Sunday, 28 April 2013

Evil Dead (2013) - Horror Film Review

When news first reached me of a remake of Evil Dead I was horrified, Evil Dead is one of my all time favourite horrors, the idea of someone destroying its legacy with yet another terrible remake (ie: A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Fog, Friday 13th, The Wicker Man etc) was just too much to take. With not only Sam Raimi, but also legend Bruce Campbell as producers, and with a strong trailer my mind was changed.

Mia (Jane Levy) and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) have travelled to their remote childhood home along with three friends in order for Mia to kick her drug habit somewhere where there will be no temptations. In the basement of the old log cabin the group discover signs of witchcraft along with a strange book. One of the friends Eric takes a particular interest in the tome and while looking through it he speaks aloud an incantation and unwittingly summons a great evil. The evil possesses Mia, and one by one the friends fall victim to the demonic presence. Those left alive must find a way to stop the Evil Dead.

This film was advertised as being horror and horror it certainly is. There are no usual trappings of cliched teens making out with each other, cheesy jokes, or a 'hip' soundtrack this is grim, dark and intense. The original Evil Dead was thick with black humour, this less so, though some does appear here such as when David at one point says to a character who has just self mutilated herself (to paraphrase as always) "we're going to get through this, everything is going to be fine" to which Eric replies "She just cut her f**king arm off. Does that sound fine?", laugh out loud in context.

This is one of the most squirmy films I have ever seen, throughout I was wringing my hands at the grimness of it all, nearly looking away from the screen at points! Arms, hands and feet are severed, nails are fired into characters bodies, blistering bodies from scolding hot water, a needle jabbed repeatedly into a characters face, every kind of torture is used here, all looking realistic thanks to the wonderful decision to not use CGI unless necessary. It is like the torture porn of films like Saw and Hostel but with actual reason for it to exist. No characters emerges unscathed. Wince inducing horror at it's finest. There is also keeping with tradition a huge amount of blood and gore, characters get covered head to toe in the stuff, it even rains blood at one point! Dashings of vomit and even urine too keep this film disgusting.

Do not mistake the over abundance of horrific mutilation as scary though, this film was not scary, and that was a damn shame. The original Evil Dead I found to be terror inducing at times but here it is never so, there is more order to how the group become under demonic possession, the victims are easier to dispatch, not seeming to have the superhuman strength the Deadites in the original had.

The plot is more complex this time around, the subplot of Mia trying to get over her drug addiction is well implemented in that the strange goings on Mia frantically tells the others about is put down to her having hallucinations, and the fact that her and David's mother went insane gives rise to an alternate theory that maybe nothing bad is happening, that it is all shown from the twisted perspective of insane, or hallucinating siblings. The book of the dead is more straight forward, giving a goal I guess for the Evil Dead. Must say the book here looks totally fantastic, scribbled over the pages someone has scratched in urgent warnings and clues such as 'LEAVE THIS BOOK ALONE', and 'HE'LL SUCK YOUR SOUL DRY'. Looks cool believe me!

The basic plot is the same as the original and it is nice to see quite a few subtle references to it (including a cool after credits bit). The biggest problem I had other than the lack of scares is that it does get a little bit boring at times, the location and lack of real plot advances led to a slight staleness which I at first put down to being so familiar with Evil Dead, but speaking to others who had not seen the 80's one they too admitted to being a bit bored at times. Also the ending I just plain did not like that much, kinda silly and one liners are never a good idea...unless your Ash!

A very bloody, disgusting, wince inducing film, not a bad remake at all, just not that creepy and seems to run out of ideas about halfway through. I would still recommend it though just for it being a straight up no nonsense horror that doesn't try to pander to a casual audience.


Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Trip by Tim Morgan (2012) - Zombie Horror Book Review

Zombie books are many, and to be honest there is not a lot of variation in them, though I do love them (oh how I love them!). The Trip by Tim Morgan offered something that on the surface sounded a little different.

Three High School friends; Dave, Chris and Meghan have planned for years a cycling trip during the summer between finishing School and going to College. They are to cycle from Massachusetts to Seattle, Washington. Leading up to their trip the news is full of reports of a super flu sweeping the globe but the teens pay it hardly any heed. Halfway into their journey it becomes apparent that the disease has reached America, the virus actually turns its victims into flesh eating ghouls. Stuck in a refugee camp with no sign of salvation the trio decide to do the insane; head back to Massachusetts on bike through the ruined, apocalyptic landscape to be with their families.

