He Isn’t the Plucky Hero, the Alliance Isn’t Some Evil Empire

Joss Whedon is a Leftist.  Despite his recent fall from grace on account of saying and doing mean things to actors on set, he believes in the cause.  All of his cinematic and television creations to some extent, are shaped by progressive concepts.  So, it always seemed a very strange thing that he created Firefly.  Based, he said, on a book about the battle of Gettysburg he imagined a universe where the elites defeated the freedom loving proles in an interplanetary civil war and these defeated forces maintained an outlaw existence at the edge of a distant new solar system among pirates and barbarians.

In the cinematic finale of this universe, the elites in the “Alliance” send out an agent to eliminate the renegades that have some dangerous secrets about the government’s experiments with controlling the behavior of the ordinary people.

During one encounter the agent recites the title of this essay.

He is portrayed as a true believer.  He is making a better world, a world free of sin.  And he’ll do this, no matter how many people he has to kill to get there.  The agent is polite, intellectual, cultured and completely ruthless.  Because he thoroughly believes in what he is doing.  In this portrayal I think Whedon was being completely honest in how he evaluated the Left and the Right.  The Left is polite, intellectual, cultured and completely ruthless.  The Right is crude, naïve, boorish and principled.  And for some reason Whedon sympathized with the Right, at least somewhat.  Possibly he recognizes the inherent lack of intellectual freedom that the Left always creates.  As a creative type himself, maybe he could see how restrictive life under this regime would be.

Well, all of the above is just a long digression because the line from the movie seems to encapsulate our reality.  Our rebellion isn’t like Star Wars.  It’s more like Firefly.  We don’t have any plucky heroes who will save the day by blowing up the Death Star.  We’re outnumbered, outgunned, outmatched in money and buried by the media and Corporate America.  The elites have a firm hand on the levers of power and we are just outlaws living on the margins trying to avoid being rounded up and chloroformed like some troublesome stray cats.

And if we look back through history all free societies seem eventually to collapse into oligarchies like ours.  But I haven’t been able to figure out what is the “smart” way to think and act in this environment.  If I had a strong enough stomach I probably should suck up to the elites and try to find a spot among their toadies.  But I’ve always had trouble convincing them I believed in their bilge.  Something about my sense of humor always gets me in trouble.

But what is the right answer?  Is there a way to live in such a society and still have any self-respect?  It doesn’t appear to be the case.  And what about children?  What do you tell them?  Look at the mess we have with Gen Y and Gen Z.  They’re living in a fantasy world and life will completely pass them by without leaving a trace.

So, there’s my thought.  The elites don’t appear to be vulnerable to anything we can do.  And waiting for their decadence to finish them off might take centuries.  I guess eventually Caesar or Theodoric will appear on the scene and we’ll get a different group of oligarchs and different bread and circuses.

But is it impossible to get a Brutus instead of a Caesar?  And not the Brutus who slew Caesar, not Marcus Junius Brutus, but rather his ancestor Lucius Junius Brutus, the one who overthrow the last Etruscan king Tarquinius Superbus and ushered in the Roman Republic.  Is it impossible that a member of the elites would side with freedom over power?  I think the answer is that it is impossible.  And the reason is that no one man, no matter how smart and strong can rearrange an empire once it’s built up.  All that can be done is bend its path slightly for a few years.

So I’ll finish by saying that there are plucky heroes and it is the evil empire and that in their prime, evil empires outlast plucky heroes every time.  It’s in their nature.  Better to look to the fringes of empire for where the successor to that empire will appear.

Disney Doubles Down … Again

The four-time Emmy winner and “Ms. Marvel” helmer told CNN that “it’s about time” a female filmmaker was behind a “Star Wars” film franchise installment. “Wonder Woman” filmmaker Patty Jenkins was previously attached to direct “Rogue Squadron” when it was announced in 2020; the film was removed from the Lucasfilm production calendar in 2021 and officially shelved in 2023.

“I’m very thrilled about the project because I feel what we’re about to create is something very special,” Obaid-Chinoy said of her upcoming sequel to “The Rise of Skywalker,” adding, “We’re in 2024 now, and it’s about time that we had a woman come forward to shape a story in a galaxy far, far away.”

Well I guess the only fitting comment is from Cartman.

(Not Safe For Work)

“Bugs, Mr. Rico. Zillions of em!”

