Another week, another Horror Movie Marathon. This week, we are looking at Frozen (2010), Tusk, and Zombie Strippers. The theme of this week is movies that took no effort to conceive. All three of these movies were ideas that it took one minute to think of, and the creators didn’t put in any more effort than that. People get stuck on a ski lift. Man is turned into a walrus. Strippers turn into Zombies. These are not movie ideas, they are punchlines. Two of these movies literally started as joke from the directors about what a bad film would be, and then they made them anyway. It will take longer for me to write this review than it took the writers of these movies to come up with these ideas. So can any of these paper-thin premise’s make for a good movie? No. The answer is no.
No, not that Frozen. This is the original Frozen, about three friends on vacation at a ski resort get stuck for a week on a ski lift. This is not the premise of a feature-length movie. At best, it is an idea for a short film. How do you get an hour and a half out of three assholes sitting on a ski lift? I will tell you how, by padding the runtime with nonsense.
There are so many pointless scenes in this movie. There are a good 5 minutes of the female character utterly failing to snowboard, with the directors awful iPod playlist playing in the background. The movie opens with a few minutes of just ski lifts. Literally just showing the mechanisms of the ski lift, and acting like it is really ominous. There is a pointless plotline in the first act where one of the characters is talking to this other girl, but then her boyfriend gets mad and tries to fight him. The only problem is it never goes anywhere. He talks to this girl twice, as if they are setting up something, and then the plotline vanishes in the next two acts. If you have to pad your runtime with bullshit to reach feature length, then you do not have a story worthy of a feature length.
When your movie is based entirely on three characters sitting in one setting, you really need to make sure they are interesting characters. But these characters are the worst. I have no interest in their petty problems. These characters obsess over being able to use the ski lift without buying a pass. So much so, that they bribe the ski lift operator $100 to let them ride for free all day. But are you really accomplishing anything if you had to spend that much? How much are ski lift tickets that this bribe is worth it? The ski lift stops for a minute while they are going up to snowboard at the start of the movie, and everyone starts complaining? Who the hell complains when the ski lift stops for a few seconds? Are you that much of a self-entitled asshole that you will bitch about this minor inconvenience?
When we finally get to the “plot,” we realize just how stupid this movie can possibly be. We are led to believe the conditions are under brutally cold, cold enough to cause frostbite. But as they are stuck on the ski lift, none of them take any effort to stay warm. If it is even a little below freezing, I am hiding my face in my jacket, my hands in my pockets, and hiding any bare skin from the cold. These people are in -5 degrees Fahrenheit and they are just cool with letting their faces be exposed to the cold. The one girl even insists on keeping her gloveless hand on the metal bar of the ski lift. She keeps putting it there. There is no way she would be able to grab that bar in that type of cold without a glove. I mean to be fair, her hand does eventually get stuck to the bar, but even that makes no sense. It gets stuck while she is asleep. But how did the pain of her skin attaching to the bar not wake her up? How was she able to hold onto that bar all night? To make it better, after the bar rips off her skin, she ends up holding the bar again 15 minutes later in the movie like nothing happened.
To add tension, they decided to throw wolves into the movie. One of the three jerk offs tries to jump off the ski lift. First, he stupidly takes off his snowboard before jumping. It is not like having the snowboard on your feet will disperse your weight or anything, and make it more likely to land safely. No, he is just going to jump straight down, and not try to cushion his fall or disperse his weight at all. So he breaks his legs, enough so where the bones are sticking out. And then wolves show up.
Listen, I am not saying wolves never attack humans. There are cases where especially hungry wolves will do so, or where wolves will attack in self-defense. But wolves are also smart, and they realize that attacking humans, can lead to other humans hunting them down. So they are rare. When they do happen, wolves almost exclusively attack smaller children. The chances that wolves, living this close to human settlements, would attack a grown human for food, when there is likely plenty of other food sources, is very slim.
This movie is just boring, and when it is not boring, it is dumb. This movie makes the claim that the wires of the ski lift are razor sharp. Umm, no. No, they are not. They are cables, round cables. Now if you rubbed your hand fast against them you may get cut, but they are not going to slice up your hand just by touching them. But when one of the people in this movie tries to climb across the wires, that is what happens. His hands get cut.
This movie is bad, and should not have been made. The director was most likely skiing, the ski lift stopped for a moment, and that is the entire story of how this movie was conceived. The only thing I will say positive about this movie, is I like that they filmed on a real ski lift. Nothing else about the movie is that real, but at least they used that practical effect. But everything else about the movie is crap. The writing is bad, the acting is bad, the directing is bad. They do that thing where they use artificial lighting when they film, but then lower the brightness in post. So it just looks fake.
From the mind of Kevin Smith. Smith came up with the idea for this film over the course of one episode of his podcast. He even let his fans decide if the movie should be made over a Twitter Poll, because all great movies are conceived over the course of a podcast, and greenlit by Twitter.
