Friday, December 30, 2016


I’m a positive person.  I try not to dwell on the losses and the setbacks.  There are good things that happen every year, hopefully more than bad, but focusing on the good gets you over the rough patches.  I have to be honest though, 2016 has been a real dickhole.  I have been punched in the gut too many to times to maintain my upbeat opinion of this year.  It cannot end fast enough for me.  So I’m focusing all my positivity on the new year.  I don’t know if it’s realistic, but I’m expecting there will be battles won, changes made, people brought together, and not so much death.  Therefore, I’m welcoming 2017 with the most heartwarming and joyous thing I can imagine: ninjas.  Not just any ninjas, 1980’s ninjas.  Not just any 1980’s ninjas, but the craziest, most balls out, most ‘80’s 1980’s ninjas around, Cannon Films’ 1984 classic, NINJA III: THE DOMINATION.        

The Capsule:
A lone ninja with no name (David Chung) assassinates a yuppie scientist on a golf course.  He also kills about half of the Arizona police force.  They come at him with motorcycles, police cars, helicopters, golf carts, nothing can stop him.  Finally, after being shot several hundred times, he slips away from the cops and transfers his spirit into a telephone linewoman named Christie (Lucinda Dickey).  At first, nothing seems to change for Christie.  She aerobicizes, mercy dates the pathetic cop who’s been stalking her, and beats up a bunch of muscle heads who are harassing women.  Just a normal day.  Things get complicated when her ninja side takes over and starts rubbing out the surviving cops from the golf course.  Meanwhile, badass Yamada (Shô Kosugi) comes to town on the trail of the ninja who killed his master and threw a shuriken in his eye.  Christie’s loser cop boyfriend Secord (Jordan Bennett) becomes worried that Christie's increasingly strange behavior and zombie like appearance might be connected to all of his friends getting ninja killed.  Can Secord and Yamada figure out how to exorcise the evil spirit before it kills every single person in the movie?

There are few things as pureheartedly stupid as ninja movies.   They don’t care about plot, or drama, or realism, they just want to make you happy.  They are like puppies, in that way.  Big, dumb puppies with throwing stars and explosions.  The phenomena came about in the 1980’s as America’s answer to the Kung Fu craze of the 1970’s.  Except that ninjas are based in Japanese tradition, the main producers of ninja films, Golan and Globus, were Israelis, and the star of the first one was Franco Nero, an Italian, but other than that, completely American.   As with most Cannon films, the action was clumsy and hokey, but they made up for it with glorious excess.

The opening for this film is the stuff of legend.  The Black Ninja, who must be named because of his mood, since he never wears black, enters his secret ninja cave somewhere in Arizona.  He takes a moment to lovingly gaze at his back lit stash of swords, knives, and many, many shurikens.  Then he’s off to assassinate some hoity-toity golf loving scientist for reasons never made clear.  Sure, the Black Ninja could have just shot him with an arrow and slipped away without anyone noticing, but that is not his style.  Instead, he walks up in broad daylight, slaughters a half dozen bodyguards, the scientist, and the scientist’s girlfriend.  Probably the caddie, too.  Next, he goes after the scores of cops racing to the scene and decimates them in varied and spectacular fashion.  He punches through a car roof, leaps from a tree onto a helicopter, and throws a ninja star with his foot.  This is all in the first ten minutes.  

The message here:  if you are looking for an inconspicuous way to assassinate someone, DO NOT hire this guy.  

The police finally put enough bullets in him to put him down.  At least until the cops get close enough for him to pop back up and kill a half dozen more of them.  After a quick smoke bomb disappearance, he staggers away into the desert.  Fortunately for him, he runs into Christie and transfers his soul to her, CHILD’S PLAY style, before giving up the ghost.

