Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

ZMMM Dailies: 6/14/2009 – Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 15 - 2009

notld90aI quite enjoyed the Night of the Living Dead remake, just as I did the first time I saw it years ago. I have to say that this remake compares really well to the original classic NotLD. Of course, with George Romero doing the screenplay, Romero, John Russo and Russ Streiner producing and Tom Savini (who did effects for Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead) directing, it damn well should have — that’s an impressive pedigree. It’s weird that this movie got such a lukewarm reception on its release and that Savini hasn’t directed anything else. The direction here seems fine — some of the acting is a little questionable (but never bad enough to derail the movie) but apart from that, this is a great remake. The zombies looked great (not surprising from an effects guy as director), the story was nicely updated (especially love the new ending) and the nods to the first were all very clever and not cheap at all. Considering some of the hack directors working today, Savini deserves another shot behind the camera.

Next up is Burial Ground: Nights of Terror — a movie I love for its sheer insanity. It will mark the halfway point for the marathon and kick off the first theme week — five days of Italy’s finest undead mayhem.

ZMMM Dailies: 6/13/2009 – Plan 9 from Outer Space

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 14 - 2009

plan9-torFor a long time, if you said, “Worst movie ever made?” any respectable film geek would reply, “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” Well, years of shot-on-video crap and Uwe Boll films have taken away that easy, go-to answer, but make no mistake, Plan 9 is indeed a bad film. So bad it’s good? Yes and no — there are definitely parts where the badness transmutes to pure comedy gold, but there are long, interminable stretches of pain between those parts. I will say Tor Johnson made a good zombie, though. The overall verdict on this one is: ridiculous — but worth seeing for historical value and a few laughs.

Up next is the 1990 Tom Savini remake of Night of the Living Dead. Should help wash the taste of this out of our mouths.

ZMMM Dailies: 6/12/2009 – Resident Evil

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 13 - 2009

resident-evilIn all honesty, I liked Resident Evil a lot more than I thought I would — and a lot more than I did the first time. I guess when I saw it the first time back in 2003, I had only seen maybe a dozen zombie movies, and mostly the cream of the crop. Since then, I became a zombie obsessive and watched another hundred or so, covering everything from genuinely fine cinema to punishing trials of endurance. Seen in the proper context, Resident Evil is really not that bad of a zombie movie. Yes, it is dumb. Yes, it is as subtle as a hammer to the face. The direction uses way too many pointless slow-motion shots, exaggerated action bullshit and cheesy effects sequences such as the laser grid. But it is a video game movie, after all –  turn your brain down to “simmer,” and this is a pretty damn fun movie. And it’s got Milla Jovovich looking hot and kicking ass. It doesn’t follow the plot of the games, but considering the convoluted melodrama and half-baked insanity of the games, is that really such a bad thing?

Next up is Plan 9 from Outer Space, sometimes called the worst movie ever made. We’ll see — I’ve seen some prettty god damn terrible movies in my time.

ZMMM Dailies: 6/11/2009 – The Walking Dead

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 12 - 2009

karloff-walkingdeadI said yesterday we were hoping to class things up with The Walking Dead, and you know what? We totally did — or rather, Boris Karloff did. The man has gravitas. The movie itself, while it didn’t conform to many tenets of what one might expect from a zombie movie, was well made and fairly entertaining for a 1936 movie, but Karloff is why it is special. He has a real presence, and he lends this odd tale of a man returned from the dead to witness supernatural revenge befall his murderers (they frame him for a murder and get him executed). His accusing stare and the way his eyes communicate remorse and sadness as he witnesses each death are brilliant. Note I say witness — this isn’t really a revenge tale, because he has little or nothing to do with any of them dying, and as I said, he looks genuinely sad when they die (although he seems plenty angry beforehand). So far, the pre-’60s selections have been awesome. We’ll see if that trend continues when Plan 9 from Outer Space gets its turn.

Tomorrow night we watch Resident Evil and I see if it is as crappy as I remember, or if I overlooked something the first time through.

ZMMM Dailies: 6/10/2009 – Redneck Zombies

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 11 - 2009

zombaby-redneckzombiesI think the argument can be made that no zombie movie marathon would be complete without at least one cheap, shitty, shot-on-video bomb in the mix. Well, Redneck Zombies is that cheap, shitty, shot-on-video bomb. It’s the usual Troma formula – lots of cheap, goofy gore effects, terrible acting and offensive jokes thrown about haphazardly. Every offensive stereotype you can imagine is in here: it’s an equal opportunity offender. Gays, blacks, rednecks and even upper-class white folk get a few digs, all beyond the pale of good taste. The gore is unbelievably crappy but still kind of gross, the story is more or less irrelevant and almost nonexistent and the pacing is measured in geological time. In other words, it stinks. There was a really cute zombie baby, though. I’ve included that picture so you needn’t watch the actual movie.

Tomorrow we attempt to class the joint up with the 1936 Boris Karloff gangster/zombie flick The Walking Dead.

ZMMM Dailies: 6/9/2009 – Mutant

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 10 - 2009

mutantI can’t believe I have never seen Mutant. Not because it is good, or some kind of lost classic or anything of the sort. It’s not — it’s terrible. But it came out in 1984 and it’s exactly the sort of movie that they used to run on late night cable in the mid-to-late ’80s, a time when I would regularly stay up all night and watch all manner of shit movies on TV. How did I miss this then? And because it is so strongly reminiscent of so many fond memories of that time, I definitely enjoyed it far more than it deserved. It’s got Wings Hauser, some zombie-mutant-vampire hybrid things, rednecks, toxic waste and a drunken small-town sheriff. The cast is all B and C list talent or below, the acting is laughably bad, the writing, direction and effects are all ridiculous. It’s prime MST3K material, honestly. Yet in some strange way I loved it.

