I had heard buzz about this movie some months ago. It was touted as a “really cool zombie flick” but didn’t pay it too much attention because (a) we were in the process of moving up north and (b) I tend to not follow anything that critics like. Such is the case with anything I’m interested in, once it becomes mainstream I lose all faith in it being good anymore – at least until it becomes unpopular once again. It happened with vampires. Heck I was all about vampires back in the late 90’s but then along came the Queen of Teen Prattling, Stephenie Meyer, and that brought an abrupt end to my vamp love. The unthinkable happened. Vampires became mainstream and soon everyone and their mother had a story, book, tv series or movie about vampires. Even though I’m a die-hard fan of True Blood, the love for the genre isn’t there right now.
My last place of horror refuge lay in everybody’s favorite brain munching meanies – zombies. The undead have been iconic throughout modern movie history and have seen a rollercoaster of popularity over the past 40 or so years. They’re always a safe genre to fall back on. When I first heard about the 2009 French film aptly titled The Horde it immediately piqued my interest. It’s always fun to see foreign zombie flicks because they have a totally different feel than North American ones. Unfortunately when critics started chiming in on how good it was I feared for the worst.
Last night I got to finally sit down and watch it.
Let me start off by saying it’s not a movie for everyone. Horror fans seem to be split down the middle with some praising it as being brilliant while others tear it down with a bloody hatchet. It all seems to trace back to the age-old debate of Fast Zombies vs. Slow Zombies. It’s always amazed me how venenate both sides are over the subject. If you’re locked into the slow dopey zombie preference this is definitely not a movie for you. However if you enjoy track star, parkouring and insatiable undead (or just don’t care either way and just wanna see some bloody goodness) then welcome to the Horde.
The story centers around a group of vigilante cops who stage a raid on a gangster’s headquarters based in an old condemned building in the ghetto. They’re out for revenge against the band of thugs who killed one of their fellow police officers but soon realize they’re outgunned and are eventually taken hostage. The first 20 – 30 minutes screams of a Guy Ritchie-like gritty gangland crime drama with tense dialogue and graphic violence between the Nigerian drug lords and the captive cops. The story suddenly veers in a whole new disturbing direction when the building is besieged by throngs of fast-moving zombies. Makeshift alliances are formed between bitter enemies as both the criminals and the renegade cops try to escape the death trap.
Sounds like the makings for a rambunctious time, eh?
It’s a bona-fide gorefest with plenty of fast paced bloody violence to satisfy even the biggest action junkies out there. I can’t justifiably label it as one of the best zombie flicks I’ve ever seen but it definitely deserves its merits. Being a fan of the hyper zombies I tend to give it more bonus points than if it were a classic zombie film. The characters, although a little undefined are decent enough to carry the film. It’s always cool watching a horror movie in which you’re not familiar with the leads because you never know who’s making it to the end.
The special effects and makeup were on point as was the cinematography. It reminded me very much of 28 Days Later with the overwhelming grittiness and purposefully washed out and desaturated film quality. The confined spaces and tight hallways within the decrepid apartment building adds to the anxiety levels especially when you have ravenous zombies collapsing in at all angles. Story wise, it had potential but at times leaves your mind wandering only to be brought back when a psychotic zombie beatdown breaks out. Some people have panned the fact that the explanation for the zombie outbreak isn’t explained but I actually appreciated they didn’t. The living dead scenario has been used so many times that you can insert any number of “reasons” for the cause so why go into yet again. Cheers to them for letting the audience use their imagination.
Overall, if you’re a zombie fanatic it’s a must see if only to add to your mental database of zombie knowledge. Take from it what you will. Me, I’ve decided to list some of the things I’ve learned from this oddly entertaining film:
- You can quite literally beat the holy hell out of a zombie like he owes you money. Great way to relieve stress.
- Despite our incredible advances in science the past 50 years, flashlight technology seems to have fallen by the wayside. When will we ever see some common household flashlights that can actually light up more than a 4ft circular area?
- Being black during a zombie epidemic is still not a good career choice.
- Crazy guys have good hooch.
- A Browning Heavy Machine Gun in the hands of a Vietnam vet is a very effective zombie deterrent.
- Going to the roof never turns out well.
- Going to the basement never turns out well.
- Zombies don’t play rugby well.
- If someone says “run”, you run.
- It’s always good to hold onto personal grudges amidst a catastrophic series of events.
- Setting off a grenade in a hallway is bad.
The wife and I happened to catch The Lovely Bones the other night and I have to say, that’s a damn good movie. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was even with Peter Jackson’s stellar track record of likable movies. Whether he’s directing it or producing, you’re pretty much guaranteed a decent movie. The Lovely Bones took creepy serial killer movie to a whole new level. Without dropping too many spoilers let’s just say Stanley Tucci has elevated himself to Jackie Earl Haley and Keven Spacey status as being uncomfortably chilling with regards to his performance. If you haven’t seen it, check it out – but don’t expect a bunny-hugging happy ending. There’s a 90% chance of being depressed by the end.