What I loved most about this book was how it melded the past with the present. The present deals with the friends journey home, forever facing impossible odds as they cycle the hundreds and hundreds of miles home. The past deals with the lead up to the trip, culminating with their decision to leave the refugee camp they found themselves in. The past chapters mostly start with a news report giving a broad sign of what effect the virus is having on the worlds population.

Going into The Trip I discovered that I did not really like either of the three main characters, initially I thought this was down to bad writing, but it actually isn't, I ate my humble pie. The three characters are flawed, they argue, they bicker , they make terrible decisions but they come across as human. Chris the meat head jock prior to the trip got diagnosed as HIV positive. This actually gives a good spin on the zombie tale for his character. As far as Chris is concerned the world ended for him a few months before it ended for real. He sees himself as a dead man walking so apocalypse is slightly easier for him to swallow. Meghan and Dave are both decent people, Dave with a crush on Meghan giving him a protective status.

For the majority of the book I was groaning almost as loud as the ever present zombies at the trios amazing stupid decisions. First off they decided to cycle home which is crazy. There are cars literally everywhere and they are all able to drive yet there is only ever a few mentions to why they don't just use a car. A brief mention early on about it 'being wrong' to steal a car, while later in the book mention is made to the fact that they don't know how to hot wire a car. The thousands of cars they pass at least one must have been in working order with keys available. Instead the three are content to cycle literally through hordes of zombies. Look at the cover; that is literally what the group see as a good idea. They drive through mine filled cities rather than go around (so as to save time) and just sweep and swerve through groups of undead thousands strong (whenever they see zombies they nearly always describe them as thousands strong, I put this down to their young minds exaggerating). Most damning is the teens decision to go on the trip in the first place when if they paid any attention to the news they would have seen far earlier on that maybe a cycling holiday in the midst of human apocalypse was not a good idea.

The teens are only just becoming adults so you get Dave wanting to impress Meghan constantly, Meghan chastising the others for daring to suggest that zombie apocalypse is proof of no God, or a God that has abandoned them, Dave and Chris getting into a fist fight while surrounded by charging zombies. All 3 are quite immature, it is a remarkable fluke that they managed to get on so well. Sure spending such a stressful time on the road together is bound to create tension but despite this they are a tight unit. They stick to their destination, holding belief that despite the devastation around them their home town could not possibly be affected.

Despite the sheer number of zombies they are very rarely ever seen in isolation, they are a faceless mob for the most part, they may be runners but they are most certainly dead, often described as crawling with maggots. It was quite refreshing how convincing the group are in regards to the zombies. Usually even the average guy has racked up quite a number of kills in the course of a zombie tale, here there are only actually 3 kills, one of these occurs between paragraphs, while one of the others may actually have been an accidental murder. A lot more realistic it has to be said.

If I had one complaint about the story it would be that I was kinda disappointed by the ending, obviously I wont spoil it here but was a shame it ended like it did, I saw the story heading to one of two points, it went to neither opting for a traditional plot device instead. Can't fault the writing though, this was easy to read, but exciting and interesting getting a teens perspective on things. Road trip stories are rarely bad.

The Trip is a good zombie novel, well written, interesting and you feel for the characters despite their short comings. Recommended reading if your after something that isn't the usual guns and grimness!


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Zombie Death Zone (2011) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

I booted this up expecting yet another terrible X-Box Indie zombie game. First I was attracted by the cool animated comic book style opening sequence, soon I was wooping with glee. There is still life in the twin stick zombie shooters!

The story is simple; there has been a zombie infestation so an army of clones have been dispatched to deal with the threat. Only problem is that each clone can only live for 60 seconds, their life can be extended by collecting energy cells that some of the zombies carry but other than that there life is short and sweet.

Wow! This game is so much fun, I expected to do a quick play of the demo and then write a harsh review but this was fantastic. 28 goes in a row later and I have finally tore myself away from it. It is such a simple concept; survive for 60 seconds. There are no alternative play modes, no lives, just fun, tense action.

From the off you are swarmed by literally thousands of zombies. You can't afford to hold back, you have to wade into them to collect the precious energy cells, one touch and your game is over. Each 60 seconds you have access to a bunch of limited use weapons. First is the twin uzi's, next is the very helpful flamethrower, then a mini gun, finally a nuke which clears the screen. Dotted around the overhead level are barrels that explode if shot, as well as nuke symbols. Collect three nuke symbols and say bye to the zombies.

