ZMMM Dailies: 6/18/2010 – The House by the Cemetery

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 19 - 2010

The more Lucio Fulci films I see, the more I appreciate his work. The latest, and last of the Fulci zombie flicks, is The House By the Cemetery. It’s your basic haunted-house tale, only the house is haunted by a zombie. Crazy!

The zombie lives in the basement and emerges to murder and eat people to stay alive. A family moves into the house so the dad can do some research and pretty soon weirdness is erupting all over the place… The family has a weird-looking little kid and there’s a little dead girl that only the kid can see, and some weird crying coming from the basement. And a tombstone thing in the main hallway and of course the cemetery right outside.

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ZMMM Dailies: 6/17/2010 – Dead & Buried

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 18 - 2010

I really would have liked to like Dead & Buried more than I did, but it made it really, really hard. It’s not a terrible movie by any means, but it’s not anything special either. Let’s just say it’s no surprise it’s been all but forgotten.

The movie is about a small town whose residents have a taste for ritual group murder. They show up en masse, kill someone (and film/photograph it for posterity) and then a few days later that person appears as a new resident of the town. Well, it’s one growth strategy… Not everyone in town is in on the murdering, though. The sheriff seems mighty perplexed by all the dead people and does his best (which isn’t all that great, honestly) to figure out WTF is going on. So it’s a kind of a Twilight Zone-esque murder-mystery with zombies, basically.

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ZMMM Dailies: 6/10/2010 – Weekend at Bernie’s II

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 11 - 2010

A while back, I stated that “when a zombie fights a shark, we all win.” Imagine my surprise and joy, then, at discovering that in Weekend at Bernie’s II, a shark and zombie square off!

Admittedly, it’s not much of a fight. The shark sees zombie Bernie, bites him, then lets go. It’s all played for comedic effect. But it feels like a little sly nod to Fulci, especially since it’s followed by an extended underwater zombie scene. Those scenes are pretty much the highlight of Weekend at Bernie’s II.

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ZMMM Dailies: 6/6/2010 – The Necro Files

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 7 - 2010

Every zombie movie marathon needs at least one offensive, vulgar, gore-splattered, cheaply made and borderline pornographic shot-on-video piece of crap. And this year The Necro Files completely filled the bill. From the gratuitous, extended opening shower scene to the incoherent climax, this is a movie that never fails to stoop to the lowest possible point. On the one hand, it is utterly awful. On the other … well, it was actually pretty entertaining.

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Review: Insanitarium

Posted by Cory Casciato On May - 14 - 2010

From time to time you’ll run across an odd, unpolished gem among the rubble pile of half-assed, incompetent, direct-to-DVD zombie movies. Insanitarium, despite some notable issues, is one such movie. The story follows a young man named Jack Romero (see what they did there?) who gets himself committed to an insane asylum to try to rescue his sister Lilly. Once inside, he finds a mad scientist is using the patients to experiment with a nanotech compound that turns its users into raging, flesh-hungry freaks. Before long, all hell breaks loose (naturally) in the form of mobs of hungry patients running amok.

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Deadlines: News roundup 3/3/10

Posted by Cory Casciato On March - 3 - 2010

deadlines

A daily roundup of all the undead news that shambles into view… Bookmark the home page or add the RSS feed to your reader for your daily dose of walking dead. Got news tips? E-mail me at cory.casciato[AT]gmail.com.

In Ugly Americans, a social worker with a zombie roommate tries to help monsters integrate into normal life in New York. There’s a trailer embedded below, io9 has a few more clips and a more detailed synopsis. (io9)

A super-duper limited edition T-shirt and poster/print featuring an image of the Tarman zombie from Return of the Living Dead went on sale today. They’re by artist William Stout and they’re pretty spiffy. $25 for the shirt, $40 for the print, save $10 if you get both. (Dread Central)

Xbox Live players of Resident Evil 5 can play the latest DLC “Desperate Escape” today, PS3 players will have to wait until tomorrow. Alternately, you can wait until March 9 and get the Gold Edition which has all the DLC bundled. (Kotaku)

A new horror-comedy film called Deadheads, about a pair of zombies that “awake” during a zombie outbreak and decide to go on a road trip to seek one’s lost love, has just ebntered the post-production phase. (Bloody Disgusting)

