Streaming-Kino: Night of the Living Dead (1968) - George A. Romero, Duane Jones

The groundbreaking, genre-defining zombie movie that has set the mark for all zombie movies to come.

A study of social psychology, a picture of its time, a pioneer in gore cinema, and an overall exciting and scary movie, "Night of the Living Dead" is still and will probably forever remain in the top five of the genre.

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Review: Signs (2002, M. Night Shyamalan)

A priest who's lost his faith, mourning the death of this wife, watches an alien invasion unfold. Soon, he and his now all male family are facing close encounters with the visitors...

"Signs" undeniably has some good stuff. It's a science-fiction horror movie, and, well, it's got some sort of science (...), obvious fiction, and some horror. It's a quality production featuring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, so a certain amount of entertainment is guaranteed. Moreover, the story is lightly touching, the suspense grows, and as the signs of alien activity become more visible, the horror emerges quite effectively. It works really well, the first sighting of the visitors sends genuine chills down your spine, there's a cultural reference here and there, performances by the cast are as expected - overall flawless, exciting handicraft.

Until suddenly it becomes base. Gone is the excitement, and you're staring into the bottomless abyss that is the script of "Signs". Who in his right mind had the idea to suggest that the memory of the words "swing away...", whispered out of context by the dying wife of our ex-priest protagonist, would six months later be interpreted by the latter as a justification to bash someone else's head in with a baseball bat? That is so wrong, on so many levels, it puts the entire movie in a different light. Horror cinema isn't the right place if you're looking for political correctness, but still there's a common denominator for what is considered right and wrong, otherwise horror movies just wouldn't be horror. "Signs" chooses to put the laziest, dumbest idea imaginable at its core and resolution: As she was dying, she had visions of... blunt violence! Swing away, baby!

That choice is probably adequate to some sort of audience, but any person with even the slightest idea of ethics will be appalled. Our ex-priest really has made a remarkable u-turn, and you're wondering if the movie is actually endorsing it. Science inherently means to look at and decipher things - not to crush them with brute force.

"Signs" has nothing to do with science-fiction, it's fantasy, and casually creates a dangerous, arbitrary pseudo-justification for violence. Michael Winner's "Death Wish" (1974) openly portrays a person driven by frustration and revenge, and not much else, making it a far more honest movie. "Signs" creates a framework of emotions, visions of the future, failed Christian belief, and UFO mumbo-jumbo, leading to the supposedly enlightening, supposedly cathartic moment of basically an ex-priest, wait for it, here it comes: bashing someone else's head in with a baseball bat. 

That's what the dying lady is supposed to have hinted at? Wow, that's far beyond anything "Death Wish". In "Signs", the violence is not only supposed to be justified, but an obligation, dictated by visions, UFOs, reptiles, whatever superstition you like.

Paul Verhoeven's "Starship Troopers" (1997) is a comparably clear statement, with its obvious satirical elements, Nazi Germany references, and over-the-top violence. With "Signs", you're not so sure. It's a template for the kind of anti-science, violence-happy, non-reasoning culture that puts belief above democracy and law, and unless you can see the entire movie as a joke, there's little satire in it.

Some educational value can be read into it: Don't. By all means, don't. But the far stronger impression, it seems it wants to create, is: Ohyeah, do. Absolutely. She had a vision, you know.

Calling "Signs" a good movie would be a mistake. It's too shallow to qualify as a portrait of a demolished family, and as a tale of overcoming it's just wrong. This movie doesn't deserve any money. Paying to see it would be immoral.

Verdict: Really? Nah, comeon. 3/10



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