Rob Zombie

Warm Bodies

How have I not talked about this movie yet? I love this movie. Love it. I’m a fan of romantic horror films, a fact that is well documented. Warm Bodies is among my top five favorites. Hell, it’s in my top 25 movies off all time. Though objectively it’s not the best. But I’m not here to be objective. I’m here to give my honest opinion. Warm Bodies is far and away more Romance and Comedy than Horror. Horror is the back drop, occasionally its brought up and that really works for here. I love the pairing of Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. But I’ll get to praising them in a moment.

Warm Bodies opens with R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie who spends his days suffering around an airport. He spends his days trying to remember what it used to be like before he became a zombie.  His only kind of friend is M (Rob Corddry), who he stands near and they almost start conversations. The only time they speak is when to signify hunger and the need to hunt. Which they do, heading into the city. Leader of potentially last human settlement Grigio (John Malkovich), sends out a group of young survivors to scavenge in the city for supplies that are needed by the settlement, like medicine. Among them are Grigio’s daughter Julie (), her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco), and her best friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton). R’s and Julies groups encounter on another and a fight ensues. During which R falls in love with Julie at first sight. He then kills Perry and eats his brains. Which allows him to live Perry’s memories. Including the ones of him and Julie falling in love. R manages to save Julie from the zombies as the her group is killed except for Nora. R takes Julie back to the airport where he keeps her in the plane he lives in. Filled with stuff that he likes. The two get to know one another and start to fall in love over the days that R keeps Julie there. But she has no desire to stay and after being found by the zombies, including the more dangerous Bonies. But with the aid of M, Julie and R manage to escape. After helping Julie and R escape the zombies start to come back alive. Something that upsets the Bonies who chase them out. Julie and R take refuge in an old house and spend the night. During which he reveals that hes the one who killed Perry. R then falls asleep, some that the dead don’t do and wakes up to Julie gone. R starts to head back when he runs in M, who’s leading a band of like-hearted zombies to find R. He tells him of the Bonies and how they are hunting for him, and Julie. R, M, and the other zombies head to find Julie to warn her of the Bonies coming attack.

The romantic elements work really well for me and I love the chemistry between the leads. Being based on a novel that is blatantly retelling Romeo and Juliet, the chemistry is important. Both deliver solid performances and come of as light in what is a very down atmosphere. The rest does a great job, with Rob Corddry being hilarious, and heart warming at times.

The zombie effects are pretty good, but the Bonies don’t look as good. While by no means do they look bad. I just would have preferred if they had been approached via practical effects instead of CGI. Which is my only gripe about this film.

The sound track also needs to be brought up. Because it’s outstanding. The film makes great use of some very recognizable songs such as Shelter from the Storm by Bob Dylan, Patience by Guns and Roses and Missing You by John Waite to name a few.

Final thoughts, I do love this movie. Its cute, fun and light with a healthy dose of zombie violence. It takes the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet and twists it into some new. Which is harder to pull of then it might sound. 9/10

31

So, Rob Zombie. I’m not the biggest fan of his films. Music yes, films no. But for some reason I always find myself watching his films. I will always admit that the man is a great director, his films just don’t do it for me. 31 is my favorite of his films, so there’s at least that much going for it. In all fairness 31 has a lot going for it with its 70’s exploitation mixed with psycho murder games vibe.

31 follows a group of carnival workers containing Charly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Roscoe Pepper (Jeff Daniel Phillips), Venus Virgo (Meg Foster),  Panda Thomas (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) and Levon Wally (Kevin Jackson) are traveling. While in the middle of nowhere they’re attacked and taken hostage. The group are held hostage by an insane trio consisting Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell), Sister Serpent (Jane Carr) and Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson). The deadly trio forced in a deadly game named 31. They have twelve hours to survive while being hunted by murderous psycho paths…

There’s a bit of a slasher vibe in this film. A group of friends are stalked and killed, and Carly as the final girl. So, once this film hits that point I actually really enjoy it. The lead in dragged for me. Though lucky the lead in is short.

I liked the acting, mostly. It took me a while to warm up to the characters. But once I got there I was invested in them. Charly for the most part is the main character, if you have to pick one. 31 focuses on all the characters fairly evenly and every actor does a great job with the time he has and all the actors and actressess display a wide range over the course of the film.

The mood, again once I got into is good. With that spooky, haunting vibe indicative of Rob Zombie’s work. The 70’s atheistic are fun, and pair nicely with the dark terror of the second act. Creating an atmospheric experience.

