Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington

Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington is an Origin8 Media production directed by Jade Castro. It's not from a huge company, nor is it affiliated with a network.  It cannot lure people in with an 80s love song title or a crying John Lloyd Cruz. It lures people in with a promise of originality, solid acting, and over-the-top humor.  And for the most part, it delivers. In fact, I cannot wait for Part 2. With that said, here are my two cents on what they should keep and change in the next movie.

What to Keep

1. Most of the cast.  Roderick Paulate was brilliant. Compelling and scary most of the time, yet campy and self-deprecating when necessary. Theater actress Angelina Kanapi was just as effective in film as she was on stage.  Her humor translated well and she did not fall into the pit of over-acting, something that was very easy to do given the concept of the film.  The eccentricity of her character mixed well with Janice De Belen's deadpan approach to her role as chief of police. Martin Escudero also proved that he had the comedic chops and the acting range to take on such an unusual breakout role.  Sure, there were moments in the beginning where I felt his delivery was a bit unconvincing, but he got better (and funnier) as the movie rolled along.  Kerbie Zamora was also fantastic in his far from virginal role as Remington's "best friend".  He and Martin had palpable chemistry that made me squirm in my seat.  This goes to show that if before, actors got initiated into the industry by playing male prostitutes, now it seems that aspiring male stars are made to swap saliva with fellow male stars. I highly approve of this development.

And oh yeah, Eugene Domingo in roller blades and John Regala in drag. Need I say more?

2.  Originality seems to be a pipe dream for the Philippine movie industry nowadays, given the endless parade of bad flicks with worse sequels and half-baked film school garbage masquerading as indie.  But here we have something that works.  According to director Jade Castro (I did not interview him, I eavesdropped on somebody who was interviewing him), the inspiration for Zombadings came from real events.  While with Raymond Lee, one of the writers of Zombadings, they passed by a kid who had the chutzpah to call Raymond "bakla" (I know right, whatever gave him that idea? /sarcasm). Anyhow, I supposed it all started from there.  The storyline seems pretty tight overall and for once, I personally wouldn't mind standing in line for the sequel.

3. Bekimon. The subtitles made me feel like I was watching a movie selected for Cannes. Bekimon sounds like an unknown, ancient, and probably alien relative of the romance languages.  If I were a French dude in the audience, I'd be like, "What is this language? I must learn it, quick!" It also adds authenticity to the colorful gay culture being propagated in the film.  I'd love to go into a more detailed sociolinguistic analysis of this, but I don't want you to get more bored that you already are.

4. Call it political, subversive, whatever you like, but the truth of the matter is that this movie is plainly asking the public for equal treatment of homosexuals. It is pretty obvious, isn't it? Well, I suppose some people wouldn't notice that much since they were too busy trying not to cough up their livers from laughing too much, but there you go.  I particularly liked the fact that the positions of power in the movie were given to women (chief of police) and lesbians (mayor), and the villains who purportedly were straight and had a particular hatred of gays turned out to be "green-blooded", too.  Zombadings has a strong stance on acceptance, tolerance, and understanding; three things that the present society clearly lacks. Hopefully, the fake blood and costume make-up does not distract the observant viewer from going beyond this film's antics.  Because quite frankly, it is what makes this movie worth the watch.

What to Change

1. Lauren Young. I apologize to Lauren's fans but her performance did not stick with me.  I did not have empathy for her, nor did I want her to end up with Remington even when he was straight. She delivers her lines with the half-heartedness of someone who was tired and just wanted to go home.  I was so bored with her that I'd rather have Remington end up with Georgia (the gay help in Remington's family's panciteria) or a flesh-eating zombie.  Lauren looked like a fish out of water beside Martin and Kerbie.  If she was a plant in Plants VS Zombies, she'd be a sunflower. Not that she gave off sunlight, but that she would be the easiest to kill.

2. Editing. The cuts were a bit sloppy and there were some scenes where after the transition, my friend and I were like, "Wait, what?"  It's not a particularly big deal, I'm just a bit anal about flow and I don't like it when scenes aren't sewn together seamlessly.  But you know, a half-naked Kerbie Zamora more than made up for that. I am very easily appeased.

3. Zombie fight scenes. The last third of the film was a bit harder to manage, I presume, what with all the homosexuals clawing out of their graves and all that, but I did feel that the action was not all there.  If we took out the soundtrack, the sequences would've looked like something out of a Halloween home video. The scene with the mayor fighting a zombie was ridiculous.  She runs into a zombie while holding a large, golden trophy. You'd think that she'd use that to bash the flesh-eater's brains in, but no. She puts it down carefully and wrestles the zombie with her bare hands. So it's either Mayor wanted to show how macho she is or she had a death wish. There was also this scene where Kerbie used the palawit (crap, I don't know what they're called) to tie up two zombadings.  Wow, two undead gays powerful enough to strangle a woman to death can't escape bonds made with plastic string. Hm. My friend said I was overthinking it. Maybe I was. After all, it was a comedy. I don't know, I guess I just expected something with a little bit more effort, seeing that most of the movie had been well-thought of.  But oh well, papel.  With all the witty repartee going on, it was very hard to nitpick.

All in all, I give Zombadings 8.75 out of 10. Watch it, live it, watch it again.  I sure as hell will.

PS. I would like to thank Inquirer Libre for my premiere night tickets. I had the time of my life. Hey, maybe next time, you can give me free tickets again so I can write another review.

Or not. :)

PPS. Don't forget to visit my fashion blog:; I will be updating very soon. :)

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