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A Screening Party of My Very Own...

It occurred to me that I should have brought a tape-recorder, and then I could have done a real 'Screening Party' style over-view. Alas, I don't have a mini tape recorder, and I was also told (at the last minute) that not only were friends of yumikid and the AssMan coming, they were bringing a friend who was, to quote the girl of the couple, "that single guy."

Ding! Memory clears up, and I recall that yumikid noted to me that there was a person her friends thought I should meet. Eep.

So, maybe whipping out a recorder might have been a tad odd for a first meeting. Probably a good thing I didn't.


28 Days Later: A Rage Will Do You Good

First off, we begin with monkey rights activists releasing some obviously discontent monkeys from where they've been strapped down and forced to watch terrifying and horrifying things on television, like beatings, mob attacks, and 'Glitter.' Now, I'm not a bomb-toting PETA fellow, but I'd like to think that even if I was, and some scientist said to me, "Wait, you don't understand, those monkeys are highly contagious," that I'd probably pause a little and wonder if Bubbles wasn't foaming at the mouth due to being a test subject for Colgate. But, not these activists, they're plot driven so they toss open the plastic door and one of them gets bitten. She then throws up, exorcist style, and before you know it, whatever the hell is happening begins. I turn to the one in the room, bariboy, who has seen this movie, and say, "They're infected with rage?" Which is what the scientist said. bariboy nods.

Okay.

Fade to black, and at the bottom of the screen comes the namesake of the movie, little white words that say, ominously, 28 Days Later. Fade in on a very naked and full frontal shot of our hero, Jim the Bike Messenger, hairy, unkempt, and tied up in all manner of medical stuff (tm) like IVs, heart monitors, etc. It's a very good thing the caption read 28 Days Later, and not 9 Months Later, or his shaggy unkempt look might have had you thinking of a different denouement between Bubbles and the Female Monkey Rights Lady. It's obvious Jim the Bike Messenger has had a pretty rough time, but it turns out getting smacked by a lorry while delivering packages (and showing off your package), and spending some quality coma time, is pretty much the best thing that's going to happen to him all movie.

So out our intrepid hero goes, first in Hospital scrubs, into a London that is completely empty. (And, in Fun Fowler Fact style, bariboy explains that these scenes were filmed Christmas Day, 6 am. hence the empty London). There's something intensely creepy about being in a place that's supposed to be crowded, and being the only one there. yumikid agrees with me, and a short discussion of whether or not we've had those dreams ensues.

Jim finds a Pepsi - first gratuitious product placement shot - and I quip, "Pepsi, the choice of the surviving generation."

"It is okay that we talk through movies, right?" yumikid asks. It never occurs to me to ask this when I gather with friends to 'watch' movies, so I'm glad she does. Also, it turns out that single-fellow - Dan - is sort of a cutie, and I'm nervous and likely to babble like a moron. It's a good thing I'm not being 'set up.'

bariboy gives us the thumbs-up on commenting, so long as it's not during a dialogue-heavy scene. This means right now is cool, as all Jim the Bike Messenger is managing to do is stumble around London yelling, "Hello?"

I proclaim my first vow of the movie: If ever I find myself in a deserted city all by m'self, I will not yell out "Hello?" at the top of my lungs as I walk, as it is the equivalent of hanging a "First Bite Free!" sign around my neck and swinging a meal-bell for zombies. Still, when Jim enters a church, and sees piles of people lying in the pews, what does he do? He yells, one more time, "Hello?"

The few living zombies do a very quick-turn look-up at him, and okay folks, I'm creeped out. Horror flicks are not my thing. So, both yumikid and I do a gasp/jump thing, and I'm glad to have her for company. bariboy's partner Nat doesn't seem to get all that upset. She's either seen it before, or she's just a cool sort.

Hero Jim takes on a rage-infected priest (actually bashes him on the head with a plastic bag full of Pepsi, etc, and gives a solid line with, "I shouldn't have done that!") then runs like hell. Rage-infected zombies chase him, but he's rescued by two people throwing molotov cocktails, who trick the now on-fire zombies to a gas station, where they blow up. All three survivors collapse into a store with one of those mob-proof roll-down locking door thingies.

