Saturday, February 27, 2010

White Zombie

As far as my research shows,  this is the first zombie movie.  Made in 1932 and staring Bela Lugosi,  this is the prototype for all zombie movies.  These early zombie films are quite different to what modern zombie fans have gotten used to.   They are based on voodoo zombie legend and not on the living dead motif.   They play on Haitin settings and voodoo magic to brew a sinsiter atmosphere and create a fear that the characters could lose not just their lives, but their souls.

Lugosi stars as Murder, the owner of a Haitian plantation that seduces a young couple to come stay with them under the guise of kindness.  Unbeknownst to the lovestruck fools,  Murder (who would guess he's bad?) has been using voodoo magic to enslave the locals to work on his plantation, do his dirty work, and assist him in his nefarious plans.  As soon as Murder sees the beautiful lead actress, you know what Murder's diabolical plan is.  He wants to use voodoo magic to turn this beauty into his zombie love slave!

This movie is slow and is much like watching  any B-grade movie that comes from the thirties.  If you have seen Dracula or Frankenstien you know the pace that this movie will progress at.  It is overacted and Lugosi plays the role in the same melodramatic fashion he played Dracula.  I'm not a huge old B-grade horror fan so I will never have a passion for White Zombie, but I see in it the seeds of the movies to come.  In this tiny gem of a movie,  lies the beginning of all the zombie mayhem I love.   Every zombie lover should see this film at least once so they can fully understand the evolution of the genre.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


For those of you who are not zombie geeks,  this movie was the first in a series of zombie films made by the Italian director Lucio Fulci. Fulci is one of the premier zombie movie makers of the twentieth century and no complete study of zombie films would be complete without a look at this film.  Made in 1979, Zombie began a tradition of Italian zombie films which ended with the brilliant Italian movie, Cemetery Man.  Zombie was actually released in Italy as Zombie 2.   Dawn of the Dead had enormous success in Italy under the title Zombie.  Fulci called his film Zombie 2 to capilize on the enormous popularity of  Dawn of the Dead.

Fulci made several of these films, but Zombie was one of the best.   Zombie was made to be a sequal to Dawn of the Dead, although I never saw the connection myself.  The truth is Fulci was more deeply influenced by the 1943 classic zombie film,  I Walked With a Zombie and this influence is far more evident in the film than the Dawn of the Dead  influence. Zombie is a classic zombie movie about an hord of zombies that is slowly taking over a Caribbean island and then head straight for New York City.   Folci takes particular effort with his gore and has an eye gorging scene that is particularly greusome.   It was banned in the UK for its explicit violence at the time of  its release.

One of the most amazing scenes in this movie is a show down between a zombie and a shark.   First of all,  I've never seen anything like this and it is damn awewome.  Secondly,  the scene was done with a real great white shark and the man in the zombie suit fighting under water is the shark's trainer.   There is no CGI here.  That man is really wrestling a great white! 

Although this movie is a must see for any zombie fanatic,  it does have it's limitations.  The plot is thin and it is really held together mostly by blood and zombies.  The characters are a little flat and the dubbing is just terrible.  In fact, you really don't care if everyone is eaten by zombies and sometimes your just hoping they are.   Yet, this is a classic and if you really love zombie movies you can't ignore Fulci's importance in the genre and you really can't ignore this movie.   It may not be the greatest zombie movie, but it is a brain eating, eye gouging, shark wrestling good time!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

This novel was the start of a disturbing series of knock off novels.   In Seth Grahame-Smith's novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Smith artfully cut and pastes sections of Jane Austen's book with his own zombie action sequences.   The bulk of the book is still  Jane Austen's romantic tale of young girls seeking to find love in a world that doesn't favor women, however the women have been transformed into zombie killing ninjas who can take care of themselves when it comes to zombies but are unable to survive in real society.