Zombie Death Zone succeeds as it is a very fun score attack game, the limited time means you have no choice but to go crazy on the ghouls. Minor irritation is that the edges of the arena are not clearly defined, everything outside the arena is just slightly darker, can be annoying to die due to not realising you had reached the outer edges.

At 80 Microsoft points I snapped this up right away. I feel weird for saying this but this is one X-Box Indie game that doesn't suck! Would have loved a two player mode for this but you can't have everything. Give it a go and prepare to become addicted.


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Zombie Poker Defense (2011) - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

I was all too ready to hate this game, it is a X-Box indie game after all. It combines zombies with two bad things; poker and tower defence. I just do not get poker and tower defence games are usually quite boring.

Each round starts with you being dealt a hand of poker by an apparently naked badly digitised woman. Next it goes to tower defence. A winning hand gets you a good tower that shoots bullets out faster and further, while if you loose you get a slow firing limited range tower. You place these on a grass area and then the zombies arrive to parade round. Rinse and repeat.

The zombies themselves are quite cool 2D sprites, I would have liked a game where these were put to better use. They have some variation and crumple to the ground in pieces when killed. Larger ones also appeared, though these were giant lizards and not zombies for some reason.  The rest of the game looks bland though, the towers you deploy are just squares and the poker aspect and the tower defence parts do not gel well. No music, basic sound effects, some terrible speech all mesh together to give a certainly unique proposition but not one that managed to hold my attention for more than a few minutes.


Monday, 15 April 2013

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010) - Horror Action Videogame Review (X-Box Live Arcade)

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a spin off of the Tomb Raider series. It plays out like a 3D isometric action game but also features plenty of puzzles. The game is designed with co-op in mind, I was lucky enough to get to play through this as it was meant to be played (for a pleasant change!)

Lara has journeyed to a remote temple on a quest to find the legendary 'mirror of smoke'. She finds it but is ambushed by some local thugs who unwittingly unleash an evil spirit from the mirror; Xolotl the Keeper of Darkness. This mistake also brings to life an ancient warrior; Totec the Guardian of Light. Lara teams up with Totec to pursue Xolotl through the ancient ruins as if he is not defeated before dawn he will unleash hell onto the world.

I had a lot of fun with this game, mostly due to the fact that I got to play it in co-op. For nearly a decade now I have been missing out on co-op games due to not knowing anyone interested in playing them but that has changed now. One character plays as Lara, the other as Totec. Both characters have different abilities. Lara has a grappling hook that can be used to climb up ledges, or for Totec to use as a tightrope while Totec is able to fling spears into walls that Lara can use to climb, and he also has a shield that can block projectiles and be held above the head to allow Lara to use it as a platform.

Don't come into this expecting pure action, being associated with Lara Croft it is no surprise that there are many environmental puzzles to solve. Some of the levels are built around this, such as ones where you have to locate boulders to activate a gate, while there are plenty of spike traps, locked gates, timed based switches and flame obstacles to avoid and puzzle your way through. Co-op really comes into the fore here, bouncing ideas off of each other to solve the many puzzles gives a real sense of satisfaction. It helps that most the puzzles are contained to set areas of the levels so you never really feel like you don't have all the necessary tools to do the job.

There are plenty of enemies in the game to defeat with the many weapons you find. You get everything from flame throwers to machine guns, rocket launchers and shotguns. These all have limited ammo but the default weapons of spears for Totec, and Laras iconic twin pistols are infinite and they also have access to bombs.  For the most part you battle demons of various elemental types as well as monstrous animals like crocodile creatures and wolf things. Spiders appear in abundance, their arrival on the scene was quite panic inducing as they literally poured out of a newly opened doorway engulfing my co-op partner (quite amusing). There are a few boss encounters throughout, none of which are that exciting or hard to defeat. Nice nod to the Tomb Raider games with a T-Rex being one of the bosses. Has to be said the story is very bare bones, has some nice comic book style cutscenes but it is just an excuse for the game world to exist.

