Monday, 26 April 2010

Zombie T-shirt

I brought some T-shirts from some American site last year.  This shirt (as modelled by a real life zombie) is dark green, with a warning sign.  The sign reads 'in event of zombie attack the wearer of this label is considered zombie friendly, do not eat!' I love the T-shirt, but have not yet put the shirt into practice.  It is generally accepted that zombies are unable to read.

Zombie clothes are many and varied.  As well as generic zombie stuff there are also the licenced ones (such as from Videogames, and Movies) There are stickers, buttons, badges, bags if you know where to look.

Note to self; a easy post, and a lazy one, well done, keep up the average work!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Creepshow 3 (2006) - Horror Film Review

You know what? This film is terrible!  I knew that was the case before buying it, the excellent Darkside magazine said so (R.I.P).  Not quite sure how I ended up buying it to tell the truth, only noticed I had done so when I got a confirmation email from Amazon.  The film like those before it is a portmanteau; a collection of five mini stories.

I'm going to launch some spoilers, the film is bad enough that I don't think anyone would seriously be offended by this.  The first tale Alice is about an allegedly teenage girl (I say allegedly as the actress looks to be in her thirties) whose father buys a universal remote control.  Each time he presses a button on the control Alice is warped to another reality.  In one her family are all coloured, in another her family are Spanish. Each time she warps her body becomes more and more deformed, which she doesn't seem to mind.  Eventually she turns into a white rabbit,  I don't know why.

The second tale is called The Radio.  Jerry; a loner security guard discovers his new radio has the ability to talk.  Pretty soon the radio has Jerry doing everything from theft to murder.  But is Jerry the only person who has a talking radio?

The third story is called Call Girl.  In this one a serial killer prostitute visits a client to kill him, only to end up his victim as he is a badly CGI'd vampire.

The fourth story is also the best, maybe because it's the shortest.  Two ex-students of a trick playing Professor visit him to meet his fiancee.  They become convinced his wife to be is actually a robot, and that the Professor is playing a trick on them.  To teach him a lesson they decide to 'dismantle' the robot with zany results.

The last story really drags.  A rude Doctor accidentally poisons a homeless guy with a bad hotdog.  He starts to see the ghost of the homeless guy everywhere he goes, or is it just his billion self prescribed pills that is causing hallucinations?

The film is dreadful.  It is unrelated to the previous Creepshows, apparently the director got the rights to use the name, and decided to add 'three' to the title as a means to sell more copies.  The problem with this film is that it is all so cheap and tacky.  The actors are terrible for the most part.  The special effects are bad CGI, truly awful.  The plot for the stories are boring, nothing goes anywhere, the story starts and ends with no arc, nothing happens to warrant the length of some of these stinkers.  The stories are all connected in that characters intermingle, I guess that's ok done, but gah.

The film stinks, avoid like the plague, unless you see it real cheap.  Don't expect to be scared, but do expect to laugh out loud at how bad it is (something I frequently did while watching).


Saturday, 24 April 2010

Ichi the Killer - Horror Film Review

Ichi the Killer is not a zombie film, it's not even a horror film.  Ichi the Killer is a Japanese Gangster Film.  I had wanted to see this for years but had put it off fearing it's reputation as a extreme film full of ultra violence.  The recommendation from a good friend led to me buying it for the princely sum of £3.75.

Kakihara; a member of a Yakuza gang discovers his boss has vanished.  Using extreme measures to hunt down the person he thinks responsible he learns that his boss has been killed by a mysterious Assassin known as Ichi the Killer.  Kakihara becomes the new boss of the gang, and soon discovers that Ichi is not going to stop killing until every single gang member is dead.  Unknown to him Ichi is in fact a deranged simpleton who has homicidal tendencies when upset.  Ichi is being tricked, and coerced into taking out all the gang members on behalf of a small group of people.

Kinda drunk/tipsy so this is even worse written than usual.  I use Justin McElroys recommendation for improving writing by quantity rather than quality.  The film is in Japanese, so subtitles.  The structure of the film is mixed up quite a bit.  Scenes play out of sequence with no warning, so earlier scenes suddenly make sense when seeing scenes from later in the film.

 The film really is not as extreme as it had been made out.  Sure there is a lot of violence; a heck of a lot, but the violence is infused with black humour so there is never any bleakness to all the torture, and blood.  Many of the effects are obviously CGI, while ok, it is noticeable and does take away somewhat.  The most sickening thing I found with this film was sorta frequent close up shots of semen, nice.

The two main characters of Ichi, and Kakihara are what make this film so amazing.  Ichi is obviously insane.  He gets no pleasure out of murdering, and always appears to kill by accident.  He wears a black rubber suit with a number 1 on the back.  He has a blade on the back of one of his boots which he uses to slice open peoples throats via a roundhouse kick.  He has the craziest smile, like he learnt how to smile via a text book.  He comes across as a total pawn, too damaged to operate in society normally.  He is the ultimate Sadist, getting off on seeing violence.  Tadanobu Asano is utterly fantastic as the masochist Kakihara.  He steals every scene he is in.  His character has massive scars either side of his mouth, with piercings used to hold the scars shut.  He absolutely loves pain, and gets off on it, in one scene all too readily cutting his tongue out for no real reason.  He is savouring the meeting between him and Ichi, and it is what the film builds up to and climaxes with.

The film is really good, very original, and has a fantastic style to it.  I really have not seen anything like it really.  Definitely worth watching!  Don't believe the rumours, the film is not nearly as graphic as people say, but still a great great film.


