Not Just Another Zombie Flick
Kicking off body horror month in celebration for Madness Heart Press’s release of “Trigger Warning,” a Body Horror Anthology. We begin with an excellent and little know body horror film called Splinter.
Forget the 30-Minute Rule, this movie is face-first in the action just about a minute and a half in. Mr. Wilkins (director), I could fucking kiss you… This movie drops you right into the middle of the plot, and expects you to figure shit out like an adult. No expositions, no god damn character building; 90 seconds in and there’s mutant roadkill eating a gas station attendant. Another 10 minutes to introduce the four victims—and they pretty much just introduce them—and wham, mutant gas station attendant eats one of them. Not really a spoiler, you’ll figure out who’s going first pretty quickly.
Now really, my only problem with this movie is that it’s pretty much just a generic zombie flick at first. That’s okay, but I’m just bored with fucking zombies. Don’t get me wrong, still love them, still love the classics, still go to zombie crawls in my local city, but it’s just been so fucking overdone. There’s just no new material to throw at the genre. The horror industry needs to give it a rest for a while, like it did with werewolves before The Howling was released.
So, at first I was a little displeased with what I got, as it seemed to be a generic zombie movie. It made up for that assumption later, but at first that’s all you get. The acting was pretty good, and pretty good for movies in general, not just good for horror. The characters were well developed and not too tropey. The atmosphere was pretty fucking dark for a movie that takes place in a gas station. Yeah, even if this movie didn’t get playful with the generic zombie movie at the end, it would have still been okay.
So, a while back I complained that Last Days on Mars was just ZOMBIES IN SPACE! My biggest complaint is that they didn’t do anything with the idea of a mutative virus infecting the crew of a base on Mars. Generic zombies, in a generic isolationist setting, and the only thing special about it, is that it takes place on Mars. Big fucking deal… This movie, however, went full Cronenberg with it’s mutant zombies. As the zombies fed, they sort of just piled their pickings into a mass. At the end, one of which was a collection of limbs, heads, and bones. There were several others that were just leftover bits crawling around. While it didn’t have the intelligence or mimicking capacity of John Carpenter’s Thing, it did have the same basic organic dynamics. This organism was just more primitive. It hunted by heat and used any means of mobility it could create to fling itself at that source of heat.
I mean, there were some problems with this, of course. Such as, why it didn’t instinctively attack both the cars. It attacked the one that was overheating first, sure, but the other one had just been running, and it pretty much just ignores it. If the organism goes after the hottest body around, why didn’t it keep attacking the fireworks and instead go after the one fellow once his body temperature started to rise? I mean, these are the sorts of things I nitpick about, but it doesn’t really detract from the movie. There are a few really brutal scenes devoted to the organism that shows it slowly taking over one of the victims arms. At one point, just by twitching itself around, it snaps his finger. You think that’s bad, but then at another point the fucking thing breaks his arm twice from the inside, forcing them to amputate it with a box cutter and a cinder block. Fuck me, that was rough.
Above all, I can appreciate this movie for one thing: it lets the story happen. It never drags the plot kicking and screaming, the characters flow naturally with the story—some of the suspense was a little forced, but no one’s perfect. Yeah, overall it’s a pretty good movie. I highly recommend it.