There is a lot of variety to the levels, more than I expected to be honest, you have tombs obviously, but also various other locations including lava caves, lush outdoor areas, and my favourite one; a giant swamp, these all look pretty decent. Included in these are many hidden items that increase your ammo and health as well as relics which give you bonus to defence, your bombs, strength etc. Challenges often pop up (such as finding hidden spider stones or killing a certain enemy type) that also reward you with upgrades. My favourite and most frantic parts of the game are urgent chase sequences where the level is collapsing under your feet and you have to quickly charge headlong with fireballs, spiked balls and other dangers falling all around, very funny to get through in co-op.

At around five and a half hours it is a decent length, each level on average half an hour long. There is never much danger of dying as check points are frequent and as long as your partner is still alive you can rejoin the game after a brief wait should you perish. This was far more enjoyable than I ever expected, for single players I would knock a zombie head off the score though.


Oblivion (2013) - Sci-fi Film Review

I don't know what they were thinking with this big screen adaption of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion videogame, it's not even a fantasy film, it's sci-fi!...just my little joke there. Oblivion is of course the new Tom Cruise film, he may have some insane beliefs in his personal life but in films I still think he is a damn fine actor.

Cruise plays 'Jack' a drone service repair man who is stationed on post apocalyptic Earth with his co-worker Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). 60 years previous an alien force appeared and destroyed Earth's moon which devastated much of the world with earthquakes and tsunamis. The aliens (known as Scavs) then invaded Earth but were defeated via the use of nuclear weapons. Victorious but at the cost of their planet humanity relocated to Titan; a moon of Saturn. Gigantic machines were created to suck all the water off of Earth to convert it to energy and drinking water for the population on Titan, these are protected by drones programmed to kill any Scavs left alive on the planet. During a routine repair trip Jack encounters a series of events that lead him to question just what is really going on.

First off if you want to see this film and have not yet seen the trailer then don't! The film has many plot twists, one of which is given away in the trailer, not the biggest one but still I would have preferred to find it out myself. Everything is so big in this film, it really is beautiful the massive outdoors environments of the destroyed world. Most the human structures have been completely swallowed up by the earth, the Empire State building for instance has just the very top portion sticking out of the ground. One stunning scene had Jack riding a motorbike across what used to be a sea, the ghostly remains of boats and submarines half buried in the sand. This looks like a dead planet, apart from a mangy looking dog and one fish I don't remember seeing a single living animal in the whole film. Oblivion takes place in what would have been America, this is explained by the fact that it is a small pocket of un-radiated land in the whole planet, surrounded on all sides by danger zones which would cook Jack alive.

The plot twists are many and while I guessed some of them others were more off the wall. For the whole two hours running time I was totally engrossed, it is a well told tale it is just a shame that it is so unoriginal. The plot and story beats are kinda similar to Independence Day, War of the Worlds, and even Moon. It was hard to escape the fact that however well told the story was it was one that had traces of deja-vu to it, certain parts were almost identical. It has a few short, intense fight sequences, and a pretty decent chase sequence, the last battle in the film was kinda plain though.

The cast is bare bones but the key characters play their parts well. Olga Kurylenko as Julia; a mysterious woman Cruise rescues who he has had constant dreams of is likable, while Morgan Freeman is great as leader of the humans 'Beech' despite not getting much screen time. I have to say though that the character of Sykes (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of Game of Thrones and Mama) is very plain and boring, designed as a stereotypical good guy he does the role it says on the tin I guess. The flying drones look fantastic, they have a real deep mechanical growl to them which reminded me very heavily of Half Life 2's combine soldiers death screams!

Oblivion looks and sounds fantastic with some solid performances and fun plot twists but I just can't get over the fact that it really does not do anything new. By all means see it, it is a good film just don't expect a revolution.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 3 (2013) - Zombie Horror TV Series Review

Despite the generic first episode season 1 of The Walking Dead was excellent, season 2 was criticised for being a bit boring in the middle (I don't agree with that statement myself) but again was fantastic, and now season 3. Somehow the show just keeps on getting better! Can't help but be minor spoilers about previous seasons and this season so proceed with caution.

Ex-Sheriff Rick and his band of survivors discover a prison and decide this would be the perfect place to hold up against the continuing zombie apocalypse, Meanwhile Andrea who the group believed dead has spent the long winter with cold as ice sword wielding expert Michone. They discover a Town that appears to be thriving; Woodbury. The leader of the town is a man known as The Governor. On the surface this seems like a slice of heaven in the grim new world but the town may hold a dark sinister side to it. When Ricks group and The Governor's people become aware of each other will it lead to partnership or open warfare?

