Archives for posts with tag: Warm Bodies

Little Bit Zombie poster

Steve (Kristopher Turner) and Tina (Crystal Lowe) are, despite their cutesy neuroses, happy together and engaged to be married in a week.  The only problem is that Steve is starting to get cold feet – literally – after a plague-carrying mosquito bites him and turns him into a brain-craving corpse.

Neither the first nor the last romantic comedy to consider itself cleverly different and adorable for featuring a zombie in love, A Little Bit Zombie does nothing to distinguish itself from the rest of the horror comedy pack.  With its derivative ideas, cloyingly broad comedy, indomitable preciousness, and the nearly nonstop yammering of Lowe as the shrewish, controlling Tina, A Little Bit Zombie is, sadly, a little bit of a chore to endure.  Even the gratuitous gross-out humor, including an homage to Bloodsucking Freaks, gets old before very long.

The film does, however, have a polished look to it, and supporting players Kristen Hager and Shawn Roberts (who resembles a muscular Seann William Scott) are attractive and fun in their respective roles as Steve’s sarcastic sister Sarah and macho, raunchy buddy Craig.  Stephen McHattie (a poor man’s Lance Henriksen) is also picturesque as rugged, no-nonsense zombie-hunter Max.  Still, it can hardly be said to count in a film’s favor when the mosquito that bites the protagonist is one of the most sympathetic characters.  Consequently, ICA advises potential viewers to skip it and watch Warm Bodies (2013) instead.

2.5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Little Bit Zombie is:

14. Pro-gay.  “I support your decision,” Craig jokingly says of the idea of a hypothetical homosexual zombie wedding.  (cf. no. 5)

13. Anti-religion.  “Holy fuck, dude.”

12. Anti-German.  Craig, overhearing talk of shit-eating, asks if the reference is to Germans.

11. Pro-wigger.  “My bad,” concedes Max.  “Thug life,” comments Craig at Tina’s plan to abduct a stranger for Steve’s nourishment.

10. Gun-ambivalent.  Firearms are fetishized in picturesque moments, but are not employed with consistent wisdom.

9. Anti-obesity.  More than one fat zombie meets with flippant disposal.

8. Anti-family.  It is at Steve’s family’s cottage where the fatal bite occurs.  Steve has a dream mocking stereotypical 1950s domestic bliss.  Craig makes reference to Steve’s “fuckin’ freak family” and also calls them the Manson Family.  Max’s father left him to fend for himself in a Filipino jungle.  He says he would unhesitatingly shoot his mother in the face if she became infected with the plague.

7. Drug-ambivalent.  Craig and Sarah are both secret smokers.  Drinking makes a dupe susceptible to abduction.  One drunk urinates on another.

6. Anti-police.  Tina suggests that they ensnare a police officer so Steve can eat his brain.

5. Anti-redneck.  A local yokel sits outside and stares with open-mouthed fascination at the sun.  Craig calls eccentric meat market proprietor and gun aficionado Capt. Cletus “Admiral Redneck”.  Cletus refers to Craig as a “queer-lookin’ feller”.

4. Un-p.c.  Steve kills a rabbit by biting into its skull.  A “team-building” exercise is described as “retarded”.  Craig more than once calls Steve a “gay-ass zombie”.  “I hate the Portuguese,” Tina confesses.  Max calls a hybrid a “fucking hippie car.”

3. Feminist.  “I could teach you to cook,” Tina offers, eliciting a disgusted sigh from Sarah.  The pair outsmarts a “big scary guy” by using their womanly wiles.  Women fight and wield guns with comfort and effectiveness.

2. Pro-castration, celebrating the sensitive, wimpy man in Steve, a fellow for the “workplace conflict resolution initiatives” who allows his fiancée to micro-manage his life.  Craig, after playing the macho man and advising Steve to “grow some nads”, wimpily asks him not to tell Sarah that he smokes.  He also cops out in the end and apologizes for calling Steve a “gay-ass zombie”.

1. Pro-marriage.  Tina sticks by Steve despite his disconcerting condition.

 

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abraham-lincoln-vs-zombies

As little excuse as the execrable Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter had to exist, the coattail-clawing clunker cash-in Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies has even less – and it knows it.  Dimly lensed, indifferently scripted, and uninterestingly cast, this tale of a covert mission behind enemy lines to halt a Confederate zombie plague is itself no livelier than a lumbering, moaning member of the living dead.

