Friday, June 6, 2014

Chiller Channel Review: Steve Niles' Remains




Remains (or as labeled on CHILLER as Steve Niles’ Remains (2011)) could very well be titled “Zombies in Reno” as a nuclear fallout turns the citizens in surrounding Reno (and in the city) into the flesh-hungry undead, with a few survivors (Grant Bowler (of syfy’s Defiance), Evalena Marie, Miko Hughes (many will know him as the little son of Heather Langenkamp in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare), and Anthony Marks) holing up in a casino resort, wondering when the right time will be to try and escape and leave. Eventually a group of mercenaries in military fatigues show up, presumably as help and rescue, but their agenda is to loot and pillage. Meanwhile, a majority of the film has the four main leads enduring mundane boredom that comes with being stuck in a singular location as a congregating horde of the undead lumber about outside looking for human flesh to devour. Remains doesn’t re-invent the wheel as far as the ensuing plot goes but it plays a little with the formula. For instance, the zombies sleep and eat each other (they also cannibalize themselves!) if there’s isn’t a fresh supply of human flesh available.

 There is a rather neat little sequence where Bowler, Marie, and Marks are moving quietly among the sleeping undead hoping not to wake them (…it even gets hairy when Marie attempts to remove a gun from the holster of a zombie cop). There's another couple sequences where Bowler and Marie find themselves inside an upside down car and a conveniently placed bus (with just one zombie inside) which are built to persuade suspense and unease from the audience (how can these two escape what appear to be helpless scenarios as the horde surrounds them?). You get the obvious troubles of holding out the zombies from entering the casino and the sickly mercenaries (suffering from the radiation exposure of the fallout) offering problems for the leads when their current hideaway is raided of its goods (and they are suddenly held against their will). These zombies are a mixture of the Danny Boyle 28 Days Later and Romero design (most of them shamble and walk awkwardly, yet they have those weird contacts and their faces look as if they had been malformed with acid), there are scenes of the undead and their usual munchies, and once again the military is viewed as marauding parasites as they take what they need from wherever (and whomever) is available.


Of course, the leads get a little bit of characterization but nothing particularly spectacular. Bowler’s alcoholism cost him loved ones and his gambling marked him as unfit for casinos in Vegas. Marie had a rotten family life which has molded her into a sulking grouch with an attitude. Miko is a gay employee of the casino with a lover away on a base and could very well be dead. Marks will do whatever it takes to survive, putting himself first above anything else. Later in the film when the mercenaries show up, Lance Reddick (of Fringe, The Wire, and CSI: Miami) is the leader of them and his daughter is played by Tawny Cypress. These two have the only characters of the group with any real meat on the bones. Cypress has a child in Carson City while Reddick is motivated to get her and his bunch to the location. However, this will not go according to plan.


There’s a whole sequence left out of the film obviously due to budgetary constraints. What happens to Reddick and his remaining group (Bowler pulls a trick on some of the mercenaries when he releases a trapped horde upon them) once they flee Reno is told to us by Cypress. I think this, if seen, could have really landed an impact. But the film insists on remaining with the leads (Bowler and Marie) in Reno at the damn casino instead of venturing away at all. So Cypress returns with a story to tell while Marie gives her a hard time. Marie, as you will see, rarely lifts her frown and the “woe is me” attitude doesn’t exactly endear her to the viewer. That is kind of the point: this situation blows and a positive outlook to what appears to be a bleak future is hard to come by. Bowler attempts, though, to break from boozing and festering frustration, looking at Cypress’ desire to get to her child as a clean slate and mission worthy of risking his life. Marie’s morale continues to sink, and her angry descent (and jealousy of Cypress, who has become chummy with Bowler) into mad white woman results in using a gun handle to subdue her co-horts, with unsuccessful plans to flee the parking garage. Ultimately, Marie gets what’s coming to her. Still, her casting is to provide us with someone nice to look at (her attire is ripped jorts, cowboy boots, and unbuttoned flannel shirt; we get plenty of legs and the shirt comes off on occasion to reveal her perky breasts under bra) because undead zombies aren't exactly pleasant with fixed gaze.


I wanted to like Marie, but she makes it difficult. Marie has spurts of inspired bravery and willingness to assist in attempts to escape, but oftentimes she just balks and complains. Bowler is often shown with a beer in hand, and his friction with Marie is palpable. Cypress and Bowler, on the other hand, click always, right from the start to the end. It is no surprise how the film concludes. Miko’s character is very likable, and he’s the most selfless of the four. Marks is only concerned with his personal safety…his downfall is believing that Reddick’s squadron could keep him protected from the zombies.


