Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Dead Island (2011) - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Dead Island is a first person role playing zombie survival game set a small island.  It is similar in feel to Borderlands at times, in the fact that vehicles can be driven. the game is intended for four player co-op, and there are many different open world areas littered with hundreds of side quests.

The game takes place on the resort Island of Banoi the night after a party at the resort hotel.  Four characters wake up hung over in the hotel - hotel clerk Xian Mei, former football star Logan, bodyguard Purna and rapper Sam.B.  The hotel is in disarray and an evacuation signal is playing over the loud speaker. Encountering strange humans (zombies) the group are chased until cornered and attacked.  Waking up an indeterminate time later they are told by a group of survivors that the whole island has been over run by flesh eating zombies, and that the fouir seem to be the only people who are immune to the disease.  What follows is a series of fetch quests, and minor tasks as the group are sent out to bring aid to the groups of survivors holding out all over the island.  Oh, and also a strange transmission is being broadcast over the radio by a shadowy figure that promises the group salvation if they can locate him.

I love this game! Intended for four players I played through it all (as I am want to do) on my lonesome, well after I discovered how to turn off online co-op (that is strangely set as the default option and requires a quit out of the game to change) I headed off into the beautiful island.  The game is set in a variety of beautiful and different locations.  Starting off in the resort area you are in a giant area in which the zombies are spread out, the island stretches off into the distance and if not for the blood and gore everywhere (as well as hundreds of beach clad zombies and zombabes) would be idyllic.  The sun is beating in the sky, and the surf washes against the shore.  Later locations I don't want to ruin too much but include a gigantic city full of slums and sewers, as well as inland where the jungle and bandits reside.

The locations are very varied and really make you want to see whats next, each place is vastly different to the last and brings its own tone, as well as its own zombies (eg: security guard zombies at the hotel, and tribesmen zombies in the jungle).

The zombies...oh the zombies! They are ace in this game, they really are, varying between runners and shamblers they attack on their own, in groups, and even just ignore you as they bumble around or feast on dead bodies.  They really look the part being in various states of decomposition; some have their insides hanging out, others have various parts of their bodies missing.  In the vein of Left 4 Dead there are also boss enemies that are introduced as you progress.  A hulking brute in a straight jacket charges at you, a bloated fat zombie spews acidic bile, one has his arm bones sharpened into spikes while yet another is slow moving but a giant powerhouse able to knock you literally flying with one swing of his beefy arms.

You attack mainly by melee weapons, each character specialises in a certain weapon type, Xian Mei (the character I played as) specialised in sharp objects, so I stuck to them throughout using swords, knives, axes, to hack up the zombies.  Arms can be sliced off, heads decapitated, and legs hacked to make zombies move slower.  Blunt objects such as baseball bats and police batons can be used to break enemies limbs.  Weapons can be improved by the use of work benches as well as modified to have different effects, such as a machete that can electrocute enemies, a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, and guns whose bullets can poison zombies.  Parts need to be collected to do this, and cash (that can be found everywhere) is used to repair damaged weapons.

As you progress you get experience points that make you stronger as well as give you a point into your stats (such as the ability to instant kill downed enemies, higher percentage of weapon damage, and longer special times). Each character has a unique ability that can be used once your bar is powered up.  My character went berserk where the screen goes grey with enemies showing as bright red and your knife skill drastically improving for a limited time.

There is so much to talk about with this amazing game.  My playthough lasted about 25 hours so it is really an epic zombie survival game that seems more realistic than others of its type. Missions can be plain (such as searching for food) but also more poignant such as a man who tasks you with returning to his flat to kill his zombie wife and child, or putting up posters around a city for a man who hopes his wife may see the poster and know he is safe.

The game has many faults it has to be said.  A lot of bugs got ironed out after release but some still persist.  One particularly annoying one was where you are unable to access your weapons, doing so makes your character swig from a bottle of alcohol making you swerve all over the place.  This usually happens after running and is very frustrating to turn around to battle the zombies chasing you only to find your not allowed access to your weapons.  The human characters you encounter and the zombies are the same model type, there is not much variation with most people looking the same and having some very dodgy Australian accents, and even found someone with a Manchester accent.  All very odd sounding.  For all the back story the four main characters get, there is very little story for them which is slightly disappointing.  The plot itself is basic but the cause of the zombie outbreak is actually quite refreshing for a change (despite some red herrings of toxic waste in the sewers and a suspicious remote laboratory).

