June: Zompocalypse Now

We all know by now that the cannibal-zombie apocalypse is nigh. Fortunately, the Italians have been preparing for this moment for decades, and they’ve created a wealth of emergency-preparedness videos to help us deal with the oncoming crisis.

June 3: Zombi 3 (1988) — Don’t worry about the title—like most Italian zombie films of the 1980s, the “3” is no indicator of this being the third in a series; you won’t have missed anything. Some scientists accidentally create cannibalistic zombies when they cremate the body of an infected terrorist, releasing the virus into the atmosphere over a small island in the Phillipines and leading to the age-old dilemma: try to find a cure or just wipe ’em all out? Directed mostly by Bruno Mattei. (Lucio Fulci was involved early on, but apparently bowed out due to illness.)

June 10: Nightmare City (1980) — When an aircraft is forced to make an emergency landing near the site of a radioactive spill, the passengers are transformed into ultraviolent, flesh-eating zombies who emerge from the hatch and set off on a feeding frenzy across the city. Directed by Umberto Lenzi.

June 17: Hell of the Living Dead (1981) — Another Bruno Mattei masterpiece! When a chemical leak at a remote research lab in Papua New Guinea transforms the staff into zombies with a taste for human flesh, the contagion spreads and threatens to overtake the rest of the world. (AKA Zombie Creeping Flesh and Night of the Zombies.)

June 24: Doctor Butcher, M.D. (1980) — OK, so this movie is better known as Zombie Holocaust, but come on — which title are you going to remember? (P.S.: The “M.D.” stands for “Medical Deviate.”Also, there is not a character named “Doctor Butcher” in this movie.) This is a total rip-off of Lucio Fulci’s Zombi II, so much so that it re-uses actors, shooting locations, makeup style, plot points, and even some footage from the earlier film.

April: Musicians Who Think They’re Actors, Round Two

Remember that month when we watched movies in which musicians who think they can act completely embarrass themselves? Yeah, that was five years ago. Sheesh.

Anyway, we’re doing it again.

April 1: Big Money Rustlas (2010) — No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke—it’s the Insane Clown Posse wild-west epic. Enough said.

April 8: The All-Nighter (1987) — A vehicle for Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles) directed by her mother. This movie is so bad that it has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A critic for the Chicago Reader: “Hard to say what this is really, except maybe an inadvertent documentary on child abuse.”

April 15: Under the Cherry Moon (1986) — Prince made this movie about two years after Purple Rain. It won “Razzie” awards for worst picture, actor, supporting actor … it goes on. Plot: Prince is a gold-digger musician living in France who tries to seduce an heiress with the help of his friend Tricky. It’s all in black and white, and the camp is totally over the top.

April 22: Disorderlies (1987) — Hey, remember the Fat Boys? Remember the slapstick comedy they made in which they play orderlies hired by a scheming nephew to kill his uncle?

April 29: Moonwalker (1988) — I watched this movie so many times when I was a kid. Joe Pesci as a criminal mastermind with a tarantula-filled secret lair … the totally creepy and awesome claymation … the gigantic MJ-shaped robot spaceship thing … a true classic.

December: Holiday Horror Part V (Deck the Halls with Boughs of MURDER)

I really can’t believe that this is the fifth December in a row of Christmas-themed horror movies. Yep.

December 5: Black Christmas (2006)—In this remake of the 1974 slasher classic, a bloodthirsty psychopath breaks free from a mental institution and returns to the house where he killed his family on Christmas Eve many years earlier—which happens to now be a sorority house.

December 12: Deadly Little Christmas (2009)—After celebrating Christmas with his family, eight-year-old Devin Merriman brutally murders his dad along with the housekeeper. It’s an escaped lunatic free-for-all as, after a 15-year hiatus, the now-institutionalized Devin busts out of lockup to satisfy his bloody holiday cravings.

December 19: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987): Ricky Caldwell (younger brother of the first Silent Night, Deadly Night killer Billy Caldwell) carries on the family tradition of punishing the “naughty.” Largely told through flashbacks from the first movie, so don’t worry—if you haven’t seen the original, you won’t miss anything. Contains the infamous “Garbage Day!” scene.

December 26: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 3: Better Watch Out (1989): Direct-to-video masterpiece. Ricky Caldwell awakens from a coma and stalks a blind teenager with psychic powers.

Past “holiday horror” movies:

Santa’s Slay
Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys
Christmas Evil
Don’t Open Till Christmas
Jack Frost
Jack Frost II
Santa Claws
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Silent Night, Bloody Night
Black Christmas

April: Almost a Martial Art

April features four movies containing the martial arts of Gymkata, Tae Bo, Capoeira, and Gun Kata.

