Don’t bother with Nightmare Alley. My impression of this “film” is that some people in the same apartment complex got together and made this film — shooting it, acting it, writing it, producing it — everything. There are some zombie cowboys in the first vignette, but the whole thing is maybe at best only worth lining the bottom of a trash can. Nightmare Alley (2010)
This not a zombie film, but it is relative to some of my zombie-film review — hence its being here.
It is a Dutch film and it has a couple of different names — Saint, Sint, and Saint Nick. For the purposes of this post, it will be referred to as Saint.
If you watch this film and you say to yourself “Hey, these Christmas traditions are totally messed up!” — well, Xmas practices and winter traditions differ around the world.
When it comes to the winter holidays in the Netherlands, for many of the children the most important dates are in early December. While St. Nicholas’ Day is on the 6th December, the major celebrations are held on the 5th December, which is St. Nicholas’ Eve — when the jolly old soul arrives and brings them their presents!
On St. Nicholas’ Eve Dutch children leave treats out for Sinterklaas. They also spoil Father Christmas’s horse (not reindeer) with water, hay, and carrots. In exchange, they get marzipan, chocolate coins, and hot cocoa.
The Saint takes a different twist on the popular traditions in the city of Amsterdam, portraying St. Nicholas and his Black Pete helpers as ghosts who murder large numbers of people when his annual celebration night coincides with a full moon.
And now… The Reason Why I Have Included This Film In My Zombie Movie Reviews
This film is a hell of a lot better than A Christmas Horror Story (2015) or the mass liberty-taking Krampus (also 2015). It has its scary bits along with being fun and funny. It also plays accurately to Xmas traditions instead of taking total license and doing whatever they want. This is cleverly done whereas IMO the other two are hack works. If you want to pepper your holidays with a Christmas horror film, watch Saint.
Well, I listened to some metal today — Zombie (EP), the 2010 release by The Devil Wears Prada. Frankly … not my thing. I’m cool with metal but I think Sesame Street is a much better gig for Cookie Monster. Something a guitarist pointed out to me years ago – he said “I love distortion, but it also hides the poor playing of a lot of musicians.”
This album did feature a few things that I enjoyed – things that switched it up and gave it any redeeming depth and texture …
Escape – Thunder at the beginning of track one … some speaking mid-track of a guy on communicating what he’s seeing over a walkie-talkie or a phone … a car (or some such) alarm being used musically … groaning zombies.
Anatomy – Starts out with the sound of a nearby chainsaw. It’s also really sweet when they kick into sound like they’re backed by a late-80s/early-90s boy band. Way to bring it back guys, right on!
Revive – There was a little bit of music and singing in here that wasn’t speed guitars and Cookie Monster. I’m good with metal speed guitars, drums, etc …. but the Cookie Monster thing …. bleh! Really there is very little good I can say about this track. Suffice to say, not everything is for everyone.
Survivor – I listened to this track three times before typing here. I can’t tell anything special about this track. It’s all the noise of the first four tracks and nothing terribly interesting.
In Conclusion… I may listen to this album again for a few of the ‘texture’ ideas, but I don’t see myself listening to it out of interest, inspiration, or especially to feel anything other than frazzled out of my mind. To each their own, not my thing.
The first time I heard Tom Petty – and I mean REALLY heard Tom Petty – was at a ski condo where I spent many winter weekends during high school. If you consider a lot of his songs being in high school could not have been a more fitting time.
My family had a time-share with another family on an area condo. Every other weekend we would pack up the van and trek to Snoqualmie Pass. As I passed from Freshmen through my Senior years I had to spend less time skiing and snowboarding and more time studying, all while looking out the condo windows at the frozen hill I’d rather be sliding down.