Anyway, I got inspired once again. I even told the wife that right when I saw a particular scene with him being exceptionally creepy in the darkness that I got hit with creativity. No I don’t intend to go out and try my hand at serial killing. I lack the proper tools and stomach to undertake that. No, I decided to create a little eerie piece of artwork of course. Forget monsters, witches and demons. Imagine this guy giving out candy…
It’s funny hearing about all the myths and misinterpretations regarding Canadians. Being a former New Yorker I too am guilty of either cracking jokes or being misinformed about at least a couple of them. I have the unique perspective of having lived on both sides of the fence of ignorance and I feel compelled to clear up the fog of confusion regarding the World’s Most Friendly Country:
- It’s always cold in Canada and everyone lives in igloos – The latter is more playful ribbing than anything but one of the most popular misconceptions is that it’s always cold in Canada. The majority of the country is along the same latitude as the United Kingdom yet you never hear any cold jokes about the Brits. Some of the northern regions are of course in the Arctic circle and tend to have rather frigid conditions but for the most part Canadians experience the same weather one would receive in any northern state in the US. In fact I can recall quite a few days just this past summer where highs Toronto beat out those in New York and Boston. Winters may last a little longer but the temperatures are pretty consistent. Here’s the averages in January from various locales across Canada:
(Source: The Weather Network)
- Vancouver, BC: 32 / 43°Fahrenheit (0 / 6°Celsius)
- Edmonton, AB: -2 / 18°F, (-19 / -8°C)
- Yellowknife, NWT: -24 / -9°F, (-31 / -23°C)
- Inukjuak, NU: -17 / -4°F, (-27 / -20°C)
- Winnipeg, MB: -9 / 10°F, (-23 / -12°C)
- Ottawa, ON: 5 / 23°F, (-15 / -5°C)
- Toronto, ON: 14 / 28°F, (-10 / -2°C)
- Montréal, QC: 7 / 23°F, (-14 / -5°C)
- Halifax, NS: 16 / 30°F, (-9 / -1°C)
- St. John’s, NF: 19 / 32°F, (-7 / 0°C)
- Canada has better beer than the States – I’m not going to touch this one for fear of being hung from the gallows by overly-patriotic Americans. Everyone is proud of their nation’s beer. Germany is probably the world’s undisputed King of the Brew but as far as who follows after is dependent on each individual’s personal taste. I for one am not a huge beer drinker (heresy I know) so it doesn’t really matter to me. All I do know is that two of the American big guns, Budweiser and Coors, taste like someone spilled their crappy beer in some club soda. Labatte Blue (known locally as just a Blue) and Molson Canadian are far stronger beers and are way easier to down – that’s just a personal opinion though. While Canada may or may not rank in the top 5 worldwide I seriously doubt they fall below the US in that category. I invite anyone from abroad to come sample the ale before making rash judgments. You’d be quite surprised with the results.
- Canada only has poutine and maple syrup as their only contributions to fine cuisine – Canada has a very diverse range of dishes that spans from coast to coast. Canada, like most large nations, is a melting pot of cultures so you can see a lot of Eastern European, South American, African and Asian influences in the cooking. Some examples of regional foods are:
- From the East Coast – Irish Stew, Fish Chowders, Bangbellies (a pork/rice bun), Toutons (Pork Bread), and Duffs (like a dumpling), Molasses Tarts and Partridge Berry Coffee Cake, chocolate bread pudding, oat bread, Cape Breton scones, Creamed Potato Balls, Baked Stuffed Lobster
- Native – Posole Stew (uses hominy), corn casserole, Frypan Fork Bread, Cornmeal pudding, Maple Fudge, Wojape (a berry pudding)
- Quebec – Crème Caramel, French Onion Soup, Split Yellow Pea Soup, Garlic Pork Pot Roast, Cipate (Chicken, meat and vegetable casserole with biscuit topping), 3 crust blueberry pie, poutine
- Ontario – Pine Nut Stuffed Quail, pickled yellow beans, apple butter, headcheese, smoked ham, creamed potatoes, vanilla pie, ice wine, BBQ’s, hot sauces, doughnuts, perogies
- Prairies (I’m not too familiar with foods from this region of Canada) – Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Wild Mushroom Barley Ragout & Summer Vegetables, Grilled Asparagus, Saskatoon Pie
- B.C. – Goats Cheese Terrine, Raisin scones with clotted cream, sablefish, Nanaimo Bars, Poached Salmon, Maple Glazed Chicken Breasts, Oysters, Flatbreads, Vegan cuisine and anything disgustingly healthy (i.e. tofu, miso soup, etc.)
