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I took the 120 recommended movies over at Wikipedia, discarded half as having no real connection to the genre, watched 61 movies and reviewed 38 of them. The one third I didn’t review were either really horrid or had nothing to do with post-apocalypse. Some I reviewed had the same flaw, but were either good to watch or so bad I had to warn you off. “The Happening”, not post-apoc, got reviewed. “Cyborg”, only post-apoc in plot structure but in reality being nothing more than chop-suey set in the future ( and a very improbable future where the ammo had run out but someone had the resources to construct a high tech cyborg for little apparent reason ), was not reviewed. Hey, it’s all subjective. Some were unavailable such as “Damnation Alley” which I’ve never seen. “Def-Con 4” wasn’t available on DVD, although I’ve watched it on VHS many times and loved it. Despite the low budget, one of the best of the bunch. I didn’t review it since I only included those I viewed immediately before writing up.
DAY OF THE DEAD
Rated NR, 1985
Director George Romero
The first Romero zombie film showed what story over budget could do. The premise was good, surviving an attack on your rural retreat. The second one ( Dawn ) was more of the same old flesh tearing zombie fun, with a bit of counter-culture/anti-consumerism thrown in, but not worth watching. Its remake was actually a lot better, post-apocalypse wise. The remake of “Day” was a horrid affair and unworthy of mention ( it came across as teeny-boppers horror story, part 486 ). But the original “Day”, this one, was pretty darn good. Oh, there was plenty of flesh consumption. A lot of running from zombie dudes. Plenty of gunfire, a better budget. But the main thing that surprised me, the trait that made this flick a good genre film, was the sense of post collapse shelter mayhem. Let’s go back to the seventies and eighties when the Evil Empire was running amok and good little capitalists were soiling their whitey tighties in fear and loathing. For the love of God, we’re all going to die! The Russkie pukes are going to lob a few thousand nukes at our butts and we are going to die a horrible and elongated death!
Back then, fallout shelters were a pretty warm and fuzzy piece of equipment to own. If you had your shelter, or were thinking about crowding into a public shelter ( if you could find one still operational ), you stood a pretty good chance of living through the Commie attack. Of course, there was one big problem with shelters. They were very small. That was a lot of reinforced concrete and air filtration equipment you needed to finance. Even the government couldn’t be extravagant with the things ( this was before when they actually taxed and spent rather than just printed and spent, and before we sent our whole economy over to China ). There was a real problem of shelter psychological behavior. How would Joe Six-Pack handle the idleness, enclosed space, and prospect of his wife blowing around outside as radioactive dust? In layman’s terms, how do you keep everyone from going batcrap crazy? American’s have little ability to live in crowded conditions, under a starvation diet, with no prospects outside other than a dirt scraping primitive existence. And that is what I loved about this movie. It really captured that sense of isolation and mental breakdown that goes along with living underground as civilization ends.
I vaguely recognized a few of the actors. I don’t know if that because they had generic pretty-boy features or if I’d seen them in other B-movies. But I didn’t notice any household name types. They did a very good job. There was no hackneyed acting. The story, while taking its time to explain and explore, moved along at a reasonable clip. The zombie action was scaled back until the end attack, so that didn’t get in the way of the group dynamics. In essence, a last ditch effort ( as the world is zombie overrun ) by the government to put together a science team protected by a squad of soldiers is hampered by the lack of planning. The scientists have a lack of good equipment, and all the efforts at finding a cure are too hampered to do much. The lead scientist just wants to domesticate the zombies. The soldiers just want to kill all the flesh eaters. And everyone is at each others throats as they slowly go nuts. It doesn’t portray people at their worse ( although that pretty much happens ) so much as making their descent into madness very believable. It is very easy to replace zombies with world wide thermonuclear was and the danger of fallout.
Genre Rating- damn good. I think one of the better ones.
Nudity Rating-a very disappointing lack of any skin.
Overall Rating-perhaps a bit dated, but still much better than a lot of crap they are putting out today. Still enjoyable, and highly recommended.