Thursday, 22 April 2010

Mass Effect - Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

I thought long and hard about writing a review for this game on this ZOMBIE blog.  Mass Effect does have zombies of a kind (called Husks) but overall these show up in only about 5% of the game.  Zombies also show up under the name of something like Thorian Slaves, most prominently during a boss battle with a giant mind controlling plant.

Mass Effect is a Western style RPG.  At the games start you are required to create a character, and give him or her a back story.  My character was a female called Yuna.  She is a red head, has very pale white skin, black lipstick, a scar down one side of her face, and a cool scar over the side of her lips.   My character had had her family and friends murdered by Slavers as a child.  Later she joined the Human Army where her entire squad was wiped out by Thrasher Maws (giant Dune style sand worms), she was seen as a heroine for surviving that.

The basic premise of the game is that a Turian (species of Alien) Spectre (Special Council Agents with limitless powers) has gone rogue.  The Spectre Saren has teamed up with a bunch of robots (called Geth, these robots hate all organic life) on some nefarious errand that sees him causing mischief all round the galaxy.  You get caught up in the plot and due to various events become the first Human Spectre Agent, tasked with capturing Saren.

The game is a mix of role playing game, and 3rd person shooter.  As you progress through the game various people team up with you, including Aliens such as a Krogan, Quarian, Turian, and Asari, as well as fellow Humans.  You can have 2 team mates with you at a time.

The games best element is the dialogue wheel.  When you get in conversations with characters you meet you get options for how to reply to them.  The options you choose result in various differing consequences.  You can be a jack ass, or a good guy, but the options are never too black and white.  For instance, one option sees you talking to a suicidal girl.  Depending on how you talk to her she will either commit suicide, or give herself up to you, there is even the option just to knock her out.  Situations like this prop up in most the missions.

The main plot does not have that many missions, though all are cool, and set in specific planned locations.  There are a lot more optional missions.  These are less interesting in location, but very varied.  There are about 20 different solar systems you can visit.  Usually there is at least one space ship, or planet you can visit.  Going Planet side sees you driving around in a stupid space tank thing.  You have to find your mission objective, as well as have the option to scout for resources that get you bonus XP, and items.

The lore of the game is fantastic, everything is explained, and a big Codex is built up as you progress giving you History lessons on the fictional world you find yourself in.  It makes the game world feel so realistic, like an actual real place.  This is key in drawing you into the fantastic game world.

A giant Space station called the Citadel is the one proper RPG Town in the game.  It is very big, and has lots and lots of fun optional missions in it, as well as the usual shops.

God, I am bad at writing, trust me, this game is fantastic!  Your main course of combat is to use guns such as assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, and sniper rifles.  You can also use Force style powers if you level up that way (you can choose what abilities to level up)  These Force powers give you such abilities such as a Force Push, or to paralyse enemies.  I never used these silly powers, and just become a bad-ass at weapons.

As mentioned enemies include zombie types.  For the most part you will be fighting humanoid looking Aliens of various types, as well as various size robots.  The music is epic in places, and blade runner-ish in other places giving a really grimy Sci-fi feel.  The voice acting is very good, especially the voice of the female main character (I haven't played the game as a male, but heard his voice acting is quite bland and generic).  The game features a very tame sex scene that was demonised by the idiot media at the time of the games release.  The media are total scare mongers when it comes to games.

The game is intended as a trilogy.  Mass Effect 2 is out now (which I am currently playing).  The game lets you import your save file from Mass Effect, meaning not only the character you created, but all the decisions you made whether big or small are also carried over.

Really; an essential game if you own a 360.  Even if you normally hate Role Playing Games and Sci-fi you must give this a chance!  Just don't expect a deluge of zombies, as they really only show up in quite small parts of the game.


Monday, 19 April 2010

Trick 'r Treat (2007) - Horror Film Review

I had heard great things about Trick r Treat, so picked it up quite cheaply.  Instantly it falls into the films you MUST see during Halloween.

Trick r Treat is a Portmanteau (think Creepshow, or Tales from the Crypt).  There are 4 short stories that all take place in a Town celebrating Halloween.  In one a serial killer decides to use Halloween as a disguise to commit murders.  The 2nd story sees a bunch of kids who decide to play a cruel trick on a local retarded kid.  The trick goes horrifically wrong.  The third story concerns a virgin girl dressed as Little Red Riding Hood who is heading out to the woods to go to a private party. The last story concerns a bitter old man who hates Halloween, and is paid a visit by the Spirit of Halloween.

The film succeeds so much mostly for how clever the stories are interwoven.  The stories all take place on the same night, in the same area.  Characters from other stories appear as background characters.  Key scenes from some stories are shown in the background of other stories.  The whole plot takes place chronologically, each story slightly overlapping with the one before and after it.  It is really clever.

Due to this overlap the film feels really tight, and planned very well, and is very Halloweeny.  There are literally hundreds of Jack o Lanterns through out the film, they are everywhere.  This is probably the most Halloween based film I have ever seen (yes, even more so than John Carpenters Halloween!).  If it seems I am waxing lyrical about this film, then you would seem right! I under-estimated how fun this film would be.  It's horror, but done in a fun way, it's a film that acts like a film.  There are wonderful comic book pages interspersed throughout, much in the vein of the classic 80's Portmanteaus.  The start and end credits are especially well done, a fantastic ending also by the way.

The acting is of a high standard, and the effects are really good.  It is nice to see traditional effects done for a change, and not crappy CGI.  The film was released straight to DVD, though hadn't intended to be.  It is a cult classic, and I can definitely see why.

