ZMMM 7 Progress Report 3

Posted by Cory Casciato On October - 14 - 2014
Coeds, zombies and cliches, oh my!

Coeds, zombies and cliches, oh my!

Dead Before Dawn
Canada is a really mixed bag when it comes to zombie movies. Some great, brilliant stuff — Pontypool, for example — comes out of there. Also some of the worst, most painful attempts at zombie movies ever made, like Zombie Night or Forest of the Dead. This movie is Canadian, and luckily it falls toward the better end of the spectrum. It’s not great, by any means, but it is reasonably entertaining and well put together. It’s kind of a meta-horror piece, like Scream, that comments on its own genre. That’d be zombies, if you didn’t figure that out on your own. Specifically these are curse zombies (lot of those this ZMMM — seems to be an emerging theme) that are brought to life when a dumbass kid does something dumb to try to impress a girl, then his dumbass friends make it much, much worse. It’s also horror comedy, and heavier on the laughs than the scares. Pleasant, if a bit forgettable.

Daddy, I’m a Zombie
More zombie movies for kids! This one looks to be aimed at tweens, based on its own just-teenaged protagonist, a girl who gets killed after being a jerk to her dad, then comes back as a zombie. The animation was weak, the plot was thin and I honestly had a hard time paying attention to this. It was just kind of dull and perfunctory, like some people decided to make a dumb tween movie and randomly decided to throw in zombies because, “Hey, kids like zombies!” It was made in Spain, I believe, which is neither here nor there, but worth mentioning.

Buck Wild
What happens when three idiots and one psychopath go on a hunting trip and run afoul of a bunch of chupacabra-spawned zombies? Buck Wild is what. Yet another horror comedy, working in the classic mold of the “guys getaway that goes awry” mold. A plan to marry a girlfriend is revealed, an affair uncovered and lots of zombies are killed. I enjoyed it honestly, but mostly because I expected nothing and got slightly more than that. The chupacabra was kind of pointless, but if you squint hard you can pretend it’s a Sumatran rat monkey.

The Coed and the Zombie Stoner
Is there anything you need to know about this movie that isn’t contained in the title? Okay, maybe one thing — it’s from Asylum. It is also exactly what you would expect — an artless melange of college movie cliches crammed into a sack with a handful of zombie movie cliches. And lots of gratuitous nudity, of course. The plot, if you can call it that, concerns a nerdy sorority sister who has to find a frat guy boyfriend or get kicked out of her sorority. She meets a zombie that her science teacher has kept on ice since the ’80s, spruces him up and dates him. Then at a party he goes berserk and makes more zombies, and it’s a full-scale campus zombie apocalypse! But really, just an excuse for a lot of dumb jokes, including a homage/rip-off of one of Airplane!‘s iconic scenes, and tons of weed jokes. How awful does it sound? In truth, it’s a lot less awful than it could be. I even was amused once or twice, though it did seem to go on forever. Probably only watchable if you are as stoned as the people in the movie (i.e. very fucking stoned).

ZMMM Progress Report No. 2

Posted by Cory Casciato On October - 10 - 2014
Frankenstein's Army

Frankenstein’s Army

Four more new (to me) zombie movies in the can! The month continues nicely, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far at how relatively painless it’s all been. Sure, a lot of the movies have kind of sucked, but nothing (s0 far) has reached the brain-curdling levels of awfulness that the worst zombie movies do. Anyway, on to the films…

Phantasm III
Since Phantasm II was part of the mix, I figured why not go ahead and just finish up the series? The third installment undid the weird casting change from volume two, while simultaneously making the reasons behind it more clear. (Spoiler alert: the kid who played Mike in the original isn’t a great actor, and is also sort of a funny looking dude.) The romance subplot from the second is similarly ditched within the first two minutes and then we get Mike and Reggie running around, chasing the Tall Man and fighting zombies and spheres and stuff. This one continued the horror-action vibe of the second (the original is much more pure horror) while adding something else: comedy. It worked really well. Even my wife liked it, and she has never seen a Phantasm movie in her life.