April 4: Gymkata. Olympic medalist Kurt Thomas stars as Jonathon Cabot, a champion gymnast recruited to represent the United States in a brutal competition inside the borders of savage Parmistan, which has an abundance of well-placed parallel bars and pommel horses.

April 11: Back in Action. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper is a hard-hearted cop whose partner was murdered by drug dealers. Billy “Inventor of Tae Bo” Blanks is a street tough and martial arts expert whose sister has fallen in with the same gang. Will they ever learn to overcome their differences and work together as a team???

April 18: Only the Strong. Special Forces officer Louis Stevens returns to his hometown of Miami, only to find his former high school overrun with gangbangers. Putting his Green Beret experience to use, he trains the 12 worst juvenile delinquents in the fine points of Capoeira. Soon, Stevens has a weapon to fight the narcotics kingpin; trouble is, the drug lord also happens to be an expert in — you guessed it — Capoeira.

April 25: Equilibrium. Dystopian future. Christian Bale. The important element of this movie is Gun Kata: memorizing and predicting movement and bullet trajectories to gain accuracy in a gun battle and avoid getting hit. Sweet!

Warriors…Come Out and Plaaaaay…

March features four movies about warriors. Well, sort of.

March 7: 1990: The Bronx Warriors — “In the year 1990 the Bronx is officially declared No Man’s Land. The authorities give up all attempts to restore law and order. From then on the area is ruled by the Riders.”

March 14: Warriors of the Wasteland — Another Italian post-apocalyptic rip-off with Fred Williamson in it; it came out the same year as Bronx Warriors. This one is in the desert! And Fred Williamson has freakin’ exploding arrows!

March 21: Desert Warrior — Starring Lou “The Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno.

March 28: The Warriors — Oh, come on. You know this one. Right?

February: Jeff Goldblum Wants to Be Your Valentine

February features four movies in which women have to pretend they find Jeff Goldblum sexually attractive.

February 7: Earth Girls Are Easy — Three aliens (Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans) crash-land in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. A manicurist (Geena Davis) and her boss (Julie Brown) befriend the threesome, give them makeovers, and show them a good time…

February 14: The Fly — Cronenberg’s remake of the classic Vincent Price movie. While testing his teleportation device, scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) accidentally merges his cells with those of a housefly. As his reporter girlfriend (Geena Davis) bears witness, Seth slowly — and quite disgustingly — morphs into an insect.

February 21: Holy Man — Sunny but enigmatic guru G (Eddie Murphy) turns heads as the guest on a home-shopping network program. When G’s rejection of the products drives up ratings, network executive Ricky Hayman (Jeff Goldblum) is caught between incensed advertisers, corporate values and happy viewers.

February 28: Vibes — Linked by their supernatural gifts, psychic hairdresser Sylvia (Cyndi Lauper) and psychometrist Nick (Jeff Goldblum) are recruited by treasure hunter Harry Buscafusco (Peter Falk) to help him locate his missing son in the mountains of Ecuador. But when they arrive in South America, Sylvia and Nick discover that Buscafusco has actually tricked them into helping him find a lost city made of gold. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!

August: Sly as a Stallone

Rambo? Rocky who? Pssh. Forget about the “classics” — this month, we’re watching five reasons why Sylvester Stallone received the 2000 “Worst Actor of the Century” Razzie award for “95% of Everything He’s Ever Done.”

August 2: FIELD TRIP! Come out to The Dark Room, 2263 Mission, for a very special screening of Over the Top, Stallone’s epic arm-wrestling drama. Witty banter provided by Tristan Buckner and other hosts. $5. No potluck tonight, just come to the movie. Be there at 8pm sharp!

August 9: F.I.S.T. — “Jimmy Kovak (Sylvester Stallone) is a hardworking 1930s factory employee pursuing the American Dream. When factory conditions push him too far, he pushes back. As he unionizes his co-workers, he’s faced with a grueling uphill battle. But when he aligns himself with the mob, he realizes that he’s sacrificed far more than just his principles.”

August 16: Demolition Man — “In the violent 1990s, a cop (Sylvester Stallone) catches a relentless killer (Wesley Snipes), and both end up in a cryogenic deep freeze. In the peaceful year 2032, the criminal emerges from his long chill and attacks the now crimeless California. Unable to stop the bloodshed, a “Big Brother” boss (Nigel Hawthorne) defrosts the murderer’s past nemesis, who struggles to adapt to the ways of a new world and a restless new partner (Sandra Bullock).”

August 23: Judge Dredd — “Director Danny Cannon’s sci-fi thriller profiles Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone), one of the heavily armed judges who act as jury and executioner when patrolling the streets of a futuristic megalopolis. After Dredd is framed for murder by a power-hungry judge (Jurgen Prochnow), he finds his own pitiless legal system turned against him. Sent to prison with a talkative criminal (Rob Schneider), Dredd quickly escapes to dispense true justice.”

