Posts Tagged ‘Zombies’

ZombieCreepingFlesh_quad-1

 

Directed By: Bruno Mattei

Starring: Jose Gras, Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garafalo, Selan Karay, Joseph Lluis Fonoll

Synopsis: Government experiments lead to a zombie outbreak.

Thoughts: The success of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead led to many, many zombie movies flooding the market in the 80s. It just so happens that many of those zombie movies came from Italy. Bruno Mattei, already well on his way to becoming a master of Italian genre cinema, set out to make a film similar to Dawn, but lighter in tone. What was delivered was a bit of a mash-up of Italian action movie, cannibal movie and zombies.

The story, although basic in premise, is drawn out for a bit too long. The runtime, at just over an hour and forty minutes would have benefited from some tighter editing. The effects were also all over the place. In some scenes, the zombies and attacks were very well done and realistic. In others, it looks like some amateurs first attempts at creating zombie make-up.

The acting is also laughable, especially that of the team of commandos that are dispatched to deal with the outbreak. Unlike a lot of movies from this era of Italian horror, there aren’t any recognizable names here.

Even with Zombie Creeping Flesh being a bit too long and sloppy at times, and the acting being subpar at best, I had a good time watching this. It embodies the term “so bad it’s good.” If you want to watch the best of zombie cinema, stick with Romero and Fulci. If you want a movie that you can sit back and crack jokes about the acting and camera work, this is a great candidate.

How Nasty Is It?

This has some pretty gory scenes of gut munching nastiness, especially during the portion of the movie where the group encounters the cannibal tribe. It’s something that is seen throughout the zombie and cannibal genres, but you can see how it caught the eye of the BBFC.

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Scouts Guide

Directed By: Christopher Landon

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont, David Koechner, Halston Sage, Patrick Shwarzenegger

Synopsis: A zombie outbreak can only be stopped by a group of Boy Scouts and a cocktail waitress from a strip club. Yes, hilarity ensues.

Thoughts:
Zombies are everywhere. They have been for a few years now. I blame The Walking Dead, but that really is irrelevant. The truth is that they have infiltrated the mainstream and are everywhere. This has led to a lot of really bad and mediocre zombie flicks. It’s also made it tougher to find the few good zombie movies that have come out. For some reason, Scouts Guide caught my eye when I saw the trailer.

Scouts Guide takes a recently popular approach to the genre by playing up the laughs and the gross out factor instead of social commentary and scares. It’s been a popular approach, with some of the more successful entries including Shaun of the Dead, Zombie Land and Dead Snow. Scouts Guide succeeds in its approach, although not quite well enough to be included in the aforementioned list.

The cast is adequate, but probably one of the weaker points of the film for me. Most of the actors are ultimately forgettable. When you look at the most successful horror-comedy hybrids, the characters make the difference. I could easily see most of the actors in a horror movie without the comedy, as they fall into stereotypical roles and don’t bring the needed charisma to make an impression. I felt Logan Miller (Carter) overplayed his role quote a bit and some of his scenes felt fake as a result.

Christopher Landon isn’t a household name, even in the horror genre, but he has been the screenwriter of several well-known horror movies, including Disturbia and Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4. His directorial debut was Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and this was his follow-up. I can see him becoming a pretty popular director in the genre. He also happens to be the son of Michael Landon (Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven).

The FX are pretty solid as well. The zombies are reminiscent of the infected from The Crazies remake from a few years ago, mixed with some more classic zombie looks (such as the zombie missing his bottom jaw). Where Scouts Guide differentiates itself are with some of the gross out gags. You see gratuitous zombie tits, more than once even, you see an extended scene with an “old guy” zombie’s dick and you also see a zombie go down on a girl (ode to Re-Animator maybe). The jokes are pretty run of the mill, but there are a few laughs.

Overall, I had a pretty good time watching this, but it isn’t likely to land a spot in my collection (although it is much better than a lot of movies I own). To me, this is an excellent movie to catch on Netflix or Redbox, and maybe a good movie to buy if you are a big zombie (or comedy) fan. I recommend checking it out, but keep your expectations tempered. That way, you should enjoy it.

Cooties Poster

Directed By: Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion

Starring: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Morgan Lily, Jack McBrayer, Jorge Garcia, Peter Kwong, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan, Leigh Whannell

Synopsis: A deadly virus infects grade school children, turning them into flesh eating maniacs.

Thoughts: It’s a safe bet to say the majority of horror fans are getting tired of the overwhelming amount of zombie, and zombie-like movies being released. For the record, I see “infected” movies as the third generation of zombies. If you look back to the 30s, zombies were the result of voodoo, turning people into mindless slaves. George Romero turned the genre on its head by introducing his version, flesh eating undead (although he didn’t originally call them zombies). In 2002, Danny Boyle unleashed 28 Days Later, one of the first infected movies, and likely considered one of the best.

