On this month’s episode of Joanie Loves The Witch’s Hat, Eric R. Lowther conducts an interview with Joe Wilson the creator of the web series the Vampire Mob. After the interview is finished, Eric gives a review of the Vampire Mob web series.
And if that wasn’t enough for ya, Mr. Lowther will announce another Witch’s Hat contest! This contest will give the listeners of The Witch’s Hat a chance to win a copy of Eric’s book Area 187, Book I; Almost Hell.
* There will be a post on the blog soon for the date the contest will end and a date the winner is announced.
Infection (2010) aka “Infection; The Invasion Begins”
Written by:Bryan Brewer
Directed by:Howard Wexler
Hey kids! It’s your old pal Eric R Lowther aka biguglyhairyscary crawling across your screen once more with 2010’s “Infection”, or, as the full title says, “Infection; The Invasion Begins”. After watching I can see why they chose to use the shortened title. I’m here to tell you we don’t need any allusions to this thing having a sequel somewhere down the line.
Our story opens somewhere in the future with a reporter researching what has come to be known as the “Modern Plague”, a horrific illness of a sort that started way back on 9/9/2009. Her search leads to an old woman, Sarah, who has been locked away in a mental institution for decades. Sarah says she knows how the plague started and claims the government has kept her institutionalized for her entire adult life to keep her from talking and blowing out their carefully-crafted conspiracy. Now that her time is short, she wants to tell the tale in a movie-length flashback…
We begin Sarah’s story with our hero, Deke (writer Bryan Brewer) returning to his tiny hometown after a 10 year stint in prison for killing his stepfather. He finds his mother has disowned him to the point of cutting him out of family pictures, his high school sweetheart Sarah (Kelly Pendygraft) is dating the local failed high school jock Billy (Brian Guest), and a sheriff who looks just a little like a younger and less-sociopathic Nick Nolte (Lochlyn Monroe, who carries a surprising list of genre credits to be involved with this movie) that wants nothing more than for Deke to drop off the face of the earth and trouble his town no more. After finding all this, Deke tries to do the hero-type thing and leave town for the selfless benefit of all but runs afoul of Billy and his townie crew. This our first of many run-ins with the “I wrote the damn thing so I get to be a badass” syndrome from Brewer, and the fight goes on just long enough for us to get that point before everything really starts going to hell.
It seems a meteorite has crashed in the area, and it also seems the guy who finds it and reports it to the sheriff, and even the sheriff himself, have never seen a movie where a meteorite crashes. If they had, they’d know that it always brings trouble. This time, it brings hyper-intelligent parasites that look like penises that have been flattened by a steamroller. The townies get infected (hence the title) with the parasites during their fight with Deke and Billy demonstrates his own multi-appearing fighting style; runaway-like-a-little-bitch. Meanwhile, the guy who first found the meteor turns up dead, causing the sheriff to lock up Deke on suspicion of yet another murder in his town.
Hey kids! Fun fact; this has been turning up in a lot of the movies I’ve watched recently, too much in fact. Now, typically a sheriff is a county or parish’s top law enforcement officer as well as being charged with the task of collecting county taxes through his office. But in most horror movies that use the office the guy never seems to leave the little town. Most counties, even those with the sparsest populations, have more than one town in them. The sheriff is also an elected political office, and even in the smallest or least-populated counties the sheriff is typically far too busy with administrative and political duties to be personally out in the field hassling movie heroes and chatting with a town’s riffraff. I guess “commander” or “chief deputy” just aren’t impressive enough titles these days…
Anyway, the zombies finally break in and Ben locks himself in the cellar, where he’s forced to shoot Cooper again when he turns… oh, wait… sorry. I guess I needed a little break from talking about this movie. Deep breath… focus…
The parasites seem to sense that the movie’s badass hero has been taken off the streets and in a matter of what can only be an hour or two have infected most of the townsfolk. Even though Deke doesn’t know anything more about the flat, interstellar penises than anyone else does, the people know he’s the only one that can save them. It’s also possible the rest of the cast realized if they didn’t set the writer free to continue hogging the screen and spouting silliness he’d write them out of the film, but I’ll try to take the high road here and think the best of everyone. Once free, Deke and Sarah manage to convince the sheriff of the phallic danger besetting the town and get scientific counsel from another old high school friend, a science geek that manages to give them a powerful weapon against the invaders. From here we alternate between standard siege and escape movie modes that place us in constant danger of swooning under the intense gaze and staggering awesomeness that is Deke until at some point the thing finally ends back with future Sarah and some silliness that makes us think the threat of a sequel will only be quelled by someone making sure Brewer stays the hell away from his macBook.
