Halloween Scene: Killer Movie (2008) & Zombie Wars (2006)

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of Big Bang Theory, so after reading over on Horror Movie A Day that Penny herself Kaley Cuoco was in a horror movie, I was immediately interested. Lost’s Nestor Carbonell, Dazed and Confused’s Jason London and Leighton Meester are all in the movie too. For the record, I only know Meester from that song she did with Cobra Starship and have no idea which character she is in the movie. Anyway, it’s not a great movie, mostly because the plot is kind of confusing. There’s a documentary crew in a small town. They say they’re there to film the local hockey team, but in reality they’re there because the old coach went to jail for murder and is now getting out of jail, which is soon followed by several murders of townsfolk and crew members that the rest of the town doesn’t seem to care much about. That’s not so confusing, what had me scratching my head is why Cuoco, playing a Lindsay Lohan-type party girl actress, shows up in town. At first I thought she was from that town, but she doesn’t seem to know anyone there. Then she mentions something about being there to learn about a part. I’m sure it was simply explained and I just missed it but whatever. From there, it’s just a bunch of murders and a reveal at the end that didn’t really surprise me much.

Being a regular Big Bang Theory watcher, I had a hard time believing Cuoco as a bitch. I don’t think she really nailed that aspect of the character, but I’ve also got a bias for her to be a goo character. Anyway, while the documentary crew is there they also talk to the camera as if they’re doing their own documentary about the events of the killings. One of the problems with that is that many of these characters die throughout the course of the movie so how do they report on it? Actually, that reminds me of a funny aspect of the film (and I’m assuming the reason it got a “Comedy” tag on IMDb), at the end as the credits are rolling, the various characters are talking to the camera and explaining plot holes like “Wow, isn’t it great that so and so has a bear trap key on his keychain?”

Overall it’s an okay movie only really worth a watch to see some familiar faces in unfamiliar performances unless you haven’t seen a ton of slasher movies before, then it might work better for you. Just don’t expect a lot of blood.

After being underwhelmed by other low budget zombie movies like The Vanguard and The Zombie Diaries, I wasn’t sure if I would like Zombie Wars. Luckily, it’s a fun and different-enough movie to keep me interested and well entertained. The idea is that the zombie uprising happened a while back and we get to see a faction of militaristic humans doing their best to stay alive and kill zombies. For the most part, these are normal zombies, but they’re smart enough to communicate with grunts and also have apparently developed enough organizational skills to keep a farm of humans to breed and feed on. We’re talking people who are basically grown from babies and kept like animals, like the humans in Planet Of The Apes.

The movie focuses on two brothers in the military one of which gets captured by the zombies and taken to the farm after the brothers rescue some humans from the zombies (some of the hottest, blondest zombie food I’ve ever seen). Anyway, as you might expect, it turns out that there’s more going on that meets the eye and zombies aren’t the only bad guys in the movie.

The special effects are pretty good, the zombie make up is okay and I really appreciate the effort the filmmakers put in to using mostly practical effects. I think there are a few CGI bullet holes in skulls, but nothing nearly as offensive as the effects in Suburban Sasquatch. The film is also not filled with dudes just trying to look cool like in the case of The Vanguard, though the guys do get some cool shots off. They just don’t wallow in them.

What really impressed me is how far these guys were able to go with what I can only assume was a relatively low budget. They’ve got make-up, tons of prop guns and they had to build the camp set. I won’t get into the exact ending, but it’s interesting even if a little obvious and nonsensical. Overall, it’s a good entry in the zombie movie field, though not great and I’m impressed with how much they were able to get for their bucks.

Smokin’ Aces (2006)

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I really, REALLY wanted to like Smokin’ Aces when it came out in 2006. A bunch of us from Wizard were so psyched that we went to see it in the theater and man was I disappointed. I wanted so much for it to be this awesome battle of crazy hired killers killing each other at breakneck speeds. But, that’s not exactly what we got.

So, like I said I was disappointed. But sometimes I don’t like something because it doesn’t match up to my expectations, not necessarily because it’s a bad piece of work. For instance I hated Superman Returns when I first watched it. That sure as heck isn’t the Superman I’ve been reading about since I was a kid (the same reason I don’t like the original Superman movies either, but that’s a discussion for another time). But, upon further viewings I like the movie more. I’m not in love with it (Superman has a KID!) and it’s not even close to my top 20 (maybe even 50) comic based movies. I don’t really agree with the director or writers choices, but it’s a well put together movie.

I can’t say that’s the same case with Aces, though. The movie suffers from all kinds of pacing issues and an overwhelming amount of information, characters and business. Plus, you’ve got the bid end twist (which is incredibly telegraphed, too much I’d say) and then the VERY end is just ridiculous (why the heck would they let him in the room?). The alternate “Cowboy Ending” makes a LOT more sense, though it wouldn’t have made up for the whole thing. I feel like there’s a really good story in there somewhere, but frankly, it’s buried under a mountain of other unnecessary bits of business. The last 20-30 minutes have so many head-slapping and scratching moments that it really kills the movie.

There are some fun moments and bits that have more to do with casting and coincidence than the story. The redneck brothers have a pretty cool shoot-out with blades, guns, a rocket launcher (?) and a chainsaw that’s too short, but still great. Basically, it’s what you expect from the whole movie, but it only lasts a few minutes and resolves itself oddly. Aside from that and one other shoot-out, though, the movie lacks action. It doesn’t lack an awesome cast though. Here’s a brief list: Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Common, Andy Garcia, Nestor Carbonell, Jason “Everything’s Better with Bateman” Bateman and even a small roll for Matthew Fox.

Oh, and those redneck brothers I mentioned? They’re made up of Keamy from Lost, Kirk from the new Trek movie and another guy. Yup that makes THREE Lost cast members in the flick and I still didn’t like it. What are the odds?!

All this being said, I would definitely check out the rumored sequel called Smokin’ Aces: Blowback, though I probably won’t shell out $10 again to see it in the theater. For my money, I’d rather check out a Shoot Em Up sequel, because that movie was exactly what I wanted it to be.