ZMan takes the Dean of Science Fiction to task on his concept of a soldier only franchise in “Starship Troopers.”

Of course he’s rightly basing it on the book but even the highly toxic spin that the director took with the movie still made it a fun experience to watch them zap those bugs.  Hopefully some of Heinlein’s better novels and juveniles will be brought to the screen the way they deserve.

For fans (and detractors) of the book there is a lively discussion in the comments of the post.

Mercenary Rule

The Shining (1980) – A Horror Movie Review

I recently rewatched the movie “The Shining.”  This is the Stanley Kubrick film with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall in the lead roles.  I saw this movie in the theater when it came out and I am a huge fan of the Stephen King book that it is based on.  In fact, I believe the book was the best thing King ever wrote.

Kubrick is a famous director and I’m sure the deletions from the book’s plot and the changes made were necessary to bring the movie into a reasonable length.  But making these changes makes the movie a different story from the book.  And that makes the book a much richer story than the movie.

That being said, “The Shining” is a great horror movie.  Jack Nicholson was born to play Jack Torrance.  And Shelley Duvall is Wendy Torrance from head to toe.  Watching Jack descend into madness you could believe that no ghosts were necessary.  All of it could be credited to a combination of writer’s block, cabin fever and a disastrous marriage.

But the supernatural aspects of the story are blended into the psychological situation flawlessly.  You really can’t tell where one aspect ends and the other takes over.  The conversations between Jack and Wendy on the one hand and Jack and his spectral associates are so intertwined that it’s obvious that the ghosts understand Jack better than his own wife does.

The plot is telegraphed early on when Jack is interviewing for his job as winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel.  His employer ends the interview by revealing that a few years earlier a man named Delbert Grady who had taken on the job of winter caretaker had gone mad and chopped up his wife and two young daughters with an ax and then committed suicide with a shotgun.  His boss explained that living in the Overlook during the mandatory five-month winter isolation in the remote Colorado location had been known to cause “cabin fever” for some vulnerable souls.

Later on, Jack actually meets Mr. Grady when he shows up as a waiter in the spectral party that seems to run endlessly in the Overlook’s shadow world.  When Jack finds out his friend’s name he asks, “Weren’t you the caretaker here Mr. Grady?”  Grady claims to have no memory of that.  On being further prompted by Jack about his murders and suicide and Jack insisting, “You were the caretaker here.” Grady replies, “You are the caretaker Mr. Torrance, you’ve always been the caretaker here.”

And that’s the essence of how Jack’s destruction is accomplished.  The Hotel (in the person of Grady) plays upon Jack’s sense of failure and his resentment toward his wife and son because of the humiliating employment choices he’s had to make when he yearned to be a writer.  Now the Hotel plays up his importance and the trust that the Hotel has in his competence.  When the Hotel physically attacks his son Danny, Wendy tries to convince Jack to take them back to Denver.  Jack snaps and starts raving about his responsibilities to his employers.  But instead of meaning the owners of the hotel he’s talking about the ghosts.  And from there it’s only a short step to the ax and more murder.

I suspect most people have seen this movie and know the plot.  But I’ll stop there with the plot.  It’s too much fun to give it all away.  Suffice it to say that between little Danny’s gift (the “shining” of the title), the Hotel’s desire to possess Danny and that gift and Jack and Wendy’s deeply scarred marriage this is a powerful witch’s brew of supernatural and psychological horror.  In a later review I’ll tackle the book it’s based on.  And whether you read the book first or watch the movie I’ll leave it to you to decide.  But both are excellent within their medium.

Highly recommended.

(Strong Language warning for this clip)

Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter (2012) – A Science Fiction – Fantasy Movie Review

Words utterly fail me.  I understand that about $100 million was spent on this movie.  That seems inconceivable.  I also read that it actually made a small profit.  That also seems impossible.  And finally, that I didn’t stop watching this “film” at any one of a hundred places in the 105 minutes of running time is a source of great personal shame for me.

Who thought this thing up?  Who green-lit the project?  Who are these nincompoops?

The premise is that when Abraham Lincoln was a boy his father angered a bounty hunter who went after runaway slaves.  And since the bounty hunter was a vampire, he killed Abraham’s mother.  He vows revenge and when he grows up, he meets up with a vampire hunter and trains to become one.  It turns out that the hunter is also a vampire himself but you can’t have everything.