Lucinda Dickey was hilariously inappropriate as a break dancer in BREAKIN’ (also from Cannon Films), and she is equally inappropriate as a ninja.  It’s not a total miscast, though.  She is athletic enough to believably pull off some basic ass kicking.  For instance, she wipes the floor with a whole gang of ‘roided out scumbags from her gym who were threatening to rape her.  Scenes like that are always welcome.  This one comes with an extra pinch of Cannon oddness since there is an entire group of bystanders watching the whole thing.  They jeer the thugs hassling Christie and cheer as she beats the crap out of them.  There is even a cop in the crowd.  Thanks for the emotional support, guys.

Once the real ninja action gets going, though, almost all of Christie’s fights are handled by a stuntman.  Since she wears the suit and mask every time the ninja takes over, it should have been an easy deception to pull off.  Cannon, however, does not give a single shit about continuity.  There is even a scene where Christie leaps—unmasked—out of a window, in slow motion.  Plenty of time to verify that, yep, it’s a dude with bushy black hair.  At least he didn’t have a mustache.  Even stranger, Christie is shown in the background driving away from the scene, and it is still the stuntman.  

Dickey’s best scenes are ones that have nothing to do with fights or stunts.  Christie is far from a feminist role model, but she does have some admirable traits.  She is bold, opinionated, and she comes off much more competently than her whiny cop boyfriend, a man who tries to woo her by stalking and then arresting her.  When she finally breaks down and brings the loser to her apartment, she is the one making all the moves.  She pours V8 juice down her chest and makes him lick it off.  Yeah, I know, her seduction technique could use a little work, but he doesn’t complain.  Not that she would care if he did.

It should also be noted that her favorite way of dealing with stress (and possession) is to launch into a FLASHDANCE style dance routine.  At least it is until the glowing floating sword that is haunting her apartment slices the hi-fi in half.  

Christie’s apartment, by the way, is possibly the best character in the movie.  It's as if the ‘80’s was compressed down to its essence and used to decorate a loft.  It has neon lights, a framed picture of Duran Duran’s Rio cover, a payphone on the wall, and a full sized video game cabinet (Bouncer).  There are also weird touches like some kind of stone Buddha head in a birdcage and a tuba hanging from the wall.  There is a creepy mannequin wearing a trench coat and motorcycle helmet lurking by the front door.  I had hoped it would become animated and attack someone, but that went unrealized.  The video game machine does play a major factor, though.  The spirit of the Black Ninja shoots a laser show from it to hypnotize Christie.  It’s good to see he’s staying up with the times.

Dickey does do a decent Linda Blair.  Her wussy boyfriend, Secord, worried about her strange behavior, persuades her to see an Asian mystic.  This is after a medical doctor pronounced her completely normal, aside from some slightly elevated extra-sensory perception (ESP is not considered unusual in Arizona, apparently).  Christie plays along and goes to see Miyashima, who is played by the great James Hong.  As soon as he has her completely restrained (standard practice for all mystic consultation), her ninja half takes over completely.  She becomes ghostly pale and does circle flips around her chains.  Miyashima immediately freaks the fuck out and does everything not to piss off the spirit.  He gets telekinetically pinned against the wall anyway.  Secord looks on with his standard reaction of mild confusion.  After the craziness dies down, Secord asks Miyashima how to get rid of the evil spirit.  He dramatically tells him, “Only a ninja can kill a ninja.”

Which begins one of the best segues ever, Yamata literally popping up from the bushes.  Shô Kosugi was in familiar territory here, having been in Cannon’s previous two ninja movies, ENTER THE NINJA and REVENGE OF THE NINJA (he played a ninja).  Pick any high profile ninja movie in the ‘80’s and Shô is likely to be in it.  He’s the quintessential ninja, confident, mysterious, and an excellent martial artist.  He seems too cool for this movie. Yamata is probably my favorite of his roles.  He is so dope that he wears a sword hilt for an eye patch and conceals a mini-blowgun in his empty eye socket.  That is really making the most of a disability.  

