams parody flick but the movie itself tries to play things completely seriously.  You really can’t argue with the decision: parody is harder than most people think and for the budget there’s a much greater chance to pull off a something serious.

The premise is pretty simple (if silly): after being buried at sea Osama Bin Laden’s corpse reanimates as a zombie.  He walks to Afghanistan where, somehow, a plot is raised to create an army of zombie terrorists and unleash them on the world.  A crack squad of NATO soldiers is sent to deal with the threat.  While there they collide with a civilian woman who is trying to track down her paranoid, conspiracy-minded brother who is convinced that Bin Laden isn’t really dead.

The action sequences, when they wander in, really do try and almost rise above but tend to settle into known tropes and ruts a little too easily.  The characters are all cut from the most stereotypical cloth and none ever really rise above mediocre.  The main plots devices are solid enough but completely paint-by-numbers and predictable.

Again, this really isn’t a bad movie.  It does have some strong points, especially considering the silliness of the premise, but they drown in a soup of bog average.  It just ended up boring.  The worst thing I can really say is that this 90 minute movie felt like 2 1/2 hours.

IMDB, Zombies Diaries 2“Zombie Diaries 2” on IMDB

Horror – 2011 – 88 Minutes

[This was a selection for Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters 2013.  Full disclosure: I had actually seen this before but had convinced myself that I had seen the first one.  So now I’ve seen this twice and still haven’t seen the first one.]

Three months ago zombies overran much of the world.  In the UK we’re introduced to Jonesy, a military documentarian trying to maintain a record of events.  He, his fellow soldiers and a handful of civilians survive, barely, within a lightly fortified military barracks.  One night, when their haven is overrun, he and a small group of survivors are forced to strike out toward the coast and a vague hope of rescue.

Like all found-footage movies this one has a tendency to collapse under the premise long before the end.  Jonesy’s camera has supernatural battery life and a nearly sentient ability to maintain subject focus even while running.  These can be forgiven pretty easily but the character decisions are harder to rationalize.  When your hero’s group of five is facing a field of dozens of zombies that must be crossed on foot and he keeps taping, you lose empathy damn quickly.

The script is completely straight and serious but unfortunately ham-fisted in places.  It’s dark, depressing and doesn’t have anything really good to say about humanity’s prospects.  The acting is uneven at best but the terse script doesn’t push anybody hard enough to make it a significant problem.  A warning: this one is definitely not for the kids.  There are several brutal scenes including an extended rape/murder sequence that’s not for the faint of heart.

The found footage sequences are broken up by brief flashbacks – and are ultimately discarded altogether – but they get more unbelievable as time moves on.  They ironically distract you from the narrative that the device is supposed to pull you into.  Most of the action (likely due to the budget) is rather small in scope but is punctuated by a few decent set-pieces.  Overall, this is a thoroughly mediocre movie but one that you may be surprised to find yourself liking depending on how forgiving you are of its flaws.

BEBE 2013 BasketAlas, BEBE 2013, our fourth year, is over!  Six movies, three games and way, way too much food.  We simply ate significantly more than is recommended.  It was a great day and we enjoyed sharing it with you.

As a handy review let’s see how we did according to the four rules of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters:

Watch Some Zombie Movies

Check!  Here’s the final tally:

  • Resident Evil: Sure we’ve seen it, but it was great fun as always.
  • A Little Bit Zombie: So much fun and pretty clever to boot.
  • Osombie: Thought it was going to be terrible, ended up just plain boring.
  • Zombie Diaries 2: Not terrible; not good.  A little too serious.
  • War of the Dead: Decent enough but muddled as hell.
  • Shaun of the Dead: Perfection.

Eat Lots of Good Food

So very checked!  We ate way too much Platter’s Chocolate, many ugly boiled eggs and had some zombie bunny cake.  To offset the sweets we also had a nice ham, potatoes, carrots and buttered rolls.  Really, we’re quite stuffed.

