Cinepub


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.

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Zombie Month: A Virgin Among The Living Dead by Jamie

Well, I honestly thought that the recent Zombie craze which saw itself rise like… well, like a Zombie, in the early 2000s was kinda coming to end, replaced by a love for creatures which called themselves vampires and werewolves which in no way resembled vampires or werewolves. (Seriously, why is the Twilight series named after things relating to the night? None of the creatures powers in that series are linked in anyway to the night.) But the Zombie trend continues to shuffle on relentlessly like… well, like a Zombie, buoyed most recently by the awesome small screen adaptation of the awesome comic book ‘The Walking Dead’.

Because of this I’ve found myself more obsessed with Zombies than is probably legal. To try and get over this I have decided that December will be Zombie month at Cinepub. And really what better month than December to pick? For was December not the month that the man who would grow up to become the first Zombie, Jesus Hubert Christ, born? Well in reality probably not but the legend says it so and what’s better? The truth or an entertaining lie?
 

Clearly an entertaining lie.


So with all that in mind I went to Wikipedia’s list of Zombie films and arbitrarily picked thirty-one titles to watch and review. I decided to ignore the old classics such as Romero’s body of work and the beloved splatter films of the 70s and 80s because, well, what more can I say at them. (With the exception of one classic from the 80s because I haven’t seen it in years, I had a damn hard time finding it and this seems like a good excuse to finally rewatch it again). For the most part, many of the films seem to be made during the recent craze and many seem to be very, very low budget. I’m hoping that I’ll find a few modern gems amongst what I’m sure will be largely a pile of shit but hey, negative reviews are always more fun to write and read than positive ones so I’m sure we’ll have some fun.

Today’s entry in the marathon is one that didn’t come from the modern era. It’s titled ‘A Virgin Among The Living Dead’ and is from the 70s. It’s also European but I’m having a hard time pinning down exactly where. The opening titles are in French but according to IMDB the original language was German (my copy is dubbed) and it lists the country’s involved as France, Belgium, Italy and Germany but it certainly has a very French feel about it.

The basic story is… Well, it’s difficult to say. Let’s just say the film is a huge confusing mess, right of the bat. I’m also not sure exactly why it’s listed in Wikipedia’s list of Zombie films. We’ll come to that though. I guess the basic story is that a girl, Chirstine, who had been living in London returns to Miscellaneous European Country upon hearing the news of her father’s death in order to attend the reading of his will. She had never really known her father as he had sent her to private school in England after the death of her mother and had never met his extended family either.

Upon reaching the family castle (A ‘castle’ which it must be noted looked smaller than the villa I spent my summer holiday in Ibiza in) she learns that her father’s second wife is dying. Upon her way to see the dying woman she encounters a weird mute housekeeper who looks like an old version of Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite who had really let himself go, her uncle, her aunt and a woman who I’m guessing might be her cousin or something (Apart from the main girl, I never really picked up the character’s name). There all a bit kooky and weird and her uncle at least is strangely cold to the touch. I imagine she reconciles this in her mind by just assuming it’s because they’re from mainland Europe, a fair assumption to make, but it’s soon clear that there’s more going on here. Unfortunately the movie never makes it clear what that is.

So as time progresses, Christina has weird dreams about her dead father calling her name and he appears to her as a being caught somewhere between life and death. But I have see no real reason for him showing up because he doesn’t do anything except warn her about things at too late a juncture for her to do anything about them. And seeing as this is a European horror film made in the 70s, there’s also plenty of shots of Christina and others completely naked for no real reason. There’s one bit where Christina goes swimming naked in a pond and two characters who never appear again leer over her until they are shooed away by a third character who also never appears again. Basically it’s an excuse for the girl to frolic about with a kit of for a bit. Still she’s kinda cute and has a well managed bush by 70s standards at least.

So through all of this incomprehensible mess, there aren’t any actual zombies in this zombie film except for the vague implication that her family might be the living dead. And by vague implication I mean that but where she notes that her Uncle is cold to the touch. Her cousin also has a habit of drinking blood from her blind cousin’s breasts (who shows up vaguely warn Christina about something) and someone goes around putting the desiccated bodies of bed all over place because… well, because. I understand there is a later cut of this film where the director added scenes of traditional zombies and it’s apparently even more confusing than this version. That surely takes some doing.

