The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 6.17.14 Detention of the Dead (2012)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 06.17.2014
“Zombies!” continues with a look at the 2012 zombie comedy Detention of the Dead, plus two more TV Quick Hits, two new batches of Things to Watch Out For This Week, a new What’s Going On Here?, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned, and more. Check it out!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #311: Detention of the Dead (2012)
Zombies!: Week 3
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been chased by any kind of zombie, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and eleven, Zombies! continues with the 2012 low budget horror comedy homage Detention of the Dead.
Detention of the Dead (2012)
Detention of the Dead, written and directed by Alex Craig Mann (and based on a play by Rob Rinow), is a somewhat successful low budget zombie comedy that tries to combine the undead nastiness of the George A. Romero universe with the sort of teen angst hooey that was prevalent in various coming of age young people movies like The Breakfast Club and Can't Hardly Wait. Most of the zombie segments work, but the comedy and character bits aren't as funny as the movie seems to think they are, and, as a result, what you end up with is an uneven movie watching experience.
The movie stars Jacob Zachar as Eddie, an uber nerd serving his first ever after school detention because of something that his English teacher Mrs. Rumblethorp (Michele Messmer) found out about him. Also serving detention with Eddie is Willow (Alexa Nikolas), a Romero loving Goth chick who also has a thing for Eddie (they've been friends for ages); the hot cheerleader popular girl Janet (Christa B. Allen), her ROTC boyfriend Brad (Jayson Blair), super athlete Jimmy (Max Adler), some guy named Mark (Joseph Porter), and stoner skateboarder Ash (Justin Chon). As detention is about to begin, Mark, who has a nasty hand wound and looks to have some kind of flu, starts wigging out and attacks Rumblethorp, biting her on the neck. Eddie and the others rescue Rumblethorp and try to stay away from the now monstrous Mark. They leave the detention room to find the hallways filled with shuffling, blood soaked students who look exactly like Mark. And they're not sick with some kind of flu. They're all zombies, just like in the movies.
So then some stuff happens, the detention group runs through the hallways, meeting and avoiding various zombie hordes (the zombie couple that looks like it's making out is fun) until deciding to hole up in the library, the one place they figure no student zombies will be (no one uses the library except nerds. It also only has one entrance/exit, so it will be somewhat easy to defend). While in the library the detention group figures out that the entire school, both inside and out, is filled with zombies, no one's cell phone works, and they're the only ones left alive. How the heck are they all going to survive this? Can they survive this? What the heck is really going on?
The movie starts to slow down considerably once the group enters the library as the story shifts from one of survival to one of "young people examining who they really are in the world." We find out that Eddie really has a thing for Janet, that Eddie has no clue about Willow's infatuation with him, that Janet feels lots of pressure to be perfect because of her popularity, and that Ash loves smoking weed because it lets him forget just how awful and meaningless his life is. We also find out that Brad has a secret that could alter everything in his relationship with Janet and the group. Some of these moments of self-realization are kind of interesting, but they're not as monumental as the movie would like us to believe. The stuff with Eddie is meant to be mind-blowing and amazing but it barely registers. It's also unclear what Eddie's relationship with Rumblethorp actually is. They didn't have an illicit sexual relationship, but they apparently had some kind of deepish bond that should have been dealt with right before the zombie outbreak. Janet's personal pain plays a little better, but it still doesn't come off as that big of a deal.
Now, the zombie stuff, the best part of the movie, isn't perfectly executed as we don't get to see the outbreak happen. We see one kid from behind that's probably a zombie get a school bus but we don't get to see him attack the people on the bus. And when the detention group finds out about the overall zombie outbreak it comes off as something that happened instantaneously. No one was a zombie, five minutes pass, and then suddenly all but seven people in the school are zombies. How is that possible? And while it isn't necessary in the zombie genre in general, it would have been nice if there was some kind of explanation for the zombie outbreak. Again, all but seven people become zombies in the span of a few minutes. How is that possible? And why were those seven people excluded from the outbreak? What makes them so dang special? Why not have a meteor or an accidental delivery of a dangerous military experiment to the cafeteria? Or, hell, why not have nerd Eddie be responsible? Maybe he created the zombies somehow to get back at everyone or something.
