Cinepub


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

Originally posted February 2nd, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Zombie Month Repost: 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.



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: 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.



Depress-A-Thon: Threads Double Repost by Jamie

Well, unfortunately there was just too much to get on with at work last night for me to find a spare moment to finish writing the list of my favourite Sci-fi villains. I did manage to get half of it done and plan to have it up tomorrow. Instead it’s time for another repost in the Depress-A-Thon, this time dedicated to the film which truly scarred my soul, ‘Threads’. I’ve decided to stick the two occasions which I’ve written about ‘Threads’ together since the original review was a little shorter than I remembered.

So included below is the part the bit I wrote about Threads for my top 10 Post-Apocalyptic Films List (Which can be found here: Part 1, Part 2) and, after the video, the original review entitled “Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Man Kind Has Ever Put To Film.” Enjoy.

1. Threads

Cause Of Apocalypse: Nuclear War.

Yes, for number one I’m going a little obscure. It’s a made for TV British film that I’ve reviewed before and it’s truly fucking chilling. The acting is corny, it’s incredibly 80s, scratch that, it’s incredibly Northern England 80s and it’s a little slow to start but fuck, after the bombs drop, it’s just… Wow.

This film portrays what life would have been like if the US and Russia had decided to launch nukes at each other and what would have happened had England been completely ravaged by nuclear bombs. I’m sure that a few of the things that are described aren’t considered exactly scientifically accurate these days but I’m also sure that it’s still as close as I’ll ever see a film get to the truth.

This film essentially put me into a sort of mini-depression after watching it. It made me feel doomed, as though at any moment the world could come crashing to a halt if a small group of people wished it so. Keep in mind that the Cold War had been over for some time at this point. Seriously though, there doesn’t need to be a cold war for it to happen anyway. All it takes is a few buttons being pushed and then Boom. Life as we know it will be over. The lucky ones will die in the initial attacks. Oh, god. It’s happening again. Just thinking about this fucking film is bringing it all back. What the fuck is the point?

Still, if you feel that happiness is a commodity that you just don’t need in your life anymore, I heartily recommend ‘Threads‘. It’s incredible and horrifying. Oh god, why? Why?

Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Man Kind Has Ever Put To Film.

I love post-apocalyptic films and games. Despite the harsh existence that the people living in the post nuclear war landscape have to eke out, they always seem fun, especially something like Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome or Fallout 3. So I decided to buy and watch the DVD of the BBC’s 1984 nuclear war drama, Threads. Spoilers ahead.

The synopsis promised a realistic look at what would happen if Britain were suddenly struck by nuclear weapons launched by then biggest threat to the Western World, the Soviet Union. I know what the effects of a massive nuclear launch would be, so I wasn’t expecting to be shocked by anything on screen. How wrong I was.

Let me start off by saying never ever watch Threads. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliantly made drama, especially for the time it was made but if you ever want the possibility of happiness to be present in your life ever again, then you really should watch a Mad Max movie instead. Seriously, I think I may have killed joy by viewing this.

The story follows two families in Sheffield, one working class and one middle class. The two families are linked by the fact that the son of the working class family has gotten the daughter of the middle class family pregnant and they have become engaged to be wed. The first forty-five minutes follows their everyday lives whilst highlighting the fact that tension between the US and the Soviet Union are growing due to military movements by both sides in the Middle East.

The film is also interspersed with narration and text that highlights the fact that Sheffield would be a prime target for nuclear strike due to it’s economic value as a producer of steel and chemicals and it’s proximity to a US Air Force base. These little pieces of information continue to mount the tension as relations between the US and the Soviet Union continue to become increasingly strained.

Then the main event occurs. Britain is essentially nuke raped by the Commies. Sheffield itself is devastated, with buildings being flattened and bodies turned to ash in seconds and the pregnant girl‘s fiancée is killed. There are some who have built shelters but the film makes it perfectly clear that the radiation will destroy those peoples futures. Hooray!

The film then follows what happens to the survivors during the years following the nuclear strike. Nuclear winter sets in meaning that during the day illumination remains at twilight levels. This, compounded by massive radiation contamination of the earth, makes the growth of crops increasingly difficult. The ozone layer is massively depleted allowing increased ultra-violet exposure resulting in more instances of skin cancer, premature aging and cataracts and the population of Britain dwindles to medieval levels.

