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Mammoth, aka Outbreak – “We hunted it into extinction… Now it’s hunting us”

Before I begin this review, I offer a bit of an apology. This entry is more than two months overdue, mainly because I recently moved and had to get settled in at the new place. So I’m sorry it’s taken so long for an update, and hopefully it won’t be this late again. Now, I believe we have some sharks to jump.

Mammoth tells the story of a small town in Louisiana with a big problem; specifically, the frozen mammoth at the local natural history museum becomes possessed by an alien entity and goes on a murderous rampage around town. (For those of you keeping score at home, this movie sets a record for sharks jumped, combining zombies, aliens, and mammoths all in one.) Dr. Frank Abernathy (Vincent Ventresca, The Invisible Man, Boston Common), curator of the museum and resident expert on all things mammoth, is recruited by agent Powers (Leila Arcieri, Son of the Beach, xXx), an agent working for a shadowy international alien-fighting organization, to help contain the mammoth before the government steps in and destroys the town. They’re joined by Simon Abernathy (Tom Skerritt, Picket Fences, Alien), Frank’s UFO-obsessed father, and Jack Abernathy (Summer Glau, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Firefly), Frank’s daughter. Along the way, things get destroyed, people die, and Frank and Jack reach a new understanding of and respect for each other.

Top left – Jack and Frank; top right – Squirrelly, Simon, and Jack; bottom left – Frank; bottom right – agent Powers

So, how does Mammoth stack up? The acting was above-average, a welcome respite from the normal state of Sci Fi Pictures productions. The CGI could have been better (as always), but it was respectable enough. Overall, it was a higher-quality production than expected, though still just a below-average movie.

“Wait for meeeee!”

One thing they did well was the tone. It was part modern-day monster havoc movie, part ’50s alien-invasion-movie homage – everything from the town to the way Simon was convinced UFOs existed had touches of a quaint small town stuck in the past, but with distinctly modern overtones (such as cell phones and rave parties in the woods. On a sidebar, what is up with rave parties in the woods? They always – always – end badly, with monsters running amok or everyone becoming zombies or something like that. You’d think people would learn…). All of this added up to a movie that didn’t quite take itself seriously, one that always was just a little tongue in cheek, an aspect of the movie I ended up enjoying; there’s little worse than a mediocre monster movie that takes itself completely seriously.

Example of a bad idea that will end badly.

However, the opening sequence in the movie not only bears mentioning, but also demonstrates just how over the top this movie is. It opens in the museum, with some boy scouts wandering into a restricted area wherein lies the mammoth, encased in a giant block of ice (because that’s how most examples of frozen mammoths exist in real life). Here they encounter the good doctor, who proceeds to shoo them out of the exhibit area before drilling a hole in the ice and extracting a small pellet from the mammoth (I should point out, too, that before he extracts the pellet, he sees an image on a screen of a miniature universe apparently contained within the pellet, though that part is neither clear nor ever mentioned again). Once the pellet is extracted, it sends out radio waves that knock him to the floor, whereupon the camera zooms out to show Earth, then other parts of the solar system, culminating in a flying saucer (à la The Day the Earth Stood Still) releasing a probe to find the source of the beacon. This all leads to the probe flying through an asteroid belt (presumably the one in our solar system) and the most illegible credit sequence I have seen in a long time. I’m not sure what font they chose, but written against the CGI asteroids, the words of the various production companies and such were almost impossible to make out. Fortunately, that segment of the opening credits was short, and the actors were all listed with normal font that was easily readable.

The most readable asteroid text in the opening credits.

Next, boy did this movie have clichés… For a start, Dr. Frank Abernathy is one of the most stereotypically absent-minded professor types movies have to offer. He can’t remember that he needs to be at his daughter’s driving test, he can’t remember where he put his keys, he gets distracted by just about everything and can’t remember what he was doing two minutes ago; he’s written (at least, for the first third or so of the movie) as a man whose only concern in life is his work, at the expense of everything else. This may be a raw nerve with just me, but as a scientist (by training if nothing else), I have to take offense. The majority of scientists I have met are nothing at all like that. Many are, in fact, the exact opposite, being very aware of what’s going on; but still we keep seeing the idea that anyone who’s good at being a researcher must suck at being a person. Hollywood, please go out and meet some actual scientists. Thank you.

“I don’t know, officers; I would have sworn I left my mammoth right here!”

