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Zee-Oui: The Man-Eater (DVD)

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Zee-Oui: The Man-Eater DVD (click for larger image)Starring Duan Long and Shoahau Zhang

Directed by Nida Sudasna and Buranee Rachjaibun

Distributed by Tokyo Shock


Upon first glancing at the DVD for Zee-Oui: The Man-Eater, it would be easy to conclude that this Zee-Oui character likes the taste of men. Maybe this is really a gay film and was sent to us by accident. But if one looks at the back, it turns out Zee-Oui isn’t about deep-throating at all. Instead it is about eating children. Damn, that title is way off.

Zee-Oui (Duan Long) has had it rough. This skinny, sickly looking fellow hails from a very poor part of China where food and medicine are scarce. War, death, and civil unrest have driven this man from his home and dear mother. Things will pick up and be merry when he gets to Thailand, right?

It is sad to say that nothing good, apart from some short-lived farming success, is in store for the 30-something Zee-Oui. The locals hate him because of his shy nature and his tuberculosis, which keeps him from doing even the minimalist of manual labor. Even when a spot of good luck comes so that he can finally afford some meds, that one ray of hope is shattered because some jackasses decide to play keep-away with his drugs. Hell, even the small children taunt and tease him to no end, and that is a bad idea.

Zee-Oui: The Man-Eater DVD (click for larger image)One night while he is asleep and having a rather nasty flashback concerning his military past, Zee accidentally strangles a tiny girl who just happened to be by his bedside. What to do?! Quick! Hide her body and eat her heart. That is a sound idea!

It turns out that eating human hearts settles Zee’s constant coughing, insecurities, and nervousness for a brief period. YAY MEDICAL WONDERS! That’s one hell of a prescription to deal with: slight comfort that only costs one child’s life every few weeks. I can just see sick old pervies lining up outside the pharmacy stores now.

Zee-Oui: The Man-Eater is a very difficult film to review. One big reason, out of several smaller ones, is its utterly depressing tone throughout the whole affair. Zee gets about 2 minutes worth of joy during the entire picture. A depiction of human suffering over the course of nearly one and a half hours can take a big toll on viewers. That, compounded with the inevitable ending, makes it hard to look forward to anything apart from the blood … and boy, does it flow.

This film is not afraid to show brutality toward children. We see a small girl strangled, one’s throat is slit, a small boy is set on fire, and one more kiddie is seen lying dead on the floor, gutted like a fish. It is easily one of the harder films this reviewer has ever watched, and that library has been packed with real nasty shit. While some gore is pleasing to horror fans, this kind just doesn’t hit any mark other than sorrow.

Zee-Oui: The Man-Eater DVD (click for larger image)Zee-Oui: The Man-Eater is not without its merits, believe me. The entire movie is shot with a slightly grainy beauty. The audience can get a real sense of what it was like to live in such a horrid setting during 1950’s Thailand. The dirt, the poverty, and the lack of acceptance Zee-Oui feels are all very tangible thanks to the camera and Mr. Long’s realistic performance. Zee may not be very likable through the film, but it is easy to feel sorrow for him just based on simple human compassion. Rarely are we treated to pleasant landscapes or happy feelings, but those rare moments come as the only rays of sunshine before a child is dragged away to his/her death.

The performances all around hold a steady stream of quality. Zee-Oui: The Man-Eater, however, is not driven by its dialogue; and to be honest, there isn’t an abundance of it. We get just enough talk to know what is going on, but it could easily be taken out with nothing lost, and one could still walk away from the whole experience feeling totally depressed.

Now, it could be expected that a film based on a true story would have a plethora of special features, tons of extras just busting out of the seams like Brian Blessed fitting into Paris Hilton’s clothing. Nope. Wrong. What is handed over to the viewer is the original trailer, a decent sized image gallery, and the usual batch of previews from Tokyo Shock’s vault. Whoopie! After being bummed out for over an hour watching this amazing film, we demand more than nothing.