Frankenstein’s Army
If you ever dreamt of seeing Steampunk-style clockwork cyborg zombies, this is the film for you. A mad scientist is making weapons out of dead people for the Nazis and only a bunch of murderous Soviet commandos can stop him! Or get chopped up real good in the process of trying. The story here seems almost incidental to the use of the film as a showcase for some bad-ass creature designs, which is okay once in a while if the creatures are truly great, and these pretty much are. They look like a mash-up of Castle Wolfenstein and BioShock, and the plot is videogame level, but if that sounds fun, you will dig this.

Phantasm IV: Oblivion
The final of the original four Phanstasm films is kind of a letdown after the surprising awesomeness of the third. It’s not bad, per se, but it doesn’t do as much with the comedy and it feels a lot like it’s just going through the motion. Hardcore fans of the series will appreciate the inclusion of unused footage from the first film. Otherwise, there’s not a lot going on here. Final confrontation with the Tall Man, a little origin of the Tall Man and not much else. Still, competently made and not unwatchable. Just not essential.

Erotic Nights of the Living Dead
Hey, you got your porno in my zombie movie! Hey, you got you your zombie movie in my porno! The result is … less satisfying than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, I’ll tell you that. Really, what you have here is a mediocre zombie movie about a greedy developer scouting out an island inhabited by zombies with about forty minutes of schlocky early ’80s porn mixed in. Cut out the porn and you’d have a forgettable, dull zombie flick with poor effects and lazy performances. Instead, you have something that will make you squirm for all the wrong reasons. Mercifully, the porn and the zombies are largely segregated. This one is eminently skippable, unless you just have to see every Italian zombie movie ever made, which I kind of do.

That’s all for now. Check back Monday for three more!

Zombie Movie Marathon Month the Seventh Progress Report No. 1

Posted by Cory Casciato On October - 6 - 2014

phantasm2_10 Another year, another month of marathoning zombie movies. This year marks my seventh dive into the depths of zombie filmdom, so I decided to do something different. The difference this year is I am watching ALL NEW MOVIES. Meaning movies I haven’t seen before. I don’t care when they were made so much, although the fact that I have seen a huge number of older zombie movies means that, by default, a lot of these will be new in every sense of the word.

Anyway, maybe you are wondering why? Well, as I said, I’ve been doing this a while now, and to keep it interesting you have to do new things. Also, the past two years I have been super busy, since I had a couple of kids. Those things eat up a lot of time… that means I’ve had a lot less time for watching zombie movies, so this seemed like a good time to catch up on all the stuff people keep asking me about. Now when they say, “Hey have you seen that new movie BlahBlahBlah of the Dead?” I can say, “I sure did!” Anyway, on to the movies…

Cockneys Vs Zombies
Let’s get the bad out of the way first, shall we? This movie has no reason to exist. It contains no new ideas of note, and its plot is a rehash of stuff we’ve seen a million times before. It also drags a bit, despite being less than 90 minutes long. That said, it was well executed for low budget zombie cinema, and it’s actually reasonably entertaining. The basic go like this — two ne’er do wells from London’s East End decide to rob a bank to get the cash to keep their grandfather’s retirement home from being sold. A zombie outbreak of massive proportions occurs during the heist. This leads to a lot of idiots running around with guns, a lot of idiots being bitten by zombies or shot by accident, and some old people fighting zombies. Plus lots of working class British accents and a few amusing special effects. It’s all very trivial and derivative (I’m pretty sure they just took the plot of JUNK and added in a twist of  Shaun of the Dead  and called it good) but not too bad for all of that. Worth a look, as long as you don’t expect too much.

From Romero to Rome: The Rise and Fall of the Italian Zombie Movie
This short doc looks like a student film, and it may be one for all I know. I’m not even sure where I got the damn thing, because people give me stuff to watch all the damn time. Anyway, the title is a little misleading, since it covers more than just Italian zombie movies, even if those are, nominally, the focus. Therein lies the problem, because there isn’t a lot of focus in this film. They meander their way through zombie movie history, via talking head segments from a bunch of British zombie fans/critics/filmmakers you’ve never heard of (also one American who’s similarly obscure). It’s not terrible, but it’s also not particularly worthwhile. Somehow manages to feel too long at just about an hour, which is quite a feat.