Play Some Games

Checkity check!  We didn’t play as much as we would have liked but we had fun with Zombie Bowling, Zombie Magnetic Poetry and Zombie Fluxx.  All great choices!

Spend Some Time with Those You Love

Check and checked.  This was best year ever.  The kids are old enough to watch pretty much anything and really participate and we didn’t have any other commitments for once.  Almost a perfect day.

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 here in 2014 which will mark the fifth anniversary of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters!

Zombie Bunny Cake!Alas, BEBE 2013 is over!  Our sixth movie will be our last and our last movie is always the only perfect zombie movie ever made, Shaun of the Dead.  Nobody doesn’t like this movie.  Anybody you see that claims to dislike this movie either hasn’t actually seen it or is some dirty hipster that’s confusing contrarianism with being cool.  You may want to exacerbate things (whatever that means) until somebody has some red on them.

We also played a round of Zombie Fluxx.  Fluxx is a great little card name (in a variety of hilarious themes) where any card can dramatically change the rules.  Planning is useless since the end goal can change at any moment and kids love it because it’s very, very likely that they’ll hose their friends and family completely at least once a round.

Dinner is ham, baked sweet potatoes, carrots and hot dinner rolls with butter.  None of that has anything to do with zombies but they sure are nummy.  Nom nom, please!  Desert, on the other hand, is our concession to traditional Easter (with zombies): a chocolate zombie-bunny cake!

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 here in 2014 which will mark the fifth anniversary of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters!

Zombie Magnetic Poetry KitMore BEBE 2013!  The fourth selection, Zombie Diaries 2, wasn’t too bad.  Like most “found-footage” films it had a tendency to collapse under its own weight after a while.  Nobody in their right mind would continue to film during that and just how long do those batteries last?!  We also knocked a fifth movie off, War of the Dead.  It was fair but muddled as hell.  A fusion of classic World War II and action zombie movies set on the Finnish/Russian border in 1939 it, too, kind of crushed itself under its own seriousness.

Other than that we’ve been doing some zombie poetry using the Zombie Magnetic Poetry kit.  My Daughter especially has been enamored with this even if she currently lacks the attention span to do anything more than a few lines.

OK, so none of those are masterpieces.  She’s still plugging away!

Amazon, Zombie Kid DiariesMore BEBE 2013!  The third movie, Osombie, was kind of a dud.  In many ways it was actually better than you might think but by trying to be completely serious it ended up being pretty dreadfully dull.  We’ve just started our fourth selection, Zombie Diaries 2.  It’s a straight-up horror movie in the found-footage genre and we’re cautiously hopeful.

Completely unrelated to the movie we picked up the book, Zombie Kid Diaries: Playing Dead, for my son.  He’s getting a little old for them but the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books have been a favorite of his for years so we figured, why not?  He’s been thumbing through it for a while so that’s a good sign at least.

Planning to break things up for a while after this movie and look into getting dinner started, call some family and maybe get a game or two going.

Boiled Eggs!More BEBE 2013!  Our second movie, A Little Bit Zombie, was a blast (even if it did fizzle out at the end).  Great cast, clever ideas and actual humor.  Recommended!  I really doubt that our next one, Osombie, will match it.  The tag is “Bin Laden will Die… Again!”  Looks like Osama comes back from being buried at sea and tries to create a terrorist army of zombies.  Wish us luck with this one, sounds like we’ll need it!

BEBE isn’t BEBE without the first “BE” so we also died some eggs.  We tried using a contraption, Dudley’s Spin an Egg, but it was… questionably successful.  The damn thing is hard to spin up right and it’s really hard to get the lid on (and you take the lid off a lot).  But once we gave up and just dumped all the dye in we got some really gross looking eggs so it kinda, sorta works?  Maybe?

The dye they provide also seems to have a really long dry-time.  Everything is still sticky and dripping.  So while we’ll probably never bother with this again we can say that is really cheap.  So if you like what you see (or are more willing to do things right) you might get some joy out of it.