Stifling any potential from the beginning is the film’s confused sense of its own identity.  With a ridiculous rip-off premise begging for high camp comedy treatment, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies opts instead to play its material straight, offering only the driest and crumbliest crumbs of attempted humor and usually preferring to bore the viewer with Spielbergian solemnity and sentimentality: “Be brave, Abe.  You’re resolute.  You know what must be done.”  The titular zombies, laggards all, provide paltry suspense as America’s worst commander-in-chief (Bill Oberst Jr.) again rises to the superheroic occasion by shooting and slicing through the evil hordes with his trusty populist scythe – or is it a commie sickle?  (Like a good Jacobin, Lincoln prefers to behead the unenlightened.)

Had it been made in 1990, starred Leslie Nielsen, and laughed at itself with a go-for-broke gonzo parody approach, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies might at least have had the potential, like Nielsen’s Repossessed, to become in retrospect a cheesy and groan-inducing but ultimately pleasing artifact of lame comedy nostalgia.  As is, however, the film offers next to nothing to make it worth the viewer’s while.  “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here,” Lincoln says as part of his Gettysburg Address – and no more fitting tribute could possibly be paid to Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, a wholly superfluous, tedious, and forgettable offense on film.

A star and a half.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is:

7. Family-ambivalent.  “I’d rather start a family and ride horses,” Pat Garrett (yes, the Pat Garrett, played by Christopher Marrone) says when Lincoln suggets he enter politics or law enforcement.  “An appealing path, to be sure,” Lincoln concurs.  It should also be noted, however, that the president’s superhero origin prologue depicts him executing his own zombified mother.  (Cf. Warm Bodies no. 6)

6. Class-conscious.  “What would the cream of Washington society make of you, my dear?” John Wilkes Booth (Jason Vail) muses judgmentally, contemplating a whore as she sleeps.

5. Feminist/pro-slut.  A poor, oppressed prostitute excuses her whoredom by complaining that the oldest profession is the only work available to unmarried women in her area.  Old unprogressive fogey Stonewall Jackson (Don McGraw) objects to the presence of a “fallen woman”.

4. Bi-partisan.  General Jackson redeems himself by joining forces with Lincoln and, like Dr. King in Django Unchained, playing the sacrificial honky.  “We are all Americans.”  All of the biologically and morally unsalvageable corpses, however, must be exterminated.

3. Anti-white.  Mary Owens (Baby Norman) hints at the symbolic significance of the plague when, describing her own zombification experience, she says, “It’s like a fog is descending . . .”

2. Statist.  Lincoln avuncularly passes the torch to future fellow office-abuser Teddy Roosevelt (Canon Kuipers), who gets to perch on the Great Emancipator’s shoulders to aim his rifle over a wall and pick off zombies.

1. Anti-racist/anti-slavery (i.e., pro-yawn on both counts).  “I’m not your boy,” token black character Wilson Brown (Jason Hughley) sasses when someone good-naturedly calls him “m’boy”.

A cute horror romance aimed at silly girls and daters, Warm Bodies imagines a post-apocalyptic America in which the last living people have barricaded themselves behind high walls against the teeming zombie hordes outside.  As in Rhodesia, manpower is precious and young people are expected to contribute to national/species security by serving in paramilitary units that go on foraging missions beyond the walls.  Grigio (John Malkovich), leader of the human resistance, even sends his own daughter Julie (Teresa Palmer) and her boyfriend (Dave Franco) on an assignment to retrieve medicine from an abandoned clinic.  Their group, unfortunately, is attacked, with most of them being eaten by zombies; but, to her surprise, one unusually sympathetic corpse named R (Nicholas Hoult) takes pity on Julie and helps her escape from the horde.  The forbidden attachment formed between Julie and R (which, one assumes, stands for Romeo) sets in motion a Montague-Capulet dynamic, complete with balcony scene, with the pair of pulse-crossed lovers lost in a conflict of attrition between the seemingly irreconcilable biological imperatives of the dwindling living on one side and their eaters, the dead, on the other.