Second cliché – Jack is sick of her father always forgetting events in her life, such as her driving test. I don’t have any sisters, and I never was a 16-year-old girl, so I can’t say how common it is for teenage daughters to not really understand or get along with their fathers. What I can say, based on my own experiences, is that the situation wherein a teenager begins a movie fighting with their parent or parents and ends the movie at a new level of understanding with their parent or parents is incredibly overdone. It would be refreshing, to say the least, if movie makers could find some new way to introduce drama and/or tension between characters, rather than resorting to this easy and beaten-to-death way out, especially because the development of their relationship takes away from the mammoth’s screen time.

Third cliché – Simon is convinced that aliens exist, despite being otherwise quite a down to earth man. As the movie goes on, he of course becomes vindicated, although he does manage to avoid gloating, which was appreciated, at least by me. Still, the idea of the old guy who everyone thinks is a bit unhinged but is in reality right about everything, even if he doesn’t know it, is pretty much used up at this point.

Fourth cliché – the deputies assisting the sheriff are complete morons. They don’t even really serve as comic relief, that role being more successfully filled by Simon. They’re just dumb. Fortunately, they don’t stick around through the whole movie.

Fifth cliché – agent Powers and her partner work for a shadowy, unknown international governmental organization that gets called in when the alien probe crashes into the museum and possesses the mammoth. They’re basically a rip-off of the Men in Black, and seem to come standard with a movie of this nature.

Cue classic Western showdown music.

Now, I have a few important questions. First of all, if you saw an until-recently frozen solid mammoth break free of its ice prison, and you were a 60- or 70-year-old security guard, would your first instinct be to draw your pistol, of all weapons, to try to kill it? Because I’d guess that my first instinct would be to run. I get that guns are powerful, but there are plenty of animals in the actual world that could more or less shrug off a pistol, and I suspect that an elephant would be one of them (they make “elephant guns” for a reason). Second of all, when there’s a large, unstoppable monster rampaging through a given area (downtown Tokyo, downtown New York City, a rave party in the woods), I understand the urge to run away from it, but why does everyone always run away from it? That is, why do people not run sideways from it, in order to get out of its path? If it hasn’t noticed you, or is ignoring you, it seems to me that the safest way to run would be away from where it’s going to be as well as away from where it is. But that’s just me, I suppose. Third of all, if there’s a beast running around that is known to shake the ground and walk with large rumbling steps, how on earth does that beast manage to sneak up on multiple people? Not only does the mammoth accomplish this feat, but it pulls it off at least twice during the movie, despite shaking the ground when it walks and making Jurassic-Park-esque booms with each step (there are several wonderful moments in this movie reminiscent of that masterpiece, of course), which begs the question, is everyone in this movie completely oblivious to what’s going on behind or to the side of them? I just don’t get it.

“He followed me home! Can I keep him? He’s really quiet, I promise!”

Now on to the sciencey bits.

Our two imbecilic deputies arrive at a scene with multiple dead bodies and find tracks from the mammoth that looked to me to be at least 4 inches deep, probably deeper. It’s unclear exactly how much the mammoth weighs, and those tracks were made in a corn field (soil that’s been planted tends to be looser and softer than other soils, and therefore deeper tracks are easier to make), but I find 4-inch-deep tracks to be unlikely; though, to be fair, the only real-life reference I could find doesn’t speak to the depth of tracks, only the length and width (the paper can be found here, and is a neat little study). So while possible, the tracks presented in the movie strike me as being exaggerated.

Also, the body of the mammoth was encased in ice for an indeterminate length of time, and the doctor remarks that it was frozen alive. However, there are clear signs of decomposition on the body. I understand the desire to make the mammoth as fearsome as possible, but I’m not sure how likely it is that decomposition would occur on a body encased in ice. As this study of Ötzi the Iceman points out, only limited decomposition was found in a body frozen in a glacier for 5,000 years. The body was, in fact, mummified by the dry conditions at that altitude. So there is some real-world evidence that a body frozen in ice should have little obvious decomposition, and instead be more desiccated and mummified than the mammoth in the film. In other words, it seems to me that it would have more likely been an alien-possessed mummy mammoth instead of an alien-possessed zombie mammoth; at least, based on science.

“Give us a kiss!”

So there you have it – Mammoth in all its glory. More reviews will be coming this week, and as always, try to stay ahead of the sharks.


