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Review: ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Survival of the Dead’

Two Kinds of Horror Films to Choose From This Weekend

Above: Sarah Jessica Parker returns as Carrie in "Sex and the City 2"

Audio

Aired 5/27/10

This weekend you can choose between two kinds of horror films: "Sex and the City" (opening May 27 throughout San Diego) and "Survival of the Dead" (opening May 28 at Landmark's Ken Cinema). But only one really scares me.

This weekend you can choose between two kinds of horror films: "Sex and the City" (opening May 27 throughout San Diego) and "Survival of the Dead" (opening May 28 at Landmark's Ken Cinema). But only one really scares me.

When it comes to movies, it takes a lot to scare me. But there are two words that strike fear in my heart… “chick flick.”

That’s right. There’s nothing more terrifying to me than having to sit through a film where women gripe about men, swoon over fashion, and worry about getting fat or old. I’ll take zombies, infected people, and Armageddon any day over that. And that’s the choice filmgoers will have when “Sex and the City” and “Survival of the Dead” face off at the box office this Friday. To me that’s a choice of true horror versus classic horror.

Miranda: “Hell just froze over…”

Here’s another thing that scares me about “Sex and the City.” Variety proclaimed that this might be the summer when women show their muscle at the box office and push testosterone driven action film off their top perch. So the terror of the summer season is that films like “Sex and the City” and “Twilight Eclipse” may break box office records. This in turn will prompt studios to invest in more designer clothes and sparkling vampires.

Carrie: “We have to work on the sparkle..."

Mr. Big: "Sparkle?”

They sure do need to work on that sparkle. That’s Chris Noth and Sara Jessica Parker as Mr. Big and Carrie. You can slap all the fancy clothes on Parker you want but she’ll never be anything more than an average looking, mediocre TV actress. At one point Carrie’s watching the screwball classic “It Happened One Night” on TV and compliments actress Claudette Colbert. To which Carrie’s husband says, she’s got nothing on you. Really? You wanna go there? You want to draw comparisons between a genuinely sparkling romantic comedy and this contemporary, leaden drivel?

But I digress from the horrors in the film. Carrie is presented as some kind of empowering female image. That’s scary because she’s really more of an old school stereotype as she chases romantic clichés while pretending to write her own rules.

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Catrall and Kristin Davis belt out "I am Woman" to inspire the locals.

Warner Brothers

Above: Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Catrall and Kristin Davis belt out "I am Woman" to inspire the locals.

But “Sex and the City” proves even more terrifying as it moves to Abu Dhabi. There the girls think that singing “I am Woman” at a Karaoke bar is all they need to do to make a global call for women’s liberation. But they trip over their Manolo heels and fall flat on their faces. If I want bimbo feminism, I prefer "Charlie's Angels," at least they were bimbos that could kick ass. And speaking of kick-ass, I find Hit Girl in "Kick-Ass" a stronger and more positive female role model. At least she doesn't whine and doesn't need a manto complete her. But the brand of freedom promoted in "Sex and the City 2" has more to do with getting Arab women to surrender to materialism and pay to get decked out in expensive designer clothes than with human rights. I know this film’s not rooted in the real world but even so I find the trivialization of the issues in the Middle East offensive, and yes even scary.

In some ways, the women of “Sex and the City” are like George Romero’s zombies in “Dawn of the Dead” mindlessly making pilgrimages to stores to pursue their innate materialistic cravings. But I prefer the living dead to the deadly dull. Which brings us to the latest Romero zombie film, “Survival of the Dead.”

Alan Van Strang stars as Sarge in George A. Romero's sixth zombie outing, "Survival of the Dead"

Magnolia Pictures

Above: Alan Van Strang stars as Sarge in George A. Romero's sixth zombie outing, "Survival of the Dead"

Sarge: "Every where we went it was more of the same, us against them… we all figured the only good zombie is a dead zombie.”

Yes those lovable reanimated corpses are back in action for Romeo’s sixth dead outing. But unlike the empty-headed “Sex and the City,” “Survival of the Dead” has something on its mind. Romero has always used zombies as the canvas for social satire. “Night of the Living Dead” looked to racism; “Dawn of the Dead” to consumerism; and the recent “Diary of the Dead” to media manipulation. With “Survival of the Dead,” Romero looks to our inability to just get along.

Sarge: “When the s—t hit the fan when the world changed, instead of pulling together, it just gave us something else to fight about.”

Zombies! George A. Romero's "Survival of the Dead"

Magnolia Pictures

Above: Zombies! George A. Romero's "Survival of the Dead"

So Romero turns to a scenario of feuding families not unlike the famous Hatfields and McCoys. So even when facing a zombie apocalypse, people would rather stick to petty prejudices and grievances rather than work together to save human kind.

Romero, now in his seventies, is not as clever or as fresh as he has been in previous zombie outings. But this is a Romero zombie film so I have to confess to having a soft spot in my heart for “Survival of the Dead” despite its flaws.

So as I look to the weekend of horrors before me, I do see one similarity between these two diverse films: both the women of “Sex and the City” (rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language) and the zombies of “Survival of the Dead”(rated R for strong zombie violence/gore, language and brief sexuality) need brains. But only the zombies find any.

Comments

Avatar for user 'CBradshaw'

CBradshaw | May 28, 2010 at 10:31 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Your quote, "You can slap all the fancy clothes on Parker you want but she’ll never be anything more than an average looking, mediocre TV actress," makes you sound like Perez Hilton. Stick to reviewing movies, and leave the lame insults out.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | May 28, 2010 at 2:16 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

A film that is all about superficial values, appearances, and fashion asks to be assessed on those qualities. So you can call it an insult, I call it holding the film up to it's own meager standards and finding that it and SJP both came up short.

Thanks for the comment.

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Avatar for user 'bardsfingertips'

bardsfingertips | May 28, 2010 at 4:42 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

It is films/TV Shows like SATC that make me question and/or reaffirms back to me the the constant enforcement of so-called gender roles and the expectations of.

I won't slam the television show entirely simply because I do find gender politics somewhat entertaining in a "been there/done that" sort of manner. However, as a film, it is fluff and escapism. But, if it is escapism, to where and why?

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong ;-)

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Avatar for user 'Bernard'

Bernard | May 29, 2010 at 12:03 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Interesting comparison. I've included this article in a writeup on TalkingSkull.com. Here's the link:
http://talkingskull.com/article/sex-and-city-2-not-so-sexy

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