The other issue I have with the zombie stuff is that it's too gross too fast. Zombie movies tend to work best when there's a steady escalation to the zombie violence as the movie progresses. Start out small, with a neck bite or a bloody finger removal, and then slowly move up to on screen gut ripping and nasty head removal. Detention of the Dead starts out nasty and then just sort of stays there, making the zombies a little too dangerous for the movie's own good. The butt eating scene, for instance, is more of a "middle-of-the-movie" zombie scene, not something we should see in the first third of the movie. And the full body dismemberment scene, while cool on its own, probably shouldn't have been a swarm. It should have been slower. Now, yes, Romero's Dawn of the Dead went gross quickly, but then Romero can do that and make it work. Ales Craig Mann isn't George A. Romero. He's a good director, but he's not a master.
The zombie make-up is some of the best I've ever seen in any kind of zombie movie. The face appliances all look great, and the blood is damn near perfect. The only special effect that doesn't make any sense is the zombie rat in the AC duct work. Where the hell did it come from? Why is there only one zombie rat? And how could a zombie rat rip a person's legs off? It just doesn't make any sense.
The performances are generally good. Zachar is just about perfect as the nerdy Eddie and Allen is hilarious as Janet (she doesn't like it when blood gets on her cheer outfit). Chon is funny, most of the time, as Ash, and Bair is good at doing a sort of parody of the typical square jawed movie hero. The best performance, though, belongs to Nikolas as Willow. She's funny, she's interesting, and you root for her to somehow score Eddie. Why couldn't she have been the main character?
The ending is a little anti-climactic, but it's sort of perfect in its own imperfect way. Detention of the Dead could have been better, but what actually get isn't too bad. It's a little too uneven for its own good, but there's enough good stuff in it to warrant checking it out. It needs more energy, more laughs, and slightly more plot. You should still see it.
So, yeah, see Detention of the Dead. It's worth checking out.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: Around 8.
Undead bodies: Hundreds, possibly thousands.
Nudity?: None. There should have been some, though. There should have been.
Doobage: High school hooey, making out, a urinal swirly flashback, eye glass breaking, eye glass reconstitution, a pulsing hand wound, neck biting, gut eating, a Breakfast Club running-through-hallways homage, zombies making out, ass eating, a slow motion baseball slide to avoid zombies, a massive door barricade, multiple blood splatters, decapitation via paper cutter, a zombie feeding frenzy, an old school library computer, exercising, fucking around with a severed zombie head, teeth flossing, picture fondling, American flag pole through the top of the head, another zombie feeding frenzy, a pinky wound, pot smoking, beating a zombie arm with a workbook, dick grabbing, arm removal, a funny tandem dance routine, a gross fart to the face, severed legs, using a severed leg as a club to beat zombies with, boob touching, a makeshift battering ram, spike through the head, a zombie accidentally shoots itself in the head, a zombie basketball game, testicle kicking, multiple pencil through the head bits, clarinet through the top of the head, suicide, and a lame ending.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: Whiny alternative rock music on the soundtrack, a midget janitor pushing a cart, nose spray, detention, a hot Goth chick, a hot Goth chick that wants to marry George A. Romero, a Goth chick watching zombie movies on her phone, a skateboarder pot head that likes heavy metal, ass eating, blood splatter city, a freak out, magazine picture fondling, movie talk, the Savini library, a guy laughing at his own chest muscles, a deep need to shit, a zombie rat that can rip people apart, a total lack of nudity, the National Guard, and a lame ending.
