'UNDEAD TROPE ROUND-UP' TWOFER!DAYLIGHT'S END (2016, 105 min.) on ConTV for the first time. Also streaming on Amazon Prime.Better-than-expected "Walking Dead" ripoff starring Johnny Strong ("Black Hawk Down") as a "Mad Max"-type armed loner trying to survive an outbreak of the undead in the city of Dallas. Apparently in this universe daylight kills the infected, so bands of marauders fight among themselves for scraps during the day. After Rourke helps save the life of Sam (Chelsea Edmundson, a dead ringer for Jennifer Carpenter), she brings him back to the police station run as a survival outfit by her tyrannical father-in-law Frank (Lance Henriksen, whose skin looks like mahogany). There's a colony of survivors in the Baja Desert, but there's a new breed of zombie standing between the survivors and freedom... and it's after Rourke for some unknown reason.From the widescreen cinematography to the decked-for-battle 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner that Johnny Strong drives, "Daylight's End" clearly had a budget above most DTV zombie crap flooding the market. There's not a single moment or character that doesn't feel lifted from either "TWD" or a post-Snyder "Dawn of the Dead" ripoff (yes, the zombies here run fast as hell). But hey, at least Johnny Strong (who gets so many extra credits besides acting I lost count: dream sequence director, composer, etc.) saves a girl from being raped and has leading man chops. That's good-enough to make this worth a look... once. ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (2018, 93 min.) on Amazon Video (Purchase).It's sad that one of last year's best movies (Patrick's #2 of 2018 if I recall) isn't commercially available on physical media in the States (it's not even out on Blu-ray in Europe, just Region 2 DVD). I was lucky to catch "Anna and the Apocalypse" at a local AMC during its limited theatrical run in the States. There were only a handful of patrons in attendance, but afterwards we smiled at each other and commented how delightful it was to experience on the big screen the only Scottish teenage zombie Christmas musical ever made. For my money "Hollywood Ending" is the best song I've heard in a musical in years, and it (along with the movie's soundtrack) is in permanent rotation in my MP3 player. In a better world Ella Hunt would be on her way to international stardom (or at the very least a role in the MCU) from her portrayal of a loyal friend to her newly-formed band of ol' mates as they try to do the right thing (get back to their parents trapped in school watching a theater play) after their boring town of Little Haven falls prey to an unexpected zombie outbreak. Even when it descends into merely checking items off from the zombie cliché list (Paul Kaye's Professor Savage becoming a tyrant when he sees a chance to have power), "Anna" is populated by characters you either care/worry about and/or feel really sad to see become lunch meat. Highly recommended, one of the handful of titles worth owning or renting digitally given the alternative. :'(
Zombie: Flesh Eaters, aka Zombie 2, aka Zombie (1979)Okay this movie lives up to it's reputation. About three years ago, maybe four, I would not go near a Zombie movie. They absoutley freaked me out. Something about the contagion and gore aspect I couldn't do. Of course then comes F This Movie and the likes of Junesploitation and and Scarey Movie Month and I am more than happy to settle in on a Tuesday night and watch Lucio Fulci's Zombie. Cause now I am Fulci fan and I like Zombies fine. It's Zombie, it was everything I kind expected and because it's Fulci it's so much extra. And it is awesome.People were not kidding, Fulci really holds on that eye shot for a freaken eternity, which is a few moments than he usually does.
FleshEater (1988)William Hinzman, best known as the first zombie that attacks Barbara and Johnny at the beginning of Night of the Living Dead, directs and stars (at least as the zombie that gets the outbreak going) in this boring, drug out mess of a film. Most scenes are either unnecessary or held out for way too long, the acting is terrible, and the film has the nerve to steal its ending from Night of the Living Dead, but then actually go on for about five more minutes for no reason at all. I really can't say that I recommend this to anyone.
