Zombie Honeymoon (2004)
Pam here. Nate has finally put his foot down and said it's time I did a review all by myself. He threatened to sic his interns on me if I didn't, and since Milo, Kelby, and Jack are pretty ferocious (just look at the Staff page if you don't believe me), I decided to get down to work. For my first solo, I'll be reviewing a movie called Zombie Honeymoon. Be warned: the title is deceptive. True, there is a honeymoon, and zombies are involved, but the focus of this movie is not to see how much gore can be spilled and chunks of flesh thrown around (although there are some), but something else entirely. In fact, I have to say it -- deep down, under the blood and dismembered humans, it's basically a chick flick.
Multi-Media Intern Kelby enjoyed this movie (but he was also drunk at the time).
This movie was made in 2004, directed and written by David Gebroe, of whom I've never heard. According to IMDb, he's acted a little, directed a little, produced four movies, and written one (this one). The principal characters, in fact the only ones who have any significant amount of screen time, are Denise, played by Tracy Coogan, and Danny, played by Graham Sibley. Tracy Coogan is a fairly cute brunette who had done some stage acting and a handful of movies before starring in this one. Graham Sibley in my opinion is not nearly as good-looking as Tracy as his mouth's too wide and his lips are too thick, but still he's better-looking than most horror-film actors. Neither actor had all that impressive a resume at the time they made this movie, but they both do a decent job of portraying two newlyweds who encounter marital problems more serious than they ever could have imagined. In fact, the whole movie is well-made, especially in comparison to the movies MMT mostly reviews. There's none of that cost-cutting you often see in zombie movies, where everything else is sacrificed to producing enough fake blood to satisfy the audience -- after all, that's what they came to see, isn't it, the filmmakers say. Not here, though. The acting is good, the special effects are decent, and even the plot is well-thought-out. So what makes this movie qualify for Million Monkey Theater? You'll see...
The movie opens with Denise and Danny racing out of a church, where they have just been married. At the first glimpse, we learn several things about them: They are young. They are cool. They say "fuck" a lot. In fact, these two make Tony Soprano sound like an altar boy. The movie is set somewhere in New Jersey, so possibly they're related to him. We learn something else about Denise, which is that she feels a short strapless tangerine-colored dress is perfectly suitable for a bride to wear at her wedding, in an Episcopal church, no less. In fact, we gather from the newlyweds' conversation that Denise's mother was shocked by her daughter's choice of attire, but Denise and Danny's response is an airy "Fuck it." They zoom off from the church in a station wagon with the obligatory "Just Married" written on the rear window, and Denise displays her undying love for Danny by going down on him. Danny indicates that this might be unsafe while he's driving, but true love cannot be denied, and Denise continues.
Denise and Danny wave good-bye.
Before we can see just how good Denise's technique is, there is a break at this point, and we next see the happy couple arriving at the place where they'll be honeymooning, a rather nice beach house loaned to them by Denise's uncle. There's a few minutes of newlywed playfulness, during which we learn that Danny's a vegetarian.
Denise and Danny now adjourn to the beach, where Danny surfs and sunbathes while Denise draws a vulture -- why, I don't know, because there's none in sight, but I think it's meant to be a foreshadowing. It's a beautiful peaceful day until a dark figure emerges from the water and jumps on Danny. No, it's not a former girlfriend, it's a cadaverous-looking man, and they wrestle for a couple of minutes. Then the man from the sea barfs blood onto Danny's face and, his mission apparently done, either drops dead or vanishes where the woodbine twineth, you can't really see. Well, bummer. What a thing to happen on a honeymoon. Talk about bad luck, huh?
Poor Danny faints, and who could blame him, but Denise is unable to revive him and he is rushed to a hospital, where the doctor can't revive him either and pronounces him dead. I have to throw in a good word for Tracy Coogan here, she really does a terrific job of portraying a distraught wife whose husband has just mysteriously died. But tears turn to joy when Danny wakes up, seemingly no worse for wear. They head for home, leaving a very puzzled doctor behind.
Delivering the bad news.
