Reviews of Music, Movies and More…

Yet Another Review Collection

Shakefire.comThe Shakefire site is relaunching soon. Until then, enjoy the old site and these reviews that I wrote upon it.


Oh, and yes, I’ll still be reviewing after the relaunch.

Warm Bodies

warm_bodies_film_posterKicking off what I hope will be the triumphant return of Zombie Wednesdays here at Aim for the Head, I bring to you a classic tale of boy meets girls. Or zombie eats girl… or, well, he doesn’t eat her. Not on camera anyway, that would get much higher than a PG-13 rating.

I’m talking about Warm Bodies. Based on the book, it is the story of Romeo and Juliette set in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world and casting Romeo as a zombie. And as dumb as that sounds – like Twilight levels of dumb – surprisingly it works.

The movie opens with R and he… wait… they put the first 4 minutes of the movie online, so why don’t you just watch them:

So, he’s a zombie, and then we cut to the survivors, living in a walled off section of the city, struggling to survive. And we meet Julie, daughter of the man in charge who isn’t happy with the status quo. She, her boyfriend and a few others head into the unreclaimed city to search for medical supplies. Things don’t go well for the survivors, but R and Julie meet, and R saves Julie from being eaten. And the movie goes on from there…

I don’t want to spoil the film, so I’ll stop talking in specifics. Instead, I’ll just say that you’ve never seen a zombie movie like this before, in a manner similar to how you’d never seen one like Shaun of the Dead before, but not in remotely the same way. Warm Bodies leans far more toward a typical romantic comedy than it does a zombie horror film, but that’s okay – as I’ve said many times on this very blog, zombies are best as a setting for human drama. The biggest shift you have to make in the world crafted here is that there are two kinds of zombies, corpses and skeletons. The corpses shamble around looking for brains and in their “downtime” they shuffle through almost normal human stuff in normal human places. The skeletons have given up all pretense of humanity, they hunt food with purpose. And like with many zombie movies, the humans are divided into two groups as well, though they don’t get cute names to group them under. One group is content to hide behind a wall and scrounge their survival from the ruins of pre-zombie life, while the other group wants to get back out there and live again.

Anyway… is this the best zombie movie ever? My wife thinks so. I disagree, but I do think this movie is very good and I like the message it delivers in both its subtle and completely unsubtle ways. Most movies about zombies wind up being about hope, or crushing hope depending on how it ends, with a side helping of “people are the real monsters”, but Warm Bodies brings along a message of connection, about interacting with people and looking them in the eye. It isn’t the best zombie movie ever, in my opinion, but it is well worth watching.

Shakefire Ramblings

Shakefire.comHere is another list of reviews I’ve written for Shakefire.


SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 31: Martyrs (2008)


Fuck you.

That really should be the entirety of my review. But I don’t want to be so glib. It might encourage people to see this horrific piece of crap.

Basically, you should only watch this if you like love ultra-graphic gore and sadistic torture. If you don’t like love those things, then you should avoid this movie at all costs.

So, this girl, Lucie, escapes from somewhere that she was clearly being kept and tortured. She gets away and gets put in an orphanage where she befriends Anna. Anna learns that Lucie claims to be tormented by a ghoulish monster. Flash forward fifteen years where Lucie busts in on a family eating breakfast and murders them all with a double barrel shotgun. She calls Anna, tells her she killed the people who tortured her as a child and Anna comes to help dispose of the bodies. Lucie keeps being attacked by the ghoul, but, once Anna is there, realizes it is all in her head, is just guilt over the girl she left behind when she escaped, and slits her own throat. All of this is shown in very graphic detail.

Anyway, Anna discovers a secret basement and a tortured girl, who looks a lot like the ghoul Lucie was fighting. Anna frees her and tries to help her.

It was at this point that I first turned the movie off and uttered the phrase, “Fuck you.” The tortured girl, when left alone for a few moments, is found cutting herself with a giant knife, just hacking away at her own wrist. Eventually, when I calmed down, I watched the rest of the movie.

People show up, kill the tortured girl and take Anna prisoner. The people explain that they are torturing girls to learn the secrets of the afterlife. Anna gets tortured. A lot. Time passes, the movie keeps fading in and out and she reappears each time more tortured. Eventually she’s told that she’s almost complete. Then they flay her alive. Flay. At this point Anna reaches some sort of enlightenment and experiences the afterlife. Not a near death experience – she’s in this euphoria state for over two hours. Then she tells the leader lady something, it’s whispered – we don’t get to hear it. The crazy cult people gather to hear the words of Anna, and while they wait the old lady tells another member to “keep doubting” and then shoots herself in the head. A nice title card tells us that “martyr” is Greek for “witness”.

All that torture. All that disgusting shit. All of it, and I get “keep doubting”?

Seriously, Martyrs, fuck you.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants - Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 30: Planet of the Vampires (1965)

Planet of the Vampires is an Italian science fiction horror film where two spaceships respond to a distress call on an unexplored planet. In their attempt to land, both ships become damaged. One loses its meteor deflector and the other takes engine and hull damage.

In their attempts to recover, it is discovered that some of the crews have become possessed by aliens. Those aliens want to hitch a ride off their dying planet and get to a new planet where they can thrive. Several people try to thwart the plans of the aliens, but ultimately the aliens win. However, the ship is still damaged and won’t make the long flight home. So instead, the aliens turn the ship to the nearest inhabited planet: Earth.

