Lingerers

Lingerers

At first, I thought lingerers were kind of rare in zombie lore, but the more I look around the more I think they are basically the norm. Lingerers are zombies who retain something of their old selves. They remember something, either an ingrained skill or maybe even all their memory.

In the Romero movies many of the zombies slowly began regaining their human skills and memories over time. In Return of the Living Dead they were basically just angry versions of themselves.

Regardless of the film series, these are some of the most common zombies around.

lingerers

Eternals

Eternals

Eternals just won’t die. No matter what you do, cut them to bits, blow them up, even destroy the brain, these guys just won’t stay down. Think of the scene in Return of the living dead where the zombie takes a pickax to the head but still keeps going. In fact, as we saw in that film, the individual pieces keep on coming even after they are separated from the body. Disembodied hands, and feet, eternally coming after us and they absolutely will not stop.

In ROTLD the only way to stop them was to incinerate them, burn up every bit so there are no more moving parts to do harm.

That, to me, is scary AF.
eternals

Anna – Zombie Short Film

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Anna – Zombie short film

This short is just five minutes long, so why not have a quick look before reading the review.

Click here in case the embed doesn’t work.

The Good
Recently I posted an image of a vegan zombie. It’s an example of zombies that tend to maintain something of their original personalities. We’ve seen this in movies like Land of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, and a number of other films. It’s a way of making the creatures deeper characters or at least to use them for some sort of social commentary.

This movie took that idea and extended it in an interesting way. The main character was suffering from anorexia causing her to binge and purge. It’s an interesting take on the zombie genre in that the zombie is typically a binger, gobbling up as much material as possible to feed an insatiable hunger. This, despite the ingested material doing them no real good. After all they don’t process food or need it for energy.

The film attempts to shine a light on a very serious issue, in this case a real life horror, through the lens of the horror genre. At just five minutes long, it was a nice sketch for what could be a longer, better story.

The Bad
It suffers from the same sort of things that hold back most student films. Shots are not particularly well composed. Staging is often clunky and acting a bit forced. There’s an over reliance on showing everything graphically justified by the level of horror meant to be imbued that could actually be conveyed more effectively through more suggestive imagery that lets the user’s imagination come into play.

The Ugly
There’s a temptation or a habit to aggrandize small productions to make them seem bigger and better than they are. When Matthew Forte, one of the creators messaged me about this movie he described he and his brother as: “one of the most exciting filmmaking forces to recently emerge in the world of indie horror.”
And the film as, “gripping and horrific from the first frame to the last.”

Honestly, I like the movie and Matt seems like a good guy.  I mention this because I’ve fallen into the same trap. I’m terrible at self promotion and often try to write short, descriptive lines about my projects that convey how great they are. It’s sort of the nature of trying to have your project stand out amid all the noise. I mean how many zombie shorts are out there now? The novelty has seriously worn off. This seems more a comment about the things creators have to do to get notices than about the way we perceive our own work.

 

 

Rise of the Zombies

Rise of the Zombies is a not so high dive into the fun world of the B horror movie.

rise-of-the-zombies-dvd-001The Poster
This is a good example of the poster putting the star power of the movie out front purely as an audience draw. Regardless of the  genre, quality, or tone, the movie’s biggest star, Danny Trejo, is front and center in hopes that fans of his other movies will show up for this one. A good indicator of this is the fact that Trejo isn’t even in the movie for long and doesn’t turn out to be one of the main characters. But as the star with the most drawing power, he’s on the poster.

You could literally take out the zombies and replace them with Sandinistas, angry rioters, a marketplace, a bunch of snowmen, and change the title to rise of the Sandinistas, etc. with no real change.

The Good
The plot revolves around a group of survivors holed up on Alcatraz. It’s the classic prison/fortress setting on an island and may seem like a great place to survive. Of course everything goes wrong as the dead keep washing ashore in waves. The majority of the survivors leave Levar Burton’s character behind to continue his research which turns out to be a red herring that doesn’t go anywhere.

From there it’s a constant chase scene to various points throughout the city looking for the vaccine that may or may not turn out to save the day.

Considering the budget, the film makers got quite a lot out of the city. There are some gorgeous shots of the bay bride in San Francisco and some good shots of the city.

The Bad
It’s just not scary or terribly interesting. The most successful zombie movies were good stories regardless of the type of monster involved. Night of the Living Dead was a commentary on race in America, Dawn of the Dead on consumerism, The Walking Dead is all about family and fortitude. Rise of the Zombies tries to shoehorn some ideas about god and abortion into the story, but they are present in very obvious and preachy ways. The dialogue doesn’t come across naturally or feel genuine. It just feels forced.

There are numerous coincidences throughout the movie that seem to be there to drive the story forward but which don’t actually make much sense. The dog the survivors find in a car just happens to belong to the very same researcher they are trying to find who’s miles away. The survivors happen to be looking at Alcatraz at the same moment Levar Burton blows himself up.

When a story ties together cohesively it’s satisfying but this just didn’t do the trick.

In the end our survivors lift off in a  helicopter and fly away into the sunset with a vaccine in hand. (It’s very nearly the same ending as the first Resident Evil game.) Amazingly the pilot got his arm cut off just a few moments before yet is still able to make it upstairs, prep the chopper, and get them airborne. Granted he has help from Marial Hemmingway’s character but it’s pretty hard to believe. Have you ever broken something or had that kind of trauma? The easy write off is that adrenalin is just making him numb to the pain but that’s such an overused crutch that again I can’t possibly feel anything other than a good eye roll for the ending.

The Ugly
A common issue with movies at this level is a color alteration or filter that looks like an Instagram photo. The color saturation is off and the look and feel of the movie seems cheaper. It’s actually a way to correct for inconsistencies in the filming schedule like different lighting at varying times of day and a way to create a consistent “feel” or “mood.”

Vegans

vegans

Vegans: When the remake of Day of the Dead came out we got a new take on the classic character “Bub.” The original version was a zombie that was learning to use tools and communicate with the humans around him. In the new version he was called “Bud,” and was a “friend” to one of the soldiers and wouldn’t eat people at first because, it was supposed, that while he was alive he was a vegetarian. It was a new, and honestly, unsatisfying take on the zombie that seems more like a gimmick than anything else. That being said, vegans, who get turned into zombies will end up like very other zombie in most cases. So a true vegan zombie is the variety that don’t eat people. (Note: There is apparently a movie called Vegan Zombies I have yet to check out.)

The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods is an amazing movie that I kept putting off watching because the plot got spoiled for me. You know how it is, you keep hoping you’ll forget so you can watch it feeling fresh?

Yeah. You never forget.

So, if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t read past the poster.

It’s an amazing horror comedy that takes a deep look at the entire horror genre.

cabin-in-the-woods

The Poster
I love the simplicity of the poster design. It illustrates the title clearly and gives us the understanding that there is something seriously wrong with that cabin. The sheer size of the cabin depicted makes me really think of a three-story home but it’s clearly, stylistically a cabin and you’d be lead to believe there are probably all sorts of labyrinthine twists and turns, within its walls.

And you’d be right.

The Good
I don’t really want to say too much about this because I’ll end up sounding like a drooling fanboy. Too late!

The soundtrack is fantastic, the casting is great, the makeup and special effects for the zombies and most of the other creatures are amazing. (Love that merman.) Plus to top it all off we have Sigourney Weaver’s cameo which is perfection!

The story plays on all the classic tropes and cliche’s of the horror genre. It drops them in a blender and throws them back at you in a way that’s not particularly surprising but a hell of a lot of fun. It’s very much like a combination of the Truman show and every horror movie I’ve ever watched.