He takes it easy on the innocent non-ninja who get in the way of his revenge.  Cops are incapacitated with acupuncture (probably feeling relaxed and refreshed when they wake up).   He also takes out a couple of security guards by bonking their heads together, Three Stooges style.

Yamata also wants to curtail the Black Ninja’s from-the-grave cop murdering spree without harming Christie.  He tells Secord to bring her to the old Shaolin temple in the desert (Arizona is famous for its Shaolin temples).  He fails, of course, because he’s Secord, but Ninja Christie comes anyway.  Yamata manages to return the Black Ninja’s spirit to his body, leaving Christie unharmed, but now he has a super powered zombie ninja to deal with.  Seems like the Black Ninja would have gone with this option in the first place, what with his love of relentless killing and all.  It would have left much less time for aerobics routines, though.

In addition to this and REVENGE OF THE NINJA, director Sam Firstenberg went on to make AMERICAN NINJA, AMERICAN NINJA 2: THE CONFRONTATION, and as a change of pace, AMERICAN SAMURAI.  The demise of Cannon Films pretty much brought about the end of the ninja movie, though there has been a more recent resurgence with NINJA ASSASSIN and Isaac Florentine’s NINJA and NINJA II.  These are technically much better films with legitimately stunning fight sequences (particularly Florentine’s movies), but the goofy heart of the ninja will always be in the ‘80s.  

So this New Year’s Eve, put away the fireworks and break out the smoke bombs.  Let’s rock 2017 like a ninja.  A good ninja, not a bad one.  You get what I’m saying.

C Chaka

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Heartwarming Tale of Switchblade Santa - CHRISTMAS EVIL

It’s that magical time of year again and nothing says Christmas like a deranged, knife wielding man in a grubby Santa suit (your yuletide traditions may vary).  Last Christmas, I took a brief look into SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT.  This year my gift to you is a full length rambling on one of the more esoteric killer Santa movies around, 1980’s CHRISTMAS EVE (aka YOU BETTER WATCH OUT).

The Capsule:
Harry (Brandon Maggart) is traumatized as a boy when he sees Santa (actually his dad) getting down and dirty with his mom late one Christmas Eve.  Skip ahead thirty years and Harry is a peculiar sad sack with a Santa obsession who works at a joyless toy factory.  When not picking up extra shifts for his manipulative co-workers, he’s spying on the local children and keeping notes on who is being naughty and nice.  After becoming infuriated by his boss’s plan to selfishly scam a charity, Harry super glues on a white beard and decides to become the jolly old elf himself.  He breaks into people’s houses, bringing toys to the nice children, sacks of dirt to the naughty ones, and a spike in the eye to some snooty rich bastards.  Harry’s sanity continues to deteriorate, and soon he finds himself hunted by both the police and a neighborhood mob bent on bloody justice.  

I have to get this out of the way from the start.  What the hell is with horror movies of this period and kids growing up into homicidal maniacs after catching their parents having sex?  I have no doubt that would mess up a little guy, but drive him to murder?  Where did we get that notion?  Has there ever been a recorded serial killer who said, “Well, it all started when I walked in on my dad dressed like a French maid getting it on with my mom.”  In horror movies, it’s almost guaranteed to fill a kid with repressed psychotic urges.  It happens in NIGHTMARE and PATRICK.  There is a variation on the theme in PIECES.  

And it happens here.  Young Harry sneaks down the stairs to witness Santa sliding his hands up his mother’s gams.  That’s all it took to plant the murderous seed.  At least Billy from SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT saw his parents being killed by Santa.  I can understand how that could leave a mental scar.  In comparison, Harry’s motivation for becoming a Yuletide slayer seems like an overreaction.  I haven’t really researched this, to be honest, so maybe there is a precedent.  Maybe the dude who wrote “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” went on a killing spree years later.  

