Archive for the ‘Zombies’ Category

Send More Paramedics

November 1, 2007

A brief update on this chilly and haunted Halloween night. I’ve been busy over at Den of Geek the last week, and here’s a little update of what I’ve been doing yonder for those still in the Halloween spirit (and also fans of The Office).

The Office 4.05: Local Ad. Limitless paper in a paperless world.

My review of 30 Days of Night. I fucked up in the review, and nobody fixed it. Danny Huston as Marlowe is the lead vampire; Mark Boone Jr. played beefy loner Beau. Don’t tase me, bro.

My defense of Night of the Living Dead (1990) as an underappreciated horror film. No one agrees with me, but really; it’s not a bad movie and updates the original quite nicely in my opinion.

And, of course, Den of Geek Loves Bruce Campbell, just for Newscoma.

I also saw my second Christmas commercial today, this one featuring the characters from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, no less! In an advertising break from HALLOWEEN on AMC! What in the hell is going on here?!

Dead Heat (1988) Film Review 4/5

November 24, 2005

From the early 1980’s Saturday Night Live, only two names really stand out.

One of them you know intimately for his amazingly-successful movie career, a mediocre hit single with Rick James, the way he gave a transsexual prostitute ‘a ride’ (no doubt with his penis) because he’s a good Samaritan, and the fact that he’s probably left his wife and kids for his boyfriend Johnny Gill from New Edition. Since we don’t give a shit about the latest abysmal “family comedy” from a comedian who stopped being worth a damn in 1990 (outside of one Steve Martin movie), we’re obviously talking about the other guy.

The other also had a hit single, but once leaving the friendly confines of SNL, his career fizzled, relegating him to punch line status and occasional bit-player or comedy villain for Chuck Norris. However, other than his self-respect, this gentleman has something Eddie Murphy does not. That’s right; this guy’s made a world-class buddy-cop movie with zombies.

That’s right; we’re talking about Joe Piscopo, aka Detective Doug Bigelow. It seems that Doug and his partner Roger Mortis (Treat Williams, AKA the poor man’s Tom Berenger) have found out the secret behind a couple of daring daylight robberies where the thieves had the damnedest habit of just not wanting to stay dead, no matter how many times you filled them with small pieces of lead flying at high velocity.

Oh well, they’re just junkies right? PCP makes a man do crazy things, just ask Rodney King. They do find drugs, after some amazingly-fast CSI work by Randi James (Lindsey Frost), but this drug is pretty rare, and it traces back to a corporation formerly owned by one Arthur P. Loudermilk (Vincent Price, better than ever in one of his final roles). After a talk with a bit of sweet meat Rebecca Smythers (Clare Kirkconnell), Doug decides to do some exploring.

Unfortunately, a gigantic man-mountain ends up accidentally killing Roger by smothering him to death in a vacuum chamber. I hate it when that happens. But all is not lost, as Treat Williams does get top billing. With the help of a corpse-reviving device, all is well again. Well, for the next 13 hours.

Now it’s up to Doug and Roger to stop Dr. Ernest McNab (Darren McGavin, holy shit!), discover just what in the hell is going on with the dead/not dead Arthur Loudermilk, and do it all in under 12 hours before Roger melts like a flesh-colored ice-cream cone. Needless to say, there will be much shenanigans along the way, including a hilariously gory butcher shop scene (starring both Keye Luke and Prof. Toru Tanaka), and a multitude of Joe Piscopo one-liners.

If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then you’re probably not the kind of person I want to waste my time with. There’s the best Sinatra impersonator in the history of SNL, Imitation Berenger, The Man Who Sold the Mogwai, a professional wrestler, Vincent Price, Kolchak The Night Stalker, and a flying liver attack in a Chinese butcher shop.

The whole time I was watching this movie, part of a brilliant Anchor Bay Fright Pack I mentioned in Suggested Viewing vol. 3, I had one nagging question; whatever happened to Joe Piscopo? I mean, he’s brilliant in this movie, he’s always been a funny comedian, but it seems like after he got cancer, he just disappeared. It’s a damn shame, really.

Joe, if you’re out there? We miss you, buddy. Come back to movies soon. I can’t wait for “Dead Heat 2: Deader and More Hot.”

Dead Alive (1992) Film Review 4/5

July 1, 2005

“Dead Alive” is a touching story about a man and his love for his mother. That do anything for ya? No? That’s what I thought. Let’s try this.

“Dead Alive” is a touching story about a man and his love for a beautiful mystery foreigner. How’s that? No, she doesn’t get naked, but she is very pretty. Still no? All right, one more time.

“Dead Alive” is the touching story of a man who has to save the town he lives in from his zombie mother, who gets bitten by a Claymation rat-monkey thing from the zoo and who turns out to be nicer as an evil, flesh-ripping zombie than she ever was as a living, breathing bitch in heels. Do you feel better knowing there are zombies? I thought you would. Let’s roll, gang, and keep your vomit bags at the ready.

Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme) is a 30-something nebbish who lives with his domineering mother Vera (Elizabeth Moody) in the massive, crumbling family house on the outskirts of some random city in New Zealand. I’m not sure where it is, but we’ll say New Zealand because, why not? That’s as good a place as any, considering the setting is the least important aspect of the film.

The important aspects in this film are Lionel’s relationship with his Mum, Lionel’s relationship with his cute little mystery-race girlfriend Paquita (Diana Penalver), who looks Hispanic but apparently has Romanian grandparents, and Lionel’s relationship with his uncle Les (Ian Watkin). But who gives a fuck about relationships when you’ve got zombies and gore by the gallon? If I wanted a story, I’d watch soap operas with my mother.

That’s the only thing this movie is known for, really. Spectacularly disgusting splatter effects, a creepy Freud moment or two, and of course, an ass-kicking kung-fu Anglican priest who goes medieval on some zombie ass. If the final two reels of this movie don’t do something for you, then you’re already a member of the shambling undead, because this movie starts off slow only to really gouge you in the ass with its awesomeness when the ball starts rolling down hill.

The film resembles “Audition” in a way, in that it starts off completely different from how it ends, but Miike’s pacing and story really struck home with me, whereas aside from the deft light comedy performed by Timothy Balme and a pleasantly bitchy performance from Elizabeth Moody, this film dragged a bit. Not that the first section should be excised, but it could benefit from a few snips here and there, just to speed things along without cranking the entire picture up to the frenetic pace of the final hour. Really, I can see the point of structuring a film that way, because an hour and a half of that level of action would really just kill everyone watching the movie, but damn if it’s not totally worth the breathless exhilaration you earn once you get there.

I’m not a person who cringes easily (apparently I’m a bit of a hard cunt, as the English say… well, they say “’ard cunt,” but you get the point) but this movie had me laughing out loud one minute and cringing in disgusted horror the next. Sometimes, I did both at the same time, which I hear puts you at risk for spontaneous combustion; it’s totally worth the risk, though. Just make sure you get a doctor’s note.

As some one who knew who Peter Jackson was before “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,” I feel pretty confident in saying that his New Zealand films are better than even his masterful Hollywood-financed work, though he did a damn fine job filming the unfilmable works of Tolkien. I could just be biased, though. After all, there aren’t many roles in the LotR that require splattering pus or balding 1950’s rockabilly uncles with the clap.

Day of the Dead (1985) Film Review 4/5

March 23, 2005

Long thought to be the last and final entry in George Romero’s Dead series, this flawed classic film cries out for something. Could it be story resolution? Perhaps there are many tales of the Dead yet to be told. George certainly hopes so, as he’s finally making plans for the long lusted-after fourth chapter in the “Night of the Living Dead” zombie saga. Perhaps there is something else that prevents this movie from being a five skull classic, holding it down to the level of awesome four skull flick.

An in-depth examination of the film’s history reveals to us that, indeed, the plans were originally much grander (and much closer to the plans for Dead 4, if we can trust the internet and George himself). Unfortunately, there were funding problems, and George was only able to round up half of what he had originally hoped and scripted for. Had someone given the ICON another ten million dollars and perhaps “Day” would be the spectacular film that is lurking somewhere in Romero’s terse, moody script.

As it is, we work with what we have, and I’ll tell you my thoughts (or should I say our thoughts, since we Corpsies are in agreement about just what keeps the picture from being perfect) after we talk a little about the picture.

The world is overrun with the living dead. Humanity is pretty much fucked up the rear with an Ebola-flavored cock at this point, with only a few pockets of isolated survivors living in underground military bunkers, searching desperately for a cure to the curse that is slowly overrunning mankind. Welcome to South Florida, except replace the hordes of Cuban illegals with hordes of the living dead.

Somewhere in a swamp, in the underground comfort of a concrete bunker, lives humanity’s last hope. True to human nature, and true to the bitter end, the humans are fighting amongst themselves while the greater threat waits outside their walls. The soldiers, lead by base commander Captain Rhodes (Joe Pilato), find themselves consistently at odds with the scientists, lead by the cutely-named Dr. Frankenstein (Richard Liberty, I salute you!), his ‘experiment subject’ and best friend Bub (Sherman Howard) and the one remaining piece of ass on the planet Sarah (Lori Cardille) and her boyfriend . Caught in the middle are a pair of civilian helicopter pilots, John (Terry Alexander, the prerequisite black hero) and William (Jarlath Conroy), kept around in the vain hope that more survivors might be out there looking for military help. Yeeah, right.

The dialogue in this movie is great, and once it gets going, this slow burner really catches fire in a spectacular array of blood and gore effects that are really the best things ever caught on film in the history of the universe. Savini is really on his fucking mark here, and the disemboweling of a certain character still makes me hungry for sausage links and ketchup. There’s only one thing holding this piece down, other than the lack of money.

It’s hopeless. In “Night,” there are posses rounding up the dead and killing them off but good. In “Dawn,” there’s a mob of bikers and the police still fighting to keep things normal-ish. In “Day?” There’s no need to worry about the fate of the human race, because it’s pretty fucking hopeless, and it’s hard to root for a bunch of bitchy, useless scientists and the least-svelte army in the world. The only two characters who the viewer really can throw their stock behind are the criminally insane (and AMAZING) Cpt. Rhodes (who steals the movie, did I say that yet? He’s fucking great.) and Bub the Zombie. It’s hard to really fall for a movie in which the only characters you can appreciate (and even see a future for) are a megalomaniacal asshole and a rotting hunk of ex-patriot.

Dawn of the Dead (1978) Film Review 5/5

March 19, 2005

Before there was “Dawn of the Dead,” there was a very low budget movie filmed at night in a shopping mall in upstate Pennsylvania. Using a crew of no-name actors and random passers-by slathered with blue/gray pancake makeup, super director and ICON George Romero managed to make what is, arguably, the best zombie movie ever made. If you have a problem with that, you can take up the discussion with my fists, because that’s how you earn a Ron-sized beating.

The hardest thing in the world to do is make a sequel that’s good. Anyone can suck the teat for a few more million bucks to churn out Fat Angry Black Bitch 2, but to make a movie outside the Hollywood system, release it unrated, make a sequel to a bonafied five-star classic flick, and manage to be even better than the original five-star classic flick is a hell of a fucking accomplishment. That, ladies and gents, is why George Romero is and will always be worthy of ICON status.

It’s only a few short hours since the events of “Night of the Living Dead,” and the situation is rapidly getting out of control. In the slums and barrios of the inner city, where people still have respect for the dead, instead of complying with federal orders like good minorities, those dumbass Negroes and Catholics are actually administering Last Rites and stuff to their flesh-chewing relatives! What the fuck, man?

Peter (Ken Foree) and Roger (Scott Reiniger) are two cops who’ve had it up to their necks with zombie eradication. They just want to get away from it all, and thanks to Roger’s friends Stephen AKA Flyboy (David Emgee), the local news station’s traffic chopper guy and his girlfriend Francine (Gaylen Ross). They’ve got WGON news credentials, after all, and thusly, they can fly that whirly bird just about anywhere they need to go with no questions asked.

With a free ticket anywhere they can go, why not go all out? After a night of heavy flying, they decide to… go to the mall, of all places. Just like the President said in the days after 9/11. Who knew Bush knew his old horror movies? Apparently he didn’t snort all of the 70’s up his nose, and good for him, because this is important stuff to pay attention to. You could do a lot worse than to pay attention to the politics within George Romero movies.

This film is carried, not by the zombies, but by the actors. Romero draws out his movie over 128 minutes (or longer, depending on your cut), which gives you the chance to really get to know and empathize with the characters, while never really letting you get fully at ease with their self-contained little world. The zombie threat is omnipresent, and when the zombies finally break into the mall, with the help of a bunch of marauding bikers (including Tom Savini, who exudes awesomeness in his awesome death scene).
Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed the remake (linked above, so go read that when you’re done here), but it just can’t hold a candle to this flick. This movie actually takes its time, develops characters, orchestrates a real sense of dread, and what it doesn’t have in terms of cool make-up it totally counteracts with far superior gore and legitimate social commentary that still holds true today.

George, we bow to your zombie masterhood and we eagerly await both “Land of the Dead” and “Diamond Dead.” Remember us when you’re giving out screeners.

The Dead Hate The Living (2000) Film Review 1/5

March 15, 2005

I do believe, with the foul-smelling, runny bit of cinema excrement streaking the insides of your computer via this review, that Living Corpse has now found itself a second enemy. That’s right, another addition to the THINGS WE HATE list that we haven’t made yet, even though we all hate the same things. Everyone, say hello to Sarah calls metatext, and what I call “self-referential pseudo-“Scream” bullshit that is not original anymore and wasn’t original when it was new.”

That’s what we’ve got here. I knew I was in trouble from the very beginning, when we cut back from a pretty hot scene of an undead hunk and a recently-dead, blood-splattered coroner chick dry humping on an autopsy table to, of all things, a film crew. Son of a bitch, if I hadn’t already paid for this rental, I’d go get my money back. The box said NOTHING about yet another “we’re filming a horror film but a real life horror film breaks out!” shit-festival.

You know the characters already if you’ve ever seen any of these sorts of films. Up and coming director Eric (Eric Clawson, brave of him to use his real name), his two sisters Sherry (Wendy Speake, the nice one) and Nina (Kimberly Pullis, the bitch). Throw in a pothead cinematographer, a geeky special effects guy Paul (Brett Beasdslee) with a crush on Sherry, and “the obviously going to be final girl because she’s the only blonde who isn’t a cunt” production assistant Topaz (Jamie Donahue). Long story short, the zombies are lead by a guy who looks like a skinny, not dirty, Rob Zombie (Dr. Eibon, played by Matt Stephens.)

This movie references a shit-load of horror movies, most of which are obvious to any fan of the genre, but not only does it reference the films (“This is gonna be better than Fulci!”), it goes that extra mile that only the dedicated march; they rip off the very movies they talk about. They find a gate of evil that’s a “Phantasm”-style portal to hell, they tie a zombie down and have a chat with him like in “Return of the Living Dead,” and of course the undead go looking for pussy.

Toss in some mediocre special effects, some really bad CGI, one decent plot twist that they use to get past the evil zombies, a zombie fist fight, groin-assault, lame goth kid jokes, and an extremely gay theme-song that can only be described as “fag metal,” poor acting, and you’ve got a film that is lame even by my generous standards of what counts as lame and shitty. Sigh, and the cover looked so cool.

You know, this was a Full Moon picture, but I expected a lot more out of it. Maybe they should stick to making movies about killer puppets (which look better than anything scraped together in this flick except for Sherry). This is a step down for good ol’ Full Moon. Better luck next time, me.

CHUD II: Bud the Chud (1989) Film Review (1/5)

February 27, 2005

Before there was a website that blatantly stole the initials CHUD, there was a movie of the same name. “CHUD,” short for Cannabilistic Humanoid Underworld Dwellers, or something close to that. It was pretty popular, and I imagine it will be reviewed here eventually, so I won’t get into that since it’s been awhile since I’ve seen it. However, since “CHUD” was so popular, and since “Return of the Living Dead” made a good stack of cash a year later, they return to the zombie well with the horror-comedy “CHUD II: Bud the CHUD.”

Kevin (Bill Calvert) and Steven (Boy Meets World’s Brian Robbins, who somehow managed to go ten years without changing his haircut) are two guys who are polar opposites. Kevin is a nerdy-type with glasses, and Steven is a leather-jacket-wearing cool kid with an awesome curly mullet. Somehow, both Nerdo and Mullet are failing biology class, so to get a leg up on the competition, they come up with the brilliant idea to steal the bio teacher’s pet cadaver, who just so happens to be part of a military experiment to create a race of zombie super warriors.

Following along so far? I know it sounds complicated, but believe me, in reality it’s just incredibly dumb, and a rip-off of much better movies than this. Let’s forge onward.
Realizing that their pet corpse has been stolen, the commander of the top secret base that’s storing CHUDs, Masters (Robert Vaughn) is on a half-hearted quest to get back his property, dragging along erstwhile administrator Graves (Larry Cedar) along for the ride. There’s just one problem. The CHUD, who was deceased, gets accidentally reawakened by a blast of hairdryer electricity. Whoops.

