Episode 183 – ABCs of Horror: Y is for Yokai

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We’ve arrived at Y in our ABCs of Horror series, and we are discussing the “Yokai Monsters Trilogy” (that’s not a real trilogy) of ONE HUNDRED MONSTERS (1968), SPOOK WARFARE (1968), and ALONG WITH GHOSTS (1969).

Episode 183 – ABCs of Horror: Y is for Yokai

THE DEAD DON’T DIE [Film Review]

THE DEAD DON’T DIE

R – 1 hour and 45 minutes – Release Date: 14 June 2019 (USA)

Written and Directed By: Jim Jarmusch

Starring:

Bill Murray as Chief Cliff Robertson
Adam Driver Adam Driver as Officer Ronnie Peterson
Chloë Sevigny as Officer Mindy Morrison
Tilda Swinton as Zelda Winston
Tom Waits as Hermit Bob
Danny Glover as Hank Thompson
Selena Gomez as Zoe
Steve Buscemi as Farmer Miller
Caleb Landry Jones as Bobby Wiggins
Carol Kane as Mallory O’Brien
Rosie Perez as Posie Juarez
Iggy Pop as Coffee Zombie
RZA as Dean

The quirky residents of the small, quiet town of Centerville find themselves overrun with zombies as the dead start to rise.

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One of my favorite comedic bits is when a person, who has fallen on the ground, is screaming for their life as a steamroller approaches. Then we get a wide shot of just how far away the steamroller is, but the person continues to scream and flail until the slow-moving steamroller finally finishes them off when they easily could have gotten up and walked away unharmed. That’s Jim Jarmusch’s zombie-comedy THE DEAD DON’T DIE in a nutshell to me, at least the tone of the comedy. Yes, there is some skin deep social commentary, but this film is way more about being an odd-ball, idiosyncratic, deadpan, wacky, and totally self-aware take on the zombie genre.

The story mainly revolves around Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray), Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver), and as Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) as they try to make sense of what is happening and how to keep the citizens of Centerville safe. Much has been made of the cast, and they are all amazing, but the true stand out to me was Adam Driver. His dry-wit, deadpan shtick playing against Bill Murray’s straight man routine was a delight. Tilda Swinton also seemed to enjoy every second she got to play the beyond eccentric, new mortician Zelda Winston.

Jarmusch does explain why the zombie outbreak happens, and what social commentary he adds to the film comes from this information as well as a few other scenes. Where George A. Romero’s social commentary cuts like a scalpel, here it’s metered out with a sledgehammer in the most unsubtle ways possible. It feels like Jarmusch is content with just shining a light on issues like global warming, rampant materialism, racism, fascism, homelessness, and addiction instead of giving us a study on the subjects. So we get quick scenes of zombies searching for wine, coffee, toys, and wifi over real thought provoking moments.

My only complaint was I wish I had more time with the weird, but interesting, characters in town before the undead began to eat their way through the cast. Besides that this was pretty much exactly what I was hoping for when I first watched the trailer. This film won’t be for everyone, and I think many mainstream moviegoers who check it out starting next weekend will walk out disappointed, but if a seriously dry sense of humor (and repeating jokes) is your cup of tea you should be thrilled with this new entry into the zombie sub-genre.

The Podcast Macabre – Episode 181 – King Of Monsterpalooza

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As we wrap up May, we also wrap up the last of the Mosterpalooza panels Joe recorded for us! This round we have Q&A’s for GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, the soon-to-be-released THE GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR, and HALLOWEEN (2019).

Episode 181 – King Of Monsterpalooza

BRIGHTBURN [Film Review]

by Joe Meyers

BRIGHTBURN – Rated R – 1 hour 31 minutes – Release Date: May 24, 2019 (USA)

Directed by David Yarovesky

Written by Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn

Starring:

Elizabeth Banks as Tori Breyer
David Denman as Kyle Breyer
Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon Breyer
Jennifer Holland as Ms. Espenschied
Emmie Hunter as Caitlyn
Matt Jones as Noah McNichol
Meredith Hagner as Merilee McNichol
Becky Wahlstrom as Erica
Gregory Alan Williams as Sheriff Deever
Annie Humphrey Annie Humphrey as Deputy Aryes
Steve Agee as EJ
and…Michael Rooker as The Big T

Tori and Kyle Breyer, a couple struggling to conceive a child, find a baby in the wreckage of an apparent U.F.O. crash landing that occurs on their Brightburn, Kansas farm. They name him Brandon, decide to raise the boy as their own, and tell everyone they’ve adopted. Around Brandon’s twelfth birthday his parents begin to see a shift in his personality and, to their eventual horror, this very familiar superhero origin story morphs into something closer to “We Need To Talk About Kal-El.”

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Director David Yarovesky and the Gunns have set up a wonderful world, just begging to become a franchise, with BRIGHTBURN. Yes, they’re obviously playing off the Superman story, but there are hints of Garth Ennis’ THE BOYS and Robert Kirkman’s INVINCIBLE here too, mixed with some serious slasher movie vibes. The result is a lean, mean, dark and twisted super-villain origin story.

Jackson A. Dunn does some heavy lifting as Brandon, skirting between a normal pre-teen kid and the monster he becomes in a believable way. I couldn’t help but think of WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN as events unfolded. While the script doesn’t dive into the dramatic side of things like that film did, it’s certainly feels like an influence, and Jackson mines the same darkness as Ezra Miller did in the role of Kevin.  Elizabeth Banks and David Denman were great as the parents who take in this alien being as their child. Seeing their initial denial of what Brandon was becoming, to questioning if they were being willfully ignorant of what was happening, to finally witnessing their acceptance and how they deal with it was heart wrenching.

The effects were amazing, especially the level of gore the film provides at times. I wasn’t quite expecting that, and it was a welcomed surprise.  There’s a scene involving an eyeball that hasn’t made me cringe that much since Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBI 2. This is really where I felt the inspiration from Ennis’ THE BOYS, showing the carnage of how normal people would, or wouldn’t as it were, hold up against super powers being used against them.

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I felt like this film was made just for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of its lean run time. It surely won’t be for everyone, and I could actually see this finding a niche audience not unlike producer James Gunn’s 2010 film SUPER. As I left the cinema all I could think about is where they could go in this world from here. I crave a further bizzaro swap of character roles by seeing a Lex Luther type begin to hunt down evil, super-powered beings, Van Helsing like, after the events of BRIGHTBURN. Questions also swirled around my mind of where Brandon was from, if he was the last of his kind, or if he was sent to conquer Earth ahead of a full on invasion. There’s so much potential, so much more to discover, and I hope it’s all able to be explored in the future.

 

Episode 179 – Remakes: The Reboot

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We felt it was time to start revisiting some of the topics we discussed in our formative episodes many moons ago, and the first one on the slab is remakes and reboots! Have a listen as we give our personal top ten lists of remakes and reboots, and be sure to check the links in the show notes for the Letterboxd companion list and where to listen to the episodes from the dark ages.

Episode 179 – Remakes: The Reboot

Letterboxd companion list

Voices From The Vault (Episodes 5 & 6)