Pre-spree, Harry does an admirable job of trying to deal with his trauma on his own.  As part of his flooding therapy, he has learned to love the shit out of the spirit of Christmas.  He sleeps in Santa pajamas, has loads of Santa memorabilia tacked up on his apartment walls, and proselytizes to his co-workers at the toy factory about the importance of making quality toys and bringing joy to the children.  Oh, and he watches children through binoculars and records their behavior in giant, leather bound books.  That part is less admirable.

Those actions made Harry come off like a weirdo back then, but these days, it makes him seem like he should be behind bars for that alone.  It’s a bit more than a warning sign.  He also has an extremely harsh rating system for who is naughty and who is nice.  Most of the kids on his block are courteous enough to make it in the nice book, but he gives the Penthouse reading Moss an entire page of demerits.  One of them is for picking his nose.  Back off, dude, the kid thought he was alone.  Everyone has to pick their nose sometime.  It’s not like he’s torturing cats, or, you know, spying on people.

All the kids seem to like him, though.  They call out to him when he’s walking down the street, playing a game of “What Would You Wish For” with him.  He’s pleased with all their answers until Moss wishes for a lifetime subscription to Penthouse.  Harry doesn’t say anything, but his look screams, “Son of a bitch!  You ruined it!”

This is a weird little horror movie.  It's more of a slow burn character study, like WHEN A STRANGER CALLS or DRILLER KILLER, than a rampage movie like the SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHTs.  Brandon Maggart does a great job giving this socially awkward basket case a bit of a sympathetic side.  He delivers presents to disabled kids.  He stands up for children against their selfish and oblivious parents.  The final push that transforms him—body and mind—into Santa comes from his moral disgust at his greedy and corrupt boss.  He has good intentions, but he has a messed up way of going about them.

Maggart's portrayal masterfully flows back and forth between compassionate and creepy as fuck.  His giddiness as he makes his Santa suit and stuffs his sack with toys is heartwarming, but then he is seen working in his toy workshop surrounded by the twisted, evil play things he’s made.  He breaks into a house with a knife, only to use it to cut the twine on all the presents he puts under the tree.  

My favorite example of his conflicting motivation is when he is entertaining a bunch of kids at an office party he gets pulled into.  Everyone is laughing and smiling when Santa says he will bring more gifts for the good boys and girls next year, but if they are naughty, he will bring them something…horrible.  There is a beat of dead silence and then Harry bursts out laughing.  The kids start laughing right along, but the awkward smiles and sideways glances from all the parents are priceless.

Most of the movie is about building the tension and dread that horrible things are going to happen, but there is one fantastically random payoff of violence.  Harry is standing in front of a church that is letting out of midnight mass.  A group of snobbish yuppies surround him and start making fun of him for handing out presents.  One fop proclaims “I have superlative tastes.” Harry shows him a handcrafted toy soldier and then stabs him in the eye with it.  He dispatches the others with a candy cane striped hatchet.  I guess the most severe section of the naughty list is reserved for condescending pricks.

Maggart still manages to be sympathetic after this horrific outburst because Harry has a genuine desire to be Santa and bring joy to children, rather than simply be a maniac in a Santa suit looking for vengeance.  It’s just not going well for him.  There is a great scene where he attempts to enter a house though the chimney.  His reaction changes from excitement at the thought of it, to disappointment when he realizes it won’t work, to panic when he gets stuck.  He eventually frees himself, but it is nearly an unceremonious end to his new career.  

Even though the movie plays up the tension when kids are around Harry, the worst punishment he doles out for “naughty” ones is delivering a sack of dirt to the doorstep of the Penthouse enthusiast.  If he wasn’t so outrageously misguided and inappropriate, his relationship with the kids might be considered sweet.  Near the end, when he’s hunted by the cops and looking bedraggled, a group of boys and girls spot him in an alley and surround him adoringly.  The kids’ parents come around the corner and realize he must be the killer Santa everyone is talking about.  One tough guy dad in a leather jacket comes at him with a switchblade, but the children form a protective circle around Harry.  The bruiser’s daughter even attacks him, making him drop his knife, which she pick up and hands to Harry.  I was expecting the moral of this story to be: “Kids, if you see a dirty Santa in an alley, don’t hand him a switchblade”, but Harry just runs away without harming the kids or their parents.