One key character I haven't mentioned is that of Sam.  Sam is a small child like creature wearing red all in one pyjamas, and a sack over his head.  He appears in all the tales observing from the sidelines, as well as turning up for a lead role as the Spirit of Halloween playfully stalking the cranky old man that hates Halloween.  He is a fantastic character that despite never speaking makes such a lasting impression as a cool iconic character.

I have heard that a Trick r Treat 2 is being planned.  I really hope that happens.  I have not really discussed the separate stories much as I want to avoid spoilers.  One thing I will say is that there are zombies in this film!


Sunday, 18 April 2010

Tokyo Zombie (2005) - Zombie Film Review

After Dead and Breakfast I must say alarm bells rang when I saw 'The Japanese Shaun of the Dead!' on the cover for Tokyo Zombie.  Tokyo Zombie is one odd film, in places bizarre, in others zany, sometimes even funny.

Two friends work in a Fire Extinguisher factory.  These are both stupid people, they spend most their time practising Jujitsu on each other.  The bald, older of the two is an expert in it, while the younger one (with an impressive Afro) is his student.  The film is set in a near future time.  The factory is at the foot of a man made mountain called 'Black Fuji', it is composed entirely of rubbish.  Murder seems less of a crime in this time, as many people dump bodies at the mountain, as well as normal rubbish.  Due to a combination of toxic waste, and 'the souls of rejected household objects' the dead have came back to life.  The two men decide they will use this apocalypse as a reason to head to Russia 'where the real strong men are' to become Jujitsu experts.  However things don't go to plan, the bald man is bitten by a zombie and runs off convinced he is going to turn, while the Afro man forms a hostile alliance with a moody woman.  5 years later the Afro'd man and his woman are slaves to a bunch of rich people in a fortified complex.  The man with the Afro fights in a zombie fighting contest in a bid to win his freedom, and show the world the power of Jujitsu (having become an expert during the 5 years).

The film has a very odd Japanese comedic feel to it.  Often comedy sound effects are used for no reason, and the comedy is bizarre.  The comedic themes run around men perving after younger females, couples fighting each other, and paedophilia which feels a bit wrong, but then that is the Japanese type of humour.  There are some funny parts though, the 2 stupid men play very well off each other, and the Afro mans odd relationship with the woman also comes off well.

A lot of the effects are CGI based, at times looks terrible, but for the zombies is not so bad.  The zombies are mostly the typical shambling types, but they can also fight normally.  The 2 men easily fight off the zombies without even trying much.

The film has a weird style to it, CGI mixed in with reality, so for example a huge pyramid skyscraper is CGI'd in the background of a scene looking very out of place.  Halfway through the film it turns into a brief 5 minute Anime which does look very good.  The film also flips back and forth quite a lot between the start of the apocalypse, and 5 years later.

Despite the oddness the story does get a bit cliched at times.  There is the evil biker gang (not so evil here), as well as the expected end for the slave masters.  The film ends really bizarrely, but expected for such an odd film.  An ok film, well, is better than average, just for certain tastes though!


Saturday, 17 April 2010

Return of the Living Dead 3 - Zombie Horror Film Review

I know the 2nd film was called II, but this one is titled 3, so who am I to argue?  After the series got a little bit too silly, the silliness was reigned in to have a serious zombie love story.

Curt and his wild girlfriend Julie sneak into a Army Research base that Curts Father works at.  There they see an experiment using a canister (one of the fateful canisters also seen in previous films) to reanimate the dead, and then a special bullet to kinda re-kill the zombie.  After this the couple leave, missing the part when the supposedly re-dead zombie comes back to life and brutally kills several of the scientists in a brain crazed slaughter.  Returning home Curt finds out his Dad is being transferred, and so Curt would have to leave as well.  In anger he drives off with Julie on his Motorbike, and then crashes it resulting in Julie being killed.  Curt decides to bring her back like in the experiment he witnessed.  All seems find apart from Julie has an insatiable appetite and keeps biting people, including a member of a violent Latino Gang.  While the government hunt down Curt and his zombie girlfriend, they are also chased by the Latino Gang looking for revenge.

The film is far more serious than the previous two films.  It is also the first time the idea of the Government using zombies as super soldiers is brought up in the series.  A lot of the film revolves around beautiful Julie as she tries to restrain her brain eating urges, mostly by self harm, winding rusty bits of metal into her skin, and slicing metal spikes and nails through her skin to distract from the pain of being dead.  The film is a love story overall, Julie only being able to restrain her urges when she is around Curt, and Curt loving Julie despite her increasing descent into violence, and murder.

The number of zombies is far less than the previous films.  As well as the zombies Julie creates by biting there are also the inhabitants of the Army bases canisters who escape.  These are all deformed, much more monstrous creatures.  The film is kinda bleak in that no one ends up being happy.

The zombies are ace looking, later on government made zombie cyborgs turn up whose strength makes up for their stupid look.  The Government for the first time in the series are shown as the bad guys.  Sure their zombies, but the Army don't care that they still retain memories of who they once were, and just want to use them like they would machines. Also the zombie test lab thing has the very worst security in the world! Some cool violence, as well as the extreme self harm of Julie, there are also limbs ripped off, a head attached to a spine pulled out of someone, and a zombie with the top of its head missing showing exposed brain.

I really like this film, have seen it quite a few times.  It helps that Julie is hot both as a human, and later as a wild zombie.  The Tramp known as Riverman is another great character and brings some pathos to the film (heh, I don't even know what pathos means!).  Looking forward to seeing Return of the Living Dead 4, and 5!


Friday, 16 April 2010

General Update for April

Sitting here drinking Sailor Jerry and Cherry Coke with Skull shaped ice-cubes on a Friday evening. Got me a new banner for me site! Thanks to the talented Dan Walker for that! I hope to redesign the rest of my site to fit in with the new look the banner hints at.

