Scary or Die & Rise of the Zombies

Posted: 03/07/2013 in Movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Zombie Movie Night: March 2013 was filled with familiar faces. Unfortunately, known actors tend to raise expectations, which is always a treacherous road to take when dealing in zombie movies.

Scary or Die

Scary or Die

Scary or Die is a series of horror short stories. The description would have you believe that they’re interwoven, but aside from sharing some characters on a very thin level, they really have nothing to do with one another. There are five stories and some are longer and more developed than others. The first story features Golden Zombey Award Winner, Bill Oberst, Jr. as a radical anti-immigration advocate and is the film’s purest zombie tale. The second and third are supernatural tales with no zombie elements. The fourth features the cover-boy clown-monster who has a lot of zombie characteristics. It stars Corbin Bleu, who my brother pointed out is a star of the High School Musical franchise (while giddily jumping up and down and clapping his hands). The final story is very short and contains a woman rising from the dead as result of voodoo magic.

THE GOOD: I may be biased, but I felt that the zombie portions of this film were the strongest. If Oberst’s short was expanded into a full movie, I probably would have enjoyed it. The clown story was enjoyable and a fun little twist on a typical zombie infection tale. It also featured a clown giving double-barreled middle fingers, biting someone, and then pirouetting down the street! How could you not love that?

THE BAD: Although those parts were good, they weren’t enough to carry the whole film. Even the clown story dragged a bit, though it probably was only about 30 minutes long. What really hurt this film’s overall score was the fact that the stories just didn’t have anything to do with each. Even if they weren’t all zombie stories, it would have been nice to have them all tie into one another in more of a Pulp Fiction-y kind of way.

THE ZOMBIES: SoD features traditional, rise from your grave zombies, a voodoo zombie, and an infectious clown zombie. It might be frightening if all of these creatures existed in the same universe, so I’ll give them a Threat Level: 8.

VERDICT: The immigration story gets a B-, Clown gets a B, and Voodoo zombie gets an incomplete. Mixed with the other two stories, the whole thing feels a little disjointed and ends up with a final grade of C.

Current ZMN Rank#59 out of 106

Golden Zombey WatchInfected Clown may contend for Outstanding Zombie, though that’s shaping up to be a tough race this year. This film’s best shot may be at Zombie Origin, as it appears during the first story that the zombies were raised by a combination of blood, piss, and moonshine.

Rise of the Zombies

Rise of the Zombies

If I took the ingredients from five really good meals and mashed them all together with no plan, no talent, and no skill I would present to you a pretty shitty meal. Rise of the Zombies has a lot of ingredients that have worked elsewhere, but is a pretty shitty movie.

Zombie outbreak on the west coast. Survivors find refuge in a prison (because prisons are cooler places to hole up than malls nowadays). Survivors make decisions loosely based on the premise of finding a cure. Stars Danny Trejo (Machete), LeVar Burton (Star Trek TNG), Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl), French Stewart (3rd Rock from the Sun), and Mariel Hemmingway (she looks famous…Manhattan…I guess). The cast is actually what sold this one for me, five names I’ve heard of, how could I pass that up? Unfortunately, they’re also the ones who make this movie such a flaming turd.

THE GOOD: Looks good on paper. I’ve seen all of these stars put in good performances in other stuff (I can’t really vouch for Hemmingway). The scenarios in the film have all worked in other stuff on the Walking Dead: survivors in a prison, emergency C-sections and amputations, questioning purpose in the face of the apocalypse.

THE BAD: Unfortunately, none of it works here. It’s all terrible. Burton’s the only one who gives a decent performance, though his subplot is so separated from the rest of the story that it becomes pointless. Trejo really mails it in. He either didn’t learn his lines or he was just ad-libbing and refusing to do second takes. I can’t imagine someone actually put pencil to paper and wrote the line, “We’re just sitting here….like sitting ducks.” Hemmingway and Suplee are especially and atrociously terrible. I’m talking Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill-level terrible. And I really like Ethan Suplee, he’s never been a star, but he’s been good in everything I’ve ever seen him in: My Name is Earl, American History X, Mallrats, even Boy Meets World for god’s sake! I just don’t get it. I hope for his sake that he’s struggling with addiction or depression or something. (Editor’s note: I don’t really hope that) And while the acting is bad, it’s not the only thing wrong with this film. There are poor set pieces, awful dialogue, emotional moments that don’t hit their mark, and bad special effects, too.

THE ZOMBIES: Pretty standard zombies here. There’s a lot of silly psuedo-science explaining the cause and a half-assed thing with the zombies having an aversion to electricity, but it never really goes anywhere or is integral to the overall plot. Threat Level: 6.

THE VERDICT: I laughed through a lot of this movie, so I can’t say it was totally unenjoyable, though most of the time I was laughing in disbelief. The true crime here has to be lack of effort. Overall, a pretty bad movie, and a disappointing thud of a D.

Current ZMN Rank#88 out of 106

Golden Zombey WatchThe whole damn movie might be up for Best Unintentional Comedy mostly on the poor acting of Suplee and Hemingway and the line-stumbling of Trejo. There is one point in the film where zombies scale the side of a bridge like they’re freakin’ Storm Shadow. That moment might contend for Bizarre Zombie Behavior or WTF Moment.

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