Life After Beth
A lame attempt at a zom-rom-com about a teenage couple and what happens after the girl dies and comes back. It stars a lot of famous people (Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon) and utterly wastes them on a terrible script, futile direction and general stupidity. These kind of movies always piss me off, because a significant amount of money was obviously spent here and for what? It’s dumb, it’s actively anti-funny and it’s super fucking dull. Just no.

Phantasm II
So I was talking to a film guy I work with sometime about this movie and realized afterward that I’d never actually seen it. WTF? I mean, I thought I had, but reading Wikipedia’s discussion of it made me realize, nope, sure haven’t. So I watched it. It picks up a few years after the first one leaves off, with Reggie and Mike (recast, by the way, and not particularly well) chasing after the Tall Man. They find all these deserted towns and empty graveyards, then they face the Tall Man and try to save a psychic girl that Mike knows from his dreams. It suffers from a bit of sequelitis (i.e. not a lot new here, just MORE MORE MORE) but it’s pretty entertaining all the same. Also, I’m 90 percent certain the creators of Supernatural are HUGE fans of this movie, and./or the series as a whole. Watch this and you will see what I mean.

Prison of the Dead
Full Moon puts out some decent trash, and this falls under that category. It’s a dumb ripoff of the Blind Dead series, with a bunch of ancient zombies trying to keep some witch ghosts from escaping an old prison after some dumb ass kids wake them up. It’s not good by any means, but it’s honestly just as entertaining (and not nearly as slow) as the Blind Dead films it’s ripping off (caveat: I am not a fan of that particular series, and had to give up after the first two). I wouldn’t seek it out, but if you stumble across it some night while drunk and/or stoned, it will probably entertain you well enough until you fall asleep in front of it.

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back in a day or three to cover another batch of films. Feel free to leave suggestions for what I should watch in the comments.

ZMMM Volume 6 progress report part IX: Final!

Posted by Cory Casciato On November - 4 - 2013


It’s over! The sixth annual zombie movie marathon month has drawn to a close. As usual, I am left loving zombies more than when I began, which is proof positive that zombies are best in large doses. Anyway, enough bullshit, let’s talk about the last four films, shall we?

Harold’s Going Stiff

It’s another faux documentary from the U.K. They seem to love them. This one posits a disease called ORD that makes people stiff and causes mental deterioration, eventually resulting in a lumbering, violent “zombie” running around. Then some laddish fuckwits go around killing the zombies. The story focuses on the first known victim of the disease, and eventually on his relationship with his nurse/physical therapist. It’s a decent movie, maybe a bit slow, but different in a good way. Like most of these faux docs, they do kind of break the frame a bit, putting in shots and scenes that no documentary could ever actually manage, but maybe that only bothers me because I watch so many documentaries… It’s a small quibble, but worth mentioning. Overall, the film is solid, if not entirely remarkable. Worth a look, though.

The Revenant

Hey, I already reviewed The Revenant! I saw it years ago, in two different cuts, via a screener and at a film festival. This version is yet another cut, the final one that appears on the retail Bluray. Honestly, it is the worst of the three cuts. It still needs to be a bit shorter, and there are some annoying and intrusive musical cues that need to go. Plus an unnecessary intro scene, but that is no big deal. Still a good movie, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much this time around.

Maniac Cop 2

A cop that got framed comes back from the dead to kill cops, and pretty much anyone else who gets in his way or looks at him cross eyed. That is also the plot of the first Maniac Cop, in case you were wondering. It’s vintage ’80s sleaze and violence, without much in the way of distinguishing features apart from an impossibly young Bruce Campbell, who is in it for ten minutes or so. Not terrible, but not special either. Still, if Maniac Cop left you with unanswered questions, this one will … well, it won’t answer them, but maybe you’ll enjoy it anyway.

Shaun of the Dead

A lot of these films get worse each time I watch them (a frequent theme in this year’s marathon) but not Shaun of the Dead. It just gets better and better. This is one of my top five zombie movies of all time. Maybe top three. Layered with references to the films that precede it, full of whipcrack wit and great action set pieces, and genuinely touching, this is simply one of the very best zombie movies ever. Good for noobs. Good for old-school fans. Good for everyone. There is no better way to end a zombie movie marathon.

That’s it! I’ll be back in a day or so with a wrap up, featuring the best, worst, and weirdest of the marathon. Until then!

ZMMM Volume 6 progress report part VIII

Posted by Cory Casciato On October - 28 - 2013
Abraham Lincoln: 16th US president and zombie killer

Abraham Lincoln: 16th US president and zombie killer

First up, let me acknowledge that I am bad at math. Circa last progress report, I said seven movies left. No. It was eight. Numbers am hard. Ahem.

Anyway, here we are. The second to last progress report. Just four movies (yes, for real this time) left. I feel good. I love zombies. Everything is going according to plan! [Evil laugh]

Mass Acre Hill

I am 99 percent certain I have now watched the worst movie of this marathon, so there’s that. This deserves a spot on my worst-ever zombie movies list, honestly. Like many of the worst-ever zombie movies, it is Canadian and basically zero budget. The acting is nonexistent. The camera work and sound are abysmal — intolerable, really. It had an abundance of the worst CGI I have ever witnessed. What it did have going for it was a can-do spirit and the desire to be completely insane. So there’s that.

The plot, such as it is, concerns two crashed pilots, plus a drug-dealer/cult leader, and some zombies. Of course. It hardly matters, as it is just an excuse for dumb Canadians to wander around the woods covered in fake blood, for the most part. You can watch the damn thing yourself for 99 cents.

28 Days Later

The single most influential zombie movie of the past 20 years! I know the debate rages on among purists about whether this is really a zombie movie or not, but seriously, have you seen this? It’s clearly an attempt at a “realistic” zombie movie (i.e. giving a semi-plausible explanation for zombies, since dead people do not, in fact, ever get up and walk around) and a damn good one at that. Hell, the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake is basically a knock-off of this, with the semi-plausible Rage zombies thrown out in favor of traditional dead men walking (er, running). Anyway, got my wife to watch this one with me, making it the third ZMMM film she joined in on this time around — a new record!

Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies

The Asylum strikes again! It’s a alt-history retelling of the Civil War, with zombies. And Abraham Lincoln as a scythe-swinging badass. The plot gives us a bunch of zombies besieging a Civil War fort, and Lincoln is the only man who can deal with them (with the help of a few Secret Service agents). Apart from some sound issues, and the fact that it is mostly brain dead, it was pretty enjoyable. Don’t expect a lot and it’s a fun ride. I do recommend drinking at least three beers (or whatever your booze of choice is) and maybe two bong hits before proceeding, though. You’re going to need to shut off a decent portion of your brain for maximum effectiveness.

The Cabin in the Woods

Zombie redneck torture family fun! Sure, this is not a traditional zombie movie, but zombies play a big part, in both the aforementioned zombie redneck torture family and regular, flesh-eating horde forms. Love the meta horror of this film, and I am a huge Joss Whedon fan, so this was a real pleasure. Hadn’t seen it since it was in theaters, and this seemed as good a time as any to watch it again. If you somehow haven’t seen it, stop reading this nonsense and go check it out. It’s awesome.

Okay, that’s all for now. See you Friday with the ninth and final report!

ZMMM Volume 6 progress report part VII

Posted by Cory Casciato On October - 24 - 2013
Those zombies in The Beyond are getting a little handsy

Those zombies in The Beyond are getting a little handsy

More movies. More zombies. Thus, it’s time for yet another progress report…

The Beyond

I want to say this is the third, or perhaps fourth time I’ve seen this. Last year I watched a different edit of it (the one released under the name The Seven Doors of Death) and it was meh. This cut — the one the director intended, if I am not mistaken — is far superior, so keep that in mind if you are tracking this one down. Anyway, it’s the story of a hotel that happens to be built over a gateway to hell. A young woman inherits the hotel, and hell breaks loose (literally). Some of that hell comes in the form of zombies! It made more sense to me this time, suggesting it just needs repeat viewings to cohere into a reasonable story. I enjoyed it a lot this time around. The gruesome and creative death scenes were a highlight, as always.

