Dominic F. Marceau is back after a small bout with food poisoning with more coverage from the 2004 FanTasia Festival in Montreal, Canada. Today Dom takes on the best (Shaun of the Dead- review) and worst (The Last Horror Movie) of the festival so far, with still more to come this week! Read on for the MSG of a lifetime…
By: Dominic F. Marceau
Today’s episode: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
Never buy Chinese food off the back of a truck! Words of wisdom. Actually, my wife didn’t buy the source of all our gastro-intestinal troubles from a truck. But, in retrospect, it sure felt like she did. As reported my Mr. Disgusting, I did quite a bit of “praying at the porcelain altar” yesterday. There’s nothing worse than bad Chinese food. It sure makes you realize that you can’t beat a home-cooked meal. But once in a while, I do like me some Cantonese Chow Mein. I should have known something was wrong while we were eating when Henry, my cat, was meowing like there was no tomorrow. Maybe my wife and I were eating his long lost Chinese cousin… I guess we’ll never know… So, after buying stock in Pepto Bismol, my tummy was all fine and dandy. My wife, on the other hand, got it today. Weird. Delayed indigestion. That’s new… We were supposed to go check out “Evil Dead: the musical”, which has been playing here for a couple of weeks. But, alas, it wasn’t to be as singing and dancing “Deadites” aren’t a priority when you feel like ****! Being a gentleman, I didn’t want to go by myself and have her resent me for doing so. I knew she wouldn’t have but still. So, that freed me up to go see “Shaun of the dead” AND “The last horror movie”. Thank God! You’ll see why in just a bit.
After a very impressive trailer for the upcoming film “Eternal”, that made desperate to see it, and an even more impressive trailer for this Sunday’s eagerly awaited film “Nothing” (I’m counting the seconds until 3 P.M. this Sunday!), my jaw literally hit the floor.
I had been lucky enough to see Shaun of the Dead (review) a few weeks ago, but the copy I got was a shoddy full screen edition. Being the nit-picking bastard that I am, I checked out imdb.com to find out its correct aspect ratio. There, in black and white it read 1.33:1, i.e.: full screen on a regular television. (This has since been corrected.) Imagine my surprise when I finally saw this gem of a film in all its 2.35:1 cinemascope glory! I felt like the apes at the beginning of “2001: A space odyssey”! What a sight! This film blew me away on my (albeit) large television set. Imagine thirty-six feet wide! I can’t say enough about Concordia’s facilities. Yeah, some of the seats suck, I’ll give you that. But when your eyes and ears are getting the Royal treatment, who cares about your ass? That’s why people need to go to the movies more often! That is also why people should make sure any and all information they have is accurate before they post it on a website… You won’t find such a problem on this site, I can tell you that! But I digress. Here is the skinny on “Shaun of the dead”…
Shaun is a loser. There’s no denying it. He hates his job, and he hates his roommate, Pete. In fact, the only things he cares for are his mate, Ed, and his sweetheart, Liz. But things aren’t as hunky dory as they seem. Liz can’t stand Ed, who is “living” with Shaun and Pete. When I say “living”, I mean he’s been crashing on their sofa for a while and doesn’t contribute anything to the flat. But Shaun thinks he’s a “laugh”, so that’s where his pot-smoking, Playstation 2-playing carcass resides. Liz finally decides she’s had enough with Shaun and tells him their three-year relationship is all but done. She tells him he has no direction in life, spending all his evenings drinking at their local pub: the Winchester. So Shaun decides to put some order in his life and tries to win back the heart of his dearest Liz. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. He tries to do all this while the entire British population is being overrun by zombies!
To tell you anything more about this brilliant piece of work would make you curse me out for years and years. This is, without a doubt, the single best homage to the recently reanimated (no pun intended) zombie genre. For all those of you who think that Peter Jackson’s “Dead-Alive” is the be all and end all of comedic zombie films, think again! “Shaun of the dead” surpasses Jackson’s gore-fest by leaps and bounds! It works better on absolutely ALL levels. It’s smarter, the jokes are funnier, the gore (while less “wall-to-wall”) is more effective, and there is a real heart to all of it. There’s genuine emotion to back up all this humor. You will laugh, you will be grossed-out, you will be sincerely touched, in other words, you will be entirely and utterly satisfied. I cannot recommend this little gem enough! Since Universal has picked up the North American distribution rights, there is a great chance that this baby is going to play in your neck of the woods. Unlike these old-school “slow” zombies, RUN to see this film! You’ll thank me for it!
I am elated that I didn’t wind up seeing “Evil Dead: the musical” because I would have missed “Shaun of the dead”, and wound up only seeing our next feature presentation: The Last Horror Movie. That would have sucked on so many levels! Here’s why…
A pretty young waitress is closing up her diner, which is strangely lit like the eighties classic “Vamp”. She hears a noise. She walks slowly, hamming it up, asking it anybody is there. She bends down to pick something up and we see a creepy man, holding up a large knife. Then, just as he’s about to carve her up like a Thanksgiving turkey, the screen fuzzes out. White noise and monitor static. Then appears the face of a man, staring right into the camera. He tells us that he’s decided to tape over the horror film that we have rented. He wants to show us a “real” horror film.
What follows is the biggest Goddamn rip-off I have ever seen. A blatant and extremely pale imitation of the brilliant Belgian film “Man bites dog”. You thought “Natural City” owed a lot to “Blade Runner”? You haven’t seen anything yet! This is absolute plagiarism. A cameraman follows a serial killer on his daily routine of rape, murder, and mayhem. While “Man bites dog” had the most charismatic serial killer to ever grace the silver screen, in this case, we have a guy who does everything in his (limited) power to act like Christian Bale in “American Psycho”! While “Man bites dog” had the main protagonist interact with the camera crew that followed him, in this case, we have the same boring bloke talking to us about this, that, and the other thing. While “Man bites dog” made us care and even love its charming main character, in this case, you just want him to shut the Hell up! About halfway through, this reporter had had enough. So, without hesitation, I left the theatre, really pissed off. This film is a one trick pony that broke its legs right out of the gate. Don’t promise me originality when all you’re going to give me is something that’s reheated! If I want something that’s reheated, I’ll just throw my leftover Chinese food in the microwave.
Like that’s ever going to happen…
Cut to credits.