Why people became zombies in the first place is never made clear, though it seems to have had something to do with a collective abdication of the heart.  The dead, who preserve themselves by eating brains, decompose gradually, losing their humanity until, reduced to feral skeletons or “bonies”, they pounce like velociraptors on any heart that beats.  Hunger, whether for flesh or love, is one of the themes of Warm Bodies and finds its expression in a favorite song of Julie’s, Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart”.  The gaunt appearance of the end stage of zombification suggests that privation, whether literal or emotional, may be a cause of the plague.  R has no memory of his life, but assumes that because he was wearing a hoodie, he may have been unemployed.  The superior standard of living enjoyed by Grigio and the humans suggests that the human-zombie conflict may be one of haves and have-nots, an interpretation reinforced by R’s theft of Julie’s boyfriend’s expensive watch.  An expository montage introduces a possible political element by flashing the headline “President Infected”, indicating that Obama, whatever his role, is somehow a party to the plague – perhaps through his promotion of conventional and class warfare? – or maybe just another all-too-human victim of whatever human frailties are to blame.

As the shufflers in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead congregated around a shopping mall, pointing to consumer culture as the zombifying agent, the zombies in Warm Bodies gather in and around an airport, possibly invoking 9/11 as the traumatic cultural cataclysm.  One of the corpses, a former airport security guard, continues robotically waving a body screener, unable to extract himself from the War on Terror’s police state mentality.  If George Bush is to blame for the zombie plague, then the antidote, Warm Bodies may be naively hinting, is a detoxification in the form of love and transnational brotherhood to rid the body politic of the selective xenophobia standardized as America’s foreign policy.  Whatever its intentions, Warm Bodies need not be taken too seriously, as it functions just fine as a funny and involving zombie romcom.

4 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Warm Bodies is:

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

8. Drug-ambivalent.  Prozac receives a sarcastic reference when the abandoned clinic is found to be stocked with it, perhaps indicating that too much medication has contributed to the allegorical zombification and societal disconnect and collapse.  Julie, however, is fond of liquor.

7. Gun-ambivalent.  Julie frowns on her father’s macho and, to her mind, closed-minded reliance on firepower, but also uses a gun to defend herself from the bonies.

6. Anti-family.  Parricide is in one instance a necessary act of self-defense.  Julie has to defy her father at every turn to save her love and facilitate a peace.

5. Bi-partisan.  The film encourages compromise, characterizing both the militaristic nationalism of Grigio and the soullessness of the bonies as bigoted, extreme, and destructive.  Warm Bodies invites the moderate elements of both sides to recognize the humanity in those across the aisle.  This process is vindicated when a pack of hungry zombies, witnessing Julie and R’s affection, feel stirrings of warmth within themselves and eventually join the humans against the bonies, who, however, are never allowed to redeem themselves and must be exterminated.

4. Antiwar.  Grigio’s shoot-to-kill policy toward the zombies makes peace and reconciliation impossible and almost results in R’s real death.

3. Moderately egalitarian.  Medical treatment provided by living humans – Ozombicare, if you will – helps to rehabilitate and integrate the salvageable elements of the zombie population.  They are then allowed to mix freely with the normal humans.  The bonies, however, represent the degradation and savagery, expressing itself in cannibalism, to which redistribution of wealth in its extremities of implementation is prone.

2. Pro-miscegenation/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  Apart from the human-zombie romance at the story’s heart, there is the recurring appearance of a zombie black boy and white girl pair who parallel Julie and R’s discovery of interspecies amour.  “Corpse”, Julie explains to her girlfriend Nora (sexy but underutilized Analeigh Tipton) is just a word humans invented to label a state of being they fail to understand.

1. Alien-delugist.  Apart from the automatic association of a border wall with America’s illegal immigration problem, the alien element of the zombie horde is made explicit by the inclusion of one corpse wearing a turban.  The biological regeneration of R and other zombies, Warm Bodies suggests, demonstrates that foreign undesirables can be successfully assimilated and refashioned into productive Americans.  The film ends with the great border barrier crumbling to the ground, presumably under the weight of its crotchety old hatefulness, so as to usher in the rainbow-riding Age of Amexiquarius.

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