Children are being born more frequently with physical and mental mutations and even those who are born normal have no education and speak broken English. Their parents generally die before the children are able to take care of themselves and are many of them scamper through the ruined cities, trying to scavenge for food and clothing whilst avoiding the gunshots of people who shoot looters on sight.

I’ve pretty much avoided any major plot points of the story because, despite what I said earlier, I think it’s worth a watch. For a made for TV British production it’s all pretty good. The acting and special effects are a little dated but bearable. In fact the only things that don’t really hold up are the fashions and the haircuts. So yes, I’d highly recommend it. But if you do watch it, be warned. Once you watch something, you can’t unwatch it. I spent the day after viewing this film wandering around in a kind of daze, not entirely sure what the point in doing anything was.



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.



The Best And The Worst Of 2009: Part 2 by Jamie
31/12/2009, 9:00 am
Filed under: Lists, Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, as I write this I’m sitting at work in a hotel. It has probably been the worst night I’ve had all year. There was an altercation between some customers, blood was spilt. Fun times. So it’s appropriate that I write this, my top 5 worst films of the year on this very night. I apologise that it wasn’t up sooner but I had a banging headache yesterday and the thought of writing anything made my mind capsule angry. With that said, I’d like to add a little disclaimer. I haven’t seen every film that was released this year, obviously. Hell, I didn’t even get to see many of the films I did want to see so all I can do is list my opinion of films I did see, hence no New Moon or X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Let’s begin.

5. Terminator Salvation

The biggest crime a Terminator film can commit is to be boring. Now Salvation was certainly a better film than Terminator 3 but it was no where near as entertaining. That may seem odd but keep in mind I’m one of these people who gains a certain kind of pleasure from watching films that are bad, just as long as there’s something there that can be enjoyed.
Salvation provided me very little entertainment overall. There was the odd special effects sequence which was nice to see and it was nice to see a Terminator film that took place after Judgement Day but there was nothing really new here. For me, the film just plodded along from predictable scene to predictable scene. Some of it didn’t make even make sense. Now I know that can be said for many of the Terminator films. The timeline alone has confused the fuck out of me for years with it’s paradoxes and such but it was really obvious things. Why would the machines build robot motorbikes designed so that people could sit on them? Why did they have USB ports? Overall, this was just a massively disappointment.

4. G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra

I’ll give G.I. Joe one thing, it knew exactly what the hell it was and it didn’t try to be anything else and I have to respect it or that on some level. It didn’t try and take itself seriously like certain other films based on 80s toy-lines I could, and probably will, be mentioning. Also, G.I. Joe was never really that popular here in the UK as I remember so I wasn’t as offended by the whole experience as I’m sure some of my North American counter-parts probably were.
Still, this movie was all kinds of ridiculous, pretty much to the point where it stopped being enjoyable, and trust me, there were points when I did enjoy this film due to it’s balls out ridiculousness but there’s only so much that even I can take before I say ‘I’m sorry, that’s quite enough. I’m afraid you’ve lost me.’ And it’s hard to say exactly where that point in the movie came. Was it when The Eiffel Tower got eaten up by some kind of super weapon? Was it Dr. Who’s terrible Scottish accent? Or was it having to accept that a Wayans would somehow be considered the best of the best of the best? I just couldn’t tell you.

3. Dragonball Evolution

Another film that I have very little connection with the source material. I think I tried to watch an episode of Dragonball once and was pretty bored by the whole thing. There just seem to be a lot of fighting and shouting. I can’t exactly see what all the fuss is about.
So I went into this blind and was pretty much treated to the same experience I got with G.I. Joe, ridiculousness beyond my comfort zone but even worse than G.I. Joe because it was incomprehensible ridiculousness. I reached a point where I couldn’t fully figure out what the hell was going on, nor did I care. Something to do with the guy in the orange becoming a WereMonkey and destroying the world for the grey guy if they didn’t get all the glowy balls or something. I don’t know. It was just odd and thankfully a pretty forgettable experience.