So armed with his silver-dipped ax, Old Abe rail-splits his way through the vampire kingdom and we discover that the South is not only filled with slavers, it’s chock full of vampires too.  You know I always suspected that.  Eventually Honest Abe puts away the ax and picks up the law books and becomes a politician and the rest is history.  That is until the vampires invade his White House and kill his young son.  And then they use undead troops to try to win the war for the South by overwhelming the Union Army at Gettysburg.  So Abe decides to seize all the silver tea sets in Washington DC to provide vampire killing weaponry for the troops.  There’s an overly long fight on a train headed over a bridge that is on fire supposedly bringing weapons to Gettysburg.  It turns out to be a meaningless plot twist but it goes on forever.

But with silver clad bayonets, bullets and cannonballs the tide is turned just in time for Lincoln to read his Gettysburg Address.  Mary Todd Lincoln gets to shoot the girl vampire that killed her son.  She shoots a toy sword with a silver chain out of a rifle and the chain embeds itself into the vampire’s head.  And this symbolizes something or other.

And that’s more or less it.  Amazingly, this is even stupider than it sounds.

I don’t suppose most people would watch a movie called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but just in case some innocent, trusting individual might stumble onto this turkey I felt compelled to put out this warning.  If you watch this movie, you will lose brain cells.  I myself lost at least three IQ points.

So to sum up, movies of the stupid, for the stupid and by the stupid have not perished from the Earth.

Whiling Away the Summer Days

As July draws to a close, I’ve been indulging in inconsequential trifles.  Yesterday I watched the remake of “Total Recall” with Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel.  The original with Arnold Schwarzenegger was a silly movie.  So was this.  But I think I liked the recent one better.  Not that it was any more sensible or was a masterpiece of cinematic brilliance but it was entertaining.

Then tonight we watched the first episode of the spy series “The Old Man” with Jeff Bridges.  And once again it wasn’t deathless theater but it was very entertaining.  We’re also watching the “Justified” sequel I guess you could call it.  Now, I really liked the original series a lot.  I don’t know that I’ll like this as much but it’s well done and definitely in the same vein as the earlier series.  So lately I’m not hating tv.

And since it stopped raining every minute, I’ve had a chance to get outside and do some macrophotography of bugs and flowers.  And that’s a lot of fun.  I’ve been testing out the advantages and disadvantages of using continuous autofocus with fast moving insects.  The primary disadvantage is that for the Sony A7IV camera magnified view is unavailable in continuous autofocus mode.  So, for instance, if you’re trying to get the eyes of a bee or butterfly perfectly focused you have to guess if the autofocus is precisely on the eye.  In single-shot autofocus I can engage a 5.5X magnified view that will let me see whether the eye or whatever else I’m trying to nail is perfect.  But often when these critters are crawling around, they can move out of focus almost immediately.  Plus, the magnified view ends as soon as the shutter is engaged and so it’s necessary to reactivate it after every photo.

Based on what I’ve seen in the last couple of days I’m starting to think that continuous autofocus is the way to go.  Especially if I use high speed multiple exposures (spray and pray mode).  This ends up filling up my memory card (and hard drive!) but the chance of getting the perfect shot is much more likely than with the single shot autofocus and single exposure mode.  Plus, it’s easier and as I’ve always admitted I’m an extremely lazy man.

And I’ve continued on my program of getting together with the grandsons one by one.  Last Saturday I had the twelve-year-old fellow over and he wanted a Star Wars marathon.  Luckily this was the “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”  I had forgotten just how bad the Ewoks were.  I also forgot just how goofy the scripts were.  Harrison Ford spends most of his time hammering away at some control components of the Millenium Falcon while whining about how it wasn’t his fault.  But we bonded over our shared belief that Imperial Stormtroopers were all pathetic losers without any detectable skills as warriors.  And finally, I rediscovered my disdain for Yoda.  As far as I could determine he was always wrong and of no value as a teacher or anything else.

On the upcoming Saturday, the sixteen-year-old is coming over and I believe it will be a “Lord of the Rings” film festival.  That should be fun.  For dessert he’s requested original Klondike Bars, of which I wholly approve.  It should be epic.

