Cinepub


Zombie Month: Dead Snow by Jamie

Still a bit under the weather so bear with me and that.

Recently Britain has been blanketed by that thing that all British people fear the most. No, I’m not talking about foreign types, I’m talking about snow. Seriously, this country just cannot handle snow. If the Nazis had attacked with snow instead of planes during the battle of Britain, we’d all be talking German right now.

Speaking of Nazis, there’s this film out called ‘Dead Snow’ which is about Zombified versions of them. See, Nazis and snow. It all comes together. That’s the film we’re going to be looking at today so it comes even more altogether. What a jolly time is being had by all.

A Norwegian film, Dead Snow was released in 2009 and follows the adventures of a bunch of medical students as they head out into the mountains in order to take a break from their studies during the Easter holiday. To be honest, the characters are pretty shallow. One really likes movies and there’s another one who’s afraid of blood. Oh, and I think one of them is kind of a hippy chick. She’s going out with fear of blood dude. They’re supposed to be meeting another guy’s girlfriend there but it’s shown that she won’t be arriving at the cabin due to Zombies.

A crusty old man shows up at the cabin and invites himself in for some coffee. Then he insults the coffee. That’s about the time that I’d tell he can fuck off but for some reason the students give him a beer instead and he tells them about the history of the area. Seems that the area played host to a bunch of Nazis during World War 2, Nazis who would beat on and torture the local people because… well, they were Nazis. Towards the end of the war, when it was pretty obvious Germany was fucked, the Nazis looted all the valuables from the town. This pissed some of the locals off and they rebelled against them. Those who survived the uprising escaped into the moment where it was assumed they froze to death.

Anyway, the group find a box hidden in the cabin filled with valuables. Soon the Zombie Nazis (or is it Nazi Zombies?) are upon them. The rest of the film kinda plays out as you’d expect. Zombies attack people, Zombies kill people, people kill Zombies. There are a few surprises, in particular a couple of characters who I really didn’t expect to die but for the most part it’s your standard young-people-in-the-woods horror film.

The movie even acknowledges this. As they are heading towards the cabin, the characters lose mobile phone reception and a discussion immediately starts about just how many horror movies start with people going to the woods and losing their mobile phone reception. There are also many, many visual references including ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and most obviously the Evil Dead series which is always fun to see.

One thing I will say for this film is that it is fucking gory. There are entrails and blood splattered all over everything. I generally have a pretty strong stomach when it comes to gore but there was some stuff in here that had me turning my head away from the screen, in particular something involving intestines and a tree. Ugh… Fucking hell…

Overall, it’s a fun enough film. It manages to be quite funny as well as gory, though it never really manages to be scary. It’s a nice little film to just throw on and watch if you don’t wanna think too much… though subtitles do make it a little difficult to just veg out completely. I will say that towards the end, I did find myself losing interest a little bit but when all’s said and done it’s a nice little distraction. Three and a half pints out of five. Laterz



Zombie Month: Doghouse by Jamie

Kind of working with a touch of flu here so yeah, this isn’t my best work. Sue me. Also, slight spoilers ahead.

Any British Zombie comedy film, in fact probably any Zombie comedy film, is going to get compared to ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Hell, I’ve done it throughout several of my reviews already. It is the nature of things. Some of them come of favourably by doing something different or by being influenced by but not copying ‘Shaun…’. Others, well, others don’t come of quite as well against it. Doghouse is one of those films.

The basic plot is a bunch of guys from London decide to go on a lads weekend to the small village of Moodley, where the women are rumoured to outnumber the men 4 to 1, in order to help their mate Vince (Stephen Graham) get over his recent divorce. The guys are a mix of general steretypes. You’ve got Neil (Danny Dyer), the ladies man, Mikey (Noel Clarke), the kind of stupid one, Matt (Lee Ingleby), the geek, Patrick (Keith-Lee Castle), the overstressed one who’s trying to work it out with stress relief podcasts and Graham (Emil Marawa), the gay one. Alright, I suppose they aren’t all exactly stereotypes but still.

