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Zombie Month Repost: Survival Of The Dead by Jamie

Originally posted March 22nd, 2010.

I’m gonna try and not include as many spoilers as possible abut a few things will probably slip out. Also at the end of this review I will be spoiling the ending. I will warn you ahead of it.

George A. Romero is one of my all time cinematic heroes. I’m sure any fan of the zombie genre would say the same. The man essentially created the zombie film genre as we know and love it today when he made ‘Night of the Living Dead’. He followed it up with what may be the pinnacle of the genre, ‘Dawn of the Dead’. The trilogy of the dead was created with the release of ‘Day of the Dead’ and what many thought would be an end to the saga came with ‘Land of the Dead.’ All good movies in their own special ways. Land suffered somewhat from the law of diminishing returns but still, it was a fun entry into the genre.

Then Romero came back with ‘Diary of the Dead’ (You can read my full review of it here) and boy was it disappointing. Fuck, it was far, far more than disappointing. It was fucking atrocious. The acting was terrible, the dialogue was bullshit and the social commentary was way, way over the top. The worst part of the film was that, as much as I love the slow-moving zombies, they don’t work if there aren’t many of them and the characters aren’t holed up in one place. The true fact of the matter is that the slow movers aren’t that big of a threat in small numbers. They are rendered practically pointless.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached ‘Survival of the Dead’, Romero’s latest undead offering. Still, I watched it and the question is what do I have to say about it? Well, I shall answer you question in the form of a haiku:

It is better than
Diary of the Dead but
Still not a good film.

I think that’s a haiku. I’m not entirely sure and I don’t muchly care. If it’s not a haiku then it’s a new form which I’m calling fuku. Yeah, take that. Anyway, that pretty much sums it up. It is markedly better than Diary, though there’s no way that it couldn’t be. The acting is a huge improvement and the story is certainly more interesting. Unfortunately that’s about all the good things that I can really say about it.

Unfortunately this film suffers from one of the major problems that ‘Diary’ also suffered from. The character’s are on the move for the most of the time and there are simply not enough zombies. There is one scene, fairly early in the film, where the characters are all holed up near a dock but it doesn’t last very long and the numbers of zombies that gather could hardly be called a horde.

So what does all that mean? Well, it’s simple. As with ‘Diary‘, the zombies in this film are never really much of a threat and whilst it’s true that the zombies in these films are never the greatest threat, it’s the people you’re stuck with, they should at least provide some kind of genuine danger. This isn’t helped in this film by the fact that most of the zombies are chained up or kept in a stable. It basically neuters the zombie as a monster.

There was another major problem I’d like to get into before I get onto the spoilers. The special effects in this film are fucking atrocious. Sure, there’s some pretty sweet zombie kills but they are ruined by the piss-poor CGI. What the fuck happened to the practical effects that you could revel in and enjoy, knowing that someone had spent hours applying make-up and prosthetics so that they could make it look as realistic as possible? It’s a real fucking shame.

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ENDING OF THIS FILM.

Ok, so the main plot of the film focuses on a feud between the heads of two families on an island. One patriarch believes that the zombies should be completely eradicated whilst the other believes that they should be kept ‘alive’ and essentially domesticated in case a cure for zombism is discovered. To this end he tries to train the zombies to eat things other than humans. And what happens at the end of the film after most of the main characters are dead? We see a group of zombies chowing down on a horse! What the fuck is that? You can’t throw something like that into the film that completely rewrites the very essence of what zombies are! I don’t care if it has to happen so that the over-arching point of the film is made and I don’t care that Romero basically set down what future generations would understand zombies as being! You can’t change the game like that this far in. If zombies suddenly switch from human meat to animal meat then all you’ve done is served to further neuter the threat of zombies! No fucking way.

As for the over-arching point of this film, I’m honestly not sure what it was. That maybe we should try and live as one with the zombie? That’s fucking insane. Romero has always been known for layering his ‘Dead’ films with social commentary but I have no idea what it was supposed to be in this film. I can’t help but feel that he heard all of the criticism about how over the top the social commentary was in ‘Diary’, and it was fucking over the top, and just decided that he was gonna try and keep it as light in this film as possible. Well, this was too fucking light. I know how I must sound after complaining about the weight of the social commentary as being too heavy in one film and too light in the next but come on! This is George A. Fucking Romero for fucks sake! This is what he’s supposed to be really fucking good at.

So yeah, all around I was pretty disappointed by this film. I hate to say it but it looks like George A. Romero’s talent as a director may have died with ‘Diary of the Dead’ then it came back to life and started shambling about aimlessly as it produced ‘Survival of the Dead’. Someone really needs to aim for it’s head and put it down for good. Just don’t ask me to do it. I used to love it too much. Two and a half pints out of five.

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Zombie Month Repost: Diary of The Dead by Jamie

Originally posted 16th December, 2009.

I like zombie films. In fact, I love zombie films, in particular I love the classic ‘Dead’ trilogy that came from the awesome mind of the Deadfather, George A. Romero. Hell, I even like ‘Land of the Dead’. It’s a fun entry into the series. Sure, it’s not up to the greatness of those first three but it’s enjoyable none the less and it really only missed one trick and that is that it should have had Bob Hoskins in it. Then it would have been an awesome ‘Super Mario Bros’ reunion. Who wouldn’t have loved that?

So I was looking forward to finally getting around to watching ‘Diary of the Dead’ the latest but one entry into Romero’s zombie canon, if it is indeed canon with the rest of the films. I’m a little unsure of that actually. Let me check… Ok, according to Romero himself, as quoted on wikipedia, the film is basically a ‘rejigging of the myth’. It’s set in present times but takes place in the same time frame as the original ‘Night Of The Living Dead.’ So yeah, I guess it is canon.

Now ‘Diary of the Dead’ is filmed in the handheld style that really took off with ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and generally I don’t get the motion sickness that some people associate with this style of film making but goddamn was this film the exception. After about ten minutes I was feeling extremely woozy and there hadn’t even been any graphic zombie killings up until that point. I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly what the hell was so different about this film to cause this kind of reaction in me. It didn’t seem to be any more jittery than any other handheld movie I’ve seen so I’m really quite confused by this. Anyway, I endured and managed to sit through the whole thing. Good for me.

Except not good for me because you know what? I really didn’t enjoy this film, sickness inducing nature of it aside. Maybe it’s because of recent zombie craze, that has been so relentless that even I have begun to grow a little tired of the walking dead, or maybe it’s the other craze of handheld horror films but nothing in this movie seems to stand out. At times it plays out like a goddamn student film, someone trying to do an homage to both Romero’s films and ‘The Blair Witch Project’. Honestly I expected better from the man who pretty much defined the entire zombie genre.

The main problem with this film is that it’s pretty much a road film. The characters are pretty much constantly moving and as such it’s pretty hard for a shambling horde to gather around them. ‘Zombieland’ had a similar problem but had the advantage of being hilarious as well. This is especially a problem for ‘Diary of the Dead’ because these are the traditional Romero zombies, the slow moving undead. Now, I’m a bit of a zombie purist and I will always, always prefer the walking zombies over their running cousins. But in certain films it makes sense for the zombies to run. In ’28 Days Later’ (And yes, I know some people will complain that they aren’t zombies but that’s bullshit. If people can claim that the abominations in ‘Twilight’ are vampires, then I can claim that the so-called Infected are zombies. Oh and I still have a small bit of hatred for this film because in my mind it‘s responsible for the current trend of the running zombie) it made sense because the characters are on the move for most of the film. Same with ‘Zombieland’. In this however, they only ever come across a handful of zombies at anyone time and the slow movers just aren’t a particularly big threat when your dealing with so few of them. I know it might seem cliché these days but give me a small group of survivors, surrounded by hordes of the living dead who slowly turn on each other. That’s what I always considered these films to be about, the fact that it’s not the zombies who are the biggest threat but the other people they have trapped you with. Still, even if they aren’t the biggest, the zombies sill have to be somewhat threatening and in this film, they just aren’t.

Now Romero’s ‘Dead’ films have always included some kind of social commentary. Be it about consumer culture in ‘Dawn’ or the military and science meddling in things it shouldn’t in ‘Day’, there has always been more than just the flesh eating corpses. In ‘Diary’ the messages come thick and fast to the point where it seems as though this is less a zombie film with social commentary but social commentary with a few zombies thrown in. I’m guessing that Romero is pretty pissed of with culture these days, be it the fact that the media doesn’t always tell the truth or that people film and upload everything to the internet these days, keeping themselves detached from reality by putting a camera between themselves and what’s really going on. There were points where it just seemed to get in the way of the movie. The good thing about the older films was that you could watch it on either level. You could take in the social commentary or you could just have fun watching people getting ripped apart by zombies. Basically what I’m saying is that this film isn’t particularly fun.

That being said there were some fun elements in this film. There were some pretty sweet, if poorly computer generated, zombie kills and I kind of enjoyed the English drama professor though that may have been because he was an alcoholic. No, he had a pretty sharp wit about him as well so, yeah, I enjoyed him. There were also a few little digs at the trend of the running zombie which I certainly enjoyed. The best part of this film though is Samuel, a deaf Amish guy who communicates by writing things on a chalk board and throws sticks of dynamite at zombies. That dude was awesome. He even scythed himself in the head a zombie bit him. Hmmm, scythed wasn’t flagged by my spell checker. Who knew it was an actual word? Something else good came out of this movie.

What surprised me most about this film is just how truly paranoid I am about the Zombie Apocalypse. Seems I’ve actually managed to convince myself that it is actually possible and even a bad zombie film can ignite that paranoia in me. For the rest of the night after watching the film, I was sure that every noise I heard that I couldn’t put down to me making was a zombie trying to get into the hotel. The fact that an air conditioner, which I was fairly sure didn’t work, seemed to turn itself on certainly didn’t help.

So there you go. I’d say that ‘Diary of the Dead’ is a fairly poor entry into Romero’s zombie opus. It has a few enjoyable moments and characters but in general there’s not enough zombies and the way Romero really tries to beat you over the head with the messages just distracts from any fun there may have been in this actual movie. Overall it gets two pints out of five, one for some fairly nice zombie kills and one for Samuel, may he find peace in Amish heaven. I just hope it has the internet so he can read this review. Laterz.



Review: The Last Airbender by Jamie

Some spoilers for the cartoon and the movie are ahead. Not really that much though.

Also if you’re a child who has somehow stumbled upon this review to find out about what is, to be fair, a film aimed at children, you might want to look elsewhere. Things might get curse wordy.

I had never watched ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ until this past weekend managing to get through all three series in about three days. The reason was so that I could properly compare the series to the M. Night Shyamalan ‘The Last Airbender’ which is based on said series. What did I think of the series? Well, I fucking loved it. There is so much greatness within a show that it would be impossible to explain just how awesome it is and why in this opening paragraph. Let’s just say that if you haven’t seen it, you should watch it at your next possible opportunity.

But no, this review isn’t about the show. It’s about the movie. Let’s start of with some of the good things. Well, the special effects were pretty good and the settings did look like the places that were in the show, so yeah, that was OK. Also the costumes seemed pretty accurate too. Still if I had one complaint with the special effects it’s that the elements being bended didn’t seem to flow as well with the people doing the bending as they did in the show.

Well, that’s pretty much the good stuff out of the way, now onto the rest of the film. The show had spirit, heart and an engaging story. The movie has none of these things. Seriously, it’s like they got a bunch of cosplayers together and got them to play out short vignettes of things that sort of happened in the cartoon. Cosplayers that weren’t particularly good actors. Scenes skip by as characters move from place to place with no journey in between with just the occasional bit of narration to fill us in with things that happened in the cartoon that they just didn’t have time to put into the film.

It’s almost like M. Night watched the series, noted down a few scenes he considered to be important, changed them slightly so they’d fit within an hour and a half and then ignored everything that came between those scenes which is a massive, massive shame because it’s in those journeying scenes between that you often got proper character development within the series. What I’m basically saying is that this is a film about an epic quest with most of the quest removed. You don’t even get the sense that Sokka and Katara have become friends with Aang. It just seems like they view him as a super weapon that they have to stop from getting into the wrong hands.

Whole plot points which become massively important later on in the story are excised completely such as the Kyoshi warriors and the city of Omashu. Of course the characters involved in those parts of the story are lucky that they’ve been left out because, fucking hell, the characters that have been left in are pretty much just cardboard cutouts of the characters from the show, their personalities barely recognisable or even apparent during most of the film.

Aang (pronounced rhyming with sung here rather than sang for… some reason) isn’t the goofy and plucky young boy who seems good natured despite what he has experienced and what he has to overcome. No, now he’s all dark and depressed and serious because… well everything has to be dark and serious these days, doesn’t it? Nothing can be fun anymore. Well you know what, M. Night? Some things work when you make them dark like Batman and some things don’t like Avatar: The Last Airbender! Aang is a likeable character because of his fun-loving nature and the occasional times when he did get upset only furthered to flesh out his character not become his defining character trait. Damn it. Fuck you M. Night. Fuck you.

And thanks to the protracted nature of the story, certain moments of character development go by and seem completely pointless. For example in this film when Kuzo dresses up as the Blue Spirit and recovers Aang from Zhao’s custody, it’s pretty much just a way to get the story from point A to point B because it didn’t seem like Kuzo had been pursuing them for any time at all. In the show it had emotional resonance because they actually share a moment in the forest after the rescue where Aang offers his would be kidnapper the opportunity for friendship. No, honestly, fuck you M. Night.

Oh and the dialogue! Fuck the dialogue. It’s pretty much all exposition. Literally, I don’t think there’s a line in here that isn’t just explaining something which could have just been shown. You could probably watch this without actually looking at the screen and still be able to tell what the basic gist of the story is because it’s all helpfully explained to you because hey, you’re a moron. A moron who needs everything spelled out for you because you’re too stupid to figure things out if actual plot points or character development is shown to you. They don’t even show Sokka falling in love with Princess Yuwe. It’s simply explained away in a piece of narration in which Katara explains that they have become “fast friends’. Fucking fuck you M. Night. Fuck!

As for the acting, well, it’s kinda hard to describe really. Even Dev Patel, playing Zuko, is pretty much wasted here. I honestly can’t blame the actors for their wooden performances here because I get the feeling that it suffers from the poor direction, poor writing and having to work with CGI that the Star Wars prequels suffered from. To be fair, Aasif Mandvi as general Zhao was probably the best actor on screen but even he was playing such a stock, cardboard cutout villain that it’s hard to get excited about it.

Gah! Thinking about this film is making me feel angry and just a little bit sickly. The worst part is if you’ve seen and enjoyed the series, then this film will piss you off. If you haven’t seen the show I don’t know if you’ll be able to figure out what’s going on at all. It’s a lose-lose situation. I would say that this will probably be the worst film of the year but we still have an outing from Friedberg and Seltzer to come in the form of Vampires Suck so yeah, it’s still up in the air at the moment. Fuck. I think I know how Dragonball fans felt when Dragonball Evolution came out.

At the end of the day there is just no fun in this film and that’s the biggest crime of all. The show managed to take these children characters and put them in dangerous situations with serious consequences but it always managed to be fun. This is just a soulless interpretation of the source material and it sucks hard. I’ll end with a quote from episode 17 of the third series. The characters have just left a play which has been based on their adventures. It applies pretty damn well to this film adaptation of their journey as well…

Zuko: That… Wasn’t a good play.
Aang: I’ll say.
Katara: No kidding.
Suki: Horrible.
Toph: You said it.
Sokka: But the effects were decent.
Aang: Fucking fuck you to hell, M. Night. Fuck you to hell.