In Videogame news on X-Box 360 Indie Games a new Zombie game has been released for 80 Microsoft Points.  The game is called 'Avatars, Ghosts'n Zombies', have not played it yet, but looks like a twin stick shooter with your Avatar as the controlling character.  Out on Wii-Ware on the Nintendo Wii last week was 'Zombie Panic in Wonderland' a 3rd Person cutesy shooter.  Again I have not yet played it, that is 1000 Wii Points.  A few weeks back 'Castlevania: Rondo of Blood' was released on the Virtual Console.  This is a Neo Geo game that is highly regarded.  The game is also known as 'Castlevania X'.  This is 900 Wii Points.

Onto film news! On the 17th April the Leicester made zombie flick of which I red-facedly cannot remember the title of is being shown once again.  It's not a bad film, so check it out if somehow you find out what it's called and, where it's being shown by tomorrow.  Recently released on DVD was Night of the Living Dead 3D starring Sid Haig.  It was made in 2008, the DVD comes with 2 pairs of 3D glasses. The 10th May sees the release of the film adaptation of the excellent Autumn book by David Moody.  It stars Dexter Fletcher of Gamesmaster fame, and also has David Carridine in surely one of his last roles before his humiliating death.

My blog is going to be more focused on zombie stuff now.  As of late I have gone outside the realms of this (such as reviewing frickin' Percy Jackson!) in an attempt to do daily updates.  There are a lot of much better  blogs out there, so I need to step up my game!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Pinkeye - South Park Season 1 Halloween Special

The first season of South Park featured a special Halloween Horror episode. The first few seasons of South Park always had a special Halloween episode.  Season 1's episode was based on a zombie apocalypse.

The boys (Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny) are waiting for the bus to school when the Mir Space station crashes onto Kenny killing him.  He is taken to the mortuary where a bottle of Worcester Sauce accidentally gets knocked into the embalming fluid machine.  This of course turns Kenny into a zombie.  He goes back to school, but no one notices he is a zombie, not even when he keeps randomly biting people.  Soon most the Town of South Park is full of brain hungry zombies, with the inhabitants thinking the zombies are in fact people suffering from a disease called Pinkeye.  Only Chef realises what is going on and heads out with 2 chainsaws to end the problem.  It all ends when Kyle phones the Worcester Sauce helpline and finds out that if the original zombie is killed all the rest will turn back human again.

For season 1 this is a fab episode.  The earlier episodes of South Park are no where near as good as later episodes.  It is quite funny that no one realises Kenny is a zombie, not even when his limbs start falling off, and when he keeps killing people! Another funny part is when Chef is turned into a zombie, he suddenly appears wearing the clothes from Thriller, and starts a song and dance routine.

Not much else to say other than it is a great Halloween episode and has a funny sub plot of a fancy dress contest at the South Park school (Cartman has gone dressed as Hitler, and later his costume is changed to a KKK gown).  Cartman is by far the best character in South Park, he always has the funniest parts, an early example seen here.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories - Horror Videogame Review (Wii)

Silent Hill as I have said before is my favourite Survival Horror Series.  Shattered Memories is a remake of the excellent (but dated looking) Playstation game.  I was literally horrified learning this was being remade, in the most fan boyish way I saw it as an insult to the series.  The game is far more a re-imaging than a remake.  It features the same characters and locations, but all vastly different.

Harry Mason is travelling to the Town of Silent Hill with his daughter when his car hits a patch of ice, and crashes into a ditch.  Harry is knocked out, and when he awakes his 7 year old daughter Cheryl is nowhere to be found.  Panicking Harry runs off into the blizzard to search for her.

The game is unique in that it is all happening in the past.  Present day sees you in a Psychiatrists office.  Your tale is being recounted.  The Psychiatrist plays a huge part in the game as throughout the game you are brought back to present day in his office where he gives you Psych tests, and asks you questions about yourself.  Tests range from colouring to quizzes, while the questions can get quite personal.  The answers you give the Psychiatrist, and the way you do the tests has a direct impact on what occurs in the main story of Harry searching through Silent Hill for his daughter.  Without wanting to spoil too much one example sees a house turning up in the game the same colour as what you coloured a house in an earlier Psych test.

There is absolutely no combat in this game! I was shocked at first hearing this.  Silent Hill has always featured common people, people who aren't super soldiers.  In the past characters could use weapons, but always acted in a desperate way to convey their normalness.  In this game despite seeing what could have been used as weapons, Harry never gets in combat.  Enemies are there to run away from.  To be honest if I was in Harry's situation, I too would run from all the monsters rather than try and fight them!

The Silent Hill part of the game as usual has both normal and dark versions of Silent Hill.  The normal part sees you going to various locations through Silent Hill as you search for your daughter.  Locations all have a unique spin on them to make them fresh.  It's frustrating that I can't say too much but one example is the school.  In Silent Hill it was a primary school.  In shattered memories it is a High School so has a vastly different feeling to it.  The dark version of Silent Hill is no longer industrial in look.  Instead the whole Town literally freezes over, characters turning to ice, massive blocks of ice rising up and covering buildings.

Enemies only appear in the ice version of Silent Hill.  They grab hold of you, you have to violently shake the Wiimote to get them off.  The enemies resemble small child like featureless zombies.  There is a Mirrors Edge style look to show you where you can run to.  Doors, ledges, and holes all have a blue outline round them so they stick out in the environment and you don't get lost.  The enemies are actually faster than you, Harry can pull over cabinets, and other objects to slow them down, as well as light flares which repel them.