The game succeeds as it really feels like you are in the middle of zombie apocalypse.  Having passed out from your wounds at the games start you have missed the initial week or so of outbreak so the island is in a static state of collapse with many stories told by the many characters and people you encounter.  Files can be found that are quite boring (giving real life facts and information about the area of the world the game takes place in) but the audio tapes are very well done, and kind of chilling chronicling a reporters journey through the outbreak of the apocalypse.  At times the game is ham fisted making some characters one dimensional but at other times it can get quite moving (never getting to the limits achieved in the trailer though).

Very well recommended, if you like zombie games and want to know what it is like to be in a zombie apocalypse on a tropical island then this is the game for you! Now I'm off to play the DLC...


Sunday, 26 February 2012

X-Box 360 horror demo round-up No.1 - Featuring Alan Wake's American Nightmare and The Darkness II

Alan Wake's American Nightmare

This XBLA game is set after the events of the sublime Alan Wake.  Alan has returned from the darkness to a world that takes place in Night Springs (the Alan Wake Twilight Zone Copy) where he is hunting his evil clone Mr Scratch.

American Nightmare feels like Alan Wake but has more emphasis on combat.  The demo sees you arrive in Arizona and make your way to a Motel.  There your plan is to recreate a series of events you have written about in lost manuscript pages in order to stop a portal from the dark world that is releasing the Taken (Alan Wake's version of zombies).

There are pages to find, radios to listen to, and live action TV broadcasts (starring Mr Scratch) to watch so is more story than I had expected.  The combat is as fun as it always was bur has more weapons including sub machine guns and nail guns.

At 12,000 Microsoft points the game is a tad too much for me, but the second it is in a sale I will be snapping it up.

The Darkness II

The Darkness was a fun first person shooter set in a grimy New York that felt at parts Condemned and F.E.A.R with it's realistic settings.  Made by a different studio The Darkness II is cell shaded and thus more of a bright game, but certainly no less violent.

The demo starts with you; Jackie Estacado nailed to a cross by an unknown group.  As you pass out you flash back to an attack on a restaurant you were at.  Nearly dying you were forced to call upon the powers of The Darkness.  The Darkness gives you super human powers, as well as tentacles that can be used to grab enemies and rip them into pieces.

The feeling of power is well done, you are able to attack enemies both by shooting them and by using your tentacles which can pick up objects to hurl at your assailants as well as slice them up.  It is very bloody with lots of cartoon violence.  The demo sees you make your way from the restaurant through the New York streets down to a subway.  The level design is nothing special and there was not much variety to proceedings as you hacked and blasted your way through.

Still, I was a fan of The Darkness, and as a little taste of the game it has got me interested but not something I will be rushing out to buy.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Zombusters - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

The queue of Indie zombie games waiting to be reviewed is getting ridiculous, my hard drive is getting filled up with the blasted things, so on that note here is a review of a randomly picked Indie zombie game; Zombusters.

Zombusters is yet another arena based zombie wave based survival game but this time comes with a fresh perspective of a 2D isometric view that is quite high up.  You can choose one of four characters to play as including one who looks like Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters (obviously a nod to the film, as is the title).  Each level sees you in a different section of a large city where you must survive ten waves of zombies.  In the demo (yes, I review demos if they are of the Indie variety!) I first started in a park that had roads surrounding it (a nice touch was a burning car), the 2nd level saw me in a concrete square lined with trees, also with roads passing.

The zombies advance in packs and operate as one, much like shoals of fish. One bullet is enough to fell each of them., likewise if you get touched by the zombies you die. Some downed enemies drop health, and different weapons such as a machine gun. They are silent save for the groan they make when you kill them.  The first couple of levels are quite easy, the zombies get more numerous and get quicker but perhaps a bit too slow to ramp it up.  Zombusters supports up to 4 players.

There is licenced music over the top that seems unrelated to the action on screen being comprised of indie songs that are easy enough on the ears but didn't really fit the action.  The game looks bright and colourful, and you have to love the isometric graphical style! All in all not bad for what it is, and a nice change from the usual arena game, but hardly essential purchasing.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Prospector's Curse - Horror Film News

I very recently heard tell of a short horror film being made titled The Prospector's Curse. It might sound like the title of a Scooby-Doo episode but reading about this film it actually sounds genuinely worth watching.

