Zombeavers Is The Best Zombie Beaver Film Ever!!!!

ZombeaversOf the many deliberately ludicrous and over-the-top nature-gone-made films to be released in the wake of Sharknado, Zombeavers is one of the most impressive.  Certainly, it’s probably the best film that will ever made about zombie beavers.

The film takes place in one of those isolated areas of rural America where cell phones don’t work, everyone drives a pickup truck, and nobody would dare be seen without a shotgun in his hands.  Of course, if you’ve ever seen a horror movie before than you know that any area this isolated is going to inevitably be ground zero in a mutant beaver attack.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s all John Mayer’s fault.  Yes, that’s right, John “Your Body Is A Wonderland” Mayer.  He makes his feature film acting debut here, playing a dumbass trucker who, after his truck collides with a deer, ends up losing a barrel of toxic waste.  That barrel rolls into a nearby lake where it turns the local beaver population into zombeavers!

(Whenever I watch anything on Netflix, I always turn on the closed captioning.  One of the joys of watching Zombeavers came from getting to read sentences like “Zombeavers growl,” at the bottom of the screen.)

Meanwhile, three sorority sisters are spending the weekend at a nearby cabin.  Jenn (Lexi Atkins) is depressed because she caught her boyfriend cheating on her.  Zoe (Cortney Palm) is sarcastic, uses “bitch” as a term of affection, and owns a puppy named Gosling.  (I related to Zoe, despite being a cat person.)  Mary (Rachel Melvin) owns the cabin and is determined to have the perfect girls weekend.  Unfortunately, those plans are ruined by both the surprise arrival of their boyfriends and a sudden zombeaver attack…

Fortunately, there is a potentially crazy but helpful hunter wandering around the woods.  His name is Smyth (“Smyth with a y,” he says upon introducing himself) and he’s played by veteran character actor Rex Linn.  Linn doesn’t get much dialogue but he still manages to make every line memorable as he gives a performance that strikes a perfect balance between drama and parody.  At one point, Linn delivers a monologue about how, in the 1970s, everyone in the county got “beaver fever.”  It’s  ludicrous and the joke is so obvious but Linn bring so much commitment to the monologue and to his performance that he sells it.

And really, the same can be said for Zombeavers as a movie.  It’s ludicrous.  It’s silly.  There’s not a single beaver joke that doesn’t, at some point, get made.  And yet, the film works.  It’s a parody that somehow manages to remain credible.  Yes, the zombeavers are intentionally designed to look fake but you still would not necessarily want to come across one at the foot of your bed in the middle of the night.  Yes, the characters say a lot of silly things but the cast delivers those lines with both a straight face and a lot of conviction.  (In fact, all three of the lead actresses are totally natural and convincing in their roles.)  Everyone involved with the film — from the cast to crew — is so committed to the material that it works even when it shouldn’t.

Zombeavers is currently available on Netflix and should be watched by anyone who loves insane monster movies.  It’s the best movie about zombie beavers ever made.

Pixar Does It Again With Inside Out

Inside_Out_(2015_film)_posterInside Out is the latest brilliant film from Pixar’s Pete Docter and it will remind you why you fell in love with Pixar in the first place.

There are no talking cars or lovable monsters in Inside Out.  Instead, it’s the story of a very normal 12 year-old girl named Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias).  Or rather, it’s the story of what goes on in her head.  For most of the movie, Riley deals with experiences to which we can all relate: she moves to a new city, she struggles to relate to her well-meaning parents (voiced by Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane), and she tries to fit in at a new school.  Inside Out is a film about the small moments of life and how they all add up to create a bigger picture.