Best lines: "Ugh detention. Boring," "Hey, Janet, Brad. I didn't know you would be in detention," "My uniform!," "It's not rabies. They're zombies," "This is the future of our American military?," "Hey, this zombie shit is really starting to harsh my mellow," "What is it? Oh, nothing big, just the end of the world," "Everything will be okay. Look at you. You're too hot to die," "I don't have asthma. Only dorky kids have asthma," "Ash, stop taunting the undead!," "Chillax? What the fuck is chillax?," "You were going to Columbine us?," "Do either of you have any idea which direction we should be going in? Of course not," "You fucking fucker!," "Goth chicks kick ass!," "Suck a duck," and "This sucks. I'm gonna die. I don't want to be a zombie. This so sucks."
Next week: Zombies! concludes with The Dead (2010)!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
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And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
-The LEGO Movie: I missed this when it was in theatres, which I'm kind of bummed about because I'd imagine it was pretty cool to see a Lego cartoon on the big screen. It got generally good reviews, made a ton of money, and there's a sequel on the way. Yes, I still want to see it.
-Joy Ride 3: Roadkill: I still haven't seen the first two Joy Ride movies, so I should probably see those movies before I see Roadkill. I mean, that's what you do when you can, right, when it comes to these kinds of thriller franchises? Perhaps this will become a part of next year's series of theme months.
-Wrath of the Crows: The great Debbie Rochon is in this, as is the wonderful Tiffany Shepis, the beautiful Tara Cardinal, and Domiziano Arcangeli, one of the greatest names of all time. It appears to be some sort of weird beard low budget horror thing and, based on its cast alone, is well worth checking out. Could very well show up as part of the 2nd Annual Debuary: A Month of Debbie Rochon.
-Rise of the Dinosaurs: This movie was known at one point as Jurassic Attack, which is a much cooler name. Rise of the Dinosaurs is a little too generic for my tastes. But then, hey, it's a low budget movie about dinosaurs. I guess it's necessary to have the word "dinosaur" in the title. There's a chance you've seen this on the Sci Fi Channel. I know it's been on several times.
-13 Sins: This low budget horror thriller, which features the great Ron Perlman, looks incredibly messed up. It seems kind of like a riff on Saw, but then that could just be the trailer. Anyone out there see this yet? Is it Saw-like or is it its own thing?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits
-Murder in the First thoughts: This new TNT drama starring Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson as San Francisco homicide cops is, for the most part, okay. It doesn't come off as anything necessarily special, just another basic cable cop show. Diggs is good as Inspector English, a cop trying to do his job while dealing with his dying wife. Robertson's Inspector Mulligan isn't as interesting as Diggs' English, but the show really wants me to think that she's interesting. She's a single mother and cop; we see her harried morning dealing with her daughter, her daughter's father, and trying to get ready to hit the streets and I'm supposed to be in awe of her resilience. I think, had the show been solely about her character, I might be a little more on her side, but at the moment I'm far more interested in English. That could change, though, as the episodes progress.
I'm not buying the whole "one big murder investigation" thing, at least not right now. I know that's become the gold standard in terms of cable cop shows (serialized storytelling!) but you really have to have a story that will actually last an entire season of ten episodes. It might have been a better strategy to do a sort of "case of the week" thing where it then becomes a larger story by the end of the first season (you know, like realizing in episode six that what they've been investigating this entire time is a massive criminal conspiracy and not just a series of random murders).
I mean, at this point the big Silicon Valley rich guy played by Tom Felton isn't much of a presence. He's an asshole, sure, but is he really the guy we're going to be watching the entire season? And is this case going to be big enough and interesting enough to warrant ten episodes? TNT wants me to believe that the show is going to become "my next obsession." Is that realistically possible?
I'm going to watch the entire first season, just to see how it all works out. It's a solid show, but, at least at the moment, it isn't anything special. Is it supposed to be special? Is it supposed to be TNT's answer to FX's cop show? Is Murder in the First meant to be the basic cable True Detective?
