Sunday, October 14, 2012
RAMMBOCK: Berlin Undead and Spaten Optimator
Here’s a benefit of being a zombie that you don’t often hear about. As a zombie your stumble about the earth barley aware of your surroundings until you find someone to eat. Then you just go at it ripping and chewing an entire person who is still kicking and screaming. Conversely, if your me, and you eat a few mouthfuls of what turns out to be “not quite cooked pork” then your bedridden for two days of purging every way your body knows how. That’s why I was watching a zombie movie at 1040 on a Monday. But don’t worry my friends I’m okay! Or more importantly for the validity of this blog….our tradition is safe. I first intended to watch this movie without the beer and then in a few days (when my consumption is more than crackers and water) I would throw down the belated bubbly beverage. But due to a kick of my conscience and the fact that a zombie movie isn’t the best medicine when your body is ready to vomit at the drop of a hat, I decided to delay the rest of the movie till the end of the week. That brings us to tonight. My stomach feels like a tank and I’m ready to go! The movie: RAMMBOCK (Berlin Undead). The beer: Spaten Optimator (a bock!).
The cover looks great and unlike the old saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover” I find that you can…and often are right. When I saw the cover of Living a Zombie dream or I, Zombie I knew what it was. The cover told everyone out there that this was the biggest steaming pile of dung the world had ever seen. No you say? Look further Shadow: Dead Riot….terrible. C.H.U.D., Night of the Creeps, Beaver Lake Zombies, ZOMBIE ABOMINATION!!!! Let’s all get off our high horse and admit that sometimes it’s okay to judge. This movie looks cool. And it’s German….so Spaten seemed like the obvious choice. Plus it’s nearing Oktoberfest so it seems only more fitting. This is one of the few lagers that I’ll make acceptations for. Normally I go with ale, but sometimes a nice dense malty lager fits the bill, especially when it’s getting cold. This isn’t the BEST dopplebock but it is probably the most readily available high quality version out there. I haven’t had Optimator in just over two years. This all because the wife and I dressed up in the Oktoberfest appropriate beer wench and lederhosen costumes and consumed HUGE amounts of said beer over a two day period. But I digress…the movie!
Film opens with our oafish lead. He’s awkward and going bald in a sad strange way. He’s frumpy and boring but at the same time a little annoying. In the course of the first five minutes of this film I already hate him so much for no real reason. I’m able to gather that this spineless love struck sap is returning the keys to his now ex girlfriend. He was supposed to just mail them but he’s set on winning back the love of his live through whining….awesome. He goes into the apartment only to find she’s not there. Instead there are two maintenance men inside. One of which turns into a….you guessed it….ZOMBIE. Things in this movie are exactly how I would imagine they would be. It’s grey and real. The lead and his surviving maintenance guy sidekick handle the zombies how people probably would. They make their own weapons…..fail…..they just sit and wait……fail…….and they run……semi-fail. This movie isn’t overly original but it’s also not an exaggerated and unrealistic piece of garbage. I would prefer this than another dozen Resident Evil films.
The beer. While I’m not a huge fan of most lagers (I know you know by now) I still have a huge amount of respect for the history and culture behind each glass of that tall foaming lager bier. Spaten brewery has roots dating back all the way to 1397! When we talk about anything prior to 17XX my head starts to explode. It’s just hard to think about life that long ago, but at least it had beer. By 1867 Spaten (the German word for spade) becomes the largest brewery in Munich. In 1893 Spaten was producing almost 14 million gallons of beer a year. That’s an enormous amount of beer especially “pre refridgeration”. Even more staggering is their 1996 peak of 29 million gallons. That’s a lot of beer!
Judging by the official American website Spaten exports 4 beers to the US a Pilsner, Dunkle (weizen I assume), Oktoberfest (seasonal), and Optimator (doppelbock). Today I’ve paired the movie with what I believe is there most widely sold and most interesting brew. It’s 7.6% abv but feels much MUCH higher. It pours a deep mahogany brown with reddish hues when held to the light. There’s a small light tan head that leaves some lacing. The aroma is malt forward with loads of molasses and a slight spiced rum aroma. It’s pleasantly sweet aroma has the threat of a hot high alcohol kick. The taste is similar. There’s this rich malty sweetness mixed with a big alcohol bump and the astringency of the grain husks and dark specialty malts. The sweet liquor makes you suck in when you finish. Almost like a scotch. It’s a tough beer and not very drinkable. It’s as if your body can sense danger and will not allow your body to consume more than 2 or 3 of these. I’ve heard it’s possible that true Germans are born without this ability and can continue drinking these until they are fall down drunk. That fact is still unverified.
This movie does have a twist that I found interesting but I’m not sure if I like it. The zombies are affected by flashing lights. Their retinas are supposedly very sensitive and flashes of light are extremely painful for them. So something like a camera becomes a weapon. The makeup of the white eyes helps to reinforce this possibility. I’m not so sure I buy it…but it was still pretty cool. Overall our characters were resourceful and inventive even if a bit boring or unlikable. Part of this is not the fault of the actors, and it’s not that the writing is bad. It’s that there’s not enough of it. The movie is just over an hour long. Not a lot of time. Certainly not enough to see the characters grow. Another 20 mins would have made this movie 100 times better. Maybe even a classic. Just when you start to respect the lead and think he’s turning into a sort of anti-hero…the movie ends. Just when the sidekick gets a girl…it ends. You never see things really come together.
I really liked the special effects but I’m not sure that they were professional quality. Some of the appeal of the makeup comes from the fact that the director used the setting and the action to take the spot of close up gore shots. A view from an upstairs apartment window replaced the close up in your face shot of other big dollar productions. In a way it helped make it feel as if you were at that window. There was also a lot of cutaways. I didn’t realize how many until I reflected on the action later. This movie does a great job of giving the unsettling feeling of gore without pushing in right in your face. It’s almost a higher level of cinema.
Like the beer, RAMMBOCK is dark and a bit astringent leaving the consumer intrigued but in the end a little disappointed. Sure it’s not bud light or Resident Evil for that matter but it still doesn’t hold a candle to Ayinger Celebrator or The Horde. In honor of Oktoberfest we deem thee “da German xombie movie and das beer”.