Cooties throws its hat into the ring of infected movies, although with a comedic twist. This time around, a tainted chicken nugget unleashes a virus at Ft. Chicken Elementary, turning children who have not gone through puberty into vicious, flesh eating monsters.

There are plenty of gross out moments in Cooties, starting with the montage of the chicken nuggets journey and the principal getting drawn and quartered on the playground, but there isn’t a lot here that you haven’t seen before. It’s gory, but not to the point that it is difficult to watch for the average viewer. I’ve heard gorehounds say that they were left wanting more, but for me, it was spot on.

The strength of Cooties is, without a doubt, the cast and script. You start with very cliché characters, but they all end up a little differently than you would expect. Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer and Leigh Whannell are fantastic. Whannell’s character was one of my favorite in recent memory. I read in an interview that he played him as having just a little bit of that serial killer vibe in him, but not quite enough to act on it.

If I were to have one complaint about the movie, it would be the conclusion. It seemed rushed, and not quite as thought through as the rest of the movie, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the experience. Cooties isn’t revolutionary, but it is entertaining, which in a genre where we are being inundated with zombies, is refreshing. I recommend checking it out. It’s available now through various on demand services.

Dead Snow 2

Directed By: Tommy Wirkola

Starring: Vegar Hoel, Orjan Gamsf, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Kristoffer Joner, Derek Mears

Synopsis: Martin, the sole survivor of the first film continues his battle against Colonel Herzog and the zombie horde.

Thoughts: I was a huge fan of the first Dead Snow, as it blended Nazi Zombies, comedy and buckets of gore perfectly, so I was very excited to hear that Tommy Wirkola was making a sequel. No punches were pulled as the gore is ramped up and the storyline is just ridiculous enough to be highly entertaining.

Colonel Herzog returns with his Nazi Zombie horde, but he quickly loses his arm, which then gets accidentally reattached to Martin, giving Martin powers over the dead and super strength. This sets up a showdown between Herzog and his horde and Martin and his freshly raised Russian zombies (like I said, ridiculous).

Although the cast is latgely Norwegian, some of them play Americans, so even if this is viewed in Norwegian, there is English dialogue at times. I watched it in English for my initial viewing, which is a bit of a departure for me, but I didn’t have any issues. I normally find dubbed movies very distracting (unless it is kung fu), but this was very smooth.

Vegar Hoel returns as Martin, the survivor from the initial onslaught, and is great as the lead. He definitely takes a cue from Bruce Campbell’s Ash in the early moments of the film as his arm is replaced with Herzog’s zombie arm and he struggles to control it.

I’ve been a fan of Wirkola’s since watching Dead Snow and Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters. He isn’t afraid to splash around the red stuff in his movies and his movies are fun. I can’t wait to see what he does next. Personally, I think he’d direct one hell of an Evil Dead movie.

Dead Snow 2 is one of my favorite horror releases from 2014, although I still have a lot to see. It’s a perfect blend of horror and comedy and is a great time. If you haven’t watched this yet, make it a point to check it out!

Ultimate Versus

Directed By: Ryuhei Kitamura

Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Kenji Matsuda

Synopsis: A gang battles hordes of zombies, and each other, in a remote forest.

Thoughts: In addition to being a horror fan, I’ve always loved a good kung fu flick. This has led me to explore not only a good bit of Shaw Brothers, but also a lot of other Hong Kong style action movies. Versus is a great mashup of the horror genre and that Hong Kong style. There are hordes of zombies and plenty of gun play and martial arts.  It’s got a pretty solid base story, but it is dominated by the action, which makes this pretty enjoyable.

The acting is a bit cliché, but I believe that has more to do with the characters than it has to do with the actors. Each of the characters has a definitive look, whether it is a black leather trench coat, a brightly colored shirt or pink hair, but past that, there just isn’t any character development. If you are sitting down to watch a kung fu zombie flick, then you’re probably not too worried about character development.

Director Ryuhei Kitamura made an effort to combine multiple genres into his film, as he believed it may be his last movie and wanted to showcase all of his cinematic inspirations. Although Versus didn’t have much of a cinematic release, it has become a cult classic, which led to Kitamura directing several more films, including Godzilla: Final Wars, Midnight Meat Train and No One Lives. He’s a director that I pay attention to, as I’ve enjoyed his movies.

There are three different versions of Versus; the original cut, the R-Rated cut and the Ultimate Edition (which I watched). The R-Rated version cuts out about 4 minutes of gore from the original cut, while the Ultimate version is 10 minutes longer and has a lot of changes made to the effects, music and even some completely new scenes.