It Stains The Sands Red (2016)First time viewing. Let me start by saying that there's a lot to like here. I really, really love the way it's shot. I love the simplicity of it. One woman being chased by one slow-moving zombie. I think the main actress, Brittany Allen, does a great job (even in the midst of some questionable and unnecessary story decisions). There's enough of a new take on the zombie genre to make it worth watching. But... (and I don't think this is a spoiler)... Heading into Act Three, they abandon the premise! And they do so in a way that makes me think the writer just didn't know how to end it. It reverts to being every other zombie movie you've seen. Soooo frustrating. (And, by the way, what's up with the writer thanking all the real life serial killers in the closing credits? Is that guy just a total tool?)
Kung Fu Zombie (1981)There’s a fine line between kung fu movie and Warner Brothers cartoon. This movie, thankfully, does not know where that line is and it’s filled with cartoonish antics that make it nearly impossible not to grin through the whole thing. Billy Chong stars as Pang, a kung fu expert tasked with facing off against a horde of ghouls.There are zombies, but that’s not where the supernatural silliness ends. There’s a vampire monk with a killer mullet who windmills a dude over one arm (in the middle of the day, because why not) in one of those moments that has you simultaneously wondering how we got here and also shopping for a t-shirt with that image on it. It’s goofy and nonsensical and filled with fun action beats and may be the perfect movie for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Speaking as someone a little zombied-out this was a tremendously refreshing change of pace.
Dawn of the Dead (1978, dir. George A. Romero) (European Cut)First time seeing the Argento version. I don't know the original Dawn of the Dead by heart, so I don't really know how much Argento changed the movie, but the Goblin score (the main reason I watched this in the first place) alone was a nice adrenaline boost.Zombie Flesh Eaters (Zombi 2) (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)This Fulci guy sure knows what he's doing. I love few things more than a good practical gore effect!Fabio Frizzi's main theme is almost exactly the same as his theme for Fulci's City of the Living Dead just a year later. Just listen to these: Zombie and City.
Planet Terror (2007)I revisited this one for the first time in probably 10 years, and it was still a lot of fun. I remember when I saw Grindhouse, I definitely enjoyed this more than Death Proof. So i’ve tried to revisit Death Proof a couple times (and I like it more each time), but I hadn’t seen this one in so long, now I was worried it wouldn’t hold up. It’s definitely flawed, and I think I prefer Death Proof now, but it’s still a blast! Super gory and goopy with a great cast (although I still have a hard time accepting Freddy Rodriguez as a mysterious super badass haha), it’s just all so ridiculous and over the top, machine gun legs and all!
"Anna and the Apocalypse" 2017, Dir. John McPhailThis rom-com-zombie-Christmas-musical is quickly becoming one of life's great pleasures. See J.M. Vargas' review above. Thanks to Patrick for recommending this flick. I've watched it four times and it fills me with giddy joy everytime.
Pontypool (2008)It's nearly impossible to get what was going on in horror in the 2000s. We are still too close to it. At that point, zombies were no longer slow moving. They were fast and full of rage! This was definitely an interesting approach. It's not a balls to the wall zombie flick. It slowly reveals itself through a radio broadcast. It's worth checking out. There is also a post credit scene that is fuckin weird.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)I want to love this movie. I like the interaction between the characters. It's not perfect but they feel genuine. The zombies are not good. On my blu-ray, they look like they are covered in gray mud. Some of the stuff in the middle is fun but it drags on. 2 hours is too long for this kind of movie. But the end brings me back to where I'm enjoying it, again. I'm never completely satisfied but I still don't feel like I wasted my time.
Zombie (1979)If Lucio Fulci came back from the grave, (a) that would be awesome and (b) if he asked me to show my breasts, I would. In fact, I would insist upon it. I prefer this to Dawn of the Dead. It doesn't drag as much and I don't remember a zombie fighting a shark in Dawn. Plus, eye trauma! And the score kicks fuckin ass.
