Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shatter Dead = Awesome!

After starting this blog I haven't felt the need to update on a more than weekly basis. In fact, it hasn't been updated even that often. I apologize to Jonah and Bryce(my only readers, I believe) for this. There haven't been a shortage of movies passing my eyes lately, I just don't have the compulsion to write about what has been written about by many a blogger, I guess. Terminator 4 and the Hangover I had the upper hand with. Sneak passes, you see! One of the first to write about, was I! Pushing material out to the interweb results in boring words. For now shit will flow when it flows.


Moving on.


After graduating from high school I happened upon the most magical of movie rental houses. Movie Madness, located on SE Belmont, houses a vast selection of titles separated by genre, director, actor, sub-genre, country, era, and more. Even before their expansion it felt as if you could get lost in movie heaven and if there was a chance of seeing daylight again that you wouldn't want to leave. Racks upon racks of movies before me. Never had I spent so much of a night trying to figure out what I wanted to watch. There was just too many choices and not enough money. Being able to purchase Red Vines by the piece is a nice touch.


Among the many sections that Movie Madness has amidst the walls of classic film memorabilia and official props was and is the Bizarre section. Being the person that I am, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to check out what could be in the Bizarre section. Most of the titles were VHS tapes and still are as the DVD counterparts have never been distributed and require an upstanding rental history at Movie Madness or a $100 deposit. Movies like Nekromantic, Snuff, the Faces of Death series, the CKY series, Richard Kern films, Raymond Pettibone films and more shelved on just two cases but more than enough to peak my interest and taste. I spout these names off not because they meant anything to me at the time but because they do now. Being 18 at the time meant that I could rent anything and there were quite a few movies on those racks with an 18 and over sticker. One of those stickers meant a free pass for me and a trip to Movie Madness almost certainly ended with another morality bending film under my arm along with whatever else I originally came to get. Whether or not that sticker meant quality wasn't of concern. That sticker meant that I was about to watch something that no one I knew knew anything about.





Intrigued by the title and the cover art of a woman looking through a bloody hole in a door, I picked up Shatter Dead. Directed by Scooter McCrae and released in 1993, Shatter Dead was one of my first forays into the direct-to-video/shot-on-video horror genre. It has also become, in time, one of my favorite movies of all time. It was also a movie that I could watch alone in the basement at my parent's house without them wondering first what I was watching and second why I was watching it. Full of boobs, blood and killing, Shatter Dead gets three big points right off the bat for me. That is not to say that those are the only things that I look for in a flick but back in the days of high school and right after high school, they could have been.


Shatter Dead tells the story of a world where the Angel of Death descends to Earth and impregnates a mortal woman and, in turn, destroys the notion of dying and resting peaceably underground. After death, one retains consciousness and thought but are hunted and destroyed by the living minority. Among this world is Susan, a woman trying to get across town to her boyfriend and other friends, where there is safety and shelter. After gathering supplies from town she is relieved of her vehicle by a man known only as the "Preacher Man" and his undead congregation. She is left to walk away as he foresees that she will choose to come to their side as it is the righteous way and smarter path. After stealing a car and stopping in a neighborhood to sleep, Susan is awakened by a night patrolman and taken to a shelter where she can get off the street due to martial law. There she bunks with a woman and they both take a shower together because the woman she just met wants to give us an eyeful. In the Shower Susan discovers by the bruising of pooling blood in the new roommate's backside that she is another of the walking dead and proceeds to be talked out of blasting a hole in her head.

What follows is an unrelenting series of situations and images that are still ingrained in my head, begging to stay. And, stay, they will. Naked women, shotgun blasts painting a white room red, a voyeur jerking off while looking through a keyhole, zombies lit afire, birth from a shotgun wound, oral play on a pistol, actual vaginal penetration with said pistol, this film does not let up on "mature" storytelling devices and as a result, I love every moment of it.

Though the film was shot on a very small budget the ingenuity involved in its production forgives many of it's glaring defects. The acting is almost entirely horrible, the sound design is crappy and the script inspires me to crap one out. These aside, Shatter Dead is an amazing ride and I implore my friends to borrow this movie or distant readers(if ever I get one) to queue it up on Netflix Instant Watch. It's time for a great movie night!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Is Good Sci-Ii Making a Comeback?




Plain and simple, Moon is a movie to watch as soon as possible. Today marks the first time in a while that I have been to the Fox Tower theatre downtown since Juno was released. I don't like downtown but I think that I am going to have to venture there to visit this theatre more often as it houses the more independent movies in town. Actually, the Hollywood theatre and Cinema 21 do as well, but I'll just lump them in with Fox Tower.

I'm getting pretty tired of the big blockbusters and their rehashing of tired old stories. While the Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay movies serve their purpose a shift in the flow of my money that goes to those pictures is going to have to be diverted to more independent films. Not to say that I'm smarter than the upcoming 2012, because I'm not, I am very excited for that one, but I am more excited for the underdogs nowadays. I am excited for the filmmaker's attention to be focused on the story and tone and the craft of the film instead of money being thrown at effects. I love big effects movies and again, I bring up 2012 because I've never seen world destruction in a trailer look more convincing. But those movies will always be there. Films like Moon won't be. They are too risky and I can't see Moon raking in many millions. But I hope that it gains an audience in time or gets a wider release soon.

Intelligent Sci-fi is something lacking in today's cinemas. Knowing could have been it if there was about $100 million dropped off the budget, major recastings, and the ideas that were there, further explored. With only a $5 million budget, director Duncan Jones puts his efforts into the story and creating a believable world. The lunar effects are all done with convincing miniatures and practical mock-ups and the set is all interconnected, lending to a cohesive and claustrophobic feeling. Being the first in a planned trilogy of Moon films, this is a great entry in what is shaping up to be an amazing story arc.



Where the film really shines is in the performance of Sam Rockwell. Not really a big Hollywood leading name, Rockwell has stuck to a more supporting character role in his career up until last year's Choke and completely holds his own in this film. Being the sole person on screen for the majority of the film there wasn't a moment that I wished he hadn't gotten the role. This film has solidified Sam Rockwell as one of my favorite actors working today.

I am aware that I haven't written anything about the plot of the film and that has been intentional. All you need to know is that it takes place on our moon. Avoid the trailer if you can and go watch this movie. That's it. I'm done. You can go back to watching your soccer game.