The Wiimote is put to great effect.  As well as being used as a torch, it also functions as a phone.  Your phone can be used for lots of things.  It has a Map on it, it has a camera, as well as having the normal function of being able to ring numbers.  There are lots of signs, graffiti, and posters around the Town with Phone Numbers on.  Ringing these results in a answer every time.  You have to hold the Wiimote to your head like a phone, as the replies come through the Wiimotes crackly speaker; a very cool touch.  You get lots of texts, and voice mail during the game which add a lot of background to locations, as well as provide help with the many puzzles in the game (most quite easy, but fun to do).

I loved this game, it is a fantastic experience, unlike any Survival Horror I have played.  The story is really interesting, and deals with quite mature themes.  Sex is discussed a lot in the game, but not in a immature fashion.  From questions the Psychiatrist asks you, to voice mails it keeps being mentioned.  Date rape, prostitutes, affairs all dealt with in an adult manner.  The characters are really interesting as well.  All the ones from Silent Hill are reinvisioned here; from Cybil the Cop who helps you look for your daughter, to Laura the Nurse, all are given more real stories, and motivations.

This game is very good looking for a Wii game, and features a great soundtrack.  I really enjoyed going through this game.  Something bad about the game is it can be a bit buggy in places.  There is at least one game killing bug (luckily I missed it) as well as glitches where the sound on the Wiimote breaks until you reset the game (occurred to me once).  But it is a fantastic Silent Hill game, well worth a purchase, and better than the bland Silent Hill 5 for certain!


Monday, 12 April 2010

X-Box 360 Zombie Month (General X-Box 360 Info for April)

It seems that April is Zombie month for the 360 (in the UK at least).  Under the heading '30 Days of the Undead' they have a section featuring zombie stuff.  This includes links to the On Demand games of Stubbs the Zombie, Resident Evil 5, and Dead Rising.  Also there are links to two Indie games I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1, and Yet Another Zombie Defence Game.  Other stuff includes a link to the ace Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, discounted Left 4 Dead map packs, and a competition to win a trip to Ozfest.  Good they are getting the greatness of zombies out there.

To coincide with this, there is a new Premium Theme for the 360.  This is titled Realm of the Undead Premium.  The theme (which I have so inexpertly took a web cam photo of) features a rainy street scene with zombies just hanging out.  Theres a zombie female with a zombie baby, theres shadows of zombies, and meandering zombies.  Each Friend section has its own 3D picture.  These range from a crawling zombie baby, to rats, limbs, fat zombies, and a zombie with a chainsaw.  It costs about 240 Microsoft points which is a waste to be honest.  Everything zombie based I get though!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Quarantine - A Zombie Film Review

Woo-hoo, finally something to file under Q in my Index! Quarantine is an American re-make of the Spanish horror [REC].  Apparantly the film was re-made soon after the original, and has been criticised as being rushed; a almost shot for shot identical film apparantly.  The film is of the 'found footage' genre (The Blair-Witch Project, Cloverfield etc).

A News reporter and her Cameraman are trailing a crew of a Fire Station for a programme.  The crews first call is to an Apartment block.  Following the Fire Crew, and Police they come to a room with a sick old lady.  She suddunly attacks the group severely injuring a Cop before being restrained.  The group rush the injured Cop downstairs but discover the entrance to the Apartment block is locked.  Soon after, a loud speaker announces that the building is under quarantine and that no one is allowed to leave.  There is a biological agent loose in the building.  As the night wears on, and escape impossible, more and more people get infected; the infection turning them into rage filled charging psychopaths.  The survivors need to find a way to escape as the Army are doing thier upmost to make sure no one leaves (such as snipers on nearby rooftops, and circling Helicopters).

The film starts off light hearted as the News reporter messes around with the Fire Crew at thier station.  It reminded me of the start of Cloverfield; another film that started off light hearted.  It quickly turns really dark upon arriving at the fateful Apartment block.  This transition carries on through out the film.  First the power to the building is cut, and finally the light on the Camera fails leading to a finale shown through the green glow of the Cameras night vision.  It is effective in increasing the fear, as the more nightmarish the Apartment gets, the harder it is to see.

The film is well paced, but as this was a virtual shot to shot re-make I don't think the director John Dowdle can take credit for that.  This is certainly the most realistic zombie film I have seen, blowing the other 'found footage' zombie films out the water for realism (Diary of the Dead, and The Zombie Diaries).  The characters seem real, panicking, flawed, and human.  There are no heroes here, everyone is just trying to survive.

Some people might be annoyed that I call the infected in this film zombies.  They are not dead, but more like the rage victims of 28 Days Later.  They look cool though with red bloodshot eyes, and lots of froth.  The infection isn't confined to just humans either, infected Dogs, and Rats also feature.  Quite a bit of blood, and guts which is always nice!

Some minor complaints I guess.  The ending while creepy is kinda expected for this type of film, and the main female lead completly looses her composure in the films last third and never gets it back.  I'm going to be seeing [REC] soon, so shall see for myself which is the better film.  Scary though!


Saturday, 10 April 2010

Dead & Breakfast (2004) - Zombie Film Review

Dead & Breakfast has a quote on the cover saying something like "Americas answer to Shaun of the Dead".  Sadly not.  The film attempts to combine horror and comedy, but falls flat on its face many many times.

A bunch of 20 something kids get lost on the way to a friends wedding.  They decide to stay at a guest house in the small town of Lovelock run by a creepy man (David Carradine).  During the night they find the chef brutally murdered, and the owner dead from a heart attack.  As suspects the local Sheriff says they cannot leave the town.  Soon after an evil spirit is accidentally released from a weird box.  The evil spirit starts possessing everyone in town.  The survivors have to find a way to stop the evil spirit before it's too late.

My main problem with the film is it thinks it's so damn funny, and doesn't ever let up in showing you it is with ill fitting comedy moments.  Sure some of the humour in the film is good (such as the bizarre Thriller style dance the zombies start doing randomly) but mostly it falls flat.  This is no where more apparent than the main zombie (the one who was first possessed) who carries a severed head around with him, and keeps doing ventriloquism with it to rubbish effect.  Throughout the film there is a singing narrator.  He is ok, but becomes almost awkward to watch as he obviously thinks he's far cooler than he actually is.

The zombies look the part, but are really useless.  They just seem so neutered, and inept.  Maybe this was meant to be the case?  One key scene which has the zombies assaulting a house is made farcical by only one zombie attempting to break in at a time, the others stand away from the house doing nothing.  The main zombie battle is appalling, the main antagonist literally just stands there jabbering away before being extremely easily killed.  What's the point of looking the part if your not going to act the part? The zombies just bring no threat with them.

There is some violence, but not too much.  Some inspired death scenes early on, such as death by cymbal, and death by drumstick.  Most the guns are specially made by one of the characters.  The guns being big hollow lead pipes that a shotgun shell is hammered out of.  The abundance of these is a bit silly.

The film can be quite funny in places, and has ace intro credits.  David Carridines role is short, but a highlight.  The singing narrator is a cool idea even if it isn't always that greatly done.  Not a great zombie film, but different enough I guess.


Dead Snow (2009) - Zombie Horror Film Review

Dead Snow Dead Snow, Deeeead Snoooow! Ahem.  I think that the biggest reason that Fargo is as good as it is, is because of the setting.  Having the film take place in the snow gave the film a really distinct look.  I highly doubt the film would had the same impact if it had been set in say a desert.  Dead Snow as the title kinda hints at is set in a snowy location.

A group of medical students set off through the snowy wastes of Norway (I think) to their friends log cabin, for a wild holiday of drinking, twister, and snow ball fights.  They have not been at the cabin long when a old man shows up at the door.  He gives them a brief history lesson about a group of Nazis who had fled into the nearby hills at the end of World War II after terrorising a Village for several years.  The man unimpressed with the 'city kids' leaves.  Their friend Sara who owns the cabin has not turned up (she was going to ski there) so her boyfriend sets off on his snow mobile to search for her.  Soon after the group discover a box full of gold hidden under the cabin.  Pretty soon they come under attack by a group of zombie Nazis led by their zombie leader Herzog.  Can the kids survive the misery of the zombie Nazis? Woooo!

I loved this film.  I seem to love most zombie films (with the exception of the utterly terrible Zombie Chronicles), so I don't know that I'm that good of a reviewer being so totally biased.  There has been quite a mixed reaction to Dead Snow with people either thinking it is average, or fantastic.  The film is Norwegian, and so has subtitles, but these are well written, and don't get in the way of the action.  The characters are a likable bunch, but it's still cool when the blood starts to fly!

The zombies can run (well a shambling type run), and roar like monsters.  They follow the lead of the commanding Nazi zombie.  He looks fantastic, and acts like you would expect a leader to, staying out the way of the action, and observing things through a pair of binoculars.  All the zombies have a kind of intelligence to them; they usually use knives to kill their victims, and they work together.

There is lots of action here.  The humans put their all into fighting the zombie Nazis using a variety of weapons.  Their are decapitations, severed limbs, and even a few guts spilling out.  Quite bloody in places which contrasts well with the pureness of the deep snow so that everything looks hyper real.  The film has quite a streak of dark humour running through it as well which was appreciated, as well as more than a few purposeful nods to the Evil Dead films.

I really enjoyed this film.  It was unique as a zombie film due to it's setting, and is definitely the best zombie Nazi film I have seen (not hard it's a niche genre!)


Friday, 9 April 2010

Return of the Living Dead Part II - Zombie Horror Film Review

I had great memories of this film.  I remember it being hilarious.  Watching it again I discovered to my horror that it is nowhere near as good as I remembered, mostly due to far too much 'comedy' over acting.

The Army are transporting some canisters (canisters which contain the zombie virus as seen in Return of the Living Dead).  One comes loose and falls near to a graveyard in a small Town.  Pretty soon 2 young bullies accidentally release the virus gas.  It seeps into the graveyard nearby.  Pretty much soon the whole Town is under zombie invasion by brain hungry undead.  With the exits to the Town blocked by trigger happy soldiers the remaining human survivors must work together to deal with the zombie threat themselves.

A few characters reappear from the first film.  The middle aged man and his new apprentice reprise their roles, this time playing 2 grave robbers.  The Army General in charge of locating the canisters is back.  It is not ever stated if this is a sequel to the first film, or if it's a re imagining.  The reprised characters throw some cheeky references to the first film such as the punk saying something along the lines of "somehow, this feels so familiar, as if it's happened before in a dream or something".

The main problem with this film is that nearly all the characters totally over act with their panicking.  It was funny in the first film, but here it is just done too much.  Characters become irritating more than anything as they scream and shout.  One of the new characters; an eccentric Dr is awful, meaning to be an oddball, and forgetful he just comes off as annoying as Hell.  He has some funny moments, such as recognising one of the zombies as a person he wrongly diagnosed in the past, but apart from that he is just not fun.

The zombies once again are able to talk, and run, but overall seem more sluggish than before.  Again there are some more intelligent zombies, such as one of the young bullies who pops up throughout the film after his victim; a McCauly Culkin lookalike who is the main character.  There is some cool zombie violence, one has it's face caved in when punched, another is shot in half, and ends up crawling after his still walking legs.  No midget zombies this time around.  The main problems with the zombies is that they are no longer invincible.  A way to properly re-kill them is discovered by the survivors reducing their threat.