Season 3 constantly upped the ante in terms of exciting plot developments and just fantastic episodes. Previously zombies were by far the main threat for the 'heroes' but here they take a back seat, at best a mild distraction while at worst used as weapons between the battling camps of the prison and Woodbury. Humans are far more of a threat here than ever before. Zombies after all are brain dead creatures who operate on instinct. The Governor and his cronies are twisted, his ideology being that to defeat the monsters you have to become a monster. One conversation that stuck in my mind had one of his men saying to him (to paraphrase) "If your daughter was alive do you think she like what you have become?" to which he replies "no, I think she would be scared of me, but maybe if I had been like this from the start she would still be here now". David Morrissey is stunning as the Governor, he gives a really powerful performance, he has real screen presence. Despite pretty much being evil the Walking Dead does what it seems to excel in doing; giving 'bad' characters sympathetic sides so that they are not just pantomime one dimensional beings.

This time around there are 16 episodes with barely a bad episode to be seen. The most interesting episode by far was one which could have taken place at any time in the shows time line (Clear). The episode was a completely self contained story totally removed from anything going on in the over arching plot. The show needs more of these, not only was it a beautiful, tragic tale but it's singular purpose told a concise story that the other episodes lacked. The main plot for this season can't help but take centre stage, there are so many surprises and moments were I was shouting with glee at the fantastic set pieces I was seeing. 'Arrow on the Doorstep' was my favourite episode, when Rick and the Governor finally meet, the two sides shown to be pretty much identical, each member with their own counter-part on the opposing side, it gave humanity to the 'bad' guys.

The zombies are dealt with as brutally as ever, there are some really violent scenes, the zombies as ever look fantastic even if they do take more of a back seat here. The acting is of quite a high standard, due to the size of Woodbury there were bound to be some weaker actors, many don't even get speaking roles but still managed to irritate me just by the way they looked. Plenty of weaker characters who are quite annoying though (Andrea in particular).

So season 3 of The Walking Dead is an all over success, again major characters are killed off showing that no one is safe from death regardless of how ingrained they are into the show. Plot holes crop up now and again, one in particular had a character attempting to pick an object off the floor using their feet for what must have passed for two to three hours in the shows world, ridiculous! I am interested to see where the show goes from here, it has already deviated quite a lot from the comic books (which is a good thing!) and I have now reached a point in the show where in the comics I had stopped reading so it will all be new from now.

A great season of a great show, cannot wait until season 4 starts later this year (I believe). Any zombie fan must watch this!


Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (2004) - Sci-fi Film Review

Dark Fury bridges the gap between Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, it was made by Peter Chung (who directed the Animatrix; a film I refuse to watch for reasons unknown to me). It is an animated film, but one that uses quite a lot of computer generated effects as well.

Dark Fury takes place extremely soon after the end of Pitch Black. The ship Riddick, the preacher guy and Riddick wannabe teen girl Jack are in is captured by a giant mercenary spaceship. The ships captain Antonia Chillingsworth recognises Riddick and wants to have him as part of her 'art collection'. She collects criminals and has them in a state of suspended animation as exhibits, each second for the prisoner lasts an hour, a fate worse than death. Riddick is to be the centre piece of her exhibit but first she wants him to prove his strength in a battle with alien monstrosities in a fighting pit.

At 33 minutes long this is a very short film indeed! Luckily I did not pay full price for this, I would have been a bit miffed if I had done. The animation is very good, is stylish and detailed. As a lot of modern animations do this melds computer animation with traditional animation, it does jar quite a lot, they don't gel well at all but does give it some charm.

I found the notion of a huge ship containing thousands upon thousands of mercenaries in cryo sleep to be interesting, the whole art collection aspect was also real interesting. Apparently it sets up the character of Toombs  for The Chronicles of Riddick. His inclusion here was confusing as I thought him dead only for him to turn up fine. The battles with the aliens are really trippy to watch. One battle takes place in pitch black with 2 swirling creatures that had rainbow coloured tentacles, while later on some fleshy being made out of what seems to be brain gave a creepy vibe. Riddick is just as bland as in the games and film previously but seems to have more compassion for his fellow survivors, such as giving himself up when Jacks life is threatened.

As a stop gap the film is not great, as a stand alone story it is interesting and could not have been replicated in live action without tremendous cost, fun to be had here, just subtracted a bit by bland characters. How a series was made out of Riddick I do not know!


