31 Days of Horror 2: Walled In by Jamie

Part of what I was hoping to uncover during this 31 Days of Halloween adventure were some hidden gems, some little seen movies that were actually deserving ofway more attention. When I saw Walled In on Netflix, I hoped that it might be one such film. The premise seemed interesting. It was abut someone who trapped people inside walls and the image on Netflix showed a screaming woman buried up to her waist in wall. Awesome, I thought, already imaging a twisted psychopath surrounded by people wailing in horror as they were trapped halfway inside walls.

Unfortunately, this was not the film I got. It in fact takes place 15 years or so after a maniac trapped people inside the walls of a building and suffocated them by pouring concrete in with them. The film is, in actuality, an attempt to be every other film, lifting plot points, shots and even sounds from other films. Sometimes it’s Nightmare on Elm Street, sometimes it’s Psycho, sometimes it‘s The Shining. Sometimes it’s the tale of a woman haunted by the ghosts of those who had died in this building before her, sometimes it’s the tale of a psychologically damaged person torturing and tormenting another out of a twisted sense of vengeance. Walled In is many, many things but the one thing it isn’t is good.

It’s boring, the acting is about one degree above that in Birdemic, the plot is nonsensical at best and I fell asleep a couple of times, leading me to have to rewind the damn thing to try and see what I’d missed which served to only prolong my misery. I’ll admit that there were a couple of moments where I found myself a little engaged by the plot but these were few and far between. Overall a deeply disappointing experience. One pint out of five. Laterz.

Walled In

Review: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel by Jamie

Ugh. Why did I do it? Why did I sit down and force myself to watch this film? I hated the first one. I knew I would hate this one. Probably more because of A) The fucking stupid title and B) Because it’s a sequel (Yes, sequel. Not squeakquel, SEQUEL) to one of the most annoying, pointless and just plain shit movies that I have ever seen and sequels are rarely, rarely better than the first films especially when they are nothing more than blatant cash-grabs as this film so clearly is.

Plot synopsis? Well, Ok. Alvin, Simon and Theodore do stupid things and occasionally get in trouble but then they get out of it again. Also there are the girl chipmunks, The Chipettes, More than that? Fine. Dave (Jason Lee) gets injured in Paris during a Chipmunks concert and, after another accident involving Dave’s wheelchair bound aunt or grandmother (Yes, injuring old people in wheelchairs. The good wholesome family fun of the Alvin and the Chipmunks of my youth…), the three rodents find themselves in the care of Toby (Zachary Levi), who I guess is Dave’s cousin or something. Toby is a pathetic, loser of a manchild who spends all of his time playing video games and isn’t responsible to look after himself, let alone three talking chipmunks.

Dave has also decided that the Chipmunks need a normal childhood and so he’s sending them off to school which is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Remember, these are chipmunks. I think we can pretty much safely assume that all of the world’s chipmunks are as intelligent as people in this film’s universe which means that they should probably have their own schools and things. In fact, this film would have been awesome if it had been about all the chipmunks coming out of the woods and trying to get equal rights. I suppose it wouldn’t have made a very good kids film but it’d be interesting.
Meanwhile the evil record producer from the first film, Ian (David Cross) has fallen on hard times since losing the deal with Alvin and Co. Luckily for him a package arrives containing the Chipettes and so he begins his attempted domination of the music industry all over again.

Back at school and all the girls go crazy over the fact that they have the superstars at their school and it seem as though they’d very much like the arboreal rodents to fuck them… No. I’m sorry, I’d done with an in depth synopsis. Basically, the school needs money to keep it’s music program going. Both the Chipmunks and the Chipettes enter a contest to help the school win the money and in the end they join forces. Oh, and Alvin briefly joins the football team and shirks the responsibilities of being in the group, much to Simon and Theodore’s chagrin. Oh, and David Cross loses the Chipettes, leaving him to pretend to be them with the aid of two sock puppets at a gig in the Staples Center. It might actually be the only funny bit in the entire film.

I really don’t know what can be said about this film. There’s so much to moan and bitch about here but it seems so futile since the third one will be out later this year and yes, I’ll probably end up watching that as well because I am a glutton for CGI rodent-based punishment. So I’ll just sum up several ridiculous points in some face book statuses written whilst watching it: “Wh-Why are the chipmunks going to high school? They gotta be abut 8 at the most… Which is about the average life expectancy of chipmunks in captivity so I assume this ends with Dave crying as they slowly die of old age.”, “Female CGI chipmunks should not be trying to be sexy. I need to burn my eyes out.”, “You’d think rodents would be excused from dodgeball…”, “WHY DOES EVERYONE LOVE THE CHIPMUNKS SINGING? IT SOUNDS LIKE HOW CHIPMUNKS MIGHT SOUND IF THEY COULD SING I.E. SQUEAKY AND NOT GOOD.”, “A CHIPMUNK CAN’T PLAY AMERICAN FOOTBALL! THERE ARE SEVERAL REASONS AS TO WHY THIS IS A FACT!” “You’re not good with heights? You’re an arboreal rodent, you fucking moron.” That’s just a small taste of the lunacy of this movie.

In summary, fuck this movie. It gets half a pint out of five and that’s for the ending with David Cross in drag. Laterz.

Zombie Month: Films to Keep You Awake: The Christmas Tale by Jamie

So this is Christmas and what have you done? If you’re like me then you probably got hammered and are currently nursing a hangover by getting hammered all over again. And why not? What better way is there to celebrate the birth of Jesus “Future Zombie” Christ then with massive amounts of booze. It’s what he would have wanted. Dude was clearly an alcoholic. How else do you explain all that turning water into wine?

Anyway, I’ll tell you one thing, it’s been a bitch trying to find a goddamn Christmas Zombie films. There were a few promising leads such as ‘Silent Night, Zombie Night” but every time I thought I’d found something, it proved impossible to get my hands on. Finally I was guided towards the subject of today’s Christmassy review, ‘The Christmas Tale’ brought to us by one of the directors and writers of Rec and Rec 2, Paco Plaza. It also stars Ivana Baquero a year before she starred in Pan’s Labyrinth so yeah, it’s pretty interesting from a ‘what Spanish people who’s work I’ve enjoyed since did before.’.

So yeah, as you may have guessed from the people behind it, this is a Spanish film. Set in 1985, it tells the story of five friends who discover a woman dressed as Santa trapped in a hole in the woods. They are about to set her free when two of them who have gone to report the incident to the police discover that she is actually a wanted criminal who has stolen a large amount of cash. They decide that the best course of action is to leave her trapped in the hole and black mail her for the money by starving her.

So what about the Zombies, I here you ask? Well, the film opens with a clip of a film-within-a-film called ‘Zombie Invasion.’ It’s basically a parody of old 80s horror films. Two of the kids get the idea that if they perform as Voodoo ritual, the woman will come back as a Zombie that they can control once she’s dead. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite according to plan.

And that’s all I’m really going to say about the film’s plot because once again, I feel it’s one you should search for and watch yourselves. The kids in the film are all pretty damn good actors, though again, it’s difficult to act just how good an actor someone is when they’re speaking in a foreign language but it all seemed pretty convincing to me.

The film is just as much a loving tribute to the films of the 80s as it is a horror film, the msot obvious being ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘The Goonies’. In fact, the kids in this film really come of as kind of a dickish version of The Goonies. Perhaps the film you wouldn’t expect to be referenced is the one that is referenced most blatantly, ‘The Karate Kid’. One of the kids in the movie is obsessed with the film, wears a karate headband and is often spouting phrases or carrying out scenes from it, including a quite noteable crane kick near the end. So yes, for someone like me who grew up with these films, this was really enjoyable. Throw in the Zombie angle as well and, well, it’s like you’ve made a movie just for me.

Basically, that’s all I have to say without ruining anything. This film is phenomenally entertaining and it’s only 71 minutes long so you don’t even have to devote that much time to it. If there’s one complaint I do have, it’s that perhaps the kids become pretty dark and evil pretty damn quickly but I suppose that’s the problem with a film of this running time. Altogether I’ll give it four and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

Oh and here’s a little PSA TeamUnicornFTW to help you have a safe Christmas in case of Zombie attack. Now, if you don’t mind, I have turkey to eat and beer to drink. So much beer. Merry Christmas and all that malarky!

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: 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.

Zombie Month Repost: La Horde by Jamie

Ah, the French. As someone from England it is my national duty to hate them and everything they stand for. I assure you, it’s nothing personal. It’s just something burned into the minds of every English person from the moment that they are born. Sure, the Americans flirted with a bit of French hating a while back, going so far as renaming ‘French Fries’ to ‘Freedom Fries’ which was very cute but ultimately the work of amateurs when it comes to the art of French hating. To put it in a way that you might understand, they‘re like our Canada but only the French part of Canada.