Set in America during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890's it features a tale about two wanted criminals who stumble across a dying prospector out in the wilds.  Promising him a decent burial they instead steal his gold, and as with all great morality tales this results in the corpse of the prospector coming back to life to get his revenge!

The film is described as a darkly comedic western-themed horror. Dark comedy is the best type and if the tagline is anything to go by the humour will be quite good (the tagline 'there's blood in them there hills!' made me smile).  Written and directed by Josh Heisie The Prospector's Curse is currently in post production and due for release soon.  The Facebook page can be found here.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Evidence (2012) - Horror Film Review

Wow, just seen Evidence and I have to say what a total head f**k of a film!  It is a found footage film in the mould of The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Cloverfield. I have to put a warning that I might have some spoilers in this review, I really don't to ruin this film as the twists are utterly bonkers and put a huge cheesy grin on my face as they got revealed.

Four friends head off on a camping trip in the wilderness to make a documentary about one of the group; Brett who has never been camping before.  It isn't long before strange events start to happen. Mysterious screams and growls at night, along with the sighting of strange figures, and then the disappearance of one of the friends leads the group to believe that they may be being stalked.  Ryan; the filmmaker of the group is fascinated by the strangeness and seemingly unconcerned about the dangers he might be subjecting his friends to by forcing them to stay in the remote nowhere.

The film pulls a lot of twists and has fun doing so. The film channels the spirit of The Blair Witch so closely at times that I found myself wanting to check to see if it was actually a remake. It is very similar to start with, a good familiar feeling of knowing what is going to happen and sitting down for the ride. The character of Ryan (Ryan McCoy who also wrote this) is such a psychotic nerd that it makes you wonder how he ever become friends with the group, who start off mildly annoyed with his camera antics and turn to outright hostility as they argue and fight with him. I don't know how Abi ever become Ryan's girlfriend as there is zero chemistry between them. That is reflected in the film as the relationship between the two turns sour relatively quickly.

Somehow part way through the film it changed genre without me even realising, changing into some sort of crazed fever dream and moving far far away from the 'lost in the woods' style of film I expected it to be. I want to say so much what happens but to do that would be to ruin the surprises.

It is a definite creepy film, but It does lose some of the fear initially when the source of the evil hounding the group is revealed. It is always more scary what your mind conjures up than seeing the actual thing. Evidence is really well shot and looks crisp with lots of shaky running sequences and scenes shot in the dark with added effects just to remind the viewer that it is being filmed on a hand held camera. Unlike The Blair Witch missing people are found in some grisly ways which look great.  The dead bodies in this film look amazing with some clever reveals.

The plot is the weakest part of the film with the excuse for the camping trip poorly explained. The ending is quite a bit confusing also, though the end credits that are integrated into the last section of the film are very cool. It could be said that the film does loose some of its impact when it goes bananas but by then the hooks are in you to keep you watching.

I really enjoyed this thrill ride, what started as a well made clone turns into pure excitement, whilst the characters are for the most part fleshed out and made to feel more realistic than the usual pretty teens running around screaming. If your going to watch this film then don't watch any trailers, or read up about it, just go in blind! Evidence is released on DVD 12th March 2012 courtesy of Showbox Home Entertainment.


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Red Dwarf - Sci-fi Comedy Show: The Horror Episodes

I got the complete collection of Red Dwarf for Christmas.  Red Dwarf is a classic British Sci-fi comedy that stars Craig Charles as Dave Lister; a slob, and the last human alive, Chris Barrie as a cowardly, back stabbing hologram Arnold Judas Rimmer, Danny John-Jules as Cat (a being evolved from Cats), and Robert Llewellyn as the robot Kryten.  While a lot of the episodes have no horror element to them there are also quite a few which do have horror.

Series 2

Polymorph - taking a lot of cues from The Thing this episode features a chameleonic, emotion-sucking, genetic mutant that is running riot on Red Dwarf.  The crew have to try and discover what it has changed into and destroy it before it sucks away all their emotions.

Series 5

The Inquisitor - a deranged android uses time travel to travel through time deleting from existence everyone he sees as having wasted their lives.  In their place he inserts people who never got a chance at life.  He comes across the Red Dwarf crew who realise they are in deep trouble.

Terrorform - Rimmer is stranded on a deserted planet which terraforms into a vision of his own mind.  Full of such self loathing the planet turns into a nightmare reality where beast and monsters roam.

Quarantine - Rimmer puts the rest of the crew into forced quarantine after they get exposed to a holo-virus. It soon tuns out that Rimmer has contracted the virus and is totally insane.  This episode is quite chilling actually! Who thought a man wearing a gingham dress, pigtails wig, and a penguin sock puppet on his hand could be scary!

Demons & Angels - Red Dwarf is split into two different ships; a heavenly one full of beauty and love, and a evil  foul one that is a hell hole ruled over by evil versions of the crew who want nothing more than to kill them.

Ok, so that is actually it for proper horror themed ones.  There are lots of episodes that feature horror parts; such as Pete that has a rampaging Dinosaur, as well as various evil doppelgangers who turn up throughout the shows, and crazed human hating androids.  Still Red Dwarf is a great comedy show and is well worth a watch! The Series 7 episode Epideme even features a zombie.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Simpsons Arcade - Zombie appearances in games (XBLA)

I'm all for the surprise appearance of zombies in videogames.  With the recently released The Simpsons Arcade on XBLA I was surprised and delighted to see those rotting fiends show up on level 3.  The game features many many different enemies out to stop the Simpsons from rescuing Maggie from the clutches of Smithers.

The Simpsons Arcade is a 4 person scrolling beat em up.  Level 3 starts off in a graveyard.  Soon zombies are clawing their way up from the earth.  They claw and leap but are easily dispatched.  After the initial waves red skinned zombies appear, a homage that Resident Evil remake paid homage to with its crazed hyper zombies.

Zombies are so great that they appear in everything it seems!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Zombie Town - Zombie Film Review

I don't know why but slimy insects and zombies seem to go hand in hand.  First there was Night of the Creeps, then Resident Evil 0, and now this Zombie Town.

It starts off out in the woods when a group of Rednecks are killed when one of their number gets infected by some type of disease.  Soon the virus spreads to the small Town of Otis (population 174). Local mechanic Jake, his ex-girlfriend Alex and Jake's rival Randy discover that the whole Town is under attack by parasitic slugs that get passed on via bites.  Determined to stop the plague the trio set out to stop the infected one zombie at a time.

The film has a low budget, and much of this is spent on blood, there is buckets of the stuff.  The acting is mostly very poor, Jake takes all of 15 seconds to get over discovering his close brothers slug infested corpse, while his girlfriend apparently being some super scientist is laughable.  Randy (played by Dennis Lemoine) is fantastic though, with the character providing much of the comedy with his Bruce Campbell one liners such as 'Oh my Lord! it's like a God-damn Grandma massacre in here!' upon discovering the aftermath of Saturday Bingo night.  It's kinda funny that the old people cause the spread of the virus with all of them visiting their relatives while in zombie form.  Randy does seem a bit cold rather than humorous though with all his gleeful killings of people he once knew (such as his old grade school teacher, his boss, and even his Aunt being dispatched merrily by him).

There is not much plot, and the big plan to take out the zombies is not well explained and strange.  No shortage of guns leads to plenty of action, and the zombies themselves while just looking like crazed people get to chomp on plenty of victims, there is even a zombie dog thrown into the mix!  The film is fun though, and is genuinely funny at times though it is never easy to actually care for any of the characters (except Randy as he is darn funny).

It brings no new ideas to the zombie genre, and feels like a hundred other films, it actually reminded me a lot of Dead and Breakfast, and Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town with its action and humour.  It is actually refreshing that the characters know exactly how many zombies they will have to deal with.

Despite a weak start once the film had settled in to being a care free, light hearted zombie murder-a-thon rather than trying to have any seriousness I did enjoy it.


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Legendary - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Legendary is a FPS with a fantasy twist.  The game has an original premise but just cannot stay at the heights it sometimes gets to due to sloppy programming, glitches and bugs.