Now let’s have a peek under the hood, shall we? Technically speaking, there’s not much wrong with the movie. It’s competently shot and looks as good as about any other indie shot-on-video film. The biggest technical failure would be in the oh-my-fucking-god-that’s-shitty CGI fire that pops up here and there. I’m pretty sure I could create more convincing flames with Microsoft Paint. But the movie’s real failing is in its plot and accompanying script. There are tons of plot holes here, with the first being; why would the government let Sarah live in the first place? There would be no reason to keep her around, and arranging for an “accident” decades ago would’ve been far easier and more secure than letting her sit around. But let’s just suppose keeping her kicking made sense. In that case, why the hell is a reporter allowed to just stroll in and start talking to her now? This is the very opening of the movie, and the plot holes and goofiness just go on from there. The rest of the cast does try hard to make the movie watchable, but they just can’t seem to get a scene that doesn’t have Brewer in it making wisecracks or going forth to bravely sacrifice himself in one way or another.
Of course, he never actually does sacrifice himself. Since he’s, like, a badass and all he just cocks an eye to the camera or smacks someone around and mumbles “This just isn’t my day” a few times and he lives through the scene. This is compounded by making virtually everyone else around him a flaming coward just to make Deke’s character (and by extension Brewer) look even more badass. We talked about Billy, who at one point is so afraid and distraught that he sits in a corner of a room blubbering until Deke talks him down. That’s not the only instance, though, as Billy is shown running away from even the slightest chance of harm. Problem is, Billy’s character at the start of the movie was more than ready to throw down on Deke for being a murdering sum-bitch come back to town to steal his woman. It just doesn’t fit. Hell, at one point even the sheriff’s deputy is so afraid of what’s going on he actually hands Deke his gun to go and search a room because he’s too afraid to do it himself. For fuck sake’s even the parasites are just flattened penises, because if they were shown in their normal dimensions they may have been larger than Deke’s own, and you just know there’s no way Brewer would’ve allowed that to happen. Outside of this, the dialogue is overall flat and doesn’t really give the actors much to work with, making the viewing painful at times to watch.
So, now we can get to the real question; is it any good? The only people that will really like this one will be Brewer and his family and friends, and even they watch it just to appease him. If you really need to see alien parasites create zombie-like people just pick up “Night of the Creeps” instead, ‘cause I’m sure that’s exactly what the writer did here. This is just a vehicle for a megalomaniac to live out his daydreams in a way that he can make others watch them, too. Oh yeah, and that’s another thing, too. This thing is being marketed as a zombie movie. It’s not. Not even close. Still, if for some reason you just need to see the equivalent of someone masturbating to a picture of themselves for an hour and a half you can pick it up from Amazon and your usual online sources for anywhere from $3.00-$18.00… wait… $18.00 fucking dollars? Really, Amazon? You can also rent or stream it from Netflix, and if you still actually want to see this thing I would definitely suggest renting or streaming before buying.
Time for me to ride off into the sunset, unless of course Brewer’s around and then I guess I would just be riding off into the light cast off by his machismo. Make sure you’re staying abreast of all the great content here on The Witch’s Hat blog (yes, Misfit Boy, I said “breast”. You can stop snickering now.) and stop by and see us sometime in our forum over at Killer Reviews. There’s also all the mind-blowing audio sweetness from The Witch’s Hat family of podcasts to consider as well. With a tip of my imaginary hat to Keely, Kyle, Root, Grey and Misfit Boy (J.B., I said that was enough with the snickering), this has been biguglyhairyscary saying see ya, kids.
Hey, kids! It’s Eric R Lowther aka biguglyhairyscary back on the Hat with a few words on 2010’s “Rubber” from writer/director Quentin Dupieux. It’s the story of Robert, an unbranded, un-mounted used tire discarded in a desert area that gains sentience and telekinetic powers. How and why does he develop these powers and self-realization? No reason. How is it that he can roll along the desert roads with complete self-direction? No reason. Why did I like this movie and think you will, too? No reason…
“No reason” is really what this film is all about. We open with an absurd set-up with Lt. Chad (although referred to as “sheriff” in various parts of the movie as well) giving us and a large group of what appear to be unrelated spectators a little lesson in movie rationale and logic. He cites several examples of cinematic “no reason”, such as why E.T. is brown or why two characters fall in love in a movie. In fact, his entire entrance into the movie is full of “no reason” moments as the director keeps hammering home his concept to us. I won’t give you the details of his entrance since there are plenty of web reviews out there that will do that for you, I’ll just tell you that Lt. Chad’s (Stephen Spinella of “Ravenous”, one of my favorite cannibal movies and reviewed right here on the Hat earlier this year) monologue is quietly funny, packed with absurdity and perfectly sets us up for a story about a roving used tire seeking revenge on the world at large.
