Friday, June 26, 2020

Junesploitation 2020 Day 26: Zombies!

Back from the dead and hungry for more!


  1. HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980, TUBI, John Gutts: 6/3/2018)
    This might be Bruno Mattei's magnum opus, and his competent-at-best direction isn't even the main reason why. The strange alchemy of Claudio Borroni's editing incorporating stock footage from 1974's "Guinea Ama" documentary, the liberal use of Goblin music from other movies (specifically Romero's "Dawn of the Dead") to great effect, Claudio Fragasso's epic screenplay reduced to its bare essentials by the budget, the lack of a clear-cut central lead amongst the soldiers/reporters we follow (though Margie Newton's exposed painted breasts make a strong argument for Lia being No. 1), the typical mistreatment of women/people of color (even little children don't get spared), and some epic-for-the-time gory gags all add up one of the better Italian zombie/cannibal flicks of the early 80's. Any similarities with the current COVID-19 crisis are unintentional, unless you're Charles Band (see 1st reply below). 4 ZANTORO-LOSING-HIS-SHIT FREAKOUTS (out of 5)

    WHITE ZOMBIE (1932, A.Prime, Daniel Epler: 6/1/2015)
    Pre-code Bela Lugosi is creepily effective (the eyes have it!) as the witch doctor at a Haitian plantation where a love triangle between a young woman (Madge Bellamy) and two suitors, one of whom (Robert Frazer's Beaumont) gets more than he bargained for, is surrounded by black magic that keeps the undead working the sugar fields. Strong on atmosphere courtesy of classical music samples/sets from other Universal Monsters pictures of the era, "White Zombie" is a model of efficiency for its time: cheap, effective and doesn't outstay its welcome (69 fat-free minutes). 3.5 VULTURES SCREAMING LIKE WOMEN (out of 5)

    ZOMBIE HONEYMOON (2004, Showtime on Hulu, Brent Petersen: 6/2/2018)
    Despite its distracting early aughts' shot-in-HD digital photography, this New Jersey-set, low-budget indie pic (executive produced by Larry Fessenden) nails its tone of mumblecore romance gradually shifting into melancholic cannibalistic angst. Writer/director David Gebroe plays loose with the zombie tropes, but his two main leads (Tracy Coogan and Graham Sibley) sell their love for one another well enough to make their eventual descent into blood-soaked existential drama hard to watch. YMMV. 3.5 ONE-WAY TICKETS TO PORTUGAL (out of 5)

    ZOMBIE ASS: TOILET OF THE DEAD (2011, CON-TV, Chaybee: 6/16/2014)
    Chaybee's suggestions have yet to steer me wrong, but even I raised an eyebrow that he thought enough to write about this. We all remember our first 'hentai' anime, and whether our immediate reaction was 'more, please!' or 'nope, never going there again!' "Zombie Ass'" opening titles are the final warning to turn back or accept you're watching the ultimate juvenile expressions of olfactophilia and coprophilia (look 'em up!) crossed with standard-issued living dead survival rules. I dug Sakura-lookalike Megumi (Arisa Nakamura) wielding farm implements and a shotgun. And the sad girl that becomes a knife-wielding final boss being flown by a CGI model-turned-flying-insect monster was... interesting. A live action naughty cartoon with moments/scenes you'll be glad to have seen once... and many more you'll want to forget ASAP. An acquired taste, indeed. 2.5 'TUBULAR BELLS'-LIKE J-POP BACKGROUND TUNES (out of 5)

    1. In case you didn't know (and I'm surprised nobody has reviewed this yet for Junesploitation!), Charles Band produced/directed a quickie 61 min. movie based on and about the current COVID-19 pandemic. Corona Zombie (available exclusively for Full Moon subscribers) is basically re-dubbed portions of two older zombie movies remixed with a few minutes of new footage. And one of the zombie flicks that Band used for his new COVID-19 zombie flick is... yep, Mattei's "Hell of the Living Dead." Since Bruno's film itself liberally borrowed music/scenes from other movies it's fair play for another exploitation maven to do the same to his work.

      This Cinema Snob review of "Corona Zombies" is all you need to see to get an idea of the hack job Charles did, even by his low standards. And apparently there's already a sequel to "Corona Virus" uat Full Moon that deals with Tiger King (!), with a third entry in this new franchise on its way. Yep, Charles Band and Roger Corman are the last men standing from the golden era of exploitation filmmakers. :-I

  2. Little Monsters (2019, Abe Forsythe)

    Surprisingly, you get a new appreciation for Taylor Swift after this movie. Little Mosters' is a typical Zombie that has more heart than usual and Lupita Nynog'o playing the greatest ukulele weilding kindergarten teacher in the world. The kids are adorable and not annoying. It's just a fun sweet a little gory zombie movie.

    Scooby Do! Return to Zombie Island (2019,Ethan Spaulding and Cecilia Aranovich)

    It's Adorable. It was just nice to hang out with the Mystery Team.
    And they go on holiday to a mysterious island. And even though it's a G rating, I kept on waiting for a Fulci reference of Zombies crawl out of the ground. But I particular enjoyed Fred's werid sweet realationship with the Mystery Van. I liked where this movie goes and how it moves. It may have commented on itself one or two many times, in the end I had a lot of fun with it.

  3. Hell of the Living Dead (1980, dir. Bruno Mattei)

    lol I don't know man. It's Bruno Mattei. Trashy and tedious. It is what it is.

  4. My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)

    This was a really pleasant surprise. In what has become a recurring theme this year, it’s a movie I’ve been aware of forever but somehow never saw despite the fact that it played on HBO approximately 87 times a day when I was in my late teens. Johnny (Andrew Lowery, who looks like what would happen if Tim Robbins and Tom Villard had a kid) is killed in a prank-gone-awry-slash-convenience-store-robbery, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to take his lifelong crush Missy (Traci Lind) to the prom.

    The movie is stuffed with the same kind of deadpan humor as a Savage Steve Holland joint and the way everyone just fully accepts Johnny’s condition (particularly his parents, Mary Beth Hurt and Edward Herrmann) is consistently funny. Director Bob Balaban keeps things solidly cartoonish so even the more gruesome moments (well, PG-13 gruesome, anyway) never offset the silly, fun tone. Toss in some early appearances by Philip Seymour Hoffman (miss him so much), Matthew Fox, and blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Matthew McConaughey and you’ve got yourself a pretty great time at the movies. This one is definitely gonna get some repeat views.

  5. Hell of the Living Dead aka Virus aka Zombie Inferno aka Night of the Zombies aka Zombie Creeping Flesh (1980, dir. Bruno Mattei)

    I agree with J.M., this hodgepodge amounts to a supremely entertaining zombie romp. Clearly made on the cheap, they skimped on all but the gore effects.

    And I was excited to see the opening titles crediting the music to Goblin, but, as J.M. said, turns out it just recycles tracks from other Goblin soundtracks.

  6. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

    I once saw the 1990 remake, but never the black and white original, so I figured: what better time than today?. The actual zombie horror aspect feels understandably quaint now (btw, I don't think the word "zombie" is even uttered in the movie, they're instead referred to as "ghouls" or "flesh-eaters"), but the human side of the story, the tense interplay between the people trapped in a house together, still holds up rather nicely (it'd be even nicer if the three women characters were allowed to contribute a little more to the plot than absolutely nothing, but I guess you can't have everything). The movie looks really good for its time (and budget) and that downer of an ending still works after all these years. I guess classics are classics for a reason.

  7. A Virgin Among the Living Dead- I love Jess Franco, and I couldn’t let the month go by without watching his mix of sexy, surreal and cheap. This turned out to be one of the better of his movies for me. It makes no sense, most of the scenes just drag, and there are more crotch shots than absolutely needed- like any of his movies. But there’s also some beautiful and poetic shots, interesting faces and good music- like any of his movies.

    1. The poetic quality of A Virgin Among the Living Dead places it among my top Jess Franco films. There is a sadness to it, and, as you stated, some memorable shots. Despite the nature of his films, Franco cared about what he was doing in the early 1970s.

  8. Dawn Of The Dead (2004) - First time watch. I am of the opinion that zombies should be slow. Fast zombies are not zombies; they're just people who run around and bite. So, I'm surprised by how much I liked this one. It's probably because: 1. I live in New York City and this plays like a documentary about the last three months here, and 2. Sarah Polley just makes everything better. I'm not sure I agree with the post credits "scene," but whatever. I had a lot more fun with this one than I thought I would.

  9. Zombieland: Double Tap (2019, dir. Ruben Fleischer)

    I liked the first Zombieland, never though about a sequel, wasn't overly thrilled about the idea of a sequel, and with those qualifications it totally delivered! I thought it was as good as the first. These movies aren't classics but I think they are very entertaining popcorn-munchers. Here's to Zombieland 3 in 2029!

  10. Sugar Hill (1974):

    This is one hell of a zombie movie.

    Yummy (2019):

    This is just okay.

  11. WILD ZERO (1999)
    Aliens bring the dead back to life, and real-life rock band Guitar Wolf is here to save the day. Imagine the movie Rock N’ Roll High School, but if they added scenes of the Ramones kicking zombie arse. It’s incredibly goofy, but it also has a somewhat unconventional love story. At first I feared that this would become problematic, but ended up kind of sweet.

    30 days of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II, day 26
    Before Vicki is possessed by Mary Lou, she experiences a series of Elm Street-style nightmare visions. What is this about? Each nightmare is a sign that Mary Lou is coming after her, getting closer each time. But who are all these ghostly characters who menace Vicki in the nightmares? Is this the unnamed evil that lurks in the trunk in the school basement? Also note that the principal also experiences one of these nightmares, setting up the last scene in the movie.

  12. Yummy (2019) Shudder

    Figured I'd check it out since it's a new addition on Shudder and the trailer was played during one of the recent episodes of The Last Drive In. It's a zombie movie taking place in an Eastern European hospital specializing in plastic surgery. Aside from that it doesn't seem to have anything else on its mind. Effects are good. Cast isn't bad. It's watchable.

  13. Yummy (2019, dir. Lars Damoiseaux)

    It's a zombie movie.