Dun dun DUN!!

Man oh man, the 60s!

There is just something about the way the colors look in movies from that era, especially sci-fi, fantasy and horror stuff. So vibrant! And the sets, caught halfway between realism and totally fake. With fog hiding the sound stage floor. And the fashions! Just look at these space outfits!

I want to make one of those, the male version of course, for Dragon*Con. Except, I’d need to figure out how to make it look that good while being made of a material that breathes.

Anyway, movies of this era can’t really be called “good” but they have a quality that makes them a lot of fun to watch.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames, nijomu

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 29: The Horde (2009)

My second favorite film of SHOCKtober, The Horde is a French zombie apocalypse tale. A group of police are going after a drug lord who is responsible for killing a colleague. They invade the condemned high-rise where the drug lord lives, screw up and get captured. But then zombies happen and they all need to team up to survive.

This movie is sooooo good. Unless you just cannot possibly tolerate subtitles, you must see this film if you like zombie movies. It takes the best elements of an action film and the best elements of a zombie film, and you get a high energy zombie survival action movie that is great from beginning to end.

The Horde is chock full of awesome moments. Bloody deaths, noble sacrifices, stupid people, less stupid people, actual smart people… there is this one moment, that looks a lot like this:

and that the movie reminds me at times of Dead Rising is a huge plus. But it also reminds me of Left 4 Dead as well. In fact, lots of the movie reminds me of a video game, but not in a dumb way like that terrible Doom movie.

It is a crime that I haven’t bought this on Blu-ray yet, but then again, it’s available on Netflix Instant Streaming, where I have watched it three or four times, so maybe I can be forgiven.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames, nijomu

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 28: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby is one of those movies I have avoided for years specifically because everyone keeps telling me how great it is. I’ve done this before, and will continue to do it, because when people build up expectations like that the movie rarely ever meets those expectations. I still haven’t seen No Country For Old Men for exactly that reason – I’ll watch it the minute I can go six months without hearing about how it’s the best movie ever made. (It’s actually amazing how many “best movie ever made”s there are…)

Anyway, I’d always heard about how Rosemary’s Baby was so great and so I never watched it. But with SHOCKtober including it on the list, I did. And as expected, I was underwhelmed.

It was okay. It was slow. I’m not a Mia Farrow fan. There were no shocks or surprises. Every step of the way I was one step ahead of the film, and especially after having seen The Haunting of Julia, the end really wasn’t a surprise at all. Of course, since this movie came first, perhaps it’s Julia that shouldn’t have been the surprise…

Like many of the moody thrillers of the era, Rosemary’s Baby is well crafted. And I’d say well acted, but I truly loathe Miss Farrow in these sorts of roles (which is most of the roles that she plays), the wide-eyed innocent with the soft whiny voice. And really there is nothing wrong with the film, it’s good, it’s just not the best movie ever made, so don’t go in expecting it to be and maybe you’ll end up thinking it is…

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants - Life Between Frames, Blog @ Rotten Cotton, nijomu

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 27: Calvaire (2004)

Calvaire… I don’t really know what to say about it.

Crazy people?

It didn’t make any sense.

What a complete waste of time.

I won’t get that time back.

It’s gone now.


And what did I fill that time with? A guy singing to the elderly? A man with a missing dog that doesn’t exists? Someone having sex with a calf? An innkeeper who emasculates a guest and pretends he is his wife?

Totally not worth it.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Life Between Frames, Blog @ Rotten Cotton

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 26: Triangle (2009)

Of all the movies in the SHOCKtober experience, Triangle is easily my favorite. And that’s saying quite a lot when you consider there are zombie films in this list. It is so good that I don’t want to talk about it. I just want you to go see it. You need to see it.

Yes, it’s a bit bloody. And yes, there are points at which you might be confused. But once you are done, and once you’ve thought about what you’ve seen, go check out this thread where some friends and I (as “jason”) discuss the film.

Feel free to come back here and continue discussion in the comments. I’d be happy to chat about this film with anyone. So, I guess that means the comments might eventually be filled with spoilers. See the movie first.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames, nijomu

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 25: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

If you like movies with resolutions, Picnic at Hanging Rock is not for you.

Students from a girls’ school, along with some chaperons, head to a local geological formation for a picnic. Three of the girls go missing, as does one of the teachers. An investigation happens. One of the girls is found. She doesn’t remember anything. A school administrator dies. The end.

This film is what you get when there isn’t a murderer with an ax stomping around killing the girls. Instead, you have the mysterious nature of an untamed land that no one fully understands simply whisking the ladies away. To what end? We’ll never know.

Director Peter Weir perfectly captured the landscape of Hanging Rock, giving it a character, making it feel at times light and airy and other times like it is almost closing in around the people. Slowly closing in. The pace of the film is languid at best. And it never really delivers a moment of release where the mystery is solved or fates are learning. It hangs open at the end, telling you that no answer is ever going to come. And of course, the pan pipe music adds to the unsettling feel the film drips with.

At the heart of Picnic at Hanging Rock is Australia itself. The image in most people’s minds, and not really too far from the truth, is an island with coastal cities surrounding an ancient Outback where things happen that cannot be explained.

As I said at the top, if you require solutions to your films, don’t go near this one. But if you are okay with not knowing what happened, then Picnic at Hanging Rock is a delightful, eerie film to experience.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames