Weekly Video: "Ghoul's Night Out" - The Misfits

In the midst of a few computer issues, hence the lack of updates lately. Should be resolved soon.


Film Review: King of the Zombies (1941)

Directed by Jean Yarbrough, written by Edmond Kelso, and starring Dick Purcell, Joan Woodbury, Henry Victor, John Archer, Patricia Stacey, Marguerite Whitten, and Guy Usher.

"During World War 2, a small plane off the south coast of America is low on fuel and blown off course by a storm. Guided by a faint radio signal, they crashland on an island. The passenger, his manservant and the pilot take refuge in a mansion owned by a doctor. The easily-spooked manservant soon becomes convinced the mansion is haunted by zombies and ghosts. Exploring, the 3 find a voodoo ritual in the cellar, where the doctor is trying to acquire war intelligence by transferring personalities into his zombies. But the interruption causes the zombies to turn on their creator."

I truly adore classic cinema like King of the Zombies. I simply can't get enough, especially between the 1930's and 1950's. Add into the mix a handful of voodoo zombies, and I have very few complaints. As a matter of fact, I'm one of the few people that still seem to be intrigued by voodoo zombies, which are few and far in between, just as much as the living dead or the infected. Enough about all of that though. King of the Zombies, unlike White Zombie nine years prior, is the first official zombie horror/comedy, and even after all of these years it's still one of the best. I'd just like to note that the movie The Ghost Breakers, which released one year prior, was a comedy, but only featured one 'zombie', and didn't really have much to do with the main plot. In what would be an otherwise standard and mediocre horror movie, the hilarious performance of Mantan Moreland as Jeff, the wisecracking, suspicious servant accompanying the two men to the Bahamas, was masterful to say the least. It's funny that even back in the forties black people were the voice of reason in horror movies. White people never listen, and that's why they always die.
The movie begins with a plane crash that had me already laughing. I understand the budget was small, so it wasn't the poor production value that I got a kick out of. They're on their way to the Bahamas and they didn't have enough gas to make it through the storm? Then the pilot sees 'an opening' that could best be described as a group of trees, and proceeded to land on top of them. I can tell you one thing: I would never fly with such an incompetent pilot over an ocean. Following the crash is one of the most comedic scenes in the movie when Jeff thinks himself dead, and Mac and Bill convince him otherwise. Even after this, there are a handful of classic lines by Moreland that I won't spoil for you. Moreland truly is the redeeming gem in this great horror/comedy, and I fully intend on checking out his other work. King of the Zombies has a pretty standard story, with a villain using voodoo magic to create zombie slaves on his island, but what's really worth mentioning is the hidden enemy that's never named: the Nazis. Behind the scenes, Dr. Miklos Sangre, the film's villain, is attempting to interrogate the recently crash-landed Admiral Arthur Wainwright in hopes of discovering military intelligence that he can radio to an unknown recipient. "Produced and released prior to Pearl Harbor, the film oddly dances around blatant references to Nazi Germany. While the villain is decidedly Germanic, radio traffic is spoken in German and there's spoken references to spying, neither Germany or Nazis are ever overtly mentioned. The plot, described in the presskit describes the evil Dr. Sangre as 'a secret agent for a European government.' The powers at Monogram were probably acutely mindful of the problems independent producer Ben Judell encountered when trying to exhibit Hitler - Beast of Berlin (1939) two years earlier. That film was unable to pass local pro-Germany censorship boards and Judell went broke."

Just as in White Zombie, the well-crafted atmosphere adds immensely to the overall effect of the film, most especially in the scenes in the cellar/kitchen and the voodoo witch doctor's soul transmigration dance. The acting is superb, most notably by Mantan Moreland, Joan Woodbury, Marguerite Whitten, and Henry Victor. Whitten and Woodbury were two truly enchanting ladies. The comedy is just pure gold and worth seeing on those merits alone. Yet, the movie has a few faults in its own right, namely the short run time, which reaches just barely over an hour. I would have enjoyed watching additional thirty minutes, especially considering how quickly the movie seems to wrap up. The small budget, which sometimes works in its favor, could easily have justified a larger sum in its production. One also has to consider the era in which the film was made when viewing, as there are quite a few racial references, that despite adding more reason for Moreland's character to crack another joke, tend to hinder itself in a politically correct world these days. It's not overly prominent, but still quite noticeable. One interesting little reference I found amusing was the main zombie being named Lazarus. Also, as with seemingly all horror movies during this time, Bela Lugosi was considered for a role in the film, the role of Dr. Sangre, but became unavailable. This doesn't hinder the movie though, as Henry Victor is a perfectly capable actor. All things considered, King of the Zombies is an excellent movie, and a pleasant view into the past of a now booming sub-genre of zombie horror. Don't pass this one up. I have my own copy of the movie, but for those who don't, I've posted the now public domain film from YouTube just below.