Once home, Danny seems normal except for a few blisters on his chest. He's also rougher in bed than usual, but Denise seems to like that. For your information, Nate, and for the information of anybody else who's interested, from approximately 17:00 to 18:00, we catch glimpses of Denise's naked boobies, and of Danny's too, for those whose tastes run that way. After they get out of bed, things move fast. It seems that they've always dreamed of living in Portugal, and Danny's brush with death has made them realize how foolish it is to postpone one's dreams. So suiting the action to the words, they both call their respective bosses and quit their jobs. At this point I was distracted from the movie by wondering how two twenty-somethings can possibly afford to quit their jobs and move to Portugal indefinitely. And they say they want to "live" there, not "visit." Do they have really great jobs so they've been able to save a lot of money? Probably not, since during the phone conversations we learn that Denise illustrates children's books and Danny is some sort of salesman, possibly of motorcycles, since he tells his (former) boss that he'd rather ride them than sell them. Are they independently wealthy? Probably not, their car is old and rusty. Are their families just going to give them a lot of money, glad to see their offspring happy in Portugal? Maybe, but they don't say anything about that. Do they at least speak fluent Portuguese, so they have a chance of getting jobs in Portugal? There's no mention that they speak the language or know anything at all about the real Portugal. Most countries require that you prove you can support yourself before they'll let you immigrate legally, does Portugal not care? Are Danny and Denise planning to sneak in and live there illegally?
Boobies are overrated!
However, our couple doesn't sweat the small stuff, they call a couple of friends and invite them to dinner to celebrate. As Denise is leaving to buy groceries, a police officer drops by to return the surfboard Danny left on the beach, inform him there's no sign of the man who attacked him, and tell him the man who was in the bed next to his at the hospital has disappeared. This cop seems very nervous and smiles too much, and he probably already has an idea of who was responsible for the old man's disappearance.
A toaster oven? Really?
Meanwhile Denise has bought groceries and goes back home. She finds nobody downstairs when she arrives and goes upstairs, looking for Danny. She makes an unexpected discovery: a blood-covered Danny is in the bathtub next to the mangled body of a middle-aged overweight man who we saw earlier attempting to jog down the street. Poor Danny trips on the guy's intestines as he tries to get out of the tub, but Denise doesn't even stop to see if he's hurt himself and stomps out in a hissy fit. Those words describe her reaction exactly: she doesn't scream in fear or run away, she acts as though she caught Danny kissing another woman. She spends a few moments outside and cries a little, then, apparently thinking she overreacted a tad, goes back in. She must be a little worried about Danny's behavior, because she asks him how she can know he won't kill her, too. At which, Danny explains that he loves her very much, that he can't control what's happening to him, but he's sure they can work this out. Here I am blown away by Danny's opinion that killing people is only a small fault in a husband, one that a devoted wife ought to put up with, and also by Denise's sheer monumental stupidity at agreeing with it. Did I mention that Danny is still covered with blood as he sweet-talks her into accepting his little problem and moving on? But it seems Denise truly loves Danny, and now her main concern is to get the house cleaned up before their friends get there. The cleanup is done to screamingly inappropriate upbeat surfer music, and it's at this point that I decide this movie has to be a satire on zombie movies, there's just no way whoever made it could be serious. But there's a lot more movie to go, so we'll see.
Denise may have a potty mouth, and she seems to be unable to tell the difference between a solemn religious ceremony and a fashion show, but we see now that under the hip modern exterior, at heart she's as much a traditional housewife as any heroine of a 1950s sitcom. She buckles down to clean up the gallons of blood with not a word of protest. I have to say I was really impressed with her attitude. Not too long ago, one of my friends went ballistic when her husband came home drunk and threw up on the living room carpet, but here's Denise mopping up smelly blood and guts without so much as snapping at Danny to be a little more careful next time. Do you have any idea how bad ruptured intestines smell?
That blood sure is...red.
They manage to get all traces of Danny's little problem cleaned up before their friends arrive, and they all go out for a celebratory dinner. Danny, it seems, is no longer a vegetarian; he begs his friend for some of his steak, and he gobbles it in a way that would disgrace a pig. It's disgusting to watch, and Denise heads for the bar. Danny's memory seems to have deteriorated as much as his table manners, since his friend mentions a girl Danny dated for two years and Danny can't remember her at all. So it's not the happiest of meals, but at least all of them live through it.
However, if Denise thought the jogger was a one-time thing, she finds out she's wrong. She wakes up the next morning to hear Danny throwing up in the bathroom, and although he says he'll be all right, she breaks down the door (!) to find him throwing up large amounts of blood. Any hope that it's just an ulcer proves false as Danny says he couldn't resist getting up early and heading to the beach to pick up a little snack. Denise still does not call the police.
She needs a cheeseburger.
It finally seems to have dawned on Denise that perhaps Danny's problem is more serious than it first appeared, but maybe hoping that a change of scene will help, she takes him to a travel agent to buy tickets for Portugal. She insists on one-way tickets, so it's clear they aren't planning to visit but to live there. Don't you need a visa to enter Portugal? Maybe not. Anyway, the travel agent gives Denise the tickets, and Danny jumps her, killing her messily. Denise's response is to coax Danny out of the office and back into the car, leaving the body where it fell, but to be fair, the woman was middle-aged, pushy, and wearing a leopard-skin jumpsuit and lots of cheap jewelry, so perhaps a hip girl in her twenties can be forgiven for finding her expendable.