The film is ok, and can be funny in places, but too many times the film tries too hard to be funny and fails.  The script is nowhere near as good as the last film, the zombies are played far too much for laughs, and the humans mostly real annoying, though does feature an actor who went on to have a big part in the excellent Twin Peaks!  This can be picked up very cheap now, just don't go in expecting a film as good as Return of the Living Dead.


Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Return of the Living Dead (1985) - Comedy Zombie Horror Film Review

I love The Return of the Living Dead so much, though made in 1985 it still thrills me, and makes me laugh as much as it did the first time I saw it. It is a spoof sequel to Night of the Living Dead. In this film it is implied that George Romero got his idea for his film from a 'real' event that happened in Pennsylvania.

It is the 80's, time of punks. One such punk is on his first day at a job at a medical supply warehouse.  He asks his old co-worker what the strangest thing the warehouse has ever received was. The co-worker takes him to the basement and shows him these canisters. He tells the new worker that the canisters were accidentally sent to the medical warehouse by the Army. Each canister has a dead body contained within. Sure of their durability the man kicks the canister, unfortunately this releases a poisonous gas which knocks the two out. They awake to find the canister empty, heading upstairs they find the dead in their warehouse have come to life. This includes butterflies in a display case, split dogs, and a corpse which had been in the freezer. Eventually with their bosses help they chop up the zombies and take them to a nearby mortuary where they incinerate the corpses. Meanwhile the punks friends have gone to a nearby cemetery to have a party while waiting for their friend to leave work. Anyway, things start to go very pear shaped when the incinerated corpses release a toxic cloud which seeps into the graveyard reanimating all the dead there. Pretty soon there is total chaos as the dead rise, and the survivors run around screaming their heads off mostly.

This film is really funny.  The duo of the middle aged worker, and his young punk co-worker is hilarious. Together they have the best dialogue, and are totally manic together, reminding me of two Basil Fawlty's (or John Cleese's). The other characters are mostly of a high standard. The calm mortician being a close favourite to those two.

The zombies are fantastic. Trying to kill them as seen in the George Romero film they discover the zombies are near indestructible. Destroying the brain, hacking bodies to pieces, acid, gun shots; nothing works. Even an arm on its own can cause havoc as it strangles and tears at the victims. The zombies are intelligent, can run, and can talk. One scene which the ace zombie-core band Send More Paramedics got their name from involves the zombies on an ambulance radio calling repeatedly for more paramedics. Each new batch that turn up quickly getting ripped apart by the hiding zombie hordes. The zombies crave living brains, and chant "braaains" all the time, and the recently infected humans seem to have more power and intelligence than the resurrected graveyard corpses. One such zombie chasing his girlfriend shouting "let me eat your brains!".

The film has a great punk soundtrack to it. Being set in a empty industrial estate, and being cordoned off means the film can really focus on the small groups of humans. They are funny in that they are mostly just totally panicking, with no idea what to do save from barricading everything they can.

The films ending is really cool, overkill, but is both effective at wrapping up the tale, as well as leaving room for a sequel (of which there are at least four pretty much unrelated further entries). The film is essential viewing for any zombie fan, and for any horror fan in general. It is a great introduction to the zombie genre.  Essential viewing!


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Soul - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

Soul is a short puzzle type game that sees you guiding a soul around various mazes without touching the walls.

The game starts with a patient in a Hospital bed dying.  Out of the patients body comes a glowing blue orb; this is what you control in the game.  Your aim is to escape the confines of the Hospital so that you can ascend to Heaven, avoiding Demons on the way who want to take you to Hell.

The whole premise of the game is like one of those metal maze things where you cant touch the metal bar with the metal hoop.  Touching the sides of the various maze type rooms you are in results in the soul vanishing, and having to start again from the start of the maze room.  There is lots of variation in this though. Starting off in the Hospital you travel into the Sewers before escaping into the outside world for your final challenge. The mazes all look logical; eg: corridors and stairwells, various pipes, the intestines of a large animal, and offer enough variation that things never get boring.

The art for this game is fantastic.  Fantastic hand drawn, and painted backgrounds which look straight out of a book.  They are packed with detail which along with the fantastic sound effects create real atmosphere.  There is no music in the game, so the sound effects are used to create a feeling of being in a real place, weather it be dripping pipes, the sound of a thunderstorm, or the scurry of rats and squeaking of bats in the background.

The game world feels like a bad place, everything is dank and depressing, it's only really at the games end where there is a sense of beauty in the surroundings.  The Demons make a awful roaring noise, and the only human seen in the game nearly made me fall off my seat in shock!

The game only took me about 20 minutes to complete, but it's all about perfecting your time, and it is very well self contained and doesn't feel rushed.  At 80 Microsoft points this is well worth buying.


Monday, 5 April 2010

'48 by James Herbert (A Zombie Book Review)

James Herbert is one of my fave horror authors.  I got into him after picking up The Fog which I mistook to be the inspiration for John Carpenter's classic film.  The Fog was actually a zombie tale about a poisonous fog that turns anyone who comes into contact with it into a homicidal maniac.  '48 is another zombie tale with a difference, as the title suggests the book takes place in 1948.