The spectators mentioned play quite a large role in the movie. They are just a big group of diverse people of all ages, colors, and backgrounds. There’s “no reason” given for why they’ve all been gathered together and given super-powerful binoculars that allow them to see Robert’s entire story unfold, including when he’s indoors or otherwise concealed. We start off with “no reason” why Robert is seeking revenge and why he’s seeking it through virtually random targets starting with the desert wildlife and moving up to humans that eventually piss him off enough to go all Michael-Ironsides-Scanner-Batshit on them by exploding their heads with his awesome telekinesis. Lt. Chad as well as a few others are in on Robert’s story from the word go, and the concept involving the spectators as it relates to the story is much akin to the old adage about a tree falling in the woods; if no one is watching, does the story truly exist? There are a few other ways you can take the philosophy jackhammer to this as well to come up with your own theories involving the spectators and their relationship with the movie’s reality, but there’s really “no reason” to. We watch along with the spectators as Robert finds a small oasis of humanity in a roadside motel, finds unrequited love at first sight, suffers abuse at the hands of humans that don’t realize he is about 17 steps higher than they are on the evolutionary ladder, and ultimately sees a sight so terrible it finally explains what his revenge kick is all about.
Hey Kids! Fun fact; writer/director Dupieux is also known as “Mr. Oizo”, a composer and musician popular on Europe’s techno scene. Luckily, “Rubber” is good enough that I won’t hold creating shitty, shitty techno music against him.
Now, let’s have a look at this thing. The film is technically proficient in all aspects and features some very good physical special effects as well as some mostly-passable CGI exploding heads. And people, there are lots and lots of exploding heads in this one. Robert is an angry little tire and pops heads like zits for the slightest real or imagined infraction committed against him. Stephen Spinella’s Lt. Chad is supposed to be a bit aloof and smug, but I think he goes a little too far with it and is almost wooden in a few scenes. Other than that, the acting is overall better than average for the indie scene. I was particularly impressed with the way Robert the Tire was handled, shot and edited. Dupieux obviously knew exactly what he wanted from his vulcanized star, and through good effects and smart filming and editing the tire does actually develop a bit of a personality, especially in the first third of the movie while we watch Robert learn how to stand, roll, and kill small wildlife through his telekinesis. Yeah, I said it; the tire actually does gain a personality on the screen. Also, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the “man in wheelchair” spectator played by 80’s near-A-lister Wings Hauser. He has a particularly vital role in this one, and just from this performance I can see his chops have mellowed from 80’s brand over-acting and have found their real rhythm.
So, the real question; is it any good? Yes, it is, provided you are a fan of the surreal, the absurd, and don’t need to be led around by a movie to enjoy it. The movie’s plot is linear, so at least it has that going for it. Otherwise, you need to understand this movie is truly founded on “no reason”. Don’t expect a lot of it to make sense, or at least don’t expect it to make sense right away. It also does drag a bit from the point Robert learns how to move and pop heads until we get a few more characters introduced, but if you like offbeat projects you’ll forgive it. The movie comes in at a nice and manageable 82 minutes, but quite frankly we could’ve lost another 5-10 minutes of footage showing Robert just rolling along the desert and deserted roads. A little of that goes a long way towards trying to make us feel Robert’s isolation and loneliness, especially when a lot of the shots like this don’t really have background music to further the feeling of… wait… what the fuck am I saying? I’m trying to apply a lot more reason to this than the film really needs or wants. It’s enough to say it’s long enough to tell its story but short enough that you shouldn’t lose interest, and if you like quirky cinema and animated objects not voiced by Angela Lansbury or Adam Sandler I’d say it’s worth at least a watch. If this little movie without reason sounds like something you can roll with, you can find it on Amazon and your usual online sources for about $15.00 DVD / $15.00-$24.00 Blu-ray, and it’s available for rent or instant viewing from Netflix as well.
Well, I’m out. Make sure you’re burning more brain cells through The Witch’s Hat family of podcasts and drop by our place over at the forums at Killer Reviews where you can leave feedback about the blog and podcasts, see a synopsis of Misfit Boy’s new film project “Werewolf Chicks Have Lots of Tits”, and let me know what movies you’d like me to retread. So with a tip of my imaginary hat to Keely, Root, Kyle, Grey, Misfit Boy and all the rest this has been biguglyhairyscary saying see ya, kids…
This contest has ended, but watch out for new Witch’s Hat contests!
**The winner of this Witch’s Hat contest is Floridapossum!**
The host of The Witch’s Hat Horror Discussion Misfitboy, has generously donated a copy of the 2009 documentary Autopsy of the Dead as a prize in the latest Witch’s Hat contest… All you have to do is listen to episode 5 of TWH Horror Discussion and answer the trivia question asked by Misfitboy at the end of the show. The first person to answer the question correctly wins the DVD. All answers must be posted in the comment section at the bottom of episode 5 TWH Horror Discussion’s post (Click here for post).
Make sure you leave your name/handle and a way to contact you along with your answer in the comment section. If you’re the winner, please send any further information such as shipping information to firstname.lastname@example.org …