  14. Watched City of the Living Dead(1980) to make up for missing Fulci day abd Zombie day twofer. Now I am watching Tom Savini's underappreciated and yes maybe unnecessary remake Night of the Living Dead(1990).

  15. Burial Ground (1981, Andrea Bianchi)

    This movie is so bananas it's a banana spilt. I feel like like this movie more than I should. And maybe don't give into your 28 year old looking son so quickly.

    Kind of wish I had watched this for kids day. Kinda. Mark was a surprise.

  16. Cemetery Man (aka Dellamorte Dellamore)

    1994, dir. Michele Soavi

    Been wanting to see this one for years after briefly working on the long forgotten ‘Dylan Dog’ adaptation. I knew the Dylan Dog character’s roots grew out of this movie’s source material, namely the lead character Francesco Dellamorte (played by Rupert Everett, who was also the physical inspiration for Dog) but the film has just not been easy to see in the last many years. Admittedly, I watched this on YouTube and it was only so-so quality. It was often too muddy and dark to see what was happening, which is a shame because the makeup effects in this film looked pretty spectacular. I was surprised by how cheeky this movie is compared to Soavi’s three previous and better known films (StageFright, The Church, The Sect). The movie leans heavily on Everett to provide charm and levity to an otherwise lurid premise. The absolute boredom he has for his job, which by the way, is putting down the ghouls who endlessly rise from the dead in this particularly gothic cemetery, is balanced by his sense of longing for a deeper connection to humanity. His loneliness is palpable, which is why the turn he takes is even more tragic. Soavi has said numerous times that he wishes to make a sequel, which this film is completely open for at the end, but so far nothing has materialized. I’d certainly like to see at least a solid Blu release in the near future.

  17. Cannibal Apocalypse aka Invasion of the Flesh Hunters (1980; dir. Antonio Margheriti)

    Its not an Antonio Margheriti movie until someone breaks out the flamethrower.

    So, this one isn't exactly a zombie movie, but I totally thought it was going in not knowing anything about it except for the cover of the new Kino blu ray. John Saxon and some Vietnam vet friends come back to the States with some virus that makes them crave flesh. They bite people, it gets crazy, yet it isn't wall to wall violence, which is good for this one. It feels grounded yet bonkers at the same time.

  18. Day 26

    Zombie High (1987)

    A movie called Zombie High, you think Zombies at High School? No chance with this movie, it should have been called Mind Control Preppy High. No Zombies, just students acting a little different because they were lobotomized for the greater good. Virginia Madsen is too good for this kind of junk and she is going through the motions. Paul Feig shows up to not be funny. Very little blood, zombie brain eating, or just some random nudity happens in this movie. I watched this movie blind simply because of the easy title and a young Madsen. Guess you can't trust a movie by it's cover.

  19. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

    I feel like this movie was made for me. Classic love story? Check. Fighting zombies? Check. Not giving in to the patriarchy? Check.

    1. You and me, apparently. I love this movie and everything it represents as a creative experiment.

    2. The 4K UHD Blu-ray is realky cheap online. I'm tempted. 🙈🙉🙊

  20. Night of the Creeps (1986)

    Guess it's more of a Creeps! day for me than Zombie! day but close enough.

    Things I knew about this movie: 1) takes place in college 2) comes up in google search of zombie movies.
    Imagine my surprise when the movie opens with some little aliens running around shooting lasers. It's great fun, doesn't take itself too seriously, and has some really enjoyable on the nose references. My favorite subgenre is college campus horror, usually it's slashers but this frat/sorority zombie flick was right up my alley.

  21. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

    Really thought this movie was fascinating in its fantastic, creepy imagery and the way it blended the non-fiction account with paranormal elements to make a more complex horror film. Exceeded my expectations and it had a vague Indiana Jones vibe to it. It certainly could have been repurposed as a cool entry in the franchise, though I'm glad for what it is.

  22. SUGAR HILL (1974) at the Mahoning Drive-in

    With Zombie Day coinciding with the first night of Zombiefest at the Mahoning Drive-In, it was an ideal opportunity to get my zombie watch in under the stars. The other films in the triple feature (the last film ended around 3:30 a.m.) were SHIVERS (1976), which was inspired in part by zombie films, and the somewhat odd choice of FRANKENHOOKER. Sugar Hill plays very well at a drive-in, and it was just as much fun as the first time I saw it. Marki Bey on a huge screen is even better than seeing her on a TV screen. She relishes the ridiculousness of the story, and Don Pedro Colley steals every scene he is in. Those zombies are especially unique, evoking a kind of revenge for slavery.

  23. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

    The classic zombie granddaddy. It was good. I skipped the colorized version, per JB's advice.

  24. Return of the Living Dead: Part II (1988)

    Zombie Boyfriend "Babe, you smell so good"
    Girlfriend "Joey, I'm not into dead guys!"
    This movie has the same mix of laughs and zombies as the first one, but not quite as good. There were some great special effects though. At one point, a zombie had his lower torso/legs cut off, and then he did a push-up and was walking on his hands. Not sure how they pulled that off.