By the end of the film Christina has gone quite mad after being attacked by her family some reason. Then she has another dream where Lady Death takes her into the pond she swam naked earlier and her family follow her. Seriously. I have no fucking idea what the hell happened in this film. When there weren’t naked people on screen, people were talking in vague and philosophical terms about death which is why I said that the film had a French feeling to it. That’s the kind of thing French people do.

So the first film of Zombie month has no Zombies in it and was completely incomprehensible to boot. This is not the best start to this marathon. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s film kicks things up a notch. Bam. I rate ‘A Virgin Amongst The Living Dead’ one pint out of five because the vaguely cute girl got vaguely naked a vaguely large number of times. Laterz then.

You can buy a version of ‘A Virgin Among The Living Dead’ from the Cinepub Amazon.co.uk Store for £3.99



Zombie Month: A Virgin Among The Living Dead by Jamie

Well, I honestly thought that the recent Zombie craze which saw itself rise like… well, like a Zombie, in the early 2000s was kinda coming to end, replaced by a love for creatures which called themselves vampires and werewolves which in no way resembled vampires or werewolves. (Seriously, why is the Twilight series named after things relating to the night? None of the creatures powers in that series are linked in anyway to the night.) But the Zombie trend continues to shuffle on relentlessly like… well, like a Zombie, buoyed most recently by the awesome small screen adaptation of the awesome comic book ‘The Walking Dead’.

Because of this I’ve found myself more obsessed with Zombies than is probably legal. To try and get over this I have decided that December will be Zombie month at Cinepub. And really what better month than December to pick? For was December not the month that the man who would grow up to become the first Zombie, Jesus Hubert Christ, born? Well in reality probably not but the legend says it so and what’s better? The truth or an entertaining lie?
 

Clearly an entertaining lie.

So with all that in mind I went to Wikipedia’s list of Zombie films and arbitrarily picked thirty-one titles to watch and review. I decided to ignore the old classics such as Romero’s body of work and the beloved splatter films of the 70s and 80s because, well, what more can I say at them. (With the exception of one classic from the 80s because I haven’t seen it in years, I had a damn hard time finding it and this seems like a good excuse to finally rewatch it again). For the most part, many of the films seem to be made during the recent craze and many seem to be very, very low budget. I’m hoping that I’ll find a few modern gems amongst what I’m sure will be largely a pile of shit but hey, negative reviews are always more fun to write and read than positive ones so I’m sure we’ll have some fun.

Today’s entry in the marathon is one that didn’t come from the modern era. It’s titled ‘A Virgin Among The Living Dead’ and is from the 70s. It’s also European but I’m having a hard time pinning down exactly where. The opening titles are in French but according to IMDB the original language was German (my copy is dubbed) and it lists the country’s involved as France, Belgium, Italy and Germany but it certainly has a very French feel about it.

The basic story is… Well, it’s difficult to say. Let’s just say the film is a huge confusing mess, right of the bat. I’m also not sure exactly why it’s listed in Wikipedia’s list of Zombie films. We’ll come to that though. I guess the basic story is that a girl, Chirstine, who had been living in London returns to Miscellaneous European Country upon hearing the news of her father’s death in order to attend the reading of his will. She had never really known her father as he had sent her to private school in England after the death of her mother and had never met his extended family either.

Upon reaching the family castle (A ‘castle’ which it must be noted looked smaller than the villa I spent my summer holiday in Ibiza in) she learns that her father’s second wife is dying. Upon her way to see the dying woman she encounters a weird mute housekeeper who looks like an old version of Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite who had really let himself go, her uncle, her aunt and a woman who I’m guessing might be her cousin or something (Apart from the main girl, I never really picked up the character’s name). There all a bit kooky and weird and her uncle at least is strangely cold to the touch. I imagine she reconciles this in her mind by just assuming it’s because they’re from mainland Europe, a fair assumption to make, but it’s soon clear that there’s more going on here. Unfortunately the movie never makes it clear what that is.

So as time progresses, Christina has weird dreams about her dead father calling her name and he appears to her as a being caught somewhere between life and death. But I have see no real reason for him showing up because he doesn’t do anything except warn her about things at too late a juncture for her to do anything about them. And seeing as this is a European horror film made in the 70s, there’s also plenty of shots of Christina and others completely naked for no real reason. There’s one bit where Christina goes swimming naked in a pond and two characters who never appear again leer over her until they are shooed away by a third character who also never appears again. Basically it’s an excuse for the girl to frolic about with a kit of for a bit. Still she’s kinda cute and has a well managed bush by 70s standards at least.