-What exactly is the point behind TNT's "BOOM" thing?: If you've seen any commercial for TNT's original programming you've definitely seen each one of those commercials end with the message "BOOM." What the hell is that supposed to mean?
TNT has created a commercial that allegedly explains what it's about but I still don't get it. Is "BOOM" meant to showcase excitement or something? I understand using the "BOOM" tagline for sports or the sci-fi action show Falling Skies or that Last Ship show, but does that tagline really work for Major Crimes or Perception?
Here, watch the commercial below and then explain it to me. What the heck am I missing?
Casey Kasem 1932-2014 RIP
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Christa B. Allen
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
-Blood Soaked: A low budget horror movie about lesbians fighting Nazi zombies? Why the hell wouldn't I want to see that? And why am I just finding out about it now? Shouldn't this idea be getting bigger play in the online nerd world? What the heck is going on here?
-The Occupants: Ted Mosby's wife, Cristin Milioti, either stars or simply appears in this low budget horror thriller, I can't really tell. It looks okay, so at least it has that going for it. And Milioti is a good actor, so it has that going for it, too.
-Alpha Alert: This low budget British horror flick has several different titles, so there's a chance you may have seen this already as Event 15 or Trauma or Mission: 15. I've watched the trailer twice and still don't have a grip on what it's actually supposed to be about. I still want to see it, though. Anyone out there see this? Is it as weird as it seems?
-Assumed Killer: Caspar Van Dien doesn't get to play a bad guy all that often, and that's what it looks like he's doing in this low budget thriller, so this could be a nifty change of pace for Van Dien fans. Of course, his character could really end up being the hero of the movie, what with Armand Assante and Eric Roberts in it, too. I mean, how can you not suspect both of them of being the movie's real bad guy? Am I wrong to think this?
-Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector: Yet another documentary about the world of VHS collectors. This one looks great, and is definitely something I want to see. I know it played at several festivals around the country, so I'm sure someone out there reading this has seen the movie. Is it as good as it looks? Is it fun and interesting and enlightening?
What's Going On Here?: What's with all of the apologies?
Is it me or are there too many celebrity apologies nowadays? Jason Biggs had to recently apologize for something he said about his American Pie co-star Tara Reid. Jonah Hill was all over TV for like two weeks apologizing for using a homophobic slur. Justin Bieber had to apologize for various things (being a drunk and for being a racist). And the whole Donald Sterling thing was a series of revelations and apologies. There were also several instances where the celebrity media/Twitter/some group demanded an apology from someone who said something/did something/thought something that was deemed offensive. I can't remember the specifics of any of them but I know they happened (it sure seems like someone "important" has to apologize every day on Facebook or Twitter). Isn't this all a bit ridiculous?
I mean, sure, when someone does something absolutely reprehensible he or she should apologize to the world at large. But does one homophobic slur really require days and days of apologies? Does one racist outburst necessitate five straight days of talking about it as if it's a national crisis? Does one stupid remark demand endless discussion?
Again, when someone says absolutely reprehensible there's nothing wrong with a media gang attack on that person and the stupid thing he or she said. But after like two days it's time to move on to something else unless it's something so egregious that it actually requires several days of talking about it. If Jonah Hill had been caught multiple times calling someone a "fucking cocksucking faggot" that would definitely require the celebrity media to talk about it for like a week. Or if Alec Baldwin had been caught on camera multiple times using the "N" word over a month I could understand Entertainment Tonight leading off with the story for a month and a half. But most of these incidents don't require much in the way of condemnation.
But what kind of message does it send to the celebrity obsessed youth of the world if we don't strike swiftly when something horrendous happens? Aren't young people just going to think it's okay to call someone a queer or a porch monkey if we don't go all in on the public condemnation?