OK, that last line wasn’t in the episode but I think you gt the idea. The Last Air Bender get’s a half a pint out of five. Laterz.



Review: Survival Of The Dead by Jamie

I’m gonna try and not include as many spoilers as possible abut a few things will probably slip out. Also at the end of this review I will be spoiling the ending. I will warn you ahead of it.

George A. Romero is one of my all time cinematic heroes. I’m sure any fan of the zombie genre would say the same. The man essentially created the zombie film genre as we know and love it today when he made ‘Night of the Living Dead’. He followed it up with what may be the pinnacle of the genre, ‘Dawn of the Dead’. The trilogy of the dead was created with the release of ‘Day of the Dead’ and what many thought would be an end to the saga came with ‘Land of the Dead.’ All good movies in their own special ways. Land suffered somewhat from the law of diminishing returns but still, it was a fun entry into the genre.

Then Romero came back with ‘Diary of the Dead’ (You can read my full review of it here) and boy was it disappointing. Fuck, it was far, far more than disappointing. It was fucking atrocious. The acting was terrible, the dialogue was bullshit and the social commentary was way, way over the top. The worst part of the film was that, as much as I love the slow-moving zombies, they don’t work if there aren’t many of them and the characters aren’t holed up in one place. The true fact of the matter is that the slow movers aren’t that big of a threat in small numbers. They are rendered practically pointless.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached ‘Survival of the Dead’, Romero’s latest undead offering. Still, I watched it and the question is what do I have to say about it? Well, I shall answer you question in the form of a haiku:

It is better than
Diary of the Dead but
Still not a good film.

I think that’s a haiku. I’m not entirely sure and I don’t muchly care. If it’s not a haiku then it’s a new form which I’m calling fuku. Yeah, take that. Anyway, that pretty much sums it up. It is markedly better than Diary, though there’s no way that it couldn’t be. The acting is a huge improvement and the story is certainly more interesting. Unfortunately that’s about all the good things that I can really say about it.

Unfortunately this film suffers from one of the major problems that ‘Diary’ also suffered from. The character’s are on the move for the most of the time and there are simply not enough zombies. There is one scene, fairly early in the film, where the characters are all holed up near a dock but it doesn’t last very long and the numbers of zombies that gather could hardly be called a horde.

So what does all that mean? Well, it’s simple. As with ‘Diary‘, the zombies in this film are never really much of a threat and whilst it’s true that the zombies in these films are never the greatest threat, it’s the people you’re stuck with, they should at least provide some kind of genuine danger. This isn’t helped in this film by the fact that most of the zombies are chained up or kept in a stable. It basically neuters the zombie as a monster.

There was another major problem I’d like to get into before I get onto the spoilers. The special effects in this film are fucking atrocious. Sure, there’s some pretty sweet zombie kills but they are ruined by the piss-poor CGI. What the fuck happened to the practical effects that you could revel in and enjoy, knowing that someone had spent hours applying make-up and prosthetics so that they could make it look as realistic as possible? It’s a real fucking shame.

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ENDING OF THIS FILM.

Ok, so the main plot of the film focuses on a feud between the heads of two families on an island. One patriarch believes that the zombies should be completely eradicated whilst the other believes that they should be kept ‘alive’ and essentially domesticated in case a cure for zombism is discovered. To this end he tries to train the zombies to eat things other than humans. And what happens at the end of the film after most of the main characters are dead? We see a group of zombies chowing down on a horse! What the fuck is that? You can’t throw something like that into the film that completely rewrites the very essence of what zombies are! I don’t care if it has to happen so that the over-arching point of the film is made and I don’t care that Romero basically set down what future generations would understand zombies as being! You can’t change the game like that this far in. If zombies suddenly switch from human meat to animal meat then all you’ve done is served to further neuter the threat of zombies! No fucking way.

As for the over-arching point of this film, I’m honestly not sure what it was. That maybe we should try and live as one with the zombie? That’s fucking insane. Romero has always been known for layering his ‘Dead’ films with social commentary but I have no idea what it was supposed to be in this film. I can’t help but feel that he heard all of the criticism about how over the top the social commentary was in ‘Diary’, and it was fucking over the top, and just decided that he was gonna try and keep it as light in this film as possible. Well, this was too fucking light. I know how I must sound after complaining about the weight of the social commentary as being too heavy in one film and too light in the next but come on! This is George A. Fucking Romero for fucks sake! This is what he’s supposed to be really fucking good at.

So yeah, all around I was pretty disappointed by this film. I hate to say it but it looks like George A. Romero’s talent as a director may have died with ‘Diary of the Dead’ then it came back to life and started shambling about aimlessly as it produced ‘Survival of the Dead’. Someone really needs to aim for it’s head and put it down for good. Just don’t ask me to do it. I used to love it too much. Two and a half pints out of five.



