Monday, October 08, 2007

When there's no more room in hell...

It's October, fiends. Time to drag the decomposing bodies out of the basement, cut down the guy hanging in the closet and listen to the clatter of the skeleton bones as they move to the spectral music of their cemetery dance.

There's just something about the first chill of the air, the wind whipping leaves around the yard, the frost on the Jack O'Lantern that tells us it's nearly Halloween.

Over 35 years ago I went to a drive-in movie showing of Night Of The Living Dead. It was gory, it was fun, but I didn't think it would start a trend in horror movies still popular today. I guess to a young horror movie audience saturated with killings and gore from video games, it's only natural to seek out that stuff.

Of all of the zombie movies, my personal favorite is Shaun Of The Dead , which is a really sharp satire on the whole zombie movie genre. The title is a pun on Dawn Of The Dead, the 1979 original by George Romero, which my wife and I saw on its first release. Walking into the theater that day 28 years ago I saw the employees all wearing black t-shirts that said, "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth." I wanted one of those shirts and asked the kid taking tickets. His response was a blank look and a "Huh?" It appeared the zombies weren't all on the screen.

******Speaking of splatter films (which is what most zombie movies are), I saw 300 recently. It's supposed to be about the Battle of Thermopylae, when 300 brave Spartans took on the whole Persian army. It's based on a graphic novel I haven't read, and probably won't. 300 is all glitz, gore and glamour. One critic said if he stood next to the guys in the movie he'd "spontaneously grow ovaries." That's funny, but there's no mistaking how buff everyone is in this film. My guess is the actors all took several months in the gym with personal trainers before filming started. Not only that, makeup was used on the muscles to "model" them, give them more definition. It's plain to the eye.

There's hammy overacting, especially on the part of the lead, Gerard Butler as King Leonidas. He hardly speaks below a roar, and his mouth makes the shape of a square. I notice most of the actors had some form of British accent. That's because British accents are very pleasing to American ears but also sound "foreign" to us.

The movie's action and scenery is courtesy of CGI special effects. The blood flies in big dollops, streams and sprays; heads are chopped off, arms, legs. Jolly good fun, I'd say!

The movie is aimed at a very young audience, at least mid-to-late teens, those most likely to play video games. It's aimed at comic book fans, although that core audience wouldn't support a movie costing over $100 million to make. It's also aimed at gay audiences by parading the beefcake. There's even some fetish stuff, with chains dripping off Persian king Xerxes, in a bit of weird non-historic costuming.

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