You play as a professional thief called Deckard who has been hired to steal the contents of a mysterious box.  Upon locating and opening the box a strange sigil gets burned onto your hand while a strange light bursts out of the box causing a gigantic earthquake.  Leaving the museum the box was located in you emerge to see a New York under attack by thousands of monsters right out of myth.  It turns out the box you opened was Pandora's Box and with its opening it released all of the worlds evils, or in this cases monsters.  First just trying to survive against the Griffins, Dragons, Werewolves and other mystical creatures you are soon being hunted by a group of soldiers called The Black Order who you were unknowingly hired by and who now want you dead so they can retrieve the box.

The games premise is really good, and frequently the game is able to cope with the story beats.  The first third of the game is set in a New York being devastated by giant Golems, earthquakes and Griffins.  By the time the section is done you have witnessed hundreds of dead bodies and massive destruction on a tremendous scale.  The 2nd half of the game sees you head to London.  In a matter of days the monsters from the box have sweeped the globe, killing millions.  Despite you being responsible for the destruction of the world your character never seems to have any guilt over events which is a bit odd.

The game looks ok, it was an early 360 game so looks a bit bland.  Combat is slightly different as it sees you fighting monsters for the most part. Werewolves are the main monster type, boss battles comprise of more deadly creatures such as Minotaurs, Griffins, and a epic battle in front of a ruined Big Ben against a huge Kraken.  Levels are quite linear and are broken up with simple puzzles usually involving you shooting a flashing green object, or turning a valve.  Weapons are the usual fare, while your sigil on your hand can be used to heal yourself as well as power up machines (replenished by energy dropped by downed enemies).

Unfortunately for every thing the game does right it does so much more wrong.  It is very glitchy, and deceptive in that you have to be a good distance away from any type of wall or cover when you shoot otherwise you will be shooting at invisible walls.  Very frustrating to throw a grenade only to have it bounce off a invisible wall and blow you up.  Soldiers you face seem to have random energy, sometimes shooting an enemy 3 times will kill him, while on some occasions the exact same enemy type I had to unload two whole clips into before giving up. A few times I had to reload my save after events that need to happen to let the game continue just didn't happen.  It is telling that the very last thing I witnessed in this game was it crashing midway through the ending (seemed to be setting the game up for a sequel; fat chance!) Unskippable cut scenes are another evil, especially one in particular that I was forced to endure (no joke) about 40 times in a row being set just before an intensely hard boss battle.

Underneath all the utter badness is a good game that is screaming to have a polish.  If only more time had been spent to iron out the hundreds of bugs then this game would have been fantastic.  When everything is going well the game is a joy to play, it has just left a bad taste behind as the last few levels especially crumble under bad programming.


Saturday, 4 February 2012

BloodRayne: Betrayal (2011) - Horror Videogame Review (XBLA)

The original BloodRayne games were wonky third person actioners that had you fighting mostly Nazi soldiers. I was initially put off by BloodRayne: Betrayal as it reminds me of the death of my interest in the Joystiq Podcast which imploded after a disastrous change in style, due to the game being an item in that very tedious first episode. Anyway having played the demo and seeing the game in a sale I picked it up.

BloodRayne: Betrayal sees you (playing as half vampire Rayne) joining a group of vampire hunter soldiers called 'The Brimstone Society' in assaulting an underground castle of vampires. Starting above ground you eventually get to the castle in a mix of 2D platforming and fighting.

BloodRayne: Betrayal is very reminiscent of old Castlevania games back when they were level based. Everything from the Gothic look, down to the dramatic music really invoke the spirit of those classic games. The setting of a vampire's castle is also super similar. None of this is a bad thing, I love the Castlevania series so a pretender to the throne is very welcome.

Being a half vampire you are allergic to light, in the early levels there are UV lamps set up that drain your health if you get near them, these only feature in the first few levels though. More could have been done to incorporate these into the game I feel. A lot of the enemies you fight can have their blood sucked out. This makes you invincible during the sucking as well as restores lost health. Enemies consist of Aryan looking vampires, as well as clawed monsters, floating mummies and even giant walking bubbles filled with blood. There is not a lot of different enemies types but combat is quite a detailed affair with enemies having different abilities and weaknesses. Usually when you encounter enemies the game will limit you to a single screen until a few waves of them have been dispatched.

The game looks beautiful, like something out of an anime. There is plenty of blood, and the animations are great, especially the vampires who appear in the foreground before leaping into the game; very smoothly done. Boss battles are usually against giant monsters and quite fun, one in particular that was made out of blood looked really good.