Written Review: Diary Of The Dead by Jamie

I like zombie films. In fact, I love zombie films, in particular I love the classic ‘Dead’ trilogy that came from the awesome mind of the Deadfather, George A. Romero. Hell, I even like ‘Land of the Dead’. It’s a fun entry into the series. Sure, it’s not up to the greatness of those first three but it’s enjoyable none the less and it really only missed one trick and that is that it should have had Bob Hoskins in it. Then it would have been an awesome ‘Super Mario Bros’ reunion. Who wouldn’t have loved that?

So I was looking forward to finally getting around to watching ‘Diary of the Dead’ the latest but one entry into Romero’s zombie canon, if it is indeed canon with the rest of the films. I’m a little unsure of that actually. Let me check… Ok, according to Romero himself, as quoted on wikipedia, the film is basically a ‘rejigging of the myth’. It’s set in present times but takes place in the same time frame as the original ‘Night Of The Living Dead.’ So yeah, I guess it is canon.

Now ‘Diary of the Dead’ is filmed in the handheld style that really took off with ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and generally I don’t get the motion sickness that some people associate with this style of film making but goddamn was this film the exception. After about ten minutes I was feeling extremely woozy and there hadn’t even been any graphic zombie killings up until that point. I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly what the hell was so different about this film to cause this kind of reaction in me. It didn’t seem to be any more jittery than any other handheld movie I’ve seen so I’m really quite confused by this. Anyway, I endured and managed to sit through the whole thing. Good for me.

Except not good for me because you know what? I really didn’t enjoy this film, sickness inducing nature of it aside. Maybe it’s because of recent zombie craze, that has been so relentless that even I have begun to grow a little tired of the walking dead, or maybe it’s the other craze of handheld horror films but nothing in this movie seems to stand out. At times it plays out like a goddamn student film, someone trying to do an homage to both Romero’s films and ‘The Blair Witch Project’. Honestly I expected better from the man who pretty much defined the entire zombie genre.

The main problem with this film is that it’s pretty much a road film. The characters are pretty much constantly moving and as such it’s pretty hard for a shambling horde to gather around them. ‘Zombieland’ had a similar problem but had the advantage of being hilarious as well. This is especially a problem for ‘Diary of the Dead’ because these are the traditional Romero zombies, the slow moving undead. Now, I’m a bit of a zombie purist and I will always, always prefer the walking zombies over their running cousins. But in certain films it makes sense for the zombies to run. In ’28 Days Later’ (And yes, I know some people will complain that they aren’t zombies but that’s bullshit. If people can claim that the abominations in ‘Twilight’ are vampires, then I can claim that the so-called Infected are zombies. Oh and I still have a small bit of hatred for this film because in my mind it‘s responsible for the current trend of the running zombie) it made sense because the characters are on the move for most of the film. Same with ‘Zombieland’. In this however, they only ever come across a handful of zombies at anyone time and the slow movers just aren’t a particularly big threat when your dealing with so few of them. I know it might seem cliché these days but give me a small group of survivors, surrounded by hordes of the living dead who slowly turn on each other. That’s what I always considered these films to be about, the fact that it’s not the zombies who are the biggest threat but the other people they have trapped you with. Still, even if they aren’t the biggest, the zombies sill have to be somewhat threatening and in this film, they just aren’t.

Now Romero’s ‘Dead’ films have always included some kind of social commentary. Be it about consumer culture in ‘Dawn’ or the military and science meddling in things it shouldn’t in ‘Day’, there has always been more than just the flesh eating corpses. In ‘Diary’ the messages come thick and fast to the point where it seems as though this is less a zombie film with social commentary but social commentary with a few zombies thrown in. I’m guessing that Romero is pretty pissed of with culture these days, be it the fact that the media doesn’t always tell the truth or that people film and upload everything to the internet these days, keeping themselves detached from reality by putting a camera between themselves and what’s really going on. There were points where it just seemed to get in the way of the movie. The good thing about the older films was that you could watch it on either level. You could take in the social commentary or you could just have fun watching people getting ripped apart by zombies. Basically what I’m saying is that this film isn’t particularly fun.

That being said there were some fun elements in this film. There were some pretty sweet, if poorly computer generated, zombie kills and I kind of enjoyed the English drama professor though that may have been because he was an alcoholic. No, he had a pretty sharp wit about him as well so, yeah, I enjoyed him. There were also a few little digs at the trend of the running zombie which I certainly enjoyed. The best part of this film though is Samuel, a deaf Amish guy who communicates by writing things on a chalk board and throws sticks of dynamite at zombies. That dude was awesome. He even scythed himself in the head a zombie bit him. Hmmm, scythed wasn’t flagged by my spell checker. Who knew it was an actual word? Something else good came out of this movie.

What surprised me most about this film is just how truly paranoid I am about the Zombie Apocalypse. Seems I’ve actually managed to convince myself that it is actually possible and even a bad zombie film can ignite that paranoia in me. For the rest of the night after watching the film, I was sure that every noise I heard that I couldn’t put down to me making was a zombie trying to get into the hotel. The fact that an air conditioner, which I was fairly sure didn’t work, seemed to turn itself on certainly didn’t help.

