The Horde (2009)

THE HORDE is a no holds barred blood fest of a zombie film from France. The setup is simple. Four Parisian cops raid an abandoned tower block intent on taking revenge on the gangsters who killed their comrade. But when the dead inexplicably start to rise, the two factions are forced into an uneasy truce, so they can escape the tower, and the hordes of undead.

The embittered policemen and hardcore gangsters all have a sense of nihilism that only add to the “end of days” tone. Directors Dahan and Rocher make the most of the claustrophobic situation, combining the action and horror in equal measure, managing to put on screen some of the best close quarter zombie fighting I’ve ever seen, the zombies keep coming, they keep fighting, and just when you think it’s going to stop, it keeps going some more.

I particularly liked Jo Prestia pummelling to death a pair of flesh hungry zombies. Claude Perron’s toe to toe fist fight with a zombie in an apartment kitchen, finally offing the she-zombie with a fridge and a gob of disdainful spit. There’s also a delightfully over the top Yves Pignot’s unleashing of an unrelenting burst of machine gun fire at a corridor of zombies. My favourite, Jean-Pierre Martins stranded atop an abandoned car in an underground car park, hordes clawing for his flesh, while he just keeps chopping away at them with a machete. This exact image haunts my nightmares.

It is not a perfect film, the ending is weak, there’s a disturbing undertone of misogyny running throughout. Character development plays second string to the action, but that’s nothing you wouldn’t expect from a film of this type.

At the upper end of the low budget horror genre, not for the squeamish, definitely worth seeing.

Directors: Yannick Dahan & Benjamin Rocher
Writer: Arnaud Bordas, Benjamin Rocher, Yannick Dahan & Stéphane Moïssakis
Production Year: 2009
Rating: 18 Running
Time: 90 minutes


Pontypool (2008)

PONTYPOOL is interesting take on the zombie film. Set for the most part in the local radio station, Stephen McHattie is convincing as Grant Mazzy, a shock jock from the big city reduced to plying his ware on CLSY, a local radio station broadcasting to the small Ontario town of Pontypool.

A slow day of appalling weather quickly takes a turn for the worst, as reports start to come in of people having seizures, developing strange speech patterns, and committing appalling acts of violence.

As events unfold it becomes apparent that the violence is being spread by a virus contained in the English language, but Mazzy thinks he has found the cure, or is Mazzy actually spreading the virus with his broadcast?

From the opening sequence you know this is something more than your average zombie film, there isn’t a lot of the usual bloody horror you’d expect. It builds tension by feeding you images from Mazzy’s broadcast. The horror for the most part in your head, and is all the better for it. It is an interesting little film, that poses some very interesting questions about the nature of language. It is, dare I say it, an esoteric zombie film?

Director: Bruce McDonald
Writer: Tony Burgess
Production Year: 2008
Rating: 15
Running Time: 96 minutes

All that glitters is not gold

I heard something on the radio yesterday. The average age of a first time buyer, not supported by the bank of mum and dad, is thirty-seven. Thirty-seven years old before you have enough financial history to leap the hurdle of deposit and get a mortgage. Mid-life before you can start to buy a house of your own. And things are only going to get worse.

As the ramifications of the recent financial collapse continue to unfold. It is not inconceivable that the average age of a first time buyer will push beyond forty. This delayed ability to join the fraternity of home owners will have a devastating effect on any buyer’s ability to repay a mortgage before retirement. That’s a lot of people who will never be able to get a mortgage. Never be able to buy a house.

Some might look at the current situation and argue we are going through a “natural” period of correction. Reduced numbers of first time buyers will force down the inflated price of housing. Thus allowing more first time buyer’s to enter the market. Perhaps that is true. What is more likely is that those who already have equity will be able buy up cheap property and build their portfolio. Fuelling the ever increasing rise in prices. Pushing the average age of first time buyer’s up even higher. The truth is. A lot of people will never be able to buy. And will be forced to rent for their entire life.

The usual argument against renting is that it is a waste of money. You give away all that money. And have nothing to show for it. But renting is only an issue if you look at your life as the accumulation of wealth. If you look at rent as the cost of living. It becomes less of an issue.

So why are we so obsessed with owning property in this country? Margaret Thatcher made it the cornerstone of her monetarist agenda by selling off our stock of council housing in the eighties. She sold the family silver to socially engineer the reduction of the welfare state. She made property a pension. Ask yourself. What happens to all this house wealth in the end? It is rarely passed on to the next generation. More often than not. It is levied to pay for the home owner’s retirement. Or worse still. Sold to pay the cost of residential care.

So what’s going to happen to the increasing number of people who will never be able to buy? They won’t have the cash-cow of a property to fund their retirement. What does the future hold for them? Will they have to continue working well beyond the statutory age of retirement? Or will they be abandoned, forced to live in abject poverty? That won’t happen. The state will step in and help. What state? The current government stated aim is the reduction of the state. Less state. Less help. So private companies will come to the rescue and fill the gap. What sort of care will those who don’t have property to levy actually get? The answer. Not very good care. The state will pay them? I don’t think so. Charity then? Charity will step in to help the venerable. How very progressive. It’s that kind of thinking that consolidated the need for the labour movement in the nineteenth century.

Perhaps that’s where the future lies. The rise of a genuine labour movement in this country. Will people’s inability to buy actually change people’s understanding of the world? Perhaps the coming privations will galvanise enough of us to finally force real and lasting social change for the better. Perhaps it will reawaken left-wing politics in this country.

The sceptic in me doubts it. I would love to be wrong. But I think the vast majority of us have been blinded by the glitter of wealth for it’s own sake. We’re in love with the big screen televisions that stream advertisement for the cult of celebrity like “The X Factor” and the soon to be gone “Big Brother”. We’ve had these bright lights for too long. Perhaps so long. The glare has blinded us. Made it hard to see. All that glitters is not gold.

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