REVIEW: CORONA ZOMBIES

Corona Zombies (2020)

Starring

Cody Renee Cameron (The Neon Demon)
Russell Coker (The Oval)
Robin Sydney (The Gingerdead Man)

Seven-Stages-to-Achieve-Eternal-Bliss-2Well, it was bound to happen. You really didn’t we’d get through this pandemic without a movie based on real life events, did you? Someone was bound to cash in on the crisis, and that person was none other than Charles Band of Full Moon Features. Honestly, besides maybe Lloyd Kaufman of Troma, Band is the person I believe best suited to make this ridiculously. Well he made it, and it’s damn funny.Seven-Stages-to-Achieve-Eternal-Bliss-2Corona Zombies follows the current event dealings with the Covid-19 virus. In the film, a special military group, known as the Corona Squad, are tasked with finding a crime kingpin who has stolen an enormous supply of toilet paper for himself and his goons. They fight their ways through the unrelenting jungle of Baltimore, MD (yes you read that correctly), fighting off hoards of the undead. We also take a glimpse into the life of the bubbly blonde called Barbie, as she tries to make it through the government imposed quarantine.Seven-Stages-to-Achieve-Eternal-Bliss-2Does this sound ridiculous? It absolutely is. But it’s even more ridiculous than you think. See, Corona Zombies isn’t really a full brand new movie. There are some new scenes shot, for sure, but those scenes are spliced with scenes from two other films. One of those movies is Zombies vs Strippers, and the other is the Italian zombie flick Hell of the Living Dead. With these three films edited together to become one, all new dialogue was recorded and dubbed over the existing footage to produce a new narrative.Seven-Stages-to-Achieve-Eternal-Bliss-2So is Corona Zombies a good movie? Well, not exactly. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the hell out of it. It was a hysterical satire dealing with the real life pandemic, as well as the government’s inept response to it. Some dialogue does fall flat, but there are lots of others that are so stupid I was cracking up. It’s not high brow humor, and it ain’t going to win any awards, but it was a lot of fun. The movie is barely an hour long, which does make it feel kind of rushed, but that’s because it was. The poster for the film was released the day after Band came up with the idea, before anything was really on paper. The film was finally completed just this Thursday, the DAY BEFORE it debuted on the Full Moon Features streaming service. Now I really wish we would get a brand new, feature length film about Corona Zombies.donald-trump-aparece-en-el-nuevo-y-revelador-trailer-de-corona-zombies-main-1586447036 (1)This film is not for everybody. No doubt many people will decry this as being in bad taste, and those people are probably correct. That being said, there is definitely an audience of folks out there who are into this kind of slapstick, poor taste horror comedy, and those people will enjoy it.

REVIEW: EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE

Aaron Paul in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

 

Starring

Aaron Paul (Westworld)
Jesse Plemons (Game Night)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Charles Baker (The Blacklist)
Matt Jones (Mom)
Scott Shepherd (Dark Phoenix)
Scott MacArthur (The Mick)
Tom Bower (THe Hills have Eyes)
Kevin Rankin (Claws)
Larry Hankin (The Last Hand)
Tess Harper (The Jackal)
Michael Bofshever (United 93)
Johnny Ortiz (Ali)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
Bryan Cranston (Power Rangers)
Jonathan Banks (Gremlins)
Cody Renee Cameron (The Neon Demon)