Anyway, they get to Moodley and discover that the town seems pretty deserted. The reason? A virus has broken out which infects only the women and turns them into flesh-hungry Zombies. The boys have to do their best to survive, find out the reason behind the outbreak and escape the village.

Now, the first stumbling block you’re going to have with this film, if you’re anything like me, is the inclusion of Danny Dyer. The tiny-headed, half-human half-chipmunk hybrid just pisses me off. It doesn’t help that he’s playing a particularly unlikeable character in this as well. Still, he gets stabbed in the hand pretty early on and he get’s a little bit tortured later on as well, so yeah, thanks movie. I sincerely mean that.

The biggest problem that this film really has is ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Without it, it’d probably be seen as a decent if somewhat lacklustre Zombie comedy with a few chuckles here and there but since ‘Shaun…’ exists, it really just comes of as a bit of a tired retread of territory which has already been covered much better. Sure, it removes the romantic aspect and replaces it with a kind of bromance motidfd throughout but that slight difference isn’t enough to set it apart.

What the film does get right is the gore. There are intestines strewn all over the village, zombies get horribly mangled and burned and victims get axes to their brain areas. Yes, there’s no shortage of the visceral. What it falls down on is the humour. For example, this is an actual joke form the film “What kind of virus only effects women? Bird flu.” Yes. Hilarious. Except of course it isn’t. A lot of the jokes fall flat and while there are moments that you just can’t help but chuckle at, they are few and far between. There’s also a slight misogynist tinge to everything which, I understand, it’s a ‘lads’ film and that kinda things to be expected but the final moral seems to be every now and then a woman just needs a good beating to stop them from trying to domesticate men. I may be reading to much into it but that’s kinda the gist I got…

Still, I will say that the relationship between the guys seems believable enough. As a guy there are definite archetypes that you can recognise in a group of guy friends and, stereotypical as they may be, they are still kinda true so well done for that movie. Overall, two and a half pints out of five.



Zombie Month Repost: REC 2 by Jamie

Originally posted October 14th, 2010.

Sorry about all these reposts but things have been a touch hectic lately. Hopefully this’ll be the last one because… Well, I think I’ve run out of old Zombie movie reviews…

Massive Spoilers Ahead

The original ‘REC’ was one of those rare horror films which managed to creep me out, in particular the end scene with the creepy Zombie girl stumbling around in the dark waving that hammer. There was just something about the way that thing and the way it moved that just put me on edge. It’s probably one of those images that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Fuck, just sitting here thinking about it now is sending a shiver up my spine.

In fact, I still remember the first time that I watched it. For those of you that don’t know I am currently employed as a hotel Night Porter, a position which enables me to watch films whilst I work. I watched REC whilst at work, got proper scared and then had to spend the rest of the night going about performing my workly duties terrified that I was suddenly going to be attacked by some hideous Zombie abomination wielding a hammer. It was a bad night but a great film.

So I was genuinely looking forward to the sequel REC 2. Of course, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect and sequels generally have a tendency to fail to recapture the feeling that made the first film so great but there are definitely exceptions to that rule. Jaws: The Revenge, for example, is a far superior film to the original… I’m sorry, I threw up a little in my mouth just joking about that. Anyway, the point is would REC 2 live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.

The film takes place pretty much moments after the ending of the first one. A Grupo Especial de Operaciones (GEO) team, which I’m guessing is basically the Spanish equivalent of a SWAT team, are sent into the quarantined building from the first film, each with cameras mounted on their helmets. Joining them is a representative from the Spanish Ministry of Health, Dr Owen. Before long their Zombies are falling from ceilings and the battle begins. Dr. Owen manages to fight off the creatures using rosary beads and mantras and it’s revealed that he’s not actually from the Ministry of Health at all but is actually a priest. I guess this was kept quiet because there are potentially children in that building and well… you know…

I kid, of course. It turns out that the whole infection is actually due to something that the Catholic Church would really like to keep hidden. Basically the deal is thus, a catholic priest was doing experiments in the penthouse of the building on a possessed girl in order to see if some kind of scientific cure for demonic possession could be created, treating the demon as some kind of virus. Unfortunately the experiments led to the demonic infection spreading hence the current situation. Owen needs to find a blood sample from the girl in order to try and finish the priest’s work and find a cure. Unfortunately, due to some demonic blood catching fire related mishaps, the sample is destroyed and they need to get another sample from the original girl.

