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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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