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

Originally posted February 2nd, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Zombie Month: Creepshow and a Short Word About Leslie Nielsen by Jamie

When I was a young creature, freshly spawned from the Earth and learning to survive in the harsh, unforgiving bitch of a world I came to find myself living in, I came across a movie. That movie was ‘Airplane!’ and it was one of those films that would come to build the foundation of what I would find funny in later life. Being a young British spawnling at the time I’m sure there were certain references in the film that flew over my head and I probably hadn’t seen any films from the genre that the film was spoofing but it was hilarious all the same. In particular there was one grey haired gentleman name Dr. Rumack, a straight-faced, serious yet hilarious man who had me laughing with his insistences that people not call him Shirley. That doctor was played by Leslie Nielsen.

As I grew I came to see more of the man’s comedic work in particular ‘Police Squad’ which in turn lead to the film series ‘Naked Gun’. Nielsen played Detective Frank Drebin and continued to do what he had done so well, playing a serious man in a ridiculous world and treating the ridiculous as though it were commonplace such as arresting a chimpanzee dressed in a gangster suit for murder at the zoo or having a whole bunch of cops kill each other in order to figure out the trajectory of a bullet. Things got a bit more ridiculous and slapsticky in ‘Naked Gun’ but it was still based on the very simple premise that the ridiculous parody world that the characters inhabited was just completely normal to them. As I said, it was this kind of thing that Nielsen shined at. It also shouldn‘t be forgotten that the man had made comic timing look like an art, always knowing the funniest moment to react to or comment on what was going on around him.

His later works suffered a bit in quality and I’ll be honest I didn’t see many of them. I saw ‘Dracula: Dead and Loving It’ when I was about twelve and being young, I probably found it quite funny though repeat viewings have quashed that opinion. I will say that he was probably one of the only things I found funny in ‘Scary Movie 3’. I didn’t see ‘Scary Movie 4’ and I’ve seen a little of ‘Superhero Movie’. It was enough, trust me.

Still, this isn’t about then, it’s about before then. Those classics that I grew up with and loved and the man who helped make them as funny as they were. Leslie Nielsen, a great funny, funny man. The world sucks a little more now that he’s dead.

In honour of Leslie Nielsen, I’ve shoe-horned Creepshow into the Zombie month. I know I said I wasn’t going to touch on Romero’s films but it isn’t a ‘…Of the Dead’ film and these are mitigating circumstances so fuck you. Besides, I can write about what I want and change my mind as I see fit. It’s a blogger’s prerogative… Look, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to swear at you. It’s just that I could feel you judging me with your eyes and… Let’s just move on shall we?

Creepshow is a 1982 horror anthology film directed by George A. Romero (The Deadfather) and written by Stephen King. If you don’t know what a horror anthology is then… Well, have you seen a Halloween episode of ‘The Simpsons’? Think that but live action and, depending on the film, less humour. Creepshow was based on the precept that the shorts in the film were stories in one of those old 50s horror comics book that a boy’s father had found and thrown away and it had quite a few notables amongst it’s cast. Besides Nielsen it also featured Ted Danson, Adrienne Barbeau, E.G. Marshall, Ed Harris, Hal Holbrook, Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son), a small cameo by Tom Savini and Stephen King himself playing a stereotypical hillbilly who begins sprouting weeds after getting ‘meteor shit’ on his hands.

Nielsen appears in a segment called ‘Something To Tide You Over’ which appropriately enough features Zombies, so let’s dig into it a little, shall we? Oh, spoiler alert by the way. The segment is short so not talking about the plot would leave me very little indeed.

Nielsen plays a wealthy man, Richard Vickers, who seems somewhat obsessed with televisions and videos. He discovers that his young trophy wife Becky (Gaylen Ross) is having an affair with Henry Wentworth (Ted Danson) whom he promptly kidnaps. He takes Wentworth to his private beach and forces him to bury himself up to his neck in sand. He then sets up a television and a camera so that Wentworth can watch as Becky, buried in another location further down the beach, dies as the tide slowly comes in. Vickers returns to his beach house, leaving Wentworth to his presumed fate.