It looks trashy, cheap and sure to insult your intelligence, but it does have boobies — it’s Zombie Women of Satan, and there’s a NSFW clip embedded below. (Bloody Disgusting)

The cartoony art for the UK DVD/Blu-ray release of Survival of the Dead is out. (DVD Active)

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Review: House of the Dead

Posted by Cory Casciato On December - 9 - 2009

houseofthedeadUwe Boll’s House of the Dead has a reputation as one of the worst films of all time, the kind of movie that can put you off the entire genre. For that reason,  I’ve avoided seeing it for some time, as I find I have to carefully moderate my intake of terrible zombie films so as not to deflate my affection for the genre. I’ve had it in my possession a couple of times, and always found an excuse not to watch it. But when I saw it on on-demand recently, I knew it was time and finally bit the bullet.

And you know what? It wasn’t that bad.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t good by any means. There’s no question about it: this is a bad, bad movie. But it isn’t one of the worst — I wouldn’t replace any of the movies on my worst movies list with this, and it isn’t even close.

The plot puts a group of pretty people on a zombie-infested island. They are there for a rave, naturally. And they catch a ride to the rave with a couple of gun smugglers, naturally. It’s all very stupid and little more than an excuse to throw the characters into the zombies’ way. Once they get there, people start getting attacked and the corpses are dragged off to become zombies. They hole up in a house, they leave the house, they meet more characters, return to house, learn back story about a Spanish prison ship and the evil scientist it carried to the island, they die off one by one until just two are left, they face the big bad, the end.

It’s all cursory, clumsy and stupid. The writing is perfunctory. The acting is terrible, even by the few actors that are capable of better (Clint Howard and Jurgen Prochnow, how did you come to be in this turkey?). I got the impression that director Boll was either encouraging them to act poorly or just didn’t give a fuck. There were some elaborate action sequences, but they were so poorly filmed and edited that they were really more annoying than anything else. The zombies were okay, but nothing special. They reminded me a bit of Burial Ground‘s zombies, with the addition of glowing red eyes. The gore was skimpy — way too many of the kills were off screen, usually cut away from just before the deed. And it isn’t like they were going for a PG-13 here — the gratuitous nudity pretty much guaranteed an R, so it seems more like laziness, or perhaps Boll blew the effects budget on explosions.

There were some good points, or rather, points that lifted it out of the realm of true bottom dwellers. Some of the jokes, dumb though they were, were worth a chuckle (I loved when the blond chick got puked on, for one). It was more or less technically sound (clumsy, yes, but well-lit, shot, recorded, etc.). The pacing was surprisingly, almost shockingly good. What was consistently frustrating was how lazy and half-assed it all felt, from the moronic plot to listless acting to the haphazard insertion of footage from the videogame. It seemed like Boll watched Resident Evil, maybe a few classic zombie flicks, said “Yeah, I can do this” and proceeded to make the movie with all the dedication to craft and enthusiasm for their work that the average hipster coffeehouse barista brings to the job. It was so apparent that the filmmakers didn’t give a fuck about the movie that it was impossible to care about it. Not that I tried very hard, mind you.

House of the Dead/Germany, Canada, US/2003

List: Worst Zombie Movies

Posted by Cory Casciato On November - 11 - 2009

worst

Among the nearly 200 zombie movies I have seen, there have been some truly atrocious films. Not just bad mind you — in a genre so filled with amateurish, low-and-no-budget entries, bad is commonplace. No, we are talking about the truly, spectacularly terrible — movies that are difficult, painful or even brain damaging to sit through. Which I have done, because when it comes to zombies, I watch them all from the opening credits to the end credits, no matter how much it hurts. And some of these hurt bad. So to save you the trouble — or to provide the masochists with fodder for their self-abuse — I present these, the ten worst zombie movies I have had the misfortune to sit through. I don’t necessarily claim these are the worst of all time, just the worst I have seen. God forbid that there are actually worse, but in all honesty, there probably are. And I’ll get around to watching those eventually, too…

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Review: Deadgirl

Posted by Cory Casciato On August - 19 - 2009

deadgirlpAs of the time of this writing, the most recent poll posted on this site asks “Can zombies be sexy?” and it seems synchronistically appropriate that it should be sitting there, asking its slightly unsettling question to site visitors, as I review Deadgirl, a movie about a group of high-school losers and their zombie sex slave.