House of the Dead 2 – “All guts, no glory”

Now we come to the SyFy contribution to the franchise in this, the second half of the first installment of our second occasional series, Franchise Week. (It is recommended that you read the review of House of the Dead first if you haven’t, as some comparisons will be made.)

There are a few different types of sequels in moviedom, as we all should know by now. Sequels can be in the form of prequels (as in the case of Tremors 4), they can be remakes (as in the case of Rob Zombie’s Halloween or, arguably, Evil Dead II), and of course, they can be true sequels, as we find in House of the Dead 2.

As was the case with its predecessor, House of the Dead 2 fails to take place in an actual house, being set instead on the campus of Cuesta Verde University where a zombie virus has broken out courtesy of Professor Curien, who is using the zombified Alicia (from the first movie) to try to perfect an immortality serum. Naturally, his experiment escapes, turns him into a zombie, and then proceeds to infect the rest of the campus during the opening credit sequence. In an obvious nod to other members of the zombie genre, a team consisting of six special forces soldiers and two scientists is dispatched twenty-nine days after the outbreak to try to recover a blood sample from the first “hyper sapiens” specimen, as they are called, in the hopes of being able to generate a cure for the disease. The scientists Alexandra ‘Nightingale’ Morgan (Emmanuelle Vaugier, CSI: NY, Saw II) and Ellis (Ed Quinn, Eureka, Young Americans) are joined on their mission by all the classic special forces stereotypes – the eager and patriotic new team member, the nervous talkative guy, the strong female second-in-command, the enormous and sinister jerk, the reliable but stupid guy, and of course the gruff and pragmatic squad leader. As you may have guessed, the soldiers completely ignore the warnings from Nightingale and Ellis (the only two people who have dealt with zombies before and actually know what’s going on), and thus Nightingale and Ellis are the only two people who survive to the end.

Left – Ellis and Nightingale; right – Nightingale; bottom – one of the soldiers. I’ll let you guess which one.

As always, this movie suffers from a lack in just about every area – dialogue, special effects, and acting (although, interestingly enough, the acting seemed to improve as the movie progressed, though that could have just been acclimation on my part). I would also have to say that this movie was somewhat more boring than the first one, as well. As far as makeup went in this movie, the zombies over all looked either a lot better, or very much worse, than in the first movie. There were also two parts with noticeable and somewhat laughable inconsistencies in makeup – near the beginning, Ellis is washing blood off his face from a recent kill; as the angle changes, he alternately has a clean face, then one with blood, then a clean face, then one with blood again, before ending with a clean face. Similarly, later on, when they find Alicia the zombie (Patient Zero), there’s a moment when part of her back is visible through her hospital gown, and is distinctly human-looking.

One of the better-looking zombies in the movie.

I’m a biologist by training. As such, when I watch a movie like this, I take special note of the explanation for the various biological phenomena. Insofar as things were explained, they definitely seemed to go off the deep end with the virus in this movie. First of all, they talk about the virus causing mutations in the victims. This is possible, as viruses in the real world are known to cause genetic mutations. However, in a deceased host, the virus would have no way to go about effecting physical change – a virus cannot, in general, cause protein expression independent of the host cell. Normally, when a cell gets infected, part of the infection is the insertion of virus DNA into the host chromosome, to be turned into protein and more viruses as the cell does its normal cell things. In a corpse, though, there are no processes occurring – the virus would have no way to cause genetic insertions to be expressed in the host.

There’s also a moment when one of the soldiers gets bitten by a mosquito and thus is presumed infected. However, the method by which mosquitoes feed on humans prevents the transmission of blood from the mosquito to the human. (For a discussion of why mosquitoes cannot transmit HIV between humans, follow this link – without further knowledge, I have to assume that a theoretical zombie virus would be similar in character.) Therefore, although possible given the virus’ fictional existence, based on real-world observations transmission of the virus via mosquito is extremely unlikely.

This movie uses the idea that zombies can tell each other from live humans through smell, and so when Ellis needs to try to help the remaining people escape, he cuts open a zombie corpse and smears the guts on himself, then safely walks through a room full of zombies. For there to be a sense of smell, the brain of the zombie must be functional, at least in part. Here I would like to give credit to the movie, because there is also a moment where one of the soldiers (at this point a zombie) seems to recognize Ellis, suggesting that some memory remains in the zombies. This idea is also supported earlier in the movie, when Nightingale notices that the zombies seem to be falling into old, ingrained routines. (Both these ideas are considered in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, of course.) Therefore, it seems that this movie has consistent, if unsupportable, amounts of brain function in the zombies. Of course, assuming that metabolic processes are necessary to access memory and recognize smell, and given that metabolism stops after death, brain function of any sort is highly unlikely.