And we meet Selena and Other-Guy(tm) for the first time. Other-Guy(tm) tells a terrible story about walking on people, climbing on a kiosk, infected people (including his father), etc, and you think, "Wow, poor guy, that's awful - hey! He looks like the guy from 'A Princess Bride!'" Selena, the hot black girl with a machete (there's always a machete in zombie flicks, I'm told), explains that life is now a suck-fest, and it's all about survival, and she'd kill Jim in a second if he was infected.

Jim wants to go see his parents, and for some insane reason, Selena and Other-Guy(tm) decide that's okay. My head tilts, but since Dan is still a cutie, and I'm babble-tongued, I don't say anything at this decision. Later, however, yumikid confirms my belief that although this is not a B-Movie, or at least, it's a very high-class B-Movie, "the characters sure make B-Movie choices."

So, at Jim the Bike Messenger's house, we are treated to the sight of the corpses of his parents, who are lying in a sort of 'I love you, let's kill ourselves before the zombies beat us to death' pose, with a note that reads something like: "As the world is ending, thought we'd go to sleep [read: artistic way of saying: suicide time, boyo!], you're still sleeping, we love you, don't wake up." The kicker is there's a big ol 'X' kiss in the bottom corner.

My head tilts again. Why write a note to your kid in a coma telling him not to wake up. Isn't that a tad pointless?

Jim the Bike Messenger and the dynamic zombie-torching duo spend the night, but Jim needs to look at the pictures of his family on the fridge (complete with trancey sort of dazed memory/fantasy of drinking out of the carton), which he lights a candle to do.

"Uh," I say, "I know, let's be the only lit house on the block. That's safe." Nods from yumikid.

Sure enough, like really gross violent moths, the zombies come crashing through the windows and Machette-Selena hacks one of them apart (would you really use a bladed weapon when blood is an infectious rage issue?) while Other-Guy(tm) takes a worse attack, and realizes he's been cut. He barely manages a few more paid lines of dialogue before Selena hacks him back with definite flair. Discussion of their plight as they run follows, where Selena does a solid list of stupid apocolypse movie cliches, pointing out that none of them will happen (ie: "we're not going to fuck,") and does a bad-ass swagger. She swaggers well, though, so it's believable.

Night falling, Jim sees a lit window, so they head for said building, climb over shopping carts, Selena carrying a super-duper flashlight, and when they hear noises that might be rage zombies afood, she shines the light down the stairwell. Apparently, the candle-lesson is lost on our untrepid duet. Big run up the stairs scene ensues, which makes me look away in tense horror. I notice that Dan has words written on his socks, but I can't make them out. When I look back at the screen, our pair have made it into a sealed off flat, where a papa and his daughter are living.

He offers them creme de menthe (sure sign of the apocalypse, that stuff), and lets his daughter - obviously underage - drink it. I point this out, and AssMan remarks, "It's the end of the world, why not?" Good Point. Jim shaves, and cuts his hair, and suddenly is attractive. Later, bariboy gives us a mini-lecture on the magic of pancake makeup, but at this point, I was really flummoxed by how Jim went from "I just had a long coma and watched this hot chick machete a guy to bits" frumpy to "I've had creme de menthe and a razor" hotness.

The wind-up radio is playing a "Come here, we have the answer and can keep you safe!" recording, over and over.

"Uh, it's a recording, they could all be dead," I say.

"Uh, it's a recording, they could all be dead," Selena says. I like her.

Still, they decide to go for it, and I say, "Cool. They're going to take a Brinks van or something, right?" bariboy shakes his head. I watch the screen and they shoot out in a black taxicab. A taxicab. Because if it's the end of the world, you want a car designed to suck at all costs. These people have no style. If it was the end of the world, I might travel in a tank, or a limo, or maybe even a big ass Hummer, but a taxicab?

Quick stop for what bariboy calls the 'obligatory mall shopping scene,' which is a part of all apocalyptic movies, and then they're off, Papa leaving his credit card jauntily on the checkout aisle. Fun-fun.

They also decide to take the pitch-black tunnel under the Thames. bariboy points out this is the dumbest, most hollywood point of the movie, and I agree. First, Papa drives the british taxicab over the ruins of bodies and other cars (!), where it performs well (!!), gets all the way over, and then pops a tire. They get out of the car (!!!) to change the tire, and a swarm of rats appears. They rush to get the tire off (!!!!) and then put the new one on (!!!!!) just as the zombies swarm up.

"You can drive a car on the fucking rim," yumikid notes.

"Are they training for the F1?" I ask.

"I'd be like, 'One bolt in, let's go!'" says AssMan.

