The modern zombie movie is a thoroughly American invention, forged in Pittsburgh by George A. Romero. But like rock and roll and nuclear weapons, it wasn’t long before foreigners had a look and decided they just had to make their own homegrown versions. Before the blood was even dry on his incredible undead innovation, zombie began popping up all over the world, a trend that continues to this day. Once you’ve finished picking the corpse of Romero’s canon clean, had your brains eaten by Return of the Living Dead and devoured Zombieland and are ready to travel the world in search of new zombie thrills, this handy guide should get you started. It’s by no means comprehensive—that’s a book, not a blog post—but it should serve as an intro to what the world outside of the good old USA offers the zombie aficionado.
A daily roundup of all the undead news that shambles into view… News post by Johnathon Brock and Cory Casciato. Got news tips? E-mail them to cory.casciato[AT]gmail.com. Bookmark the home page or add the RSS feed to your reader for your daily dose of walking dead.
Indie game crew Ballardia just delivered the first screen shots and details on their upcoming free to play browser based zombie MMO World of the Living Dead. It’s more simulation than decapitation, but it still looks cool.Â (Gamers Hell)
UPDATE: It looks like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn’t completely buried, as reported yesterday. Two new directors have put their names in the hat to run the project. (LA Times)
Director Brian Wimer talks about zombie culture and his latest film, Danger. Zombies. Run. (The Hook)
The Japanese Dead Rising movie, based (somewhat) on the game, and created by its producer Keiji Inafune, is being released on DVD. You can check out the trailer here. (Kotaku)
The latest ultra creepy trailer for Dead Space 2 has just been released to the world (and embedded below). Get ready not to sleep for a week. (Kotaku)
Like Marvel, Fangoria is getting into the movie business, starting with a remake of the 1972 classic Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. (Fangoria)
Alright, no more excuses…. After the break we’ve got the pilot episode of The Walking Dead available for online viewing. WATCH THE SHOW! (Dread Central)
You want Inevitable Zombie Exclusives? Well you’ve got em…
We’ve got the 411 on the premiere of the world’s first Native American themed zombie film The Dead Can’t Dance, which premieres November 6 in San Francisco.
Mike Busson got in touch with us to give us some information on his new movie Stag Night of the Dead and also a trailer (embedded below) for the film.
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.
More Resident Evil: Afterlife coverage, in the form of an interview with Wentworth Miller (aka the guy from Prison Break). (FEARnet)
There’s a new trailer for “dead things in space” videogame Dead Space 2 but I can’t find an embeddable version, so you have to go here. (Kotaku)
Compared to last night’s debacle, things went great tonight. My new copy of JUNK worked flawlessly, delivering a great movie that only made me more angry/sad that my own copy is DOA. Fuck. But yeah, JUNK was just fantastic. I didn’t notice the first time around how like the Italian zombie movies it is, probably in large part because I had seen far fewer Italian zombie movies at that point. While it does have a very Japanese sensibility, the look, gore and plot of it were very reminiscent of the spaghetti dead — which is a good thing. Lots of gore, very Dawn of the Dead Romero-looking zombies, visual and audio references to everything from Re-Animator, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, and Return of the Living Dead (or perhaps Zombie 3) to Terminator 2 and Aliens. It seems like a very influential zombie movie in terms of later Japanese works, which is also a good thing.
If you don’t know the plot, JUNK concerns the intersection of some amateur jewel thieves, their double-crossing Yakuza fence and a U.S. military experiment in reanimating the dead. That’s pretty much it — just throw those elements together and away we go. It had two opposing strong female leads — one of the jewel thieves repping the living, and a super-zombie hottie (yeah, I said it — she runs around naked for a good chunk of the movie and looks good, just kind of pale) who leads up the animate dead. Very feminist, until they kind of throw that out at the end and the jewel thief accepts a traditionally subservient role to get with her man. Lame. But not lame enough to reduce the awesomeness of the movie. It’s a real shame this is out of print. Needs a special edition NOW.
In a stroke of good fortune, Tokyo Zombie was also awesome, albeit in a totally different way. A movie about two factory workers who live to practice jujitsu and the zombie apocalypse that befalls them, TZ is absolutely absurd from beginning to end. It’s full of slapstick and Three Stooges-style physical humor, takes numerous insane and unexpected plot turns, delivers clever, if not particularly subtle, jokes aplenty and was generally enjoyable. It was also nicely produced, shot and acted, so it looked good and went down easy.
It’s definitely one of the more light hearted and strange zombie movies of not just Japan week, but of my zombie experiences. I can recommend it highly, but I suspect not everyone will agree with me — I happen to really enjoy the Japanese sense of humor and approach to storytelling, which isn’t necessarily a common thing.But if you like manga (this is based on one), anime or similar Japanese pursuits, this might be right up your alley.