In fact, the only kid that ever gets hurt is Moss the pervert.  When he tells his mom (played by Patricia Richardson, the mom from Home Improvement) that Santa is lurking in the bushes, she hauls off and slaps him across the face.  The parents in this movie come off looking as bad as Harry, and sometimes worse.  She’s the one who should get the sack of dirt.

Incidentally, a lot of familiar faces show up in tiny roles in this movie.  Harry’s brother Phil is played by Jeffrey DeMunn, famous from Hill Street Blues, The Walking Dead, and everything Frank Darabont has ever done.  Mark Margolis—Tio Salamanca from Breaking Bad—shows up briefly.  Raymond J. Barry—Arlo Givens from Justified—is a police detective.  It’s a movie that will have you saying, “Hey, it’s Whatshisname!” a lot. 

Eventually, the story goes fully into FRANKENSTEIN territory with an angry mob chasing after Harry.  With torches, even!  Any Neighborhood Watch that keeps premade torches handy—in New York, no less—is not fucking around.  No pitchforks, unfortunately.  Harry can't even find sanctuary with his brother.  Phil, furious at Harry for his poor life choices and generally being a bad brother, winds up almost choking him to death.

The film’s strangest turn is saved for the end.  [Spoiler]  As Harry drives off in his van with a sleigh panted on the side, he swerves to avoid the mob and runs off a cliff.  Instead of plummeting to his death, Harry laughs in wonder as his van flies across the night sky, while a narrator recites the final line of “The Night Before Christmas”.  

My first reaction to this was yelling “holy what the fuck?!”  On reflection, however, there might have been a few subtle hints here and there that suggests this was more than a straight forward psycho Santa movie, like when it started to snow when Harry shouts “Merry Christmas!”  Now that I think about it, maybe that wasn’t Harry’s dad fondling his mom by the fireplace, maybe it really was Santa.  Or perhaps the magic of Santa lives in all of us. 

But especially the creepy weirdos.

C Chaka

Friday, December 16, 2016

Frankenstein’s Movie - DOOMSDAY

There are a lot of options out there to satisfy your thirst for post-apocalyptic action.  Try a little After the Bomb highway mayhem.  Maybe a good dystopian future is your thing.  Zombies are always a possibility.  Or, if you're Neil Marshall in 2008, you could just chop it all up and haphazardly sew the pieces into a lurching genre monstrosity called DOOMSDAY.

The Capsule:
Sometime in the early 21 century, Scotland is plagued by the Reaper Virus (note to scientists, don’t let heavy metal bands name your virus).  In order to contain the infection, the British government walls off the entire country.  When the Reaper Virus resurfaces in London 30-odd years later, the government sends an elite military team into the wasteland in search of Dr. Kane (Malcolm McDowell), who was working on a cure.  Led by badass Major Sinclair (Rhona Mitra), the team must battle hordes of cannibal punks and medieval knights (!) through decaying cities, open roadways, and tourist attractions of post-apocalyptic Scotland.  Even if they manage to find a cure and get out, they will have to deal with Canaris (David O'Hara), a nefarious politician who may not have the public’s best interest at heart.

DOOMSDAY is another case of the advantage of going in with super low expectations.  I heard this movie was terrible, even from a person who’s taste is remarkably close to mine (yes, those people do exist).  But I enjoyed director Neil Marshall’s other work, DOG SOLDIERS and especially THE DESCENT, so I figured as long as it wasn’t a bunch of people leaning in the corner pissing themselves for two hours, I would get something out of it.  I am happy to say it is not two hours of people pissing themselves.  It has some serious problems, but despite everything, I kind of dug it.  