THE TRIGGER EFFECT
Rated R, 1996
Elisabeth Shue, Kyle MacLachlan
This wasn’t a post-apocalypse movie, not by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn’t even really a disaster movie in the conventional sense. It was also a hit-you-over-the-head-with-our-message movie. And yet, this was a darn good movie. I’ve seen it three or four times. What this film does is point out how ill prepared people are, and how the great unwashed masses will react when their comfortable life is disrupted. By example it highlights what mistakes to avoid. So, while not a post collapse movie it is a great preparedness movie and thus worthy of your time and money.
Here we have your typical suburban Yuppie couple. At the movies a ghetto member ( unfortunately they let anyone into the movie theatre ) is talking trash to them and they desperately avoid a scene. Not unreasonable, but sad. Their remodeling contractor is selling them shoddy service. They are totally dependant on their doctor answering the phone in the middle of the night, and calling in a prescription. In short, totally dependant on the system and money. No self sufficiency, no family nearby to help. No clue what to do when the lights go out. I think the genius in this movie as portraying this couple as completely normal, everyday people. They aren’t sad sacks, losers, uneducated. They are successful middle class surviving the only way they know how in today’s consumer society. The dad isn’t portrayed so much as a wimp as more constrained by social mores. The wife isn’t so much a ball buster as an equal partner and having an equal vote. In short, their only sin is not being aware they should be worried, they should prepare.
The lights go out over the weekend. Three or four days and all hell breaks loose. Before the lights go out, their baby needs medicine. The doctor will call it in in the morning. But the electricity is cut first. And the phones are down, as are the radios. It seems like total grid down ( remember, this was way before the Y2K scare profiteering ). Dad can’t get the medicine, and as the kid keeps screaming and carrying on he decides to steal it. This is greeted by delight by mom, who it seems has a bad girl past ( read-slut ) and likes the new criminal that her meek and mild husband turned into for a moment. She is fixing to give it up when dad’s friend comes sneaking around and scaring them. Blah, blah, they talk about the power being out, exchange rumors. Nothing known. It is decided that the next day the two guys are going to go to the gun store for defense. Neither knows spit about guns and wife is totally against it. They both feel guns are ooky. But at least the need for macho posturing pushes dad into some sane thinking. They go to the store, which has a long line. No handguns, 15 day wait ( this must have been written before California made long gun purchases included in the wait ). Idiot dad trades a $600 watch for a $100 shotgun and a box of shells. Then plays around with it like a toy. Then they all get drunk and the two guys are pissed at each other because of the whole unspoken sense that the bitch is thinking about hooking up with the stronger male if this is real end of the earth stuff. Bitches have no loyalty. Take your money then leave you.
Then the bitch throws the shotgun into the pool ( with the ammo ). Now, E is a pretty hot babe and I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers. But throwing the $600 shotgun into the pool? I’d seriously consider wife abuse. Because after the drunk bitch did that they are awoken by a burglar rooting around downstairs. No shotgun, thanks a lot stupid bitch ( not that any of them are too bright- between the three of them they carried $60 in cash for all emergency purchases ). So one has the butcher knife and the other a baseball bat ( the friend had stayed over ). They let the dude get out of the house and then trip the car alarm and tell him to drop the loot and leave. The next door neighbor comes over and sees the criminal with a switchblade and drops him with his rifle. Does dad act happy or grateful? Hell, no. Acts all butt hurt. At least he lies to the cops about the drop gun the neighbor plants on the corpse. But they are never buddies after that ( when normalcy improbably returns at the movies end ).
They decide things are too hairy so they decide to leave for Colorado and wife’s parents house. Of course, they take off without enough gas to finish the trip. And with a wet shotgun and soggy shells. A slightly irrational dude on the road steals their car after shooting the friend. Dad runs back to the farmhouse for help. Stranger doesn’t trust him, he runs back to the disabled car the stranger had left, then back to the house with the shotgun ( way to leave the wife and child unprotected so you can go steal the guys car ). And then it pretty much ends happy. Guy ends up being helpful and not shooting him. Ambulance shows up to save friend ( who survives despite a huge ass bullet, blood lose for hours and shock ). Lights come back on. Everything is normal. And the message is hit over your head. Trust other people. Don’t take the law into your own hands. The government has got your back, yo ( this was before Katrina ). All total crap, but you can forgive the happy ending.
*Genre Rating-piss poor.
*Nudity Rating-piss poor.
*Overall Rating-damn fine. A valuable lesson in how the sheep will act and justify themselves.
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