The Cultural Gutter

unashamed geekery

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Riffing Zombies and Incredible Time Travellers

James Schellenberg
Posted November 1, 2012

I’ve missed the spooky month of October by one day, and probably rotted my brain on too much Rifftrax. In lieu of coherent thoughts, here is a compilation of recent observations.

A Sick Sense of Dread in the Pit of the Chest

Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead is one of only a few movies that will keep me up late at night, if I happen to see it come on TV. I’m not sure why. It’s not exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but it does have Sarah Polley (yay!) and Ving Rhames (yay!), and does anyone else remember Kim Poirier from the old interstitials that Space used to run at the end of the hour?

In any case, when I watch the movie, I get a really physical sense of dread that accumulates in my chest. It’s almost immediate, considering how quickly the nightmarish events begin in the movie, and it doesn’t let up, really, even after the credits have started rolling. I’m generally not a fan of horror, or at least, I very rarely get that same sense of physical fear from other horror stories. I wonder if this is something I’ve just not heard talked about much – maybe horror fans feel that way about most horror stories or movies? For me, it’s definitely a zombies-scare-me thing, since 28 Weeks Later, another relative non-masterpiece, is one of the other flicks that always grabs me.

I’m a bit iffy on Snyder’s movies. His 300 always struck me as so insubstantial as to float away like a wisp, but the full cut of Watchmen (the version including “The Black Freighter”) was curiously and stubbornly non-movie-ish, like a giant block of granite that has just landed on your toe. I dunno, I find that to be kind of an interesting proposition for summer-time entertainment. And his latest, Sucker Punch, was like the worst excesses of those two movies thrown into a blender and set to disguise-paucity-of-ideas-via-eye-candy-and-asylum-misery.

Taking Direct Aim at a Target Long Past

Anyone else watching/listening to Rifftrax? I was out with a cold last week, so I took a little brain vacation and watched the Riffed versions of The Fifth Element, Independence Day, and, of all things, Red Dawn. For those who haven’t given it a try, or who never encountered Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in the old days, Rifftrax takes a movie and adds sarcastic and biting and nerdy commentary in the audio track. Unfortunately, some of it doesn’t rise above the level of Youtube comments or XBox Live insults. Other times, it’s quite witty and on-target.

I had never seen the famous 80s piece of military derring-do before, and I probably never could have summoned up the willpower to do so, without the aid of constant snarkiness. I will also add that the Red Dawn riff is definitely one of the funnier ones I’ve had a chance to listen to.

For the other two movies, I had seen them long ago, probably on opening weekend, and then once or twice since then. And wow, did it ever feel like another era. The Fifth Element was probably a more difficult movie to write jokes for, since it was already such a carefree and ludicrous flick to begin with.

Soundtracky Goodness

Continuing on the movie theme: recently I’ve been looking around for good soundtracks, and was reminded of the jazzy/Bondian goodness of The Incredibles soundtrack. It had been a while since I had seen the movie, so I gave it a spin, and was quite impressed with those Pixar folks. And also: whatever happened to them? They used to make perfect movies.

Now I wouldn’t say that The Incredibles is actually perfect. It’s a little slow, even though that’s the main mechanism that the movie uses to lift itself head-and-shoulders above its competition. Maybe 5 minutes shorter? That said, I still think that the concluding fight, where the dysfunctional set of family and friends learn to work together as a team, is probably one of the best ways of demonstrating a simple fact: one film-maker’s cliche is a more careful film-maker’s perfect conclusion.

The Most Obscure Movie I’ve Seen

Now, I’ll close with a very obscure movie called Summer Time Machine Blues. Maybe everyone else has heard of it and watched it tons of times, but one of the most comprehensive genre movie reviewers, Richard Scheib over at Moria, only reviewed it recently, and it came out in 2005. I had certainly never heard of it until reading Scheib’s piece.

The movie is about a group of university students who are on-campus over summer, and their air conditioner breaks down. Or more precisely, their air conditioner remote breaks down, and there are no external buttons on the unit. Add a time machine, and what do the kids think of? Going back in time one day to get the still-functioning remote of course.

I loved this movie, mostly because the stakes are so hilariously low, but the movie piles on all the same time travel coincidences and loops and contrivances and paradoxes, probably as the whole Back to the Future trilogy in one movie instead of three. It’s really a sight to behold, and it’s quite a treat for genre fans. If you can find it, watch it!

Comments

One Response to “Riffing Zombies and Incredible Time Travellers”

  1. Chris Szego
    November 6th, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

    One of the other delights of THE INCREDIBLES is the short they made about Jack-Jack for the DVD release. Hilarious and spot on, and beautifully fills in some gaps.

Leave a Reply





  • Support The Gutter

  • The Book!

  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).

    ~

    At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip.  Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident.  If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”

    ~

    The Smithsonian Magazine has a gallery of US spy satellite launches. “Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, [National Reconnaissance Office] follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.”

    ~

    At The Guardian, Keith Stuart and Steve Boxer look at the history of PlayStation.“Having been part of the late 80s rave and underground-clubbing scene, I recognised how it was influencing the youth market. In the early 90s, club culture started to become more mass market, but the impetus was still coming from the underground, from key individuals and tribes. What it showed me was that you had to identify and build relationships with those opinion-formers – the DJs, the music industry, the fashion industry, the underground media.” (via @timmaughan)

    ~

    Neill Cameron has re-imagined the characters of Parks & Recreation as members of Starfleet. (Via @neillcameron)

    ~

    Christopher Lee has released a promotional video for his latest album, Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing.  You should probably watch everything at Charlemagne Productions.

    ~

  • Spilling into Twitter

  • Obsessive?

    Then you might be interested in knowing you can subscribe to our RSS feed, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or Tumblr.

    -------

  • Weekly Notifications

  • What We’re Talking About

  • Thanks To

    No Media Kings hosts this site, and Wordpress autoconstructs it.

  • %d bloggers like this: