Posts Tagged ‘ving rhames’

And hey, since we’re on the subject of shitty direct-to-video zombie flicks —

Honestly, folks, they don’t come much worse than the 2008 “remake” (and I use that term very loosely) of George A. Romero’s classic, Day Of The Dead.

I remember in the time between when this project was announced (sometime in 2006, if memory serves me correctly) and it landed like a thud on video store shelves, Netflix, etc., most hard-core horror fanatics were — skeptical, to put it kindly. Sure, the budget was okay (estimated to be around $18 million, and filmed in Bulgaria to make those dollars stretch even further), and Steve Miner was attached as director, a guy who had earned a certain reservoir of goodwill for Halloween : H2O. The cast list didn’t look to bad, either — Mena Suvari was set to star, Ving Rhames would be in there for a (brief, as it turns out) cameo as a military commander, Ian McNeice was going to play a burned-out ex-hippie DJ, Nick Cannon (before his career seriously took off thanks to who he married) was in there someplace, a pre- 90210AnnaLynne McCord was on board — surely it couldn’t be as bad as we all feared, could it?

As things turned out, the finished product was actually much, much worse.

First off, let’s get one thing straight right away — 2008’s Day Of The Dead isn’t a remake of the Romero original at all. It’s not even “based on” that film as the credits proclaim. The only vague similarity between the two is that the first one had a semi-intelligent zombie who was capable of learning named Bub (in a legendary performance by the great Howard Sherman), and this one’s got a vegetarian zombie (yes, you read that correctly) named Bob.

That’s it. Seriously. Oh, and this one’s got a secret underground military base, as well. But they don’t get to it until about the final 30 minutes of the film.

So no allusions to Cold War paranoia. No attempts to educate the zombies for domestic use/possible co-existence. No mad doctor. No questions along the lines of “what price will our possible survival come at?”

No, friend,s all of that would require brains and heart, and this film has neither. Hell, Miner and company can’t even decide if they want their zombies to be slow shamblers or the new, speedy, 28 Days Later model, so they give us both (as well as a mix of live-action and CGI creatures, with extremely mixed results). instead all we’ve got here is the story of a by-now-typical zombie outbreak that first looks like a virus but turns out to be much worse plaguing the scenic mountain town of Leadville, Colorado (and to this flick’s credit Bulragia does, indeed, look a bit Colorado-ish) that our heroine, army private ( I think, although maybe she was a corporal, I can’t remember and don’t care) Sarah Bowman (Suvari) just happens to call home.

And I think I’m just gonna leave it at that because, honestly, there’s just no reason to see this movie. A pretty decent cast turns in listless, one-dimensional performances all around, which is what I would probably do in their shoes as well if I’d read this mind-numblingly lifeless script. There’s no tension, suspense, or even anything really interesting going on. The best thing I can say about the whole thing is that it’s over in a truly mercifully short 86 minutes.

Day Of The Dead , 2008 incarnation, is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from First Look Pictures. It’s got a sharp widescreen transfer, 5.1 sound, a commentary with Miner and several of the cast and crew, a making-of featurette — all the bells and whistles. But it still sucks. Royally. But hey, if it just had another title — any other title — what we’d be looking at here is yet another lousy DTV living dead flick. Stand in line and take a number.  By trying to hitch itself onto Romero’s wagon, however, it shows itself to be not just bad, but shameless and disrespectful, as well. Avoid at all costs, I beg you — please!

"Piranha 3-D" Movie Poster

Okay, so I meant to get around to reviewing this back when it came out but I was lazy and I didn’t. Still, now’s not a bad time to take a look at Piranha 3-D since it’s due out on DVD any day here, and while home DVD and Blu-Ray 3-D can’t come close to matching the theatrical experience yet, this is such a fun flick that it’s certainly worth a rental on your part, or even a purchase if you can grab it on sale cheap.

And cheap is the operative word when it comes to Piranha 3-D. Oh, sure it had a budget of around $25 million, but it’s loaded with cheap and plentiful gore, cheap and plentiful nudity, and life comes damn cheap in it, too. I ask you, friends, what could be better than that?

