USA | Italy, 1978, 127 min, Dir. George Romero
In George Romero's 1978 classic zombie flick, the flesh-hungry undead overrun the world. Stephen, a TV newscaster, and his pregnant girlfriend, Fran, team up with SWAT officers Peter and Roger, escaping via helicopter to find safety. They end up taking refuge inside a mall, the heart of American consumerism. Of course, the zombies that stagger around the giant complex don't look too much different from the COVID-infected Floridian families you might find roaming through one today.
What delights me about Dawn of the Dead is that, over four decades later, the film still has genuine scares and gore—like zombies taking exuberant bites out of warm-blooded humans after suddenly, unexpectedly appearing in the twisty underbelly of a mall. And exploding heads!!! Even the silence in the film is haunting, as it can only stay silent for so long.
You can easily find Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of the film, but Romero's original is out of print here in the United States. And, before you ask, yes, we know you can watch unreliable rips of it on YouTube (which we don't count as streamable for the purposes of this column*). While you might be able to get your hands on a preorder of Second Sight's limited edition discs of Dawn of the Dead next month, let's cross our fingers that the movie can get a proper U.S. re-release too. Richard Rubinstein permitting. JASMYNE KEIMIG
USA, 1985, 130 min, Dir. John Huston
Beyond that, I find the movie to be pretty dull. It's based on a Richard Condon novel of the same name, and it follows two assassins hired to kill each other, which is a problem because they're in love. Kathleen Turner and Jack Nicholson play the assassins. Turner is a delight, but Nicholson sports one of the most ridiculous accents in movie history. His Sicilian (I think?) accent sounds like a husky version of the accent Kate McKinnon uses during her "We Know Dis" SNL skit. (Nicholson: “Ask her if she know a woman at da wedding.” / “Dis is you?” / “I know dis.”) It's bad. But Anjelica Huston? She's got great lines—"Everybody sees shapes differently, but colors are forever"—and deserved the praise. So take da bad with da good. CHASE BURNS
USA, 2009, 99 min, Dir. Jac Schaeffer
This is the case with Oona (Emma Caulfield), an almost-30-something orthodontist who has been living in a state of agony, not knowing when ~~true love~~ will come her way. She solely dates men without timers, convincing them to get one and hoping they'll turn out to be each other's forever-love. She has shit luck. But after meeting a charming young grocery clerk who has only four months until he finds "the one," Oona starts to change her mind about love, etc., etc.
I first saw this movie on Netflix in high school. At the time, I remember being down with getting a timer, believing it would sweep up the messiness of love. Watching now, I realize that the messiness is the point. While I found the film's aesthetics to be painfully late-2000s (Iron & Wine's "The Trapeze Swinger" plays over the final scene), Timer's premise is fresh, making this earnest romcom a delightful watch. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Japan, 2016, 132 min, Dir. Macoto Tezka
I've wanted to write about my favorite midnight movie, The Stardust Brothers, ever since we started this column, but Alamo Drafthouse has it up on their digital cinema site for $4.99. Stardust Bros is a squirrelly, bright curio from Astro Boy creator Osamu Tezuka's son, Macoto Tezka. It's a rock musical that follows two rival singers who must join forces to become superstars. It flopped when it premiered in the '80s but earned a cult audience when it toured film festivals in 2018. Around that same time, Tezka created and pushed a sequel to Stardust Bros, which absolutely no one asked for.
I discovered a Japanese site selling the sequel, and I got it in the mail last week. I'd heard it was bad, and of course, it is. The cast is gigantic. It's like every scene has a Greek chorus in the background. Many of the original cast members reappear—notably Issay, a performer who looked like David Bowie in the original film and looks like Professor Snape in this one. Some of the sequences are fun, many are not, and there's a long third act that involves lots of western wear and singing cowboys, which is not my bag. However, I did enjoy seeing a nice-looking creamsicle two-piece Western suit. A very positive 2 out of 5 stars. One star for each brother. CHASE BURNS