Friday, May 16, 2008


There have certainly been worse movies reviewed here than WISEGUYS VS. ZOMBIES (skull-raping shitbombs like ZOMBIES GONE WILD, DIE YOU ZOMBIE BASTARDS! and ZOMBIE CAMPOUT spring immediately to mind), but I can't think of any that I have more contempt for. Adam Maranovich's 2003 self-indulgent mess deserves to be buried in the New Mexico desert with all those unsold E.T. Atari game cartriges, after more competent directors like Todd Sheets, Donald Farmer, and David "The Rock" Nelson take turns shitting on it--a fate far too good for slapdash dreck like this.

Yeah, I hate this fucking movie that much.

What pisses me off most about this brain-damaged train wreck isn't the story (a pair of goombas on a mission for their don run afoul of zombies somewhere in Florida) or even the shitty acting (though I've decided I'd rather see passionate actors who aren't very good over friends of the director who can't act and don't give a shit), but the remedial-level desperately redundant, and spectacularly awful dialogue that infects the stillborn screenplay. Here, characters never say anything once when they can repeat it fifteen times--an infuriating tactic that doesn't affect just exposition (although everyone constantly reminds each other of what they're up to, usually whenever they open their mouth), but action that's just occurred on-screen; can there really be a director so utterly fucking clueless that he thinks its necessary to recap events at the end of each scene, when both the audience and the other actors on the goddamn screen have just fucking watched it? I know that viewers today have shorter attention spans--and it's quite possible people will miss something when they nod off during this shit--but this reiteration would offend an Alzheimer's patient.

Along with the egregious dialogue, Maranovich also has no understanding of script economy. Okay, so the mob boss has a job for the two main characters, so he calls them into his office. Now, an efficient screenwriter would begin with the wiseguys already on the job, gradually revealing the relevant details to the audience as they conversed. Not the wunderkind Maranovich; he not only has the boss sit down in front of the boys and lay out every single aspect of the job in a long series of static talking-head shots, but he begins with phone conversations as the boss calls each one in for even more protracted tedium. (Yes, these scenes do show a little glimpse into the characters' personality, but once again, a skilled writer could've integrated this into the action.) And what happens when the two gangsters have to drive from New York to Miami to finish their job? Why, we sit in the car with them for the entire trip--who needs a lap-dissolve to advance the story when there's ample opportunity for more brain-addled banter?

Which brings us to WISEGUYS VS. ZOMBIES's other major flaw: Maranovich (who also stars, by the way, playing his scenes with the self-enamored swagger of a wannabe barroom brawler) really wants to be the next Quentin Tarantino, as indicated by the characters' slo-mo walk, RESERVOIR DOGS-style, in the beginning (yet another stationary moment that slams the brakes on this picture) and the in-trunk POV shots, and is most likely the reason for the incessantly rambling dialogue. It's irritating enough when a filmmaker slavishly follows another's work, bu it's even more so when said filmmaker clearly doesn't understand the artist he's copying; yes, Adam, we know you love PULP FICTION, but Jules and Vincent didn't spend their screen time reminding each other of what they've just done. What, don't your characters know anything about foot massage?

The zombies, I should probably mention, don't make their appearance until the mid-point of the movie--a nod to FROM DUSK 'TIL DAWN, no doubt--and when they do, it's no different than the myriad backyard zombie flicks that've proliferated throughout this blog. Close your eyes and think of a shot-on-video living-dead film at random. WISEGUYS VS. ZOMBIES is just like it.

People have asked me why I'm harsher on some movies more than others, especially when I'm easier on the "worse" film, and the answer is simple: I'm usually forgiving when a movie has a clear affection for the genre or the craft of movie-making, or if the story or direction show promise but must concede to the strictures of time, money, or other practicalities. Even a bad movie sincerely made can take a review as constructive criticism.

But what I cannot abide are vehicles for attention-grubbing hacks who are more concerned with their own ego than entertaining an audience, especially when there's not an iota of talent or skill to showcase. Which is why WISEGUYS VS. ZOMBIES--a film that couldn't place First Turd in a bowel-movement contest--earns the distinction of the most-hated film so far.

(Troma paired this movie on DVD with something called MEAT FOR SATAN'S ICEBOX, a movie that truly defines the phrase "torture porn." I didn't watch it all, but there is a moment in which Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman forces a pair of bound girls to urinate in a glass so he can drink its contents, a scene made even more disturbing by Kaufman's cartoonish expressions of relish; which proves that yes, there are double features in Hell.)

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