As I mentioned, the mission to the campus was to recover a sample of blood from the initial zombie infection. Along the way, Nightingale and Ellis test several blood samples from zombies, all of which turn up negative. But I have to ask, to what were they comparing these samples? In order to know whether blood was from Patient Zero, they would have needed to have a sample of blood from Patient Zero already on file; in other words, it seems to me that, unless there was some other marker that went unmentioned in the movie, the entire premise makes no sense, as they would already have the blood they need to collect.

Finally, this movie brings back harbor patrolwoman Casper from the first movie, in which she gets her legs severed by a zombie hoard. Accepting that she didn’t get bitten (and therefore she was not zombified), her leg stumps were bleeding for at least ten or fifteen minutes, before the house she was in exploded. She may have survived the explosion (highly unlikely), but I do not see how she could have survived the blood loss, as no tourniquet was applied and it takes only a matter of minutes for a person to bleed out after severing their femoral arteries. So I’m sorry, SyFy, but there’s really no way she could have survived the first movie.

Moving away from pseudoscience now, I must chastise the characters for ignoring the golden rule of situations like theirs, namely don’t get separated. There’s a moment when one of the soldiers hears something, and so goes off on his own to investigate. Naturally, he ends up a zombie. But seriously, he should have known better than to wander off on his own. Also, people in this movie showed a surprising lack of awareness of surroundings. At one point, Ellis and Nightingale meet up with two students who had been living in a science lab for weeks. Initially, the students believe the scientists to be zombies, which makes a lot of sense to me. What doesn’t make sense to me is the way that five minutes in the company of other humans causes the students to forget every rule they must have developed in order to stay alive for twenty-nine days, because not long after they show up, the students get swarmed by zombies who attack from behind. How did the students live that long if they never kept an eye to what was going on behind them?

Why you shouldn’t wander off alone.

Moreover, the final piece of the plot is that the campus is going to be destroyed by cruise missiles, meaning that the mission to find the unnecessary blood is on a tight schedule. But when the missile actually strikes, it turns out to be just that – missile. Singular. As in, one building gets blown up, but somehow someone somewhere thought that would be enough to end the outbreak? I can’t promise that this would be my answer, but I think that, were I the one to make that call, I would say “kill it with fire” and carpet bomb everything within a certain radius, then add napalm, then maybe bunker busters, before ending it all with a very, very, very large boom device. But that’s just me, and maybe I’m more thorough than I need to be.

Almost as good as killing it with fire.

But of course, despite the best efforts of our heroes, they fail to contain the spread of the virus. In fact, they even fail to leave the campus with a sample of blood; but that’s okay, because it turns out that while they were in the campus (for all of maybe six hours), civilization ceased to exist.

I think there’s a pretty clear moral here – don’t try to reanimate corpses. It won’t end well.

House of the Dead – “You won’t last the night”

So this is going to be the first installment of the second occasional feature here at Jumping Sharks – Franchise Week! It’s important to remember that not all the movies of a given franchise will be SyFy Originals; but it’s just not right to start watching a franchise partway through. You’ve got to watch them all to get the full flavor of the series. And as always, I will try to avoid giving away plot points, but it’s going to happen, mainly because there is just so much that I need to talk about for this movie. So let’s just jump right in and try to outrun the sharks, shall we? Because it’s gonna be a long swim…

House of the Dead is directed by Uwe Boll. For those who don’t know who he is, follow that link. For those who don’t follow that link, he’s a German director who has made many movie adaptations of video games. Some of his directing credits include BloodRayne, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, and Alone in the Dark. And, significantly, his movies have the tendency to be universally regarded as awful, awful creations. House of the Dead is basically classic Uwe Boll, complete with occasional clips from the source material.