Best quote: "If there's one thing that I wouldn't wanna be twice, zombies is both of 'em."

The Undead News Thread (20090823.01)

Resident Evil: Afterlife / Zombieland


According to Arrow in the Head, found here and here, two upcoming zombie movies just had their release dates changed. Resident Evil: Afterlife has been bumped up to a summer release of August 27th, 2010. So far, the only names officially attached to the project are Paul W.S. Anderson as writer and director, and Milla Jovovich, of course. Zombieland, originally scheduled for an October 6th release date, is now changed to October 2nd. I know, not a big difference, but still needs mentioning. Zombieland stars Woody Harelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Amber Heard, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray. If you haven't caught the trailer for the latter yet, check it out below. You can also find a handful of funny clips called 'Zombieland Rules' right here.

Source: Arrow in the Head

Weekly Video: "Re: Your Brains" - Jonathan Coulton


Online Game: The Last Stand

"Survive the night fighting off zombies from your make-shift barricade. Survive longer than a day by making use of the daylight hours effectively by: - Repairing your barricade - Searching for weapons - Looking for other survivors to help." I just realized I haven't posted any links to online zombie games in a while. So kill a few minutes, and ghouls of course, by seeing how long you last in your little makeshift fort in Armor Games' The Last Stand. Man, you go through all of that trouble to build a wall around you, and all you brought was a pathetic, little pistol? You almost deserve to be eaten alive. Anyway, check the game out by clicking on the picture above.

Film Review: Resident Evil - Degeneration (2008)

Directed by Makoto Kamiya, written by Shotaro Suga, and starring Alyson Court, Paul Mercier, Laura Bailey, Roger Craig Smith, Crispin Freeman, Michelle Ruff, and Michael Sorich.

"A zombie attack brings chaos to Harvardville Airport. Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield who fought the sinister Umbrella Corporation during the Raccoon City tragedy 7 years ago, are back. In high-octane Resident Evil style, they're ready to battle a rogue warrior who is seeking revenge after his family was killed in Raccoon City. The deadly G-Virus is unleashed and a new mutated monster goes on the rampage. Will Claire and Leon be able to terminate the virus before history repeats itself?"

Let me start off by saying that, though I'm a fan of computer-generated movies and all of the work that goes into them, I find it hard to connect to the main characters because of it. I tend to watch each one with a certain level of detachment. Now that that's off my chest, I've been a fan of the Capcom-created Resident Evil video games since the beginning. I still remember playing the first one over and over, and the first time I jumped out of my seat from the Doberman scene in the hallway. Then the second and third games came out, and I played them to death, too. After that, I never really played any of the others much, but I still respect the series considering there weren't too many great horror games at the time. Then Hollywood grabbed the rights, of course, and began making films based on the popular series (which I previously reviewed this week), and though they were decent movies in their own right, they left fans of the games wanting something a little more faithful to the source material. "This is the only Resident Evil movie created by its video game creator, Capcom. The live-action movies were created by Screen Gems and Sony Pictures."
Resident Evil: Degeneration picks up where Resident Evil 4 left off, and serves as a prelude to Resident Evil 5. As far as the visuals go, Capcom is back in full force, and I have to say, Degeneration is massive eye candy. In my mind, the only rivals here are Square-Enix and Blizzard Entertainment, which I still can't believe the latter has never made a full length movie as of yet. Another nice touch is the voice-acting. In fact, fans of the game series may even recognize a few voices in the film. "Claire Redfield, Leon Kennedy, and Ingrid Hunnigan are the only characters that come from the video game series, and voiced by the same actors." In fact, the most acute fans may recognize even more in the movie, such as symbols, images, and sound effects. For instance: "In the scene where Fredric Downing left his office with Claire inside, the sound effect of the door closing is exact same one used for doors closing in the earliest RE games." These are all welcome additions to the movie when considering the lack of resemblances to the game in the live-action movie trilogy. The action is well done, too, and it truly feels like a Capcom-created project in an almost classic Resident Evil glory.
Yet, despite these spectacular features, Degeneration is far from perfect. The film is plagued by mundane and inane dialog, and to be honest, the plot is pretty stale as well. Though, all things considered, the games were never groundbreaking in those departments anyway. So, it's not entirely fair to hold that much against the movie. But it does begin to wear on you roughly halfway in, and I found myself wanting to cringe at times. Still, you also have to consider the fact that the live-action movies weren't really any better either. Another downside to the whole affair is that, while it definitely fits in with the game series, it simply feels like an extended CGI-cutscene in one of its own games. It never really comes off as its own, stand alone entry into the series. It's been described as 'Resident Evil 4.5', and that's not far from the truth. After such a long wait, and sitting through three par movies more 'inspired' than 'based on', fans were somewhat disappointed with finally getting their wish granted in a likewise par, albeit more faithful, adaptation to an otherwise amazing series.