This movie can make no claims at originality.  It’s filled with such blatant lifts that it can’t even be called homage with a serious face.  Obviously, I have no problem with rip-offs (see GRIZZLY, THE CAR,
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP), even unofficial remakes like LOCKOUT.  The interesting thing with DOOMSDAY is that it doesn’t just rip-off one film, it rips-off a half dozen of them and blends them together into an oddball smoothie.  DOOMSDAY is clearly a take on ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and ROAD WARRIOR, but it also has elements of GHOST IN THE SHELL (the anime), ALIENS, 28 DAYS LATER, and most bizarrely, EXCALIBUR.  

It is amusing how brazen Marshall is about his cinematic larceny.   He’s kind of playfully smirking about it.  A Carpenter-esque electronic theme plays when Sinclair is being briefed about sneaking into and escaping from the Scottish surrogate for New York.  Two minor characters are named Carpenter and Miller.  The open roads are filled with MAD MAX cast offs, even though there is no real reason for it.  The scene where Sinclair’s team searches Kane’s seemingly abandoned lab evokes ALIENS so intentionally that they use some of the same dialogue.  Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs)—check, yellow rotating emergency lights—check, close quarter gun battles against silent, relentless foes—check.  The only thing missing was a power loader, and that is just because it suddenly changed gears back to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.  

Major Sinclair is more GHOST IN THE SHELL’s Major Motoko than Snake Plissken (although she does occasionally wears an eye patch when she’s using her robot eye to look around corners).   Rhona Mitra—who, it turns out, is not Cate Beckinsale—plays her with an icy proficiency.  She never loses her cool even when she is surrounded by people who want to kill and/or eat her.  The closest she comes is her irritation at the guard who keeps whacking her with his spear while she’s trying to talk, up until the moment she kills him with one blow.  Do not interrupt this woman.

She is such a badass that her boss gives her 46 hours to complete her mission.  If they had given her the full two days, she would have just spent the last two hours waiting at the extraction site, smoking.  They had to make it challenging for her.

Sol (Craig Conway), the chairperson of the Glasgow Cannibal League (not sure if that is the official title), is a kick.  He lacks Issac Hayes’ A1 King of New York coolness, but he makes up for it in batshit showmanship. His court is like a post-apocalyptic Cirque du Soleil, with brawling punks spinning on ropes, fire jugglers, and bikers doing stunts in the center ring.  Sol comes strutting out on stage with his fur lined leather coat and receding Mohawk, The Fine Young Cannibals blaring from the speakers.  He gets the crowd amped up about the impending execution/barbecue of one of his captives by throwing paper plates to the crowd.  It’s more of a symbolic gesture; these guys are more into grabbing handfuls of cooked meat than having a proper picnic.  

In fact, I think the whole cannibal angle is mostly for show.  There don’t seem to be enough non-cannibal affiliated people around for these guys to sustain a full man eating lifestyle.  Plus, it is shown that there are huge herds of wild cows just outside of Glasgow, so they are clearly not desperate for food.  Cannibalism is merely a status thing in Scotland.  Every once in a while they make a big show out of eating a dude.  They are kind of like lapsed Catholics only going to Mass at Christmas.  

Malcolm McDowell’s role is not nearly as meaty (cannibal pun!).  Kane is the standard brilliant scientist driven mad by isolation and paranoia, holding power through ruthless dogma.  He makes grandiose but senseless statements like, “In the land of the infected, the immune man is king.”  Since all the hundreds of survivors in Scotland are immune, doesn’t that make everyone a king?  Clearly people just go along with him because Malcolm McDowell makes everything sound dramatic and important.

More interesting by far is the whacked out medieval world he’s built.  His people haven’t just adopted a simpler way of life, they’ve gone full Renaissance Fair.  There are serfs and blacksmiths and dudes with hay carts.  I think I saw Hodor in one crowd shot.  Sinclair even has a fight with the Black Knight!  I am sure none of the extras had any idea they were in a movie set in the future.  And as soon as they escape the castle, bam, straight into the ROAD WARRIOR.  You could get whiplash from this movie.  