By the way, that cover there, to the left? Far better than this movie deserves. It deserves something lurid and stupid, like the movie itself.

Tomorrow we move on to the legendarily bad Troma feature Redneck Zombies. I have no real love for Troma’s style (except for Sgt. Kabuki Man NYPD, which I inexplicably loved), so I expect this to be mildly to moderately painful.

Also, the first Film Club paritcipant has weighed in on one of our selections. Check out Zombies’ Summer review of Dead Set. And kids, if you watch the movies I watch and write about them, I will link to you in a ZMMM daily, too! And again at the end in my wrap up! Fun!

ZMMM Dailies: 6/8/2009 – Pet Sematary

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 9 - 2009

Gage wants to play

I almost can’t believe how bad Pet Sematary actually was. The direction was ham fisted, the writing was trash and the acting was bad — like cover-your-eyes bad. Even the usually reliable Fred Gwynne was crap here — I suspect the awful script didn’t help. When the best acting is delivered by the three-year-old playing an evil, re-animated corpse, your movie has issues. Predictable, cheap and full of unsympathetic characters, there isn’t a lot to like here — at least until Gage comes back and starts “playing” with everyone. The effects shot where Gwynne’s character gets his achilles tendon severed is famous, and rightfully so, for its visceral effectiveness. If you could muster up any emotional connection to the character, it would have been even better. It is a testament to how watchable decent production values can make even a terrible movie, but that’s a slight endorsement.

Tomorrow night, Wings Hauser in Mutant.

ZMMM Dailies: 6/7/2009 – Return of the Living Dead

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 8 - 2009

rotldcapI’ve already written about my feelings toward and experiences with Return of the Living Dead pretty thoroughly (missed it? read it here), and I intend to write a proper review and some discussion about its place in zombie movie history at some point, so I will keep this brief. I scheduled it for viewing this year because my daughter had never seen it and it filled  a need for a classic on the schedule. There are certainly some issues with it (pacing is a bit off in spots, some of the zombie makeup is little more than mud smeared on stuntmen’s faces, some inconsistent treatment of the zombifying agent 2,4,5-Trioxin) but hey, it’s a freaking punk-rock/zombie comedy that single-handedly introduced the notion of zombies craving brains into the zombie mythos. It’s genuinely funny and even has some subtleties stirred in amongst the slapstick stupidity. And it features possibly the most iconic zombie in all filmdom in the Tarman (only Bub from Day of the Dead comes close, in my opinion).

Oh, and gratuitous nudity lovers? A young, lovely and luscious Linnea Quigley runs around for about a third of the movie stark naked. There’s a tiny shot of it to your left (sorry, those reading this at work, but it’s only 150 pixels wide and only shows a bit of side boob and side ass, cover it with your hand if the boss comes by).  Her assets are a significant part of the movie’s appeal.

Tomorrow night is the Stephen King adaptation Pet Sematary. In HD, no less. I was going to say I haven’t seen this one in a while, but I was thinking about it and I’m not sure I have ever watched it all the way through. I won’t be able to say that this time tomorrow.

ZMMM Dailies: 6/6/2009 – Zombie Honeymoon

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 7 - 2009

zombie-honeymoon-leadsI may have spoken too soon. Maybe silly romantic melodrama is the theme of the marathon. This movie makes it five of six movies that contain that sudsy element. Zombie Honeymoon was reminiscent of the plodding, emo, “thinking man’s” zombie movie I, Zombie, only more briskly paced. Our lead gets attacked and turned to a zombie on his honeymoon, spends the rest of the film killing and feeling kinda bad about it. But not that bad. His wife, who kind of looks like a poor man’s Maggie Gyllenhaal and is topless briefly, helps him deal with it — which mostly means covering it up. It struck me as goofy and forgettable, but not altogether unpleasant. I suspect this one could have been better as an old-style movie, with more focus on the romantic melodrama (not that there wasn’t plenty) and less on the unimpressive gore.

Tomorrow I’m watching the timeless 1985 classic Return of the Living Dead with my daughter. That should be fun.

ZMMM Dailies: 6/5/2009

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 6 - 2009

Marcel Marceau, the world's greatest mime, playing a zombie master and pedophile? Sold!

A while back, I praised the queer zombie film Otto for simply being completely original in the zombie milieu. By the same token, I have to tip my hat to Shanks. The world’s greatest mime playing a naive puppeteer who becomes a zombie master? And he’s also in love with a thirteen-year-old girl, who thinks he’s just swell? And it’s all presented as some sort of whimsical fairy tale, until a gang of bikers randomly appear and rape and murder his Lolita girlfriend and are murdered in turn by his zombies? How was this not a hit?

If you aren’t sold yet, there’s an appearance by a young Don Calfa, who’s also appeared in the zombie classics Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town and Return of the Living Dead (his greatest role, where he played  a Nazi mortician). Still not convinced? How about a guy pecked to death by a zombie chicken? Again, how was this not a hit?

Admittedly, it is deadly slow and wholly nonsensical, not to mention a little disturbing (was borderline pedophilia really that acceptable in 1974?), but I can’t help but make a place for it amongst the movies recommended for the fact of their batshit insanity.

This year’s theme is turning out to be “whacko” which I am down with. Tomorrow night is Zombie Honeymoon. In case you missed it (I see people Googling for it) I am posting the complete list after the break.

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