What’s the difference between a B movie and an Indie film? Both have lower budgets, are released through smaller movie companies, and if they are lucky will make a film festival before heading straight to DVD, or Netflix instant. Sometimes, it’s the intention of the director to make something campy, other times, a big movie company might create a smaller label to give some funding to a movie idea that they bought into wither sullying their illustrious reputations for only releasing the highest standards and ideas on reasonable budgets and modest fanfare.
Whatever the case, from the days of my teenager-ness when I purposefully hunted down the worst movies I could find (la la la) to this recent resurgence of interest into lower-budget/tier movies (blockbusters like Transformers and GI Joe have left me disillusioned), I’ve been making the most of my Netflix Instant subscription.
The cover says it all, I think. Well yes a tire. It’s about an old, abandoned tire that somehow becomes sentient (I hesitate to say ‘alive’), and out of all the abilities (besides being sentient) that it gains, it gets the power of ‘blowing stuff up at will’ (there is a technical term for this, which I suspect is telekinesis, but does that necessarily mean blowing things up or just being able to manipulate them?). Anyway, in order to put some dialogue and a backstory into this, since the general idea is not that deep (ya think?) there is a twist! The movie itself is being shown as a movie, or at least a live action cinematic display (perhaps also known as a PLAY?!) to an audience who are provided with binoculars, by a nameless host/organizer. The random crowd of people is/are instructed when the day’s ‘showing’ begins and ends, and sleep out in the desert at night. They are not fed or given any other amenities, and the organizer begins, or rather continues, acting strangely. But enough about them, that is, without spoilers. Back to the tire.
As the tire goes on increasingly violent adventures, it has flashbacks of what it had recently done, as well as having once been on a car roaring down a similar highway. The movie needs on an ominous note, that is, if you took this movie seriously which you could. To a degree. Camera angles/visuals are good; the film itself has a feel as if it were a final project for an upper level film course. Taken from my notes as I watched it, I waxed philosophical: “There might be a time when you wake up one day and find yourself somewhere completely out of the ordinary. What you do in that opportunity is pick yourself up, dust off, and move. Always keep moving. Go around, go over, go forward. Or just blow stuffs up.” Eat your heart out Socrates.
Final Grade: B. Some critics would say it ran a little too long, but there was an attempt at character development. Yes for the tire, but also the side stories, weak as they were. Plus it’s a B movie.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)
A group of college kids, the guys pseudo-jocks, the girls pseudo sex-kittens, head for hormone-raging adventures in the mountains. On their way down a lonely backwoods country road, they ride alongside some rednecks in a truck, who give them menacing evil looks that can only mean one thing – Killer Rednecks! Eeek!
However, the plot twist come immediately, as everyone winds up at a nearby gas station, the college kids already expecting mass murder by the Killer Rednecks (Eeek). What we hear from the rednecks though, is that they are just shy easy goin’ fellers headed up to a cabin they bought.
That’s right, those Killer Rednecks (eek?) are just simple guys with simple needs. To spend weekends/vacations at their lakeside cabin while fishin’. That’s all! In fact Dale has a bit of a crush on one of the sex kittens, and well his attempts at conversation are as painful as the ones you may remember trying. Well, YOU try telling anything to the knowitall college kids that will dissuade them from thinking you are about to hacksaw their limbs without spillin a beer. Even after one of the sex kittens is injured and put in peril, the rednecks’ rescue is misconstrued as kidnapping, and the knowitall college kids hatch some plans that, well, start to backfire on them…with deadly results.
Will the rednecks get their peace and quiet? Will the knowitall college kids figure out they are wrong and stop gittin’ themselves killed? Will there be yet another twist in the plot?
Though a modestly budgeted movie, the acting is superb! The location, plot(s) and idea are executed (yes pun intended) in their parody of traditional horror, with an original twist. There is some over the top gore, including typical items like a wood chipper (yes that is typical these days) which ‘add to the humor’ if horror parody suits you. Very little (in the distance) nudity, much less than any Friday the 13th, but you may or mayn’t miss the lack of T&A. I laughed, I groaned, I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Final Grade: A I didn’t expect much, but I got tons more enjoyment that I would have guessed. This movie was high quality and seemed more ‘indie’ than B genre goes – definitely not in the ‘so bad it’s good’ justification that I will give a lot of times. Acting was great, script excellent. Go for it.
