Zombieland

Ever since the trio of Shaun Of The Dead, Dawn Of The Dead Remake, and 28 Days Later, zombies have seen a resurgence in media that hasn’t really gone away since. We’ve had a number of big budget movies and shows, and an even larger number of low budget and indie titles. Zombieland falls into the former category, and even though I’m a self-confessed zombie and horror junkie I didn’t get around to watching it until 2017. So, how does it fare against the myriad other horror comedy crossovers?

It fairs quite well. Make no mistake – I’m no great fan of Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone, or Jesse Eisenberg but none of them managed to irritate me during the course of the movie, and everything which the cast and crew attempted, worked amicably. There are laughs, both visceral and script based, the gore isn’t overloaded so as to put of sensitive non-horror fans yet present enough and wrapped up in entertaining action to appease those who like a bit of red on them.

The story and structure is all quite tongue in cheek – both mocking and paying skewed reverence to the genre. There has been an outbreak which has led to zombies everywhere, and one geek loner is travelling through the US and surviving following his self-made rules. As any zombie fan will attest – we all have our own rules for surviving our own imagined apocalypse. Along the way he meets Woody Harrelson’s character – a piss-take composite of several prior Harrelson creations and the conniving sisters played by Stone and Breslin. Part Road movie, part Crime caper, part comedy horror, the disparate parts rarely feel like they are pulling in opposing directions and the highlights are of course the Bill Murray cameo sequence and the finale set in an Amusement Park. If you know me, you’ll know I love movies set around or involving Amusement or Theme Parks.

At the time of writing, I haven’t yet watched the sequel but based upon how much I enjoyed this one I imagine it won’t be long before I catch up to it. Let us know in the comments what you think of Zombieland!

Stripes

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I think I have come to a shocking revelation; I’m not a huge Bill Murray fan. Sure I like him, and I enjoy plenty of the movies he has been in – particularly in the early days, but he’s rarely laugh out loud funny for me. Stripes is another good Billy Murray movie where he is supported by an terrific comedy cast – it is those guys who evoke the most laughter from me and I always get that gnawing suspicion that this film, and even a few other Murray classic might have been better with someone else in his place. Blasphemy, I know! I’ve no idea who that other person may be but still, that suspicion rears its head, chomping away at me and saying everyone else is laughing, why aren’t you laughing you weirdo? Stripes is one late 70s, early 80s cult comedy classic that had always somehow passed me by – while plenty of the films made around the same time by the same cast, writers, directors are ones I grew up with, Stripes is a film I only came to in recent years.

Murray plays a deadbeat taxi driver who loses his job, girlfriend, and apartment after a particularly bad day – in classic Murray fashion this all drifts off his back in a carefree way. Looking for something to pass the time rather than any higher notion, he encourages his friend (Harold Ramis) to join the army with him. As this is the 80s, they set off and hi-jinks ensue. We meet a variety of cadets and commanders, as portrayed by some of Hollywood’s finest and a fair few up and coming comedy stars – Warren Oates, PJ Soles, Judge Reinhold, and John Candy are some of the recognizable faces. Like any other number of movies of similar ilk, we get training skits showing how Ramis and Murray rub against authority but eventually, and nonsensically, they complete training and are sent on a top secret mission.

To the film’s credit, it resolves the conflict between maintaining a semblance of plot while the slacker skits are played out – the comedians are given free-rein, but only as much as the plot will allow. The plot is by the by, but it’s enough to keep us engaged whereas a series of unrelated bits would have just fallen flat. The comedy mixes slapstick with deadpan slacker humour, light satire, visual gags, and mini stand-up routines. It doesn’t go the juvenile way of Police Academy though there are moments of raunch and sex comedy, and the general tone is one of playful anarchy. If it was one I grew up with, like the aforementioned cop series, or some of John Candy’s hits, then I’m sure I would hold more fondness for this, but watching as a new customer it gets a few laughs, chuckles, and holds the attention, but not much more than that.

Is Stripes one of your favourite comedy’s? How do you think it ranks alongside other comedies of the time and subsequent slacker type movies? Let us know in the comments!