So there you go. I’d say that ‘Diary of the Dead’ is a fairly poor entry into Romero’s zombie opus. It has a few enjoyable moments and characters but in general there’s not enough zombies and the way Romero really tries to beat you over the head with the messages just distracts from any fun there may have been in this actual movie. Overall it gets two pints out of five, one for some fairly nice zombie kills and one for Samuel, may he find peace in Amish heaven. I just hope it has the internet so he can read this review. Laterz.



Six TV Shows That Are More Than Worth A Watch Before You Die. by Jamie
09/05/2009, 6:06 am
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The summer blockbuster season is upon us and before long we shall all be sick and tired of movies. Well, probably not but I’ve spent so long now worrying about things such as Deadpool and just how ridiculously big Devastator will be that I needed to back off from it all for a moment. So I decided to visit with that other great visual medium of our age, Television.

Before Television there were only the dark times and man was a brutish, violent creature I assume, without the flickering glow of the screen to keep him from going on extreme rampages of rape and pillage. Finally, TV was invented by the baby Jesus and finally the world was saved from it’s self. Who wanted to slaughter their neighbours when you could watch 14 different TV shows involving celebrity chefs in cook off contests? Who could be bothered to set fire to cows when home makeover shows could be watched literally anytime during the day or night? That’s right, no one. No one in their right mind.

With that in mind, let us take a look then at some of the greatest TV shows that have graced that flickering screen in recent years. The rules are simple. The show must have completely run it’s course, so there will be no appearances by Dexter, Heroes or Ramsay‘s Kitchen Nightmares, and the series must be available to purchase on DVD. With that in mind, let us begin.

6) The X-Files

There was a time when I was not the Sceptic I now consider myself to be. In fact, I was quite the opposite ready to believe any paranormal nonsense that I heard about without stopping to consider the evidence. Some of that, in part at least, probably had to do with the X-Files. It turned a generation of kids and adults into crazy conspiracy nuts, at least until the show started to go downhill.

You simply couldn’t escape the paranormal when this show was at it’s height. Every other week there was a new documentary exposing the “truth” behind the 1947 Roswell incident with real actual footage of an alien autopsy or a startling exposé about how man never went to the moon. In other words, we had become uncritical, unreasoned believers in practically everything and only now is the tide beginning to turn again with scepticism becoming more and more acceptable, though admittedly as long as the internet remains a paradise for the paranormal believers to gather and spread misinformation, we shall have a long way to go.

So you’d think, considering all the damage it is partially responsible for, that I would hate this show. In truth, however, I love this show. Ok, so the later seasons where David Duchovny and even Gillian Anderson leave are weak but you have to remember the good old days. Episodes such as Home, a truly chilling episode in which Mulder and Scully have to investigate a rural inbred family regarding the murder of a baby. Or Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, a humorous episode which sees the two agents consulting psychic Clyde Bruckman regarding a serial killer. The X-files often managed to achieve a good mixture of terror and humour.

In general, I always preferred the so-called Monster of the Week episodes to the mythology episodes in which Mulder and Scully would have to deal with an unexplained case that would begin and end within one episode. The monsters they had to investigate included such creatures as the sewer dwelling, parasitic Flukeman, the elastic limbed, liver-eating Toombs and the death fetishist, serial killer, Donald Pfaster . These episodes tended to be more fun, almost Scooby Doo-esque, compared to the long, complicated and often confusing aspects of the alien conspiracy storyline.

Overall if you’ve never seen the X-Files or just haven’t seen them for a while, I’d definetly recommend giving them a re-watch, in particular the earlier seasons.

5) Spaced/Black Books

When it came to deciding between these two shows, I decided I couldn’t. Now it’s possibly breaking one of the rules as there’s always rumours that there will be a new series of Spaced or a special or some such thing but it’s been long enough for me to just say fuck it.

So what makes these series so great? Well, Spaced is the definitive comedy series for those of us obsessed with what has been dubbed pop culture and Black Books is fantastically surreal and manages to do great things with a cast of essentially three characters.

Spaced tells the story of Tim and Daisy, two people in their early thirties who suddenly find themselves in need of a place to stay. They manage to get one by lying to the alcoholic landlady, Marsha, and pretending that they’re a professional couple. The building is also occupied by Brian, an artist with a penchant for the quirky, who paints the entire emotional range as exhibited in a brilliantly shot sequence. The rest of the cast is filled out by Mike, Tim’s best friend who’s more than a little obsessed with the military, and Twist, Daisy’s best friend who’s more than a little obsessed with fashion.

Every episode of Spaced is filled with constant film references, be it Tim’s nemesis, Dwayne quoting Darth Maul (Incidentally Dwayne is played by Peter Serafinowicz, who voiced Maul in Episode 1) or a practically shot for shot re-enactment of the death of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Seriously if you love film and you’ve never seen Spaced, what the fuck is wrong with you, you fucking fucktard. Fuck. Especially if you love Star Wars.

I could go on and on about Spaced for the remainder of this article so I’d better stop myself now and talk about Black Books. This series is centred around a bookshop called, coincidentally enough, Black Books. The shop is run by the eternally pissed Bernard Black, a man who loves wine and despises people. He’s helped in this commercial endeavour by his enthusiastic employee Manny Bianco, who is genuinely outgoing and helpful. The cast is rounded out by Fran Katzenjammer, Bernard’s oldest and possibly only friend, who runs a shop next door which seems to sell nothing but pointless crap.