Before I continue, I need to confess that I have never played any of the games in the House of the Dead series. Therefore, my commentary cannot make any firsthand comparisons between the movie and the source material. However, a quick search of Wikipedia shows that the movie is actually set as a prequel to any of the video games. The film opens with five college students trying to get to a rave on an island in the Pacific Northwest. Having missed the scheduled boat, they charter Captain Kirk (Jürgen Prochnow, 24, Das Boot), a local smuggler, to take them over, ignoring the warnings from his first mate that the island is cursed (after all, it’s called Isla del Muerte; there’s no way anything good can come from having a rave on an island with that name). As they pull out of the harbor, they choose to ignore calls to stop from Casper (Ellie Cornell, The Thirst, Halloween 5), an agent with the harbor patrol who then follows them to the island. Once on the island, the students head into the woods to find the rave while Captain Kirk and his first mate unload the contraband on his boat to prevent Casper from confiscating it.

Left – Rudy; right – Alicia

Left – Karma; right – Liberty

Top left – Simon; top right – Casper; bottom left – Captain Kirk; bottom right – Captain James T. Kirk

When the students arrive at the rave site, the find it trashed and abandoned. After looking around a little for anyone who might still be there, Alicia (Ona Grauer, Intelligence, Catwoman) finds a bloody shirt, causing her to go off looking for people in the woods accompanied by Simon (Tyron Leitso, Being Erica, Wonderfalls) and Karma (Enuka Okuma, Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, Dragon Ball Z); the other two students stay at the rave site (given the number of characters in this movie, I’m trying to only mention by name those who survive for a significant portion, which these last two fail to do). Alicia, Simon and Karma find a decrepit church and graveyard in a clearing in the woods, wherein they find Rudy (Jonathan Cherry, Goon, Final Destination 2), Liberty (Kira Clavell, Frankie & Alice, Saban’s Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation) and another ravegoer who videotaped what happened. His tape shows zombies attacking the rave and killing everyone. After seeing the tape, they all decide they have to get off the island as soon as possible, resulting in the next hour or so of the movie being about what would be expected – people killing zombies in all kinds of new and creative ways (kill it with fire!) while the humans slowly die one by one.

Now, on to the good stuff.

First off, for those whose first reaction is ‘why are there islands with Spanish names in the Pacific Northwest?’ (I know that was one of my first thoughts while watching), it turns out that not only did Spanish lands go that far north, but they also had explorers sail up the coast into present-day Alaska. So I’m willing to accept the plausibility of islands in that region having Spanish names, regardless of the likelihood of those names being Anglicized over the years.

Moving on, there were two words that kept coming to mind during this movie – act harder. Act harder. For the love of God and all that is holy, act harder! Most of the actors were about what you would expect from this caliber of movie, but every now and again there would be a truly wooden, bland and completely forced line delivery that made it impossible for me to not ask them to act harder. Also, the makeup effects left a lot to be desired – the zombies typically looked like either they just had white/pale blue face paint on or they were wearing burlap bags over their heads that then had decaying faces painted onto them. Beyond all that, the soundtrack was nothing special, though by the same token it wasn’t distracting. Nothing worse in a bad movie than a distracting soundtrack that takes focus away from the awful acting, dialogue, and special effects. However, the opening credit sequence in this movie does deserve a call-out as a refreshingly new, if trippy and psychedelic, visual sequence. It was a sort of neon silhouette of images from the game, which was definitely a nice retro touch, in my mind.

Left – a probable zombie; right – an unfortunate man in a burlap hood.

One of the early scenes in the movie features a woman skinny dipping in the ocean while her fling watches from the beach. When she comes out of the water, he is no longer there, so she heads into the woods to look for him, finding the decrepit church and graveyard that our heroes later discover. Now, I’m a sane, rational person (or so I like to believe) who has never been in a situation like that, but I do believe that I would feel nervous to the point of going to look for someone else to help me find my lost companion before I went into the church. So I have to ask – are horror movie characters crazy or particularly irrational? It’s like when the basement lights go out in the middle of a storm and the flashlight batteries die and there’s a mysterious thumping and an unknown smell rising up the stairs – you don’t go down there! It’s a similar thing here – we have a woman on her own, already lost in the woods, walking blindly into a very creepy-looking church with an ancient graveyard out front. Did she think things would end any differently than being torn apart by zombies?

Another probable zombie. Possibly also a Buffy: the Vampire Slayer reference.

As I’ve mentioned, a hallmark of Uwe Boll movies is various homages to the video game inspiration for the film. In this one, those homages start with the credit sequence, then continue throughout the movie, often using clips taken directly from the game. But there’s also a great scene in arcade-shooter style wherein Captain Kirk is on his boat shooting zombies as they appear from around doors, or over the side of the boat, or from the rigging, just like in a classic light gun arcade game (which is the classification for House of the Dead). There are also a couple moments when characters die where, instead of showing them getting ripped apart, motion freezes and they drift upwards in a red mist, another classic video game influence.