You can read my original review of The Beyond here if you want more.


What if Osama Bin Laden came back… as a zombie? There’s your premise. The execution is very SyFy, although I couldn’t find any reason to believe this was, in fact, a SyFy movie. The plotting is incredibly shoddy. The acting is weak. The CGI is awful. But it entertains for the 90ish minutes it takes to watch, so there’s that.

The story is this: some dumb girl follows her even dumber brother to Afghanistan. He’s seeking Bin Laden, who he is sure is still alive. She is seeking him, because he’s always been a flake and she is worried. Some special forces run into them along the way and take them along on a super important special forces mission, because apparently that’s how the special forces roll (“Civilians? Sure, bring them along, surely they won’t jeapordize this mission”). Big climax when they find the terrorist base, which is full of zombies. The end. Fun? Sure. But real, real dumb.

The Walking Dead

This has nothing to do with the TV show. It’s a 1936 Boris Karloff movie about a man who is framed for murder, executed, then returned to life via SCIENCE! Afterward, he seeks out the people who framed him and watches them die. Just watches, though. He doesn’t take an active role. It’s a solid movie, mostly due to Karloff’s charisma of infinite sadness. You can read my original The Walking Dead ZMMM daily or its entry on the list of old-school zombies if you want more. And seek it out, it is really worth seeing.

That’s all for now. Just seven movies and two progress reports to go before we’re all done.

ZMMM Volume 6 progress report part VI

Posted by Cory Casciato On October - 21 - 2013
The Battery

The Battery

The last three days were about as good as zombie movie marathoning get. Two nice surprises and a visit from an old friend that had been nearly forgotten. It’s little runs like this that make it all worthwhile. Well, that and the disembowelments. On to the films!

The Battery

If you read much horror criticism and coverage, someone has probably already told you how good this film is. They aren’t kidding. This is an indie zombie apocalypse film done right. It’s small scale, very personal and quiet, as far as zombie movies go. It’s also almost entirely character driven, and the two characters are both believable people. It deals with the big issues that The Walking Dead TV series tries (and largely fails) to address — what it’s like to be stuck with people you have little in common with, how the end of the world affects you, trying to retain your humanity in the chaos — with heart and humor. It looks good, it doesn’t rip anyone off (apart from the obvious Romeroisms common to nearly all zombie movies), and it’s entertaining.

Plotwise, it’s about two guys on the road, trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. One is very matter of fact about it all, the other is kind of in denial. Things happen. That’s all you need to know really. Just see it. If you care enough about zombies to read this website, even casually, you will like — if not love — this movie. It’s fucking great. Oh, and you can get it direct from the filmmakers for $5. $5! That’s less than a fancy ass latte, so just do it.

Night of the Creeps

How did I forget how sweet this movie is? How have I never watched it as part of my zombie movie marathon month? I don’t know the answer to either of these questions, but they are both resolved now. Alien parasites use animated corpses to breed and spread, college kids and a slightly homicidal police detective (captain?) have to deal with it. It’s set in 1987 (with a bonus flashback to 1959), so you get some sweet ’80s-isms. There’s a little romance. I just noticed I’ve never written a proper review for this one, either, so that’s another thing I need to rectify soon.

Birth of the Living Dead

This is not a movie about zombie babies, as sweet as that would be. Instead, it’s a documentary on the making and impact of Night of the Living Dead. At its center is a long, in-depth interview with George A. Romero, which is great. No one else from the film is really interviewed though, which is less great. It’s a must see for fans of the original, or of Romero in general, or fans of the zombie genre (NotLD is patient zero for the modern zombie, after all). It could be a little more well rounded, but that’s just quibbling. It’s an entertaining and informative doc for any fan of the the undead. I quite enjoyed it.