Dead Snow (2009)
A German Zombie film! Subtitled of course. A group of horny German med schoolers go on break (well not spring break since they are traveling in 10 feet of snow to a cabin that some distant relative/friend owned and loaned to them for their fun and frisky frolics. Crazy Eurpoeans do everything backwards. I guess their spring break schedule is metric also). Anyway, what the cabin owner (whoever that was) left out of the cabin details was a terrible secret! That secret is revealed, along with angry Nazi zombies who at the same time, rise from the earth…well the snow, and wreak havoc. Will the med schoolers get away/defeat the zombies who do not represent modern German politics? Will the zombies feast on med school brains? Will you have accurately chosen the person/people who will survive this menace?
Typical plot with a few twists. Blood and gore are well done with CGI, not high budget but effective. Some violent demises, like one zombie pulling apart someone’s head, are a little ‘unbelievable’ (yes I still adhere to physics and logic with zombie horror), and the ‘guts stuck on the tree branch and unraveling for a while before the person figures it out’ gag seems a little Wile E Coyote for me. During one part, after a fight with Nazombies (I am not going to copyright that name, or take credit for inventing it, even though the term was NOT used during the movie), one of the med school students is bitten, and laments that he will be turned into one of them. His friend, in pure dark humor, reasons with him “Are you sure they’d want you? You’re half-Jewish.” Ehhh a little tacky. Maybe they laughed in the German theaters, or maybe it created more awkwardness. Either way, the guy didn’t buy it and chainsawed his arm off. A side note would be that the chainsawing was the SECOND Evil Dead reference that I caught in this movie. Kudos to them for that. Another ‘flaw’ in logic would be that they are covered in zombie blood, but are fine – which contradicts the saliva/bite theory. Yes I will get all Spock on the logics. There is a brief sex scene (pretty much non-nude) in the outhouse; I mean really they are in the snow so who would strip down? There are ‘formal’ terms for sex acts in the bathroom; knowing these will not enrich our lives, so I will skip that. For med school students, they sure didn’t figure out the reason for the Nazombie invasion, when it was pretty obvious. Maybe if they had put up a dry erase board and went all House MD with theories (or a round of Win/Lose or Draw), they would have spared themselves…a little. The ending was not so bad; a very Ah-ha!/Oh No! moment.
Final Grade: B/B+. With all its good and bad, it seemed more like a movie that Europeans made in the American grain of horror movies (in which case they should have had gratuitous nudity). When done the other way around there is usually more success.
A band, ironically called the Winners (yes they planned it), are anything but. Barely paying gigs in small clubs, they can’t get enough attention to make money cut a demo or get labels to come to a show. Throw in some ‘former relationship drama’ between Joey the lead singer, and Jennifer the bassist, and well things ain’t going their way. Which reminds me, even having a hot girl in their band isn’t working for them, which is kind of unbelievable (works in real life all the time).
So how can things get worse? Well after heading out with a mysterious stranger (is there any other kind), Jennifer shows up late, not looking or feeling too well. Stranger still, at their next gigs, The Winners are garnering more attention. Well, Jennifer is anyway. One particular person is showing up, following them around – not a label rep, but a vampire hunter. Yeap, Jennifer is now one of the undead, and as band members start suspecting one thing and another, they have to decide whether the risk of bodies piling up, or they themselves becoming a bloody Big Gulp, is worth the growing fame.
Music is good, they actually perform some songs. Joey (Rob Stefaniuk) is also the writer, director and soundtracker of Suck, so it’s not like they had everyone stand around pretending to pluck strings, which put this above some SNL or Super Bowl performances that are out there.
Special effect, camerawork and acting are all above par, as most of the actors have a good handful of past credits.
There are some great cameos, including Malcolm McDowell as the vampire hunter, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Moby and Alice Cooper, each as burnouts or wretches of the entertainment industry in one way or the other (they likely just acted like people they have encountered at some point). Each is a surprise pop-up and actually hold their own.
There are several memorable quotable moments:
–“Nobody likes a judge.” “Nobody likes a vampire either!”
–“Did he just say we’re going to be famous?” “Yeah.” “Whoa. I gotta call my mom.”
–Van Helsing:“I’m afraid of the dark.” Bouncer: “Cool. I’m afraid of confined spaces and water fountains.”
–“How am I supposed to look at myself in their mirror?” “You can’t, you’re a vampire.” “Yeah you’re just going to have to suck it up.”
Final Grade: A-. Suck doesn’t suck. Acting as I said, is good, plot is not really original, cameos are great, all in all a good watch.