So that is it for Japan. We return to mostly themeless meanderings acorss the zombie landscape, although I chose our next entry, Enter Zombie King, because of its Lucha Libre connection, as a nod to a friend of mine who’s doing a lucha thing the same night. Good luck with your event, Sid!
It wouldn’t be a marathon without at least one epic fail. Last year, we had one where our “zombie” movie had no zombies – Rise of the Dead, if you’re curious, a bad ghost/reincarnation movie with no zombies despite the lying bastard of a cover and name! — and we had to return it and ended up watching an Asylum rip off of I Am Legend (called I Am Omega) instead. Last night, I got my epic fail when my JUNK disc turned out to be totally bunk.
I bought the DVD about a year ago but hadn’t had a chance to watch it. Turns out, it’s useless — none of the players I tried it in, including a PC DVD drive, even registered it as being present in the drive. Of course, I also got a late start last night (it was almost midnight when I got home from a quasi-work engagement) and I was suffering the effects of about $12-$15 worth of $3 pints of beer. So by the time I gave up screwing with the JUNK disc and checking to see if I could watch it online anywhere and put in Tokyo Zombie, I was on my last legs. Not surprisingly, I passed out in front of it after about twenty minutes. D’oh!
So tonight, after securing a copy of JUNK from a friend (it’s good to have friends almost as obsessive about zombies as you are!), I will be watching a double feature of JUNK and Tokyo Zombie to make up for it. Should be awesome — I am staying sober to minimize the possibility of passing out.
So, Onechanbara. Yeah. Based on a video game, and if you somehow didn’t know that, I think you’d figure it out pretty damn quickly. You’ve got a wafer-thin plot (mad scientist creates zombies to take over the world, now with 70 percent more sibling rivalry subplot!), lots of bad acting, bad characterization and god-awful CGI. The lead character was a samurai chick in a bikini, with a fat, bumbling sidekick, a leather-clad hottie gunslinger as a quasi-partner and a rival/sister who is somehow fueling the creation of zombies. Yeah, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me either. Most of the fight scenes were sped up and it was hard to tell what was going on, and you could all but see the lead character’s special attack powering up. The zombies weren’t half bad looking though — nothing special, but not terrible.They dissolved into spurts of blood when they got killed by our hero, a little like the vampires in Buffy the Vampie Slayer when they got staked, which almost has to be an inspiration.
Honestly, it was kind of okay. I can’t imagine ever sitting through it again (yet I probably will at some point) but it wasn’t really too bad — I’ve seen many, many worse movies. And gratuitous nudity fans, you get two quick boob shots here, and one simulated sex scene.
Next we get JUNK. I really liked JUNK a lot when I saw it before. We’ll see if that is still true.
If there was any question about whether or not the Japanese could match the Italians for sheer sleaziness, let the record show that Attack Girls’ Swim Team vs. the Undead is at least as sleazy as any of the Italian zombie exploitation movies I’ve seen. And all of you folks that keep finding the site by Googling “Japanese zombie movie nudity,” this is the movie you are looking for. The nudity comes in within moments of the movie starting and doesn’t cease until the credits roll. It’s got enough gratuitous nudity and softcore sex (including an entire lesbian schoolgirl subplot) to make the Skinemax hall of fame.
Oh, and it’s also almost as far out and bizarre as some of the most insane Italian movies, too. It even gives Stacy and Wild Zero a run for the title of most bizarre Japanese zombie movie ever.
The plot is paper thin and almost incidental, but it concerns an orphan schoolgirl who runs away from her kidnapper, who keeps her as a sex slave while training her to be an assassin, naturally. Said kidnapper wears a crazy-ass orange suit, plays a mind-controlling flute and happens to be a mad scientist specializing in human modification. He turns her schoolmates into zombies as a plot to catch her. Hijinks ensue. Lots of gore, lots of nudity, a couple of zombie attacks, a teacher who becomes a homicidal zombie juggler, another who goes nuts first with scissors, then with a chainsaw (while simultaneously murdering the English language) — it’s that kind of movie. More than anything it reminds me of a Troma film with much better production values – stupid, absurd, sleazy and trying way too hard. It was kind of worth seeing, I guess, but nowhere near as awesome as it sounds describing it. It could have used less sleazy sex and nudity and whole lot more zombie action. Really, the zombies were almost incidental, and barely zombies to boot. They had veiny faces, vacant looks and pallid complexions, they shambled around and liked to bite, but they retained some intelligence — well, as much as anyone in the movie anyway, which isn’t a lot.