ZMMM Volume 6 progress report part V

Posted by Cory Casciato On October - 18 - 2013
Scooby Doo + zombies

Scooby Doo + zombies

We’ve crossed the halfway line. Still going strong. That’s always been a good sign in years past, and I have some decent stuff lined up for the back half, so I am feeling good. Now, on to the films!

Portrait of a Zombie

This was an interesting little film. It’s a faux-documentary-ish effort about patient zero in a zombie apocalypse. We get a look at how it affects the family — who try to keep the bitey bastard locked up in his old room — the neighbors, the local crime lords… It’s not bad, but it’s a little confusing early on, and muddled throughout. And the makeup and effects are a shit show. But still worth a look, if only because the acting is streets ahead of what you usually find in low-budget zombie movies.


I wrote a fairly lengthy review of Insanitarium after I first watched it, so you can refer to that if you like. I’ll just say this time I didn’t quite enjoy it as much, which has been a frequent occurrence with decent B-movies. I like the the first time, then like them less on subsequent viewings. I guess the low expectations theme mentioned in my earlier Zombie Movie Marathon Month report is a big part of why.

Scooby Doo on Zombie Island

As long as I am doing kids’ zombie movies this month, I figured why not do them all? Or at least all the ones I could easily lay hands on, and this one is easy to pick up. As an old-school Scooby Doo fan, it was a little disappointing. All new voices? Or maybe they just sounded wrong after all these years… The animation was typically shitty Hanna Barbera quality. There were lots of musical interludes, in true Scooby Doo fashion, but now it was all shitty ’90s alt-rock instead of shitty ’70s MOR. In this one, the monsters are real, in a weird inversion of Scooby Doo lore. They play that aspect up, of course. It was okay. I mean, I didn’t hate it. You could do worse for a kids’ zombie movie.

Nightmare City

It’s become something of a tradition to watch Nightmare City for my zombie movie marathon months, because fuck yeah, Nightmare City! It’s a tremendously entertaining piece of total shit. Umberto Lenzi tries to get all serious and deep, but alas, he is still Lenzi. There’s a lot of gruesome misogyny and gratuitous nudity, a molotov television (dude throws a TV at some zombies and it explodes in a giant fireball because, hey, TVs do that), and the zombies — who are just dudes that have faces smeared with what looks like a mixture of shit and kitty litter — run around shooting and stabbing people. It is awful and it is awesome. Those two words have the same root, you know? And this movie will help you understand why that is the case. You can read more about Nightmare City  from the past times I watched it, especially this previous year’s Nightmare City ZMMM daily report.

ZMMM Volume 6 progress report part IV

Posted by Cory Casciato On October - 14 - 2013
You'll have this same look after you watch Burial Ground

You’ll have this same look after you watch Burial Ground

We’re approaching the halfway mark of the sixth annual zombie movie marathon and I’m happy to report that things are going fine. I fear I may have front-loaded the quality new stuff a little too heavily, so the back half might be a little painful, but what’s a zombie movie marathon without a little pain, right? That’s why god invented bong hits, anyway. Enough about the future, though, let’s look at the very recent past.

Dead Alive

Peter Jackson’s splatstick masterpiece satisfied as usual. Man, that fucking zombie baby is just the creepiest thing, too. That little bugger  earned his spot on my top ten zombie tots list, that’s for damn sure. Also, the best use of a lawn mower as a zombie killing weapon ever. Plus, it’s actually a pretty decent story and the characters have a bit of life to them. Indie zombie film makers, please take a lesson or five from this film when you go to make your own, okay? We’ll all be better off and I won’t have to suffer as much for future zombie movie marathon months.