Whilst all this is going on a fireman, the father of the girl from the first movie (the one who was sick, not the Zombie girl… although she did eventually become a Zombie girl… The one who wasn’t the one at the end with the hammer… There, I think that sorts it out) and three teenagers sneak into the building through the sewer system only to find themselves sealed inside. They also get attacked by Zombies and, after a while and a few deaths, the two groups come across each other as well as Angela, the reporter from the original film. One of the teenagers, Tito, gets bitten and Owen ties him up and forces him to tell them where the original possessed girl is. It seems as though the infectious nature of the possession has created a hive mind where the demon’s consciousness can inhabit anyone of the infected. Tito basically tells them that she’s in the penthouse and the team go up there, though they are somewhat confused as to why they didn’t see her when they were up there before.

Owen asks Angela how she saw the girl before and she explains that it was through the night vision on the camera she had with her. Tito had also mentioned that the light blinded their path and Owen figures out that maybe they can only see the girl in the dark with the aid of night vision. Anyway, they find the girl but Angela shoots her with a shotgun, pissing off Owen because he needed her alive. Angela doesn’t care because all she wants is to get the fuck out of the building, which is really rather understandable to be honest. She starts to beat the shit out of Owen in order to try and get him to authorise their departure and when the one remaining GEO officer tries to get her to stop, she shoots him. Owen then realises that the demon has possessed Angela. She reveals that she can impersonate his voice, kills him, radios the outside and tells them using Owen’s voice that, though he is infected, he is authorising the exit of one female survivor. It is then revealed through a flash back that when the Zombie girl caught Angela during the end of the last film, she didn’t kill her, she just deposited a large, fleshy thing which I’m guessing is the demon into her mouth. Unfortunately this reminded me of ‘Friday The 13Tth IX: Jason Goes To Hell’ which is one of the worst films of that particular franchise and that’s saying something.

Well that was REC 2. So what did I think of it? In all honestly, I was actually pretty disappointed. The film just lacked that certain, indescribable something that the original had. It also left me pretty fucking confused about a number of things. Firstly, just how much influence does the Catholic Church have over the Spanish government? Is it really so much that they can use their resources in order to propagate massive cover-ups regarding mass demonic possession? Seriously, is the way things happen in European countries where their King didn’t break ties with Mother Church because he wanted to get a divorce? It just seemed highly unlikely is all I’m saying.

Secondly, the idea that you couldn’t see the Zombie girl in the light just really pissed me off. She’s still a physical being right? She’s not become a ghost, I mean she can still carry a hammer, so why is she’s invisible in the dark? The explanation that the light blinds them from seeing the path seemed a little lacking, especially because at that point she doesn’t even have the physical demon inside her anymore, Angela does. Surely she’s the one who should be invisible… I dunno. I honestly think that the only reason they did it is because they knew how people reacted to seeing her in the first film purely through the night vision camera and didn’t want to dilute that by showing her in the light.

Thirdly, the teenagers were fucking annoying.

Despite it’s faults, this is still a moderately enjoyable Spanish horror film but that’s the problem. It’s only moderately enjoyable and I’m sure that viewing it back to back with the original would only make it seem worse. I expected so much more from this and just came away feeling disappointed though I did find the idea of a Zombie hive-mind kind of interesting and certainly something I don’t think I’ve seen before although it does beg the question as to if one Zombie spots them why don’t the rest instantly know where they are and head there to attack them. It’s also a pretty interesting take on the possession genre which, let’s be honest, has been pretty much been ‘The Exorcist’ and movies very much like it since the 70s. Oh, and the picture in picture stuff was kinda cool as well. It’s kind of the logical progression of that last scene in the ‘The Blair Witch Project’, enabling you to watch one character go investigate one thing whilst still hearing the audio from the other characters as well.