August 30:Death Race 2000 — “In the racing world of the future, it’s no longer a crime to run down a pedestrian with your car. In fact, it’s all part of the game. Speeding across mixed terrain in a transcontinental contest, five daring competitors (including David Carradine and his character’s arch-rival, Sylvester Stallone) go up against a gang of rebels who’d like nothing better than to put a stop to them and their brutal sport. Mary Woronov co-stars.”

Happy Mothers Day

May is for Mothers, the kind that are sometimes aliens or werewolves or harboring dark secrets. Enjoy!

Serial Mom:
She’s a fabulous, loving, caring mother, who er… …happens to be a serial killer!

My Stepmother Is an Alien:
Starring Kim Basinger, Dan Ackroyd and also a young Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green

My Mom’s a Werewolf:
VHS-only 1980s flick. It has to be good, right?

Mommy Dearest:
Over-the-top portrayal of Joan Crawford…

May 3rd: Serial Mom
May 10th: My Mom’s a Werewolf
May 17th: My Stepmother Is an Alien
May 24th: Mommie Dearest

Killer Cars — The Recapitulationing

I would feel remiss if I didn’t post a single word about “killer cars” month, so here’s a brief recap. (Also: note that there probably won’t be any reviews posted in the month of April, since I’ll be participating in Script Frenzy, a writing challenge in which I’ll be cranking out a hundred-page screenplay in a month. Naturally, it’s going to be a horror movie…

The Car — Marty actually wrote about this fine film last summer, when it was a Final Girl Film Club pick. Read the review he wrote then, here.

Maximum Overdrive and Killdozer — Why am I writing about both of these movies together? Because both of them feature the same hackneyed horror-movie plot device: unexplained outer space phenomena. In Maximum Overdrive, the earth is caught in the tail of a gigantic comet. This is all the explanation that’s needed to set the plot in motion, namely machines (most importantly for our characters, trucks) coming to life and killing humans. There doesn’t seem to be any real logic behind which things come to life and which do not, as machines running off of electricity, gas, and batteries all seem to have the same hell-bent murderous intent. Inexplicably, even a machine gun turns against our heroes. And as soon as the earth exits the comet, everything goes back to normal, of course. Killdozer is slightly different, featuring a bulldozer that strikes a meteor buried into a hillside. The meteor glows with a blue light, which we then see entering the bulldozer. That’s all we get — not even any speculation as to what the blue light really was, where the meteor came from, etc. No, all we know is that now the bulldozer is (slowly) chasing workers down and running them over. (I can’t even remember how this made-for-TV movie ends, since I think I left the room because it was so difficult to watch.)

Seriously: “there’s a comet” is not a sufficient backstory for your horror movie. Except for Night of the Comet, which is awesome. Oh, and I guess Night of the Living Dead featured a mysterious returned satellite…hmm.

Christine and Blood Car were both amazing. The main characters’ slow descent into madness in both of these movies is really well-done: in Christine, as the once-dorky nice guy becomes a slick jackass obsessed with his magical car-girlfriend, and in Blood Car, as the vegan kindergarten teacher becomes a rampaging murderer, slaughtering puppies and homeless people in order to fuel his “blood car” and get laid by the car-loving “bad girl” who sells meat. I guess both these movies sort of have an underlying message of “women make men do evil things,” which is a subtext that really makes them seem less amazing, in my eyes.

Anyway, all in all an excellent month. I’d give Maximum Overdrive and Killdozer a miss, but the other three are definitely worth checking out.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I just couldn’t bring myself to post a review of Cop and 1/2. I just couldn’t. Sorry.

I’ve got some longer posts in the works, but for now, I’d just like to share this with you all. It’s a little something called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It’s a book. It’s being published in April. And it’s exactly what it sounds like.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a zombie must be in want of BRAAAAINS....

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a zombie must be in want of BRAAAAINS....

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen’s beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Complete with 20 illustrations in the style of C. E. Brock (the original illustrator of Pride and Prejudice), this insanely funny expanded edition will introduce Jane Austen’s classic novel to new legions of fans.

Wow. I’m not really sure what to think about this. Is this brilliant, or simply another case of “zombies are hot right now, let’s see what else we can stick ’em in?” Don’t get me wrong — I’ll definitely be devouring this book (hah!) come April, but there’s something about this that just feels…well, cheap. Too easy. Its entire existence is owed to the hip status of both zombies and mashups. I hope it’s a great book, I really do, but something in my gut tells me that it’s going to turn out to be not much more than a gimmick.

I guess this means I’d better get started on War and Peace and Werewolves before this trend dies out.