DEFINITELY a zombie.

But all this brings me to a series of very important points that made me rather angry at this movie. Captain Kirk was shooting zombies as they came onto his boat. But how did they get there, you ask? They swam. That’s right. Zombies in this movie are incredibly agile – they can swim, they can run, they can (and do!) use weapons, they are able to actually fight (block attacks, strike back with attacks of their own, etc.), and they can jump seven to ten feet in the air in a single bound. I’m something of a purist – I realize that allowing zombies to run adds something to the tension, and is arguably biologically defensible, but I do prefer slow zombies (I’m a sucker for inevitability; what can I say?). But I cannot, in any way, defend the ability of zombies to swim, to jump, or to show evidence of intelligence in combat (blocking attacks, using weapons, etc.). I’m sorry, but part of the point of zombies is that they’re mindless. If you give them back their minds, even in a rudimentary regard, they cease being zombies and instead become something else, like a Wight or a ghoul or something (not to be confused with the ghouls from Ghouls). So there’s that, which I would argue takes away from the zombies in this movie, at least to a certain extent.

Apparently, reanimated corpses can swim…

At one point, our heroes (Rudy, Alicia, Karma, Liberty, Simon, Casper, and Captain Kirk) are making their way through the graveyard to hole up in the church, trying to find the most defensible place they can. What follows is a ten to fifteen minute shootout in which the camera speeds are constantly changing between real time and bullet time, while our heroes do all kinds of acrobatics and martial arts and general cliché action movie badassery. I think the best way to describe this scene is a completely unapologetic, shameless, totally self-indulgent action sequence that almost borders on mockery through imitation of movies that include such scenes in a completely serious manner. If you are at all interested in bizarre, over the top action sequences, it might – and I can’t stress that might enough – be worth looking into, as it really is a fascinating example of gratuitous self-indulgence. It’s almost otherworldly.

…and use weapons.

Then, during the aforementioned sequence, we have some interesting questions arise. For one, how is it that Liberty (who spends the whole movie in an American flag jumpsuit and go-go boots, as I’m sure you guessed) manages to do all kinds of martial arts, acrobatics, and running, given that she spends the whole movie in an American flag jumpsuit and go-go boots? I’ve never worn the things, but I can’t imagine that go-go boots would allow someone to high-kick a zombie in the face, especially when that person is standing on loamy, graveyard soil. Furthermore, before they storm the church, Captain Kirk dips into his personal supply of smuggled weapons to make sure that each and every person has at least three different kinds of guns and two different kinds of explosives, then they have a brief montage wherein Kirk and Casper show the others how to use the various weapons. Then they storm the church like they’ve all spent ten years or more in special forces. How do they go from five college students who have no clue how to turn the safety off to stone cold killers who can hit their target every time when using such weapons as an Uzi and dual-wielded Desert Eagles? Which also raises the question of who would ever choose to voluntarily shoot two Desert Eagles at the same time in an actual life or death situation? (If you believe this is a rational course of action, I would direct your attention here, which is a bunch of anecdotal evidence as to why that’s a bad idea.)

The sort of thing one could realistically do in a jumpsuit and go-go boots.

There are, of course, a variety of other moments here and there that make no sense, like seeing a weird zombie-eel-thing in a tank of red liquid (“blood”, or so they would have you believe) and deciding that shooting it makes the most sense, ignoring the fact that it can’t hurt you in the tank. Or like hearing your former first mate whistling for you and then going to him despite knowing that he must be a zombie. Or like watching zombies swim towards your friend who stupidly jumped in the water, then stupidly deciding to jump into the zombie-infested ocean yourself for some absolutely unexplained reason. Or like finding a book explaining everything that’s happening on the island, but deciding to leave it behind, because how can actually knowing what’s going on help you? Basically, this movie is a series of bad choices with just enough good ones to keep the plot moving forward.

“It can’t possibly harm me! I must destroy it!”

So there you have it. The first installment in the new Jumping Sharks occasional feature Franchise Week. Stay tuned for the conclusion of the House of the Dead series, and keep swimming – the sharks might give up eventually!

I’m sensing an Evil Dead nod…