Sunday, June 7, 2015

Movie Review: Love in the Time of Monsters

We're at an age where pretty much everything has been done in horror movies and comedy movies and, well, pretty much all movies. There now exists an entire subculture of filmmakers who live to make horror comedies, most of which are entirely too self-aware, *wink, nudge*, too-cute attempts at not only ostensibly honoring the horror genre, but lampooning it.

Most of these entries into the genre that I've watched aren't particularly scary or funny or satirical, despite the writers-directors-producers' trying their best to beat you over the head repeatedly, trying oh-so-hard to prove that their movie is the one. (See my recent Zombeavers review.) Meanwhile, you're just watching the same old movie - stupid, promiscuous teenagers off to an isolated cabin where evil-but-hilarious stuff happens. *Yawn.*

Look, I know I sound like a crotchety old bastard, and frankly, when it comes to movies, I am. There's just not a lot of fun or interesting in the movies anymore. Everything is formulaic, disguised as an homage to something else based on some formulaic classic, everything is a remake-reboot-reimagining-rehashing. Plots are secondary, and often so predictable and homogenized that it feels like Hollywood is pissing in every moviegoers'  face. Everyone is too pretty, scripts are overflowing with lazy dick and fart jokes, the nerd gets the girl, the troubled protagonist gets redemption, the good guys win, style trumps substance all the time.

Go ahead, try to think of the last original-feeling movie you watched. The last movie that, when you walked out of the theater or turned off on your TV, just wouldn't get out of your head. Take your time. (Please, feel free to post a comment below with your answer...I'd honestly love to see.)

For the record, my answer is probably Kingsman: The Secret Service, which was just effing fun.

However, we're not here to debate the rather unimaginative state of the movie industry, are we? Pretentious ramblings of a crotchety old bastard (hey, there's the title of my memoirs) are only fun for about two minutes. On with the review!

Ominous and foreboding poster

After I posted my review of Zombeavers, I got a tweet from someone calling themselves Uncle Slavko, telling me to check out Love in the Time of Monsters. Turns out Uncle Slavko is the official Twitter handle for the movie. There was a still from the film attached to the tweet:


Great, another zombified forest creature. After the Zombeaver experience, I was tentative, but @UncleSlavko's enthusiasm was evident, so I figured, what the hell? It's Sunday morning, I'm not wearing pants, and I have about five mini-bottles of booze handy in case this devolves into Zombeaversquirrel 2: Electric Boogaloo.

The movie opens with a scene of a mother and father and their two daughters on vacation, the family fun cut short due to a tragic giant Paul Bunyan monument axe accident taking dad out. (Why wasn't the axe better secured to the statue's hand? The world may never know.)

Fast forward 15 years later, and the two daughters are grown and heading off on a family vacation of their own to Uncle Slavko's All-American Family Lodge, in an attempt to surprise blonde sister Carla's fiancee, who works at the cheeseball tourist trap and to visit their friend Agatha, who is in charge of running things. Brunette sister Marla isn't amused, and the opposite personalities are established.

"Where the American dream goes to die."

One of the attractions at Uncle Slavko's is a nature walk with fake, designed Sasquatch sightings. The team of guys in Bigfoot suits includes Carla's fiancee, Johnny. The leader of the Bigfoot team is none other than Kane Hodder, who you may recognize if he was wearing a hockey mask, since he played Jason Voorhees in several installments of the Friday the 13th movie series.

As the sisters establish their quirky opposite-ness even further (Carla's the cornball idealist, Marla's the wild child), something goes wrong with the Bigfoot crew during their training session - one falls into the swamp, which is, of course, infested with toxic goo (it's always toxic goo, man). A scrum ensues with the rest of the Bigfoot team when they discover their peer's body floating face down in the water, which causes them all to tumble into the toxic-goo-water. Surprisingly, falling into the toxic goo is problematic for the guys, turning them zombie-ish and really causing poor complexions.

Marla's at the bar, trying her best to get into no good with handsome bartender Armando (please say that with a cheesy Spanish accent, thanks), while Carla decides to strip down to lingerie and wait in the employee parking lot to surprise Johnny. Neither of these things turn out well, and the chaos begins. Zombie guys dressed in Bigfoot suits begin attacking the lodge, eating away at whoever they can. Carla flees and is taken in for her own safety by the local grizzled wild man, Chester.