So, all of these things provide a welcome distraction from the slow-motion train wreck that is our national government.  I sometimes wondered what it must have been like to live through the more terrible chapters of the Roman Empire.  I think I now have a better idea.  Joe Biden is Tiberius and I guess Hunter is Caligula.  The FBI is the Praetorian Guard and we’re the rabble existing on bread and circuses.  But even if Tiberius was as sexually depraved as Joe, at least he was an able military leader.  Watching what Joe is doing to our foreign policy, or allowing others to do to our foreign policy, is frightening.

But enough doom and gloom.  Though we are perched on the slopes of Vesuvius we will eat, drink and be merry.  July is almost consumed but it will be relished to the dregs.

What Are the Best Science Fiction Movies?

Reviewing Aliens and hearing from folks who remembered it fondly got me thinking about what readers here consider the best sci-fi movies.  So, of course, I went to YouTube.  And here’s the list.

  1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  3. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
  4. Aliens (1986)
  5. Jurassic Park (1993)
  6. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  7. The Matrix (1999)
  8. Children of Men (2006)
  9. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  10. The War of the Worlds (1953)

Now, right off the bat, I disagree with several of the picks.  Neither “Planet of the Apes” or “The Day the Earth Stood Still” would be on my top ten movies list.  Planet of the Apes isn’t my idea of a sci-fi movie.  And The Day the Earth Stood Still is commie propaganda.  So, there’s that.

Some of the other movies are pretty good ones.  Now as for the order and any additional movies to pad out the top ten I’ll have to give it some thought.  But I think it’s a good talking paper to inspire discussion of what each of us considers to be good sci-fi movies.

Now here’s another list (see below).  This is IMDB’s “TOP 100 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time.”  There are a few commonalities between the top ten of this list with the former list.  But one interesting thing I noticed is that once you get past the top of the list the sequels start piling up.  Between sequels to “Back to the Future,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Predator,” “Jurassic Park,” “Star Trek” “Alien,” “Terminator” and “Star Wars” we’re looking at a lot of retreads.

What it made me think was that there really aren’t that many really good science fiction movies.  There are definitely a lot more good science fiction books than there are good movies.  Which I guess is kind of hopeful if you’re an optimist.  For instance, I saw that they’ve made a movie out of Asimov’s Foundation stories.  I saw the coming attractions.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell anything about it at all.  It could be great.  It could be awful.  But at least it’s a new movie.  It’s not a sequel.

So, I guess being a science fiction movie fan is all about being an optimist.  And in the larger world of science fiction/fantasy movies we were rewarded in the early 2000s with the Lord of the Rings movies.  So that tells me miracles can happen.  Maybe one day a true fan of Heinlein will reboot “Starship Troopers” without the nazi iconography or might even film “Have Spacesuit Will Travel.”

So, this will be an open thread to get some comments.  If you’d like to give your top sci-fi movie list or what story you’d like to see filmed in the future put it in the comments.  Later on, I’ll add some more of my own thoughts on what is a proper science fiction movie and what isn’t.

A last question for the audience.  Is “Escape from New York” really science fiction?

 

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. The Terminator
  3. Planet of the Apes
  4. Alien
  5. Blade Runner
  6. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  7. The Matrix
  8. Back to the Future
  9. Aliens
  10. Interstellar
  11. Contact
  12. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  13. The Road Warrior
  14. Predator
  15. The Thing
  16. The Man from Earth
  17. Edge of Tomorrow
  18. District 9
  19. Dark City
  20. Blade Runner 2049
  21. A Clockwork Orange
  22. Gattaca
  23. Jurassic Park
  24. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
  25. Mad Max
  26. Starship Troopers
  27. Minority Report
  28. 12 Monkeys
  29. Inception
  30. Back to the Future Part II
  31. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  32. The Abyss
  33. Looper
  34. T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  35. Star Trek: First Contact
  36. Stargate
  37. Ex Machina
  38. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  39. The Truman Show
  40. Children of Men
  41. The Martian
  42. Avatar
  43. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  44. The X Files
  45. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  46. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  47. Cube
  48. Star Trek
  49. RoboCop
  50. The Time Machine
  51. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  52. War for the Planet of the Apes
  53. Prometheus
  54. Total Recall
  55. They Live
  56. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  57. Sunshine
  58. Moon
  59. Super 8
  60. I Am Legend
  61. Signs
  62. The Fly
  63. Escape from New York
  64. Pacific Rim
  65. Dredd
  66. Oblivion
  67. Cloverfield
  68. Pitch Black
  69. Godzilla
  70. Back to the Future Part III
  71. Limitless
  72. Deja Vu
  73. War of the Worlds
  74. The Matrix Reloaded
  75. Elysium
  76. Enemy Mine
  77. The Butterfly Effect
  78. Predestination
  79. I. Artificial Intelligence
  80. Logan’s Run
  81. Another Earth
  82. Independence Day
  83. The Arrival
  84. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  85. Predators
  86. Outlander
  87. John Carter
  88. Alien³
  89. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  90. Phenomenon
  91. Predator 2
  92. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  93. Riddick
  94. Cloud Atlas
  95. Armageddon
  96. The Running Man
  97. The Fifth Element
  98. Waterworld
  99. The Day After Tomorrow
  100. Mimic