Overall, I'd recommend the flick to fans of the Resident Evil games and those who want a different, more faithful attempt at the story. As a horror/action film, it works. It's fast-paced, somewhat creepy, and absolutely gorgeous to look at. But is it what all of the fans have been waiting for? Not really. If the game series continues and keeps building strength, then we'll probably see another full length movie. Even if it turns out in much the same manner as Degeneration, I'll still check it out. But one can only hope for more in the end. The movie, for me, never achieved all of the glory of the core games, but it never once hindered my view of those games either.

Best quote: "I can't stand kids! They're a real pain in the ass!"


Film Review: The Dead Next Door (1989)

Written and directed by J.R. Bookwalter, and starring Pete Ferry, Bogdan Pecic, Michael Grossi, Jolie Jackunas, Robert Kokai, Floyd Ewing Jr., Roger Graham, and Maria Markovic.

"The government sets up a Zombie squad after an epidemic has made the world run rampant with living corpses. Raimi, Mercer, Kuller, and others head off to Ohio to try and find a cure to the epidemic but soon run into a crazy cult of zombie lovers who are set on preserving the zombies and letting a new world be born because they believe that it's God's will. When Mercer gets infected with the zombie virus, Raimi and the others must work quickly to find a cure and avoid the cult."

So, let's say you're driving along, trying to escape a bunch of people that want to kill you. You decide to go off road, but there are some trees blocking your path. What do you do? Throw a grenade out the window and blow up the trees, of course. But wait...shit, you forgot your friend back at the house. Screw it. You'll come back later for him, right? What about if you saw a lone zombie walking along at the top of a hill? What would you do? That's right. Throw a grenade at him, so that you can draw scores of other zombies right to your location, presumably for more grenade-tossing practice. How about if a zombie is trying to bite your partner? See a pattern? Yes, you put the grenade in the zombie's mouth, pull the pin, and throw him out the window. Add all of that up, and it sounds like an amazing movie that I'd completely dig. Yet, it wasn't, and I didn't. What happened?

"The film was shot on Super-8, which is typically amateur grade film only used for home movies. Everyone involved worked on the film for free." Taking that into account, and the fact that it was filmed over the course of four years on roughly $75,000, I truly do appreciate many parts of the film. But unfortunately, the faults, in my opinion, outweigh what the director got right. Let me step back for a few though, and point out a couple of things. For instance, there's more than one nod to Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead, and with good reason: "Sam Raimi produced the film under the pseudonym 'The Master Cylinder' using a portion of his payment from Evil Dead 2. Bruce Campbell dubbed the voices of two characters that were Raimi and Carpenter. The movie was produced over nearly four years, in Akron, Ohio, for next to nothing." It's quite obvious, especially with the aid of Sam Raimi and the assistance of Bruce Campbell, that Bookwalter is a fan of horror. "Many of the characters are named after people who have made their marks in the horror and zombie movie fields, such as Savini, Carpenter, Romero, Raimi, and King."
This movie does a lot of things right. For starters, the gore is absolutely amazing considering its minuscule budget. In fact, it puts quite a few other zombie films, with two or three times its budget, to shame. There's more than a few scenes that I sat in awe by how violent and well-shot they were. I especially enjoyed scenes from the last third of the movie with Mercer tied up in the cult assembly. It was quite macabre, you could say, compared to the rest of the flick. Without giving anything away, these scenes also lead to an interesting twist. But I also felt that, while a great idea at heart, it never fully comes to fruition, leaving me a little disappointed. Another aspect to the film that really stood out was the music, surprisingly. I rarely ever enjoy the score to B-movies, though there are always exceptions. But in this case, music written by the director himself, the score definitely caught my attention on more than one occasion.
Where the movie falls flat for me though was the almost parody-like method in which it was filmed and acted. Now, as with all B-movies, there is always a certain amount of cheese to accompany the horror. Obviously I noticed the scene at the beginning with the zombies trying to rent other zombie movies, like Dawn of the Dead. So, I'm always willing to enjoy and/or overlook scenes such as these. But it felt different at times, in this movie, because more often than not I found myself wondering if they intended for these people, their actions, or even the plot and script to be this absolutely stupid. I sometimes found myself laughing at parts that I don't think I was meant to. Yet, even all of this could easily be forgiven, if the movie just wasn't so damned boring. Even at an hour and twenty minutes, the movie crept on at a snail's pace. The action even bored me. Of course, some of this could be blamed on the poor video quality as well. So, all in all, a sub-average film that never breaks new ground, never falls below the line that Uwe Boll's House of the Dead did, and stands as quite an accomplishment for the most expensive Super-8 movie ever made. For more information, head on over to the movie's official Myspace.