Zombie Hunter

Remember what I said about low expectations in my last progress report? This movie is another perfect example. I was bracing myself for some deep hurting, but it turned out to be merely aggressively mediocre, so WIN! A bunch of no-name actors kind of mill around a low-key zombie apocalypse brought on by a drug called Natas (it’s Satan backwards, get it? SO SUBTLE!) and there’s a guy in a car with sort of a Mad Max vibe, only he has frosted tips, so he is impossible to take seriously. Danny Trejo plays an axe wielding priest (or guy pretending to be a priest, whatever) for like ten minutes, until some CGI thing takes him out (yeah, yeah spoiler alert, whatever — there’s not enough story here to worry about shit like that). It did have some stylized elements that were pleasant, and it moved along at a reasonable clip. I could even see myself watching it again. I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it or anything, but it’s not out of the question.

Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror

My love for this awful, awful movie is boundless. I can watch it any number of times, so I did. I don’t have anything to add to what I have already written, so if you want to hear more of my thoughts on the madness of this movie, try my original Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror review or perhaps my list of the top ten most insane moments from Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror. You could also check out my previous year ZMMM daily note on it. Also, you should watch it, because holy shit, what a lunatic movie.

ZMMM Volume 6 progress report part III

Posted by Cory Casciato On October - 11 - 2013

World War ZNever underestimate the power of low expectations. That is the lesson of the  past three days of Zombie Movie Marathon Month. I’ll get into the specifics below, in my movie notes, but it boils down to this: the lower your expectations for a film, the easier it is to have them exceeded and thus your net enjoyment is positive. Conversely, the higher your expectations, the harder it is to live up to them, much less exceed them, and thus the harder it is to have a positive experience. With zombie movies, it really pays to expect pain and suffering, because then if the movie is merely mediocre, you’ll end up quite pleased. Anyway, enough pontificating, on to the films!

Beyond Re-Animator

Oh, boy, were my expectations low. So, so low. The reason for that dates back to last year, when I finally got around to watching Bride of Re-Animator. Earlier in ZMMM5 I watched the original Re-Animator and it was as kick-ass as ever, so when I sat down to watch Bride, I was like, “Oh boy, this is going to be sweet!” And it was not sweet. It was awful, and I hated it. So I was braced for Beyond to be just abysmal and it was… not terrible. I mean, it was pretty lame — bad acting, bad writing, mediocre effects — but it was better than Bride (it ditched some of the lame attempts of humor, for one thing) and it wasn’t painful to watch, so I kind of enjoyed it. See, low expectations never  let you down!

Plotwise, Herbert West goes to prison, and some jackass doctor gets hired at the prison and helps him get his re-animation back on, and shit gets all wacky. It’s pretty weak, but hey, zombies in prison are always a good time.


It had been about five years since I saw this one, so it seemed like it was time again. It’s a very ’70-s movie, from the pacing to the dialogue to the clothes and decor. Also, it’s a damn ambitious movie for what had to have been a shoestring budget. Dimension-traveling alien/demon things, dwarf zombies, flying silver balls of death… I’m a big Don Coscarelli fan, and I have no doubt that seeing parts of this movie when I was like seven helped that. Highly recommend this, despite the “Oh shit, look how fucking ’70s this is!” vibe.

Also, read my interview with Don Coscarelli. He is a rad dude.

World War Z

When this was over, my wife asked, “So, how close was it to the book?” The answer: hahahahaha. By my count, there were three similarities — the title, the fact that dogs can detect the zombies, and the bit about Israel being the best-prepared for the zombies. Everything else was different. I don’t mind, because hey, the book is the book and the movie is the movie. I can enjoy both on their own merits.

My expectations for this were super, super low, and I was pleasantly surprised. I found it all a little heavy handed and predictable, but it was pleasant enough. Brad Pitt was fine (although he is falling into that typical older actor “fuck you, I’m going to play every part the same way, because I am fucking famous” mentality) as the globe-trotting UN super sleuth who figures out all the answers. The army-ant like super zombies were kinda meh, as usual. They strain credulity, since there is no real way to escape such things, much less fight them. It could have been a sequel/parallel film to Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, really. Is that a bad thing? Depends on your perspective, I guess. I will say this: it established that “zombie apocalypse” is a fine premise for an action movie, which is nice, because action movie premises get a little stale, and we can always use another.

Oh, any you can read this little essay I wrote about how it doesn’t matter that the film World War Z  is so different from the book World War Z.




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