2. Friday The 13th

Now this is where this list gets a bit more personal. Yes, Terminator Salvation was a major disappointment but I can’t say I’m a die hard Terminator fan. I love the first two films but I’m not really invested in the series. Friday the 13th is a different barrel of bananas. I love these fucking films. Sure, there are some in the series that really piss me off like part five where it wasn’t even Jason and Jason Goes to Hell which just confused the hell out of me, but there’s enough there to keep me entertained.
I’m also quite comfortable in the knowledge that the Friday the 13th films aren’t great or in some cases even good films but that doesn’t matter. They hold a special place in my heart as does that loveable be-hockey masked serial killer, Jason Voorhes. So I went into this quite looking forward to it. After all, what could they do to the series that could make it any worse than it was? How can you be the straw that breaks the camels back if the camel has a long standing series of breaking it’s back? Well, I’m not sure how but they found a way.
The worst part is, I can’t even tell you how. I don’t know why I hate this movie. I actually quite enjoyed the first half hour which were essentially quick remakes of parts one and two. The film had all the right ingredients. It had Jason in his hockey mask. It had a bunch of stereotypical teenagers and it had some pretty sweet kills but somehow it just managed to be awful and it was definitely the second angriest I’ve walked out of a cinema this year.

1. Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

GAH! For fucks sake, don’t make me relive this again. Please, I’m begging you… Fine. This “film” was just fucking awful. I spent every fucking frame of it hating the fact that I was even there. I have never walked out of a film but I came damn fucking close during this piece of shit. I apologise for the langue but… FUCK! Seriously, this thing was actually filmed? It was actually written? Someone watched this and said “This is gold. Release it.”
It’s an incomprehensible mess. No character in this film is in anyway likeable, even Optimus Prime was a massive douche. This movie made me dislike Optimus fucking Prime. When the death of a character has more emotional resonance in an animated toy commercial posing as a film then you have big fucking problems. Fuck you movie. Fuck you. If you wanna know more about my feelings on this film, there is a video review and a written accompaniment elsewhere on this site. I honestly can’t continue writing about it again and keep my sanity. Gah… Fucking… Shit… See you in 2010. Laterz.



The Best and The Worst of 2009: Part 1 by Jamie
28/12/2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Lists, Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Originally I was going to finish this year with my top 50 of the past decade with maybe my top 10 worst, but I seem to have accidentally not saved my shortlist and so I’ve decided to just do this instead. Maybe I’ll try and sort out that decade list in January. Who knows? Not I… Anyway, In my opinion, 2009 was a pretty mediocre year for film. Of course this is skewed slightly by the fact that I didn’t get to see quite a lot of the films that I wanted to see and was left less than impressed by others.

Yes, this was a year for unnecessary sequels (Terminator: Salvation, Fast & Furious, The Final Destination), unnecessary remakes (Friday The 13th, Race To Witch Mountain) and terrible adaptations of popular things from other media (Dragonball Evolution, Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li) but there were a few diamonds that shone through the rough… And since I can’t think of a better way to segue into the list, here are the top five of the ones that I saw (Probable spoilers ahead. You have been warned.):

5. Avatar

If you’ve seen Ferngully, you’ve basically seen Avatar. You just have to replace fairies with 11 foot tall blue people and Tim Curry’s oily dude with a cartoonish army general. Oh, and replace that Lizard that’s voiced by Tone Lōc with a giant Pterodactyl thing. Now, this film just barely made the top five because, well, I honestly wasn’t as impressed with it as most of the world seems to have been. Yeah, the CGI was pretty impressive but the way this film was hyped up you’d think the special effects cured AIDs or something. Did they cure AIDs? Well, I don’t know, I don’t have AIDs but I’m guessing they probably don’t. All I know is that I didn’t get the same sense of awe as I did when I saw living, breathing dinosaurs for the first time in Jurassic Park or when I saw that giant mother-ship hovering over Johannesburg in District 9.
I think it’s the CGI which actually brings this film down a little. Not because it looks bad but it’s because whole scenes of this film are completely dedicated to showing it off. In fact that seems to be the main point of the entire middle of them film. It just doesn’t make for good pacing in a movie. If they’d wanted t show of the world so much then I personally think that Avatar would have worked much better as a television series where they could have layered it in throughout episodes and had a lot more time available to just show off.
Still, it has to be said that I did enjoy this film, particularly the last part which is basically one long, awesome battle. Good times. As I’ve stated before the plot is cheesy and clichéd but it’s a James Cameron movie so I was kind of expecting that and James Cameron can take the clichés and make them work.

4. Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

What? I can’t put a Nicolas Cage film in my top five list of the year? Well, fuck you buddy. It’s my list and if I loved a Nicolas Cage film then I loved a Nicolas Cage film. You know what? I fucking loved a Nicolas Cage film. Bad Lieutenant pretty much takes all of the things that makes Nic Cage bad in all the films he’s been in recently and makes it fucking work.
Does he overact? Hell yes, he overacts! Is it to his benefit? Hell yes, it’s to his benefit! Seriously, I’ve never seen overacting work so well in a movie. It’s like the reverse of The Wicker Man or something. If I ever meet Werner Herzog I want to shake his hand for casting Nic in this film. And if you’ve been in a room with me and I’ve decided to talk about this film then you already know what my favourite scene in this film is. If you haven’t seen it and I haven’t told you about it then I’ll just say this. It involves an old lady and her carer, a breathing tube and the use of the word cunt. It’s a glorious thing to behold.

3. Inglorious Basterds

Inglorious Basterds is very obviously a Quentin Tarantino film. In fact, it could almost be considered another part of Grindhouse, although I suppose that most of his films could be, some are just more obvious than others.
I know there was a lot of criticism when this film came out because there were a lot of scenes with people just talking punctuated throughout with sudden, short bursts of violence. The problem being of course that people walked into the film expecting a World War 2 film like Saving Private Ryan and what they got was a Quentin Tarantino film. I suppose there’s nothing you can really do about this kind of thing really, except for maybe hand out pamphlets explaining what the film is and what the film isn’t before they go in and see it but that seems impractical at best and stupid at worst.
One thing I really loved about this film was that most of it was in German and French with subtitles except for when it obviously benefited the characters to speak in English. I hate it when films have characters speak in English for apparently no reason except so that the audience can understand them. For example, I was watching Scarface the other night, an otherwise brilliant film, but there’s a scene where Tony is talking to his sister and mother and they are all talking in English. Why? Wouldn’t it be more natural for them to speak in Spanish? Whatever. I suppose it’s that suspension of disbelief thing that I have problems with from time to time.
Perhaps my biggest problem with the film, and to be fair it’s fairly minor, is Mike Myers as the British General. His performance was fine but his accent just seemed to slip one to many times for me to buy it,
Ooh, before I move on, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome finale in the French cinema. It’s probably one of the most awesome scenes in any film I’ve seen not just this year but in the past decade. Watching two Jewish men spray bullets from boxes into the highest echelons of Nazi society below them who are in turn trying to escape from a fire, whilst the visage of a women speaking about Jewish vengeance is being projected onto the screen and then the smoke, is a truly, truly incredible thing to watch.

2. Star Trek

I would by no means consider myself a Trekkie, though I have enjoyed many a Star Trek thing over the years, in particular the original series. It’s certainly a much better series than Next Generation, with barely any of the techno-babble that haunted the later series. It was basically about three best friends in space discovering new peoples whilst one of them tried to have sex with them. Good times.
So I was a little bit wary of this film when I heard about it. Still, it turns out I had no reason to be. This film was fucking awesome on so many levels. If you’ve never seen anything Star Trek before, then you can appreciate it as a great Sci-Fi film. If you’ve seen the original series then you can appreciate it on a whole different level. There are so many little references thrown in through out the film then you’ll be a thousand times more entertained.
I really have to commend the cast of this film, in particular Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine who I thought got Spock and Kirk down perfectly. Quinto did an excellent job portraying a character who had the problem of being both part Human and part Vulcan and Pine managed to pull off that likeable cockiness that made Kirk such an enjoyable character to watch.
Now, I’m as usual I’m not afraid to admit when I’ve cried during a film and I was surprised that I got a little teary eyed on more than one occasion watching this film. Perhaps most surprising was when I welled up a little at the end when Leonard Nimoy is quoting the famous ‘Space, The Final Frontier’ speech. It’s truly a wonderful thing that completely sums up what Star Trek, nay, the human spirit is all about, the yearning to explore and discover and I had no idea that it had it ingrained itself on my psyche and affected me so much until I heard it booming from the speakers in a cinema. Still, I will agree with my mother, who’s complaining that William Shatner wasn’t in the film drove me to near insanity. It would have been nice if JJ Abrahms had gotten Shatner in to read that speech, maybe just have Spock listening to some old Captain’s Log or something. Ah well, maybe in the sequel.

