I have a friend named Steve who likes to pour honey-mustard on everything he eats. “It just makes things better,” he says. When a screenwriter sits down for the first time to work on a new script, he is beginning at square one. The only way he can make it better immediately is with a decision to put zombies in as many scenes as possible*. As such, it is also that much harder to screw up a movie after a positive “zombie verdict” has been reached. Actually screwing it up? That’s just like giving Steve a plate of ravioli, waiting for him to smother it in honey-mustard, then taking a huge spit on it . That’s how I felt when watching Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Except it felt like the spit was directed at my face. And since I made someone else watch it with me, it was kind of like I was responsible for the spit on her face, too. And that was barely the worst movie I saw that night.
The script of Resident Evil: Apocalypse is not so much an “adaptation” of the video game as it is a “photocopy somebody made at a Kinko’s somewhere between the offices of Capcom Games and Sony Pictures”. It has something to do with Milla Jovovich fighting zombies, devil dogs, and a monster named Nemesis that is armed with a bazooka and urinates flaming acid. Though Milla is the tacit heroine, the movie really belongs to the character who goes through half the film playing the role of “Nameless Black Pimp”. He eventually tells somebody his name is Leroy (but he will always be a nameless black pimp to be). Like any worthy post-Grecian protagonist, he has a tragic flaw and it is a predeliction for prostitutes of the walking dead. Early in the movie he crashes his car because he can’t take his eyes off the topless zombies and he is forced to walk through the rest of the movie blasting with his gold-plated pistols. The only encouraging aspect of the this entire ordeal is that there will probably be a sequel, and if anyone in Hollywood knows what America wants, the subtitle will be Leroy Jones Takes Manhattan.
As far as subtitles go, the second movie I watched that night may own the most useless ever: Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid. I guess they not only wanted to attract the “crappy horror movie crowd” but the “botanists who love quests for rare flowers crowd” as well. Where zombies are the equivalent of Steve’s honey-mustard, this movie has the equivalent of Heather’s Italian dressing. This particular friend doesn’t like Italian dressing on everything, but she likes it on a lot of things. Anacondas has something that a lot of movies would be better with – a pet monkey who gives a reaction shot to everything. For instance, when the boat’s captain (piloting down a river in an Amazon forest infested with man-eating snakes) proclaims he’s “taking the shortcut,” we know the shortcut is not a good idea when the monkey slaps his forehead in exasperation. The monkey also masters the expressions of fear, surprise, jocularity, intense rage, and sadness (pictured left). It is all the more tragic that the monkey is the best actor in the film, especially considering the original Anaconda featured a flawless B-Movie cast of Ice Cube, Owen Wilson, and J. Voight!
It used to be that a midnight double-feature of movies featuring bio-engineered mutant zombies and snakes the size of freight-trains would yield something other than annoyance; maybe at the very least, some guilty amusement. I guess that’s not the case anymore. On a scale of salad dressing, where peppercorn is a 1 and honey-mustard is a 10, the combined rating of Resident Evil and Anacondas is lemon dill, the numerical equivalent of a 3.9.
* While I have not verified this theory with any scientifically accepted method like case studies or philosophical proofs, just imagine how boring Dawn of the Dead or Return of the Living Dead would be without the zombies. Conversely, there is an endless list of movies, including the Oscar-caliber likes of Rain Man and Chariots of Fire, that would be much better with a few zombies.