BEBE 2015

IMDB, Dead Snow Red vs Dead“Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead” on IMDB

Horror – 2014 – 100 Minutes

The original Dead Snow, released in 2009, was one of the first movies we screened as part of the very first Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters. In a classic set-up, a group of young friends take a beer-fueled trip into the mountains for some fun in the snow. Unfortunately, once they get there, they raise an army of pissed-off undead nazis. It became an instant household favorite, but it did have a bit of an identity crisis.

The movie begins as a straight, effective horror movie. Perhaps poking a little fun at itself via deftly applied genre cliche, but a straight take nonetheless. There’s enough jump scares, gore and bad decisions to satisfy any horror fan. That all changed in the last act. At that point the movie just goes amazingly, awesomely, absolutely insane. A darkly hilarious “gearing up” montage plays homage to “The Evil Dead” and prepares the audience for a pants-crapping crazy melee between the survivors and the Nazi dead.

The whole sequence launched the movie into a completely different class. The stark white, sun-soaked snow made for an amazing canvas for the splattering of blood and the splaying of severed limbs. The desperation of the survivors juxtaposed with the ridiculousness of the premise created one of the most darkly hilarious scenes in modern horror.

The sequel took everything that worked in that third act and cranked it straight to eleven.

It begins the moment the first film ended and continues the story of our sole survivor, Martin. He still has problems. The police have dismissed his explanation and are holding him responsible for the deaths of his friends. The Nazi zombies, led by the demonic Colonel Herzog, have decided to complete their original mission: march on and destroy a town that was a hotbed of the Norwegian resistance. Along the way he begins raising an army of the undead from his victims.

Through a ridiculous, but hilarious, circumstance Martin is now tied to the Colonel and shares some of his power. He’s the only one with any hope of stopping Herzog. He gains allies as the story progresses, including the “Zombie Squad”, a team of American zombie fans that have never seen a zombie but are absolutely positive that they exist. They’re not what you’d call “effective”, but they do have a hell of a lot of gumption.

The movie is gut-bustingly hilarious and unabashedly dark as hell. You will laugh your ass off and you will feel completely guilty for doing it. For all that, there’s not a mean bone in this movie’s shuffling, reanimated body. It’s bigger, more bombastic and more irreverent than the first in every way. It’s also gorgeously produced and artfully paced. This is the new standard for zombie party movies.

IMDB, Zombie Hunter“Zombie Hunter” on IMDB

Horror – 2013 – 93 Minutes

This film was a selection for BEBE 2015.

There were only two reasons too watch this: 1) it has the word “zombie” in the title and 2) it has the words “Danny Trejo” above the title. Now having “zombie” in the title isn’t exactly a hallmark of excellence. If anything, it’s generally a sign of amateurishness. “Danny Trejo” doesn’t really scream “quality” either, but does mean that you’ll at least see some Danny Trejo.

Turns out, not all that much in this case. Even though he’s plastered all over the poster, Trejo really only gets a couple of scenes. One of those scenes is so overladen with aggressively terrible CGI that you can barely see him. Everything else is dull and lifeless and wastes him completely.

The rest of the movie is a lumpy mash of genres and themes. Set years after a zombie outbreak, a terrible “Mad Max” clone drives through the wasteland killing the animate dead and recording ham-fisted narration. He’s ambushed by a group of survivors and his car is totalled, forcing him to squint and grunt a lot. The group, made up of Trejo, a couple rednecks, a pole dancer, a hollywood-plain (meaning smoking hot) girl and a late-twenty something guy playing a teenager have apparently only survived until this point because the camera wasn’t pointed at them.

Zombies attack their total lack of fortifications and, surprisingly, break through.  Then the aforementioned terrible CGI zombies attack and the group is forced to flee. They do this so well they make it all the way out of their movie and into the equally bad slasher movie. After spending some very predictable time in the slasher movie, the zombies catch up with them and other things happen.

By this point, nobody cared. Our advice, if you’re stuck with this: fast forward to Trejo, then stop it after he leaves. It still won’t be a good movie, but at least Trejo is never dull.

IMDB, Dead Season“Dead Season” on IMDB

Horror – 2012 – 85 Minutes

This film was a selection for BEBE 2015.

One of the casualties of the zombie popularity explosion is the traditional zombie movie. They’re still out there, as this proves, but they’ve been shoved aside by a cavalcade of “zombie vs. things”, rarely funny zom-coms, direct to television schlock and a much smaller, but forceful, selection of high-concept zombie flicks. Simple, serious stories about survivors in a world of the dead just don’t seem to be in demand any longer.

Doing a good movie is never easy, but doing a decent, traditional zombie movie is absolutely easier than the alternatives. Comedy is hard; very hard. High concept is great when it works but pathetic when it fails (and it fails a lot). A good, old-fashioned zombie story? We all know know them and we all like them.

The story starts long after the dead have brought humanity to the brink. Elvis (played by Scott Peat [IMDB]) has become a professional survivor. He’s turned his focus to looking for other survivors. Tweeter (Marissa Merrill [IMDB]) and the boy she’s protecting find him and form an uneasy alliance. When food becomes scarce they take a long-shot: a boat to the supposed sanctuary of a Caribbean island. There, a small community struggles to survive both the dead and challenges that the island sets them.

The opening scenes are the strongest. In many ways they’re more thought provoking than the effective, but predictable twist later. We’re introduced to Elvis and his past and we  follow him as he wanders the ruins, scavenging. Small details are given significant thought and the care taken to introduce the world is obvious. The sequence is quiet and soulful and it sets the tone very well.

Technically the movie suffers for its budget, but not as badly as many. Simple, practical effects are used throughout and work well. Even poor practical effects beat crappy CGI, hands down. There’s also some impressive audio work, considering the budget. The action sequences are the weakest element, overall, with fast cuts and jittery camera work standing-in for choreography. Thankfully, the script doesn’t allow the relatively few action scenes to become a focus making their quality something of a moot point.

