Disc Covering: “Make-Out With Violence,” Or My Zombie Girlfriend

Disc Covering: “Make-Out With Violence,” Or My Zombie Girlfriend (photo)

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There’s always that moment in zombie movies where one of the protagonists gets infected and his loved ones have to deal with the fact that someone they loved dearly is suddenly wants to eat their brains. But that’s all it usually is, a moment. Then the heroes have to either man up and kill them or get eaten themselves. Festival circuit favorite “Make-Out With Violence,” is like a 100-minute exploration of that moment. This is a zombie film turned inside out. Instead of following the typical arc of illness, epidemic, survival it uses that idea of someone coming back to life to tell a powerful story about loss and denial. You’ve never seen a zombie movie quite like this.

Make-Out With Violence
Directed by The Deagol Brothers

11022010_makeout2.jpgTagline: Death Is the Present Tense

Tweetable Plot Synopsis: Twin brothers who’ve just graduated from high school find their friend who’d recently disappeared still alive…sort of.

Biggest Success: With conventions as deeply rooted as any horror subgenre, it’s hard to make a truly original zombie movie. But The Deagol Brothers (actually longtime friends and filmmaking partners Chris Doyle and Andy Duensing) managed to do just that by using the language of zombie movies as a means to tell an unconventional love story. The only way the movie works, though, is if their untraditional horror film has an untraditional zombie, and the credit in that department belongs to actress Shellie Marie Shartzer, who plays Wendy, the girl who goes missing and is then found in the woods by brothers Carol (Cody DeVos) and Beetle (Brett Miller). Wendy looks like your standard issue undead: glazed eyes, pasty, pale skin, crusty wounds, and unhealthy appetites. And she’s playing a zombie so, of course, Shartzer can’t speak. But the way the actress tells a story through movement and posture and pure physical performance makes Wendy a landmark movie zombie. Her head lolls on her neck as if her spine’s broken. She stands up torso first, without using her arms, so that it looks like some supernatural force is pulling her up from the ground. Horror nerds love to argue about whether zombies should shuffle or run, as if one is more “realistic” than the other. Generally, I think this distinction is stupid since zombies are not real and thus do not demand realism. But Shartzer’s work makes it easy to buy into “Make-Out With Violence”‘s fiction. That, you think to yourself, is exactly how a dead person would move.

11022010_makeout3.jpg Best Moment: “Make-Out With Violence” is extremely well-edited throughout by Brad Bartlett and the Deagol Brothers, but the opening sequence, which establishes the characters, the setting, the mystery of Wendy’s disappearance, and the greater mystery of reappearance, is the structural highlight. Zombie movies are about what happens when two diametrically opposed states of being, i.e. life and death, are forced to co-exist. The first fifteen minutes of “Make-Out With Violence” brilliantly does the exact same thing, as Beetle’s stream-of-consciousness narration blends past, where Wendy was alive, and the present, where Carol and his twin brother Patrick (Eric Lehning) are devastated by her disappearance. That jumbled chronology puts these characters somewhere between the lands of the living and the dead, in a place where a reanimated corpse suddenly feels a lot more natural.

I Question: the Deagol’s decision to cast the film’s co-writers, DeVos and Lehning, as their leads. I’m sure this film was a long-time passion project for all of four filmmakers, who helped fund the project by forming a band and performing the soundtrack they penned for the film. And I would not be surprised to learn that the use of DeVos and Lehning as Carol and Patrick was a decision borne as much out of frugality as anything else. But the fact remains that “Make-Out With Violence,” is a story about teenagers, and the men playing those teenagers look about ten years too old for their roles. At times that choice creates an interesting tension between innocence and experience, and between the story onscreen and the reality off it. But the rest of the time — most of the time — it’s just an unwanted distraction.

11022010_makeout4.jpgWorthy of a Theatrical Release? “Make-Out With Violence” did get an extremely limited theatrical release earlier this year but despite its flaws, it is definitely a film worthy of a wider audience, particularly amongst horror connoisseurs looking for movies that redefine what the genre can be instead of simply rehashing what it already is. Let’s hope it finds it on DVD.

For Further Viewing: watch an excerpt from another of my favorite reinventions of the zombie movie, “Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Alien, Flesh Eating, Hellbound, Zombified Living Dead Part 2: In Shocking 2-D,” the legendary cult film that “What’s Up Tiger Lily?”s “Night of the Living Dead.” And, yes, that is the real title.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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