If you, dear Funkhouser Reader, are a fan of horror films and TV like I am, you are anxiously awaiting the return of AMC’s The Walking Dead on 10/12/14. (You are probably also awaiting the return of Kalan Kucera’s episode recaps, which should follow shortly after.) Any fan of the genre, especially the zombie subgenre, must make time to watch The Walking Dead. It is probably the best addition to the ever-expanding body of zombie culture since the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, which is one of the few worthwhile remakes of a classic.
What’s gonna scratch the horror itch until then? A few unexpected days off allowed me to peruse Netflix and other movie venues for you. Below are suggestions for zombie and other infection-type flicks to watch, and some to avoid:
1. Dead Snow: titled DÃ¸d SnÃ¸ in Norwegian, this gore-fest is not for the weak of stomach (ha! You’ll see what I mean). Typical setup: group of young’uns vacationing at a very out-of-the-way cabin. Typical: they encounter zombies. Not typical: the zombies are undead Nazis. If you’re looking for a Dead Alive-esque attempt to push the blood-‘n’-guts limit, this completely unsubtle and totally self-aware movie will fit the bill. That aside, it’s really entertaining with some fun and/but nearly retch-inducing scenes. Entertainment Weekly ranks this #16 on its list of 25 Best Zombie Movies of All Time. That may not seem impressive until you realize that there are more than a thousand zombie movies out there with probably only a few dozen worth watching. Making it into the top 5% is no small feat. Worth a view.
2. Parasitic: proves that just because you have access to a nightclub, hot dancer friends, and decent recording equipment doesn’t mean you should make a movie. This flick is bad. Bad bad. Look, if you’re going to make a boobs-‘n’-blood flick, you need to follow two rules: show hot people naked a lot, and don’t be boring. The only unfettered boobs in Parasitic are covered in green goo early on and adorned by a Halloween Express alien parasite. That’s just the start of the awfulness. The acting and dialogue are even worse than you’d expect. Five of the six hot chicks are knocked off relatively quickly–you don’t axe all the hotties right off the bat!–and the lone survivor is the one with the most clothing. I don’t need much backstory with a movie like this, but Parasitic spends as little time as possible explaining origin. Damn, just try a little. The pacing is non-existent: the characters spend the first third of the movie wiping down the bar and complaining that the employee with the only key (!) is missing and the only door (!) is locked, so they can’t leave. Yeah, the plot doesn’t make much sense. But maybe the worst thing about the movie? The sound quality is so inconsistent and the volume fluctuates so much that I had to raise and lower the volume on my TV constantly. On second thought, I should have muted it. Or not watched it at all. I could write another two pages about why this movie sucks, but then I’d have spent an hour and a half on it including its 79-minute runtime, and life is short. Do not watch this movie.
3. Infection: The Invasion Begins: cute that they planned for a sequel, huh? It’s like someone watched Parasitic and said, “we can shoot a waaay shitter movie than that. We’ll just make it longer and less interesting.” This dung heap is 95 minutes long. Yet somehow, the only thing that really happens, after the long and unnecessary contrivance to explain the backstory, occurs in a five minute span about 20 minutes in. (If there’s anything less welcome than no backstory, it’s too much backstory for a movie you don’t care about.) The rest involves people getting alienized off-screen, and our main characters finding out that peeing a lot rids the body of these terrifying extraterrestrial invaders which, by the way, look like foot-long spermatozoa with teeth. These things are so stupid-looking and unimaginative that I’m pretty sure the “effects team” won them playing Skee-Ball. The acting is better than Parasitic, only because it couldn’t have been worse. The CGI, which to be fair was probably technically done by computer, tackles fire and the moving monster sperms. I…I can’t really describe how bad it is. If you’ve seen the opening sequence at a local non-chain theater, the one that tells people to buy gift certificates and shut off cell phones and stuff, you’ll recall that it’s something a sophomore graphic design student did for free tickets. Those effects are orders of magnitude better than the ones in Infection: TIB. There’s not even a visible gunshot in the entire movie and certainly no squibs, just a couple sound effects. Oh, and “infestation” rather than “infection” is the preferred terminology for non-microbial and non-fungal pathogens. Just sayin’. At least Parasitic had green slime and custom contact lenses. Infection: TIB is an even bigger waste. Watch Slither instead.
4. Contracted: if you’re not going over the top with effects or trying something new, just tell a good story with a neat angle. Short summary: woman has one-night stand and contracts what she thinks is an STD but is actually far worse. I really enjoyed this movie. A bit one-note, but it plays that one note very well. I don’t know why it’s averaging only 50% on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. Yes, main character Samantha is written and acted in a pretty non-sympathetic way, and the minor-character actors should stay that way, but the rest of the featured cast is passable. A few continuity errors aside, the progression of the, um, infection is believable and satisfyingly gross without being gory. The movie has to show some bodily deterioration, but it depicts the most disturbing parts (literally and figuratively) in a wonderful and nauseatingly suggestive rather than explicit manner. The way this movie maintains and ratchets up tension, too–I won’t tell you exactly how, but you’ll have clenched teeth and furrowed brow waiting to see what happens to Sam next. Some reviewers had a problem with the final scene; I loved it. If you like body-horror, I think you’ll dig Contracted.
Can’t win ‘em all, but Dead Snow and Contracted are worth your time. I’ll return in a few weeks with some more picks to wet the bloody appetite while you wait for The Walking Dead.
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