Bud the CHUD (Gerrit Graham) is the only character in this movie that is actually interesting, and he’s just interesting because he’s the source of pretty much all the comedy that doesn’t come from Col. Masters’ rants. But he’s not very funny; even at his best, Bud comes across as lame. Then again, what can you expect from a sequel to CHUD, anyway? It’s not magic by any stretch of the imagination, but they could’ve tried harder to be funny and provided a little bit more gore to keep me interested.

The only part of this film that’s remotely interesting is the cutie-in-distress Katie (Tricia Leigh Fisher), who manages to be the object of affection from Kevin, Steven, and Bud all in one fell swoop. Bud, true to his nature, is the most romantically adept of the bunch, as he’s the only one who truly gives his heart to Katie. There’s nothing more romantic than a brain-eating monster in his Sunday best. And to think, he gets killed (or re-killed, I guess) before he can even get to second base! All he wanted to do was give her a little kiss… with his teeth… to her brain.

Isn’t that what every man wants, deep down?

Another interesting game to play while you’re being bored into submission by “CHUD II” is to count all the scenes in this turd that have been ripped off from other, better movies, like the “Thriller”-style CHUD dance routines, the “Return of the Living Dead” bumbling military and zombie boyfriend, and the school-dance-in-peril scene that was ripped off by “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.”

Unfortunately, the good things they stole from elsewhere are poorly executed, which puts this piece firmly in the crapper. Maybe you can drink your way through it or something; all I know is I was struggling not to turn the channel to watch The Faith Channel instead of this crap-fu. It’s almost so bad it’s good, but doesn’t quite get over that hump.

Heh, I said hump.

28 Days Later (2002) Film Review 4/5

January 16, 2005

Horror movies, by and large, are bogged down beneath the weight of their conventions. In order to break new ground, the conventions themselves must occasionally be broken, and one film has done that to great effect. In 2002, a film shattered the traditional idea of the slow-moving flesh-hungry zombie by totally flipping the script and having their murderous pseudo-dead move with the speed of sprinters on meth, as well as having the stamina of a Kenyan marathoner. This film is Danny Boyle’s ode to apocalyptic zombie epics, 28 DAYS LATER.

Regardless of whether or not you think the infected in the movie are zombies or some other sort of monster, the argument can be made that no film made within the last 20 years has so influenced zombie filmmaking. Just look at the 2004 version of DAWN OF THE DEAD and try and tell me you don’t see tons of Boyle’s influence on Zach Snyder’s version of Romero’s shambling corpses. You could even look at SHAUN OF HE DEAD as an anti-28 DAYS LATER in its depiction of traditional zombies.

Danny Boyle, once again, has fucked the world up with a movie, just like he did when he released TRAINSPOTTING (which did more to scare me away from drug use than a thousand DARE snuff films).

Not only did Boyle affect the horror genre, he also affected the way films are made. 28 DAYS LATER is probably the first low-budget movie ever shot on digital video to not look like a complete and total pile of shit on a shingle. Hell, as J.K. told me when we were discussing the film, Danny Boyle could make a home movie of a toddler’s birthday look like gripping cinema, and no doubt hold our attention more than a thousand Uwe Boll shit-fests (HOUSE OF THE DEAD, for example) ever could.

Enough praise. Onto the synopsis of the film.

Jim (Cillian Murphy) is a bicycle messenger who wakes up after being in a coma for (hold on to your hats) 28 days only to find that the world has gone to shit and that people have degenerated to the level of dumb beasts like Hunter Thompson on an ether binge. He gets his fat pulled out of the fire by Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley). Jim and company bumble around London until they run into genial cabbie Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns) and they decide to head out of London into the safe arms of the loving military.

Some conventions still exist, even in Danny Boyle’s world. In every horror movie, the military is run by crazy assholes who want to rape the horses and steal the women. This is no exception.

This film is carried along by the fierce performance of Cillian Murphy, and as you draw to the end of the film, Boyle and Murphy expertly blur the line between the monstrous Infected and the potential of every human to be a monster in his or her own way. Smart, gripping, suspenseful filmmaking that doesn’t rely on cheap Foleying tricks to make you jump. My only complaint would be that there needed to be more Infected attacks, but in their limited screen time, Boyle’s version of the zombie menace turns out to be really fucking frightening.

Sometimes less truly is more.