1. District 9

What can I say about this film that I haven’t already said? Well, as I said earlier, I felt more awe from the special effects in this film then I did from Avatar, except the mecha-prawn which on occasion looked a little ropey. I think, in all honesty, I’m just more impressed when you can take something completely CGI and blend it with the real world, like the mothership and the prawns in this film. I don’t get too excited by a world which is pretty much totally computer-generated. That and I really, really like insectoid aliens.
This film also inspired a last minute costume change for the Saturday of Bestival, my original plan being to go as Krang’s Robot Body from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Instead I spent an entire night building a prawn arm out of bin bags, paper and a glove and went and Wikus Van De Merwe. Good times.
There is so much in this film and it can be enjoyed on so many different levels. You can enjoy it on an action and sci-fi level or on a political level or even on a comedic level, the film manages to balance all these different elements exquisitely without ever feeling bloated or boring. Ever frame of this film had me on the edge of my seat and if it isn’t recognised at the Oscars then, well, fuck the Oscars.

So that’s it. That’s my top 5 films of 2009. But I know the internet. I know what the internet likes. The internet thrives on negativity, a raw powerful anger and hatred that the anonymity the internet provides and is generally just more entertaining for all concerned. So with that in mind come back tomorrow for my Worst 5 films of 2009 and I certainly do have a large buffet of shit to choose from. Laterz.



Documental: King Of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters by Jamie

It’s Christmas time and what’s the true meaning of Christmas? Video games of course! Yes, the giving and receiving of video games. Alright, fine. It’s also got something to do with the birth of a baby a couple of thousand years ago or something. I don’t know, I’m an atheist. Still, video games play a lot into the Christmas experience, especially for anyone in my age bracket. Who doesn’t remember receiving a NES at Christmas? Well, I don’t because I have a shitty memory but I did own one and I’m sure it can’t have been a birthday present. No way, not for just one of us. It must have been a combined Christmas present between me and my brother Jason. Maybe Jordan as well but he was born in 1989. Might have been a bit young. On the other hand, I’m sure we all thought that the NES would be the only console there would ever be, something that would last for our entire lives, so maybe it was for all of us

So yes, for as long as I can, and apparently can’t, remember, video games have been a part of Christmas for me. And so it is with this tenuous link that I segue into today’s review, ‘King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’. It’s a tale as old as time, a tale of rivalry, a tale of conspiracy, a tale of competition between two men. A tale of Donkey Kong.

And what a tale it is. This film is so brilliant in it’s simplicity. At it’s core its about nothing more complex than one guy trying to beat another’s score on Donkey Kong but it’s the intricate events and characters that surround it that makes it so much more. There are three major characters who are at the forefront of this story. There is Steve Wiebe (pronounced Wee-bee), the challenger, Billy Mitchell, the mulleted champion and Walter Day, the referee and an old friend of Billy Mitchell.

Steve is a man who’s life has been beset by failure. Every time he’s gotten close to even tasting the smallest bit of victory or success it’s been snatched away from him. Maybe that’s not fair. He does have a wife, two kids and a nice job as a high school science teacher but in terms of things that men care about such as sporting victory or musical accomplishment, despite being talented in these areas, Steve hasn’t gotten where he’d dreamed he’d be. The main problem seems to be that Steve has, as his brother puts it ‘a few social hang-ups’. In other words he seems to be quite shy and is also incredibly nice. The kind of nice that actually becomes a problem because you allow people to walk all over you. So what better achievement for someone with such social hang ups to aim for than a high score in a video game. Steve also has another thing going for him and that’s that he has a very, very analytical mind. He can detect patterns and find solutions to things that I, someone who has an incredibly poor mathematical mind, find truly astounding.

