Everyone liked it so much when we did it last time, we’re doing the sequel! In concert with Cold Fusion Video Reviews, the Cabal is throwing in to take another stab at the ever-increasing numbers of the dead.
If there’s one element that mars this movie for me, ever so slightly, it’s the oblique topical references to current events — U.S. forces involved in “reconstruction,” a fortified “Green Zone,” etc. They must be intentional, and as such they would direct the viewer to look for a commentary on contemporary geopolitics, but I can’t figure out what kind of statement is being made, if any, that relates to the war in Iraq.
… and The Astro-Zombies (1968):
All of this is explained in far too much detail as the doctor and his assistant go about the process, with Dr. DeMarco rehearsing the technical details for Franchot as the latter smiles and simpers. And it goes on even longer than you’re already thinking, because there are gizmos and panels that need to be unscrewed and rescrewed every time they’re used. This kind of thing would be almost unbearable if it weren’t John Carradine performing the mad science. I mean, if you ever wanted an actor to whom you could say, “Now, just futz around convincingly with the equipment in here,” Carradine’s the consummate professional.
… and Cemetery of Terror (1985):
Machetes? Chainsaws? Garden WeaselsTM? Bah. Devlon uses nothing but his bare hands to claw and carve up his victims, and if that means that most death scenes are going to be poorly edited and unconvincing approximations of people receiving fleshwounds, well, that’s just the price you have to pay for keeping it real.
Now, quick: If you heard shrieks coming from a coffin (in daylight), would you immediately grab a pickaxe and start chopping down into the coffin, almost killing the person you were trying to rescue? If you said “Yes,” you have the makings of a crack reporter. On the other hand, if you said, “Of course not, that’s asinine,” you may have a future ahead of you as a movie reviewer.
…and Dead Heist (2007):
You know that the only way I could be hooked into watching a hip-hip heist movie is with the promise that, somewhere along the way, there’d be zombie flesh-munching a-plenty.
Pretty soon, a good number of the passengers are yellow-eyed and drooling, running up and down the aisles looking for flesh. You could probably classify these as “fast zombies,” though of course no one’s ever given the room to demonstrate their sprinting speed.
…and Land of the Dead (2005):
I don’t know if I can really accept the idea that the hoi polloi would have either the will or the resource to maintain their imitation Capitalist Paradise in this isolated skyscraper — I mean, the silk suits and the lobster would have to come from somewhere still. And any movie which posits that Dennis Hopper is the most powerful man left in the world has got some serious problems.
… and Redneck Zombies (1987):
While our fine junior outdoorspersons hike, set up camp, and smoke some grass, they interact in that format so well known to denizens of low-end cinema: They bicker. Also, they whine, make and rebuff blunt sexual references, and occasionally call into question the size of one another’s genitalia. This is sophistication, see, in stark contrast to the rednecks’ rural ways.
First up, we’ve got Alice (Milla Jovovich), the survivor of the previous installment. She’s skinnier than Ripley, high-kickier than Cynthia Rothrock, and bullet-timier than Keanu Reeves. She’s also blankfacier than Chuck Norris; I hope she gets an acting job sometime soon in which she’s actually called upon to act again, or she might lose the facility entirely.
I remember when this movie was first in production, the producers were all giddy in the genre fanboy press, proclaiming, “We’re going to be shooting in Chernobyl!” And I, naturally, thought that Chernobyl would make an absolute kick-ass location for a zombie movie. But the only scene shot and set in Chernobyl is one which could have taken place anywhere fairly isolated — an abandoned military base or a warehouse in northern Quebec or a decommissioned missile silo. It’s a waste of a primo location that might almost plausibly have poisoned my mind against the rest of the movie, except for the fact that the rest of the movie’s got plenty of poisoning of its own to do.
… and Zombie Bloodbath (1993):
In other instances, a person we’ve never seen before (and is thus expendable) will be minding his/her own business when — suddenly there are zombies! The chase lasts about five seconds, and then we’ve got a circle of zombies around the victim, pulling and gnawing on bloody rubber entrails. In fact, if you simply assume that a scene like this occurs between every paragraph break, I can cut my plot review in half.
One of Zombie’s unsolved mysteries is the exact role played by Menard in the events on Matoul. There is a tendency among reviewers to conclude that he is somehow responsible for the raising of the local dead, partly on the basis of Paola’s frenzied accusations, but mostly, I think, because, well, he’s a doctor, he’s scientist, he’s there. On the whole, however, I’m prepared to exonerate Menard of first-cause blame, at least. He strikes me, not so much as someone Meddling In Things That Man Must Leave Alone, but rather as someone who simply cannot accept that there is no scientific basis for what is going on around him; as the kind of arch-rationalist who will continue to scream, “THERE IS A LOGICAL EXPLANATION FOR THIS!!” even as he is having his face eaten off by zombies.
It is almost inconceivable that the same people could have been responsible for both of these films. It’s as if the Halperins literally sold their souls to the devil for the chance to make White Zombie….and then, four years later, he came by to collect.
A film about a haunted monastery might have been interesting enough. The fact that the ghost is a wailing corpse that won’t stay buried — well, that adds a whole new level of horror to the story. But the movie goes still further…
… and Dawn of the Living Dead (2004)
It’s always a little tacky for a writer/ producer/ director to cast himself in the movie’s Big Love Scene, but this particular Big Love Scene is among the tackiest of them all. I hereby award David Heavener the Manlio Cersosimo Award for the Worst Use of Tongue in a Supposedly Erotic Scene…
Are we supposed to believe that these ravenous creatures, who think of little or nothing beyond slurping down other people’s oxygen-rich blood to make up for their own hemoglobin shortfall, have taken the time to paint out all of their stolen plane’s identifying insignia? What the hell purpose would that serve, anyway? Or did the zombies, rather than simply stealing the aircraft on which the military flew Hagenbeck to the power planet, all chip in to rent a C-130 of their own from Dr. Mabuse or Cobra Commander or somebody?
Six times since that night, expeditions have been launched to recover the gems: from Britain in 1906 and 1928, from Germany in 1914, from Portugal in 1923, from the United States in 1938, and now Harrison and his companions. The previous would-be salvagers did not merely fail in their mission; all five crews were slaughtered to a man by the vengeful zombies of the Susan B., and Mrs. Peters expects Harrison to fare no better. In fact, she’s already had her servants dig graves for each member of the party.
Grapes of Death is an episodic series of events following Elizabeth (Marie-Georges Pascal), who finds herself on the run after she and her friend are attacked on a train by a young man who seems well on the way to having his face fall off. It turns out, we learn, that an experimental pesticide has contaminated the grapes used to make wine, thus turning much of France into — well, not exactly zombies, but close enough, especially in this post 28 Days Later era when the definition of zombie has been somewhat blurred. Rollin’s zombies showcase certain obvious characteristics of zombies. Some of them shamble aimlessly about with their arms in awkward positions. They like to bite people. And their bodies and faces tend to decay and fester with oozing boils. But they also like to stab people with pitchforks, brandish torches, travel at a relaxed jog, and prepare dinner.
Brutal zombie carnage is where The Zombie Diaries really shines. As murky as that handycam video footage may be, it does an excellent job of transforming low-budget gore effects into believable horror flick butchery. The zombies are plentiful and the producers are attuned to the reason that people flock to zombie flicks — to see little bits of indistinct flesh go sploot! as the undead take repeated shots to the noggin.