No, young people aren't going to suddenly think it's okay to call a gay celebrity a queer if we don't talk about how terrible it was in the first place for five days. In fact, no one is going to suddenly go "Well, if the internets didn't explode when Will Smith called Ice Cube a fag then I can start calling that kid I go to school with a queer." Even in the age of instant information sudden change isn't that sudden. If anything changes it's going to be a gradual thing, and as we've seen with the growing acceptance of gays, gay marriage, and other major social changes it can seem like it takes too long and takes forever, but that's just the way the world works. The good stuff, as long as we all don't give up, will eventually happen. Little bumps in the way, little revelations that maybe we're not all as enlightened as we think we are, should be treated as little bumps and nothing more. Acknowledge them, talk about them for a little bit, and then get on to the good stuff. Isn't that slightly more important than being constantly on guard for the next big celebrity outrage?
So, I guess my message here is everyone needs to calm down and stop being so outraged all of the time. There are things to be outraged by, but most of the things we end up pissed about aren't worth the time we spend on them. Jonah Hill freaking out and using homophobic language once does not require endless "soul searching" and apologies. If he did it multiple times, yes, that's a problem. But once? Just let him say "sorry" and move on.
There are other, bigger, monsters out there to destroy.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
"Well, the important thing is I think the glasses make me look smarter."
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to current Republican Governor of Texas, failed 2012 Republican Presidential candidate, and Douchebag Hall of Famer Rick Perry, for saying "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way." Gearing up for a possible 2016 campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination, Perry apparently wants every ultra right wing loonbag, just in case they didn't already know, that he's a raging homophobic psychopath just like them and they should vote for him in the primaries.
What kind of bullshit is this? What the hell is the "homosexual issue?" I wish someone in the "liberal" media would ask Governor Perry, and his ultra-right wing buddies, what the fuck they're actually talking about. Is it all about gay marriage? Gay adoption? Anti-discrimination? Ass fucking? If you're worried about anal sex, Jesus Christ, just say that.
This bullshit has to stop. What goddamn century are we living in?
And then there's Washington Post op-ed writer, right wing TV commentator, and Douchebag Hall of Famer George Will, for claiming that female sexual assault on college campuses isn't as widespread as has been reported and that a new and "coveted" status of victimhood is being established by the ongoing liberal social conspiracy that keeps talking about it. While Will might have been able to get away with simply saying, based on his own research and number crunching, that the evidence doesn't show an epidemic (he would have been wrong but at least his assertion could have been meekly defended "scientifically"), Will just had to add that it's really all just a big scheme to make women more socially important and belittle men further. So, in essence, Will said that the evidence doesn't show an epidemic and, hey, maybe the bitch was asking for it (She was drunk! And she was wearing a thong that I could see the top of! It's her fault!).
Could George Will be any more despicable?
Yes, of course. And how long will it take for Will to show us again just how terrible he really is? A few days?
And finally there's the Verizon Indycar Series, for eliminating all double file restarts for the rest of the 2014 season. The series made this announcement last week right before the exciting but sparsely attended Texas race, and while the car owners and the drivers were happy since they were the ones whining about the restarts in the first place, the fans were pissed. The fans loved the double file restarts, and what's the point of deliberately annoying a loyal but growing smaller fan base?
Please, Indycar, take care of your fans and stop listening to the perpetually whining Indycar pit area and bring back double file restarts.
Why is this always so hard? Why does Indycar keep doing shit like this? Why does the series love to further alienate it fans? It just doesn't make any sense
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
The NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan yesterday was, right up until the last thirty laps or so, a pretty good race. Michigan, before it was repaved, was always kind of boring as the cars tended to get strung out quickly and it was difficult to pass (the cars could go four wide but there was little actual passing, which is weird). Now with the repaving and the insane increase in speeds the racing is much better. It's still difficult to pass but it can happen now. Pole sitter Kevin Harvick was the class of the field early on, and Kyle Larson was up and down all day, spinning, falling back, and then roaring back to the front.