The script is smart and, as noted, a little predictable. Predictability is vastly preferable to the muddled mess that most movies create by trying to surprise the audience. Here, with a few unfortunate exceptions, people act reasonably and intelligently. Predictability is a small price to pay. Acting is hit-or-miss across the board, but the main characters, at least, are well handled.

The movie has flaws – the lack of budget sees to that – but it overcomes them to deliver a solid, traditional story. Good, old-fashioned zombie stories have become rare; this is a good, old-fashioned zombie story.

IMDB, The Jones

“The Jones” on IMDB

Horror – 2015 – 9 Minutes

Force of Nature Films has finished the second segment of their horror anthology, “The Forces of Horror Anthology Series Volume I”. The first segment, “Revelations“, was reviewed on our sister site, DepressedPressed.com, but this one is a Zombie story and belongs here.

[Full disclosure: this review was the result of a request from the writer/director of the movie.]

It is worth reading that first review as nearly everything applies to this segment as well. This is still a rock-bottom budget production. It’s still got the same problems that a rock-bottom budget brings. And, like the first, it ends up much better than you’d expect.

Don’t take our word for it, you can watch it right now:

Technically there are subtle, but noticeable, improvements over the first segment. Firstly, although the cast is still very small, there are more characters to work with and this allows for a more dynamic presentation. The effects are limited, but are all practical and effective. The acting is uneven, but definitely not as poor as the budget would normally attract. Camera work, staging and transitions are kept smartly simple. They may not be exciting, but they work well and opportunities for embarrassment are all but eliminated.

It’s a simpler story than the first, and more approachable. Like any good short, it features a concise, complete story arc that introduces an interesting idea, then ends with you wanting more. The idea isn’t particularly mind-blowing, but it is novel and, to our knowledge, original. It’s an idea worth mulling over a bit after watching. It reminded us – and this isn’t said lightly – of a classic “Twilight Zone” episode. Sure, maybe not the best Twilight Zone episode, but honestly: there were no bad ‘Zones!

This is a definite improvement over an already impressive start. The team is clearly not rushing themselves on these and the care they’re taking shows. We’re excited to see more and thank the team for sharing them with us.

BEBE Logo_TransToBlackAlas, BEBE 2015, our sixth year, is over!  Four movies, a great short, some games and way, way too much food! Success!

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:

Eat Lots of Good Food

Check! We ate way too much Platter’s Chocolate, many ugly Zombie Eyeballs, Brain Jello and Zombie Cookies. We also did Crafty Zombie Cupcakes for the first time and we’ll definitely be trying them again.

Play Some Games

Check! Not as many games this year, but we did some Zombie Dice by Steve Jackson Games, but were disappointed with the “School Bus” expansion pack. We got expansions three and four for Munchkin Zombies, but will have to try them out some other time.

Spend Some Time with Those You Love

Check! This was a good year for us. The weather sucked. It was chilly and rainy, but that just meant that it was nicer staying inside. The kids were grumpy and surly, but that’s teenagers, may they grow up before we kill them.

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 2016 for the the seventh anniversary of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters!

BEBE2015, Zombie DiceOur last new movie, “Zombie Hunter” wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it wasn’t really what you’d call “good”. More style over substance with a lot of cliche for flavor. As you probably expected, Danny Trejo was the highlight. Here’s something to blow your mind: Danny Trejo is 70 years old. I’m 43 and can’t sleep for more than four hours without having to get up and pee; this guy pumps out at least a dozen action movies a year. I’m in awe of him.

We’ll be eating dinner soon. Simple, but good: ham, potatoes, carrots and hot rolls. Then, as per tradition, we’ll be finishing up with “Shaun of the Dead” soon. It remains the perfect family zombie movie.

We also played some Zombie Dice with the “School Bus” expansion. Zombie Dice is one of our favorite “pick up and play” games, but gotta say: this expansion didn’t do it for us. It was too complicated and slowed things down. It’s also a pricey choice at $9 ($11 MSRP). Nutshell review: skip it.

BEBE2015, Cupcake ZombiesSo, the idea here is: zombies crawling from their graves. It didn’t completely work out that way… but the results have a lot of potential and are still delicious so we’re considering this a success!

Materials include:

  • Cupcakes. Just buy a box and follow the recipe.
  • Chocolate Frosting.
  • Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies.
  • Some green melting chocolate.
  • Some decorations or icing pens or whatever you like.

First bake your cupcakes and frost them. These are the “Graves” that your zombies will be bursting forth from. If you have the option, larger cupcakes are likely better; we found ours a bit small to work with. Then melt your chocolate in a microwave or double boiler, whichever you prefer. Now you’re going to coat your cookies. We screwed this up royally, then hit upon a much better solution.

At first our plan was to dip the cookies into the chocolate halfway, decorate then stuff the un-dipped end into the cupcake. Of course, as you might imagine, all this did was spilt the cupcake down the middle. Instead we evolved to just dunking the whole cookie into the chocolate. Use a fork to lift it out and let it dry on a rack. This will prevent the chocolate from puddling. After the chocolate dries, just cut the cookie in half to get two short zombies, or just cut a third off to get tall zombies and a lot of tasty cookie butts that can be eaten immediately.

Decorate the zombies however you like. We inserted candy eyes and mouths while the chocolate was still warm and used cake decorating pens for the details. Once the chocolate is cool and solid, you can stick your new zombies on their graves: the icing enough to hold them in place.

Using a sheet-cake instead of cupcakes is also an option. Note that if you use white chocolate (perhaps made a little grey) the same technique can be used to make excellent looking grave stones.