What sets Inside Out apart is the way that it tells its deceptively simple story.  Inside Out takes place almost entirely inside of Riley’s brain.  And it turns out that her mind is gigantic wonderland, one that is so big and complex that not even the characters who live there quite understand how it all works.  Bing Bong (Richard Kind), a pink half-elephant, half-cat, half-dolphin creature, spends his time wandering through the halls of memory and mournfully thinking back to when he was Riley’s imaginary friend.  Whenever Riley goes to sleep, the actors and directors at Dream Productions film a different nightly movie.  Meanwhile, Imagination Land is a fun place to visit but not a good place in which to live and past childhood traumass — like a gigantic stalk of broccoli and a terrifying birthday clown — are locked away deep in Riley’s subconscious, where they are guarded by officious policemen.   Zigzagging through this mental landscape is the literal Train of Thought.

And then, above it all, there’s Headquarters.  This is where five different emotions take turns “steering” Riley through life.  Fear (Bill Hader) is always nervous but, at the same time, keeps Riley safe.  Disgust (Mindy Kaling) prevents Riley from eating broccoli and hanging out with the wrong crowd.  Sadness, meanwhile, hasn’t had much to do over the past 12 years and, as a result, she spends most of her time standing in a corner and feeling … well, sad.  Sadness is voiced by Phyllis Smith, best known for playing Meredith on The Office.  Smith proves herself here to be a strong and empathetic voice artist.

Their unquestioned leader is Joy (Amy Poehler).  As befits her name and job, Joy is always positive, always upbeat, and always optimistic.  For 12 years, Joy has been in charge of steering Riley’s life but that all changes when Riley and her family move to San Francisco.  Suddenly, Joy finds it more difficult to keep Riley permanently happy.  Memories that were formerly color-coded yellow for happy start to turn blue.

When both Joy and Sadness are accidentally expelled from the Headquarters, it’s up to the three remaining emotions to try to keep Riley well-balanced until they can return.  However, the journey back up to the Headquarters is a long and dangerous one, full of some of the most imaginative (and metaphorical) imagery in Pixar’s history.  Joy and Sadness will have to work together to make it.

And really, that’s what makes Inside Out so special.  It’s the rare family film that acknowledges that allowing ourselves to feel sad is often as important as being happy.

Inside Out is a brilliant coming-of-age story and one of the best films of the year.  It’s a film that will make you laugh and cry and will remind you of why you fell in love with Pixar in the first place.  Kids will love the humor and adults … well, adults will probably be trying to hold back the tears.

What a great film!

Thank you, Pixar.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Daria Nicolodi Edition!

Daria Nicolodi in Tenebra (1982, dir by Dario Argento)

Daria Nicolodi in Tenebrae (1982, dir by Dario Argento)

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films.  As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

I have to admit that I’m breaking the rules here.  When Arleigh first suggested 4 Shots From 4 Films as a feature here on Through the Shattered Lens, I promised myself that I would pace myself and, at most, only contribute once on a weekly basis.

But then, after Arleigh posted the first entry in 4 Shots From 4 Films, I realized that it was Lucio Fulci’s birthday and, being the lover of Italian horror that I am, there was no way that I could pass up the chance to post a Fulci-themed 4 Shots From 4 Films.  And now, less than 24 hours later, I find myself posting yet another 4 Shots From 4 Films.

But can you blame me?  It’s Daria Nicolodi’s birthday and, if you love Italian horror, then you know just how important an actress Nicolodi is.  Not only did Daria Nicolodi serve as the inspiration for what is arguably Dario Argento’s best film, Suspiria, but she also appeared in Mario Bava’s classic Shock.  The combination of her undeniable talent and her outspoken and eccentric style — there is no such thing as a boring Daria Nicolodi interview — has made Daria Nicolodi into an icon of horror cinema.

And, on top of all that, she’s Asia Argento’s mother!

So, indulge me because, as a lover of Italian horror, there is no way that I could pass up a chance to present our readers with 4 Shots From 4 Films: The Special Daria Nicolodi Edition!

Deep Red (1975, dir by Dario Argento)

Deep Red (1975, dir by Dario Argento)

Shock (1977, dir by Mario Bava)

Shock (1977, dir by Mario Bava)

Inferno (1980, dir by Dario Argento)

Inferno (1980, dir by Dario Argento)

Delirium (1987, directed by Lamberto Bava)

Delirium (1987, directed by Lamberto Bava)