Zombos Says: Very Good
“That was disturbing,” said Zombos as we were leaving the theater after seeing The Hills Have Eyes.
“Yes, the hard horror situations were—”
“No, no, I meant the annoying political barbs,” he interrupted.
“Oh,” I said, “you mean the father being a republican and getting them into the hellish predicament in the first place, and the milquetoast democratic son-in-law who rises to the occasion and unloads a truckload of whoop-ass on the radiation-mutated hill people after being pushed to the edge of sanity? I hardly noticed it.”
“The director is French?” Zombos asked.
“Alexandre Aja? Yes, I believe so.”
“Then that explains it,” he concluded.
“Actually, I think hubris plays a much greater role than politics. The father's cocksure attitude left him prone to making bad decisions. Oh, right, that does apply to most politicians, doesn't it?”
“Politics,” we agreed and continued walking.
“It reminded me of Wrong Turn,” I said.
“Yes,” said Zombos, “especially the decrepit, degenerate-owned gas station in the middle of nowhere; and that scene with all those victims' derelict cars dumped into that huge atomic blast crater. Chilling.”
“The extreme long-shot zoom-outs showing the other huge craters surrounding it are especially effective,” I added. "Great matte work there."
“What I do not understand is why mutated, inbred, and cannibalistic families in every horror movie are always depicted as more of a solid social unit than the normal, bickering tourist families they prey on,” Zombos pondered.
“Goals,” I replied. “Mutated, inbred, cannibalistic families have fewer goals.”
“I never thought of it that way.” Zombos rubbed his chin.
“Well, they certainly don't need to worry about jobs, taxes, school, retirement, or the dozens of things that keep normal people awake at night and bickering among themselves. Just finding food is one simple goal that keeps them all working as an insane, but strong, cohesive unit,” I said.
“They sure do eat a lot. The least they could do is cook their food. Revolting.”
“Gore-hounds wouldn't like that. ‘The redder the better' is their motto,” I replied.
Zombos stopped walking. “What always amazes me is the sheer dim-wittedness of family and teenagers that are always placed in harm's way in these movies. You would think after all this time, with all the sordid chaos in the world, they would be better prepared to handle difficult situations and have a little bit of a clue. I mean, here you are traveling in the desert, hundred-plus degree heat, no water, no civilization, and you take the scenic route? And one that a spooky and unbathed gas station attendant, who obviously does not have much of a social life, tells you to take? In an '88 Airbus with no air-conditioning?
“Well, at least the detective father carried a few guns with him,” I said. “They shouldn't have split up though. It's always convenient to have soon-to-be victims always split up in movies, but that plot expediency is wearing thin.”
“That is another point,” Zombos said. “These mutated, sadistically maniacal families never split up. They always carry out well-orchestrated group attacks on those dim-witted and oh-let-me-go-off-alone family members.”
Zombos was on a roll. I rarely see him this reflective.
“That was quite an horrific scene,” I added, “using the father as a decoy to lure the family out of the trailer, and then attacking that poor girl. Quite a statement about why you shouldn't wear an iPod to bed, don't you think?”
“Biting off the head of that little defenseless parakeet, too,” Zombos added, shaking his head. “For shame. I did find that Test Village 3-B to be a horrific setpiece also.”
“You mean when the son-in-law goes through the mining tunnel and finds the mock-up town filled with mannequins? Yes, the mise-en-scene is well executed. His confrontation with the mutated maniacal family members is fast-paced and exciting. His baseball bat against an axe? I think I rather have the axe.”
“The big-brained fellow singing the national anthem was a wicked touch.” Zombos clapped his hands together. “Oh, now I get it, baseball bat and national anthem. Subtle.”
Zombos started walking, then stopped again. “That scene with the children was more horrific than anything else in the movie,” he said.
“Yes,” I replied, “in the midst of all that carnage and insanity, to have a hideously deformed child innocently ask you to play with her and her equally disturbing playmate… it was a masterful, almost poetic touch. I dread to think what snacks she's been having. No Fig Newtons or Oreos in that place.”
“Definitely not,” Zombos agreed. “I wonder how much longer we can watch such movies.
“Why is that,” I asked.
“It seems every hard horror movie relies on the same basic characterizations and script devices to sustain an often repeated storyline; and let us not forget the gore factor: that needs to keep escalating to provide shock value to those ever more jaded gore-hounds out there. Most of the elements in this movie, given that the direction and scripting is above average, still use the same old hash. Can redundant art sustain itself?”
“I'd say that most horror-heads just want to be scared, or shocked. Take the sequelization-antic ending. It's a cheap cliché ending that destroys the movie's triumphant moment, just to imply it ain’t over so wait for the next movie.”
"Yes," Zombos agreed. "But I hope the sequel is worth it."
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