Archives for posts with tag: anti-war

dead trigger

This campy and stupid but fun mid-budget entry in the based-on-a-video-game zombie subgenre serves as a decent geriatric Dolph Lundgren vehicle. Here he leads a team of “dead triggers” – losers and outcasts recruited by the government to take on suicide missions in zombie-infested warzones – into post-apocalyptic Terminal City, “Ground Zero” of a plague that for years has enriched monolithic arms-and-pharmaceuticals conglomerate Cyglobe. There’s nothing here that people haven’t seen before, but fans of the genre will probably like it, bad CGI and all.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Dead Trigger is:

[WARNING SPOILERS]

Retro-feminist, introducing not one but several tough-girl ass-kickers of the supermodels-in-tight-outfits variety. “My father wanted me to join the military, but I always wanted to be a scientist.” Yawn. If this movie were really progressive, the representatives of womanly resourcefulness would be fat, heavily tattooed, pierced, and/or trans.

Euthanasist. People have a “right to die”, and “the more we kill, the more we set free.”

Anti-Christian. A preacher (James Chalke) is depicted as a drunkard, and a zombie outbreak in his church serves as an excuse to show Lundgren slaughtering his parishioners. Probably in an ass-covering move, this scene is then revealed to be a sequence from virtual-reality gameplay.

Anti-corporate. Cyglobe has purposefully prolonged the zombie war to profiteer. Any anti-war posturing one might discern in this movie is, however, wholly insincere. “You know, I realized something,” says Tara (Autumn Reeser). “What’s really left of our humanity. It’s us – the humans left to fight. Because despite everything, we still care.” “Humans”, as far as Saban Films is concerned, are those still willing to fight Israel’s wars.

Obama-ambivalent. Dead Trigger was released by Israeli-American Democrat megadonor Haim Saban; and, just as there was a vacillation in Saban’s attitude toward Barack Obama and his Middle East policy, so there is an ambiguity to Dead Trigger’s characters needing to reach and cross the zombie-besieged and curiously named “Obama Bridge” to make their way to safety and escape Terminal City.

Anti-Russian. Dead trigger vet Martinov (UFC fighter Oleg Taktarov) of course turns out to be a traitor who sells out his team to Cyglobe.

Neoconservative – but also playfully conspiracist, perhaps even straying into Revelation of the Method. “Ground Zero”, the designation for Terminal City, where the zombie outbreak (and hence the interminable zombie war) started, immediately calls 9/11 to mind. Linking the zombies with Muslims – rather like World War Z – one scene occurs in a zombie strip club with Arabic architectural motifs; and, again recalling 9/11, Captain Rockstock (Isaiah Washington) tells one zombie, “Have a nice flight”, before throwing it from a balcony. “Ground Zero” is said to contain secrets that could lead to a cure for the plague. In a possibly related development, two zombie-hunting characters known as the “Twins” (Alyona Chekhova and Seira Kagami) are revealed before they are killed to have been in the employ of Cyglobe all along, thus evoking the concept of the “inside job” in conjunction with potentially 9/11-relevant “Twins”. Immediately following this moment is a scene in which dead trigger Naomi (Natali Yura) recounts an Alice in Wonderland fantasy and her desire to lose herself down the “rabbit hole”.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Maximum Overdrive (1986) ****  Maximum Overdrive is a unique movie in that it was not only written but actually directed by author Stephen King; and, while it may have met with a less than glowing reception from critics and is not the best of the many films of the 1980s to have been inspired by the author’s work, subsequent viewings of Maximum Overdrive can reveal much more to appreciate and consider than might at first be obvious in its tale of a hostile planetary takeover by cars, trucks, radios, and other previously harmless electronic wares.

Even on the first viewing, Maximum Overdrive is a fun, somewhat silly and random speculative adventure, and perhaps a broad satire of man’s fear of technology as a potential Frankenstein’s monster that might turn against him; but further reflection concedes that King is up to more than one might at first imagine. To wit, the whole film can be seen as a commentary on the military-industrial complex and how it and war are driven and validated by America’s consumerism and debilitating reliance on labor-saving devices.

In one scene, a shady-looking young black man (Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito) appears to be seduced and hypnotized by an arcade game that flashes a series of abstract symbols at him: a star, zig-zags (like the stripes on an officer’s sleeve), and a plus sign (cross), indicating how religion and the media dupe young men into mindless stupors to make them subservient to the state and recruit them for the respectable but deceptive video game violence of military service. Christianity receives abuse throughout Maximum Overdrive, particularly through the person of a tawdry, cartoonishly hypocritical Bible salesman (Christopher Murney).

A little military wagon with a mounted machine gun appears as the director of the trucks at one point and leads them in the siege of the filling station, Gas World, a sequence that may seem somewhat dull or inconsequential on the first viewing, but which takes on greater significance as it becomes apparent that this, the need for fuel to power the trucks that deliver our consumer goods, is too often what drives the lust for conquest on this planet.  A blurb at the end credits aliens for the events of the film; but substitute the Bilderberg Group for the aliens and the story of their plot to exterminate the population of Earth with their commandeered “broom” of man’s own technological creation is straight out of Alex Jones’s worst nightmare.

Maximum Overdrive does have its failings.  After a wildly entertaining first forty or forty-five minutes, full of distinctive action set pieces, disgusting humor, and sight gags, the film slumps into a decrescendo and slows as the ensemble cast, headed by young Emilio Estevez (between That Was Then . . . This Is Now and Wisdom) and his tough romantic interest Laura Harrington, take refuge in Gas World’s diner, the Dixie Boy, where they will stay for the remainder of the story.  Enlivening the proceedings throughout, however, are a soundtrack of appropriately electric AC/DC tunes and a colorful set of character actors in the supporting roles.  Apart from the aforementioned Murney, Pat Hingle is nicely slimy as crooked, self-satisfied Dixie Boy proprietor Bubba Hendershot; and Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) and John Short provide even greater comic relief as hick newlyweds Connie and Curtis.

The climactic action sequences, when these finally come, fall short of fulfilling the stunt-packed promise of the zany exposition, a few huge explosions notwithstanding, so that Maximum Overdrive is ultimately a flawed near-classic but still recommendable for watching and occasional rewatching.  Stephen King is commended by Ideological Content Analysis with a respectable 4 out of 5 stars.

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