On the way home, Denise gives vent to a few reproachful words, and Danny assures her he didn't mean to do it. However, that said, he jumps out of the car, and we next see him attack and kill a man who just left a video rental store. Again, this man was not attractive and was just extremely rude to the polite, competent twenty-something clerk in the store. Also he's bald and middle-aged.
She's not happy.
Denise is now home and is fretting about Danny, when the cop we saw earlier returns. He's no longer smiling, and it's clear he more than suspects Danny had something to do with the mysterious disappearance of the old man who was in the hospital bed next to Danny. It's obvious Denise couldn't care less about some old man and just wants the cop to shut up and leave. He finally gets the message and departs.
The cop does his best.
Soon after the cop leaves, Danny shows up, gnawing on a human arm. He seems a little out of it, but he is able to pick up on Denise's dismay at the sight. He explains that he's doing his best to kill as few people as possible before they leave for Portugal. Denise perks up a little and says they'll get help for him in Portugal. Is Portugal world-famous for its clinics that cure zombiehood? You learn something new every day. How lucky they had been planning to go there anyway. Danny nonchalantly discards the arm and hugs Denise and asks her to promise not to leave him. She promises to stay and they continue to hug. Denise is undisturbed by the fact that Danny's covered in blood and there's a partially-eaten human arm lying in her living room.
Danny is losing control.
Their friends show up shortly after this, and they say Danny looks awful, which he does. He's deteriorating fast and can barely walk. His skin's gray and there are black circles around his eyes. Nikki, one of the friends, offers to read his palm. We've already been shown that Nikki probably isn't the best palm reader around, and her reading now seems suspect, as she reports that Danny will have one child and has a long, deep lifeline. It appears, however, that she notices that his lifeline is much longer than any human's should be, and she gets scared. Danny seizes this opportunity to attack his other friend, and Denise and Nikki run for the car. Once in, though, Denise feels guilty about abandoning Danny and goes back into the house, while Nikki shows some brains and heads for the police.
Reading his palm.
Denise finds Danny playing a game, and he asks her where his friends are. She doesn't tell him the truth. His condition has deteriorated even in the few minutes since he killed his friend, but Denise seems to feel that a hot meal would help, and she offers to prepare a candlelight dinner. At the dinner table, Danny isn't the most presentable of guests. He can barely move or talk, and he's covered in blood again. Denise resolutely ignores all this, but we find out she's not a complete doormat when a piece of Danny's face drops into his soup and she whispers a reproachful "Jesus, Danny."
Candles won't help.
Meanwhile Nikki has made it to the police, who arrive at the house in force. But not in sufficient force as it turns out, since Danny is able to kill all the police officers, plus Nikki who for some unfathomable reason has decided to come back to the house. Bullets have no effect on Danny, and his appetite appears insatiable. Seriously, is there no limit on how much a zombie can eat at one sitting? According to this movie, no.
Denise's coping mechanism is to go to their bedroom, fix her hair and her makeup, and sit on the bed and watch TV. The TV is not quite loud enough to drown out the grunting, gobbling, and slurping sounds from downstairs, but finally the sounds stop. Denise finally displays a rudimentary sense of self-preservation and hides in a closet. Danny enters the room, someone's head dangling from his hand. Denise comes out of the closet and finally tells Danny she just can't take this anymore, and he begins gagging in the same way the first zombie did. Denise must remember what that means, because she starts to run. Danny chases her though the house, pins her down on the kitchen floor, and resumes gagging, but at the last moment turns his head aside and throws up on the floor. For unexplained reasons this kills him. His last act is to tell Denise he's sorry and collapse on top of her.
Hiding from Danny.
Now that he's really dead, he looks normal, not like someone who's been dead for a couple of days. Denise cradles him for a while, then starts dragging him out of the house. Her notions of what constitutes a proper funeral are even odder than her idea of a proper wedding, for she kisses Danny one last time and rolls him into the swimming pool. Is this a New Jersey custom of which I'm ignorant?
The movie ends with Denise walking on the beach. She imagines how it would be to throw herself into the ocean, but in her imagination, Danny pulls her out. As she turns away sadly, I was thinking that the song that ought to be playing now is "Stand By Your Man." It's as if the filmmaker read my mind, because at that moment, what begins playing in the background but..."Stand By Your Man!" It's appropriate in more ways than one, because Tammy Wynette stood by too many abusive men, long after she was old enough to know better. It doesn't appear that it has ever crossed Denise's mind that maybe she ought to call the police, if there are any left alive.