Oh, and that Zombie girl was still creepy, shambling and waving that hammer about. Overall, REC 2 gets three pints out of five. Laterz



Zombie Month Repost: Dawn Of The Dead – The Remake by Jamie

Originally posted February 2nd, 2010

In 1968 a 28 year old filmmaker named George A. Romero made a film that would spawn not only a new genre but an entire pop culture phenomenon. That film was ‘The Night Of The Living Dead’ and it was the birth of zombies as we know them today. It was the first time that zombies were apocalyptic in nature, a world-wide event that meant the possible end of mankind.

Romero followed this up a decade later with a film which many consider to be the greatest zombie movie of all time ‘Dawn Of The Dead’. The film told the story of a group of survivors who barricade themselves inside a mall in an effort to escape the shambling hordes of zombies who have gathered outside. It was a simple story but for some reason its commentary on consumerism and its balls out gory violence struck a chord. It was destined to go down in history as a horror classic.

In 2004 the decision was made that Dawn was to be remade, directed by Zack Snyder who’d go on to direct ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’. The basic plot, as it turned out, would essentially be the same: A group of survivors would hold up inside a mall and try to continue surviving but this time it would be all flashy and grand because it was the 21st century and ‘28 Days Later’ had been released just two years earlier. It’s what modern audiences would be expecting.

Yes, gone were the slow, shambling zombies that many of us had come to know and love. They were replaced by a new breed, a fast, screeching zombie. The runners who would bolt towards someone at the first sign of human activity. Now, as I said yesterday, I have come to appreciate the runners as long as they are used effectively or for good reason such as in ‘Zombieland’ or ‘Dead Set’. So does the Dawn remake really gain anything from using the runners instead of the shamblers?

Well, no. Not really. The problem is that for most of the film, the survivors are inside the mall and when they do head outside the zombies have gathered into a massive horde, so large in fact that it they don’t have enough room to run. Sure, there are scenes in a sewer and an underground car park which are probably better for having had the runners but what’s the point of having of giving them this super speed if they’d be just effective, more efective in fact, throughout most of the film if they were just the normal shamblers?

Perhaps I should clarify something before going on. I didn’t hate this film. It’s definitely entertaining. The first twenty minutes or so is simply a superb example of film-making and the later scenes between the group in the mall and Andy, another survivor on another rooftop, is a cool idea. Hell, the montage of the people going about their daily business inside the mall accompanied by Richard Cheese’s version of ‘Down With The Sickness’ will probably go down as one of my favourite montages for the choice of music alone. I also really enjoyed the cameos from the cast members of the original, particularly Ken Foree who got to repeat his line “When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.”

No, the problems with the film are derived from two simple things, the running zombies and the character development. The original film focused on a small group of survivors, allowing their characters to develop and allowing you to care about what happens to them. In the remake the group is simply too large. I found I couldn’t really give a fuck whether they died or not. Actually, the only character I really gave two shits about was Andy and you don’t even see him close up until after he’s joined the legions of the undead.

Now to finish this by just rounding out my views on the running zombies in this film. When it comes down to it, they just aren’t scary. They’re no way near as threatening as the slowly advancing hordes. Maybe it’s because you pretty much always hear their bestial screeching long before you see them. There’s nothing that scary about something which has basically just screeched the zombie equivalent of “I’ll be with you in a second if you wouldn’t mind waiting, thank you very much.” You’d think that an individual runner would present more of a threat than a shambler but I’ve seen a number of shamblers lurch suddenly round a corner to catch someone of guard. The reason being, of course, because they didn’t announce their presence.

This lack of fear doesn’t seem to stretch to all runners though. For some reason the runners in Dead Set did seem genuinely threatening and at times I did find myself a little scared by them even though they made similar noises to the ones in this film. Maybe it‘s down to the way it‘s shot. You barely ever see the zombies up close in this film which just sucks. The kills aren‘t really worth talking about either.