But, of course, they make it, because it's a nifty taxicab.

They pic-nic out in the wilderness, sleep out under the stars, ("Why don't they take turns driving and let the other people sleep?" I ponder, "The whole damned island is full of zombies!") and we learn that Selene has her chem degree, and a baggy full of valium and other drugs. This is an important plot point. Remember it.

They also get gas, and Jim beats a child zombie to death when, for no apparently reason, he decides to go into a dark building all by himself. The bike messenger needs to be hit by another lorry. When the young girl tries to drive, Papa forbids it. What? "You're old enough to drink, but not to drive, honey."

They get to the baracade where the soldiers fought (I fight down the urge to break into 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables' as it might be considered gauche), and we watch Papa get annoyed that there's a crow eating a corpse. He kicks the wall the body is on, and although the crow flies away (kudos), a drop of blood hits the man's eye (oops). Papa goes the way of the raging zombie, and just before Jim can work up the guts to kill Papa (apparently, braining a small child is easier), soldiers pop up and pop Papa. They're saved!

Super.

So, they go to the stockade, which is something between High English Classical and a land-mined, barracaded military fort. They've recovered civilization there (they have a wood burning stove that makes hot water). "Thank God," I think, "Now Serena can stop wearing her hair like that." Alas, no. Though we are treated to yet another gratuitous naked Jim shot, from the rear, as he washes himself. Yum.

At about this point, the other soldiers have an existential 'what's the point of it all!' discussion over dinner, and I notice something potentially problematic. "Are Selena and the young girl the only women there? I don't think this will end well." bariboy gives me a nod, and I pass yumikid a qualified 'no, really, not a horror duck-blind' pillow. The head officer shows Jim that they have an infected soldier on a chain in the back, like a dog, and they're going to learn how long it takes the zombies to starve to death. Somehow, Jim doesn't see this is a sign of a somewhat unbalanced point of view. The head officer rubs Jim's head affectionately, giving me false hope of a blooming gay romance between the two, but soon enough tells Jim that he promised the women to the rest of his lads. Jim gets tossed in jail with the existentialist soldier guy. Soldier says, "We're on an island, we're just being quaranteened!" and so on.

yumikid brings out a pan of brownies, which she had to stab to cut into the right bits of squares, and announces she had to get pretty insistant with them to get them out of the pan. It seems like a nice enough synchronicity, and I decide that it suits the theme enough of a treat to fit the movie, a la 'Screening Party.' Slaughtered brownies.

"I made these," yumikid says, "You add water. And stir."

Existentialist and Jim are taken by the soldiers, and Existentialist gets shot, Jim does this bare-chested escape from the execution spot, tricks the soldiers into going back to the baracade, and kills most of 'em, except for the leader of the pack, who has to run away from zombies. Somewhere around here, he looks up and sees an airplane. Civilization still exists, just not in England! The French must just be laughing their asses off. Jim goes back, in the pouring rain and shirtless still, and frees the infected soldier that was chained up.

Meanwhile, the girls have been made to wear red dresses that would have made 'Pretty In Pink' look avant guarde, and are being made ready to put out. This is where that plot point I mentioned comes in. Selene decides to drug the younger girl (!) to make her not care she's being gang-banged (!!), and the drugs start to work, causing the young girl to taunt her captors. Smart. Zombies soldier on a chain breaks in, infection spreads, the girls make a break for it.

The chase scenes and the gorey violent zombie infection scenes bring up a question I've had from the start: "Why don't the zombies attack each other?" I pose. "If they're mindlessly raging, why not beat each other to death?" bariboy notes that this is a common theme of zombie movies, while yumikid poses that it might be that they're already dead, or something. I file it under 'Plot Device' and let it go.

Jim beats the soldier dragging Selena around to death, causing her to wonder if he's a zombie. Despite my best hopes, she doesn't accidentally behead him. The young girl brains Jim with a bottle, though, thinking he's "biting" Selena (which, to be honest, might be a good description of their lip-lock as seen through the eyes of a young girl).

Our heroes and drugged girl manage to evade the enemy and get to their taxicab (yes, there are military vehicles available, but that's one nifty drive-over-anything quick-tire-change taxicab). But, in a surprising twist, leader of the soldiers is in the back seat, and when young girl gets behind the wheel, he pops up, shoots our hero Jim, and the young girl stomps on the gas, and reverses the taxi up to where the raging zombies are about to break through the bottle-neck entranceway. They reach into the back of the cab through the glass, yank out leader guy, and she drives forward to pick up the gut-shot Jim and Selena. She puts on her seatbelt to ram the closed gate (and her father didn't think she could drive safely!)