Like in Romero’s films and The Walking Dead (think the mall and the Atlanta city sequence as examples), there are “emphasis shots” of streets with pockets of scattered undead walking about. The zombie genre is immortalized with such shots to establish the grim result of mankind’s mistakes and eventual downfall, with a chosen few not yet walking among the undead…but some of them might soon join them.

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I had a fun dialogue with a young lady I work with about the rather hilarious scenes particularly in romantic comedies and action genre wher...

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Ahs

Edc

Edc
Blog's Dead all Over
"... perhaps we invent artificial terrors to cope with the real ones."

--host, Donald Pleasence, Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Sbut

Sbut
Snip. Snip

Hal

Hal
There are many things under the sun
---Dr. Werdegast, The Black Cat

hal1

It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Jtm 2

Jtm 2

Rave

Rave

Mrub

Mrub

Gb

"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

--Ghostbusters

sm6

sm6

Rv1

Rv1

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Nas

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nos3

Lok

Lok

Po

Po

Ra6

Ra6

dawn

dawn

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Countess Zaleska: Be thou exorcised oh Dracula, and thy body long undead find destruction throughout eternity in the name of thy dark unholy Master.

mh2

mh2

z2

z2

Hiii

Hiii

Fred

Fred

Ghspo

Ghspo
Movie, so-so, but poster, cool

Enl

Enl

nos4

nos4

gm

To a new world of gods and monsters!


No 2

No 2
Jason Lives

clothes line

clothes line

Ahorr

Ahorr

Cbi1

Cbi1
Case of the bloody iris

Wsha

Wsha

Mouth3

Mouth3
In the Mouth of Madness

Fdfn2

Fdfn2
Freddy's Dead '91

Vyr

Vyr
Vampyres 1974

Sh fr

Sh fr
Friday the 13th Part 2

Vlov

Vlov
Carmilla's kiss

f133

f133

Edpos

Edpos

Ttf2

Ttf2

Jm2

Jm2
El Hombre Lobo

Psycho '60

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Kife

Kife
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Meg

Meg
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ring 2

ring 2
the ring 2002, "the tape"

poster

poster

exor1

exor1
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Conj

Conj

Tz1

Tz1
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In the kitchen, The Shape

In the kitchen, The Shape
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exc4

exc4

Ps56

Ps56

Hun

Hun
Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

Ps89

Ps89

Cof

Cof
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pcushig

His

His

Efny

Efny

sus

sus
I'm going to grind you down to blood and screams.

--Innocent Blood 1992
Rest in Peace, Robert Loggia

wb

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

WZ

WZ

Edfen

Edfen
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h1

h1
Look behind you!

Bs

Bs
"There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it."
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linnea

Amer

Amer
Taste of metal

The h gang

The h gang

Nlc

Nlc
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Hp

Smoke

Smoke
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Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

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Hill

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Castle

SRW

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Frere and dummy

Frere and dummy

Mlove

Mlove

Alone/dark

"There are no crazy people, doctor. We're all just on vacation."

--Alone in the Dark (1982)

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Lips

Fhz

Fhz

Ph

Ph

Vestron

Vestron
Vintage VHS

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sm 3

Monique parent

Monique parent
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Were5

Were5

f13

f13
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Bmate

Bmate

--Wes Craven

I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that's not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

Ms45 w

Ms45 w

Churcvh

Churcvh
The Church 1989

Ww

Ww
The Whip and the Body 1963

Lsho

"Now, no novacaine....it dulls the senses"

--Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Christopher Lee

Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.

Vampyros lesbos

You are one of us now. The Queen of the Night will bear you up on her black wings

The Unknown 1927

No....not sick. But I have lost some flesh.

Alonzo, the Armless.

Ckvh

Ckvh

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)

Glen: We'd like to speak to the Townsends, please.

The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

Bw5

Bw5

Jill

Jill

Mad Love 1935

Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: Gala - who? Not wanting a statue of him, are you?

Doctor Gogol: I don't want a statue of Galatea. You see, she was a statue herself. Pygmalion formed her. Out of marble, not wax. And then she came to life in his arms.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [calling to his assistant] Start the motor, Henry. There's queer people on the streets of Montmartre at this time of night.

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Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [reading card] It's a go, Dr. Go... gol. First thing in the morning.