Posts Tagged ‘Zombies’

Blood Quantum (2019)

October 13, 2021

The term “blood quantum” has been a term used by the US Government for quite some time. It was adopted in 1705 by the Colony of Virginia as the “Indian Blood Law”. It was used by settlers to determine citizenship for those who had Native American blood. As with all people, Native Americans are a made up of the ancestry of their family tree. As time goes by, most of our family lines are distilled into percentages due to all of the humans moving around, committing violence, and colonizing. A person who had more than 50 percent Native American heritage would be denied civil rights. In 1924, the so-called Pocahantas Clause of the Racial Integrity Act stated that anybody with more than 1/16 Native American heritage lost their legal status as a white person. Later, many tribes would use blood quantum to determine citizenship within their own tribe and thus who benefitted from tribal windfalls such as casinos.

Sadly, the plague is definitely more relevant these days. The transmission of disease and sickness has long been something to be worried about but it is currently very much in our minds. Normal outbreaks are scary enough. One must only think of the movie Pandemic which depicted a global catastrophe. However, even our current situation is not quite as bad as a zombie virus. Having a virus that can slowly kill you is bad enough but one that also causes victims to lash out at the uninfected with violence is unthinkable. Thankfully, there is very little in our real world that compare. The three things that come to mind are pretty insidious, though. Toxoplasmosis causes strange behavior changes in animals. The most famous are mice who lose their fear of cats. There is, of course, the fungus that take over ants brains and make them into spore carriers. Finally, there is rabies which causes animals and people to go berzerk.

The first thing I noticed was the atmosphere. Everything is slow and easy but very tense. You get a really good sense of the characters and their community very quickly. I have watched quite a bit of fiction having to do with reservations so I was already fairly aware. Part of it is how good the cast is at their jobs. Michael Greyeyes is great at the reserved sheriff who becomes responsible for his people. Forest Goodluck is great as the troubled but good-hearted son who has to step up. Kiowa Gordon is fun to watch as a total asshole criminal who makes good in the apocalypse. Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers is solid as the stoic nurse who is in over her head. This is a movie about a first nation tribe up in Quebec and therefore some of the dialogue is in English and some of it is in Mi’kmaq language. A lot the cast are first nations tribe members.

The special effects are top notch. The gore is over the top which I actually find preferable in movies like this. This is an post-apocalyptic zombie movie that looks a lot like a First Nations version of Mad Max. I really dig the style. The costumes, practical prosthetics, and set design add up to be really good. There are definitely some gross moments but they do not linger on them. The lighting in the movie might be the best that I have seen yet this month. The shadows are so well done and add to the hopeless tone of the movie. The movie was shot on two different reservations standing in for a fictional reservation. It makes it feel authentic and cramped as a good post-apocalyptic zombie movie should.

Overall, I really loved this movie. Like any good zombie movie it is more about the interactions between who is left and the threat of what is out there. The acting is so immersive and the action is exciting. It also has a lot to say about white colonialism and the situation that we created.

Zombies (2018)

April 30, 2019

(I just realized that I am starting and ending this month on a Disney musical)

Anyone who actually reads this blog regularly knows that I am a huge fan of Halloween and supernatural-themed fiction. Recently, I was thinking about a post I wrote on this day in 2015 as part of this event. I had talked then about how I did not really care for zombie movies as they were slow and plodding like the monsters that inhabit them. I guess I also felt that fiction about infection and loss of self were not quite my cup of tea. However, I have developed a policy of not dismissing categorizations of entertainment out of hand. I hate when people put down what I like so I owe it to all of the zombie fans out there to keep sampling things to see if I can find something I like. So far, I have actually been successful. Last Halloween I watched Train to Busan and I a couple Halloweens ago I fell in love with the Red Snow franchise and the television show iZombie. Just this year there are two zombie moves coming out that I actually really want to see. One is Little Monsters which is a movie about a kindergartner teacher who has to deal with zombies. The other is The Dead Don’t Die which has an all-star cast and is opening Cannes.

I am also a huge fan of Disney. I grew up reading Disney storybooks, watching Disney movies, and singing along to Disney soundtracks. I was just the right age for the dawn of Disney Channel Original Movies and I ended up watching a lot of them. At some point, I dropped off but when I worked up in New Jersey, I was often furloughed for two months in January and February. I spent a lot of time back in Baltimore and I helped around my mom’s house. This meant that I was alone in the house a lot during the day. I ended up watching a lot of Disney Channel because it was upbeat and it kept my depression at bay. So it was that I ended up watching a lot of musicals on Disney. Yes, I watched the High School Musical series and many others. It is when I discovered a love of pop music. More recently, I have watched the Descendants franchise which was basically made for somebody like me. I do not have cable television anymore but from time to time I do check on the big events to keep up with things. I missed this one but I guess it is time to remedy that.

I really liked the comic book-style opening which gives the exposition (speaking of iZombie). If I have to sit through exposition, I prefer for it to be pretty instead of a wall of text. Since it is Disney, the art direction has a particular look but it feels like this one went even further. Since this is a movie about culture clash, the movie takes the same tactic as Crybaby and makes the two cultures look radically different. Zombies are poor and punk while normal people are straight and clean. The movie actually did feel a bit like a John Waters musical. The acting is very on the nose and straightforward while also being pretty corny. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is also Disney so while the zombies are stated as having eaten brains in the past, they have largely resolved that problem. Also, zombies are no longer rotting and are instead pale with bright green hair. This is good as otherwise there would be human/zombie interaction with zombies having body parts falling off.