The number of references to the horror genre are legion and as much fun as it would be to write them all here, the good folks at GoodBadFlicks have already done that for us and I defer to them. Except the one thing I don’t think they mentioned was how the “elder gods” in the movie is a clear reference to H. P. Lovecraft and Cthulu.

The Bad
The copy of the movie I saw had one major flaw. It’s way too dark. At some point the release was delayed for a number of reasons, one of which was to convert it to 3D. Unfortunately the 3D conversion process can often screw up the way a movie looks if it wasn’t actually filmed in 3D. So in many scenes, most noticeably the night scenes, (which is like a third of the movie,) it’s actually pretty hard to get a look at anything clearly.

I don’t hate 3D, but I’m not a fan of it either and I’m definitely not a fan of damaging a films integrity just for a gimmick.

The Ugly
Due to MGM filing for chapter eleven, a tie in with the game “Left for Dead” fell through. This caused the movie to be released several years after it was shot but the tie-in characters from Left for Dead can still be seen in the Cube-like elevator cages.

Nights of Terror

This movie title could be misleading as it has apparently been released under a number of different titles including Zombi 3, Burial Ground, Nights of Terror, Zombi Horror, The Zombie Dead and its original Italian title Le Notti Del Terrore which seems closest to Nights of Terror.

burial-ground
The Poster
The imagery is pretty classic, shadowing figures menacing the viewer, a stark wasteland and a glowing red moon in the sky. We have the classic hand of the dead bursting through the ground and there staring us down is the face of horror. Bits of flesh still cling to its face, muscle and bone exposed in other places. It’s gleaming skull looking metallic, unbreakable and unstoppable.

Without a closer look it’s a great work of horror art but I wonder why all the figures are simply standing still. Not one of them is making a move to come at us. And for me the moon? is a little too much like the sun, or possibly a very juicy orange. Still, if I were looking for a horror flick to pick up in a 1980’s video store, this would probably get my attention. And after all, that’s what the art was made for, to stand out among the other firms on the shelves of whatever video rental shop you happened to be at.

The Good
The plot revolves around a family in a mansion where a scientist had been working. His research unwittingly unleashed the dead who promptly consumed him and then decided to dine on everyone else.

The villa the movie was shot in has the classic feel of a lot of horror films and games. I’m reminded of the mansion from Resident Evil.

The Bad
There are some seriously terrible transitions and shots in this movie.
Early in the movie the mother of the boy Michael pokes her head into his room to see if he’s ok. He’s covered entirely by blankets except for his head. The mother ducks back out of the room and the camera returns to Michael’s face. His eyes bulge open and suddenly the film cuts to the scantily clad ass of another character doing a sexy dance for her man.

I almost snorted my coffee through my nose when I saw this. The “kid” is actually a twenty-five year old who was cast in order for the film makers to avoid some of the rules regarding the use of children in scenes of violence and sexuality. Fair enough, but that hair cut is ridiculous.

He looks like the guy from the Starburst Berries and Cream ad.

Can hardly tell the difference. Amiright?

maxresdefault michael-from-burial-ground-1

 

 

 

There’s a seriously weird incestuous thing about this kid where he starts feeling up his mother and you have the feeling she’s half into it before finally pushing him away.

The Ugly
Some of the shots of zombies look well enough in certain shots. There are real maggots being used on the creature’s faces. But for the most part they don’t do much to terrify. They seem more like Halloween decorations than anything else.

It’s notable that there are plenty of shots of the dead walking around in broad daylight or in well-lit rooms. Where this helps us see them more clearly it also means we can see the makeup for what it is more clearly as well.

As with many of the Italian zombie flicks, these zombies are not simply dead things running around eating people. They reason, use weapons, even set traps to kill the people in the house.
The movie ends.

That’s it. Everyone gets eaten and the movie is over with no real understanding of why these things were up and about doing their thing and no real message or metaphor. The movie is literally just some mild sex and violence and not much else.