Monday, 8 April 2013

Pitch Black (2000) - Sci-fi Horror Film

I have made it my mission with the release of the new Riddick film later this year to watch all the Chronicle of Riddick films.  Starting with the games Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena (that are set before Pitch Black) I sallied forth onto this one, the next in the series.

Pitch Black again stars Riddick (Vin Diesel) who is once again a prisoner of bounty hunter Johns (Cole Hauser). A transport ship carrying them and other passengers is damaged and forced to crash land on a harsh desert planet. With most of the occupants dead the survivors team up to find water and a way off the planet. Salvation is found in the form of an old ship that just needs power cells to be space worthy. Not trusting Riddick (who has been freed in exchange for his muscles) Johns forbids the ship from being flight worthy until the last possible moment. Unfortunately this is a bad idea as a sudden eclipse of all 3 suns of the planet bring about monstrous beings from underground. In the pitch black the survivors must work together to transport the needed power cells from the crash site to the ship. The monsters are perfectly adapted to hunt in the dark, only afraid of light of which the supply is dwindling.

I have said before but the character of Riddick is not at all likable. A tough guy who can move like a shadow and see in the dark he is blunt, humourless and just appears like the most miserable person who ever existed. Hard to root for an idiot. Hauser does a good turn as Johns who at first seems like he will be the films hero but increasingly things come to light that show him far from angelic.  The other characters are a collection of bland supporting actors (a comedy character, preacher man, random identical looking children and a Riddick clone). Ships captain Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell from Silent Hill) does a good turn as a strong female lead.

The monsters/aliens/insects whatever you want to call them are ok looking, sadly a lot of bad CGI is used, the monsters are never particularly frightening, never felt any peril for the characters, especially near the end when the film kinda forgets that the light is the only thing stopping the humans from being ripped apart.  Pitch Black does a good job in the build up, the crash at the start is quite well done, and the early exploration and piecing together of what has happened to the abandoned colony is well handled with some great saturated light effects giving an other worldly feel to the place.

As a whole Pitch Black just feels grim and joyless, there is no one to root for, there is no resolution at the end, it needed characters you care about, otherwise who cares if they live or die? It is well shot, well directed with some great looking scenes and a dirty sci-fi feel to things. It just kinda peters out in the second half becoming strangely uneventful and unavoidably bland looking.


Beautiful People - Horror Film News

Beautiful People is a new horror film due for release in 2014 by Italian based picture company Doghouse Productions. It is currently in pre-production and features a screenplay by Andrea Cavaletto (Hidden in the Woods) and SFX by David Bracci (Eaters-Zombie Massacre).

The synopsis is actually different to what occurs in the teaser trailer so I have pieced together my own interpretation. A scientist and his family live in a mansion out in the woods. Their peaceful existence is shattered when the house comes under attack from 3 masked intruders. Now I think that unknown to the scientists family he has a secret lab under the house where tests on zombies take place and that in the intrusion these monsters are accidentally released.

Sounds kind of interesting, the trailer certainly was cool I thought. Anyway I shall put the trailer below for you to make up your own mind on Beautiful People (impossible to read that without thinking of the Marilyn Manson song!).

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Zombie Run (2013) - Short Zombie Film Review

Zombie Run is a short 7 minute film made for a charity event for Barnsley Hospital Charity that takes place in October later this year. Is actually five minutes in length with a few minutes of credits, but the credits are stylishly done.

Two joggers out on a run in the country stumble across a blood soaked man eating a dog, spotting them he starts screaming which heralds the arrival of a whole swarm of charging undead ghouls. Pursued across the country paths can the lone survivor make it to safety?

Shot in 8 hours the quality of this film is damn good. The zombies are of the running type but look very well made up, especially the dog eating one. Usually with cheap zombie films you get at least one enthusiastic zombie actor grinning with excitement (if I am ever in a zombie film that would be me!) but not here, the zombies all look very angry and messed up. Also features cool music that brought echos of 28 Weeks/Days Later memorable tune. The film as a whole reminded me heavily of 28 Weeks Later's iconic opening, the being chased by zombies segment actually more scary it could be said, just imagining what it would be like to be that survivor hunted down by mindless monsters is pretty chilling!