So yeah, even though I had some problems with it, it’s still an undeniably entertaining film, probably more so if you don’t think as deeply about zombies as I apparently do. It’s perfect if you just wanna watch something without really having to engage your brain too much. Three pints out of five.



Zombie Month Repost: Dead Set by Jamie

I don’t know if I’ve made this clear in the past but I’m quite the fan of Zombie films. I’m not sure why. There’s just something mildly appealing about being one of the few last members of a doomed species surrounded by the undead who want nothing more than to consume your flesh. That may seem odd but who wouldn’t want to be one of those survivors, no more of the drudgery of everyday life, going to work and earning a wage but fighting back the shambling hordes just so you could say you survived. Yeah, for me the Zombie Apocalypse is escapism.

There’s also a fantastic sense of hopelessness in zombie films. In the best ones it seems as though once the infection has begun to spread then the fight is already over. The zombies have already won simply through sheer numbers. The infection often seems to be global and it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before the remaining survivors succumb to either a natural or unnatural end. This is why my favourite zombie films are the original Day and Dawn of the Dead. It’s made very clear in those films that the undead dominance is practically total. The same is also true of the absolutely fantastic piece of Zombie-related televisual entertainment I’ll be looking at today, Dead Set.

Now, let’s get one thing out of the way right at the outset. Dead Set’s zombies are the runners that are becoming more and more prominent throughout zombie fiction. Whilst still being a zombie purist and preferring the shambling, rotting kind who are no real threat on their own but amass in huge numbers causing survivors to become trapped and ideally turn on each other, I will admit that, when used correctly, the runners can be effective. This was perhaps best demonstrated recently in ‘Zombieland’. Running zombies were perfect for that film because the survivors didn’t spend most of their time trapped in one location. It was essentially a road movie and in that kind of film I can see why the runners would be more effective than the traditional Romero variety.

In Dead Set, the running zombies are effective but for different reasons that Charlie Brooker, the writer of this and all-around genius, has stated himself in response to friendly criticism he received from Simon Pegg, well known slow zombie advocate. Basically the runners are used due to budgetary constraints restricting the number of crowd shots, the need to differentiate itself from Pegg’s own ‘Shaun of the Dead’, and the fact that infection needed to spread quick enough to stop an evacuation of the studio being possible. That last one will make more sense once I get into the actual review which I seem to be having some difficulty in doing. Anyway, to sum up these are all fair enough reasons.

Right, to the synopsis then. ‘Dead Set’ starts off during an eviction night for the reality series Big Brother. Throughout the day there have been reports of massive riots or some such thing occurring throughout Britain but despite the possible ramifications of this, the producer decides to take Big Brother to air as normal. During the eviction, however, something horrific happens and before long the only people left alive are those inside the Big Brother house, unaware of what’s happening outside, a show runner, the producer and the evicted contestant. There are a couple of other survivors but the main focus is really on these and, later on, the show runners boyfriend who is trying to make his way to the Big Brother house.

The show runner, Kelly, soon finds out that the outside world is pretty much devoid of life and decides to make her way into the Big Brother house, what with it being possibly the safest place in the world right now. When she makes it inside the house mates think that she’s a new contestant, albeit a fairly crazy one. When a zombie manages to get in and bites one of them, however, they soon realise the situation they are in.

And that’s pretty much where I’m going to leave the synopsis. I’ll say right now that this really is a must watch. It’s available in all of it’s fantastic five part glory through Channel 4’s YouTube page here. My apologies to people outside the UK. I know how these things often work so I wouldn’t be surprised if you find some kind of content restriction message. You can always buy the region 2 DVD, which I would recommend for anyone if I’m honest. It’s always nicer to have a physical copy of something. There are of course other methods you could employ which I will no way endorse here.