Levels unfortunately do get repetitive, you would think with a whole castle(vania) to explore there would be variety but a lot of the levels look very similar. A section of levels see you traversing pits of acid, while others see you with rivers of blood but all play quite similar. Levels are full of traps from rotating blades to spikes, lasers and collapsing platforms. These require quite a degree of mobile skill to get past but in a good move enemies are not resistant to the traps so can get minced up, burnt up and drown just the same as you. Some sections see you go into silhouette which might look good but makes finding where you are on screen quite confusing. The last level set in a burning castle is a nightmare due just to the fact that it is really hard to see where you are located on screen.

Hidden around levels are skulls that let you increase your health and bullets in your gun (a special weapon), and there are some sections when you control a raven that gives some variety. You later get the ability to turn into a bird at will but this is severely restricted by the arrival of machines dotted everywhere that stop you being able to change; begs the question what's the point of giving you that ability if the designers blatantly didn't want you to be able to use it? The plot is bare bones and not interesting, mostly told by a series of speech bubbles coming out of characters mouths

For all its issues I did enjoy BloodRayne: Betrayal, it is just a shame that it is barren when it comes to variety, more interesting locations, and a greater number of enemy types would have made the game a lot better.


Friday, 3 February 2012

Interview with the creators of ZOMBIE MURDER EXPLOSION DIE! - A new web cartoon

ZOMBIE MURDER EXPLOSION DIE! is a new zombie comedy due to launch 6th February. I was lucky enough to get an interview with Scout Raskin (producer), Andrew Racho (writer/director), and Jeff "Nachotoonz" Campbell (creator/art director).

Welcome to The Rotting Zombie! Having seen the launch trailer for ZMED I am looking forward to seeing the show. If you had to sum yourselves up in one sentence what would it be?

We're a crazy bunch of artists that love zombies and love making cartoons!

So what made you decide to do a zombie themed comedy show, and what inspires the humour?

Jeff, the creator and bloke responsible for the art, had the initial idea.  He thought that zombie movies and shows take themselves a little too seriously.  We wanted to explore how tech-addicted people would deal with a zombie apocalypse and that's where a lot of the humour comes in. I mean, think about it.  If s*it hit the fan, you'd probably be more concerned saving your cell phone battery so you can update Facebook rather than searching for food and shelter.  That's the world we live in now and we love poking fun at it.

I always loved zombies, then they came into fashion (so to speak) so are you riding on the coat tails of the fad or is there a genuine love of the subject matter?

When have zombies ever been out of style? We genuinely love the genre. It allows people to imagine their own survival in a crazy world and feeds into that fight or flight instinct we all have inside us. That's why the subject matter seems to resonate with so many people.  We had developed Zombie Murder Explosion Die! long before The Walking Dead came on the telly, so we're not trying to ride out the fad, we're just making the show we wanted to see.

The humour of the show really comes out in the trailer, what would you say your favourite comedies are?

Andrew: Breaking Bad, The Accused starring Jodie Foster - just kidding! Character-driven comedies in which the characters cause their own problems through their personalities. Arrested Development, Venture Brothers, and my admitted guilty pleasure:  Saved by the Bell.

How many episodes are there planned to be, and how long does it take to create each episode?

We are planning to do 6 episodes in 2012 for our 1st Season.  After that, who knows? It takes about 2 months to do the episodes from storyboards through post-production.

What are your favourite zombie films? For me it would have to be the original Romero trilogy.

Scout: 28 Days Later

Andrew: Romero's original Night of the Living Dead because it started the genre. It wasn't derivative of previous works. It was based on genuine fears born within society, much like the old Twilight Zone series.

Jeff: Shaun of the Dead

Do you prefer runners, or shamblers?

Scout: shamblers - their contorted bodies and slow movements are super creepy!

Andrew: runners - brings a greater sense of danger. It's more reflective of the times - about how isolated people are.  One running zombie is scarier than 50 slow-moving ones.

Jeffrunners - they are more of a threat.

If a real zombie apocalypse occurred do you have a survival plan in place?

Scout: I've thought about this A LOT - actually, it's kind of an obsession.  First of all - you gotta get a tricked out bicycle and raid the gun shops for weapons and bullets.  Then you gotta stay on the move, picking up food where you can find it and definitely make sure you have a clean water supply.