I'm not going to lie,  I loved this book.   I'm not sure if it was Austen or Smith I loved, but Austen certainly was more compelling with ninja zombie fighting peppered throughout it.   Not to say I didn't like Pride and Prejudice on it's own and I think that this shell was still compelling.  The love story was still the same and the characters were the same.  They just needed to fight zombies off and on throughout their courtships.  I wasn't the only one that couldn't put this book down.  This book was such a huge success that it put Quirk Press on the map and there have been several follow-ups to this book that do not include zombies so I have completely ignored them.   It really was the zombies that made this marriage interesting and I just can't imagine the marriage of Austen and sea monsters would be anywhere near as interesting. 


Forget the Lord of the Rings.   Forget King Kong.  This is Peter Jackson's opus.  This is his best work.   It is funny, irreverent, and full of some of the most disgusting zombies ever put on film.   It was even rated by Fangoria as the goriest film of all time for many, many years.   This film is in a category all it's own. 

It is the story of a shut in young man who's become a slave to his disturbingly overbearing mother.  This young man finds love in the arms of a young woman but finds that he has many obstacles to his love, the least of which is his mother's slow degeneration into a complete zombie.  The best scenes in this movie are works of art.   There is a wonderful scene in which the mother has a dinner party while she slowly dissolves into her own soup and devours her ear. There is another scene in which the priest turns out to be a kung fu master and cries out,  "I kick ass for the Lord!".    Dead-Alive best scene is a classic scene in which our poor heroes are attacked by someone's colon.  This movie even comes with a zombie sex scene that leads to the birth of a bothersome zombie baby that the protagonist just can't bear to kill.

There just aren't enough good things you can say about this movie, so if you have a strong stomach and you love zombies this is one of the best.  It is a classic that will always be one of my all time favorite zombie features.  

Zombie Nation

This movie falls into the avoid at all costs category.   I decided to watch this movie even though I had never heard of it because it had good cover art and the back made it seem interesting.  However,  the movie had no scenes that resembled anything from the cover and the back was probably about some other movie the director liked because it couldn't have been about this movie.

This movie was about a serial killer who kills women who then come back to life to make a zombie nation and take revenge.  The acting is bad.  Not funny bad, but porn star bad.  The script is ridiculous and the movie has the feel of something made for less than five dollars.  Some zombie movies are so bad they are good.  They make you laugh and this is wonderful.  Zombie nation is not one of these movies.   It was flat and dead.  I fell asleep a coulple times during this movie and I'm someone who can make through all three Lord of the Rings played back to back.  It was a struggle to watch this movie and there wasn't even any good zombie action.   The zombie were hot chicks that had been brough back to find revenge while acting poorly.   There were no drippy, oozy, wonderful zombies. 

In short if you have a choice between spending your evening beating yourself upside the head with a two by four and watching this movie, beat yourself upside the head.   It will kill less brain cells and do less damage to your intellect.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dead & Buried

This is hands down one of my favorite zombie movies.  It is slow and deliberate and it twists and turns to a surprising ending that harkens back to the old Carribean style zombies like the ones in White Zombie.  It begins with a scene so violent it makes your skin crawl and you never really have any idea where this movie is going or even what the hell is going on until the very end. 

The main character in this move is a police officer played by James Farentino.  He seems like a kind hearted fellow who is investigating a series of particularly brutal and violent murders that are taking place in the small New England town he lives in.  As the violence of the crimes escalates, the police officer begins to suspect his wife as a participant in the crimes.  Books on the black arts and a spine tingling piece of film footage convince him that his wife is only part of the evil that is seeping into his town.  This film plays with paranoia and shock and twists and turns through scenes in which the sweet townsfolk of this seemingly average town kill people in ways so sickening it makes you want to hurl.  All of this is happening and throughout the movie you'll be wondering,  where are the zombies?

Wait.... the zombies are coming.  They aren't your usual Romero style zombies, but they are there and in the end you'll almost wish there were typical zombies comming to eat your brains because the zombies in this film are much more disturbing.  This is a definate four star zombie movie and a must see for anyone with a real passion for the undead.