Best quote: "Welcome to Sunday school."


The Undead News Thread (20090818.02)

RiffTrax LIVE: Plan 9 from Outer Space

Well, this is what happens when you don't keep up on your email. I get updates from Kerasotes Theaters, due to their being two different theaters under their name in my city, but rarely ever read them considering I keep up with upcoming movies well enough. Unfortunately, this is what I missed until last night: "Join the stars of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 for the comedy event of the year! Fathom Events presents RiffTrax LIVE: Plan 9 from Outer Space, an evening of LIVE riffing on the Worst Movie Ever Made beaming into movie theaters nationwide on Thursday, August 20th at 8PM ET/ 7PM CT/ 6PM MT/ Tape Delayed at 8PM PT. Join Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) and Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot), now of RiffTrax.com, as they are reunited in HD for the first time ever on the big screen! The ultimate riffers will fling all new commentary on a COLOR version of 'Plan 9 from Outer Space'- a 1959 science fiction/horror film written, produced and directed by Edward D. Wood Jr. Audiences will also be treated to a brand new, never before seen movie short during the Live event!" To see if this awesome event is happening near you, go here to view all of the city listings. If I checked my email on a more frequent basis, I could have planned ahead, but it doesn't look like I'll be making it there. Shame. If you aren't familiar with this classic B-movie (which would be absolutely mad), check out the trailer.

Written and directed by Edward D. Wood Jr., Plan 9 from Outer Space goes a little something like this: "'Can your heart stand the shocking facts about Graverobbers from Outer Space?' That's the question on the lips of the narrator of this tale about flying saucers, zombies and cardboard tombstones. A pair of aliens, angered by the 'stupid minds' of planet Earth, set up shop in a California cemetery. Their plan: to animate an army of the dead to march on the capitals of the world. (The fact that they have only managed to resurrect three zombies to date has not discouraged them.) An intrepid airline pilot living near the cemetery must rescue his wife from this low-budget terror. 'Can you prove it *didn't* happen?'"

Source: Kerasotes

The Undead News Thread (20090818.01)

The Eaters / Eat Me!

According to the official blog for the zombie movie The Eaters: "What do Madonna, New York City, Prince, Pepsi-cola, and OUR FILM all have in common? They've changed their names and become GREAT!!! THE EATERS is now known to the world as EAT ME!" The new post goes on to say: "We're gearing up for heavy festival submissions and wanted to begin with a title that would reach out and grab our viewers, be they festival screeners, potential distributors, or Johnny Youtubepeeper." You can read the rest over at the official blog. So, from here on out, the formerly known as The Eaters will be called Eat Me!, and I'm definitely digging it. Not to say that the original title was bad though. Directed by Katie Carman and written by Elizabeth Lee, this independent horror film started playing on June 26th in New York at the Anthology Film Archives. I'm looking forward to catching this one on release. Head on over to the movie's official site, Cold Hands Productions, for more information regarding the film.

"A Brooklyn band, General Malacarne, is practicing when once again, the power goes out. Little do they know that this blackout is unlike any other, and that while they relax and smoke up in the basement, everyone above ground is being transformed into vicious, undead eating machines. Will the band make it out of Brooklyn? Will they too become flesh eating monsters? Will their stash go dry? THE EATERS is the only horror comedy brave enough to find out."

Source: THE EATERS film blog

Film Review: Die You Zombie Bastards! (2005)

Directed by Caleb Emerson, written by Haig Demarjian and Caleb Emerson, and starring Tim Gerstmar, Geoff Mosher, Pippi Zornoza, Jamie Gillis, Hasil Adkins, Joseph James, and Sandra Kennedy.

