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Monday October 22, 2007


The original Hostel is probably the most important horror film of the past decade. Almost every single entry into the genre since its release has either completely ripped it off, or seemed severely dated. Birthing the sub-genre of torture-porn, it took gore to the next level unlike any other film before it, and did incredible things for the Slovakian tourism industry. If anything, you’d imagine this sequel would up the ante a bit, at least in the puss, vomit and nightmare inducing originality department. But wow, and no. Hostel: Part II is pathetic, puppy-cuddling bull shit. Even if Eli Roth had made the exact same film as the original, but used different, grosser ingredients, we’d be aroused. Instead, the formula is intact — chicks instead of dudes this time — but instead of blood and guts, the ingredients are rainbow sherbert and gummy bears. And fine, a severed penis at the end. The worst is that Roth blatantly cops out and doesn’t show a young child getting murdered on screen. In reality, that’s the only direction that this genre can go if it wants to stay fun: showing little kids, aged 2-10, getting put through meat grinders and shit while they’re still alive. Until then, lots of big, disappointing yawns all around.

Mmmmmmm. Demi Moore. Hard to believe, but there was a time when she was the highest paid actress in Hollywood. Way before there was such a thing as “sex tapes” and “internet porn”, Demi got paid the mega-bucks to show us her (fake) boobs in Striptease. At the time, her $12 million salary was a record for a female actress. Funny thing about that record salary though — it killed her career. She gave Burt Reynolds a lap dance over a decade ago, and since then? Nothing. She’s been trying to make her big “comeback” for at least four years, but the only thing she’s done of note in this new millennium is buy expensive red string bracelets with her hunky husband, who wasn’t old enough to see Striptease when it was originally in theaters. And why? Why has this former superstar become a virtual footnote? A has been? A washed-up floozy? Well, because she accepted $12 million to show us her (fake) tits a bunch, and then still expected us to respect her as an actress. Big mistake. Like this movie.

Remember when Peter Jackson made good movies? Bloody, ridiculous good times like Bad Taste and Dead Alive? There was a playful innocence behind all the blood and brain eating madness; a childlike joy in creating rivers of blood. Well, Jonathan King’s zombie sheep movie brings it all full circle. Oddly, also from New Zealand, Black Sheep has all the good natured, light-hearted humour rarely seen these days, and is so totally ridiculously fun it’s hard to be too angry about the fact that it’s just not scary. But you never feel like it’s missing the mark, because its mark is to have fun, make a comedy and have a bunch of cute wittle sheep eat peoples faces off and then have those people turn into human sheep zombies. And you know what…it’s hard to argue with that.

Back when this movie came out in theaters, we ran a real good interview with director Andrew Currie who explains things much better than we can. But this zombie comedy is still a fun one, and yes, it’s made in Canada. It’s about a small town somewhere (think Beaver Cleaver America and Douglas Sirk*) where owning a zombie is the latest status symbol. Little Timmy and his family have just got a zombie named Fido, who, despite being a dangerous brain eater, becomes Timmy’s best friend. It’s a little like Frankenstein meets Blue Velvet but with zombies. Things inevitably go wrong (as one would hope with any zombie movie) but it’s a beautifully shot comedy/melodrama about politics, intolerance and family all rolled into one weird little movie.

* Douglas Sirk: A 1950’s German melodrama filmmaker who fled to Hollywood during WWII. Known for colorful and beautifully composed movies, he’s most famous for Magnificent Obessession, All That Heaven Allows and Imitatons of Life about two women, one black one white, both mothers, who share lives in a fifties, slightly racist way, but it’s sort of about race, so… and features a funeral song as sung on screen by Mahalia Jackson, something unheard of at the time. Famous for films marketed to women, or women’s weepies (because his films were considered fluffy) they were often subject to less scrutiny in regards to complying with the Hays Code, and therefore managed to retain some of their subversive and critical considerations regarding the reality and cost of chasing the American Dream.