Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dead Meat and Sierra Nevada Celebration

This 2004 powerhouse of a film brought me out of a dark zombie movie place.  I was stranded in Kodiak, Alaska for a week long school.   During the evenings I would rent a couple of zombie movies trying to knock a bunch of them off my “need to watch” list.  They were some bad movies.  Hide and Creep, Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave, and The Dead Hate the Living to name a few.  Some of these were worse than others and they left me with a feeling that maybe I had seen all of the good zombie movies already and all that was left was the dregs.  But then Dead Meat!  A breath of fresh air from the place I least expected it….Ireland!  So i decided to revisit this movie with the beer that makes me smile every time i see it:  Sierra Nevada Celebration.  It's a very good and afordable IPA from a green company with a respectable collection brews.  Every winter i look forward to the release of this bad boy and try to pick up a case before the first snow fall (that's pretty early in Alaska).
This beer is like a good friend.  I know this beer.  I know how to hold it, how to chill it, when to slow the pour to keep the sediment out of the glass.  This beer is different from other beers that's for sure.  It proudly poured a light amber with a slightly tan head.  It's perfectly clear unless you botch the pour.  Some people like that extra sediment.  Not me.  It's definitely been dry hopped.  The good old American standard Cascade hops are evident from the start.  The website says it's cascade and centennial hops.  It's not quite as potent of an aroma as i remember but i half expected that.  I have an old bottle.  It was clearance and my cheap ass couldn't pass it up.  It's still amazing, dont' get me wrong, but IPAs age like dogs and this one is past it's prime.  I swirl just a little every few sips to keep the aroma up.  This IPA is robust and rich with a significant malt back.  The slight caramel sweetness lingers with the striking bitterness.  This IPA uses Chinook for the bittering hops.  "Barbs on the tongue."  The slight orange green taste takes me back to all the days i've ever drank this beer.  Don't go another day without being able to say "YES!  I tried the Celebration!"
Don’t get me wrong its low budget gore fest.  But it’s creative in a way that most zombie movies aren’t.  This is one of a few Fangoria zombie movies I own.  I’ve come to the decision that Fangoria makes some terrible, horrible, waste of 90 minutes and $5 to the value bin.  When it starts I'm cynical.  But eventually little by little it wins me over.  At least this movie had a creative explanation.  A farmer feeds beef to his cows and it causes a mutated form of mad cow disease.  Bing bang boom…Zombies.  Helena and her boyfriend Martin are traveling through the Irish countryside when they run over a zombie.  Of course they don’t know he’s a zombie because they’re dumb and decide that the best course of action would be to pile the dead body into the back seat.  Because that wouldn’t seem suspicious.  The zombie reanimates and boom, Martin’s dead.  Helena spends the next few minutes trying to escape zombie boyfriend who she ends up finally ends up killing by sucking his brain out his eye hole with a vacuum.
She meets Desmond the local gravedigger and together they make a run for his cabin.  There are some awesome zombie kill scenes as they make their way to his cabin.  This movie wins the most kills with a shovel.  There was some decapitations, bludgeonings, and even and impaling.  They meet up with the quick talking sport coach, which sport I have no idea, who they gang together with to get to the Fort where help awaits.  I honestly have no idea what the guy is saying.  I have a severe case of culture envy.  My mom’s side is Portuguese and my father’s is a mix of bland European ethnicities that my family bears no real attachment to.  Born out of this mish mash I feel incredibly jealous of the Irish or the Italians.  I’ve had friends of these ethnicities that would go to culture feasts, get iconic cultural tattoos, and learn the language of their grandparents.  Instead of learning Portuguese and going to a Chorizo fry I watch Irish zombie movies and stare longingly at the green hills and the people with their classy hats, wool coats, and elegant accents.  These are my people damn it!  But you’re not reading this to hear about my Irish envy you want to hear about the gore.

There are some givens that happen in this zombie movie like they happen in every zombie movie.  They save this little girl who happens to be the fattest child actor I have ever seen.  This girl’s upper chin pushes out past her neck, seriously. To boot she is a horrid actress (even by child standards).  If there’s one thing I’ve found in the many zombie movies it’s that people never check the children.  Because of this she reanimates and in a less than dramatic scene is ejected from the car.
For the finally the surviving characters get to the fort where they don’t find anyone…anyone except the undead hordes.  They couldn’t just sit tight and wait.  They thought the smartest thing would be to start a nice fire and take off your socks and shoes.  But guess what……ZOMBIES….there is a good 15 minutes of head bashing fun to follow.  I’m not a fan of CGI.  I appreciate a well made prop of a head rather than a CGI head prob any day.  If the CGI is bad the movie a big turd bucket.
Now for the parts of this movie that I would like to rebuke publicly.  First off, sleeping zombies!  This is not only stupid beyond words but it goes unexplained in the movie.  So it’s just “Are these zombies sleeping?  Never mind, look over there!”  They could have chopped that 15 seconds out of the film and it might have helped save it.  Another one that really grinded my gears was in the first zombie attack scene where Martin was attacking Helena he uses a pick ax.  A zombie using tools!!  Next zombies will be moving into town, taking out loans, and running small businesses.  But to make matters worse it’s not as if all the zombies were cognizant enough to use tools it’s just the one.  And it’s not explained in any way.  Just another flash of “here it is and there it goes”.
As to not leave the movie on a sour note I will go over a few of the things I really appreciate about this movie.  A wheelchair zombie (pay attention and you’ll spot it).  This is movie number two in which a zombie is killed with the super weapon THE CLUB!  And this movie pays a nice homage to Dawn of the Dead’s famous screwdriver zombie scene with a screwdriver zombie of its own.  This movie did a lot with a little and I really do appreciate the cool special effects, the originality, and the effort put forth by all the actors (except the little girl).  This movie is definitely a must watch for B rate horror and zombie movie fans.

The Beer:
Aroma – 8/10
Appearance – 4/5
Taste – 8/10
Palate – 4/5
   Overall – 16/20
Total = 40/50

The Movie:
Production – 3/5
Plot – 3/5
Gore – 4/5
Zombies – 4/5
  Overall – 3.5/5


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