Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare

Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare
It has been a WHILE since I played any games. With life and work, parenting, and survival, it’s hard to find time.

But this fun little nugget has got me hooked which surprised me as I wasn’t really a big fan of the first Dead Ahead game.

 

 

 

The Good
The game play and design are easy. You start with a map of the territory you are meant to explore and find supplies in. Select an area to enter the battle and you and your team roll up in your big bad school bus.

Some zombies are hanging out at a block in the road which your team needs to clear in order to get by all the while fending off the zombie horde. Each area you clear allows you to access other areas revealing more supplies, different zombie types and greater challenges.

As you gain supplies, money, and experience you have a chance to hire more people to help you and strengthen your team allowing you to take on bigger and badder challenges.

The artwork is nice and the game play very easy to manage. My four-year-old was able to handle it.

 

 


The Bad
The gameplay becomes incredibly monotonous after a very short time. The small wins and little bonuses thrown in here and there aren’t likely to keep you coming back to it for loads of replay time.

 

 

 

The Ugly
There’s not much new about the setup of the game. Loads of ads are available for you to watch so you can earn extra coins and therefore money for the developers. The games and things advertised in the ads are rarely anything I would actually want to download and once the ad starts, I don’t watch. It’s a silly business model that works none the less.

Overall, it’s a fun game, I like playing it and like the fact it’s stable, well-designed and at least a bit fun to play. Not a bad way to kill a slow train ride home.

George Romero, The Quiet Man

It’s been a long time since posting to this blog, and it would take something like this to bring me back to it. But I couldn’t not writ about this.

George A Romero, creator of the Night of the Living Dead and credited with the development or popularization of the zombie as a centerpiece of American story telling has died.

From the L.A. Times:
Romero died Sunday in his sleep after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer,” according to a family statement to The Times provided by his longtime producing partner, Peter Grunwald. He was 77.

Romero died while listening to the score of one his favorite films, 1952’s “The Quiet Man,” with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero, at his side, the family said.

You know the Quiet Man don’t you? You might know it even if you don’t. The Quiet Man is a rare brilliant gem of a film with John Wayne as an American returning to Ireland to look up the family roots. He’s an outsider and has to prove himself worthy to the local gentry. One scene in particular has him taking his woman in his arms as the wind whips around him and the little house in Ireland. It was this scene E.T. was watching at home as the parallel events played out at between Eliot and the girl he liked at his school.

It was an appreciation for not just that film but filmmaking and its history that informed Spielberg in his own storytelling. In that way, a long past film was resurrected to entertain another generation who didn’t even suspect it. Romero has passed, and unlike his creations, will not be back. But for future directors and moviemakers, he will live on in our storytelling.

George_Romero

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

anna_poster

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.)