"Red Toole (Tim Gerstmar), a serial killer with a heart of gold and a cape made of human flesh, is on a mission to save his wife, Violet (Pippi Zornoza), and the world's population from wicked Baron Nefarious (Geoff Mosher). While Nefarious hatches an evil plot to turn everyone into zombies, Toole is hot on his trail, killing anything that gets in his way. Monsters and naked zombie girls add to the ambiance of this undead superhero free-for-all."

Wow. Where do I begin? I was surfing through the 'Watch Instantly' zombie section on Netflix this evening, and decided to pick whatever movie had the best title. Based on that only rule, here we are, and I'm glad I picked this one. Make no mistake, this movie is demented. Demented, but hilarious all the same. The film seems very Troma inspired, and with good reason. Writer and director Caleb Emerson has worked on many Troma Entertainment projects, such as Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. While working on Citizen Toxie, Emerson met many of the crew members that would eventually assist him in this production. Beyond the original Toxic Avenger and Poultrygeist, I'm not too familiar with Troma works, but compared to those two, I can definitely say that I feel Die You Zombie Bastards! comes out on top (with Toxic Avenger at a near second). Most of the actors and actresses are first-timers (including One Man Band Rockabilly Legend Hasil Adkins), with the exception of a few porn stars. But since the whole plan from the start was to have everyone overact in almost every scene, it really doesn't matter in the end.
The whole film is very random (and rabid), so it makes sense that the plot and story structure is as well. It starts off with Red, the serial killer who chops off the heads of hippies and wants to be a superhero, spending time with his wife, Violet. At a picnic, Baron Nefarious decides to kidnap her and make her his wife, while in the process of changing the world into zombie slaves. The zombies are really more of a side story, and resemble the almost forgotten voodoo zombies once featured in movies, which I found to be a nice throwback. So, Red sets off to find his lost love, but that's where the story pretty much halts, for a while. What truly makes the movie so crazy is all of the random places and odd people Red meets in his search, each one providing another clue to his next destination, while all seemingly to be practically useless. But it's still a hell of a screwed up, fun-filled ride. So, I won't spoil any of the twisted joy for you.

The film features original music by Paul Leary of the chaotic, genre-destroying band Butthole Surfers, and fits in absolutely well. There's really only one or two scenes in which I felt the music hindered it a little, but overall, it was well suited. For me, the best acting was done by the main star, Tim Gerstmar as Red, Geoff Mosher as Baron Nefarious, and Sandra Kennedy as Super Inga (who apparently is also a DJ, found here). As I said before though, it was all done with overacting in mind, so it's a bit hard too pick out the 'bad ones'. The props used in the movie didn't really do much for me in the way of humor. What stood out the most to me was the witty dialog, which was more adept than the usual B-movie fare. For instance, Red asks a Swedish woman, speaking in phony Swedish gibberish, if she speaks English, and she replies, "No, but I have subtitles." Even simple, little lines of dialog such as "Who...the fuck...are you?" had me laughing out loud because of the timing and the over-the-top manner in which it was presented. Also worth mentioning is the terrible sound editing, which, in actuality, is quite amazing. It's obvious that it was intentional, and I found myself chuckling numerous times just because of the mismatched edits.
Even outside of the movie, the film provides for ample entertainment. Case in point: "Editor Daniel Strange cut this film to fulfill his end of a bet made with director Caleb Emerson while the two were in film school together. Strange and Emerson hated each other (and claim to hate each other to this day). In an attempt to jinx each other they made an agreement that if Strange got funding for a feature film first that Caleb would have to do the special effects, and if Caleb got funding for his feature first that Strange would have to edit it gratis. The two never spoke throughout the process of editing this feature film; they communicated to each other only through notes, emails and messages relayed by assistant editor Paul Nadjmabadi." So, is Die You Zombie Bastards! worth it? Definitely. Sick? Yes. Perverted? Of course. Which is all the more reason to enjoy it. If you're interested, you can find the film's official site here. I'd also like to point out that my favorite scene (which is also the 'best quote' just below) is featured at the bottom of the review. Basically, the set-up is that two cops come to Red's house asking about three missing girls. He says he hasn't seen them, and then one cop sees a lot of blood on the floor. He asks what it's from, and he replies a "spider". Then he tells this completely random story to account for the massive amount of blood. It's not as funny with the extra scenes cutting away from his crazy face, and all of the screaming at the end, but it's still hilarious. The music is still the same, which added to the effect. But they left out his "Can you believe iiiit?" in between the lines, which was the best part, in my opinion.

