Tag Archives: Zombies!!!

Movie Review: Train to Busan (2016)

traintobusan

Rating: B+/ Train to Busan delivers on it’s initial promise of being an exhilarating thrill ride and breathing new life into the zombie genre, but it also succeeds at that what you’d least expect- having a surprisingly touching human element. In this South Korean import, Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo,) a workaholic and absentee father, goes on a train journey with his young daughter Soo-an (Kim Su-An) to take her to her mother’s house for her birthday. Continue reading Movie Review: Train to Busan (2016)

Movie Review- Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)

wyrmwood

Rating: C+/ The best thing you can say about Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is that it makes the best out of a relatively small budget and is not nearly as bad as it could have been. That might seem like faint praise indeed, but in the annals of low-budget zombie horror, it is easy to offer this movie more leeway than it deserves. Yes, the sets, the costumes, and the action sequences are not nearly as cringe-worthy as other films of it’s kind and it is actually an entertaining, if not indispensable, watch for the first forty-five minutes or so, before it gets increasingly silly and crashes and burns at it’s blood-splattered finale. Continue reading Movie Review- Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)

Fido (2006)

fido

In “Fido”‘s candy-colored, whimsical 50’s-esque  world, zombies are obedient servants of mankind and as gentle as a family dog- just keep those pesky electronic control collars turned on so your faithful friend stays domesticated and servile! Zombie-phobic Bill (Dylan Baker,) haunted by the years when the undead ran rampant before the collar was invented, is not pleased when his ditzy wife Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) brings home ‘Fido’ (Billy Connelly,) a amiable walking corpse to serve their every need.

Timmy (Keysun Loder,) their son, quickly makes friends with Fido, but Bill’s worst fears are realized when Fido eats Timmy’s crotchety old next-door neighbor Mrs. Henderson (Mary Black) in a freak accident. But, gee, Mrs. Henderson wasn’t a very nice old bird, and Timmy is determined to keep his best pal there at home with him, where he belongs, and is willing to cover up Fido’s kill and the carnage that follows.

“Fido” is very funny, cute and charming (in a dark, sweetly diseased way,) and a wicked satire of 1950’s manners and customs. I honestly don’t know why it didn’t get more attention at the box office. The costumes and sets are eye-poppingly colorful and stand sharply in contrast with the decomposition of the monsters. And Billy Connelly- who knew that an actor could make his character of an occasionally flesh-eating zombie a lovable and empathizeable character?

I’ll admit it, guys- I was rooting for ‘Fido’ to get away with his massacre of the next door neighbor all the way through. With a masterful mix of body language and facial expression, Billy Connelly creates perhaps the only zombie worth squeeing in adorableness for in the history of cinema. If you’re anything like this slightly wacked viewer, by the end of this movie you’ll want to envelop Fido in a warm hug- cautioning, of course, that his collar is fully functional.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Dylan Baker are a riotous pair as they provide a send-up of 50’s values with a dark and homicidal twist. Tim Blake Nelson delivers as a oddball neighbor with an overly familiar relationship with his female zombie (it’s not like it’s necrophilia… right?) If “Fido” pales in one respect, it’s that zombies are an overused cultural icon and it seems to dim slightly in comparison to the truly great zomcoms like “Shaun of the Dead.”

It’s not particularly novel in terms of it’s themes theme (either as a satire of nondescript 1950’s suburbia or a comedy featuring zombies as some of it’s main players,) but it delivers on it’s oddball premise with some great gags and jokes. There’s an uncanny weirdness lurking behind it’s goofball amiability- maybe this outwardly silly satire is darker than it lets on. But the inherent corniness of the violence- like a wacky midnight movie- ensures that “Fido” should be enjoyed by viewers of twelve and up- especially those who are seasoned on slightly edgier horror fare.

You may have overlooked this movie when it passed through theaters (not with a bang, but with a slightly piteous fizzle,) but “Fido” has the potential to become a cult classic if it gets attention with lovers of cheesy horror and slightly subversive cinematic oddities. It’s dry, dark humor earns it a place in my heart- even if it’s not as memorable as “Shaun of the Dead” or even “Zombieland,” it’s the little movie it could with some actual thoughts in it’s twisted little head- a sad rarity in modern horror. For an opportunity to root for the zombies and their unholy cravings, watch “Fido.”

fido2

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

girlwithallthe gifts

Oh, will someone think of the (zombie) children? 😛

“The Girl With All the Gifts” is about twice as good as you’d expect a novel about a wide-eyed, sensitive, lesbian zombie child with an off-the-charts IQ to be.

At first the premise threw me off- call me a traditionalist, I but I think of zombies as shambling wrecks of people who moan and groan and have absolutely no qualms about eating human flesh. They do not think, reason, and enthuse about Greek mythology. A precocious zombie tyke with a nagging conscience? Puh-leeze (to be fair, there were some of the voracious mindless variety of undead in this book too.) But further on through this odd but innovative book, I’ll be damned if I didn’t fall in love with little Melanie and her benignly waffling ‘should-I-shouldn’t-I ‘ approach to cannibalism.

Melanie isn’t like other kids, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to make connections as she navigates a cell block where she is kept prisoner in post-apocalyptic Britain. During the breakdown, millions of people died from a rampaging fungal infection and were suspended in a middling state between life and death, These ‘hungries’ soon wiped out the majority of the population, and the remaining British population has either holed itself up in the crime-ridden city of Beacon, escaped to a large research facility, or become a vicious, feral ‘junker.’

Then there are the ‘others,’ children who incongruously are neither Hungry nor human, but straddle both worlds and are used as experiments by the cure-seeking government. Enter Melanie, a bright, clear-eyed girl who loves her kind, lovely teacher, Miss Justineau (although this infatuation is less lust than hero worship.) In truth Justineau is there to gauge the children’s intellectual capabilities to prepare them for dissection, but she has grown to quite like her zombified, studious little pupils, especially Melanie, a strange child whose intelligence is only matched by her eagerness to learn.

Melanie dreams of saving Mrs. Justineau and whisking her away from the awful research facility, but it is Justineau who saves Melanie from going under the knife on the cold operating table of evil scientist and uber-bitch extraordinaire Caroline Caldwell- just in time for a devastating junker attack. On the run from junkers and hungries alike, Justineau, Caldwell, Melanie to two military men named Parks and Gallagher escape in an RV, intent of staying away from the evil that has consumed their base. Meanwhile, Melanie tries her hardest not to succumb to her cannibalistic desires.

Even Miss Justineau would be on the menu, and nobody wants that, least of all Melanie. While Parks and Caldwell seem to be somewhat archetypical (Parks is a hard, brutal military man, while Caldwell will do anything in the name of science- even dissect zombie children without anesthesia,) Justineau comes off as just plain naive at times, balking at the idea of Melanie being restrained despite Melanie’s intense yearning to devour human flesh (you can’t do that! She’s a child! How would you like to be tied up if you were a homicidal cannibalistic zombie child?”)

The book is pretty well-written, with a handful of decent metaphors and a rich vocabulary, and Melanie herself is a compelling character, once you get past her distinctly non-zombie-like affect. The science is studied- a little too studied, in my opinion; the passages on the contagion get a little long winded- but the upside of this is that the virus and it’s effects are frighteningly and acutely believable. Despite the fact that several of the main players are slightly stereotypical, “The Girl With All the Gifts” has fairly good character development, especially considering it’s genre (sci-fi/horror) and the author’s background (mostly comic books.)

Most of the novel is exciting and fast-paced, with lots of fight sequences and scenes of horror and gore, but it ultimately has it’s heart in the right place as well as teeth bared at your throat. Containing scenes of both touching tenderness and biting social commentary about those who are only considered worthy as far as they can help us move forward in society- in the name of science and otherwise, “The Girl With All the Gifts” is an easy read, but by no means a brainless one (no pun intended.) It’s intense, compelling, and sometimes scarily plausible.

A note on the movie- Hearing that Paddy Considine (“Dead Man’s Shoes,” “My Summer of Love”) was going to be in the film adaptation is the best news I’ve heard all week. But I’m a little puzzled as to why Miss Justiineau (portrayed as a black woman in the book) will be played by Gemma Arterton (“The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” “The Voices,” a lily-white actress. I like Arterton, but cannot fathom her playing a character that was written to be African-American.

Likewise, Melanie (who was described as ‘very fair’ within the first few sentences) and Gallagher (who was supposed to be a ginger) are played by African American actors. I mean, what the fuck? I know I’ll get flack for this (mix it up and all that,) but can’t the characters stay within the races the author assigned for them? Just a thought. Nevertheless, I eagerly anticipate this movie and hope it can live up to the the potential the book established. She-Who-Brings-Gifts-2

Zombeavers (2014)

ZombeaversPlakat

“Zombeavers” is an predictably cheesy and surprisingly entertaining gorefest, and emphatically, and maybe thankfully, the only film of it’s kind- a cheerfully over-the-top horror-comedy about raging homicidal zombie beavers. Yep. Let the beaver jokes commence. It seems to be in the same vein as low budget bloodbaths such as “Evil Dead 2” and “Dead Alive,” but this film is in a category of it’s own- it’s literally so bad it’s good, a hypnotic disaster that has to be seen to be believed.

The dialogue is atrocious,the characters are inane, the animatronic aquatic rodents from hell who can reason- and plan an oncoming attack- are shit, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Saying that this movie doesn’t take itself too seriously is an insult to movies that scrape the bottom of the barrel for cheap gags. But it achieves it’s purpose, to make the lowbrow viewer laugh. Oh, and I laughed. I don’t think the question even has to be raised whether I was laughing with it or at it, but I left the movie in a good mood, and there’s something to be said for that.

zombeavers_trailer_still_a_l

The ‘plot’- a group of three college girls go out on vacation to get one of the young women’s (Lexi Atkins)’ mind off a messy break-up. They are met at the cabin by their respective boyfriends (and the heartbroken girl’s ex) for a weekend of skinny-dipping, booze, and sex – maybe not in that order though. Sound familiar? But that’s where the fun (and the similariites to countless other horror movies) end.

You see, barrels of  bright green nuclear waste has been dumped on the dams of some easy-going beaver families, and the mother-fuckers have gone bad- they’re out for blood. They’re not just beavers, they’re Zombeavers and they will have their revenge. These kids don’t have a brain among them- it takes them half the movie to remember that beavers can chew through wood. All they care about it boobs, broads, and, in case of the lasses, dick. So it proves to be entertaining to watch them die by being gnawed to death by normally docile rodents.

The acting is exactly what you might expect for this kind of movie. The actor who plays the supposedly straight Buck (Peter Gilroy) acts gay as fuck throughout (although he does deserve brownie points for keeping a straight face while screaming “I feel like a power ranger!” mid coitus.) Meanwhile, the actress who plays his girlfriend (Cortney Palm) sporadically picks up and drops her Southern accent as frequently as a bad case of clap.

Of course, they’re not playing in a rendition of Shakespeare’s “Othello.” And in a movie like this, bad acting is pretty much part of the deal. And, well, I must admit (bad. bad philistine that I am) that the sight of those goofy animatronic beavers alone were enough to make me explode into gales of laughter. They’re so quaint, in a bloody, gross way. So it comes down to this. If you like bad movies, really bad movies, really really bad movies, you might enjoy this. If you are a lover of film as fine art and want to keep your pride, and more importantly, your sanity, stay far, far away. You know who you are, bad movie lovers. “Zombeavers” is a banquet of cheese, and depending on your taste, it could be a joy to partake.

zombeavers-netflix

Life After Beth (2014)

life after beth

I didn’t expect much from this movie, but a family member rented it and I decided to watch in hopes that my fears would be unfounded and I would be exposed to a hidden gem. How very wrong I was. “Life After Beth” is dreadfully bad, an utter misfire on every level and a mediocre experience even if you lower your expectations exponentially.

“Life After Beth” is pretty much the 2004 horror-comedy “Zombie Honeymoon” except with the gender roles reversed and way, way worse. On paper it looks acceptable enough- what can go wrong with a cast like this? (I take that back, John C. Reilly was in the turd-tastic “Step Brothers.” But hey, “Magnolia!”) All I could think about towards the end was how surreal it was that Paul Reiser was in this and “Whiplash” the same year (the difference? “Whiplash” was actually good.)

Zach (Dane Dehaan) is an uninteresting young man whose girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza,) has recently died from a snakebite accident. So when Beth comes back with a voracious appetite for human flesh and a proclivity for smooth jazz (wait… what?), Zach isn’t ready to deal with the consequences.

While Beth’s mom and dad ( Molly Shannon and John C. Reilly) are determined to keep Beth’s death a secret from her (she doesn’t remember anything, and doesn’t show signs of decomposition immediately,) Zach’s parents (Paul Reiser and Cheryl Hines) and gun-toting security guard brother (Matthew Gray Gubler) are no help at all, and Zach is left on his own trying to reconcile his feelings for Beth.

