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The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
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Roger Corman knows a good thing when he sees it: he just doesn't know how to make a good thing himself. In his career, he's produced a considerable library of knockoff schlock-fests. What makes a Corman knockoff such a spectacular affair is his proclivity to farm fresh talent at the lowest possible price. Piranha is no exception. The film is directed by Joe Dante and co-written by John Sayles who were, at that time, two eager unknown filmmakers. They were given one month and $660,000 (pricey for Corman) to finish the flick. It was released in 1978 as a parasitic calculation, feeding in the wake created by Jaws. The movie is a beautiful mess, throwing around fake blood and stale dialogue like confetti. The acting isn't all that bad: it's terrible. The one saving grace of Piranha is its cheekiness, which occasionally outshines the shamefully cheap production. It's a barrel of fishy fun, and one of my picks for movies that are so bad, they're good.
GOR is about a nerdy professor (Urbano Barberini) who inadvertently triggers a magic ring that teleports him to Gor, a fantastical land plagued by evil rulers and bad costume designers. Professor Tarl (yes Tarl, as in Karl with a "T"...very sci-fi) is forced to grow a pair and free the enslaved masses from the evil despot Sarm (that's Sam with an "R" thrown in for good measure.) Sarm is played by Oliver Reed. Oliver Reed looks fabuulooooousss. I have no idea why he's in this film, but I will say that the man earns his paycheck. He delivers his lines as if they were from a decent script in a good movie. As if GOR was being filmed by a competent director. As if he was sharing screen time with actors as professional and talented as himself.
Okay. Jack Palance is also in the flick...for about three minutes, apparently fulfilling some minimal obligation required by his contract. I haven't mentioned Jack Palance before this because, despite his hefty billing in the opening credits, he's about as essential to this movie as Jack the Ripper. Palance makes his first appearance just before the end credits. His storyline is so tangential, I'm inclined to think it was spliced onto GOR from another movie. But it can't have been, I guess, because a few of the actors from the beginning of the film are standing next to him.
GOR is directed by Fritz Kiersch - and by "directed" I mean Kiersch likely sat behind the camera, perhaps even while it was on. I say this to distinguish Kiersch from someone who exhibits talent.
George Romero officially started the age of the modern movie with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. His zombies were slow, plodding, and relentless. The terror in Romero's films came from a sense of unavoidable fate...the zombies were never going to stop coming. Eventually, be it by exhaustion, by inattention to detail, or simply by losing the will to fight, you would succumb to the undead.
By the early 2000's, Danny Boyle's 28 DAYS LATER and Zack Snyder's reboot of Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD introduced us to fast moving zombies. Terror came swiftly, and the slow-of-foot were not going to live long. The undead were still relentless, but now they ran like sprinters in a coke frenzy. Zombies from the 60s and 70s were like glaciers; zombies from the 00s were like forest fires.
Enter WORLD WAR Z, the lastest film by Marc Forster. His zombies aren't glaciers. They're not forest fires. They're tsunamis; waves of undead rolling over one another, destroying everything in their path. The visual effect can sometimes be terrifying. It can also be mind-numbing, and that's where I found myself. Some of the moments were too over-the-top to be completely believable, and by the end of the film, I had had enough of zombie tsunamis. Maybe that's a huge endorsement and I don't know it yet. I'll let you decide.
Anyway, there's enough meat in WORLD WAR Z to satisfy the avid undead aficionado. Don't expect to fall in love with any of the characters...there really isn't a lot of character development. This usually doesn't bother me in a monster movie, but in WWZ it seemed like the writers were actually trying, and therefore failing, to make me care about these people. Perhaps I've fallen too much in love with AMC's THE WALKING DEAD to expect anything less than well-rounded meals to feed my undead.
If ever there was a reasoned argument against the use of torture and the suspension of habeas corpus, TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE is that argument. Alex Gibney frames an alarming account of the questionable practices conducted at Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base, and Gitmo.