The description for the movie on Shudder.com reads thusly:
A lonely dog groomer in Hollywood searches for love, but his true passion is making weird video art that nobody understands. His menial routine spirals out of control when he meets the girl of his dreams, crossing boundaries between reality and fantasy as he dives deeper into his video experiments.
I guffawed as soon as I read the line “making weird video art that nobody understands.” That sold me on the flick, which I actually found enjoyable, if baffling.
When I first pulled up the flick on Shudder, I was hoping for 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, the supposedly “fun” Romero Dead movie. That’s the one with survivors of a zombie apocalypse live it up in a mall, enjoying all the materialism the late 1970s could afford.
Despite my efforts, though, I can’t seem to locate that flick on any streaming service I use, so Day of the Dead it was. By now the trope of “humans are the real monsters” is familiar to viewers—and readers of virtually any Stephen King novel—but Day of the Dead delivers that trite message in a taut, unsettling way.
I’ve been enjoying my Shudder membership immensely, and it’s pretty much become the main streaming service I watch when I’m viewing solo. Needless to say, I’ve consumed a lot of movies on the service already, so brace yourselves for many horror movie reviews (as if I didn’t mostly write those already).
This week, I’m looking at the horror anthology Creepshow (1982). Horror anthologies can vary in quality, with usually one very strong entry, and then some forgettable duds. Creepshow, for the most part, beats the odds.
I don’t remember when I first saw Creepshow, but I was probably far too young. What I do know is that some of its most iconic, comic-book-inspired images have stuck with me down to the present. I didn’t even know they were from Creepshow until re-watching it all these years later, but they’ve been seared into my brain.
For example, the whole plot of “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill“—which stars Stephen King in his first film role—has always stuck with me (indeed, I have an idea for a short story with a similar premise tentatively entitled “Yeast Man”): the idiot farmer slowly succumbing to the weird alien plant. Ted Danson’s submerged head in “Something to Tide You Over” is another memorable image, as is the flood of roaches entering the impossibly sanitized apartment in “They’re Creeping Up on You!”
Regular readers know that I have a penchant for schlocky horror movies. Knowing this fact well, Audre Myers, a regular contributor at Nebraska Energy Observer and a frequent commenter on this site, e-mailed me last week with a recommendation to check out Shudder, the horror streaming service. She isn’t the first to recommend the service—a colleague of mine has been singing the service’s praises for several months, but I kept putting it off for the same reason folks are slow to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page: whenever I thought to sign up, I didn’t have the time to do so.
Regardless, Audre sent along a YouTube video by Jade The Libra, a woman dressed like a witch and talking about which stores tend to put out their Halloween decorations first. Jade is some kind of Shudder affiliate, and entering promo code “JADE” gives new subscribers a free month of the service.
With that enticement—and without the lame excuse of lacking time—I signed up for the annual membership. Since subscribing (just about five days ago), I have pretty much only watched Shudder. If I weren’t paying a mere $2.15 a month for Hulu—and sharing it with three or four family members—I’d probably drop it entirely in favor of Shudder. After all, other than Bob’s Burgers, I pretty much only watch horror and thriller films on Hulu (as well as plenty of weird sci-fi flicks).
But I digress. That cloying endorsement of Shudder is my long way of introducing the subject of this week’s Monday Morning Movie Review, which is the second flick I viewed on the service. The film is 1960’s The City of the Dead (known as Horror Hotel in the United States—I like the original title better), a story about a coven of witches who have taken over the town of Whitewood, Massachusetts.
Ever since watching 2012’s Robot & Frank, The Great Algorithm at Hulu has been sending more artificial intelligence and robot flicks my way. Each of these movies grapple with the ethical and moral issues surrounding artificial intelligence, chiefly the idea of how human can it really become? Can robots develop souls, emotions, etc.?
In the case of Robot & Frank, Frank largely anthropomorphized the robot, the same way many pet owners attribute human characteristics, thought processes, and motivations to their dogs and cats. Just as a dog doesn’t think in the way we do, the titular Robot did not requite the emotional bond Frank had developed with the adorable tin can.
The featured film of this week’s review, Life Like (2019), explores those ideas further. Instead of a cute, rounded robot, the androids of Life Like are, indeed, life-like: designed to resemble perfect humans, and designed to make their owners happy—whatever that might require.
Another week has rolled by, so it’s time for another Lazy Sunday—one so lazy, I’m sticking to the recent movie review theme. I’m heading into a very busy week with a whopping sixteen tiny campers in Minecraft Camp, making it the largest such camp in the school’s history. I’ve also got a full slate of lessons, including two new students, so I hope you’ll excuse some additional laziness today.
That said, here are three more Monday Morning Movie Reviews for your consideration:
“Monday Morning Movie Review: Boss Level (2021)” – This flick—which features Mel Gibson as the chief villain—is a fun, action-packed romp through a quasi-video game scenario: every time the protagonist dies, he starts the whole day over.
“Monday Morning Movie Review: High-Rise (2015)” – A sci-fi parable for classism in 1970s Britain, High-Rise stars Loki (Tom Hiddleston) as a man caught in the middle—socially and physically—of a high-tech tower rapidly descending into decadence and chaos. Not a film for everyone, but it’s a good ride.
“Monday Morning Movie Review: You’re Next (2013)” – 2013’s You’re Next is a refreshingly taut suspense and horror film that I actually had seen some years earlier, before inadvertently—but fortuitously—watching it again. It follows a wealthy family as they’re picked off, one by one, by a group of masked assassins. It will keep you on the edge of your seat—and away from your windows.
That’s it for this cinematic Sunday. Enjoy viewing these films!
The plot of the film involves a mysterious illness or curse that enters a remote Korean mountain village when a Japanese tourist arrives to town. The malady causes victims to develop glowing red eyes and dark skin, as well as odd contortions of their bodies. Ultimately, sufferers kill their entire families.
It is near the beginning of this curse that Officer Gong-joo witnesses a naked, wild-eyed woman banging on the doors of his police substation during a thunderstorm. Gong-joo and his partner hide behind their desks, debating about who will check on the naked woman, but the woman has fled by the time they muster the courage to investigate. At a crime scene a short time later, they find the woman, along with her family, dead or raving violently at their burned out home.
It is established early on that Officer Gong-joo is a pitiful loser, but he loves his daughter, Hyo-jin, a predictably adorable little Korean girl. Gong-joo cheats on his wife, shirks work responsibility, and is the laughingstock of his police precinct. He is a coward and an utter failure, but he is—in spite of it all—a good father.
When his beloved daughter comes down with the strange curse, he has the opportunity to prove his courage.