The psychos are fun and memorable with two of the sticking out the most. Sick-Head played by Pancho Moler and Doom-Head played by Richard Brake. Both are wildly entertaining and are the end caps for the psychos, makes the best notes the first and the last.

The film is incredibly well shot and is in my opinion Rob Zombies best looking film. The films look is distinctly Rob Zombie and those familiar with his work would have no problem identifying this film as his.

Final thoughts, 31 one is okay. Hell, I push it as far as saying its good. It hard horror that doesn’t focus on the gore, which while present is never the forefront. For that I have to give this film a lot of credit as the lacks of visceral action is more character and mood driven. As where the quick shock tends to wear off and be forgotten. 31 is more than then that providing a genuine horror experience. That said I still personally didn’t love it, I just see the merit in it. 7/10

OMBC – The Lords of Salem

lordsofsalem_book-coverSo, better musical artist than an author in my opinion and honestly better than anything I could of done honestly. But this isn’t about me, its about this novel. Which really doesn’t do much better than the film. Which I was really hoping for since I didn’t enjoy the film that much. The only points that film did anything better than the film is with the characters of Herman and Whitey. The rest was about more of the same.

Next month I’ll be reading Odd Hours, mostly just because I want to see what Dean Koontz does with Frank Sinatra’s ghost.

The Lords of Salem

lords_of_salemI’m a big fan of Rob Zombie’s music, specially his work as a founding member of White Zombie. As White Zombie is one of the bands that first got me into metal and noise rock in the mid to late 90’s. I’ve also enjoyed a good amount of his solo work in the years since. I can’t say the same for his work as a writer director. I will admit he has a directorial style all his own, and his work is visually memorable. But, I’m repeatedly underwhelmed by his films, even though I keep watching them. I just always expect more the surface level shock visuals that he just keeps delivering.

Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a Radio DJ and is part of a popular trio that also includes Herman “Whitey” Salvador (Jeff Daniel Philllips) and Herman Jackson (Ken Foree). While leaving her apartment one afternoon, Heidi see’s a the figure of a woman standing in a doorway at the end of the hall. After addressing the woman, the door gets violently slammed in her face. She brings up the incident with her landlady Lacy Doyle (Judy Geeson). But, Lacy states that, that apartment is vacant and has been unable to find a renter. That night at work, Heidi receives a record from The Lords addressed to specifically for her in a wooden box. So of course that night while drinking with Whitey, they listen to it. While the eerie music plays, Heidi has a vision of witch’s birthing a child only to instantly scorn it. The vision ends abruptly when Whitey stops the record. The next day the trio decided to play the record over the radio, this time multiple women across Salem fall into a trance. Over the next days more and more unexplained visions and hallucinations haunt Heidi, along with the questions who are The Lords of Salem, what is the power they hold, and what do they want.

The visuals and atmosphere are pretty great for most the film. With a number of shots easily standing out in my memory. Heidi’s hallway with one swinging light over the door of the apartment at the end of the hall. The dream sequence Heidi has in the church with the priest, and the films ending. Just to name a few. But visuals is about all this film has going for it.

My main issue’s that Heidi does very little herself, and doesn’t feel involved in the story. She’s a character that things happen to and that’s about the extent of her characters value. Sheri Moon could be replaced by any actress and nothing would be lost or gained as the character does so little on her own accord. Which makes it hard to care when things happen as even after they do she seems to barely react to them.

The only character that seems proactive in the film is Francis Matthias played by Bruce Davison. He’s able to uncover the origins of the song, and why it was addressed to Heidi. He even gets a moment of realization to figure out what’s at stake. But then he’s killed off because he’s unwilling or unable to believe the things he discovered, falling into a trap set by the witches.

Another thing is the witches, who actresses Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn and Dee Wallace I all adore. Mostly Patricia Quinn as  I will always remember her as Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show. I love the casting here as all three women are well-known for the previous outstanding work in the genre. I’m upset with how little they were given to work with, which mostly amounts to half-hearted attempts at blasphemy.  That said, all three women do amazing work with just how little they’re given.

Final thoughts, underwhelmed is perhaps the biggest understatement I can bring. But it’s the only word that I can use that feels accurate. This a recurring thing with me for all Rob Zombies films, from House of 1000 corpses to the Halloween remakes, they all come off as a bit dull and lackluster. That sai,d he does have a great eye for color, contrast and shadow, with many shots being visually haunting. It’s always the writing that kills the films for me. 3/10