Day Of The Dead

Day Of The Dead

Usually seen as the weakest of the trilogy, and by a long way the most gore filled, this is by no means a bad film. The film was plagued from the start with budget problems, and script re-writes. This was originally supposed to be Romero’s epic, though the finished product bears little relation to the original concept. If Romero had had better funding, certain improvements could have been made to the script, but he still provides an excellent and grim film. Like the previous films, we are given a sense of claustrophobia, of being sealed inside by what’s outside as the film is set mainly in one place. While NOTLD was set in a farmhouse, and the characters may have been able to run somewhere else, and Dawn was set in a shopping mall where all your hearts desires could be found for low low prices, this is set in an underground shelter with miles of caverns leading to nowhere: it’s as if the human race has already sealed itself in Hell. The zombies hold the earth.

The few survivors are not plain civilians as before, they work for a government which does not exist anymore, with the soldiers supposedly facilitating the scientists. Both groups are torn amongst themselves, with the soldiers under the command of Rhodes-one of the most psychotic characters ever, yet completely understandable (played with the utmost power and realism by Pilato and surely deserving of some awards), and the scientists all pulling in different directions. This is primarily a film of characterisation as we see how each person reacts to the realisation that the zombies have won. It may be true that none of the characters are likable, but this only adds to the realism as if we were in this situation, it is likely those around us would p*ss us off most of the time. Even at the end, contrary to what others say, the future holds no hope. The only escape is to hide and wait for your own inevitable death.

But the film is very funny, perhaps sometimes unintentionally, as seen in Dr. Frankenstein’s antics (“no! no, you must listen to me!” Rhodes <with machine gun> “listen to this”! ). The effects, again done by Tom Savini are simply amazing, with faces being torn apart, heads flying off, and intestines spilling everywhere-every single death scene is a masterpiece of gore. Although many horror fans do not like this, it portrays a horrifying situation like no other movie. Perhaps not even the most hardened fan can bear the grimness of what is happening, subconscious fears making them hate it???

Finally a decent DVD version of Day Of The Dead is released- the first disc is a crisp cut of the film in all it’s bloody glory. The second disc has good extras- a solid documentary, and a behind the scenes feature, as well as the usual trailers, filmographies. If you don’t have the Trilogy of the Dead box set, this is a must.

Feel free to comment on my review and the movie itself? Is this your favourite of Romero’s zombie films, or do you think this is where it started to go wrong?

Dawn Of The Dead (Remake)

Being a zombie movie fan i have much enjoyed the recent (continuing) resurgence of the genre. As i believe that Romero’s Dawn is not only the best zombie movie ever, but one of the best horror movies, i was both excited and sceptical to hear about a remake. Reasons for excitement- 1. It’s zombies. 2. A big budget. 3. If done right, could be brilliant. Reasons for scepticism- 1. A big budget. 2. Less gore, less shock value. 3. If done wrong could be awful, and possibly tarnish the name of the original in some people’s eyes.

I soon heard that the zombies would be able to run- a source of many arguments among fans and purists. On one side, the zombies were scarier because their slow speed was irrelevant, they would probably get you in the end through sheer numbers or by the fact that they don’t get tired. Slow zombies were scary because they were falling to pieces. However, on the other side, people who have recently turned may still be in good shape so should be able to run until they begin to decay. Fast zombies make the threat more immediate and therefore give rise to more jumpy moments. Fast zombies mean we have an even smaller chance of survival as we may not be able to outrun them. Some have said the zombies in this are ‘super-fast’, but this is nonsense. A zombie should only be as fast as it was before it turned, more likely slower, but will not get out of breath. All this running will however mean quicker decay. What it all boils down too in the end is whether you can make your choice effective, and in both films, both directors succeed.