The music is pretty good if you like Disney pop music. Modern pop groups and Disney musicals have set a precedent for signing and dancing because they inspire people to try it at home. This is a great thing as it allows fans to get involved. I watched a “Sing Along” version of the movie and it really helped to get into the songs. The movie stars Meg Donnelly as a pretty self-aware young human girl who aspires to be a cheerleader and fit in. It also stars Milo Manheim as a zombie who is kind of dumb but likable. Trevor Tordjman plays one of the villains, an egomaniac male cheerleader who is ruthless. Carla Jefferey plays Donnelly’s best friend and she plays the nerdy, excited best friend so well. Kylie Russell plays Manheim’s best friend and she is the perfect example of a student (zombie) activist. The rest of the cast is great at being funny character actors.

Overall, I thought it was a good movie. It was a lot of goofy fun with poppy, upbeat music, and upbeat acting. People complain about the Disney formula but why fix what is not broken. The movie gives a pretty good message of tolerance which is a good thing to show to young audiences. It also shows that no matter how far we go, there will always be prejudiced people. For a poppy teen movie, it also showed some subtlety in how the “other” are treated. It is a pleasant enough movie with some catchy tunes and some funny acting.

(Written on 4/29/19 – Cutting it Close, huh?)


October 3, 2015

I don’t know what I expected when I added Zombeavers to my list on Netflix. I think I was expecting a Sharknado type experience which seems fair since SyFy movies and psuedo-SyFy movies are big again. For some reason I was dreading something akin to Eli Roth’s lazy movie making, like a low-budget muppet Cabin Fever. Mixing funny and scary is a difficul proposition. Once again, I point to Evil Bong and Cabin Fever. The first failed because it had bad acting and was lazily written. Cabin Fever failed because it had too much gross out humor and used non sequitirs instead of actual humor. It’s a delicate balance and I’ve seen a lot of movies fail at being scary, being funny or both.

The movie follows three 24 year old girls who journey out to a cabin (cliche alert) because one of them was cheated on and they’re trying to help her get over it. The trip is quickly crashed by their three significant others and then it is crashed again by zombeavers. The six people try to survive and escape the woods. It’s the usual scenario but there are a few twists.

Zombeavers mostly succeeds where a lot of horror movies fail. There’s plenty of suspense as most of the movie is spent the way most zombie movies are spent. You get a lot of footage of the main characters trapped in one place and having to deal with each other. Thankfully the movie moves faster than most zombie movies because honestly, I don’t want to hear these people talk too much. There’s an offbeat humor throughout but within two minutes I decided that I would not mind if these characters died. As the action and gore overtook the suspense I found myself actually being afraid for the characters. I respect that a lot. Sure it was kind of cheesy but alot of the good horror films are cheesy.

Overall, the movie succceeded in being an over-the-top horror/monster movie. It felt like a 70’s horror film blended with a more modern feel. Like Evil Dead mixed with Ghost Shark, maybe. It avoided a lot of the obvious jokes that I was expecting. That’s not to say it didn’t hit certain jokes and cliches hard to get them out of the way. Honestly, the movie goes right along basically as I expected it to go and then just drives hard into left field. It goes from zombie muppets to full horror including quite a bit of body horror that tied my stomach into knots. At 77 minutes it’s also very short and fast-paced. It’s not a perfect horror movie but it’s worth a watch if you’re in the mood.


April 30, 2015

So if you’ve read some of my blog, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a fan of things supernatural or horror-themed. I like to see different takes on familiar creatures and I like to see people come up with new, terrifying creatures. Guillermo Del Toro in particular is very good at coming up with amazing designs for stuff that just might give you nightmares. The old classics like vampires and werewolves have gone through so many different variations that they have more flavors than Baskin Robbins. Demons and angels are pretty much the same, including the Gargoyle Angels from I, Frankenstein earlier this month. Even the fae can be absolutely terrifying. Beyond that there’s all sorts of miscellaneous dark and creepy things that can be absolutely awesome.

This is not true of zombies. I don’t know what it is but I rarely get interested in fiction that has zombies in it. For the most part, Zombies are slow, stupid and weak. In most fiction, zombies are humans who have lost their humanity and are driven to prey on mortal human beings. I’ve stated before that loss of humanity is one of my greatest fears. However, the loss of humanity for Zombies is slow and the person doesn’t realize it has happened. When the lights are out, nobody’s home and who really cares who lives there now?

Zombies are outwitted and killed easier than the Wet Bandits. A single headshot or incapacitation turns them from a threat into a corpse. They don’t even shy away from gun fire and generally walk right into swinging range of a melee weapon. Like bees, they are mostly only dangerous in large numbers where they can swarm and overwhelm their target. Any competent hero tends to be able to avoid this situation and it removes a lot of the tension from the story.

Since the zombies themselves are kind of boring, anything related to them has to have interesting characters instead. I tried to watch the Walking Dead since it is the most popular zombie fiction in recent times, rivaled only by the Night of the Living Dead movies. The Walking dead just didn’t do it for me and I didn’t care about the soap opera that happened between zombie attacks. The Night of the Living Dead movies are full of stereotypes or characters too dumb to live for the most part. I gave up on them a while ago. The only zombie movie I’ve seen that I liked was Shaun of the Dead but that was because it was an interesting comedy. Oh and the Evil Dead series but again that was because the hero is fun to watch.

I think if somebody did a good story with an unstoppable zombie menace that was supernatural and not science fiction I might be interested. I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something.

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