Updated – The Zombie movie genre: minor exploratory surgery

Since George Romero’s “night of the living dead” in 1968, the genre seems to have been growing across genres (comedy, sci-fi) and media (comics, novels, video games), and depending on the country of origin, even says something about cultural mores.
Night of the living dead” had some interesting things to say about race and class relations, which perhaps had to be expected as it was made in the late ‘60s.
And “dawn of the dead” (1978), also from Romero, had consumerism as a subtext and used a mall as location which introduced different dynamics.

BFS’ dangerous duo: Tango & Cash

But really, zombie flicks are about bloody mayhem which provides relief after a long day at work, dealing with people you might wish were dead. So without further ado, let’s look at a serious offering from France. “They came back” (2004) from Robin Campillo will not satisfy your urges for carnage because there is none to be had.
What “they came back” does offer is more along the lines of what they call “l’etrange, le bizarre, l’insolite”: it is eerie and at times really disquieting, particularly the couple instances reintroducing children to their parents.

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Walking around Stern Grove in San Francisco

Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove is located in the Sunset District of San Francisco. It is located along Sloat Avenue between 19th and 34th Avenues.

The park was donated to the city in 1931 by Rosalie Meyer Stern and is named after her husband. Stern Grove is made up of three distinct areas: there is the Concert Meadow, the West Meadow, and Pine Lake Park. At 33 acres in size, it provides a wonderful place to take the dog or just go for a walk or picnic. The park is wheelchair accessible.

To get there:

From 19th Avenue, turn West on Sloat. Continue on a few blocks and turn right on Vale. Vale will take you to the gate and drive that leads to the parking lot.

The Concert meadow is where they hold the Stern Grove Festival. Since 1938 there have been free weekly concerts and performances in the amphitheater. It is the nation’s longest-running free, outdoor music festival.

Stern Grove
Amphitheater at Concert Meadow

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Midnight Movie Madness

Fido” – (93 minutes, USA 2006)

“What is it boy? Is Timmy in trouble?”

In these alternative 1950s, after the “zombie wars”, life resumed in America within fenced in communities managed and policed by a corporation named Zomcon (zombie containment is their motto). Hordes of ‘untamed’ zombies roam the zones outside the communities’ perimeter, while within, domesticated zombies wearing electronic shock-collars serve the living delivering milk, papers, mowing lawns and acting as household help, etc.

Neighborhood watch

In order to keep up with the neighbors, Helen Robinson (Carrie Ann Moss) buys a domesticated zombie helper (Billy Connolly), much to her neurotic husband’s (Dylan Baker) dismay. Bill Robinson has a serious phobia of zombies since childhood, when his dad and uncle tried to eat his brain.
Certainly a very sore subject around the dinner table.
Bill is distant with his son Timmy (Kesun Loder) and pretty sadistic towards the zombie helper, zapping him for the slightest reason, and repeatedly. Timmy decides to call the zombie Fido and the two become friends, inasmuch as you can with a Z-dude.

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No Jason? Wot’s it all aboot?!?

Friday the 13th: the series” – (Canada 1987-1990)

Those familiar with this series know it has bugger-all to do with the movie franchise. Nada. No Jason Vorhees here, eh?

In this series from Canada, made when cars were in their cubist period and hair was BIG, an old dude by the name of Lewis Vendredi (meaning Friday in French, geddit?) has second thoughts on the deal he made with Satan and gets his soul repossessed as a result. [Insert current political jokes here]

Watch ole’ Lewis (R.G. Armstrong) buying the farm:

His antiques shop is then inherited by his nephews Micki Foster (Louise Robey) and Ryan Dallion (John D. LeMay). Soon after they take possession of the shop and try to decide what to do with it, they meet Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins), a man who used to do business with the dear departed uncle. Or is that deported to hell?!?

Can they trust this old dude (he’s well above 30 and into the occult)?

Can Micki keep her fiancé panting whilst deciding which conditioner is best?

Can Ryan decide whether channeling Andrew McCarthy is a good career move?
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Monday is Columbus Day

Hmmm… Since Monday’s a holiday (happy Columbus day everyone), no mail, no Netflix. No matter, I do have a film to review for Wednesday’s Midnight Movie Madness. Woof!

Meanwhile: the postman always shoots twice.


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Behold, a pale van

The horseman” – (96 minutes, Australia 2008)

Not to be confused with “the horsemen” (USA2009)

I’m really not a fan of revenge movies, I don’t particularly care for the “Dirty Harry” series, much less “Death Wish”. You can guess by extension, that the so-called “torture porn” movies are even less my thing as far as entertainment goes.
The Australian film “the horseman” seems on the surface to fit in neatly with at least the first two, but “horseman” is more of a Western for me.

Watch the trailer:

Strange? Maybe, but would you consider “the searchers” (John Ford, 1956) a revenge movie..?
The language of Westerns is spare, and plain. Surviving in the face of great odds and hardships, natural or otherwise, dictates humility and economy.

Some films have clever dialogue and good one liners. It is telling that the imdb page for “the horseman” has no ‘memorable quotes’, not one, and that is a really good thing. This isn’t Schwarzenegger or Tarantino territory.
I will not include spoilers in this review. The premise is that a man receives news of his daughter’s death under more than questionable circumstances. We understand from the first few minutes that she was a runaway, and had taken part in some cheap, semi-underground porno.
The man (Peter Marshall) wears a pest control uniform with his name, Christian, on it. Make what you will of the occupation or the name.
When Christian finds out about the porno film, he sets out to find the people who made it and kill them. The majority of reviews call this a revenge movie, and again, I don’t see this as Christian’s motivation. Rather, I see a man needing cleansing from the filth that reached him through his daughter.
He was done and ready to go home about mid-way through the film, there was no desire to keep on killing, especially after having bonded with a runaway (Caroline Marohasy) the age of his daughter, he’d done what needed doing.
The cinematography is stark, shadows are intense and light feels at times like a harsh glint. In fact, watching Christian’s face is like watching the planes and contours of a steel hammer. Reading his expressions is noting the imperfections in the metal, Marshall’s performance is minimalist and perfectly suited and nuanced.
His violence is purposeful, as opposed to the sadism demonstrated by another later in the film. And for realism, simply keep in mind a scene involving a handcuffs’ key, and later on, the way a man sounds after getting stabbed in the chest (no, not with the key).

There is nothing pleasant about “the horseman”, thankfully. It is however very well acted and suspenseful, a proper and very distinct descendant of “get Carter” (Mike Hodges, 1971) and should make first time director Steven Kastrissios someone to keep an eye on. The same certainly applies to the cast, Marshall in particular.

The horseman” gets 4 jellybeans.

4 beans


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