One night during the winter of ‘89/90 some folks down the hall at the condo building had a party. They put on Full Moon Fever (1989) and blared it. The album was crisp and clear, you couldn’t miss it from anything else going on in the building. The distinct sound of Tom Petty’s voice, the memorable tracks from this solo album … The folks down the hall played this album all night. It was the only album they played … all night. Everyone else in the building, myself included, were trying to sleep, and apparently no one had the nerve to go down the hall to bang on the damn door and demand they shut it off! My suspicion remains that the folks started playing a CD* copy of the album on repeat, partied and then passed out.
(* Here’s where I show my age – people were just starting to get CD players then – and the copy of the album I heard couldn’t have been a tape cassette because there wasn’t a long enough pause anywhere for the tape to run out … which is kind of funny & coincidental when considering what the listener hears at the middle of the album.)
Yep, the first time I really heard Tom Petty I REALLY didn’t like his work – not because of anything having to do with his music but because of the lack of sleep I got that fateful night coupled with the inundation of the singular album.
Some years later (still in high school) I had gotten that sleepless condo night and that repeating album out of my system. On weekend evenings I caught a late at night music show on PBS – I have no idea what the show was. For weeks I tuned in because this show was cool and I didn’t have a social life then (either). I would watch whatever band was being featured and then the show would close out with playing a number from a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert.
Every week the concert would pick up where it left off, and over a number of weeks I caught most of the performance. Something about the music and the presence the musicians had caught me. To this day I don’t know what the specific concert was or much reference to make for the footage – and I would love to see it again. All I recall was that there was this HUGE tree prop behind the band on stage, and I think chandeliers hung from the branches. Their performance was engaging, electrifying, authentic, and the roots of rock’n’roll were palpable.
It was after that I started paying attention, learning about where Tom Petty came from, observing his accomplishments, hearing the arc of his music as he continued to mature …. and yet that authentic, palpable thing always remained.
I get the impression that some folks think that because I play bagpipes that I’m not a musician, that I don’t tie in with the rest of musicians the same. While I hold the opinion that there is a vibe every musician experiences that comes with their genre of instrument, there is a vibe that all musicians share. I didn’t start out as a bagpiper, I’m not now only a bagpiper, and with that I’ve always viewed myself as a musician first. When you appreciate the work of another musician both from an audience standpoint and from musician standpoint …. when someone who’s work was incredible and they move on … it hurts in two ways. You lose a star in the night who was a point of great creation, and you lose someone you understand because of the vibe you shared with them.
In some of the themes that Tom wrote and sang about – love, hate, and loss – my relationship with his work has been that. First I hated his work, then I came to love it. Lately we lost the man, and yet we can remain grateful for the gifts he gave through his art and dreams.
Adding this title to this list came with a small debate. A big portion of it is a psychological thriller; its also about an artist making a personal break-through into a different area of their craft. Someone else might call me a dufass saying I missed the point entirely — and maybe I did, but the film is also subjective. To me, it had something to say about working within an art form that has an exacting/purist community surrounding it and breaking through … and that for me is the greatest point of the film.
This film gave me a renewed interest for the band.
I appreciated that the band has always made their music their way rather regardless of industry trends. For them the creativity and pushing their skill is what is most important.
Using and transitioning between different time signatures has always been an important element to their music — and they do so seamlessly. With this a musician who understands time signatures follows along and is impressed by their work and yet with the seamless transitions someone who is not musically inclined follows their music and also experiences the energy of their work. While this makes them a musician’s band they have always also been the people’s band.
I quite liked this flick — enough so that I believe I’d like to own a copy. It showed me some new stuff for a zombie film — largely with the ground-level very survivor-perspective of people in a situation trying to sort out whats going/gone on and what to do and the confusion that would come with that (much like 28 Days Later).
While it kind of had the typical zombie-film journey-theme (a group of humans decided that if they can travel from Point A they’ll be able to survive better at Point B), the main charactres didn’t as-much seem to know where they were going. My understanding is that the film had a limited budget, but the cast/crew did a good job making it look like it had some money behind the production.