One last phantom kiss.
Watch this movie if you like to see zombies tearing people to pieces. That part is pretty well-done. But don't pay any attention to the plot, it's ridiculous. I thought for most of the movie that this was a satire on movies where the heroine stands by her man no matter what he does, then I thought it was meant to show in an exaggerated form what a woman's life is like when she's married to an abusive husband. However, having watched it all the way through, I can say it's not a satire, it's not meant to be instructive, it's perfectly serious about thinking a woman ought to stick by her husband no matter how awful he is. I wonder if the script had been sitting on a shelf somewhere since the 1950s, or maybe the 1850s? It reminds me way too much of a type of Victorian novel where the heroine puts up with everything, and I do mean everything, her no-good husband does. Alcoholism, adultery, domestic violence, no problem, a proper woman would overlook these tiny flaws and understand that her husband is a good man underneath. These novels generally end with the husband either undergoing a sudden and implausible reform, or with the husband dying so the heroine can marry the nice and usually rich guy who's been patiently worshipping her platonically for most of the novel. I hate to think what women were going through back then to make that kind of novel appealing to them. But come on, people, we've gone beyond that, and women today are supposed to have brains enough to realize they're in a dangerous marriage and get out. And if being married to a zombie isn't dangerous, I don't know what is. Danny may not be able to help being what he is, but Denise is a fool for staying. This movie ought to be ashamed of itself for sending such a terrible message to women.
Ann Curry would not approve of such behavior. And she thinks Nate is hot.
I have to say, I seem to be alone in my opinion that this movie stinks. Most of the other reviewers seem to find it a touching love story that shows that true love ought to try to overcome all obstacles. Hey, wait a minute! Have you people no sense of public responsibility? Do you think a person ought to accept and forgive the fact that his/her significant other is brutally and messily murdering everybody he/she comes across? How about the fact that this significant other is not only murdering innocent, although old and unattractive, people, but has the ability to make zombies out of others, meaning that these new zombies will in turn kill many more people and make many more zombies? ARE YOU NUTS? While you're at it, why not make a nice movie about Josef Mengele showing how Mrs. Mengele forgives him and accepts him for what he is because she LOVES him? How about (rant, rave, snarl, howl)...Oh, there you are, Nate. Why are you carrying that jacket with the very long sleeves? Come on, Nate, I don't want to wear the jacket, it's too hot...I don't want to go to the nice hospital, Nate...LET GO, Nate...I STILL SAY THIS IS A BAD MOVIE!
This is Nate. I'm currently looking for a new editor, as the previous one seems to have had a nervous breakdown from watching too many bad movies. Please send your resume to...Nah, forget it. Being crazy is no handicap at MMT. I'll make Pam keep on working.
Ahem. This is Pam back again. During my little rest, I thought about this movie some more, and I now think the whole zombie thing was meant to symbolize some sort of addiction, either to alcohol or drugs. We have the woman unexpectedly coming across evidence of the loved one's addiction (and we have a previous scene that shows it's in no way the addict's own fault he became addicted!) We have the addict swearing he won't do it again. We have the addict vowing his addiction won't affect his wife. We see innocent people getting hurt because of his addiction. We also see the addict making no real effort to cure his addiction, despite his promises. Finally we see the addict dying. If I'm right, the movie could have implanted a message in the no-doubt-mostly-young target audience to the effect that some people are simply beyond helping, no matter how much you love them, and the only thing you can do is cut and run before you become a victim of whatever monkey is on their back. Unfortunately the message it really sends is the one a junkie wants you to hear, that you ought to do everything you possibly can to save the addict from the bad consequences of his own addiction. I believe this is called "enabling." And this, in my opinion, is what makes this movie so bad.
Denise was cute, she could have done better.
Postscript: My theory about zombiehood symbolizing addiction seems to be wrong. According to Wikipedia, David Gebroe was inspired to write this movie after his sister's husband was killed in a surfing accident. He was trying to explore "how terrifying it is to dedicate yourself wholly and completely to a relationship in the knowledge that one day that person might be taken from you just like that." Why he would equate death in an accident to being turned into a zombie is beyond me, but now that I think about it, he probably figured a zombie movie would sell better than a movie about a young man dying accidentally. I think he could have picked a better way to convey his message. And I still hate this movie.
Written in May 2010 by Pam Burda.
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