A Nurse, Ana, during and after a heavy shift fails to notice the news reports that the dead are attacking the living. It is probably rubbish anyway, and she just wants to get home to suburbia. The next morning, her young neighbour enters her bedroom; She seems to be hurt. When her husband investigates, she attacks him, biting off part of his throat. He dies, the phone is engaged, but he quickly rises again and goes for his wife. When she escapes the house she witnesses chaos, people screaming, houses on fire and being attacked, her neighbour with a gun, promptly run over by an ambulance. She escapes in her car only to crash after seeing the scale of the madness. Soon she meets with a cop- Kenneth, Michael, Andre and his pregnant girlfriend Luda. They decide to hide in a local mall only to find that Store guards have claimed it for their own. However, they work out a compromise and soon other survivors join them. As the days pass, they try to work out a solution, how to maintain their safety and sanity. When an attempt to send food to Andy, a survivor on the roof of a gun shop a few hundred yards away goes wrong, the zombies get into the mall, and the remaining survivors flee. Their plan to escape to an island by boat seems good, but it is based on pure hope, and the desire to get out of their present situation, rushed, and the hordes continue to chase.

The film lacks the brains and atmosphere of Romero’s masterpiece. But it makes up for this by giving an excellent view of how contemporary people would likely react to the situation. The film begins quickly, and to the director’s credit, the pace continues throughout. Anytime something good happens, something worse happens to bring the characters to an even lower state. It is frantic, but never out of control, and their is a fair amount of tension. Once we realise the zombies are fast, we are on edge, prepared for one or one hundred to come racing round the nearest shadowy corner. The actors all do well, particularly Polley and the excellent Weber. His character is just a normal guy, a failure at many things, but who will not give up. Rhames is tough, but doesn’t set out on his own, knowing that he is needed. The soundtrack is more conventional,with booming rock songs being played over each attack, but this heightens the chaos. There is little hope left at the end, and little time for discussion over why this has happened. There are a few good set pieces, and the gore is good for a modern mainstream film. There are a few funny moments, and of course, another staple of zombie films, an annoying character-Steve. The best of the recent serious zombie films by a wide margin, lets see if Romero can regain his crown.

The DVD has a few good extras, the commentary is amusing, and the last days of Andy feature is well worth watching.

Dawn Of The Dead
As always, feel free to leave any comments- is this better than the original? How do you feel about fast zombies?

Mermaids: The Last Film

I walked into the cinema expecting this to be a film. I was right, but I thought it was going to be about women with tails swimming about the ocean, perhaps a sequel to The Little Mermaid. I was wrong. This is a film about a woman and her two daughters riding from town to town, trying to get a break. Who cares. Who writes these things? Who watches these things? Seriously. Do you want to watch a film about a mummy shouting at her daughters and flirting with Bob Hopkins? No. Then they burst into a rendition of the Cheep Cheep song written by Dusky Springfield. It wasn’t long before I fell asleep and dreamed a dream.

I dreamt that I was a mermaid, or in this case a merman, like in He-Man. I had a big, 3-pronged fork which I used to catch my dinner – giant shrimp, octopussies, sea burgers etc. I wasn’t the King or anything, but I was pretty well off as far as ocean dwellers go. I had a few concubines who would answer my every sordid whim. The main one looked like Winorda Rider, so the film had some impact on me. One day I was relaxing on the ocean floor when a little lost boy swam round the rock, shouting ‘Kali Ma! Kali Maaa!’ This disturbed me greatly, so I gathered a group of my mates and went off to investigate. The source of the trouble was a giant dragon which had erupted from the ocean floor. We started to beat it with sticks and throw crabs at it, but it laughed to see such fun and turned into Les from Coronation Street. I was quite taken by surprise, and even more so when I looked down and saw that I was no longer a merman, but a cup of tea sitting on a table on the set of Britain’s most beloved soap. Vera had a suck of me, then Rita, then the ginger one, and Les dipped a Digestive in me. Even now I feel his crumbs floating around my insides. All of a suddent, Chair came running in singing the Woop Woop song, her and Bob Hostile dancing together, faster and fasterer. The youngest daughter from Mermaids (Lionel Ricci) came bounding in, tripped and banged into me. I tipped over the edge of the table and fell towards the carpet. Just before I hit the ground, I woke up. The cinema was empty and the screen was blank. I realised I had slept over, so decided to get up and go home for some sausages and whiskey.