The series is wonderfully surreal yet not obtusely so allowing pretty much anyone to find something to love about it. The storylines are generally grounded in reality but it’s the quirkiness that these storylines are dealt that make it awesome. For example, in one episode Bernard finds himself locked out of his shop/home for a cold, rainy night. He spends all of his money on a film ticket and some popcorn. Fran is unable to help him and so he wanders the streets, ending up in a porn shop just to stand by the radiator for a while before being kicked out and eventually taking a job in a fast food restaurant until the rain has passed. Meanwhile Manny finds himself locked in side the shop with only some absinthe and dead bees for sustenance. Awesome.

4) Planet Earth

Earth. It’s where we all live, for the time being at least, and apparently we share this planet with other living things called animals. Planet Earth is a series which deals with these things. Now, in my mind this is the definitive general nature documentary. What I mean by this is that this is the best documentary to give an overview of the natural world. Others may dig in and focus on a more central topic, such as Life in Cold Blood, Attenborough’s documentary specifically dealing with reptiles and amphibians.

Speaking of David Attenborough, he narrates this documentary and really, who else would you want other than the legend himself? Well, apparently in America, his narration was replaced with Sigourney Weaver. Really? Hell, I like Sigourney Weaver as an actress but you’re going to replace David Attenborough with her? I wouldn’t put David as Ripley in Aliens and I wouldn’t let Sigourney narrate a nature documentary when you could have Attenborough.

Anyway, the series is notable for a number of things never before seen on television. Like humpback whales being shown to blow bubbles out of their blow holes in order to corral fish into a manageable ball in order to devour them and chimps killing and eating one of there own in one of those disturbing scene which chills you to the bone just because of the freaky similarity between us and them. Perhaps one of the most fascinating scenes involves a pride of desperately hungry lions who hunt and kill an elephant at the dead of night. The whole thing is shot on a night vision camera which just makes the whole thing seem incredibly eerie.

Seriously, the series is an amazing achievement in documented the creatures that inhabit this planet with us, showing us behaviours that sometimes shock and amaze. The whole thing is filmed beautifully and, though I already own it on DVD, since getting a Blu-Ray player and an HD-TV I’m seriously considering getting the series on Blu-Ray. Watch it!

3) Father Ted

Ah, what can you say about Father Ted? The eccentric Irish comedy has gone down in history as one the greatest fecking comedies known to mankind. The series concerns the misadventures of three catholic priests living in a parochial house on the desolate wasteland that is Craggy Island. Ted is a man who dreams of fame and fortune and getting off of the godforsaken island and never seems to achieve any of these things. He’s accompanied in most of his exploits by Dougal, a man with the intelligence of something of very little intelligence, and Father Jack, an alcoholic who’s vocabulary is limited, for the most part, to drink, feck and girls.

The show lasted for three seasons and seemed to get funny with each and every episode. Such highlights include meeting Richard Wilson of One Foot in the Grave fame and tormenting him endlessly with his catchphrase of “I don’t believe it.”, Ted being mistaken for a racist by the local Chinese community, an incredible parody of Night of the Living Dead and of course, the Christmas episode involving a fantastic parody of war films. Speaking of which, one of the actors from the next series in the list makes a cameo appearance in that very episode. Also, it’s incredibly difficult to talk about Father Ted. It really just needs to be watched.

2) Rome

Roman society is often regarded highly, as some sort of pinnacle of civilisation in an otherwise uncivilised ancient world and whilst it’s true that we owe much to the Romans, sometimes we need to reminded that the distance of history often puts a shine on things. Too often we see documentaries detailing the wonders of Rome, their great battles, glorious leaders and architectural accomplishments. The brutality of their world also comes up, generally when discussing the gladiatorial battles of the arena.

Thank the Gods below then for Rome, an historical drama set in the ancient world. Is it one hundred percent historically accurate? No of course not but it’s as damn fucking close as a fictionalised account of the events leading up to, during and after Caesar’s reign can possibly get. The series splits it’s focus between two sets of main characters who occasionally cross paths. There are the nobles as represented by Caesar, his friends, family and enemies and these provide most of the political intrigue and betrayal within the series. The second group are the commoners, the main characters being Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo and the various people they interact with. Vorenus and Pullo are actually based loosely on two soldiers of the same name who are mentioned in Caesar’s ‘The Conquest Of Gaul’, his account of the Gallic wars.

The series touches on a number of historical events, tweaking them occasionally for the sake of plot but always in a brilliant and interesting way. We see such things as Caesar marching on Rome with his army, the leader’s assassination and the love affair between Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Despite all of this massive moments in history, it’s the characters which really drive the plot forward. From the manipulative Atiia of the Julii to the tough but naïve Titus Pullo, it’s these greatly written and acted characters that really bring the ancient world of Rome to life.

A warning though, Rome is not for the squeamish or easily offended. It doesn’t hold back in it’s portrayal of ancient Rome as a violent and sexually charged place. There’s many a scene of horrific violence or a master fucking his slave. The language is a sound to behear as well, with many a proclamation of such wonderful phrases as “By Juno’s cunt!” or “I fuck Concord in the arse!” So if you’re a goddamn pussy who can’t handle violence, sex and swearing then I really can’t recommend this for you, otherwise you have no fucking excuse.