BIOZOMBIE (1998) Zombies attack a late-night shopping center, so security guards, employees, and some two-bit thieves must work together to survive. This one is more of a parody, and seems more interested in the characters’ hijinks than in the zombie action. The effects aren’t that great (the blood looks suspiciously like red Kool-aid) but there’s a lot of goofy energy to it, if that’s what you’re looking for. Bonus #Godzillasploitation: GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972) This time we’re doing a Jurassic Park/Westworld thing, as the monsters attack a monster-themed amusement park. I like Gigan a lot. He’s got a cool design and he puts up a good fight against the big G. Also, Godzilla can talk?!? Is this supposed to narration or are we meant to believe he’s actually saying stuff? I don’t get it.
I always read it as he is actually talking. This is my favorite in the original series.
Versus (2000)Yakuza, zombies, vampires, reincarnation, kung-fu fighting, machine guns, sniper rifles, sword fights.. this movie throws everything at the wall. It works well, but over stayed its welcome for me. The quick cutting paired with long shots of slo-mo and extreme close ups wore me down and 2 hours felt like a punishment after a while.
Zombie 3 (1988, dir. Lucio Fulci & Bruno Mattei)This movie is just awesome and I'm so glad I finally watched it. Once the zombie action got going it was almost non-stop, and kicked so much ass. The score was incredible, the gore effects were killer, and I saw at least two of the craziest things I've ever seen happen. It's epic. It's nuts. It's Junesploitation as fuck.
Beyond Re-Animator (2003, dir. Brian Yuzna, First Time Viewing)This movie has a great Jeffrey Combs performance (because everything he does is great) and some cool practical effects, but unfortunately other than that it seemed pretty generic to me. Recommended for Re-Animator completionists or Combs fans only.
I Was a Teenage Zombie (1987)Trying to find a zombie movie I haven't seen was limiting enough, but it was even harder since I was specifically trying to find something on one of the streaming services I sub to. I came across this on the Criterion Channel, and there's a very tiny kernel of something in it. Yes it had zero budget, the zombies are just painted green, the one special effect shot they had was kinda ok at best, it's not especially well written or directed, and most of the actors never appeared in another movie, but there is something there that I liked. Maybe it's just the idea of getting brought back as a zombie by your friends because they need you to fight another zombie and how one would react to that.I don't know, it's not great, good, or even competent, but it's sticking with me a bit.
ZOMBIE LAKE (1981, dir. Jean Rollin) – I realized I was getting into schlock territory with this choice, but it would not be Junesploitation if I did not watch at least one clunker. Zombie Lake could have been worse, however. Good old Jess Franco was supposed to have directed this. Given his track record at this time, I can only imagine the film would have been a bigger mess than it is. Although have liked several of Rollin’s vampire films, he could not salvage Zombie Lake.The central story of the film is that German soldiers killed during the retreat from France during WWII and dumped in a nearby lake are coming out of the lake to kill villagers and visitors. A suspiciously high number of these visitors happen to be young women who want to go skinny dipping in the lake, providing ample opportunities for extended nude scenes. A sub-plot is also thrown in about one of the zombies connecting with his daughter. The dubbing, the zombies, the gore, and the editing are all executed in very poor manner. All of this results in a film that occasionally does have that unintentional comedy effect.
Train To Busan (2016)A zombie movie that makes me want to be a better dad.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)Goddamnit, like a fine wine, this movie just gets better with age. Romero says so much about so many things... and captures great zombie head shots!
Burying the Ex (2014)A movie I've come to like a lot more than I did when I first saw it. I like the L.A. setting and the performances, even though I still think the movie treats the Ashley Greene character pretty unfairly.
Zombi 3(1988)There are three things in this that I can honestly say I’ve never seen in a zombie movie before (one involving a water rescue, one a zombie head and the other a “delivery”), and they’re all fucking amazing. I also loved that almost all of this takes place in the daytime. Damn fun time.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (2018):Every now and then, a movie reminds you why you love movies. This is one.
Land of the Dead (2005, dir. George A. Romero)Disappointing -- yet understandable -- that the director of my favorite movie (Night of the Living Dead) does not live up to his incredible mark set with his original Living Dead trilogy. The political commentary is there in full, but the rhythm of the horror is just slightly off and does not sit well for me. Nothing could ever make me love those early zombie movies less but this does make me sad that the magic could not be recreated all these years later.