Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Neon Trees - “Everybody Talks”

  We start out with some mid-70’s promo title cards letting us know that some really swell cinematic feature is headed to a drive-in near us, which gets me very excited until I remember that all of the drive-ins around these parts were torn down long ago. Then we learn that the movie has the thrilling title of “Zombie Bikers From Hell”, a completely fascinating subject that any decent person would want to know more about, and I start to curse the Dallas Zoning Commission for letting all the festive drive-ins get turned into yet another Walgreens or one of those shady money-borrowing places where you pay 8,000% interest and have to sign over your house, your car and your slower-moving relatives.

  Then we pull back from the movie-screen and find ourselves in an actual drive-in, with neat little rows of cars and lots of people doing what we used to do at drive-ins, which is everything but actually pay attention to the movie. Folks are running all over the place and little travelling waitresses are moving from car to car and taking orders, presumably orders involving all of that glorious movie junk-food that had no nutritional value whatsoever but sure tasted good when you shoved it in your mouth. Then some more words splash on the distant movie screen and we learn that the Neon Trees are starring in this lovely slasher film about the un-dead.

  Oh? We need to see what’s going with that, please. And pass the bucket of butter with bits of popcorn floating in it. You can’t really enjoy a drive-in movie unless you are endangering your cholesterol levels.

  I guess the cameraman heard our desires, and we zoom back in on the movie screen. The Trees have just arrived somewhere and they are piling out of a van, then they head into a cabin in the woods. (Right away we all know that they are going to die, because killer zombies often frequent remote housing made of wood.) Oh wait, we just backed out of the screen again, so we can focus on one of the parked cars where the Trees also have been cast as people watching the movie. They are piled in a vintage car that most people can’t afford these days, yet another sign that if you really want to have nice things you have to be in a rock band. Those guidance counselors in high school were lying to you.

  We get even closer to the parked car, because it’s time for lead singer Tyler to kick off the vocals of the song, and he does so, whilst gripping the steering wheel in a manner that indicates he might have had a bit too much caffeine recently. Then we start jump-cutting all over the place, back and forth between the actions on the screen and the actions in the giant parking lot, and there’s suddenly a lot of information to process. I’ll try to report everything, but I’ve just watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead and I’ve consumed an award-winning amount of beer, so this will be a challenge. Here goes.

  Tyler is billed as “Tyler Trash” in the movie (a startling decision that’s really not going to play well on the Internet), one of the band members is playing “Cutter Chris” in the movie as well as Anthony Michael Hall circa 16 Candles in the real world, another band  member is “Branden Blood” (zombie world) and Sal Mineo (circa that one time he grew a beard) in the parked Trees car, and finally we have the drummer as “Elaine Evil” (potential  zombie snack) and the lone girl in the Trees car who is either going to get really lucky tonight or learn some shocking truths about her fellow car occupants.

  Rounding out the cast is an actress playing the role of an Over-Worked Carhop who likes to wear heart-shaped sunglasses and bite on pickle spears. (I tried googling the name of the actress, but the results were a little confusing, because there’s so much carp on the Internet, so I’m not going to sign anything official or make any kind of pinky-swear.) Carhop Girl will eventually prove to be a critical element in the video, much like the red and blue pills in The Matrix, but we don’t know that yet. Right now she’s just the Lady Who Brings Deep-Fried Gifts.)

  So anyway, on the screen, the Trees are giving an impromptu concert in the Eventual Cabin of Death, because if you’re in the middle of nowhere you might as well harmonize while you wait for something interesting to happen. Tyler is whipping his microphone cord around with a frenzy that makes it very clear that you don’t want mess with him when it comes to the dominant role in a sexual relationship, the zombie bikers are driving down dusty roads and looking a bit ornery about things (perhaps if they actually bathed they wouldn’t be so angry?), and the other band members are attacking their instruments like this is their one chance to make Simon Cowell and his omniscient t-shirt approve of their performance.

  In the drive-in parking lot, we have shots of car occupants either watching the movie with gusto or interacting with their neighbors as if the movie didn’t exist. (Hold up, who’s that one guy with the great eyebrows and the shiny teeth? Is he single?) Then we have a bit where the Trees in their car are doing some interesting hand-choreography in some type of competition with three ladies in a nearby car who are stylized to look like factory workers and lounge singers from the 1940’s. It’s like the “born to hand-jive” sequence from Grease, that movie where 30-year-olds pretended they were in high school and John Travolta wore running shorts that came up to his nipples.

  We go back to the movie screen for a bit, where the band is still performing and managing to avoid death by smelly un-dead bikers, then we’re back in the lot where lots of people are making poor little Carhop Girl and her Lolita sunglasses run all over hell, schlepping nachos. Screen again, where we get a close-up of Tyler shoving his face at the camera in a way that might indicate some excessive voltage in his microphone cord. (Or maybe he had some risky sushi for lunch? You swallow a tainted piece of yellowtail and you’ll definitely vibrate.) Whatever the case, he is very excited about singing this song, and you have to respect his enthusiasm and dedication to his craft.

  More shots of hard-working Carhop Lolita delivering processed foods to people with no purpose in life.