Later that Vickers begins hearing strange noises and is shocked to find that Wentworth and Becky have risen from the dead! They come for him, telling they’ve made a hole for him down on the beach. He tries to shoot them but the bullets prove ineffective against the undead lovers. I gotta say, this was actually pretty creepy, even watching it again. There’s something about the Zombie make-up, all covered in sea-weed, the way they speak and the way they relentlessly but slowly come after Vickers, arms outstretched, that just really got to me. Anyway, the final scene is Vickers buried up to his neck in the sand, screaming that he can hold his breath for a long time as the tide slowly comes in.

So what can be said about ‘Something to Tide You Over?’ Well it’s certainly one of the more serious, scarier parts of ‘Creepshow’ with some of the other segments certainly having a more obvious sense of humour about them. This may come as something as a surprise as this was just two years after ‘Airplane!’ and around the time ‘Police Squad’ was being shown on television. Still there is humour there and it’s found in Nielsen’s dry, villainous wit as he kidnaps Danson and forces him to bury himself. It’s also a bit weird to see him playing the villain but you can tell he’s having a good time with it is imminently fun to watch.

As for the Zombies, they aren’t the traditional Romero fare. As this is based on those old horror comics, they are far more akin to the living dead that would be found in the pages of those. They are generally small in number, tend towards the skeletal (as in the first segment, Father’s Day) or, as in the case of this segment, have a very maritime flair. They are also brought back from the dead not by some mysterious virus or hell having run out of room. No, they are motivated by the mystical force of revenge, coming to seek vengeance on those who wronged them in life which is a kinda cool concept but not one that’d work on a mass Zombie Apocalypse level.

So there you go. That’s my review of one segment from Creepshow in honour of Leslie Nielsen. I heartily recommend it and the whole of Creepshow really. It’s got a few problems here and there, with some of the segments seeming a little more drawn out than perhaps they should have been but if you like horror, horror anthologies or the earlier works of George A. Romero, I highly recommend it. Four pints out of five. Laterz.

You can buy Creepshow at the Cinepub Amazon.co.uk Store.



Zombie Month: Creepshow and a Short Word About Leslie Nielsen by Jamie

When I was a young creature, freshly spawned from the Earth and learning to survive in the harsh, unforgiving bitch of a world I came to find myself living in, I came across a movie. That movie was ‘Airplane!’ and it was one of those films that would come to build the foundation of what I would find funny in later life. Being a young British spawnling at the time I’m sure there were certain references in the film that flew over my head and I probably hadn’t seen any films from the genre that the film was spoofing but it was hilarious all the same. In particular there was one grey haired gentleman name Dr. Rumack, a straight-faced, serious yet hilarious man who had me laughing with his insistences that people not call him Shirley. That doctor was played by Leslie Nielsen.

As I grew I came to see more of the man’s comedic work in particular ‘Police Squad’ which in turn lead to the film series ‘Naked Gun’. Nielsen played Detective Frank Drebin and continued to do what he had done so well, playing a serious man in a ridiculous world and treating the ridiculous as though it were commonplace such as arresting a chimpanzee dressed in a gangster suit for murder at the zoo or having a whole bunch of cops kill each other in order to figure out the trajectory of a bullet. Things got a bit more ridiculous and slapsticky in ‘Naked Gun’ but it was still based on the very simple premise that the ridiculous parody world that the characters inhabited was just completely normal to them. As I said, it was this kind of thing that Nielsen shined at. It also shouldn‘t be forgotten that the man had made comic timing look like an art, always knowing the funniest moment to react to or comment on what was going on around him.

His later works suffered a bit in quality and I’ll be honest I didn’t see many of them. I saw ‘Dracula: Dead and Loving It’ when I was about twelve and being young, I probably found it quite funny though repeat viewings have quashed that opinion. I will say that he was probably one of the only things I found funny in ‘Scary Movie 3’. I didn’t see ‘Scary Movie 4’ and I’ve seen a little of ‘Superhero Movie’. It was enough, trust me.

Still, this isn’t about then, it’s about before then. Those classics that I grew up with and loved and the man who helped make them as funny as they were. Leslie Nielsen, a great funny, funny man. The world sucks a little more now that he’s dead.