So through all of this incomprehensible mess, there aren’t any actual zombies in this zombie film except for the vague implication that her family might be the living dead. And by vague implication I mean that but where she notes that her Uncle is cold to the touch. Her cousin also has a habit of drinking blood from her blind cousin’s breasts (who shows up vaguely warn Christina about something) and someone goes around putting the desiccated bodies of bed all over place because… well, because. I understand there is a later cut of this film where the director added scenes of traditional zombies and it’s apparently even more confusing than this version. That surely takes some doing.

By the end of the film Christina has gone quite mad after being attacked by her family some reason. Then she has another dream where Lady Death takes her into the pond she swam naked earlier and her family follow her. Seriously. I have no fucking idea what the hell happened in this film. When there weren’t naked people on screen, people were talking in vague and philosophical terms about death which is why I said that the film had a French feeling to it. That’s the kind of thing French people do.

So the first film of Zombie month has no Zombies in it and was completely incomprehensible to boot. This is not the best start to this marathon. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s film kicks things up a notch. Bam. I rate ‘A Virgin Amongst The Living Dead’ one pint out of five because the vaguely cute girl got vaguely naked a vaguely large number of times. Laterz then.

You can buy a version of ‘A Virgin Among The Living Dead’ from the Cinepub Amazon.co.uk Store for £3.99



Review: 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.



Review: Ils (Them) by Jamie
10/01/2009, 9:59 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lately I’ve been broadening my horizons, stepping outside the boundaries of my linguistic comfort zone and been watching some amazing foreign language films. From Spain’s REC to South Korea’s Save The Green Planet (which may have actually made it into my top 20 favourite films of all time), the world of people speaking words I can’t understand holds many sparkling cinematic gems.

Now as someone who has a certain fondness for horror films, it seems obvious that a good place to start with foreign language films would be those that fall into the horror genre. Sometimes this pays off, as with the aforementioned REC and sometimes it doesn’t, as with Japanese horror films in general. Don’t know why but I just can’t seem to get into them. Anyway today I’m feel like wearing onions round my neck, carrying a baguette and smoking incessantly so we’re off to France! Ha, Ha! Stereotypes are fun!

The French film in question is Ils, known in English speaking circles as Them, released in 2006. To be honest I don’t really want to spoil any of the scenes in this film by describing them in much detail because I feel like it would ruin it so I’ll just give you a general overview of the film. Clementine is a French teacher living in a large remote house in a rural area around Bucharest, Romania with her writer boyfriend, Lucas. One night they are subject to a home invasion by a number of mysterious, hoodie-wearing strangers and things just escalate from there.

Now, the film is described as being in the horror genre but I must admit, I wasn’t particularly scared by it. I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it was because reading the subtitles made it hard to concentrate on the scary action on screen but that didn’t seem to affect my terror levels during REC but after watching the film again, I think I realised what it was. Every moment that is set up to cause the viewer to jump is very, very obvious. Basically it seems as though each scare is telegraphed and so they just seemed ineffective to me. Maybe it’s because I’m jaded, seen too many attempts to make me jump in horror films in the past. On the other hand, I still jump whenever Ben Gardener’s head falls out of that boat in Jaws, so make of that what you will.

Now, because I didn’t find the film particularly scary, does that make it a bad film? Hell no. Once the action gets under way, the tension builds and builds to ridiculous degrees. As each unrelenting moment of panic passes, you find yourself empathising more and more with the two main characters and becoming more emotionally invested with their simple quest for survival. Yet despite all this escalating pressure this is still essentially a horror film without the horror and honestly I found it quite refreshing. It doesn’t go for the cheap torture gimmicks of most of the Saw films, no supernatural monsters and not one twisted serial killer. It’s pretty original and if you want to feel your heart rate increase to dangerous levels without shitting yourself with fear, I heartily recommend it.

Note: I watched the French film, Ils, with English subtitles. This trailer suggests that Them is dubbed into English. I don’t know if that’s true or if it was just for the trailer or what but in my opinion, original language with subtitles is always better.




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