Monday, December 12, 2005

Corpses Are Forever-2003

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I've watched this three times. And not because I wanted to. Even after three viewings, I still couldn't figure out exactly what to do with I decided to cop out and cheat. In 1994, Roger Ebert utilized the Devil/Angel on my Shoulder technique to review The Hudsucker Proxy. I'm going to use that here because, well, it's just easier this way.

I find Ebert's little angel and devil perched too upon my shoulders, only for some reason they're dressed in 70's fashion a la Truck Turner, which I'm not surprised by, nor do I have a problem with. And, thank God, they are dictating this review of Corpses are Forever.

Angel: Oh, gee, how fun is this? A Zombie/Spy movie. With spies and zombies. And an exciting, intricate story and a B-/Horror Movie All Star Team cast, the A-list of the B-list! Jose Prendes, who wears many hats on this production, plays Malcolm Grant, a CIA operative injected with some sort of DNA-based...uh...stuff, which allows him to live through someone else’s memories. In this case, serial killer, Quint Barrow, also played by Prendes...

Devil: Wait. Just wait one minute. What does Prendes do on this film? Okay, he stars, playing two characters. He wrote it. He directed it. He's also credited for producing, co-scoring, and special effects. "Wearing many hats" could be a more pleasant way of saying "spreading self too thin." Now, the writing. What you call an exciting and intricate story, to me, seems like a lot of blah, blah, blah for the sake of being "exciting and intricate." I've watched this three times and I still don't completely know what's going on half the time, and it's not for the lack of ability to figure it out. I just don't care enough to. Okay, the fact is that I didn't even watch it three times. On the third viewing, I got about a third of the way through, and I just couldn't go on. Hell, one could figure out the end of Chinatown easier a third of the way through! And frankly, I question the writing if they think it's a logical idea to have our hero driving around in an old convertible during the zombie menace. Are you saying that, as a writer, he thought it would work, and as a director, he had a choice between what worked for the story and what he thought would "look cool" and he chose the convertible (with the top down, mind you)? This is a guy who has written 31 scripts and 9 books in 4 years...what is it they say about quality over quantity?

Angel: Well...hey, he had a lot on his plate. It's a lot of work, directing and acting. Maybe it was more coherent in the script stages, but sometimes there are distractions and not everything is covered as well as he'd like them to have...

Devil: Hence, why it might have been a good idea to leave the acting to the actors, and concentrate on the directing. The film leaves me with the feeling that if it wasn't going on within five feet of him, he didn't care. I mean, there’s a scene in which Richard Lynch is addressing his little army of commandos. He's got a map on a large, plate glass window. And through said window, one can witness lots of things, like cars driving by, people pumping gas. You know...civilization. During a zombie apocalypse. Unless that was a zombie pumping his own gas, I could be mistaken. Someone could have maybe suggested, I don't know, moving the map and the scene to a wall and not a window. And, I understand that maybe Prendes' access to hundreds of people willing to play the undead may have been limited, however, a little fancy camera work and he could have made that group of twenty look like a group of 50, or even one hundred. But no. Someone had a zombie holocaust and no one invited the zombies. Sort of disappointing. That, and the fact that most of them are from the Flyboy-from-Dawn, bent-ankle, foot-drag school of zombidom. Was there no direction for them?

Angel: Okay, Mr. Grumpy Trousers, as I was saying about the've got your Richard Lynch, who gives it his all, and saves the film, really. Brinke Stevens plays Dr. Thesiger, maker of the DNA stuff. Linnea Quigley, who, while still delivering her lines in that strangely flat monotone, manages to come off as being downright cute, even covered head to toe in blood. Debbie Rochon plays Marguerite, Grant's love interest, who enjoys plastic clothing and being not so very nice all the time. Felissa Rose plays Gina, a woman infected by a zombie and on her way to becoming one. Conrad Brooks...doing what Conrad Brooks does, which most, I'm sure, can guess. Bill Perlach plays the preacher, and frankly, I found him to be the most enjoyable character. Last but not least, a quick appearance from Don Calfa, playing Jack Stark, Grant's former boss.

Devil: I love the cast. I do. I have a real soft spot for these actors and actresses. Lynch can indeed be commended for his performance. Brinke and Linnea will always be cherished among genre fans. Rochon is a favorite; she's got the best attitude. We're all happy to see the return of Rose to the genre. Conrad Brooks...well...yeah. Anyway. Bill Perlach is a wonderful fresh face and I do hope to see more of him elsewhere (I'd also like to see him in focus.) And Calfa. Well, who doesn't love Don Calfa? It's a real shame all his lines were unintelligible due to bad sound (was that actually a jet flying overhead that I heard?)

Angel: Oh, there you go...pick, pick, pick.

Devil: Sound is an important part of the film, unless you're making a silent film. Which maybe Prendes should have considered doing, especially after listening to his accent as the Quint character...what was he? English, Aussie? Did he even have the accent in later moments of the film?

Angel: Shut up. Maybe the sound guy just sucked.

Devil: Well, obviously the sound guy sucked, but you don't shoot a whole movie and not realize your sound guy sucks. Unless, of course, you're too busy acting and you don't notice...

Angel: Why? Why are you being so incredibly critical of this man's efforts? You like other low-to-no budget films. What is it about this film in particular that bothers you?

Devil: That's a good question. There are a lot of things that bother me about this film. But I think primarily, it's the fact that there's nothing about this film that made it impossible to shoot on DV. But he chose 35mm. Thus eating probably most of his $200,000 budget, which came from a trust fund. If it was shot on DV, he could have spent more money on the wardrobe, which looked as if it could meet the demands of any high school play. Or maybe the effects, which probably would have sufficed at any backwoods Haunted House/Hayride. He could have paid for a real sound guy. He could have maybe put some money out for a long lens, with which to shoot the overly choreographed fight scenes, which, as is, are laughable. Who chooses to shoot a fight scene from a slightly elevated angle, thus revealing every more-than-a-foot-away-from-the-zombie's-face miss? Maybe he could have compensated his actors and actresses better, at the very least. It's maybe a little upsetting to me that there are a bunch of indie filmmakers out there that could've spent this money more wisely and made a better quality, more entertaining film. But they just don't have the trust funds for it. It just seems...I don't know...self-indulgent. Much better has been done for much less.

Angel: Such as...

Devil: Clerks $27,000. The Blair Witch Project, $60,000. Just recently, the documentary Super Size Me, $65,000, and that guy ate McDonald's three times a day for a month on that budget...

Angel: Okay, I get the picture. But...but...*sigh*. Fine, you got me. Do we want to describe the story anymore?

Devil: No, we don't.

Angel: Grab a beer?

Devil: Absolutely.

I'd like to thank Roger Ebert for saving me, and also the Cohen brothers for making a mediocre film.


Blogger Mike said...

I agree with the Devil 100%

9:44 AM  

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