You could also get whiplash from the fight scenes, which unquestionably are the worst thing about the movie.  They are cut so quick and shaky, I had no idea what was going on most of the time.  Sinclair’s fight with Sol’s girlfriend, Tattoo Face (Lee-Anne Liebenberg, officially named Viper, but I’m sure you will agree Tattoo Face is more appropriate), is an absolute nightmare.  It plays out like an epileptic seizure until the moment Tattoo Face gets decapitated.  At least Marshall gave us a moment to appreciate that gag.

The Black Knight fight at least provided a few wide shots that last more than a half second.  This was especially important since the opponents are so unevenly matched (he has a full suit of armor, she has a tank top).  It does establish that she has the advantage of speed and she targets the knight’s weak spots, making her victory at least somewhat plausible, but the whole thing could have been done so much better.  Given that Marshall (and his DP, Sam McCurdy) went on to do some absolutely eye popping fight sequences for Game of Thrones, this seems especially embarrassing.  The problem is more with the editing, my opinion.  This is a great looking movie and many of the shots are beautifully composed.  It's a pity you barely get the chance to see them.

Then there are the ROAD WARRIOR sequences, which have their own issues.  It is a nice juxtaposition to see a bunch of crazy, spiked up wasteland vehicles chasing after a brand new, shiny Bentley, but if you are competing with George Miller at his own game, you are going to lose.  The bad guy’s cars look more conspicuously designed than efficiently and realistically pieced together, and there just isn’t enough creative stunt work.  There are a few nice moments, like when the Bentley drives straight through Sol’s Murderbus.  It’s an impressive endorsement for Bentley, because the car makes it through without a scratch.  Forget muscle cars and tanks, this is the baby you want to be tooling around in after the fall of civilization.  

It’s also a cute touch that Sol has his dead girlfriend propped up beside him in his car, and she keeps getting more and more accidental abuse.  It turns out to be a very misguided gesture of affection.

Even though he stumbles on the action, Marshall sticks to his horror roots and makes it nice and bloody (at least in the unrated version I have).  The squibs are super juicy, heads explode, and the virus makeup is mega gross and boily.  The wide eyed doctor from Sinclair’s team actually stops running for a second just so he can wince when a biker punk has a messy wipeout.  Overall, it is very satisfying.  

Another bright spot in the movie is Sinclair’s boss, Bill Nelson, played by Bob Hoskins.  He’s mostly just in the 28 DAYS LATER style London under siege by the infected scenes, and he plays the same guy Bob Hoskins always plays, but any Bob Hoskins is refreshing.  I love that he represents the Cockney perspective in the austere, upper crust Parliamentary briefings.  He gets to use the phrases “tits-up” and “fuck-all” in the same speech.  It’s a nice counter to Alexander Siddig’s wimpy Prime Minister Hatcher and the overtly evil Canaris.  

In the end [Spoiler], Sinclair gives Nelson the recording she made of Canaris’ boasting about letting all the poor people in London die out before offering the cure to the virus.  The implication being that Nelson will release it to cause a huge public outcry against Canaris.  Because we all know that releasing a recording of damaging statements and showing a cavalier attitude toward abuse of power will end a politician's career instantly.  Unless Canaris explains it was just “locker room talk”.

Extra crazy points for the last scene.  Sinclair has decided to stay in the Scottish Wastelands, for some reason.  She goes back to Glasgow and presents the cannibal punks with Sol’s head.  After a second to reflect, they all cheer and accept Sinclair as their new leader.  I don’t quite see her motivation for doing that, but those guys do seem like a fun bunch and they really know how to throw a barbecue, so why not?  

In keeping with the theme, though, it is a totally rip off of the end of FURY ROAD.  Wait a minute…

C Chaka