Billy Mitchell is essentially the polar opposite of Steve. He’s achieved success in his life, both with video games and with his hot sauce business ventures. He’s had the high-score on Donkey Kong ever since the 80s and is basically an idol to the small group of hardcore classic arcade gaming nerds who surround him. Scratch that, he’s more than an idol, to them he’s like a living God. He’s the embodiment of Neo from the Matrix movies if the Matrix had the graphical capabilities of an Atari. As such, Billy Mitchell has a very inflated sense of self-worth. He’s uber-patriotic, uber-egotistical and an uber-arse hole. He’s one of the greatest screen villains I’ve seen in recent years and what’s terrifying is he’s a real person… well, that and his hair. The scene where Billy and Steve are finally on screen together is one of the most tense and heart breaking scenes in any film, documentary or otherwise.

You can’t deny, however, that Billy has a talent for success. He clearly strives hard and works towards achieving his goals, sometimes using questionable means. There’s one scene which shows him in a supermarket, moving another brand of hot sauce out of the way and pushing more of his own into the spare space. What a man.

Walter Day is a bit more like Steve Wiebe. He’s also incredibly nice to the point of it perhaps being to his disadvantage. He seems to be a refugee from the love generation, an aging hippy who somehow found himself in the arcades during the 80s and never managed to find his way out. He’s the founder of Twin Galaxies, an organisation that collects and ranks high scores and acts as it’s official referee during live events. There seems to be the suggestion, however, that because of his nature, Twin Galaxies has been almost high-jacked by the gamers themselves, Billy Mitchell in particular. Most of the other people who make up TG also seem to have high scores and there are times when it seems as though they are doing everything they can to stop Steve Wiebe from removing their king from his throne. Of course it could just be that the only people qualified to check if people are cheating or not or if a score is valid are the people who have truly mastered those games. It’s the nature of the beast.

It’s these other people who surround the situation that add yet another layer to this film and it’s interesting to see the juxtaposition between the two worlds, the very ordinary world of Steve and his family and the very odd and sheltered world of Twin Galaxies and the people it’s made up of. Some of these people, such as Robert Mruczek who watches every taped high score attempt that comes in, have given their lives over to the past time. It’s really quite sad to see though I suppose they can be admired for their passion. Maybe.

So what’s left to say about the film without giving too much of the story away? Well, it has an awesome soundtrack. In particular their use of the ‘You’re The Best’ from the Karate Kid, ‘Eye of the Tiger’, ‘In The Hall Of The Mountain King’, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Everybody Knows’ and one particular track that Steve Wiebe composed himself are all brilliant and just add to the feeling that this is just like watching a film about boxers, karate masters or any other physical contest between two men… I dunno, wrestling or something. It has the feel of a true sports underdog story.

So to wrap up, I love this film and I haven‘t really covered too much of the plot because I don‘t want to spoil it for anyone. I honestly think that it might be perfect and I can’t see anyone not enjoying it. Go and buy it right now and by several more copies for your friends and loved ones for Christmas. It’s only £3.98 at amazon.co.uk and $15.99 at amazon.com. You can afford that! Actually, Americans might wanna buy it from amazon.co.uk… It’s probably cheaper even with the postage and packaging. And don’t just download it. You need the DVD and the two brilliant commentaries that come included on it, especially the one with Chris Carle and John M. Gibson. It’s hilarious. Seriously, buy this film. You won’t regret it. Even if you don’t like video games, you’ll enjoy this film. I showed it to my mum and before she said “What? A movie about Donkey Kong? That sounds stupid! You’re stupid! I wish I’d never given birth to you!” Ok, she didn’t exactly say that but she thought it sounded stupid but afterwards she loved it. And so will you. That’s a promise. Look, here’s the link:

King Of Kong DVD

No more arguing, go buy it. I give this film five pints out of five. Laterz. Buy it.



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.




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