Aliens (1986) – A Science Fiction Movie Review

It’s a funny thing I had never seen Aliens in its entirety until today.  Somehow, I missed the first half hour of the movie and only came in when the main action was beginning.  So finally, I have the correct basis on which to judge it.

I won’t synopsize the plot because it’s an Alien movie so the plot is for Sigourney Weaver to outlive the rest of her fellow humans battling the aliens before ultimately jettisoning a xenomorph into the vacuum of space.

As in the original “Alien” movie Sigourney Weaver is Ellen Ripley a commercial astronaut who works for the evil Weyland-Yutani Corporation.  Fifty-seven years after the first Alien attack Ripley is discovered still in suspended animation in the shuttle craft that she used to escape the destruction of her ship the Nostromo.

The evil Weyland-Yutani Corporation was very unhappy about her blowing up their ship but when they find out that their terra-forming colony on the planet that the alien was found on has gone silent they send “space marines” and Ripley to fix things.  They also send Paul Reiser playing smarmy corporate yes man, Carter Burke to provide the requisite “greedy corporation wants xenomorph for bioweapon” subplot.  And finally, they throw in an android to show that despite what happened in the first movie, androids can be pretty swell people too.

And finally, to soften up Ripley’s Rambo impression, they throw in an orphaned little girl named Newt that Ripley rescues a few times over the course of the movie, proving that a modern woman truly can have it all.

So, the producers pull out all the stops.  Aliens are popping up everywhere in the industrial complex that serves as the venue for this first-person shooter game.  Bits of aliens and “molecular acid” are sprayed everywhere and one by one the marine platoon is picked off by the monsters.  Until finally we’re down to Ripley, Newt, android and the pick of the Marine crew, Corporal Dwayne Hicks played by the ever-popular Michael Biehn.  But during the final rescue of Newt on the planet Hicks is wounded by molecular acid and from then on, all the heavy lifting is done by Ripley.  Which she performs with panache, culminating in the above mentioned obligatory spacing of the mother alien (of course there’s a mother alien).

So, what did I think?  Well, I have some quibbles.  The plot contrives it that the marines can’t use their heaviest weapons because the industrial plant is a “thermonuclear” power plant and if any of their explosive charges rupture a heat exchanger line the whole plant will detonate.  Since it’s a cinch that all the colonists (except Newt) are already dead why are they bothering to throw away their lives in this death trap.  As Ripley so astutely recommended, “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.  It’s the only way to be sure.”  Also, they overdid it with the strong female characters and weak male ones.  Yeah, I know, I know.  “There’s nothing wrong with that.”  But honestly it is insulting and stupid.

But taken all in all the movie does provide an exciting action-adventure/science fiction/horror experience.  I won’t claim it’s my favorite but it is a worthy representative of its genre.  I will give it a recommended status.

Ad Astra (2019) – A Science Fiction Movie Review

(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)

Ad Astra (Latin for “to the stars”) is a science fiction movie starring Brad Pitt as astronaut Roy McBride whose father Clifford McBride (played by a decrepit looking Tommy Lee Jones) is inexplicably firing anti-matter particles back at Earth from the orbit of the planet Neptune.  The anti-matter will eventually destroy Earth so Roy is supposed to go to the Moon to catch a ride to Mars to broadcast a message to his father asking him not to destroy Earth, or something.  The why and how of all this is very odd.  Clifford has been MIA for twenty years on a mission called Lima that was somehow supposed to be looking for extraterrestrial intelligence (from somewhere near Neptune!).

