Burying the Ex (2014): Anton Yelchin and Joe Dante Comedy Gore

Anton Yelchin and Ashley Green, Max and Evelyn Director Joe Dante, who brought the world Gremlins back in 1985, teams up with Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Odd Thomas) to deliver a hysterically funny comedy horror with more than a little gore and a lot of genre references. Written by Alan Trezza (who wrote and directed the 2008 short film of the same name) the film is about nice guy Max (Yelchin) whose girlfriend is needy and clingy, even after death.

Max works in a “Halloween” horror shop and while unpacking a “Satan Genie” he and his girlfriend agree to be together forever. The genie glows and later when Max asks Evelyn (Ashley Greene) to meet him at the dog walking park to break up, she is hit by a bus and dies.

Olivia (Alexandra Daddario), the owner and proprietor of the “I Scream” ice cream parlor asks Max out on a weird date, they go to the cemetery and pass by Evelyn’s grave. She climbs out of her coffin to return to her boyfriend and things quickly spiral out of control.

Soon, Max has his zombie girlfriend controlling his life from beyond the grave. True love becomes difficult for him as he fights to keep seeing Olivia and tries to put Evelyn back into the ground.

This is an honest to goodness laugh out loud film. Dante has lost none of his directorial touch with the horror/comedy genre. While this film has none of the unique creepiness of Dante’s 2009 film The Hole he has shown that the return to his comic roots was a brilliant move.

Anton Yelchin may have become a household name with his portrayal of Chekov in the new Star Trek film franchise but he is no stranger to the horror genre. Odd Thomas in 2013 had Yelchin playing the title character and doing a decent job. Arguably, this film (based on a Dean R. Koontz novel of the same name) was less comedic and more of a foray into the world of fantasy/horror.

The actor does a brilliant job playing the hapless nice guy who inadvertently ends up with a zombie girlfriend. Just as impressive is Alexandra Daddario as the girl who is his real soul mate. A young lady who loves all the things he does and is a walking pop cultural reference book. Dante fills the movie with references to other horror films and even appears to tip his director’s hat to Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead at the end of the movie.

Real kudos go to Ashley Greene as Evelyn, the girlfriend from hell. Her comedic timing is brilliant and she is perfect as the “zombie in denial” still in love with her perfect boyfriend. Greene sells it, full stop.

Burying the Ex is not meant to be high art, it is a bit of fun and Dante shows his familiarity with the genre that he does so well. Dick Miller even shows up and film fans will remember Miller from Gremlins, Small Soldiers and a number of other Dante projects, including the director’s stint on the Eerie, Indiana television series (Dante directed several segments)¬†¬†episode The Losers in 1991.

Fans of the genre will have a heyday picking out the different references and the various clips from horror films. This is a 4.5 out of 5 star film, not completely original enough for a full five, but funny enough to warrant the almost full complement. Great entertainment that is streaming on US Netflix at the moment. There is not too much gore, it is a comedy horror after all, just enough to keep it from being too “kiddy.” A real Dante delight.

Waxwork (1988) Comedy Horror Revisited

Waxwork 1988
Waxwork 1988

I am beginning to love Netflix. If they keep bringing up old classics like Child’s Play and Waxwork, I may ask the channel to marry me. I was overly delighted to see that they had included Waxwork, the 1988 comedy horror and I sat down to revisit a film that I remember loving so much when I first saw it on videotape!

I was a little surprised and saddened by the young-looking cast and I couldn’t help but keep thinking that Zach Galligan needed Phoebe Cates on his arm during his adventures in the wax museum. I did find though that my old delight in seeing David Warner and Patrick Macnee in the cast had not dissipated and that I still enjoyed the hokey film and its daft plot.

A group of high school kids find a wax museum has been deposited in their neighbourhood and they get an invite to a midnight showing. When they show up, they start to disappear into the exhibits.

WaxWork01FrONT

Pretty straight forward really. Of course there is the subplot of David Warner having sold his soul to the devil and he needs to take X amount of souls to regenerate the world’s most evil denizens, who will then destroy the world. Oh and the other subplot of the groups young virginal lady being obsessed and possessed by the Marquis De Sade and the group slut being entranced by Dracula and Patrick Mcnee being an old-time demon slayer of sorts.

Of course the film doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should the viewer. It’s all in good fun and the deliberate cheesy mechanizations make it all the more fun. The tiny malefic dwarf doorman and the ludicrously tall (and strong) butler; the angry cop and his, less angry, but dumber partner; the rich kid and all of the characters are really little more than 2 diminutional caricatures and that’s okay.

The film, as I mentioned before, does not take itself seriously. It is strictly Saturday Matinee popcorn fare. Meant to be laughed at as much as with. It was also made while Zach Gallagan as “still-hot” from his success in the 1984 film Gremlins and he hadn’t started making the sequel Gremlins 2 just yet. Despite all the above mentioned things that I’ve said about the film, 2D characters, silly plot, and not mentioned but still there, the poor acting; I do love this film.

It hasn’t aged too well. The FX are sadly dated and the museum’s burning scene, if I remember correctly, didn’t look real back in 1988 and it looks worse now. But as the film really is just “good fun” and the audience gets to see good old John Steed (From the Avengers and what wouldn’t I have given if the filmmakers had included the delectable Diana Rigg, aka Emma Peel along with Steed.) in a motorised wheelchair and David Warner getting to be a real meanie.

Because it was so dated, it’s actually put me off of watching Child’s Play. Another 1988 favourite that, I seem to remember, had me alternately laughing and shrinking back from the scary doll who had Brad Dourif’s soul in it. It also had the added bonus of starring Catherine Hicks, who I had a major thing for, back in the day.

Cover of "Child's Play (Chucky's 20th Bir...
Cover via Amazon

With the news that Hollywood are planning on re-making Child’s Play, and “Please God, let them use Dourif again as the soul of Chucky, I’d better watch the original, no matter how badly it’s dated.

I am surprised that the Dream Machine hasn’t remade Waxwork. They’ve redone quite a lot of older horror films and some, “not-so-old” ones. If they re-did it, Zach Gallagan could play the new Wax Museum curator or perhaps he could don the wheelchair and play his own uncle!

If you’ve never seen the film before, I urge you to do so now. Put your “hokey” hat on and pop some popcorn and maybe run down to the shop and get one of those big boxes of Milk Duds, the ones that used to be sold in cinemas in the 1980’s and have some delicious and ridiculous fun watching a classic comedy horror that hasn’t aged well.

Still good fun and a good laugh!

Milk Duds
Milk Duds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)