I suggest that many horror fans should see this film just once. Not for the violence or shock value but just for the experience of totally unprotected human suffering. If it doesn’t bring out a couple thoughts like, “Boy … I sure am glad that I don’t have to live such a shitty existence,” then you are not human and we have finally discovered a foolproof way of exposing the aliens that walk among us!

Special Features
Original trailer
Image gallery
Tokyo Shock trailers

Film

4 1/2 out of 5

Special Features

1 1/2 out of 5

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The Cured Review – Ellen Page Fights for Her Life

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Starring Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Paula Malcomson

Written and directed by David Freyne


Taking a cue from AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” the new Irish horror film The Cured begins where most zombie stories end. Drawing more comparisons, the themes of mistrust and social upheaval are front and center here as well. We’re the real villains, and the infectious disease turning humans into monsters is only there to hold up a mirror to show the worst sides of ourselves. The Cured uses the zombie mythos as Romero intended as a commentary on culture, with a little cannibalism thrown in for good measure.

Against the backdrop of a military takeover attempting to reintroduce the recently cured back into society, two people try to return to some kind of normalcy in a war-torn Ireland that’s been turned upside down by the zombie menace. Recently widowed, Abbey (Page) allows her now virus-free brother-in-law Senan (Keeley) to live with her and her son, even though most survivors are forced to live in an army encampment. Under constant surveillance, Senan’s old friend Conor (Vaughan-Lawlor) radicalizes the mistreated survivors of the virus into open rebellion.

The treatment of the survivors isn’t entirely unfair considering that they still have a connection and are not detected by a small percentage of the infected that haven’t responded to the cure. As both sides size each other up, Abbey and Senan are caught in the middle as they try to restore their humanity before the powder keg around them erupts.

Given its far out premise, the story stays firmly grounded in reality, focusing on the growing resistance and its political implications, drawing parallels to the protest movements such as the “Black Block” that have dominated some recent news cycles. When the virus divided the population, it was easy to know what side you were on; now, the cure has created a new class structure where the lower class is maligned until they cross the line and overthrow the uninfected. Clearly still affected and haunted by the heinous acts they committed when they were infected, the cannibalistic rage they still carry reflects the rage felt by the mistreated masses hellbent on overthrowing the powers-that-be.

Whether for budget reasons or simply a style choice, the eating frenzies that occurred before the cure are never fully shown so any gore and graphic images that could’ve been showcases for effects are left to the imagination. Maybe they weren’t shown because these acts were so unspeakable that they are too horrific to see and too painful to fully be remembered by the survivors. The top-notch sound design ratchets up instead and roars to life to the point where just hearing the carnage is enough to make you turn away.

Page’s performance is the emotional core of the film as she goes from understanding to fear to dealing with the ultimate betrayal. It’s important for a slow-developing story like this to have an actress with some star power, and director David Freyne and his team were fortunate to have a high caliber actress ready to deliver in some of the film’s quieter, more intense moments. Freyne directs these smaller character moments with care and also delivers once things open up to show the inevitable anarchy brimming under the surface.

The Cured may feel too closed off at times to allow its bigger ideas to fully breathe, but it never pretends to encompass a more epic scope that would be more in the vein of something like World War Z. Without ever addressing it directly, Freyne, as an Irishman, seems well aware of the history of the country; and he and cinematographer Piers McGrail inject their film with a pathos that makes Dublin come to life inside the world of the undead.

  • The Cured
3.5

Summary

The Cured is a gritty take on the genre that fits nicely into the new type of storytelling that these stories need to embrace in a post-Romero world.

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Bad Apples Review – Rotten Fruit, Indeed

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Starring Brea Grant, Graham Skipper, Alycia Lourim

Directed by Brian Coyne


Like a seriously bad rash, some films stick with you regardless of whichever topical ointment you slather in generous fashion over your regions – ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce today’s orbital irritant: Bad Apples.

Directed (rather misdirected) by Brian Coyne, this lamentably sterile piece of celluloid follows a couple of murderous sisters, donning horrific (and not in a good sense) masks, and generally putting the sharp edges to random folk on Halloween night…case closed. Only problem here is this: the film has no pulse, no interesting characters to speak of, and basically nothing to redeem or recapture the time that you’ll have spent watching this complete dud. A husband and wife duo has a spotlight on them as well, but their tempestuous relationship makes rooting for them about as pleasing as sitting through 3 hours of Olympic curling…absolutely brutal. Also, you’re reading the babblings of a guy who loves to put the boots to any film that has been deemed “unwatchable”, but this complete wreck of a production is entirely that – something so remedial and uninspired that to type an endless array of rightful vitriol would be an utter waste of time.

So I’ll go on a bit longer with my public display of vehemence, as the casting seems WAY out of whack, and the production? Whoa…don’t even get me started on this – okay, I’ll go on a bit. With differing levels of sound editing, you’ll get the feeling at times like you could pick up a needle drop inside of a concert hall, and other frames of dialogue are so muddled they’re incomprehensible (not like you’ll feel the need to know what’s going on). Wonky camera angles and following shots are so horrendously captured, you’ll be wishing to watch your Mom and Dad’s old home movies just to gain a sense of stability. I normally pride myself on not begging this particular audience to take what I say to heart, or to shy away from something that could potentially ruin their eyesight, but believe me when I plead with you: do not waste your valuable time on this shipwreck – even if your time isn’t all that valuable: don’t waste it. Find something else to do and take a big ol’ pass on this wannabe slasher.

  • Film
1.5

Summary

I don’t mean to pick on the low-hanging fruit, but these Apples should be batted away with a Louisville Slugger.

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Edge of Isolation Review – A Movie with a Simple Message: Don’t Trust Anyone

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Starring Michael Marcel, Marem Hassler, Alexandra Peters

Directed by Jeff Houkal


Sometimes, relying on the kindness of strangers is the thing that’ll do your gullible asses in – kindness? Strangers? Come on – think about it! Even further proof of said warning comes in the form of director Jeff Houkal’s brutally blatant film, Edge Of Isolation – won’t you come inside and grab a seat? You see! You fell right into another trap – jeezus, people…don’t trust just anyone, will ya?

Set up in a simplistic format, we’ve got a traveling couple (Lance and Kendra) whose Jeep, conveniently enough decides to shit the bed along a desolate stretch of roadway, leaving them at the mercy of the Polifer family, a slightly odd bunch of backwoods residents. This particular clan isn’t exactly wrapped too tightly, and they’re not afraid to let their freak flags fly, that’s for sure. You see, the family has been deeply-rooted in these here woods, and their “hospitality” has kept them fed for quite some time, and with a fresh supply of unsuspecting commuters stopping in at varying spells, their stomachs never truly seem to growl out of sustained hunger…oh, that kindness will bite you in the ass every single waking moment.

As I mentioned earlier, the film is constructed fairly simple, yet effective in its barbarism, and those who dig survivalist-horror will be wringing their mitts in anticipation for this one. While some editing does look a bit hokey, the practical effects more than make up for an at-times bit of strewn-about plot navigation, but who’s keeping score? Certainly not me, that’s for sure. I absolutely revel in low-budgeted films that don’t necessarily have the looks and feels of such, and Edge Of Isolation is one of those presentations that is certainly worth its weight in blood and guts – do yourself a solid and give this one a look when it becomes available to the masses, and for f**k’s sake, don’t take up anyone’s offer to chill at their place when your ride breaks down – get AAA and save your life (the previous statement was in no way affiliated or endorsed by the Triple A Automotive group – just sayin’).

  • Film
3.5

Summary

Edge Of Isolation doesn’t need a full-blown allocation to keep future stranded motorists from losing their heads – all they have to do is push “play.”

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