  Then we roll into a bit where several carloads of people are doing more hand-choreography based on the “it started with a whisper” bit of the song, with folks placing one manicured finger against their lips and shimmying in tandem. It’s actually very cute, and I briefly contemplate getting all the folks at my workplace to do the same thing, but then I remember that this is Texas and rednecks will pull a gun on you if you exhibit any type of song-based rhythm. (I still scribble it on my Bucket List, though. Might be able to work it in at a later date.)

  The choreography goes on for a while, looking even cuter and making me wish I had friends who would do symmetrical things with me in public places, even if it involves nudity. Then we cut to a scene with Carhop Jezebel flirting with a Nerdy-Guy in his car. Jezebel is hot enough that she can clearly snap her fingers and have 17 boys sniffing around her ankles, so we don’t know why she’s interested in a lower-shelf selection. But who knows, love works in mysterious ways, especially if the smell of stale popcorn is in the air.

  We have another montage of happy people doing the hand-jive and various others jives. I don’t know where this drive-in is located, but it’s obviously not in a place where elected officials are Republican, because they don’t put up with happiness or dancing.

  Then we’re back to Carhop Seductress, as she leads the Dweeb to a very private area of the drive-in (which appears to be right outside the bathrooms, so perhaps “private” was not the right adjective). Suddenly, Carhop Yum-Yum turns into Carhop Succubus and poor little Dweeb Boy ends his life without ever having had actual sex. It’s tragic, really. But we’ve got two minutes left in the video, so screw him.

  Back to the movie on the screen, where The Trees are continuing to make music whilst the Biker Zombies run amuck and refuse to have any fashion sense. The stumbling Bikers eventually find The Trees’ van outside the Shack O’ Impending Death, sniff something in the air that gets them aroused (the smell of the ink on record-sales receipts?) and they stagger off toward the cabin that is stuffed with fresh meat and musical performers, intent on a smorgasbord where etiquette and the proper use of eating utensils is not really important.

  Then we have a fun bit where the song completely stops, creating a nice little dramatic moment where the rude zombies bang on the door of Casa Muerta and the band members pause to consider who might have ordered pizza at a really inappropriate time. In a moment of not-thinking, Tyler runs to the door and whips it open, revealing a really old cast member of Braveheart, with blue face-paint and such. (I don’t know when the zombies had time to stop by a rural location of Elizabeth Arden, but this somehow happened.) Braveheart dude snarls menacingly and all hell breaks loose as the zombies pour in through the front door and various poorly-fortified windows.

  So now we have a nice psychological moment where Tyler smashes a bottle on the head of one member of the Blue Man Group, and then he decides that saving the rest of his band members is really not worth the calisthenics and the possible ripping of expensive couture. He quickly scurries out the front door, leaving the rest of his supposed musical family to face the wrath of un-dead people with no social skills. (And those band members best remember who ran for Jesus at a really awkward moment when it comes time for the next round of contract negotiations. Just sayin.)

  Meanwhile, back at the drive-in, the various cars of rhythmic people are continuing to be choreographic and happy while people are being eaten on the screen. (This is a very sad commentary on the state of American values. Then again, so is the fact that Michele Bachmann continues to be re-elected.) Just to make sure that we understand that people are seriously jacked-up in the head, we get to watch Carhop Death-Girl lead another victim into her Sanctuary of Sucking, this time a jock-type who learns the true meaning of taking one for the team, as he and his letter jacket get annihilated.

  Back on the screen, Tyler is running like he just realized that he’s in a red state where there are no laws to protect someone who happened to be born with a musical orientation. The rest of the band, still trapped in that cabin where they probably won’t get their deposit back after this mess, is being systematically gutted by the Mean People Who Refuse to Die, otherwise known as The Tea Party.

  As Tyler continues to run to wherever on the screen, we get snippets of Drummer Elaine, looking very “Willow on Buffy”, trying valiantly to save her life, but there’s really only so much you can do with a microphone stand and a cute hairstyle. This is followed by snippets of Carhop Death-Bringer luring another victim to her restroom-adjacent killing field, this time in the form of a hot guy who really knows how to wear a muscle shirt but doesn’t have a clue about waitresses who can transform into demons if you don’t leave a big enough tip.

  Back on the screen, we have a quick bit where Tyler is still performing with his band, despite the fact that he has already high-tailed it elsewhere and the rest of the band members have become buffet choices at an all-you-can-eat diner. Then we cut to Fleeing Tyler on a messy dirt road that he wouldn’t be on if some video director hadn’t insisted on realism, where a van just happens to drive up, offering some roadside assistance. And, looky there, the van is being driven by Carhop Lolita, with her shoving open the passenger door and beckoning for Tyler to join her. And he does, with the van driving off into the sunset as they head toward a lawyer’s office so they can collect the insurance on all the deceased people in the video. Who apparently died because they talked too much. (It started with a whisper…)

Click Here to Watch this Video on YouTube.

Click Here for other Neon Trees reviews.


  1. Sounds like one hell of a movie parking lot.

  2. I find this so enjoyable, especially when I get to watch the video first and then read your take on it. I'm smiling from ear to ear. Brian? Brian, can you hear me? I don't know where to go next. So many wonderful choices. Do you have a favorite that you're especially pleased with? Hmmmm, I see Corey Hart up there...

    1. Yes, I can hear you, and I'm GRINNING from ear to ear. It's so nice to see someone enjoying something I've written. I do have some favorites, but I'd rather not mention them and just let you wander, it seems like it's more fun that way... :)



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