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: 6/9/2010 – Autumn

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 10 - 2010

"I'm so sorry this was my last movie..."

Oh, the highs and lows of Zombie Movie Marathon Month. One day it’s the excellent not-quite-zombie flick The Signal. The next, it’s the definitely zombie trainwreck of Autumn.

And Autumn had such promise. It had an unusual take on zombies. It had David Carradine in what I believe was his last completed movie role. It had … well, that’s all it had going for it. The rest is all crap and all that crap pulverized the promise of those two elements.

So, storywise, pretty much everyone, all at once, drops dead in their tracks, leaving but a small handful of survivors. They band together to freak out and figure out what to do next. After a few days, the dead rise and start walking around. At first, they are docile and insensate. Later they recover their senses and become aggressive and nasty. In the meantime our protagonists scurry off to a farm to set up camp. And then … a whole lot of not very much, stretched out over nearly two full hours.

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ZMMM Dailies: 6/8/2010 – The Signal

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 9 - 2010

There’s two things I want to get out of the way regarding The Signal right off the bat. First, it isn’t really a zombie movie, although I wasn’t sure about that until I saw it. Second, it is freaking awesome.

On that first point, it is clearly inspired and informed by the zombie apocalypse meme. Like most of the movies I chronicled in my list of almost/sort-of/barely zombie movies, it definitely works an at-times very zombie-like vibe yet manages to be different enough to separate itself from the pack. So, technically speaking, it isn’t suitable for ZMMM and I wouldn’t schedule it again. But it’s close enough I didn’t feel compelled to watch another movie. Some people would definitely classify it as a zombie flick, others would say I am crazy for even calling it close enough to pass on a limited basis. Clear?

On that second point, it is awesome. I really, really liked this movie. Great idea, great execution, based in classic themes but with a completely unique flavor. I recommend it wholeheartedly and without reservation as a top-notch zombie-like film. Seriously, see it.

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ZMMM Dailies: 6/7/2010 – They Came Back

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 8 - 2010

So, this is why doing these marathons is so worthwhile. Yesterday’s film, They Came Back (aka Les Revenants) could not be any more different than the one that preceded it (The Necro Files). Where Necro was gross, amateurish and hilariously bad, They Came Back is polished and thoughtful, if ultimately a little unsatisfying. It’s amazing and wonderful that the zombie genre can encompass both. Were it not for the marathon schedule, I can’t imagine I’d have ever seen them back-to-back like this.

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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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ZMMM Dailies: 6/5/2010 – Death Becomes Her

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 6 - 2010

Quick! How many Oscar-winning zombie movies can you name that star two Oscar-winning actresses? Just the one, I’m thinking: Death Becomes Her. The Oscar it won was for special effects. Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep are the Oscar-winning star actresses and it also has Bruce Willis and Isabella Rossellini for good measure.

Now, this is a very different take on zombie, but they are verifiably reanimated dead people. As a matter of fact, there’s a scene in the hospital where a doctor is taking the vital signs of Streep’s character that is eerily similar to the paramedics checking out the two main idiots in Return of the Living Dead. No brain eating here, though. Just uber-bitchy diva behavior.

The deal is two women who hate each other both get this fancy youth-revitalizing magic potion that makes you live forever, except there’s a catch. If you die, you don’t die. Your heart stops, your temperature drops and you stop healing, but you continue on as the living dead. That plot is used to deliver a slapsticky comedy about the pursuit of beauty and youth in Hollywood. It’s pretty shallow but very well put together and fairly entertaining, albeit probably not what most zombie lovers are looking for.

My usually zombie-hating fiancée watched this one with me. She’s a big fan, actually (apparently it was one of her favorite movies in high school). Also, I should note this is one of the worst DVD transfers ever. Not only it is a chopped, pan-and-scan aspect ration, it’s also grainy, muddy and ugly. Awful.

Again, circumstances (watching with my SO, in this case) dictated skipping the short. But no worries, I have plenty of shorts to come.

ZMMM Dailies: 6/4/2010 – REC 2

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 5 - 2010

If REC 2 proved anything, it’s that co-directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza were not one-hit wonders. It is awesome. It picks up right where REC leaves off, goes into some far-out, unexpected territory and delivers an experience that’s similar in pace and intensity to the original while retaining a wholly original character.

That being said, zombie purists that were a little uneasy with some elements of REC will be off the bus within twenty minutes. The cause of the zombie plague revealed at the end of REC plays a huge part in the story here. And if you haven’t seen the first, stop here and go watch it. Beyond the jump I’ll be spoiling some elements of the first movie’s story in discussing the second. The rest of you, follow me…

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ZMMM Dailies: 6/3/2010 – Night of the Zombies

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 4 - 2010

Last night’s enterprise was the murky, confusing and thoroughly ridiculous Night of the Zombies. It goes by a few other names, including Gamma 693, Night of the Wehrmacht Zombies and Night of the Zombies II. I’ve mentioned before that there seems to be an inverse relationship between the number of names a movie goes under and its quality. That applies here.

Oh, it’s also a Nazi zombie movie, a genre which seems to be cursed (of the many, many Nazi zombie movies in existence, only one is any good) and it stars a porn star in a non-porn acting role. So, yeah. Pretty much a terrible movie.

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ZMMM Dailies: 6/2/2010 – Colin

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 3 - 2010

Around this time last year, Colin was generating a huge buzz at Cannes as the sub-$100 budget zombie movie. While that budget is questionable (sure, they might have only spent that out of pocket but what about the cameras, editing equipment, etc?) it is clearly a very low budget affair. More importantly, it actually justifies at least some degree of the hype that surrounded it. This is micro budget zombie movie making done right.

The basic story follows a dude from shortly after he gets bit. We watch him turn, then wander around some English city once he does, getting into zombie mishaps. They’re very Romero-like zombie mishaps — very slow, messed up and pretty stupid, yet possibly retaining a minor spark of who and what they were.

Speaking of Romero, fans will be reminded of Bub from Day of the Dead and certain elements of the just-released Survival of the Dead‘s plot as well. This is a relatively sympathetic portrait of the zombie, as far as one can be sympathetic to an ambulatory corpse trying to eat you. It also draws stylistic influence from 28 Days Later to some degree (musically in particular, but also in the depiction of the zombies as feral and animal-like) and at times it plays out almost like a zombie version of Richard Linklater’s Slacker.

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ZMMM Dailies: 6/1/2010 – Night of the Living Dead

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 2 - 2010

What better way to start off a zombie movie marathon than the movie that transformed zombies from a second-rate movie monster to the greatest creature of all time? None. None better way, I say. So I did.

What to say about NotLD? It’s almost certainly literally all been said before. I’ve probably seen it six or eight times, perhaps a few more. It’s enjoyable every time. I find something new or find my focus shifted every time I watch it. I noticed the music a lot, in part because I’ve been listening intermittently to Tonight of the Living Dead by 400 Lonely Things, which is an ambient work based on transformations of the original audio. The film’s score is a weird mix of classical, almost old-fashioned, film music and weird, electronic sounds (theremin? organ run through a delay effect? anyone know?). There are also some odd sound design decisions, such as the bizarre echo effect on the scream when Karen Cooper is killed. But it all works, which is part of the genius of the film.

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