So what makes Dead Set so pants-wettingly brilliant? Well, everything really. The very idea of taking Big Brother and putting a zombie apocalypse around it, is in itself a wonderfully simple idea and allows for all the satire and commentary that the best zombie films are known for. In this case it’s reality TV that’s on the chopping block, obviously, and the culture that surrounds it. All of the contestants are the kinds of twattish stereotypes that Big Brother and it’s generally twattish audience thrive on. From blonde bimbo to flamboyantly gay transvestite, all the archetypes are covered. There’s even that one who’s a little bit stupid but likeable enough that he’d probably never actually win. From what I’ve seen of Big Brother those are generally regarded as background characters who never get much screen time because they aren’t as twattish as their housemates. I need to stop using the word twattish.

What’s interesting is that most of the characters, whilst still retaining may of their stereotypical charactersitics, manage to undergo major developments. For example Veronica, the blonde bimbo character, upon finding out about the zombie apocalypse enquires “Does this mean we’re not on the telly anymore?” but by the end she’s able to come up with a plan in order to take down a zombie lose in the garden. It manages to take what should be a relatively unlikeable cast of people and make you care about them and what happens to them in a way that I imagine Big Brother itself would have trouble doing in two months of programming.

It’s also quite clear that a large portion of the zombies are drawn to the Big Brother house, something which makes sense because most of the people there probably where fans of the show who were turned on the night of the eviction and one of the contestants even muses that they the house was almost like a temple to them in life. This echoes Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ where it is theorised that the zombies come to the mall due to some fading half-memory of their former life in which they considered it to be an important place for them. In this case the people used to come here to feed on the micro-fame of the people inside the house and now they’re back to feed on them once more, only this time in a much more literal sense.

Of course, you could talk about the satire and social commentary in zombie films until the cows come home and I’m sure people will continue to do so until the inevitable real life Zombie Apocalypse. The most important thing is how is this invasion of the undead portrayed on screen and all I’ll say is that Dead Set does not disappoint. It is exquisitely gory, revelling in the dismemberment of people by the ravenous monsters. Seriously, for a TV mini-series it seems as though absolutely no punches were pulled. You get to see a zombie get it’s head smashed in with a fire extinguisher, a zombie being carved up for bait and British television ‘favourite’ Davina McCall getting her throat bitten out. The whole thing is enhanced by the fucking fantastic sound effects, each squelch and stab being presented in sickeningly, crisp detail. Awesome. Speaking of sounds, I should also say that setting the initial zombie outbreak to Mika’s ‘Grace Kelly’ was an ingenious idea.

Right, I think I’ve spoken enough about this now. If you haven’t watched it yet, find a way to do so and do it now! Five pints out of five. I‘ll be back tomorrow with either a new list, a review of ‘Antichrist’ or the remake of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ which I‘ve decided to rewatch after my softening on the whole running zombie thing. Laterz.



Zombie Month Repost: Pontypool by Jamie

Originally posted February 15th, 2010

Well, today is February 15th which means that, according to wikipedia, it is National Flag of Canada day which marks the day that the Canadians took down their old banner which featured the mighty Union Jack, symbol of the Great British Empire of old and chose a flag with a maple leaf on it instead. Seems like a bit of a step backwards but, you know, whatever.

Of course I kid Canada. ‘Tis a lovely flag and a lovely nation that just so happens to be home to my favourite film podcast, Film Junk. So it’s only right that we honour this day of proud heritage for the Canadian people by looking at one of the best damn Canadian films I have ever seen, the 2009 horror film, Pontypool.

Now, I don’t want to spoil this film but there are certain aspects that I simply can’t review without revealing a few little things that might be considered as spoilers so if you desperately want to see this film and haven’t gotten around to it yet then I would recommend you watch it before reading this review. Like I say, I’ll be trying to reveal as little as possible but I won’t be able to really write a review without revealing the cause of the events within the film. It’s up to you now if you read on. You have the power.