Versus is great fun, often playing out like a live action video game, with the characters facing new challenges and villains as the movie progresses, while also revealing more of the story line piece by piece. Even though each scene is action packed and enjoyable, the movie does get a bit lengthy. The Ultimate Version is over 2 hours long, which is an eternity for a movie that thrives on action like Versus does. I really enjoyed this movie, and have watched it more than once, but I think that it would be even better with a tighter timeline and more editing. This would be an amazing movie if trimmed down to about 90-100 minutes of so.

If you haven’t seen this, you should really check it out. It brings a new spin to the zombie genre and is filled with amazing sword and gun play, and also has flashes of The Matrix as well.

Night of the Comet - Gary Pullin

I was the wise old age of 8 in 1984, the same age as my youngest son now. Looking back at the list of movies that came out that year brings a huge grin to my face. When Todd reached out to me to contribute to his 1984-a-thon, my mind went through all the movies that I could pick. There are a lot of movies that I’ve introduced my kids to, including Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid and Gremlins. Being a fan of the often maligned horror genre, there are also a couple of classics that I could have picked in A Nightmare on Elm Street and Children of the Corn, but I knew pretty quickly that I had to pick Night of the Comet.

My love of Night of the Comet started early, albeit not in 1984. My parents were pretty strict with the movies I got to watch at my tender age (although I did see Gremlins pretty early on). I don’t recall when I first laid eyes upon Night of the Comet, but it was likely in Junior High, when my parents (or more accurately, my friend’s Parents) were less mindful about what we were watching.

Although both of the leads are easy on the eyes, it was the images of some of the zombies that really stuck with me, especially the motorcycle cops and the kid. It took many years for Night of the Comet to get a release on DVD, but as soon as it did, I was one of the first in line to pick it up. When I revisited the movie, I essentially fell in love with the movie all over again, which seems to be the exception these days.

Night of the Comet has some fantastic imagery in it, from the pretty nasty looking creatures to the empty cityscapes. It really is a showcase for what horror fans love about the 80s; great practical FX and latex masks. There aren’t really any great kills or gory scenes, but the atmosphere is there.

As with so many horror movies, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not just the monsters that are evil, but also humankind themselves. The introduction of the scientists, and Geoffrey Lewis in particular, keep the story from getting stale and give us more than random monsters to root against.

To say the acting is over the top is an understatement, but it helps make Night of the Comet a snapshot of the early 80s. Big hair and valley girl accents rule the day, but it really gives the movie its charm. The scene in the mall seems to be an homage to Romero’s Dawn, but also fits right in with the vibe of the movie.

While 1984 was a banner year for films, there are a lot of hidden gems to be found as well, and in my opinion Night of the Comet is one of those movies. Grab some popcorn, your favorite beverage and enjoy!

Read my original review of Night of the Comet here!

Dead & Buried

Directed By: Gary Sherman

Starring: James Farnetino, Jack Albertson, Melody Anderson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke, Robert Englund, Barry Corbin

Subgenre: Supernatural, Zombies

Synopsis: Things are seriously amiss in Potter’s Bluff, as visitors to the town are being killed left and right.  It’s up to the local sheriff and coroner to discover the grisly motive to the killings.

Thoughts: I’ve watched this movie a handful of times now, and it surprises me that it isn’t mentioned more often in 80s horror discussions.  It’s not the best to come out of the early 80s, but it’s pretty damn good.  It also boasts a couple of heavy hitters in its cast and crew, namely Dan O’Bannon and Robert Englund.  Neither played a huge role, but they are still involved.  I’ve read in a couple of places that O’Bannon didn’t have a lot to do with the script (or anything at all in some recollections), but the fact that the writer of Alien has his name attached to this movie gives it some clout.  This was also an early, pre-Freddy appearance for Robert Englund.  His role in the movie isn’t a big one, but it’s always cool to see one of the icons of horror in his early days.

James Farentino plays a very typical 80s role as the rough edged sheriff investigating the deaths in his sleepy bayside town.  Even though his role is pretty cliché, I thought he did a good job.  Even though he was the center of the movie, Jack Albertson stole the show for me as the town coroner/mortician.

One of my favorite aspects of Dead & Buried is how it is shot.  It is a great looking movie to watch.  Gary Sherman had done quite a bit of work prior to this movie, but he really seemed to be hitting his stride in the 80s until taking on Poltergeist III, which was a very troubled production.  The death of Heather O’Rourke prior to the release of the movie caused reshoots and weighed heavily on Sherman.  After Poltergeist III, he worked on a series of television releases, which has essentially been the bulk of his career since.  Perhaps we’ll see him return to theatrical releases, but I doubt it, which is a shame.

The rather graphic death scenes are quite memorable, serving both to hook gorehounds as well as landing Dead & Buried on the Video Nasty list.  I haven’t seen all of the Nasties, but of the ones I have seen, this is one of my favorites.  So many on the movies on the list suffer from abysmal acting and shoddy stories that something like Dead & Buried stands out. If this little gem from the 80s has evaded your watch list, take the time to check it out.