Eventually we learn that Clifford murdered his crew long ago because they figured out, he was crazy.  When Roy gives his message on Mars Clifford doesn’t agree to cease and desist so the military outfits a mission to nuke Project Lima to erase the threat.  Somehow (but not believably) Roy stows aboard the rocket (after it blasts off) and without really trying he kills the whole crew that were trying to kill him.  Now he flies to Neptune and confronts his father who is completely nuts.  He sets the nuke and thinks he’s convinced Clifford to return to Earth with him.  But when push literally comes to shove, Clifford unshackles himself from Roy and heads off into empty, empty space.

Finally, Roy uses a hatch panel to protect himself while he takes a shortcut through the rings of Neptune and then somehow the nuclear blast that destroyed Project Lima was able to provide most of the kinetic energy to return him to Earth before Roy dies of old age.  And despite all the astronauts he killed getting out there the military decides to forgive and forget and so Roy finishes off by reciting some kind of humanistic spiritual affirmation statement of some kind or other and then gets back together with his ex-wife Liv Tyler.

Now maybe that sounds quite odd for a science fiction story.  And it is.  This is a somewhat confusing rigamarole.  So let me give my thoughts on it.  The visual effects are quite good.  Some scenes in low Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and aboard spacecraft are a lot of fun to watch.  But there are (I kid you not) space monkeys!  Which I kinda/hafta frown upon.  So, two points off.  Brad Pitt’s character starts out as an apparently emotionless robot who always saves the world from disaster without getting his pulse above eighty.  By the end he’s crying about his crazy father being crazy.  Tommy Lee Jones’ character is crazy so there’s not much there.  Donald Sutherland has a small part and he’s always crazy.  So, this movie doesn’t make a lot of sense.  For instance, how is Tommy Lee Jones investigating other life in the universe from Neptune.  Neptune is too incredibly cold for anything to live there.  And it’s not like it’s any closer to the stars than Earth.  Alright, I’ll stop making fun of the movie.  It’s a crazy movie, but like “2001: A Space Odyssey” it’s a visually enjoyable movie if you don’t care too much about the plot.  I recommend it for hard-core sci-fi film lovers who can live with space monkeys.

The Dead Don’t Die (2019) – A Horror Movie Review

Here is another movie for which I will not provide a spoiler alert.  This movie cannot be spoiled.  There’s nothing there to spoil.

For whatever reason, more than a few well-known actors and celebrities appeared in this ridiculous film.  The star is Bill Murray as Police Chief Cliff Robertson.   Adam Driver is Officer Ronnie Peterson, Robertson’s patrol partner.  Steve Buscemi is a farmer named Frank Miller.  Tilda Swinton is Zelda Winston, a samurai/funeral director/space alien.  Danny Glover is a hardware store owner.  Selena Gomez is Zoe, “a young traveler.”  Rosie Perez plays a tv reporter and Iggy Pop is a coffee guzzling zombie.  Carol Kane is a fat bloated drunken zombie who wants a drink.  And last but not least, Sturgill Simpson, who also sings the eponymous theme song of the movie (several times) is “Guitar Zombie.”  He is this by virtue of a guitar that is dragging behind his foot by the strings as he stumbles zombie-like through the night.

Most of the dialog is Murray and Driver speculating on the steadily increasing zombie body count in what I suppose is supposed to be the stoic tones of small-town cops.  They also break the fourth wall from time to time by mentioning what the script said would happen next.  And one strange character arc has Tilda Swinton interrupt her zombie slicing work to be picked up by an alien space ship and transported away.

The reason given for the appearance of the walking dead is that the Earth has “fallen off its axis” because of “polar fracking.”  Eventually, one by one, or in small groups all the townspeople are eaten by the zombies.  Finally Driver informs Murray that the movie ends with them dying while courageously fighting the zombies.  So, they get out of their squad car and get to it.  And not a moment too soon.

I’m not sure whether this movie had a script or whether the actors just extemporized.  There might have been a few moments that were mildly funny.  Steve Buscemi is funny even when he doesn’t mean to be.  But there aren’t many.  And by the middle of the movie, you’re just hoping it ends sooner than later.  But it doesn’t.  It goes on and on.  It’s a very long 103 minutes.

This movie must have an audience.  But that audience doesn’t include me.