Monday, March 29, 2010

The Night of the Creeps

It has been busy lately and my zombie passion was pushed aside.  However,  I have been watching zombie movies while I have been running.   My latest pick,  Night of the Creeps.   Night of the Creeps  is a brilliant homage to old b-movie classics.  

Night of the Creeps is about an alien experiment that is accidentally lost on Earth.    Brain eating slugs infest the brains of the living and the dead and turn them into zombies.  These slugs end up in a sorority house and this leads to all kinds of chaos and screaming girls and nerd love stories.   Interlaced with this amazing plot,  are subtle references to the b-movie classics that have inspired the movie.  A police man, in the middle of all this madness, stops to smell a single yellow in a salute to Plan 9 From Outer Space.   A woman watches Plan 9 From Outer Space right before she's killed by an axe carrying zombie.

The movie is also packed with wonderful one liners like "I've got good news and bads news.  The good news is your dates are here.  The bad news is their dead."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Night of the Living Dead (1990)

I read a recent list of the top ten zombie movies ever made somewhere and it was the first list I completely agreed with.  Featured prominently on the list was the remake of Night of the Living Dead.  Normally,  I dread remakes.  I hate the follow-up Omen and I am actually mad that they are remaking A Nightmare on Elm Street, but this movie is the exception.  

The original Night of the Living Dead was made on a shoe string budget and at the time Romero was frustrated by his inability to fully realize his vision.  In the 1990 remake, Romero was able to complete his vision with the budget he didn't have to begin with.  The difference between this remake and other remakes is that the same director remade it.   This was not another example of Hollywood running out of ideas so they steal someone else's.  The same team that made the original Night of the Living Dead made this film.

I know that this is heresy to many zombie movie fiends, but I have to admit I enjoyed this movie more than the original.   I wanted to kill that limp, blond bimbo in the first movie and I was happy to see the remake driven by a dynamic female heroin that was able to handle herself.  I also appreciated the modern zombie make-up and affects. I believe that this movie belongs on the top 10 zombie film list because it is the completion of Romero's vision.  This is the way he would have done it the first time if he had any money.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


This zombie move makes me giddy.  I can't explain why and I don't pretend to make any sense but I just can't stop watching this one.  I really enjoy the basic boy and his dog story with a zombie theme.  It's touching in all the ways Lassie was.   Fido is what would happen if Pleasantville, Lassie, and Dawn of the Dead had a wonderful deformed baby and dressed it in pink bows and gave it a kiss. 

Fido has everything.  Zombie mamings.  Zombie love stories far more moving than any Julia Roberts movie and some bizarre zombie, bondage sex scenes that are probably more realistic than they should be.   Somewhere, sometime, after the zombie apocalypse, society has moved on and somehow reverted to photocopy of 1950's suburban America.  In this strange society,  zombies have become the fashionable slave labor that every family has to have.  One little boy doesn't have a zombie and is very sad.   When he finally gets his zombie,  a touching friendship is formed that makes his mother question her marriage and society question the role of zombies and everything else in their little universe.

I love everything about this movie, from the zombies devouring flesh to the love story between a forgotten house wife and her son's beloved pet zombie.  You should see this movie twice while eating popcorn with a box of tissues.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Diaries of the Living Dead: A Double Feature

This was a double feature of possibly the crappiest and least watchable zombie films I've ever seen.   These films weren't even funny b-movie fun bad.  They were just terrible, put you to sleep, hit yourself in the face, painful to watch bad.  Both of these films probably had a combined budget of $53 dollars and they look like they were made by some of my high school friends while spoking pot.  Everything about these two films is bad.  The acting is painful.  I could and have done better zombie makeup affects for halloween costumes using the zombie make-up pack at party city.  The cinematography made my stomach hurt and I'm not sure if there was a real director at all.   The script was probably written by a group of high school dropouts whose only education was watching Night of The Living Dead over a hundred times.   In short,  unless it is your goal to see every zombie movie ever made, you can probably skip this double feature

The plots of these films were summed up by netflix as follows:  In Dead Summer, a Pennsylvania community is quarantined after the undead invade, leaving only a group of young survivors and the military to stop the walking corpses in their tracks. In Deadhunter, a construction project in Seville, Spain, dredges up zombies, and it's up to a Special Forces unit to end the carnage; Beatriz Mated and María Miñagorri star.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dellamorte Dellamore

Released in the states as Cemetery Man, Dellamorte Dellamore is a deliciously funny and well written zombie classic. This movie is a work of art.  It is the grand ending to a wonderous time in which Italian film ruled the world of the zombies, and what an ending.  Staring Rupert Everett as the keeper of a cemetery in which the dead wake nightly, this film is so beautiful and so strange I rewatch it on a regular basis just to sink myself back into it's disorienting mists.