The book follows an alternate history.  At the end of the 2nd World War Hitler knowing he was defeated launched some special V-2 rockets at Britain.  The V-2 rockets were filled with chemicals which unleashed a virus known as the Blood Death.  The Blood Death spread over the entire Country (and it is implied the World) infecting virtually every single living human.  Of these infected nearly all died agonising deathes straight away as the blood in thier bodies forced its way out of thier bodies.  The remaining infected live a half life, thier skin rotting, thier motor functions slowed down as thier blood coagulates in thier bodies. People with AB Negative blood types were unaffected by the disease.  Hoke, a American pilot is one such person.  For 3 years he has survived in dead London, constantly being hunted by a group of infected facist blackshirts who believe his blood holds the key to thier survival.

The book starts off exciting, and never really lets off.  Hoke is in one of his hideouts (revealed at chapters end to be Buckingham Palace) trying to escape as heavily armed blackshirts attempt to capture him.  His survival is attributed to the fact that the blackshirts want him alive, so he knows he can take risks, plus the blackshirts are slow, meaning for instance they take ages to be able to reload thier weapons, and the blackshirts are also quite cautious as any wound they get simply would not heal due to the Blood Death they are infected with.  Hoke is accompanied by his dog Cagney (it seems animals were not affected) and sees himself safest being alone.  In the 3 years since the event he has not seen any uninfected, and has gone slightly crazy.

Midway through the first quarter of the book Hoke is discovered by other uninfected; 2 women, and a German who Hoke takes an immediate hatred to.  He is unable to forget the war, and sees all Germans as Nazi's and evil, this is one of the characters flaws.  The women however see any uninfected as friendly, and stick up for the German (Stern).

There is lots of descriptions of the dead in London.  As nearly all were infected the bodies all lay were they died.  The underground, and Hospitals for instance are packed with dead.  Lots of time is spent describing the dead; men, women, and children.  Dead are everywhere, in cars, in beds, sitting at tables.  The animal survivors are described as parasites.  Ravens, Rats, and Dogs all shown as rabid monsters, feasting on the flesh of the dead, and even attacking the living.  Hokes disgust of these parasites is often described.

There is not much downtime during the book.  The few scenes were action is not happening are purposly shown to be temporary, Hoke ever on edge waiting for the next attacks from the Blackshirts who always seem to know where he is.  There is character development, the German, the two women Cissie, and Muriel, as well as the Air Raid Warden Potter all provide background for themselfs, showing who they were before the choas, and how they have survived for so long in the dead world.  The Blackshirts are led by a man called Hubble.  Hubble and Hoke are deadly adversaries, having seen each other many times during the fighting. The Blackshirts while English are all fascists, who believe in the Nazi ideology.  Hubble really believes he is special, and that he can recreate the world in his image, and that the blood death was a test for him.  The infected having no hope flocked to him.

The book has betrayals, deaths, sex, and violence as well as the overall theme of what it is to be human, and coping with loss and tragerdy and rising above it to be a better person.  I'm no good at book reviews, but still, I enjoyed this book!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Castlevania The Adventure: ReBirth (2010) - Horror Videogame Review (WiiWare)

The Castlevania series is one of my all time faves, consistently good games with only a few misses.  When I heard that the Gameboy Castlevania: The Adventure was being remade for WiiWare I was excited.  The game has turned out a lot better than I hoped, keeping the graphics good, rather than changing them all for polygons (which I had feared).  Note the game is not actually a remake, but instead a reimagining.

Being a Castlevania game usually means no real story to speak of.  That is the case here, but this is not a bad thing for the series, I wouldn't have it any other way!  Basically Castlevania the home of Count Dracula has reappeared.  As a descendant of Simon Belmont you have the power to use the mighty Vampire Killer (a magical whip), so you head off to infiltrate the castle and defeat Dracula yet again.

The game is a level based 2D platformer, and is very similar in look to previous Castlevania games, again not a bad thing.  There are six levels in all, all taking place in a different section of Castlevania.  Each level is split up into about ten different shorter sections, and feature alternate routes, as well as a mid-boss, and end of level boss. Well in truth there are five levels, the sixth being just a boss fight with Count Dracula.

The music for the game is fantastic, most the tunes have shown up in previous Castlevanias but are remixed here. Castlevania has always had the best videogame music. The levels are from locations which have all featured in other Castlevanias.  You get the clock tower level, the entrance halls level etc, but all look cool. The graphics are of a higher quality than Snes and look very crisp and solid even on my 42 Inch screen.

Enemies are the usual suspects. Yet again I say this is not a bad thing! The enemies have all been remade, so look slightly different to how they usually do. Floating Medusa heads, mudmen, armour, skeletons, bats, Mermen etc. Fantastic! No zombies though, oh well. One thing I did notice is that this game loves eyeballs. Most levels feature large rolling eyeballs, one of Dracula's special moves is to drop loads of rolling small eyeballs at you, and the end of level boss for Level 1 is in fact a gigantic eyeball! Talking of bosses; the bosses in this game are all real cool. Having two per level means more variety, and some normal enemies from previous Castlevanias have been upgraded to boss status!  Favourites such as the giant bat, stone golom, and of course Death appear with other promoted bosses, such as a Succubus, and an enchanted sword. One cool boss I had not seen before was a Jekyll and Hyde man who could alternate between a slim fast man, and a hulking rock throwing brute.

The whip you use can be upgraded by collecting orbs hidden in the levels, the final form giving you limited power to shoot fireballs from the whip. The usual secondary weapons are all here as well, you know; axes, knifes, crucifixes, and the ever useless stop watch (that lets you pause the enemies for a few seconds).

I can't be unbiased, I admit I love all the Castlevanias. This is no different. It costs 1000 Wii Points, and it took me two and a half hours to complete in one sitting (there is no way to save the game), but includes alternate routes through levels, as well as unlocking random things upon completion.