I noticed my watch (a Timex) had stopped. I walked out of the cinema and found that no-one was around, so I thought they were all in other screens, watching better movies. My footsteps seemed louder than usual, and there was an eerie quiet. An empty bag of Minstrels rustled on the floor. Eager to put the whole episode behind me, I made my way down the stairs and out the door. What greeted me – I can only describe as silent carnage. Cars lay upturned on the streets, bikes and clothes lay strewn in the highest branches of the trees and on top of lamp-posts. Fires were burning all around, but in their dying stages. There was no wind. No sound. Everything seemed stale and artificial like a reality TV show commissioned by Channel 4. I had a feeling in my groin like some unknown force from centuries ago had taken residence there with no intention of leaving. The air had no taste, but seemed like Polystyrene. Worse, there were no people. Shell-shocked I stumbled across the street, still looking left and right for traffic even though the nearest car sat half-in half-out of the third storey of an office block behind me. I entered the corner shop looking for some fellow humans; none were to be found. Wait! Maybe some took shelter in the pub next door from whatever had happened here. What had happened? Terrorists? Aliens? Bomb? Earthquake? Act of God? I couldn’t be sure, and my thoughts were not following logically anyway – Words bounced spontaneously about my head. Like. Unfocused. Wasps. Chasing. Jigsaw. Lullaby of descent into something something hell don’t can’t know no this isn’t me here, why, why not whine aught? The pub was no less empty than the shop before. No-one anywhere.

This was 4 days ago. I am home. I am alone. It’s getting dark and I mostly get scared at night. Mostly. I haven’t met another living soul in days. TV and radio are gone. Is there anybody out there? Let me know. I’ll be at the town hall at midday everyday for an hour. I won’t stay around for long though. I’m taking my bike down south to see if every town is the same. Head for the coast. Get a boat or swim if I must. Leave this place and find another way. Surely this can’t be the only place. Please God.

Best Bit: Taking all the DVDs from HMV now that everyone’s gone.

It can't end like this
It can’t end like this

2012- If climate change doesn’t get you- the future will!

It is a well known fact that some idiots believe the world will end on 21st Dec 2012. This is due to an age old series of prophecies written by the Mayans of South America. Now, they were a crazy bunch alright, crazy smart. Better mathmeticians than Carol Vorderman, better space staring guys that Patrick Moore, smarter physicists than Stephen Hawkwing. They understood the galaxy and time, dates, calendars. They knew which day certain galactic events like eclipses etc would take place, hundreds of years before we could work it out. They built massive buildings and pyramids dedicated to such practices- buildings which on a certain hour of a certain day, in a certain year sunlight would penetrate and create wonderful shadows and pictures. Naturally with all these skills it is believed they could predict future events. As we live in a time of fear and nonsense one out of every one fools believes that the world is going to end one way or another, and probably soon. The Mayans say 2012, and some say every prediction they have made has come true. Of course the predictions themselves are as follows: ‘When the smiling Devil Bird has turned 58 thousand times the grass will eat the land, and the Jaguar will have a corn bride’. Naturally this can be translated as the rise of Hitler. I have been to various temple and have spoken to many Mayan who now practice Christianity and laugh at such claims. The only prediction they made to me was that I would give them 5 dollars for a fertility statue. They were wrong. I have recently been making a few generous predictions of my own which I am confident will come true. Read into them what you may: Somewhere, some time on the 14th February 2014, there will be an episode of The Simpsons shown on TV; Madonna will be dead 150 years from now; When the Spac Twins reach four figure viewings on Youtube there will be a great cheer of despair; this film will make more than 137 Dollars at the Box Office on November 15 2009. Of course such fairytales make for great films- and by great I mean balls.

Roland ‘The Rat’ Iamrich has taken another end of the world scenario and turned it into a special graphics laden affair- their will be giant CG tidal waves, giant CG explodings, various famous world landmarks will be destroyed, and at some point the fat, nerdy one will make a quip which no-one will find amusing. About 3 hours into the movie the hero, his girlfriend, and his father/son will realize that they can save the world and restore all this ungodly destruction in a matter of hours by some simple natural/scientific solution that had previously slipped their minds. All will be well. I wait for the day when someone makes a film about the moon smashing into the earth- and is simply 127 minutes of explosions, people screaming and dying, and The Moon encroaching on everyone’s personal space. It will surely be the greatest film of all time- by which I mean balls.

Best Scene: I predict the best scene will be when a CG animal (Tiger/Wolf/Polar Bear/Rhino/Hippy) which has mysteriously blown across several continents to America chases our heroes until it eventually gets crushed by rock.

PS: This review was originally written in June 2009

Two Hundred And Twelf