Love In The Time Of Monsters – Review

Love in the Time of Monsters poster

“So this is where the American Dream died.”

  —Marla

Matt Jackson’s Love in the Time of Monsters–a play on Gabriel Garcia’s Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera?–is interesting for a lot of reasons, the first being that it’s so thematically similar to Zombeavers that it almost plays like a sequel.

Luckily, Love in the Time of Monsters is a better movie, though neither will be winning any awards, Saturn or otherwise, any time soon.

My biggest issue with it is that it takes two interesting leads–Marla (Gena Shaw) and Carla (Marissa Skell), both who’s views on family vacations were marred by the death of their father, who died when Paul Bunyan’s ax fell on him during a trip to Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California–and does relatively little with them.

Paul Bunyan and Babe Paul Bunyan and Babe

The movie covers their first vacation together in 15 years.

And while neither sister was unscathed by the experience, Marla seems worse off, becoming cynical and unable to maintain a relationship for any length of time.

Hoping that this family outing goes better than that last one–it doesn’t–they decide to visit Uncle Slavko’s All-American Family Lodge, where Carla’s fiancee works as a Bigfoot performer.

Yes.  I did just type ‘Bigfoot performer.’

Where the movie succeeds most is in the backgrounds of its quirky supporting cast, such as Uncle Slavko (Michael McShane), who, despite running an “All-American Family Lodge” isn’t American or Dr. Lincoln/Doug (Doug Jones) a chemist that just happens to be working at that lodge because of the economy.

And sure, they’re less individuals than vehicles designed to get the story from one point to the next, but everyone looks like they’re having enough fun that it’s easy to overlook.

Another similarity to Zombeavers is a panoply of zombified animals, which would have been much more welcome if they had come a bit earlier in the movie–they first make an appearance in the latter third–with the zombified trout being particularly effective (though the vultures (?) were pretty memorable as well).

When all is said and done, Love in the Time of Monsters is fun, and pretty well-acted, considering the genre, though it’s not quite Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Love in the Time of Monsters is prowling the fringes of iTunes, VOD and Amazon.

‘John Dies At The End’ Review

John Dies At The End

“Here’s to all the kisses I snatched, and vice versa.”

—Fred Chu

Think about it for a moment, you’ll get it.

One of Marvel Studios’ Phase Two projects is a feature film version of Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts. I still think that Ioan Gruffudd should play Strange, though who should direct?  On the strength of “John Dies At The End” (never mind his rather bizarre filmography) it should be Don Coscarelli.

The reason being is that the movie takes some really odd subject matter, and not only makes it approachable, but fun.  When I heard that this film was coming out a few years ago, I picked up the book by David Wong, so that I would go into the movie with some idea of what’s going on.

I enjoyed the read, but beneath the weird chocolately coating lies a somewhat conventional center.

What Coscarelli did was bring the most interesting, stranger parts of the novel to the screen, while de-emphasizing the conventional elements.  What’s left is a movie that plays like David Cronenberg’s “Naked Lunch,” with its reliance on mainly practical special effects, while unlike that aforementioned film actually makes sense.

What “John Dies At The End” also reminded me of the Hardy Boys.  On acid.

And apropos of Doctor Strange, wouldn’t Clancy Brown be an awesome Baron Mordo?

I am also resisting the temptation to reveal more about the movie–Trust me.  My restraint has been admirable–but the actors that play John and David Wong, Rob Mayes and Chase Williamson, are a great bit of casting.

I referred to Clancy Brown earlier, though he rounds out a remarkable cast that includes genre veterans like Angus Scrimm, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones and Paul Giamatti (who also executive produced).

Though all is not rosy because “John Dies At The End” deserves a nationwide release, as opposed to the limited one that it actually got.  I live in Washington, DC, and unlike Michael (thanks for reminding me that it was available online) over at Durmoose Movie Musings, I didn’t have the benefit of seeing this awesome movie in a theater.

Pity, that.