“Life After Beth” could have been a devastating drama where the grieving Zach tries to cope with Beth’s rebirth, along the lines of the TV series “The Returned.”  Or it could have been a hilarious zomedy similar to “Shaun of the Dead.” Instead it is neither. It is nothing. It is obsolete. It walks the line between comedy and drama (cheesy, but with few real laughs) and accomplishes nothing. It makes no lasting impression except to remind you occasionally how painfully bad it is.

The humor is just awkward (involving Beth throwing things and growling a lot and undead sexual aggression- always a laugh riot) and the drama disappointingly half-baked. Despite the star-studded cast, the movie features half-assed acting jobs all around. Dane Dehaan was an outright bore. With a lead who doesn’t seem to take the movie seriously, why should we? As for the make-up, my dad did a better job on my Halloween costume using about $20 worth of resources.

“Life After Beth,” is quite simply a pointless waste of time. It’s impossible to care about any of the characters because they’re so one-dimensional and a ending that should have been tragic (or funny! Or interesting! Anything!) just falls flat. I wouldn’t even recommend for die-hard Aubrey Plaza fans to watch this. It’s shit, and that’s a shame because there are way better horror/comedy films out there and this could have been one of them. Avoid this suck-fest at all costs.

lifeafterbethscreenshot

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

StephenKingPetSematary

A rule of thumb- after your daughter’s newly resurrected cat comes back ‘stunted,’ 99.9% experts would advise you against burying your kid in the same Godforsaken place and in hopes that he will return from the dead as well. But that doesn’t stop Louis Creed, does it?

Believe it or not, this is my first Stephen King, though frankly I was a tiny bit disappointed at what I found to be solid yet somewhat overhyped prose. Don’t get me wrong, King has a great story to tell and some interesting commentary on grief and the dangers of meddling with the unspeakable, but I found the writing in general to be a bit underwhelming.

First, let’s dig into the premise itself- family man Louis has a loving wife, Rachel, and two great kids, Ellie and Gage. Together they move to a small town in Maine and Louis strikes up a friendship with grizzled local Jud Crandall. The damper on their otherwise happy life- the creepy burial ground built by the Micmacs years before unnervingly close to Louis’ property.

This is not the eponymous ‘Pet Sematary’, but a site relatively close behind it. Once the haunted locale gets hold of Louis, all bets are off (a string of disasters follow soon thereafter.) Despite Jud triying to convince Louis that ‘sometimes dead is better’ in the wake of tragedy, Louis in compelled to meddle with things that are not to be meddled with- with predictably horrific results.

In the dark, dank world of “Pet Sematary,” the beautiful, the natural, the wholesome can all be taken away with a domino effect of chaos. Stephen King does a pretty good job of playing on our basest fears, and on the inside the very old hardcover copy I read it said that this book was the one that Stephen King himself had trouble finishing.

I don’t know if this was legit or a marketing ploy- I didn’t think the book was that shocking, but I guess it’s different if you’re a parent of a small child (considering the gruesome death and reanimation of a very lovable child character.) However, I had some problems with the writing.

I hate repetition in prose when there isn’t a good reason for it, and there was lots of unnecessary repeating of words and phrases here- the nonsensical utterance of “Hey ho, let’s go” (I know it’s a line from a song, but what the hell does it have to do with anything in context, anyway?) Every so often Louis would think something ‘randomly’ or ‘stupidly,’ or refrain from bursting into hysterical, horrified laughter at the drop of a hat.

How often does one burst into maniacal laughter, I wonder? I was also driven to  interpret moments in the story in a totally inappropriate way. For instance, I found myself feeling sorry for Church (Ellie’s cat, who returns from buying the farm only to be kicked around by the repulsed Louis) and disturbed by the portrayal of Rachel’s disabled sister Zelda as a deformed, evil freak.

I found this book a little overlong at almost 400 pages, even though it’s one of the shortest books Stephen King wrote (!) To be fair, I was having a lot of mental health problems at the time, including repetitive re-reading, one of the staples of my OCD diagnosis. Now I’m wondering if I’m ever going to read that “Under the Dome” book I bought cover to cover.

Now, for a question for readers- is the “Pet Sematary”  worth watching? Also, what Stephen King books would you recommend to a newbie?