- Canadians always say “eh” and “aboot” – I can honestly say that I have never heard a Canadian utter the words “aboot” in the 10+ years I’ve been here. Course I’ve only been in the Ontario region for the most part so who knows what goes on in the rest of the country. I don’t know where it came from originally but I found it funny as hell when South Park would make fun of it (even if it was confounded). “Eh” on the other hand is something you hear quite frequently though. I’ve even mastered the dialect well enough to use it like a true Canadian as well. Oddly enough it’s not used any more frequently than New Yorkers use “yo” or “aye”. Basically all I had to do to fit in was replace my yo’s with eh’s and say cah-fee instead of cawfee when referring to coffee and all is well.
- Canada has no military – I’ve always made fun of the Canadian Armed Forces having to fight with sporks but the Canadian military is no joke indeed. This one institution consists of three main branches: Maritime Command (MARCOM), Land Force Command (LFC), and Air Command (AIRCOM), which are together overseen by the Armed Forces Council, chaired by the Chief of the Defence Staff. Their annual funding comes to approximately $21.8 billion (ranked 13th), and are presently ranked 74th in size compared to the world’s other armed forces by number of total personnel, and 58th in terms of active personnel, standing at a strength of roughly 67,000, plus 26,000 reservists, 33 warships spread out amongst 2 fleets, 391 aircraft (which is the third largest in the Americas) and over 3600 currently deployed in the Middle East. The statistics are truly humbling and I tip my hat to all those men and women across the world who are serving for their respective countries. It’s a thankless task but your efforts are truly appreciated by many.
- Canadians are always nice – True to an extent. Every country has their fare share of assholes, douches and idiots. You tend to find them once you’ve lived there for a while. Canada just does a good job of not letting them be the face of the country.
- Canada has no contributions to science – Blasphemy. In fact Canada has burned a trail in many fields and is a world leader in regards to contributions to scientific advancement. From Canola Oil to the Blackberry Canada has had it’s hands in the development of many of the technologies and medical breakthroughs we take for granted. I could probably ramble on for days about all of the innovations but if you’re really interested have a peek here and see for yourself.
- Canada has no film industry – It’s hard to find a movie or TV show that isn’t shot in Vancouver or Toronto nowadays. Chances are if it’s shot in Canada, it has some Canadian actors in it as well. They’ve assimilated into Hollywood so well that many of you don’t even realize some of the best stars are in fact Canadian. From Playboy’s Pam Anderson to Star Trek’s William Shatner Canadians have infiltrated all facets of media. Okay so Keanu isn’t the greatest star ever, but you all ate the Matrix up with a fork and spoon so he did his job.The actual Canadian film industry is a budding one. It makes me laugh whenever I hear Canadians say “Yup, that’s definitely a Canadian film” having only seen a few minutes of whatever is on. It’s not from lack of effort. Despite many film and television projects being funded by the government, it nowhere near the same league as Hollywood in regards to financial backing. The Toronto International Film Festival, founded in 1976, l is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world now. In 1998, Variety magazine acknowledged that “the Festival is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars and market activity.” If you think Canadians haven’t got their fingers on the pulse of the movie industry, you’re sorely mistaken.
- Everyone speaks French in Canada – While that may be true to a degree in Quebec, the majority of the country does in fact speak English – well. In fact most Canadians are bi-lingual.
- Canada’s national sport is hockey – True. In 1994, the Federal Government introduced Bill C-212 that officially made hockey Canada’s National Winter sport and Lacrosse Canada’s National Summer sport. Canadians are definitely passionate about their hockey but don’t believe for an instant that is the only sport accepted up here. Baseball, Football (American and Soccer), Golf, Curling, Boxing and MMA as well as pretty much any winter sport you can imagine from skiing to snowboarding.
- Canadians have no guns or crime – Oh there’s crime here, believe me. And guns. Domestic violence and Robbery/burglary crimes seem to be the most prevalent. There are probably more guns in Canada than in the States based on the fact that this is a hunting nation with the vast majority of the country being wilderness. The big difference is that Canadians aren’t shooting one another. Their preferred methods tend to be fists and knives. It still strikes me as odd to read about small businesses being robbed at knife-point. You don’t hear about that much in New York.
- All Canadian cops are mounties – That’s probably as ignorant as it gets. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body. The RCMP provides federal policing service to all of Canada and policing services under contract to the three territories, eight provinces (the RCMP does not serve as provincial or municipal police in Ontario and Quebec), more than 190 municipalities, 184 Aboriginal communities and three international airports. They’re like the Feds in the States. Every province has their own police service such as the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) which are the equivalent of state government agencies such as the NYPD or LAPD. The RCMP have jurisdiction over them all. Cool, eh?
- Toronto is the nation’s capitol – With over 2.5 million residents, it is the fifth most populous municipality in North America. I think the popular misconception is that Toronto is in fact the capitol of Ontario. Ottawa, the second largest city in Ontario, is the nation’s capitol.
My name is Ian and I am proud to call myself an AmeriCan. 😀