Rupert Everett's primary duties as the keeper of a gothic cemetery in which the dead rise nightly is to prevent the living dead from escaping from the cemetery and feasting on the flesh of the living.  He is assisted in his job by his endearingly simple friend Gnaghi.  Gnaghi is Everett's antithesis.   Everett's character is a bored apathetic loner who seems unaware that killing the living dead for a profession is in any way odd.  He is quick witted and funny and lives only to mock the small self centered world of the living that surrounds the cemetery until he falls madly in love with a beautiful unnamed woman played by the exquisitely beautiful Anna Falchi.  After Falchi is killed while having sex with Everett,  Everett's grip on reality begins to weaken.  Everett attempt to keep Falchi's zombi as a love toy, but is thwarted by the good meaning Gnaghi.  When Gnaghi falls in love with a zombi head,  Everett's grip on reality completely slips and he begins killing the living as well as the dead as he mutters, "The living dead and the dying living are all the same."   Every woman Everett meets becomes his lost love and every female part is played by the lovely Falchi.  This strangeness is compacted by the fact that no one seems to notice that Everett has become an insane serial killer that shoots people for no reason at all.   The plot unwinds from here into a disorienting and surreal ending that leaves you wishing for more.

Technically speaking, this film is perfect.  It is beautifully shot and the director, Michele Soavi uses noteable close up photography and 360 degree camera shots through the cemetery to create an atmospheric zombie master piece.  The zombies have an unique, earthy look that seems to connect them to nature.  Roots protrude from their skulls and vines climb out of their bodies. 

Some might say this movie isn't for everyone.  It is cryptic and philosophical and somes times outrageously nonsensical, but it is a gem of a zombie film that stands alone amongst others.  This film is a must see for any zombie film fanatic.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dead Snow

Wow.  I have to say that this movie is one of the must blood filled, intestine covered, dismemberingly violent Nazi zombie movies I've seen.  The movie starts when a group of young people go to an isolated cabin in an isolated Norwegian forest.  Did I mention this film is Norwegian?  Once the young people have arrived they engage in the typical activies young people engage in during horror films.  They drink beer, make fun of the locals, and have sex while taking a crap in the outhouse.  Far more vile to me is the scene in which a young woman licks her partner's fingers after he's crapped and not washed his hands.  Give me a good disemboweling any day,  this made me sick.  

The plot is pushed a long by one young man's missing girlfriend.  After a disturbing and wierd local stops by to tell the young victims about a group of Nazis that were lost in the mountains,  one young man goes off to find his missing girlfriend taking the only vehicle with him.  While he is gone, his friends play loud music, drink more beer, and some get completely eviscerated.  The eviscerations are fun and the first girl to die is pulled into the poop hole and has to climb out with her intestines in her hands completely covered in feces.  It is all down hill from here.  There is a brilliant scene in which one young man catches hold of zombie intestines and uses them as a rope to cling onto while climbing a cliff.  There's another scene in which two of the characters go crazy with a machete and a chain saw. 

After the only character I cared at all about was dismembered,  I lost a little interest, but that was OK because the zombies kept on coming and their relentless pursuit of these young people was a little satisfying for me because I really wanted to kill most of them myself in the first few scenes.  Overall, this is a fun zombie film.  It has some great zombie kill scenes and Nazi zombies are wonderful.  It has all the elements that make a b-grade zombie movie enjoyable.  They just should have held onto that one character that actually seemed to be worth saving a little longer so I wouldn't start cheering for the zombies so early in the film.

Monday, March 1, 2010

American Zombie

The best zombie movies are a commentary on human nature and society.  Films like Night of the Living Dead are great because they comment on how personality and human character are actually far more destructive than any horde of monsters.  Land of the Dead commented on the tendancy of the rich and strong to exploit the poor and weak.  There is a long tradition of zombie movies as a tool for social commentary.

American Zombie tries way to hard to take this trend even further.   American Zombie starts smoothly with an interesting plot.  It follows a film group doing a documenary on zombies.   This is an interesting idea and at first it was quite engaging, but as the film drags into its second hour of annoyingly bland and all too human zombies droning on about their art and the difficulties of their lives the interest fades and boredom settles in.  In its attempt to be socially relevant,  American Zombie just put me to sleep.  All the things that make zombie films wonderful,  the fear, the suspense, the tension, the blood and guts are all absent and  if you doze off and wake-up you might think for a minute that you were watching a documentary on major depressive disorder.  All the zombies are depressed and depressing.

This is not the worst zombie movie I've ever seen, but it is the most unzombie like zombie movie I've ever seen.  I would avoid this one and rent Dead Alive instead.