Any improvements? Well for me personally there is a scene when the camera shows a close up of a dead dog, I would have had the dog twitching! Not really feasible though on a small tight scheduled film. The ending felt a bit off as well truth be told, unrealistic I felt.

I loved this film, so much that I immediately re-watched it again right afterwards. If you want to check it out then head here: Zombie Run.


Berkshire County - Horror Film News

This month principal photography is due to start for horror film Berkshire County in Toronto. The film is to be directed by Audrey Cummings and will be her debut film. It is going to be edited by Michael Mason (Cabin Fever: Patient Zero/A Little Bit of Zombie). Pre-production has already started.

The plot seems to be quite traditional in the vein of The Strangers and Them, basically a girl agrees to babysit at a remote country house on Halloween. Things take a turn to the horrific with the arrival of a boy wearing a pig mask asking for candy and soon the girl is facing a very hostile house invasion from three psychopaths.

Now that is all the information I have on this film at the moment, I will keep you posted. I often say this but it does sound interesting, time will tell if it can be effectively scary and if the acting is of a decent stage.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (2009) - Zombie Horror Book Review

I have just finished reading this book for the second time. I made the unfortunate error the first time around by reading the traditional Pride and Prejudice and the one with added zombies back to back which led to me becoming quite bored of the new updated version.

The book follows Elizabeth Bennet; the 2nd oldest of 5 sisters who live a mostly quiet life (apart from the odd zombie) in the English village of Meryton when the appearance of a prideful dashing man Mr Darcy turns her life upside down. What follows is a series of events that shape her life and her sisters lives forever...and much slaying of ninjas, zombies and the odd bout of deer chasing.

Even without zombies the book is a classic, this is a horror blog though so I wont dwell on that. The additions are smoothly placed into the story with subtle tweaks to events to include our undead friends. They are also very unsubtly crammed in at times but usually for comedic effects. The book is very funny it must be said with some genius moments.

I started off the trilogy by reading Dawn of the Deadfuls, I was quite prideful at the time, prejudiced against this book by declaring that one better, but no! no this is not true. For one thing there is a complete lack of effort made to reconcile the events of that book with this one, such as the fact that it is clear here that the zombies have been around all the Bennet girls lives yet Dawn stated that they only become trained to fight 4 years previous, a lot of niggly little irritations made me realise that it is a good book but this, the one that started it all is far superior.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes what is essential Austen's original tale and tweaks and changes, it is still essentially her story and not a new one, but that's what makes it work, especially if you are familiar with the classic. Her friend Charlotte slowly turning into a zombie after her marriage to Mr Collins, her irritating mother constantly vomiting when upset, Lady Catherine getting into a fight to the death with Elizabeth and setting an army of ninjas on her all funny changes. The polite society regularly discuss about severely beating people, about their training in Japan and China and, of course talk about the zombies they name 'unmentionables' who are a nuisance rather than anything to be scared by even by the most mild of people.

What is already a great book is made into something different, often funny the alterations and additions of zombie slaying are perfect. Being quite old some of the book can get bogged down in stodgy, stuffy writing, meanwhile I don't really like the whole Japanese ninjas being added in, just more zombies would have done. You should read this if you have any interest at all in the old classics, a fantastic idea to do this!


Monday, 1 April 2013

Zombie Dream - 31/03/2013

I have made it my mission to always chronicle any zombie dream I happen to have. Nowadays they are few and far between. I was lucky enough to have one last night so here it is in all its half remembered glory...

It was the start of zombie apocalypse, there were many humans running around in panic. I was on a big open field near some woods, I ran as fast as I could, random stumbling corpses grabbed in my general direction as I sprinted past. I got to the woodlands where there was a big muddy hill, very steep. I did my best to run up it but was moving so slowly that I was afraid I was going to get grabbed.

I got to a weird sky bridge that I had to crouch down to enter, the floor was made of panels of reinforced glass, the whole structure was very old and in a state of disrepair, I had to move slowly to avoid breaking the  weak glass floor. Many other survivors were also making their way through the structure, we were all heading in the same direction.

I must have got bitten because I was now a zombie, but I was just an actor pretending to be a zombie. I bit into someone's leg, then realised I should only be pretending to bite them as it was all make believe. After this I crawled on a bit and the shot ended, I was disappointed in my performance.

That's is all I remember, I guess the acting part of the dream come from the face I am thinking about The Walking Dead lots at the moment. Not the best zombie dream I have had, but still welcome.