So Pontypool is named after the small town in Canada where it takes place. Perhaps the greatest thing about this film is that it takes place almost entirely in one location, a radio station where our main character, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), works as on-air talent. With him is his producer, Sydney Briar and her assistant Laurel Ann. Mazzy is a pretty fun character, a apparent former radio star who was known for having controversial opinions on things such as law enforcement who now finds himself in a small town, tin-pot radio station, constantly being told to try and reign his personality in a little.

The shit begins to hit the fan when the radio station receives a report from Ken Loney, a traffic reporter who travels the air in his Sunshine Chopper, of some extremely violent riots occurring outside the offices of Dr. Mendez. These riots soon spread throughout the town and it seems as though the rioters are somewhat dazed and confused, constantly repeating certain phrases over and over again. They also extremely violent, attacking people and apparently eating them as well.

Mazzy continues to broadcast, hoping to keep the people of Pontypool informed about the terrible events going on within the town but it soon becomes clear that the people within the radio station are quite possibly the only ones left unaffected by the strange things occurring outside. Or perhaps not. Laurel Ann suddenly seems to be incredibly confused, unable to string an entire sentence together and finally just repeating one word over and over again. Whilst this is going on, Dr. Mendez manages to find his way to the radio station and make his way inside. Upon seeing Laurel Ann he informs Grant and Sydney that it might be a good idea for them to get into the sound-proof booth and lock themselves inside away from the confused looking girl. He explains that she has been infected with a mysterious virus that is spreading around town which will cause her to hunt them and that their speech will attract her, hence locking themselves in the sound-proof booth.

That’s pretty much all the writing about the plot that I’ll do as things really start to take a turn for the worse from there. Instead I want to talk about the method by which the virus spreads itself. It is revealed throughout the course of the film that the virus is beginning to spread itself via speech, specifically the English language. There are certain words which are infected and the key is that understanding. Upon hearing an infected word and understanding it, the person becomes infected themselves. This causes them to repeat the infected word, apparently as some form of the body trying to fight the virus before finally succumbing to it and becoming aggressive whilst also trying to spread the infection.

It’s certainly a different way of trying to tackle a zombie-esque outbreak and one that’s incredibly effective. How do you fight an infection that can’t be stopped by things such as vaccines? Something that’s spread by such an intrinsic part of everyday human life as speech? I know I’d be screwed especially if the virus spread itself solely through the English language. I only know a spattering of unhelpful phrases in French and German and how to ask for a beer in Japanese. Yep, I’d either be fucked or incredibly drunk in a Japanese bar. I really hope for the later.

Perhaps one of my favourite aspects of this film are the comedic elements that are layered throughout it. There’s the revelation that Ken isn’t actually in a helicopter at all. The Sunshine Chopper is actually his Dodge Dart which he parks on top of a hill in order to give him an aerial view of the traffic situation below. There’s also an hilarious scene with the cast of a local theatre troupe who are putting on a musical version of Lawrence of Arabia. And I can’t talk about the humour of the film without mentioning the character of Grant Mazzy himself. The man’s brilliant and McHattie does an excellent job of portraying a man who clearly dislikes the idea of restraining himself on air.

Despite all this comedy, Pontypool remains a genuinely creepy movie. There’s an undercurrent of unease running through it, particularly early on in the film when it isn’t really clear exactly what’s going on, especially with Ken’s recurring reports on what’s going on outside. It’s a classic example of not revealing too much too soon and it’s masterfully done here. When the infection does reach the station, the film doesn’t shy away from the odd bit of gore and violence either, literally spraying the sound proof booth with blood at one point.

Unless you hadn’t guessed by now, I highly recommend Pontypool. It manages to achieve something that horror films rarely do these days, make me feel genuinely tense and that’s a very good thing indeed. Five pints out of five.



Zombie Month: Zombie Women of Satan by Jamie

Spoilers Ahoy!