The “plot” of this movie is that a man is kidnapped and over the course of the movie is forced to undergo procedures that turn him into a walrus. And that is how far the movie goes. That’s all there is. It seems like every modern Kevin Smith movie has a plot that is literally just a punchline he thought was funny. What if a man turned into a walrus. Then there was Yoga Hosers. What if Canada was attacked by Nazi sausages? What the hell is that? What if we made Jaws, but instead of a shark, it was a Moose. That is actually the next movie he is making is about. It is called Moose Jaws, and if Tusk is any indication, Moose Jaws will be garbage. These are not movie ideas, they are jokes. He treats them like jokes when he comes up with the ideas on his podcast, but then he actually makes the movie. You used to be a good director, what happened to you, Kevin Smith?
And like Frozen, because the premise here is so paper thin, they have to pad the runtime with scenes that have no relevance. There are so many pointless scenes of people talking to each other in this movie. What they are talking about has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. The implication is that the scene is supposed to be funny, but it is not. There are no funny moments in the film, but it is billed as a horror comedy. Is the funny part supposed to be the bad Canadian accents? Or Johnny Depp’s awful French accent? Is the funny part supposed to be how awful the walrus suit looks? There are also no scary parts. So it is a horror comedy, that is neither funny nor scary. So all we are left with is boring conversations about nothing, and some cheap looking gore as he is morphed into a walrus.
I will give Smith credit that he is self-aware and does know these are bad premise’s. And a bad premise can make for a funny B movie if it is self-aware. The problem is none of it is funny. He thinks just the premise itself is enough to make it humorous, but it isn’t. These movies cannot even be enjoyed in a so bad they are good way. They are just boring miserable experiences.
The other two movies here may be poorly made and boring, but at least they are not outright offensive. So there are strippers, who become zombies, and becoming zombies turns them into super strippers. You see, if a normal person is bitten, they turn into a normal zombie.But strippers are special, so if they get bit, they remain sentient, get super strength, and become amazing at stripping. The guys at this strip club go crazy for them for some reason. The strippers put on a stage show, and then take random guys from the audience backstage for a private dance, but after the dance, they eat the guys. Some of the normal strippers actually choose to become zombies so they can make more money. Really? Strippers are so vain they would kill themselves to get attention? What the hell is this movie? Guys will really want to see decomposing corpses strip as opposed to normal women?
Now I do not know the director, but based on this movie, I am led to believe he has some weird kinks. I can’t even find any information about this director, Jay Lee, besides an IMDB page. There is no Wikipedia page, no LinkedIn. The only other thing I could find is this interview on movieweb.com. He explains in the interview about where the concept from the movie came from.
Jay Lee: OK, here’s the story about how that happened. My sister, Angela Lee, produced the film. We’d been making independent films for quite a few years, essential, meaningful, character-driven, concept-driven pieces. We were at Sundance and all of that, but we weren’t exactly making the best living at it, making independent films. So we decided to make a business move and we made a horror movie. It was a thing called The Slaughterand it was a shamelessly marketable film. It had all the stereotypes and all the essential things to make a film that would just sell, go straight to DVD. I made a joke one day and said, ‘Well, at least we’re not doing something like Zombie Strippers.’ It got around the cast and I kind of started thinking about it. I did some research on the title and no one had done it yet, which kind of surprised me. So, I said, ‘Here’s our next film. It’s Zombie Strippers. The title sells itself and we can make a shamelessly schlocky film.’ At the same time, now we can use some of our content and story and subtext that we were doing on our independent films with something as absurd as Zombie Strippers. So that’s how that all came about.
Oh, so the movie is literally a sellout. He wants to make art films, but they don’t make money, so e said screw, let’s make the worst film possible, with a sellable name. Now he thinks the movie has some smart themes. See, in the movie, a lot of people are ignoring the fact people are dying, and these women are decomposing because the Strip Club is making money. Robert Englund plays the owner, and he looks past the deaths because it all is making him rich. There a few problems with this though. One, the satire is blatant as hell, and never goes past the face value. They shove it in your face non-stop. Good satire is subtle. This is crap satire, lazily crafted together so the director can claim he had some artistic direction and wasn’t just making an exploitive movie.
Also, even if the satire was smart and delivered effectively, the movie around it looks like crap. The production design spans from utterly boring, to ugly. The camera work is sloppy. The sound design sucks. It fails at every type of film craft. And the poor craft does not seem intentional. Some movies do these things wrong on purpose, as part of the joke. Such as in Black Dynamite or Kung Pow Enter the Fist. But those are both satires that are well made, by someone with an artistic backbone. This movie was thrown together to make a cheap buck. I dislike all three of these movies, but Zombie Strippers is the only one that makes me angry. At least Adam Green, who made Frozen, cares about his work. It isn’t good, but he tried to make something good. Kevin Smith at least has talent, he hasn’t shown it of late, but he still tries to make good films. Jay Lee is just a hack, pretending to be smarter than he is. Don’t watch Zombie Strippers. If you want to see it for the nudity, just watch porn instead. At least in porn, the people getting screwed are on the screen, and not in the audience. This movie was painful to watch. There is no enjoyment quality to this movie. It is just crap.