Best quote: Officer Konash- "Sir, what's this?" Red- "Blood!" Officer Konash- "I know what it is. What's it from?" Red- "Spider!" Officer Konash- "Spider? Was it a big one?" Red- "Wicked! In fact, it is said that in the Tower of London, high in the bell tower, there lived a spider once, for over a hundred years. And in time, drinking from the oil lamps, it grew to the size of a man. Can you believe it? It is said that if left unchecked, there is no telling just how long a spider might live, or just how big a spider might grow..."


Film Review: Resident Evil - Extinction (2007)

Directed by Russell Mulcahy, written by Paul W.S. Anderson, and starring Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter, Ashanti Douglas, Iain Glen, Matthew Marsden, Chris Egan, Spencer Locke, Jason O'Mara, and Mike Epps.

"After the outbreak of the T-virus initiated in Raccoon City, the whole world is destroyed and crowded of flesh-eating zombies, and the humans keep moving fighting to survive. Alice travels alone in her motorcycle through the Nevada Desert, where she meets a convoy of survivors leaded by Claire Redfield with Carlos Olivera and helps them to fight against a bunch of zombie-crows. The group decides to travel to Las Vegas first to get fuel and supplies and then head to the decontaminated Alaska. Meanwhile, in an underground facility of the Umbrella Corporation, the evil Dr. Isaacs is researching an anti-virus to domesticate the zombies and cure people using clones of Alice. When Dr. Isaacs locates Alice through the satellite, he forges an order from the president and the troops chase Alice, while the group of survivors fight against a horde of zombies in Las Vegas."

The third feature in the series based off of the Capcom video games, Extinction, is now practically unassociated with the games entirely. For instance, there is yet another game character, Claire Redfield, thrown into the mix, but with absolutely nothing resembling the iconic heroine in actress Ali Larter's movie representation: "Claire Redfield's role in the movie is different than in the games. She leads a convoy of survivors across the dead desert, but in the games, she on a mission to find her lost brother Chris Redfield." We also see writer Paul Anderson taking the easy way out again, turning the script over to director Russell Mulcahy, known for directing the first two Highlander films. Just as with its predecessor, and less like the first movie in the series, this film is an action oriented popcorn flick. Not that the first one didn't have its moments though. But what we're left with here is a CGI-laden, non-stop free-for-all shoot-out and ass kicking film that is now so far from its source material that one wonders why it's called Resident Evil at all. There's no one residing anywhere in a barren wasteland on the run with a full convoy in tow.
Despite its lacking an intelligent plot (which is really nothing new) and its constant foray on our senses with clown car-like zombies in boxes, the third in the series does a few things right. The Resident Evil series has had two great scores already, and the third is no exception. This time the music is composed by none other than Charlie Clouser, better known for the music behind such films as the Saw series, Death Sentence, Natural Born Killers, Lost Highway, and Collateral, and for remixing songs by artists such as Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails, Deftones, Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, and Type O Negative, just to name a few. Also, the action, while sometimes overdone, is still quite incredible and entertaining. I miss the old Alice, who wasn't some kind of super soldier with telekinesis and extraordinary strength, but it does make for some adrenaline-fueled and fire-filled sky scenes. It's also nice to see some other returning characters for a change. Yet no explanation is given to what ever happened to Jill and Angela. Of course, the film also features a swarming mass of zombie crows, which can't go unmentioned, because who doesn't appreciate zombie crows?

There are some things that may work in the film's favor to a certain group of people and may leave others with an almost displeasure. Whether you consider it homage or just straight rip-off, Extinction features many scenes obviously inspired by well-known horror and post-apocalyptic genre staples, such as the likes of The Birds, Mad Max, Day of the Dead, and even the Fallout video games. But don't let those comparisons entice you, because the film doesn't truly achieve the level of greatness of any of its inspirations or comparisons. Where the film fails, though, is once again the stale and uninspired dialog and only passing acting. It's sad to see a decent actress like Ali Larter given such a boring and mundane role, and one can't help but feel her talents where wasted. The plot is lacking and unstructured, and haven't we all truly had enough of these damn clones popping up in movies these days? I, for one, know that I'm sick of the plot device so much so that I wish it was stricken from use in Hollywood for at least the next ten years. At least it's a small element to the overall film. But probably one of my least favorite things about the movie is the downright stupidity of the people in the convoy. What compels these people to all get out right away at every stop, long before the area is scouted and secure? Don't they ever learn, or do they just love dying?
Despite all of the factors weighing against it, what Extinction does right is enough for me to enjoy watching the film (on nothing resembling a regular basis). Most fans considered this one to be the same as or marginally better than Apocalypse, but critics remained constant on the series. As an anticipatory move, "the film was not screened for critics, most likely due to the overwhelmingly-negative reviews from critics for the first two films." If you made it through the first two films, then I see no reason as to why you wouldn't be able to enjoy Extinction with about the same measure of enjoyment. As with Apocalypse, it's nothing special or abysmal, just average. Also, as I've reported earlier, the fourth in the series, Afterlife, is already in casting mode with a script again penned by Paul Anderson, which will take place in Alaska and Tokyo. Unfortunately, it's also being thrown around that the film is going to be in 3-D, which I'm quite sick of seeing (and hearing about associated with other new horror movies).