Andrew: yes, but I won't tell you because everyone will copy it : )

Jeff: lots of melee weapons, a solar car, and a machete, you never have to reload a machete.

Can viewers learn anything from the characters of your show?

Viewers can learn how to epic fail their way through a zombie apocalypse.  Haha. Our tech-addicted teens would have been the first ones eaten if it weren't for each other and the big guy, Jack, protecting them.

I admit this question is more for my own personal interest but do you guys play videogames, and if so what are your favourite games?

Scout: I play a lot of old-school Nintendo games - like Mario.  I get totally confused and turned around in modern first-person shooters. Ahh! Too many buttons.

Andrew: My favourite game of all time is Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past.  It's a quick and simple play.  It has everything a gamer would want: re-playability, action, its engaging, and fun.  I'm also a huge fan of the survival horror series Silent Hill.  There's nothing like playing that game at 3am and being scared, so you can't sleep.  Also, Alan Wake was a recent favourite of mine.

Jeff: Earthworm Jim.  The graphics they could do for that time were amazing and the game play was awesome.

Lastly why should anyone be interested in ZOMBIE MURDER EXPLOSION DIE!?

We're guaranteeing each of the things in its title in ever episode!  The episodes are quick, funny, and filled with gore!  It's also the only zombie cartoon series on the internet to date!

Thanks for the time, and I wish you good luck for the future!

ZMED launches this Monday 6th February on the Machinima channel on Youtube.  Be sure to check it out for what I hope will be a most ace show.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Siege of the Dead - Zombie Film Review

I have had Siege of the Dead for some time now.  It is a German film, the first German zombie film I have seen (sure Dead Snow had Nazi's but the film was Scandinavian). Why do so many cheaply made zombie films have near identical covers of a zombie infected City?

Michael has recently broken up with his Gabi; his girlfriend of 7 years.  Using the excuse of returning her apartment keys he has travelled to Berlin where she lives in the hope of getting back with her.  Upon turning up at her flat in a small apartment complex things soon take a turn for the worse.  After being attacked by a crazed plumber Michael and the plumbers apprentice; teenage Harper barricade themselves in Gabi's apartment. Hearing shouts and screams outside they look out into the courtyard to see a bunch of insane people chasing down and killing a couple.  News reports reveal that Michael has unknowingly stumbled into a City wide outbreak of violence caused by some sort of virus that turns its victims mad with rage.  Now under siege with the other inhabitants of the flats he has to find a way to survive the siege and hopefully locate his missing ex.

The main character of Michael is a very normal guy.  In his late 30's, balding, slightly overweight and with bad teeth he is hardly the hero you would expect and he doesn't act like one.  He is obsessed with finding his ex and a lot of his problems stem from this obsession.  Zombie apocalypse is bad enough but being stranded in your exes flat makes matters far worse.  Everywhere Michael looks he sees reminders of Gabi; photos, pictures on a camera, her clothes.  Surrounded by memories and with no idea if she is safe or not it is a Hell far more personal to him than any zombie apocalypse could cause.

All the characters of the film are entirely normal and this is what makes it work.  The characters really reminded me of the ones in Run Lola Run, all totally normal looking and acting.  The real hero of the piece is Harper (Theo Trebs) he is actually proactive where all the adults are too wrapped up in their own small problems to do anything useful.  It is Harper who finds a way to battle the zombies (though not dead they are very zombie like, responding to noise, and biting their victims).

The film is bleak in a realistic way, but has a vein of dark humour such as the obsessive Michael who is very protective of Gabi's belongings to the point of stopping Harper making weapons from her cutlery ('she will go mad if she comes back and finds out what you have done to her forks!') and the ever changing rooms the two have to retreat to as their defences get destroyed by the zombies.

The main score of the film is really good, bleak, modern and emotionless it sets the tone for the whole film, normal people, in an urban environment.  At just over an hour long the film is short but feels a good length, it never drags and never feels like it is being rushed leading up to a quiet ending that resolves Michael's storyline satisfyingly.

Zombie effects are not over the top, mainly zombies are recognised by the foam frothing out their mouths, and white contact lenses, there is a good amount of the infected as well, virtually no violence but it works.  Though in German the acting is very good, no over the top performances gives the film a realistic vibe.