Yes, you read that right. High school losers, zombie sex slave.

Technically, this is a a bit of a spoiler, but in this case I can’t in good conscience steer anyone this movie’s way without a bit of a warning. Besides, the movie’s promos reveal as much, so it’s not like I am breaking new ground here.

Deadgirl is the story of friends JT and Rickie’s discovery of a dirty, but still beautiful, girl chained naked in the basement of an abandoned mental hospital. JT instantly starts thinking about what they can do to her, while Rickie thinks of ways to free or rescue her without getting in trouble, setting up a dynamic that carries through the whole film. From there, plot complications in the form of bullies, buddies, and out-of-reach dream girls enter the picture — although, strangely, the cops or school authorities never do, even once the body count begins to mount. JT and Wheeler, another loser buddy, happily use the zombie girl as a sex toy while Rickie is utterly, uselessly emo about the whole thing — he does little more than agonize about it. Meanwhile, the deadgirl acts like any zombie would, trying its best to bite the living shit out of anyone that comes near, but held down by restraints (kinky!). The bullies lead to the showdown at the climax and, predictably, the unattainable dream-girl plays a major role, too.

The movie seemed to be trying to walk a thin line between cerebral chiller and gory exploitation. Unfortunately, it failed, as those disparate elements worked to drain each other of any urgency. It wasn’t ridiculous enough to be effective exploitation; it wasn’t clever enough to be a cerebral exploration of teenage pathos. As a result, it was something of a mess. It seemed to be trying to evoke a dynamic similar to River’s Edge, the chilling, true-life story of a small-town murder and the bonds of loyalty that kept it from being reported, but it missed. Where that movie portrayed the strange, ineffable bonds between small-town dead-enders in such a way that you not only believed them, but empathized to the point where you almost understand how someone could look the other way when their buddy killed, this film leaves you wondering why any of these people would speak to each other in the first place.

Just as bad, the film just goes too far in several scenes that add nothing to the plot. In other scenes, which do add to the plot, its choice of the most predictable path drains it of momentum. No one is likable, or even particularly sympathetic, although the leads Shiloh Fernandez as Rickie and, especially,  Noah Segan as JT, are capable actors who deliver what they are asked. The problem seems to lie with the direction and, to a slightly lesser degree, the script, which go too far at the wrong moments and fail to build realistic relationships between the characters that would justify their actions.

I really wanted to like this and, for almost half of it, was inclined to do so, but by the end it had lost me completely. Part of this was the aforementioned issues; part of it was the utter lack of realistic consequences for anything that happens in the second half of the movie (basically, no one seems to notice when people start going missing, among other things…). In the end,  when the credits rolled, I was simply glad it was over.

Deadgirl/US/2008

Note: Technically, the nudity in this is not gratuitous, but integral to the plot, but the whole thing os sort of gratuitous so I tagged it with gratuitous nudity.

Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and dead-end greaseball JT (Noah Segan)

Review: The Grapes of Death

Posted by Cory Casciato On July - 27 - 2009

GrapesOfDeathThe French may make great wine, but I have yet to see any evidence they can make a decent zombie movie. The best thing that can be said for Jean Rollin’s The Grapes of Death is that it is much better than his other undead attempt, Zombie Lake. Considering Zombie Lake is one of the worst films ever, that’s the very definition of damnation by faint praise. The other thing that can be said for it is Brigitte Lahaie naked. Of course, the woman made porn, so it’s not like this is your best chance to see that.

The Grapes of Death is about a nasty pesticide blend that poisons a batch of wine so thoroughly that everyone who drinks it becomes a rotting, sore-covered maniac/zombie. The film begins with our heroine on a train. A rotting dude gets on the train, kills her friend, and kicks off an interminable series of painfully slow pursuit sequences. Each is the same: our girl runs; meets up with another woman; the other woman gets killed and naked; repeat. Okay, near the end she meets up with some dudes who don’t get naked but do get killed. Wow, what a plot!

The languid pace strips any tension out of the already meager formula, leaving us with a cheap, sleazy and boring exploitation flick. At least the naked scenes are more or less evenly distributed and all the girls are hot, but a few gratuitous nude scenes and some tainted wine are all this zombie movie has to offer.

The Grapes of Death/France/1978

This movie was viewed as part of my second annual Zombie Movie Marathon Month — see the initial reaction piece here.

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