1) Battlestar Galactica

Anyone who’s had a conversation with me since I’ve watched this series shouldn’t be surprised at it’s placement at the top of this list. There is absolutely no way that I can even hope to describe the balls out awesome that is this television show. It contains everything I could possibly ask for in televisual entertainment. Political intrigue, realistic personal relationships, robots and kick ass space battles.

In the pilot mini-series shit is kicked up a notch right from the beginning. The humans, who inhabit the twelve colonies all named for our star signs, is reduced to a fraction of it’s population during a devastating attack by the robotic Cylons and so from the outset we are presented with our heroes and villains. Or at least we would be if things in Battlestar Galactica were as simple as that. In actual fact there are several times throughout the entirety of the series where your perception of what is good and right is challenged. Not only that but it deals with a lot of really rather heavy subjects such as terrorism, religion and whether or not being alive is defined purely in biological terms,

Like Rome, these heady subjects are dealt with whilst focusing on the characters within the story. Even though the plot concerns itself mostly with the possible extinction of the human race, it is the people (and robots) who find themselves within this situation and how they deal with it that really pushes the story forward. There is the stoic, yet completely untrusting of anything mechanical, captain Adama, played by the fantastic Edward James Almos, the Cylon Number Six who’s fascinated by living things, Starbuck, a tough Viper pilot who also has incredible emotional depth, and my personal favourite character, Gaius Baltar, the scientist who bears at least some responsibility for his species predicament and is primarily concerned with his own personal survival. The cast is quite large yet every character seems to be incredibly well defined.

Damnit, there’s so much to say about this damn series and yet not enough time for me to sit here and write it all. Also my wrists are beginning to hurt a little bit, Stupid wrists, so let’s just cram in a few other things that make this series awesome. The shots in space are filmed as if they were being shot by a cameraman with a handy cam and all of the sound is provided from within the ships themselves not ignoring space by actually living up to the fact that there’s no damn sound in space. The special effects are awesome, from people being sucked into space to the non-human looking Cylons, though sometimes they do seem a little too CGI-ish. Also the last episode made me cry, not so much because the ending was sad, though it was, but more because that was it, I would no longer get to spend anytime with these characters. It was truly moving.

So there you go. Six TV shows to entertain yourself with as you while away the hours waiting for the impending icy-cold grip of the reaper around your heart. Enjoy!



Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still by Chris
01/02/2009, 10:11 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Could this be the end of the world? Quite possibly, if you actually consider seeing this film. Hello, Chris here, and today is the day the earth stood still. By this, I mean either my watch was broken, or this film really did manage to last two hours. Two hours of a sour plot and bad script courtesy of Director Scott Derrickson and Screenplay Director David Scarpa. Unfortunately, my colleague, Jamie, was not available to review the film with me. And by ‘not available’ I mean he would rather watch ‘Batman and Robin’ if he was in the mood for epic fail.

Now, the story is about the arrival of intriguing alien named Klaatu played by the always-confused Keanu Reeves, armed with a smart suit he pilfered from a psychologist who tries to analyse him, resulting in said psychologists hilarious demise, and the English vocabulary of a household fridge. Klaatu describes himself as a “friend to the Earth” – an apparently simple statement, but one which the cast of this CGI mess realises will destroy them all. By being on “our planet”, a statement Klaatu does not take too kindly to, he triggers a cataclysmic wave of destruction while governments and random scientists race to unravel the mystery of what his intentions are. Now, call me stupid, but I think it’s pretty damn clear that he’s going to kill us all and take what is apparently “unrightfully ours.”

In the midst of it all, the lovely Jennifer Connelly plays Helen; a single mother who inadvertently has a young pain in the ass stepson, Jacob, who acts like a little shit all the time, and wants to kill the intruding alien, as his now dead father, who was in the army, also wanted to kill everything.
Now, I don’t really want to write any spoilers for this shite, but to be fair, I was actually falling asleep in the cinema whilst watching this, so here’s the reason that Keanu has decided to come to our planet in the first place, just in case you find yourself in the same scenario.

Keanu’s statement of being a “friend to the earth” is just another way of saying “You’re all fucked”. Because of the intoxicating fumes and gasses we have been letting off which have been destroying our atmosphere, we are slowly ‘killing’ the earth. That’s right, you’ve guessed it; this film is a really all about global warming. What kind of a fucking twist is that. Mr. Reeves has come to the conclusion that because of the damage we have done to the planet, he and his big robot dildo are going to wipe out all living things on the face of the earth, and start afresh; hence the line “If the earth dies, you die. If you die, the earth will live.” What a tool.

Now, if you still want anything to do with this ‘film’ it will cost you around £4 at the maximum. Don’t bother seeing it in the cinema. Wait until it becomes available on DVD at your local Blockbuster store and snap up a copy, which should be no more than £3.50. Take a stroll then to a nearby convenience store and purchase a pack of matches or a lighter, whatever works for you. When you make it home, take a can of deodorant, and proceed to spray the DVD, encasing it in the flammable liquid. Strike a match, destroy the copy, and do your part for Cinepub. Hell, that’s something I think is worth losing my rental membership for.

Cinepub Rating: This film ‘wank! (1 out of 5)




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