Fade to black.

Jim has emergency treatment from Selena, survives, and in an idyllic farming spot, where they've sewn all their stuff together to spell "HELLO!" in big letters on the hillside, where a plane is flying by.

"He's calling the airport and saying, 'Guys, what does Olleh mean?'" I say.

Credits roll. Neat.

bariboy tells me that in the theatre there was another ending, which we then watch, with a caption something like, "What if..?" and in it, Jim dies despite Selena doing her best impression of a nurse, and most likely because of the young girl's attempts at using one of those breather bags ("Honey, you're pumping him up like a balloon," I say. bariboy nods, "The patient seems to be hyperventilating.") They decide to move on, fade to black. Much more bleak, and as bariboy puts it, "A real zombie movie ending."

There's also another alternate ending, which turns out to be like the first ending with the farmhouse, but where Jim dies, so it's just Selena, the young girl, and a rooster with the big hello of cloth.

AssMan wishes that the plane had dropped a load of missiles to obliterate the infected island, which, if we're honest, makes more medical sense.

After a few more fun-facts about zombies, zombie movies, and this particular movie, and then move on to other movies we like, don't like, and so on. Dan and I have similar tastes in movies, which I take as a good point, then note that it is almost midnight. I rise, because I have to be at the bookstore for 7 am on the next day, and that means being up in about six hours from the current time. I shrug into my poofy jacket, tug on my boots, and give AssMan a thumbs-up sign and point towards Dan, hoping it translates into Straight Man easily enough, then say how nice it was to meet and/or see everyone again. I leave.

It's snowing, and for a little while, I'm alone on the road. I look around, as I crunch my way towards the bus-stop, and can't help myself. "Hello?" I yell.

A bus I thought I'd missed shows up, and it gets me home quicker. No zombies.

I fire off an e-mail thanking Pat for the fun, and unsubtley saying that I'll be there for the next movie night he co-hosts with Dan. After a few dozen more of these, I might even speak directly to him. Hrm. Probably more than a few dozen.

I think I'll try to make the themed treat, once I find out what the movie is.

The views expressed on this livejournal are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
lostdragonlet
Jan. 19th, 2004 05:54 am (UTC)
Hilarious write up. I liked the ending with just Selena and young chick because, face it, Messenger Boy was dead.
ardently
Jan. 19th, 2004 03:03 pm (UTC)
three things
1) When I watched 28 Days Later, I ignored hairy dirty naked Jim, not realizing that he cleaned up so well. I was kicking myself later.

2) In the same vein as "Screening Party",
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1) When I watched 28 Days Later, I ignored hairy dirty naked Jim, not realizing that he cleaned up so well. I was kicking myself later.

2) In the same vein as "Screening Party", <lj-user="mightygodking"> has generously loaned me three Mystery Science Theatre 3000 movies. I would like to have you over one night to watch one of them.

3) I forget what #3 was. But I'm glad that Dan is indeed a cutie. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you.
bariboy
Jan. 19th, 2004 05:57 pm (UTC)
good write up.. I'm thinking maybe we want to include these kind of things (with out references to how cute Dan is.. that would probably be weird) into a film club website..

if you are willing to write them I'm willing to post them.. what say you?


also.. you can now change all those times you wrote Pat to bariboy

see you in two weeks eh! the next movie is Streets of Fire.. good luck on getting a themed treat for that movie
n8an
Jan. 19th, 2004 09:58 pm (UTC)
Uh, yeah. So. You're on LiveJournal. That's... uh, neat. Will go back and edit out the Pats and put in the bariboys. I love doing semi-serious write ups (with an emphasis on the 'semi'), so I'm quite happy to do so.

Off to edit...
bariboy
Jan. 19th, 2004 10:11 pm (UTC)
sweet... I've always wanted to put up a website to go along with the group..
n8an
Jan. 19th, 2004 11:26 pm (UTC)
Okie. Hrm. I just read the write-up, and I'm wondering if cinnamon hearts might be appropriate, or somehow feature in the treat: they're small, hot, hard, bitter, and they hurt when you whip them at people, which seems like a decent enough love metaphor for a temporally challenged biker-rock-star crossbreed movie.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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