Aaron Paul in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)The movie begins with a flashback to Mike and Jesse chatting around the time they decided to get out of the meth business. Jesse asks Mike what he would do if he could start all over as a younger man. Mike says he would relocate to Alaska to start fresh. Jesse likes the idea and says he wants to put things right. Mike somberly shoots down that idea, saying “Sorry kid. That you can never do.”Aaron Paul in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)Cutting back to the present, Jesse escapes Jack Welker’s compound in an El Camino and hides out with Skinny Pete and Badger. He displays heavy signs of PTSD, never leaving his gun out of his sight. He calls Old Joe to dispose of the car, but Old Joe scans it and sees the LoJack has been activated. Joe flees and Badger, Skinny Pete, and Jesse do a three way car swap. Skinny Pete keeps the Camino, Badger drives off with Skinny Pete’s car and Jesse takes Badger’s.Aaron Paul in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)Jesse needs money. He has flashbacks to his time in captivity when Todd had him help with random tasks. It’s revealed that Todd killed a cleaning lady at his apartment because she found where he hid his drug money. Todd and Jesse drive out to the desert where Jesse buries her. During this job, Jesse finds a gun in glove compartment of Todd’s car after Todd asks him to retrieve a pack of cigarettes. He takes it with the intent to kill Todd, but ultimately decides not to.Aaron Paul in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)In the present, Jesse returns to Todd’s apartment for the money. However, Todd changed his hiding spot, leading to Jesse ransacking the place all night long to find the new hiding place. He finds it inside the door of Todd’s refrigerator just as two cops show up to collect any evidence left behind in the apartment. Jesse confronts them but refuses to become a cop killer and surrenders. The two cops freak out, revealing themselves to be imposters also looking for the money. Jesse tells them where the money is in exchange for letting him go. They split the money three ways. As Jesse leaves, he finally recognizes one of the fake cops as a welder who worked at Jack’s meth lab – he set up the metal rigging that Jesse was chained to.Aaron Paul in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)Jesse visits every vacuum repair shop in Albuquerque before finding the right one. He recognizes the van he almost fled in during the events of Breaking Bad. He uses the money to pay the repairman, Ed, but it’s not enough – Ed demands double because Jesse bailed last time. Jesse calls his parents and asks them to meet him at a park they would frequent during his childhood. After luring them and multiple cop cars stationed outside away from their house, Jesse breaks in and steals two pistols from his father’s gun safe.Jesse then goes to the welder’s shop and asks for more money – he only needs an extra $1800 and doesn’t wish to hurt anyone. Instead of giving him the money, the welder from Jack’s meth lab challenges Jesse to a duel – winner takes all the money. He sees the pistol Jesse has is old and inaccurate, believing that he has a much better gun. Jesse agrees to the duel. As the welder prepares to draw, Jesse aims the second pistol through his jacket pocket and shoots him dead. His partner reaches for his own gun, but despite firing a few rounds, he misses and Jesse kills him as well. He takes the money and blows up the welding shop to erase any evidence of his presence. He has a flashback to his time with Walter, where Walt tried to talk to him about his future. “You’re really lucky, you know that? You didn’t have to wait your whole life to do something special.” Jesse pays Ed, who smuggles him to Alaska. He hands Ed a letter to mail, addressed to Brock Cantillo. As Jesse drives off to start his new life, he has a flashback to his time with Jane. He tells her how he admires that she always lets the universe take her wherever it pleases. She says that is not always the best thing, for sometimes the universe pulls you to a bad place. “Sometimes, it’s better to make those decisions for yourself.”If you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you’ll enjoy this return to a familiar world. Jesse, perhaps the most troubled and complicated character of the original series, is a worthy subject of this story. His plight to escape his old life at his very lowest point means he needs to find a strength that we have never seen from him before, and for 120 minutes of well-thought-out storytelling this film brings that struggle alive.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 4

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

 

Starring

Kristen Bell (The GOod Place)
Jason Dohring (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Percy Daggs III (American son)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
David Starzyk (Bring it On 5)
Adam Rose (Santa Clarita Diet)
Ryan Devlin (Big Shots)
Julie Gonzalo (Freaky Friday)
James Jordan (Wind River)
Dawnn Lewis (Izombie)
Sarah Hyland (Modern Family)
Lukas Gage (Sickhouse)
Kirby Howell-Baptiste (The Good Place)
Patton Oswalt (Two and a Half men)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Izabela Vidovic (Supergirl)
J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Tyler Alvarez (American Vandal)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Mido Hamada (Unknown)
Kyle Secor (The Flash)
François Chau (The Tick)
Logan Miller (Escape Room)
Josh Duhamel (Transformers)
Patrick Cox (2 Broke Girls)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
Clark Duke (Kick-Ass)
Jacqueline Antaramian (Side Effects)
Paul Karmiryan (In The Vault)
Lukas Gage (American Vandal)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Patrick Wolff (Starship Troopers)