Of course I jest. I have no actual hatred for the French whatsoever but aren’t national stereotypes fun? The truth is I’m about as indifferent to the French as I am the rest of the English. They exist, I exist. Hopefully we can all continue to exist without causing each other any discomfort. That would be just lovely, thank you. The point I suppose I’m trying to get at here is that today I’m reviewing a French film, ‘La Horde’ which when translated into a proper language (again, just kidding) becomes ‘The Horde’. It’s a film about Zombies and, as you may or may not know, I’m rather a fan of that particular genre of film. Let’s get into it.

The film is about a group of police officers who, after one of their friends is killed by a gang decide to take out revenge and raid the building where they are known to hang out. It’s whilst they are doing this however that Zombies happen. The police suddenly find themselves trapped in the building and having to team up with the gangsters in order to find a way out.

So let’s address the elephant in the room straight away, shall we? What kind of Zombies are we dealing with here? Well, it’s the fast kind that have been gaining popularity these days which I’ve largely made my peace with after seeing ‘Zombieland’ and ‘Diary of the Dead’. It is because of those films, however, that I have made my peace with them only in certain situations and trapped in a building isn’t one of them. They make sense in Zombie road movies where the characters are constantly on the move. It’s why they worked in Zombieland and why the slow ones failed so miserably in Diary of the Dead.

Still, they aren’t completely awful here. Much like ‘REC’, there are some tense scenes where people are walking down the corridor and suddenly something will burst from around the corner or out of the darkness so yeah, fast Zombies are fine if you like jump scares. There’s also something about this kind of Zombie that does lend itself well to multi-storey buildings, again as in Rec. The slow kind would be somewhat pointless if you wanted characters being chased up and down stairs although a slow moving, heaving throng slowly making it’s way upstairs would make for quite a nice, tension-filled film.

To be honest, it’s not the Zombies I had the biggest problem with in this film, it was the people. They all seemed to just be total assholes. Expected perhaps of the gangsters but the police as well? I suppose they are on a mission of revenge so they’re not the exactly your by-the-books kind of cops but still. In fact the most likeable character is one of the gangsters. There’s also a bizarre old man who seems quite funny and likeable right up until the point when he just becomes over-the-top weird and perverted with regards to zombies.

Basically, I couldn’t get emotionally engaged with any of the characters and that’s a bit of a problem in a Zombie film. If I can’t care about the characters then what’s keeping me around to see whether they live or die? Sure a few of them redeem themselves by sacrificing themselves to save others but it’s all just a bit too little too late for me to care by that point. Watching this film was basically like watching a few other people play ‘Left 4 Dead’. It could be mildly entertaining at times but at the end of the day you don’t really have anything invested in the outcome. Still, they did get one thing right and that was making the people you’re trapped with the true threat… In fact this may have been the best example I’ve ever seen of a film with both threatening people and threatening Zombies. I commend it for that.

So overall I was left slightly disappointed by this film. It just didn’t grab me like I had hoped it would and I swear my dislike of it has nothing to do with the fact that it was made by French people. Overall I give it two and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

Zombie Month: Apocalypse of the Dead by Jamie

Right, I’m pretty much running on fumes at the moment. I’ve slept for five hours out of seventy-two and things are starting to go wrong. My vision isn’t working properly and the world has a weird silverish gleam to it. Maybe I fell asleep and this is actually all a dream which will piss me off when I wake up and find out I haven’t actually written anything. Fuck it. Let’s go on.

So what does the fourth day of Zombie Month have in store for us? Well, it’s a little low-budget film from Serbia called ‘Apocalypse of the Dead’ (Zone of the Dead outside the UK) and it’s the first thus far to star an actual member of Zombie film royalty, Ken Foree of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ fame… Or for those of you who may not have seen ‘Dawn of the Dead’, Ken Foree of Keenan’s dad from Keenan and Kel fame. I truly hope that one day he’ll get his wish and get to take a zombified Kel out one of these days.

Foree plays an Interpol agent who, along with his partner who insists you call him Dragon, must accompany rookie agent Mina Milius as she transports an unnamed prisoner to another location. Before all that happens though, we’re treated to an opening scene where some people dig up a few bones of old plague victims. One man scratches himself on one of the bones and dies before rising as a Zombie… Wait a minute. Are they saying the plague caused Zombism in it’s victims? If that were true than surely the world would have ended a long, long time ago and there’d be no one around to dig up those bones in the first place. Seriously, are you expecting me to believe that Medieval man could have survived the Zombie Apocalypse? That’s a leap of logic and a suspension of disbelief that I’m afraid I just cannot accept.

Anyway, the scene cuts to a few years later and some people at a train station. Apparently the trains aren’t running because of a military operation in the area much to the chagrin of a professor waiting for a train that isn’t coming. He goes to phone his wife but all the phone lines and mobile phone networks are down, presumably because of the same military operation for some reason. Seriously, the whole country shuts down because the military are practicing basic manoeuvres or something to show of to the Americans who are watching them. That seems to be the gist of what’s going on here anyway… I’m just not sure. Let’s just say the country of Serbia has shut down because the military are playing silly buggers or something.

Whilst the professor is making the call, a fight breaks out between a cop and some military men and a tanker filled with toxic gas that has just pulled into the station is punctured with a bullet. The gas leaks and everyone get’s infected bar the professor who manages to get a gas mask on in time. He thinks everyone around him is dead so it comes as something of a shock when they start rising and trying to attack him. He flees the station.

Meanwhile the aforementioned prisoner move is underway. This seems to be the perfect time to carry out a high risk operation of this nature. I literally can’t think of a better time than when all communications have been effectively knocked out due to this vague military operation. Anyway, they take the prisoner of on their journey. The prisoner is an enigmatic character, never given a name nor are we told exactly what crime he committed. Still, it becomes clear that he seems to know something about these Zombies as time goes on.

Meanwhile the professor runs into a few other survivors including a maniac who’s uber religious and basically has a hard on for The Book of Revelations as well as some generic people who have no defining characteristics of import. Eventually all our characters meet up and traditional Zombie fighting ensues. Dragon turns Zombie, which is what you get for having the hubris to call yourself Dragon, the professor dies, the prisoner helps out and is allowed to go free. It’s also revealed that he knows about the nature of the Zombies because his father was involved in the Chernobyl disaster.

Hang on… I thought the Zombies where created by the plague. I guess I’d just assumed that the tanker that got shot in the train station was carrying a gaseous form of the plague virus… Now I guess the implication was that it was some kind of nuclear waste which means what the fuck was the point of that bit in the beginning with the plague victims? Unless the power plant at Chernobyl was being powered by the plague… Is that what they’re trying to suggest?

Anyway, as the prisoner walks of into the sunset, Foree tells the rookie not to worry as his first field mission was a complete fuck up as well. Is this the way Interpol actually operates? If it is might I suggest not putting rookies in charge of transporting possibly dangerous people? I’m starting to think that at one point Interpol might have actually caught Bin Laden but a newbie accidentally let him go free and the whole thing was covered up. This movie makes it seem as though that’s a thing that could have actually happened.

So yeah, that’s pretty much this movie. It’s a bizarre mess of a plot with things happening seemingly completely at random. Sometimes the Zombie’s can run, sometimes they shamble in classic Romero style. Perhaps the most annoying thing about them is something which seems to be happening a lot in Zombie films lately, the bizarre noises they make. They sound like the sound effects guy from Jurassic Park worked on this movie. Seriously people, these are reanimated corpses we’re dealing with here, not velociraptors.

It also has a few amusing references to past Zombie works such as one of the agents being named Savini. The best reference comes in the form of the greatest/worst line I’ve ever heard in a film. Towards the end, Ken Foree starts talking about a crazy old man who would wander the streets yelling things. I immediately thought I knew what was coming. “Just say it.” I said aloud to no one in particular as I was watching the film by myself. “Just say ‘When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.’” Then the movie surprised me. The words “Hell is going to overflow and the dead will rise… forever.” spewed from Ken Foree’s mouth and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Seriously? That’s what you’re going with movie. Basically, the same phrase but so mangled and awkward that it becomes a source of hilarity? Good show movie, good show.

Finally, I just wanna say a word about the bizarre dubbing this movie employs. It seems to be completely random with regards to how is employed. The weirdest thing is that guessing by their mouth movements, all of the dubbed characters were speaking in English to begin with. I guess the reason could be that the Serbian accents were considered too thick for foreign viewers but if that’s the case, why didn’t you dub the woman with the most bizarre accent I’ve ever heard? It was so odd, it confused me. She pronounced the word manoeuvre as manurves…. Surely, if anyone needed dubbing it was her. I just don’t know.

So to sum up, ‘Apocalypse of the Dead’ was a terrible, terrible film. But you know what? Despite all of it’s many, many flaws, it was actually quite fun to watch. Probably be a good one to sit down with a few friends, drink a few beers and take the piss out of. I still can’t in good conscience give it any more than two and a half pints out of five but I feel that that rating’s probably a fair representation of the film as a whole. Laterz.

You can purchase ‘Apocalypse Of The Dead’ from the Cinepub store.

Zombie Month: Against the Dark (2009) by Jamie

Steven Seagal. He’s a person who exists. Actor, Musician, Martial Artist and Cop. These are all things that he is. Well, actor may be debatable. He has been in films playing people who aren’t himself and if that makes you count as an actor then I guess he is. Why am I talking about Steven Seagal? Because he just so happens to be in this here film I’m reviewing today, ‘Against the Dark’. Yes, a Zombie film starring Steven Seagal. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I suppose first we should establish just what type of Zombie’s we’re dealing with here. They’re far from your traditional shuffling horde. In fact they’re more akin to your ‘28 Days Later’ infected style. They’re not dead, just infected with a horrible disease that makes them mindless cannibals. Or does it? You see, as the film progresses the Zombies begin revealing that they are actually quite intelligent even having the ability to speak. This would be great of this developed into a moral quandary for the characters about whether or not killing clearly intelligent human-like beings was right or wrong but, well, it doesn’t. Basically it’s kind of trying to be like the novel ‘I Am Legend’ with characters wondering aloud whether or not, since the infected outnumber the non-infected, they are the true monsters. Again, this’d be great if this actually had any effect on the character’s decisions but it doesn’t. In fact there’s one point where one of the infected, a recently turned survivor who had been their friend, begins explaining exactly what it means to carry the disease and they shoot her pretty much without hesitation. Well in my mind that makes this entire plot development entirely pointless.

So the story is basically a bunch of survivors are trapped in a hospital, trying to get to a security door, the safest exit point, before the emergency generator shuts itself down and they are trapped for good… or have to try and find a less safe exit. Entering the hospital later are a group of Hunters, people who go around slaughtering the infected and saving survivors. They are led by Steven Seagal who’s basically playing a Blade like character… If Blade was a fully human, bloated white man who seemed like he was incredibly bored by the end of the world that was going on around him. Seriously, the first time you hear Seagal talk in this film he sounds like fucking Tommy Wiseau from ‘The Room’. It’s fucking atrocious.

To be fair though, it’s not hard to see why he’s bored. There is nothing in here that hasn’t been seen before and done infinitely better. The survivors don’t seem to particularly care about each other, often running off and leaving whoever’s left behind to their fate which makes them all pretty unlike able. That’s a bit of a problem when you’re expected to empathise with these characters. Why should I be concerned about them when they couldn’t give a fuck about each other? In fact the only ones who seem to care are the Hunters and you get the impression they aren’t doing it because they want to help these people but because they want to show of their cool fighting skills. Speaking of which, Steven Seagal’s fighting skill that is most on display here is standing in place and swishing his sword around a bit, sometimes in slow motion. I swear there are several times when it’s blatantly obvious that the sword went nowhere near the Zombies and yet they died anyway. Maybe he was channelling special Buddhist energy through the sword that killed them anyway. I’m not sure; I don’t know exactly what super powers Buddhism gives you. It does give you super powers, right? Otherwise all that meditating seems pretty pointless.

Is there anything positive to say about this film? Well, Keith David is in it. Unfortunately he seems just as bored as Seagal and he’s scenes are few and far between. He’s playing the head of a military unit who have been ordered to bomb the shit out of the sector that the hospital is located in… Wait, what? There’s still an operational military? Then how the fuck is this infection still a problem? You see, these Zombies share something else in common with their cousins from ‘I Am Legend’ and that is that they hide in buildings during the day. Now, if this is the case then why has it gotten to this stage with so few survivors if the military still has the ability to bomb the shit out of places. The survivors all now to move about outside during the daytime so finding stragglers shouldn’t be difficult and then you just bomb the place while the infected are all asleep or doing whatever it is they do during the daytime. I’ll even allow a brief period where you evacuate all the cities of survivors and try and find a cure. If you still have a fully operational military after all that has happened and have decided a cure isn’t viable than what the shit are you waiting for? Bomb the fuckers.

I understand that my suggested course of action doesn’t jive with my earlier statement about killing intelligent beings who just happen to have different dietary requirements but the military doesn’t seem to know about this and they’re shown to be quite willing to bomb a group of survivors as well as long as it ensures their survival. Besides if no one else gives a fuck that the infected are still able to rationalise, think and speak then why should the military?

I know, I’m thinking way too much about a Steven Seagal Zombie film. I should probably stop now before I do myself a mischief. I’ll just wrap up by saying that this film was boring. So boring the people in it seemed bored. I’ll rate ‘Against the Dark’ one pint out of five. Laterz… I pray to the Zombie Gods that I come across a good film in this bunch soon…

You can buy ‘Against the Dark’ from the Cinepub Store for £4.07… I don’t know why it’s listed as a 2008 film. That’s not what wikipedia says…

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