Friday, February 5, 2010

Touch Down, Doll's House Style

Break out the guacamole and beer, it’s Super Bowl Sunday! Watch grown men hug in tight tight pants! Pity well-toned cheerleaders prancing around in hopes of staying warm enough to not catch pneumonia! See millions of dollars spent on talking babies advertising websites that will probably be gone by the time Shutter Island finally premieres!

Or don't. Not a football fan? How unAmerican (literally, as who else in their right mind watches football?). Thankfully, there are alternative activities appropriate for  this February 7th, and I'm not talking about the Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl (although that is damn adorable).

Queue up the television and gear up for a non-football Sunday involving football in genre film!

The Blob 1986

One of my favorite underappreciated horror films of the ‘80s, Chuck Russell’s remake (!!!) is a must for any horror devotee. Original gore, surprising kills, and a genuine spirit of fun makes this 1988 film (with a script co-written by some Stephen King fan named Frank Darabont) rewarding viewing for any day...particularly if you’re not a fan of football.

The Blob doesn’t do much with the sport, but one of its best twists revolves around its assumed Big Man On Campus hero, a nice young man in a letter jacket who seems poised to save the cheerleader and annihilate the giant thickened liquid devouring its way through local diners and movie theaters. He’s handsome in that bland kind of high school way but, as his premature fate proves, dude's got nothing on Kevin Dillon’s fabulously mulleted badboy. Consider this soon-to-be-remade-again classic a touchdown for outsiders harnessing death wishes on wedgie making jocks.

The Running Man

True, there’s never a wrong time to pop in this 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger gem. Between the kickass action, colorful villains (where else have you seen a homicidal opera singer dressed like Lite Brite?) brilliant dialogue (“I’ll be back!” “Only in a rerun.”), and ahead of its time satire, Paul Michael Glaser gives Stephen King--excuse me, Richard Bachman--a worthy adaptation of fun and violent goofiness. 

In 20 years, this is probably the kind of show that would air immediately after the big game, and I for one would be far more thrilled to sit through Jesse Ventura’s Captain Freedom punching a neon spandex-wearing muscle man than a special guest star clogged episode of Friends. And hey, with two politicians playing lead roles, what could be more American. Still not sold on its pigskin pedigree? What if I told you the reigning champion of The Running Man (the game, not the movie) was former Cleveland Browns star Jim Brown? And his character is named Fireball? Because his weapon of choice is a flamethrower? Plus, there's hockey for the Canadians, classical music for the cultured, and Richard Dawson for the elderly fans of Family Feud. Everybody's a winner (except for most of the cast, who die)!

The Faculty

Looking past the somewhat dated CGI, Robert Rodriguez’s hybrid high school sci-fi/horror is arguably one of the best--or at least, freshest--genre films of the 1990s. Take a Dawson’s Creek ready cast of walking teenage archetypes, sprinkle in some killer cameos (Salma Hayek, Jon Stewart, Piper Laurie, to name a few) and inject some Invasion of the Body Snatchers style  and you get a successful mash-up of homage and new horror. 

But what makes this soft R-Rated 1998 flick worth your Super Bowl Sunday? Did you hear the part where I mentioned it’s set in high school? And let me add, a small town. If films and television have taught us anything, it’s that any middle America hamlet is required to devote half its budget and much of its glory to football. The Faculty has a lot of fun with this, cheekily showing the benefit of a close-contact game when you’re trying to take over the world with an easily transmitted alien virus. Shawn Hatosy‘s star quarterback even gets a poignant identity crisis storyline, but it’s ultimately Robert Patrick who makes this a film to replace the first two quarters  you were planning on devoting to the Saints & Colts. Strict sports coaches can be a scary thing--I’ve seen Freddy’s Revenge--but only the T-1000 himself can succeed at being so coldly menacing while wearing a pair of unflattering gym shorts.

Play Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Granted, this one takes a little nostalgic pack-rackism on your part, but if you've saved that dusty Super Nintendo system and more importantly, this superbly fantastic game, you've got an entire Sunday of pure bliss staring at you in 16 bit graphics. 

The story is simple: a small town with an abundance of water pistols, beaches, Egyptian musuems, castles, shopping malls, hedge mazes, and toxic waste dumps has been invaded by a whole lot of classic movie monsters (including, but not limited to mummies, vampires, werewolves, axe-throwing dolls, clones, Tremors, 50' tall babies, spiders, giant ants, Martians, blobs, and of course, the titular undead). Your job? Save as many civilians as you can. As cheerleaders are worth the most points, Zombies Ate My Neighbors is more than fitting for Super Bowl Day, especially since one level is set on a football field where your character must dodge fast gliding quarterbacks to grab the bouncing blond. 

So good luck to the betting men and women out there, go Colts if you're a Colts fan, Saints if you're a Saints fan, and if you're a daddy dot com. Otherwise, happy sort-of genre film football day to all!

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