Chino and the ManIn Hulu’s revival of Veronica Mars, the title character (Kristen Bell) visits one of the many men she put behind bars as a teenager. Realizing that she’s still working as a private investigator, he snipes, “That was your job in high school, right?” Television shows are a product of a particular time in the lives of their characters, creators, and audiences. One of the biggest problems with the recent trend of belated-sequel seasons is that they try to act like nothing has changed for any of those groups when, say, a 32-year-old Rory Gilmore shouldn’t still be acting like a 20-year-old. This issue should be especially acute for Veronica Mars, which in its original run drew much of its power and verve from presenting a hard-boiled gumshoe who looked like she had just quit the school dance team. (She had, actually, in the wake of her best friend’s murder.)Chino and the ManBut the new eight-episode Hulu season is keenly aware that its heroine is stuck in neutral. It’s less surprising for her as an adult to be doing stakeouts and fending off gangsters at gunpoint. But it’s also sad and self-destructive — in a very film-noir kind of way — that she’s retreated to the role she had before she was old enough to vote. When her high school frenemy Weevil (Francis Capra) asks what’s wrong with her, she cracks, “You know, there are a range of opinions.” She spends as much of her narration beating herself up for mistakes and character flaws as she does helping us follow the complicated case that’s brought her back to television. And Bell is just as charismatic, vulnerable, and slick with the banter as she was when she could pass for an 11th-grader.newgirl-ep708_sc9-ray_1203_originalVeronica creator Rob Thomas presciently set the original series in a California beach town with no middle class — only the ultrarich and the people who work for them. The setting works even better amid our present-day class warfare, and the plot involves a series of bombings that may be connected to a movement to drive out the city’s few remaining mom-and-pop businesses. Chief among the early suspects: “Big Dick” Casablancas (David Starzyk), a real-estate mogul (and holdover from the original series; he’s the father of Ryan Hansen’s Dick) publicly insisting that “we need to get back to a better time.” There’s a healthy mix of new faces, including Patton Oswalt enjoying his celebrity as witness to the first bombing; J.K. Simmons at his most charming as an ex-con now working as Big Dick’s enforcer; Kirby Howell-Baptiste as a bar owner Veronica befriends; and Izabela Vidovic as a teen reminiscent of Veronica back in the UPN days. And Veronica of course works the case with her beloved father, Keith (Enrico Colantoni, appealingly relaxed as ever, even as Keith battles health issues), while still trying to make things work with high school flame Logan (Jason Dohring, who apparently lives at the gym now).9a8851bc-3c87-458d-9481-8e4ea386bca3-vmars_101_md_2021r_fThis is the second time Bell and Co. have returned to this world: A 2014 movie introduced us to Veronica as an adult. Perhaps because the film was funded by Kickstarter, Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright (who also co-wrote the new season) leaned hard into fan service, with a mystery that was largely an excuse to bring back as many old favorites as possible. It was fun in spots, but a violation of the bleak noir ethos of the original series, which was at its best when it denied the audience what it wanted and gave them what the story demanded. The Hulu version also features a host of familiar faces, like Max Greenfield as Veronica’s ex Leo (now an FBI agent looking into the bombings), but they turn up only when the plot calls for them. And the ending to this new mystery feels satisfying both to the narratives and to the themes of Veronica’s life as a woman who can’t stop looking for the truth, no matter how much it hurts.Keep Calm and Party OnThe conclusion is darker than some fans may want, but feels like a necessary corrective for this new phase of our heroine’s life. It’s a terrific return to form for one of television’s all-time great underseen gems