Carla realizes her fiancee is a zombie and, naturally, runs off into the woods in her pink lingerie.

Things get gory as guests and employees are attacked and ripped apart. Guests flee in their cars, leaving most of the remaining crew to hole up inside the lodge as they attempt to figure out why the fellas are eating people and turning to Dr. Abraham "Doug" Lincoln for answers. The doctor informs them that he's missing one crucial piece of the toxin puzzle to create the antidote for toxic-goo-zombification.

Chester and Carla and Dan (the only non-infected member of the Bigfoot crew) sneak back to the lodge and take refuge with the others, sisters reunited. Mrs. Uncle Slavko (played by Shawn Weatherly, who you'll no doubt recognize as Miss South Carolina, Miss America, and Miss Universe 1980, or perhaps as Cadet Adams, from the comedy classic Police Academy 3: Back in Training), tries to help keep things under control. The cops arrive and are swiftly and predictably dispatched of by the zombie Bigfoots (Bigfeet?).

With no options left but to try to create the antidote, a "task force" forms and sneaks off to the swamp to get a sample of the icky stuff. This does, however, lead to one of the best scenes in movie history: two lodge employees, Big Kahuna and Brandi, create a distraction to divert the creatures' attention away from the task force in the form of a mini-dance party, complete with loud techno music and flashing lights. Brandi grows tired and turns to Big Kahuna for motivation, which brings the second best line of the movie:

"Dance like lives depend on it!"

Couldn't find an actual image of the dancing, so this is my rendition.
Yes, I'm available to do artwork for you.

The task force returns, having failed their mission due to some aggressive zombie fish, Chester's at death's doorstep, the goo sample is lost. However, in a bit of magical serendipity, they find a piece of paper in Chester's coat pocket, and GUESS WHAT? It's the seventh secret herb of the toxic goo, which allows Dr. Abraham Lincoln to create the antidote.

Unbeknownst to our heroes, Uncle Slavko is hiding a dark, completely SHOCKING secret: he's the one responsible for dumping the toxic goo in the water and triggering all this mayhem. He grabs the antidote and his cash and tries to get away, before Mrs. Uncle Slavko catches up to him and...well, let's just say it's an...explosive meeting...

Insert Dr. Evil bad joke laugh here.

At the same time, poor Brandi the dancer (Heather Rae Young, Playboy Playmate of the Month, February 2010) is attacked by a horde of undead squirrels, resulting in your first and only boob sighting, one hour and twenty minutes into it. Despite screaming like a maniac, the squirrel finishes her with a very familiar-looking chest-bursting scene, and Brandi and her big fake boobs are killed.

Thusly, we arrive at the denouement, a standoff pitting Carla and Marla and Armando (please read that with a cheesy Spanish accent, thanks) against an army of zombified birds and squirrels and a moose. Carla manages to give Johnny the antidote, after receiving the most sage piece of advice from her sister, delivered in the best line of the movie: 

"Whatever you do, don't not do this."

If there's a better line in movie history, I can't think of it at the moment. In fact, there is a better-than-average chance that "Whatever you do, don't not do this" will be tattooed on one (or both) of my forearms in the very near future. Standby for pictures!

Anyway, the "real" Bigfoot shows up to help fight off the baddies in the epic, climatic battle between hot chicks and undead forest creatures. Our heroes emerge victorious, and love abounds...because, really, it's all about the lovin'.

Love in the Time of Monsters isn't going to change the world. It isn't going to change the way you look at horror or comedy or the hybrid of both. However, it is an entertaining movie, for sure. The dialogue feels relaxed and naturally funny - not overdone and forced. The scenery is lovely and the effects are serviceable - of all the zombie squirrels I've seen, these were definitely the most realistic. The cast actually isn't bad, which is usually a problem in this genre. The whole thing actually feels lighthearted...there's no trying too hard or sneaking in any seriousness. It's fun, and really, that's what you want from a movie like this.

(Bonus: several songs on the soundtrack by an actual band called Thunderdikk.)

I don't have a rating system, but if I did, I'd put Love in the Time of Monsters somewhere in between a soothing dip in a hot tub and an extended version of that nice little buzz you get in your head when you sneeze. You know what I'm talking about.

Click Uncle Slavko to go the official movie page, because America!

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