Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

The Horde | Hunger

By Steve Anderson
May 1st, 2011

The Horder - French Zombie flickThe Horde
***
DVD
Directed by Yannick Dahan, Benjamin Rocher
Written by Arnaud Bordas, Yannick Dahan
Starring Claude Perron, Jean-Pierre Martins, Eriq Ebouaney, Aurelien Recoing
2009
90 mins
NR

It's strange that a French zombie movie should prove disappointing, but despite my disappointment, it's actually still a pretty solid piece. It's just not what I was hoping for.

The Horde follows a group of police who have infiltrated a run-down apartment building looking for a group of criminals. They find them, though not surprisingly, they find a whole lot more than they bargained for when, in the midst of the arrests and gunfight, a zombie apocalypse breaks out all over Paris. Now cops and crooks alike will have to work together in a bid to survive the onslaught of the surprisingly fast, surprisingly durable zombie hordes.

It's definitely a clever note that the zombies are attacking the way they do, and the discovery process of finding out how it's all put together is reasonably fun, but there's one distinct problem with The Horde--for a movie about zombies, especially about a French movie about zombies, there just plain old aren't many zombies until about the last fifteen minutes or so. Sure, they'll have some, but it seems like that most of the tine, there's only a couple zombies on screen trying to lay hands on our live-meat competitors at any time.

I love movies where enemies have to work together in order to fend off a common enemy, and that's what we'll get out of The Horde. About the only thing I can disagree with is the general lack of zombies, but it still looks pretty good, and sometimes there will be no corpses of note, while others will be laden with zombies most everywhere you look.

The ending is a little unclear but not out of line--it's falling under the usual problem with zombie flicks in that it doesn't end so much as it does stop. That usually makes zombie fare a bit weaker in the narrative but this will still do all right.

The special features include a variety of audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, an alternate opening, a making of featurette, a selection of deleted scenes, story boards, and trailers for The Horde in both English and French. There are also a set of trailers accessible from the beginning of the disc, but not user-selectable, so you'll get a bunch of trailers if you watch from the start.

All in all, The Horde does somewhat disappoint with its downplay of the actual horde, but will still do a decent job. After all, we know the zombies are out there--do we really have to see them to want to see them dead?

Hunger - part of the Fangoria seriesHunger
***
DVD
Directed by Steven Hentges
Written by L.D. Goffigan
Starring Lori Heuring, Linden Ashby, Joe Egender, Lea Kohl
R
101 mins
2009

So we've been following the Fangoria Frightfest for the last while now, and we're up to Hunger in the rotation. So far we've had some great times with the Frightfest, including Fragile and Dark House, so hopefully, tackling Hunger will prove just as good a time. Will it? Well, you'll have to read on to find out.

Hunger follows five strangers, all locked in an underground dungeon. It doesn't take them long to realize that they're the subjects of a twisted bit of sociological experimentation, in which the five strangers are denied food in that underground dungeon of theirs. How long will it take the five to go from normal human beings to raging cannibalistic horrors? That's what Hunger is going for.

And on the surface, this is a great idea. After all, there's nothing quite so scary as people in a desperate situation forced by their own need for self-preservation to do horrible things. Self-preservation is, after all, a basic inherent need. You're forced to wonder, while you're safe and cozy in your movie watching chair, whether you'd break down and start lunching up your buddies in such a situation or whether you'd go the noble route and starve yourself to death in a bid to avoid chowing down on people meat.

About the first ten, fifteen minutes or so of the movie is spent in near-total blackness, and I'm of two minds as to whether this is freaky or just idiotic (and a case can be made for both). In fact, after going through the rest of the movie, I found myself of two minds as to whether the whole thing was freaky or just idiotic. Entirely too much of the movie spends a lot of time being a serious downer, on par with some kinds of torture porn. It got dull after a while besides, which definitely went to great lengths to keep themselves in the basic premises of a chunk of torture porn; all you really needed to make it complete was more actual torture rather than the incidental torture, and there you would have been, squarely in torture porn country.

I do have to hand it to them, however, for doing something really rather interesting--they not only focused on how long it would take to break down and violate that taboo against cannibalism, but they went just one step further and showed off what would happen AFTER someone snorked down a heavy quantity of human flesh. It turns out, not at all surprisingly, that the end result leaves you a little big squeamish.

And I'll also give them credit for the ending, which was actually a pretty big surprise in its own right. But it really improved things surprisingly well here, which was something I wasn't expecting from this one at all.

The special features include feature commentary, deleted scenes, behind the scenes footage, and trailers for Dark House, Hunger, The Haunting, Pig Hunt, Fragile, The Tomb and Grimm Love.

All in all, Hunger may not have been the best title in the Fangoria Frightfest lineup, but it wasn't really that bad. If this is one of the worst in the set I think we'll do all right here after all.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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