Remember when I reviewed ‘Boy Eats Girl’ and I said that a flurry of bad Zombie comedies had followed the release of ‘Shaun of the Dead’? And how surprised I was that I actually found ‘Boy Eats Girl’ was actually quite entertaining? Well I decided to check out another Zombie comedy film in the hopes of repeating that success, British film ‘Zombie Women of Satan.’ I know what you’re thinking. That sounds like a title that would be found on a shitty, low-budget 70s softcore porn/horror film. And you’re right, it does sound like that and yet here it is on a 2009 film. Still, the important question is, is it any good?

Sadly, no. No it isn’t. The basic premise is… Well, it’s kinda hard to explain the basic premise because it’s a bit all over the place. Let me try. So, there’s this travelling burlesque circus group made up of Ringmaster Johnny Dee Hellfire (Seymour Mace), Pervo the Clown (Warren Speed), burlesque performer Harmony Star (Kate Soulsby), Zeus the Dwarf (Peter Bonner who was in ‘Through the Dragon’s Eye’, a show I watched in school. I knew I’d seen him before!) and silent tough man Damage (Joe Nicholson). The star of the show, for some reason, is Pervo the Clown. I say for some reason because even by clown standards, he’s pretty fucking unfunny. I mean just, well, take a look…

See what I mean? Anyway they are also joined by Skye Brannigan (Victoria Hopkins), lead singer of some band or something. After the show is over and after an “hilarious” scene in the hotel all about how Pervo likes to have raucous sex with many different women and how this annoys Johnny, the entire group travel to the middle of nowhere to appear on an internet interview show.

The interview happens to be presented by Tycho Zander (Christian Steele) and his sister Blue (Gillian Settle) It just so happens that Tycho is also a secret cult leader, having brainwashed a legion of sex slaves. These sex slaves are also being used in his father’s (Bill Fellows) Zombie research, helped as he is by Tycho’s other sister, Red (Marysia Kay). I don’t think it’s ever explained why he’s doing this research. Why would it be? That doesn’t seem to be important. Also unimportant is why Tycho and the girls’ mother (Kathy Paul) is chained up, trying to get people to fuck her and playing with her husband’s failed experiments. Sigh. Fuck this movie.

Anyway, most of the sex slaves accidentally get infected by Zombie virus and soon the farm compound is crawling with Zombies. The burlesque troop find themselves trapped as the gates are closed and the fences electrified. Also one of the surviving sex slaves who just so happens to be Skye’s long lost sister, Rachel (Victoria Broom) and Skye is determined to save her, with or without the help of the wacky burlesque performers. Oh, what coincidental fun!

Shit goes down, people die, others survive. Yeah, you know the drill from here. The point is that this film is pretty fucking terrible. When you take a break from the Zombie action to spend an inordinate amount of time on this…

Then you know you’ve got troubles. Yes, the film is blood soaked and there are Zombie tits flapping around all over the place but just because you’ve made a silly, juvenile comedy movie doesn’t mean that the plot can just trundle along without any rhyme or reason. You know what happens when something like that happens? You get one of those shitty Friedberg and Seltzer parody films. Things are brought up and never resolved all the fucking time. It’s revealed Pervo may have a slight homosexual attraction to Johnny that you think might come up later but nope. It’s also revealed through the father observing Tycho fucking his original Zombie experiment which is tied to a bed (Seriously people, I don’t know how may times I have to say this but STOP HAVING SEX WITH ZOMBIES!) that the Zombies seem to find sexual interaction soothing. I thought maybe this’d come up as some way for Pervo to stop the Zombie menace since it was set up earlier that he likes to have sex and comments often that he finds the Zombies attractive even though they’re dead but nope. Never brought up again. Christ, at least in ‘Deadgirl’ the Zombie fucking was integral to the plot.

There is one tiny saving grace to this film and that’s Seymour Mace as Johnny. He’s actually quite funny at times and, through their interactions, he actually makes Pervo occasionally funny as well. Unfortunately Pervo accidentally cuts his head off with a chainsaw in a scene that genuinely shocked me because I realised that I had literally no reason to continue watching this piece of shit but had to anyway. Also, Marysia Kay may be the worst actress I have ever seen in a film. One and a half pints out of five. Laterz.




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