Best quote: "Yeah, I know what you are. I knew your sister. She was a homicidal bitch."


Film Review: Resident Evil - Apocalypse (2004)

Directed by Alexander Witt, written by Paul W.S. Anderson, and starring Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Sandrine Holt, Iain Glen, Sophie Vavasseur, Jared Harris, and Mike Epps.

"Alice awakens from a terrible sleep to find her worst fears realized--the bloodthirsty Undead, which she and the now-annihilated squad of elite military fought to destroy, have been unleashed on the city that surrounds the secret facility of the Umbrella Corporation. Discovering she was an Umbrella experiment, Alice has been bio-genetically enhanced with new strengths, senses and dexterity--and she will need them. In the heart of the ravaged Raccoon City, a small group of uninfected people, including Jill Valentine, a recently demoted member of Umbrella Corp's elite Special Tactics and Rescue Services team, and S.T.A.R.S team leader Carlos Oliveira, fight for their lives against swarms of Undead and the deadlier and faster Lickers. Running out of luck and resources, the group is rescued by Alice, and they begin to wage an exhilarating battle to survive and escape before the Umbrella Corporation erases its experiment from the face of the earth. Their only hope lies somewhere within Raccoon City--Dr Charles Ashford, one of the leading scientists for the Umbrella Corporation, will help Alice and the others escape the city safely--if they find his daughter. Angie Ashford became separated from her father and now hides in fear. Alice, Jill and Carlos will have to fight their way through an army of Undead to save her. All the while, a secret weapon code-named Nemesis has been experimentally altered with greater modifications than Alice and has been programmed to track and destroy them. They will need all their strengths and skills to fight the battle of their lives against the mindless evil that has infected the city and the powerful forces that unleashed it on mankind."

The second in the video game-adapted series finds a few more elements from the games thrown into the mix, beginning with a plot resembling the third game, Resident Evil: Nemesis and incorporating its two main characters, Jill Valentine and Carlos Olivera. Despite its many similarities, fans (myself included) of the game series were displeased with its new, wooden game characters and constant changes to the original story. The game's main villain, Nemesis, is a far cry from the terror and over-dominance of its original incarnation, and one can't help but wonder what happened along the way. Gone is the creepiness and overall atmosphere that made the first film a decent horror movie. One might very well contribute this to writer Paul Anderson taking the back seat on its production, giving the director's seat to first time (and so far, only) Alexander Witt, known better for being the director of photography (usually second unit) on the likes of Twister, xXx, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Hannibal, Daredevil, and Gladiator. Then again, I could also be giving Anderson too much credit for his own deserving.
Since the horror is practically non-existent, the action is brought prominently to the forefront. This is where the movie achieves its small level of success. It's the definition of a popcorn flick through and through, and it that respect, provides a small measure of entertainment. But it never once achieves the level of enjoyment of its predecessor, unfortunately. The acting is still average, the plot is below, and the dialog, well, I truly feel that Paul Anderson never had a knack for writing dialog: "We're assets, Nicholai. Expendable assets... and we've just been expended." Sometimes if it just feels like he would be right at home writing the next House of the Dead sequel. It's so dry and boring at times, that if it wasn't for the almost constant action, I probably would have fallen right asleep. The characters are clich├ęd and almost parody-like to the point that I can't care whether they live or die, of which most do.

