Movie Review: ABC’s of Death 2 (2014)

The follow up to the original film makes you rethink your fragile existence with 26 more interesting short films of bizarre deaths. Not all of these are horror (though many are). The plots range from sadistic killers to vacations gone bad to children’s fantasies gone awry. Most are live action, but some are claymation or animated. Some send chills down your spine while others are quite poignant, and another references The Three Stooges.

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Some of Radio Of Horror’s favorites: A is for Amatuer gets the ball rolling with an action packed romp about a beginner level assassin. The most bizarre short was D for Deloused directed by Robert Morgan who is known for directing Tool music videos which are also bafflingly creepy. Believe that this stop motion animated freakshow of beheadings and bugs will make your skin crawl. E is for Equilibrium  switches the tone to something completely different with castaways fighting over a woman who washes up on shore. Then F is for Falling tugs on my heartstrings with the story of a female Israeli soldier whose parachute gets tangled in a tree is found by an armed Palestinian young man, in just a few short minutes Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado tell a modern story more gorgeous and heartbreaking than “Romeo and Juliet” that ties into current affairs that seem intangible and far away to much of the West and instantly it’s relatable, it’s just fascinating.

H is for Honorable Mention: H is for Headgames is an interesting concept: a man and a woman kiss and it turns into a surreal power struggle. I am a huge fan of Bill Plympton and I really wanted to like this one a bit more than I did. It was good, and instantly recognizable. I’ve been a geek for Bill Plympton since I Married a Strange Person came out in 1997 (just kidding, I was 12. I probably watched that for the first time in 2003).

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Bringing the horror: The contest winner (chosen from 541 submissions); M is for Masticate takes a turn for true crime and reminds us all about bath salts (did everyone just smarten up real quick about those or what?) and it was great, both humorous and terrifying. Hajime Ohata’s O is for Ochlocracy a mother protecting her child from zombies finds herself not in a struggle for survival but a legal battle when zombies are “cured” and coexist. S is for Split sees an ill fate for one half an unfaithful couple. In Jen and Sylvia Soska (The Demon Twins of Berlin in American Mary)’s T is for Torture Porn a woman harassed at an audition gets her hentai on. U is for Utopia gets sci-fi, big brother meets cosmetic culture when an unattractive man is targeted in a crowd of the fit and well groomed. V is for Vacation gets gritty and real with killer prostitutes. French actress Beatrice Dalle appears as a creepy and unstable babysitter in X is for Xylophone. Z is for Zygote creeped me out …mostly because the idea of being pregnant for 13 years is terrifying.

This film has many high points, although it is up for debate which ones are king. With bites from various genres, demographics, weapons of destruction, style and sentiments there is something for everyone. And it’s worth watching for that alone. Most of the actors are unknown and so the only thing to judge on is the direction, which is something so rare in the typical reboot and sequel cinescape, that’s what really makes this unique (even if it is the second time). The showcasing of new or relatively unknown directors with cult favorite directors made for innovative and enticing bites of film.

Worth the watch -just put down the popcorn during D for Deloused.

4/5

Produced by Ant Timpson and Tim League, distributed by Magnet Releasing.

Have you watched? What were your favorites?

“Blog Carnival” Post: Stereotypes & Monstrous Metaphors

I’ve talked before about those misogynist werewolf societies, which could be of relevant interest. But today: Today, my friends, I would like to talk to you about the zombie apocalypse. Or rather, how the outbreak of zombie survivalism relates to the American Dream.

The horror genre has always been an outlet for expressing society’s concerns and fears. While Zombie’s have been huge since Steppenwolf’s heyday, It’s undeniable that the zombie genre and dystopia in general has become freaking huge lately.

Zombies, the faceless hungry mob themselves, and their reasons for shambling have changed immesely since 1968.

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In the classic Night of the Living Dead, zombies rise as a result of crashed space junk. Specifically a radioactive satellite that crashes unexpectedly after a mission to Venus and the corpses of the recently deceased rise to their feet in search of human flesh. With an abundance of nuclear testing during that time period:

The Cold War and Space Race in recent memory, Americans didn’t know who to trust. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of zombies, our survivors hole up in a good American farmhouse to make their last stand. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) and the 2004 remake saw survivors and zombies alike flocking to the mall in a dig at consumerism and capitalism. Concern over limited resources, class divide and American’s working day in and day out on autopilot to buy… things.

More recently, zombies don’t crawl out of their crypts. They’re living humans infected by rampant viruses and contagions that turn rational people into drooling, spitting and primal corpse munchers. Because these are our fears. Nuclear testing has brought forth no reanimated corpses. We made peace with our consumerism. But viral outbreaks, new illnesses, fear of vaccines and GMOs? That’s right on the money.

The Newsflesh trilogy saw a “zombie virus” amplified in previously healthy humans after well intentioned do-gooders douse the population with a vaccine that when mixed with another common treatment went seriously awry. The Dire Earth series has zombies created by aliens, which is a rarity and harkens back to Romero’s original. But in both these book franchises, zombies (or subhumans) are facts of life, some run, some crawl, some shamble. Recent dead are more human in movement and quickly degrade.

28 Day Later brought fast zombies to the forefront way back in 2002, and the fast zombie train keeps speeding along with 2012′s World War Z. 2009’s Zombieland, zombies in the gamerworld: ZombieU and the Left 4 Dead franchise, hell: Plant versus Zombies: the “walking dead” will run after you, Marvel Zombies had running, fighting suped up zombies. A critique of the fact that we don’t even have time to wait for zombies to come get us? I’m sorry I’m too busy, I can’t wait for you to shamble on over here. And in response, the zombie genre evolves and they will come get your brains!

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Zombies always have stood for the fear of being condemned to being part of a starving faceless mob, or being part of a hoarde with no autonomy for yourself any longer. More often than not the government is useless, selfish or behind it all. Another scathing jab at the state of affairs. With unemployment up, a major divide between classes and overall distrust of mainstream media and world leaders it’s not surprising we have seen a resurgence in this genre.

World War Z, the most recent zombie flick I’ve seen treats Gerry as special, but casts out his family after they think he is dead because the UN only has resources “for essential personnel” and with Gerry perceived incapacitated, they have no reason to care for his family any longer (in a poignant snark about how we treat families of veterans, or veterans themselves when they are deemed unnecessary, unworthy or whenever they are done with them). But it is clear beyond clear the Gerry has special privilege, (soldiers jump in front of teeth and bullets for him) that isn’t touched on in zombie flicks that follow non governmental employees:

Class divide affects people in all sorts of ways. People are afraid of being poor, afraid of being faceless and unable to control themselves (zombies), people who fancy themselves working or middle class are concerned about the ubiquitous “other” trying to come and take what is there’s (zombies AND other humans fighting for a space to call their own). Modern life as a battlefield for resources, for safety. Fortune favors the prepared and the resourceful. Zombies don’t care about what you last name is or if your jeans (or genes) are designer. And we know that you can’t trust “them” no matter what that means this decade. Unlike other horror movie creeps, ghosts, vamps, ghouls, wolves: zombies have no power, no goals beyond shambling and eating. No one wants to be a zombie. Survivors: If you work hard, you can rebuild, you can survive. And really isn’t that the American Dream?