In honour of Leslie Nielsen, I’ve shoe-horned Creepshow into the Zombie month. I know I said I wasn’t going to touch on Romero’s films but it isn’t a ‘…Of the Dead’ film and these are mitigating circumstances so fuck you. Besides, I can write about what I want and change my mind as I see fit. It’s a blogger’s prerogative… Look, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to swear at you. It’s just that I could feel you judging me with your eyes and… Let’s just move on shall we?

Creepshow is a 1982 horror anthology film directed by George A. Romero (The Deadfather) and written by Stephen King. If you don’t know what a horror anthology is then… Well, have you seen a Halloween episode of ‘The Simpsons’? Think that but live action and, depending on the film, less humour. Creepshow was based on the precept that the shorts in the film were stories in one of those old 50s horror comics book that a boy’s father had found and thrown away and it had quite a few notables amongst it’s cast. Besides Nielsen it also featured Ted Danson, Adrienne Barbeau, E.G. Marshall, Ed Harris, Hal Holbrook, Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son), a small cameo by Tom Savini and Stephen King himself playing a stereotypical hillbilly who begins sprouting weeds after getting ‘meteor shit’ on his hands.

Nielsen appears in a segment called ‘Something To Tide You Over’ which appropriately enough features Zombies, so let’s dig into it a little, shall we? Oh, spoiler alert by the way. The segment is short so not talking about the plot would leave me very little indeed.

Nielsen plays a wealthy man, Richard Vickers, who seems somewhat obsessed with televisions and videos. He discovers that his young trophy wife Becky (Gaylen Ross) is having an affair with Henry Wentworth (Ted Danson) whom he promptly kidnaps. He takes Wentworth to his private beach and forces him to bury himself up to his neck in sand. He then sets up a television and a camera so that Wentworth can watch as Becky, buried in another location further down the beach, dies as the tide slowly comes in. Vickers returns to his beach house, leaving Wentworth to his presumed fate.

Later that Vickers begins hearing strange noises and is shocked to find that Wentworth and Becky have risen from the dead! They come for him, telling they’ve made a hole for him down on the beach. He tries to shoot them but the bullets prove ineffective against the undead lovers. I gotta say, this was actually pretty creepy, even watching it again. There’s something about the Zombie make-up, all covered in sea-weed, the way they speak and the way they relentlessly but slowly come after Vickers, arms outstretched, that just really got to me. Anyway, the final scene is Vickers buried up to his neck in the sand, screaming that he can hold his breath for a long time as the tide slowly comes in.

So what can be said about ‘Something to Tide You Over?’ Well it’s certainly one of the more serious, scarier parts of ‘Creepshow’ with some of the other segments certainly having a more obvious sense of humour about them. This may come as something as a surprise as this was just two years after ‘Airplane!’ and around the time ‘Police Squad’ was being shown on television. Still there is humour there and it’s found in Nielsen’s dry, villainous wit as he kidnaps Danson and forces him to bury himself. It’s also a bit weird to see him playing the villain but you can tell he’s having a good time with it is imminently fun to watch.

As for the Zombies, they aren’t the traditional Romero fare. As this is based on those old horror comics, they are far more akin to the living dead that would be found in the pages of those. They are generally small in number, tend towards the skeletal (as in the first segment, Father’s Day) or, as in the case of this segment, have a very maritime flair. They are also brought back from the dead not by some mysterious virus or hell having run out of room. No, they are motivated by the mystical force of revenge, coming to seek vengeance on those who wronged them in life which is a kinda cool concept but not one that’d work on a mass Zombie Apocalypse level.

So there you go. That’s my review of one segment from Creepshow in honour of Leslie Nielsen. I heartily recommend it and the whole of Creepshow really. It’s got a few problems here and there, with some of the segments seeming a little more drawn out than perhaps they should have been but if you like horror, horror anthologies or the earlier works of George A. Romero, I highly recommend it. Four pints out of five. Laterz.

You can buy Creepshow at the Cinepub Amazon.co.uk Store.



Review: Dawn Of The Dead – The Remake by Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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