Friday, November 20, 2009

Further Zombie Movie Viewing

JUNK (1999). A bit of a throwback to Fulci's zombie nightmares of the '70s and '80s. A band of robbers on the lamb from the cops following a botched robbery hide out in the adandoned factory the US Army once used for raising the dead. The Army's gone but the dead wait for someone stupid enough--a band of robbers on the lamb from the cops after a botched robbery, say?--to come knocking around their digs. In short order the abandoned factory is anything but and the fun begins.

VERSUS (2000). Ryuhei Kitamura's debut feature is yet another triumph of stylish action filmmaking over substance. It strives to be the next Evil Dead II, and comes close to succeeding, especially in a sequence in which three Yakuza thugs shoot and duke it out with a horde of the gun-toting walking dead. Too much surface and not enough depth make this a bit of slog through an otherwise paunchy middle, but some explosive laughs and a amusingly downer of an ending make this one worth the effort.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004). An absolutely remarkable film in that, though a comedy, the zombies are played straight. Who'd'a thought that was possible?

28 DAYS LATER (2003) and 28 WEEKS LATER (2007). The first is a masterpiece of genre filmmaking, the work of a creative team (director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland) who wish to pay tribute to George Romero without merely borrowing ideas and tropes. The second film succeeds largely because of Jeremy Renner's performance.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990). Romero's rewrite of the material that made him a name in 1968 plays like an "what if?" revision of the original. What if Barbara didn't devolve into catatonia? What if Ben weren't played by Duane Jones? What if the whole thing were directed by Tom Savini instead of George Romero? This movie answers all those questions, at the same time enforcing our love of the original film, and opening our hearts just a little bit more, to admit this cute, quirky little follow-up.

RESIDENT EVIL (2003), RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (2004), and RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION (2007). Slick, rousing, studio-funded and distributed zombie action. Characters throughout the series are drawn as well as their videogame counterparts, but are distinguished from other flimsy constructions by their ferocious will to live, no matter what, dammit! Milla Javovich and Oded Fehr make a great-looking pair of actors to hang a series on.

UNDEAD (2005). Australian zombie movie that is probably better known for the extraordinary efforts of the Sperieg brothers to get the movie made (it's self-funded, written, directed, score and special effect-ed by the brothers) than the movie itself. The movie is a snappy and above-average mash-up of zombies and aliens with images that inspire a true sense of wonderment.

HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (1984). Released back in the day as Revenge Of The Zombies and credited to director Vincent Dawn, this is actually the work of Bruno Mattei, who is responsible for, among other things, Rats: Night Of Terror and Robowar. It is a loving tribute to, of all things, Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 (itself a tribute--rip-off--of Dawn Of The Dead). It does not lack for a constant barrage of zombie attacks and gore grisly enough to make you throw up a little in the back of your mouth. Not very good but certainly memorable.

BIRTHDAY CALL (2004?). A couple of guys barricade themselves in a garage against a horde of the living dead, but still find the time to call a mutual friend to wish him a happy birthday. At a succinct and hilarious two minutes and thirty-six seconds, this is twice the movie the feature-length expansion, Hide & Creep, turned out to be.

THE ABANDONED (2007). Not your typical zombie movie but a good one, filled to the brim with dread and menace and an atmosphere of certain doom. An abandoned orphanage in the middle of Nowhere, Russia holds the promise of a middle-aged American woman's origins. What happened there forty years ago? And what the hell is happening there now? Certainly nothing good, as she discovers. The Abandoned is a trap from which no one emerges unchanged, or alive, for that matter.

CHOPPER CHICKS IN ZOMBIETOWN (1991). The Cycle Sluts arrive in a nearly deserted town where Don Calfa is rising up the dead to work in the local mine. The walking dead escape and the Sluts are the only thing standing between and a busload of blind orphans. This would have played a lot better without the polka music and slide-whistle that accompanies the zombies wherever they go.

DEADGIRL (2008). Zombies don't have to walk the streets to be terrifying. Sometimes, they can do that just by lying around all do. Deadgirl is suitably creepy and sickmaking as much for what is kept secret as what shows up on screen. It also manages to conjure up "Jenifer," the comic story by Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson (as well as the Dario Argento Masters Of Horror episode).

1 comment:

  1. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004). An absolutely remarkable film in that, though a comedy, the zombies are played straight. Who'd'a thought that was possible?

    Really? This is all you are going to say about the GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE??? I feel very sad for you.

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