Next we get even more exploitation of girls in swimwear fighting zombies, with Onechanbara (aka Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad). This one is based on a video game, so it’s got that going for it — or against it, depending on your point of view.
There’s little doubt that Versus is the finest martial arts/superhero/zombie/fantasy epic I have ever seen — and the fact that it is the only such film I’ve seen should in no way be seen as diminishing its level of awesome. Innovative camera work, awesome fight and effects sequences, an epic fantasy story, gallons of blood, references of everything from Evil Dead to Star Wars to fighting video games, a little bit of love story, a bizarre ending, lots of zombies that are slow and stupid but not above using a gun (poorly) given the opportunity — is there anything this film is missing?
It’s the story of a dark hero, his girl, his brother and the shared destiny of all three of them in a forest that brings the dead back to life and serves as a portal to the world beyond death. A dude’s head gets kicked off. Another guy gets his head punched through. A heart gets ripped out and eaten. Bullet opera, wire fu, and lots of stylish clothes. I’m a little awe struck — a friend told me I’d want to watch it again immediately following my first viewing, and you know what? He was totally right.
It’s a little long, at two hours, but honestly, I was never bored or restless. I’ve sat through 75 minutes features that felt twice as long — every minute of this was crammed to capacity with awesome. Can the rest of Japan week possibly live up to this? If I had known, I’d have ended with it instead. We watch Attack Girls Swim Team vs. the Undead next — the title is promising at least!
June is almost upon us and that means it is time for me to get serious about finishing the list of movies for the June Zombie Movie Marathon Month festival. I had hoped to have the entire list done by now but for a variety of reasons — scheduling conflicts, inability to confirm that movies will be available, indecision — I haven’t been able to do so. I have come up with a preliminary list of definite movies to watch (although not the when, for the most part), a couple of themes to explore and a handful of “maybes.” Now I am taking commentary from you fine readers. Help me decide!
My two themes are five days each of Italy and Japan. Italy has proven to be the easier of these, and comprises most of my “definite” list. Japan is a little trickier and I may put it to a vote next week (about time I used that poll for something, anyway). Apart from that there are a few seminal films that I have managed to not see yet and a few my daughter has managed to not see yet and those comprise the rest of what is definite.
Here’s what I have nailed down, some with commentary:
- Zombie (30th anniversary! I’m doing a free showing of this)
- Nightmare City
- Hell of the Living Dead
- Zombie 3 (Because Lucio Fulci worked on it briefly)
- Burial Grounds: Nights of Terror
- Tokyo Zombie
- Plan 9 from Outer Space
- Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things
- Return of the Living Dead (daughter has never seen it!)
Here’s the stuff I am considering, but haven’t settled on:
- Dead Set (okay, it’s a TV miniseries, but still a moving picture show)
- American Zombie
- I Walked with a Zombie
- Messiah of Evil
- Night of the Living Dead (1990) (Haven’t seen this in years, like since it was fairly new)
- Pet Sematary (ditto)
- Grapes of Death
- Zombie Honeymoon
Okay, that’s where things stand at the moment. I’ve got ten nailed down, ten strong possibilities and a whole, long list of other stuff that I haven’t decided on. Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged.
A daily roundup of all the undead news that shambles into view… Got news tips? E-mail me at cory.casciato[AT]gmail.com.
Prepare to be thoroughly underwhelmed by Japan’s first foray into zombie movies when Synapse Films releases the pointless and dull Living Dead in Tokyo Bay (here’s my review) on DVD November 24, 2009. (Fangoria)
Speaking of Japan, the popular Resident Evil series gets a new Wii update with Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, a shooter-on-rails installment of the poplar zombieriffic franchise. The devs promise near-Xbox-360-quality graphics but from the looks of the trailer I’d say they hit something more in the realm of “best-ever original Xbox” quality. Which is still pretty good. See for yourself after the jump, where I’ve embedded the trailer. (Kotaku)
Details are beginning to emerge about Dead Rising 2 as Kotaku delivers a short feature with some words from the developers and first-hand accounts of seeing the game in action. There’s apparently a lot “more”: more zombies, more weapons, more physics, etc. And a brand-new engine to fuel it all. But Kotaku wisely and correctly asks whether the new developers are paying enough attention to the “heart” that made the first game so awesome. And there’sÂ a trailer (courtesy of Inside Gamer), which you will also find after the jump. (Kotaku)
For even more Dead Rising 2 details, we turn to Eurogamer who has an extensive preview up. Highlight of the said preview is the confirmation that the game will have online multiplayer functionality. No word on what kind of multiplayer, but co-op would be the obvious choice/hope. (Eurogamer)
It’s a few weeks old, but if you haven’t seen it, you can also find an exceptionally intriguing Pontypool trailer after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »