October 18: Double Feature Friday (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer & Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies)

movie reviews

When I first saw the trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I let out an audible groan. I couldn’t, however, discern whether that was a groan of pleasure or disgust. I’d seen the book, but skipped over it because it looked, well, stupid. But as a movie? A blockbuster B movie? That might work.

The story follows a young Abe Lincoln as he hunts down the vampire that killed his mother. He’s like Buffy, only old timey and a dude. The beauty of the movie is that the title encapsulates it well. There’s a fun alternate history, where slavery is a cover for a vampiric blood trade. The critics hated it (and so did all of my acquaintances). But I blame that more on the marketing. When you’ve got some experience with this sort of thing, you know what to expect. Just go in assuming it’s going to be terrible and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. At the very least, it has some decent actors and production quality.

Surprisingly, so did Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies. I love the idea of mockbusters. When I used to see them in the video store, I’d always pause. I love the idea of taking a big movie and quickly making another that’s just like it. It’s like a filmmaking challenge. And mockbusters keep getting better (Paranormal Entity, for example, was better in several parts than the film it ripped off).

In this film, Abe is one you know and love, only he’s got experience dispatching the undead. The Confederates have employed some otherworldly mumbo jumbo and got themselves some zombies. These hoards of the dead are virtually unstoppable and threaten to cost the Union the Civil War. Lincoln pulls out his scythe and personally infiltrates enemy territory to show them all who’s in charge.

These movies are pure cheese. No better way to spend a Friday if you ask me.

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Zombie Lake

movie reviews

You’d think that a movie featuring Nazi zombies would be worth watching, but you’d be wrong. This 1980 French snoozefest tells the story of a lake infested with four or five really persistent zombies. Why are they zombies and not just German corpses? No clue. All I know is that when you dump a body into a French lake, it will reanimate forty years later with green paint on its face.

These zombies are unique in that they are very choosy about their victims. They will only eat fully nude young women (with a clear preference for volleyball players) who venture into their murky pond. Of course, it serves them right, as any woman willing to drop her skivvies to jump into that stagnant green slop is asking, bare minimum, for an infection of some sort. It demonstrates really bad judgement. They’re almost begging those Nazis to rub their weird green faces on their necks until the poor gals’ throats start to bleed. It looks uncomfortable enough to be horrifying.

I advise skipping this one. You don’t see a lot of French VHS transfers these days, but still. It barely even counts as a zombie movie. Watch Dead Snow instead.

a little bit zombie

movie reviews

a little bit zombieSteve is a mild-mannered HR manager who is about to get married. While on a weekend trip to the family cabin with his bride-to-be, his best man, and the maid of honor, he is bitten repeatedly by a mosquito that happens to be carrying a zombie virus. This, as you might expect, has significant repercussions.

There was so much about this movie to like. It really takes the zombedy to uncharted territories. Making the slowly-turning-zombie protagonist be a conflict resolution specialist was quite clever and funny, as was making the ruination of the impending wedding be the catastrophic event to be avoided (instead of, say, death). Parts were a bit overdone, but that’s okay. It made for a great midnight movie and did a little something to contribute to the genre.

My 2010 Top Ten Halloween Movie List

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1. Evil Dead II

The quintessential Halloween movie. It’s got everything: possessed hands, chainsaws, gallons and gallons of blood. Evil Dead II is a masterpiece of horror comedy.

2. Trick ‘r Treat

It’s creepy as hell. So many dead kids…

3. Pumpkinhead

If you’re going to kill a man’s son, make sure you do it in a town without a pumpkin patch.

4. Hellraiser

Celebrate your hedonism! Celebrate it!

5. Dead Alive

Stop motion rat monkeys and the single greatest zombie death scene in the history of the world.

6. Slither

A new classic. You’ll never take a bath again.

7. Dawn of the Dead

This remake of Romero’s classic is creepy and fun. Influenced zombie growls like no other movie in recent history.

8. Let the Right One In

The only reason this isn’t higher up on the list is because it makes me feel cold. It is scary as hell and so well done, you won’t believe it’s a horror movie. The new American version can suck it.

9. Orphan

You might see it coming, but you still won’t be prepared.

10. The Lost Boys

Halloween ain’t Halloween without a little camp. And the Frog brothers.

[Rec]

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One sentence plot synopsis: A group of unknowing people is quarantined in an apartment building which, unfortunately for them, is the ground zero site of a zombie outbreak.

Sound familiar? It should. The 2008 film Quarantine was a remake of this Spanish horror flick. And, like most American remakes, it tried to do too much. In contrast, [Rec] does more with less. Lower budget, fewer effects. But the result is something masterful. Utilizing the first person style rendered comical by the Blair Witch Project, Balaguero and Plaza have done something innovative and interesting with subjects and means that have become rather boring in recent history.

If you’ve yet to see Quarantine, I recommend you skip it in favor of the original which is, in my opinion, both scarier and more satisfying.