And then the last thirty laps happened. It was obvious to me that, unless he had some bad luck, Jimmie Johnson was going to win. Harvick was fast, and Larson was fast, and several teams were playing the strategy game, trying to figure out if there was going to be a caution at the end (Brad Keselowski was one of them), but Johnson was in command. He was fast, his crew chief's pit strategy was brilliant, and, again, unless he had some bad luck there was no way Johnson was going to lose. And the Lowe's #48 didn't lose. He won his third race of the year. He's in the Chase. And he's probably going to win a seventh title.
Yeah, it may seem a little early to make that prediction as there are still twenty races to go in the season and a new Chase format to deal with, but Johnson is now in control and I just don't see how he can be stopped. Dale Earnhardt, Jr, is running well this year, too, as is Kevin Harvick, but can they really beat the six time champion? I just don't see it happening, not right now anyway.
Who the heck is going to step up and beat the #48? Why is it so hard for everyone else to generate any kind of consistency that's better than Johnson?
Paul Menard had a good weekend. He won the Nationwide race on Saturday afternoon and then he finished fourth on Sunday. When was the last time Menard had a good weekend? Kasey Kahne also had a good day and pulled a top ten finish out of his ass (wasn't he a lap down at one point?). And how about Jeff Gordon? He had a shitty first part of the race but then came alive at the end and finished sixth.
Juan Pablo Montoya had an okay day in his return to Sprint Cup racing, running mid-pack for most of the race and finishing 18th. I don't quite understand what his pit strategy was (I'm going to assume that he was one of the guys planning on a major caution at the end) but he did a good job and should do better at Indy next month (he should be racing at Sonoma this Sunday but apparently Team Penske doesn't have a spare pit crew to use). And Danica had a good mid-pack day, finishing 17th after struggling early.
What the heck happened to Kurt Busch? Why did he fade at the end? And Jamie McMurray? What happened to him? He finished twelfth, sure, but he was fast. Did he have bad pit strategy?
I actually got to see a good chunk of the Nationwide race on Saturday and it was pretty good, too. Again, Menard won that one, holding off Sam Hornish, Jr. for the big win. I was pulling for Hornish, but he just couldn't get it done. I completely missed the Camping World Truck Series on Saturday night. Darrell Wallace won that one, his second career Truck victory. He apparently dominated the race.
Both the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series are going road racing this weekend, with Sprint Cup at Sonoma in California and Nationwide at Road America in Wisconsin. I'm going to miss both events as I will be unable to see them live (other hooey going on). The Trucks don't race again until June 26th at Kentucky.
Not much going on in Indycar at the moment. Sebastien Bourdais was apparently fined and put on probation for his incident with Justin Wilson at Texas (I saw that on racer.com). And Luca Filippi is expected to make a return to Indycar for Rahal Letterman Lanigan at both Houston and Toronto. It'll be interesting to see if Filippi is given more races if he does well as Oriol Servia has been racing the second RLL car this year and, as far as I know, hasn't been given more races.
The Houston doubleheader is up next in two weeks.
I did manage to see about two hours of the 24 Hours of Lemans. I had no idea what the hell was going on in those two hours but what I saw was enjoyable anyway. I was surprised that Fox Sports 1 and 2 actually had the full 24 hours on. I expected Fox to move the overnight portion of the race to its website, which is what happened when the old Speed Channel was around. Will FS1 and FS2 do the same thing for the 24hrs of Daytona next year?
Because of that "other hooey" there probably won't be a NASCAR/Indycar section next issue. Unless something major happens during the week I doubt I will have anything to comment on. Everything should be back to normal on June 30th. Should be.
On June 30th he returns...
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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Detention of the Dead
Jacob Zachar- Eddie Alexa Nikolas- Willow Christa B. Allen- Janet Jayson Blair- Brad Justin Chon- Ash Max Adler- Jimmy Joseph Porter- Mark Michele Messmer- Mrs. Rumblethorp
Directed by Alex Craig Mann Screenplay by Alex Craig Mann, based on a play by Rob Rinow