This is true B-filmmaking all the way courtesy of French “new horror” maestro Alexandre Aja, who made his mark with Haute Tension in his home country before taking Hollywood by storm with his remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes and then taking something of a misstep with the Kiefer Sutherland horror vehicle Mirrors, which wasn’t as bad as many of its detractors would have you believe but really wasn’t actually very good, either.

Anyway, Aja’s back in fine form with this third installment in the Roger Corman-originated Piranha franchise (the two previous flicks were directed by Joe Dante and James Cameron, respectively), and while it’s probably not fair to classify it as strictly a sequel per se to the first two, it’s certainly not a remake of the original, either — I guess the most appropriate term to use here would be to say it’s a re-imagining, much as I despise that word, and indeed all trendy Hollywood and corporate buzzwords — for instance, is anyone still referring to anything as a paradigm shift anymore? Didn’t think so.

But I digress. The paper-thin plot here revolves around spring break in the fictitious town of Lake Victoria, Arizona, where thousands of hard-partying college kids descend each year to perform their annual bacchanalian rites of binge drinking and binge fucking. Things are gonna be a little bit hairier for the wild youths this year, though, since an earthquake in a self-contained underground aquatic ecosystem has ruptured the lake bed and sent hundreds of prehistoric piranha swarming into party central. The piranha have been surviving in their little watery subterranean paradise all these years by eating each other since there’s nothing else around to sink their teeth into, so they’ve big, they’re mean, they’re bloodthirsty, and,  like the nauseating drunken students, they’re out for a good time.

Aja really pulls out all the stops in once the mayhem ensues, treating us to a non-stop bloodbath punctuated only by totally gratuitous boob close-ups and even more gratuitous full-frontal nudity. There’s an extended underwater ballet scene with starlets Kelly Brook and Riley Steele (yes, that Riley Steele, and she’s only one of several porn stars brought in to liven up the proceedings here) that seriously verges on soft-core territory, and if 3_D T&A is your kind of thing, you won’t be disappointed. I’ll just leave it at that.

There’s a gratuitous sampling of has-been B-list actors crawling out of the woodwork here, too. Elizabeth Shue (who I swear to God doesn’t age) has the nominal starring role as local sheriff  Julie Forester, who;s got to try to solve the crisis while also rescuing her son, who’s gone off for the day on a photoshoot with ultra-sleazy “Girls Gone Wild”-type producer Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell). Ving Rhames is her bad-ass deputy, Christopher Lloyd is on hand as a mad scientist-type who’s fervently trying to figure out just what these deadly fish are, where they come from, and how they can be stopped, Richard Dreyfuss is on hand for just long enough for you to say “Hey, that’s Richard Dreyfuss!” before he becomes the bloodthirsty fish horde’s first victim, and if you look really closely you’ll even see Eli Roth as the emcee of a wet t-shirt contest.

But the main “star” here is the sheer, unbridled, completely tasteless mayhem that’s front and center almost from the word go. Ever possible way to be eaten by deadly fish is shown in graphic detail, some of which you can imagine, others of which, quite frankly, you can’t. A guy’s dick getting bitten off and later chomped down by one of the piranha is played for laughs (as it should be). There’s fish-bitten boobs, legs, arms, feet, shoulders, stomachs, faces, you name it — and there’s just no damn way to kill these things off en masse. In fact, at the very end, Aja just plain stops trying as the film finishes on a note that’s pure sequel set-up (not that this will probably happen now given the movie’s underwhelming box office performance).

Not all the 3-D works all that well, to be sure — underwater 3-D effects seem to be an iffy proposition at best, and some definitely deliver the goods better than others. Still, even when Aja and his effects crew fall short, it’s certainly not for lack of trying. Piranha 3-D is a film that aspires to do one thing and one thing only — absolutely annihilate all the boundaries of good taste, and get away with all it can and then some. It’s a true stylistic, and thematic, heir to many of the grindhouse and exploitation flicks that we cover so regularly here at TFG and viewed through that lens, you have to say that it succeeds more than admirably. It’s gleeful, unmitigated, irredeemable trash — just the kind of thing we love around here.

In short, Piranha 3-D is the party movie of the year. It’s full of blood, boobs, blood, boobs, blood, boobs,more blood, more boobs, butts, female genitalia, and huge, shiny, flesh-devouring teeth. Can’t ask for any more out of a movie than that, can you? Catch it as soon as you can.