The movie isn't a complete loss though. The musical score is composed by none other than Jeff Danna, known for rewriting the music to the Silent Hill video games for its movie adaptation, the very strange movie Tideland, and writing with his brother, Michael, the addictive opening Irish theme to The Boondock Saints. Instead of the in-your-face method Marilyn Manson took with the original film, Danna approaches the project with a more subtle, in-the-background style that suits the idea of the movie, if not the movie itself. What I mean to say is that his talent was lost on this project from the start, which is a shame. Another nice touch, I found, was providing us with a physically representation of the first film's Red Queen, which character Angela Ashford's character was the main inspiration. Funny enough, this young girl was easily the most mature actor in the movie.
The film was a critical failure, and despite it doing well at the box office, fans of the game series and the first movie also consider this to be a weak film, to put it lightly. After having watched it again yesterday for the first time in quite a while, I fond myself looking at it in a less harshly view. While I'm still disheartened to see a horror movie without almost any horror at all, if you go in expecting an action flick with cheesy dialog and brain dead plot, you'll have a decent time. In my mind, it's the worst in the series, but far from a terrible zombie film. Trust me, there's worse out there. It's just average: not good, not bad. Keep in mind, Snoop Dogg was originally attached to the film to play L.J. So it definitely could have turned out worse. Besides, Sienna Guillory looks pretty hot in the game-inspired outfit, doesn't she? I also just stumbled onto a site that points out that the German version is extended, making the constant action sequences not so seamless, and breaks up the mayhem with a bit more 'small talk' and story, but not much. You can find it all right here. I'd also like to point out that I liked the original teaser for Apocalypse much more than the actual trailer that came later. You can find it just below.

Best quote: Major Cain- "Wait! Killing me won't make things right." Alice- "No, but it's a start!"

Film Review: Resident Evil (2002)

Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, and starring Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, and Martin Crewes.

"Something rotten is brewing beneath the industrial mecca known as Raccoon City. Unknown to its millions of residents, a huge underground bioengineering facility known as The Hive has accidentally unleashed the deadly and mutating T-virus, killing all of its employees. To contain the leak, the governing supercomputer, Red Queen, has sealed all entrances and exits. Now a team of highly-trained super commandos including Rain, Alice and Matt must race to penetrate The Hive in order to isolate the T-virus before it overwhelms humanity. To do so, they must get past the Red Queen's deadly defenses, face the flesh-eating undead employees, fight killer mutant dogs and battle The Licker, a genetically mutated savage beast whose strength increases with each of its slain victims."

Based off of the long-running Capcom survival horror video game series of the same name (originally called Biohazard in Japan), Resident Evil is rooted in deep potential. Even the new material written for the movie added more depth and more viable possibilities, almost none of which are realized or come to full fruition, which is ultimately unfortunate. The script borrows elements from both the original game and its sequel, but instead of following characters such as Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, and Claire Redfield, the film centers around an amnesiac woman named Alice, her also amnesiac husband Spence, a man named Matt, and a team of Umbrella Corp. commandos. In fact, there are very few similarities between the movie and the two games, some of those similarities being Umbrella, the mansion, and that the T-virus revives the dead. If the movie had achieved its potential with the new material in its script, then this could have easily been forgiven.
While writer and director Anderson's series is an action extravaganza at its heart, Resident Evil was always meant to have its shrieks and scares. Unfortunately, the first in the series is the only one to retain this idea. The atmosphere, the make-up, and the slow build-ups to the frightening scenes are all quite well done. Actually, without those elements, I never would have appreciated this film as much as I do. There's also no doubt that the musical score, fittingly written by Marilyn Manson, enhanced the movie throughout. Hell, even one of George Romero's Land of the Dead trailers featured the track "Seizure of Power", which I find especially interesting, considering Romero wrote the initial script for this movie and was eventually rejected (or he dropped out for one reason or another). Either way, I've always wondered what his version would have been like, but I figured he ended up throwing many of those story elements into his later Land of the Dead.

The movie is by no means perfect though. For almost every pro to the movie, there's an equal or greater con. Sure, the zombie Dobermans, a nod from the original game, are very cool, but then again, the dialog is uninspired, stale, and not humorous when it was clearly meant to be. For once, I actually agree with Roger Ebert, when he says the film's "characters have no small talk. Their dialog consists of commands, explanations, [and] exclamations." But I still found that this movie succeeded on many other levels. The action is amazing, as all Anderson films tend to feature (the poor man's Michael Bay, as I like to call him), the horror is above par, and the homages and incorporation of other stories and films, especially the obvious Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, all helped to raise the bar in video game-adapted movies. "Connections to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: - Main character's name is Alice. - Computer is named 'Red Queen'. - 'The Red Queen' needs to kill someone who is infected, so she tries to get someone else to chop off their head. (Off with her head!) - Alice in Wonderland paperweight. - A white rabbit was use to test the T-virus. - To enter the hive they go through a mirrored door (through the looking glass). - The Red Queen also succeeds in cutting off 'her' head - the medic in the laser hallway. - Kaplan worries about time, as the White Rabbit does. (Mentioned in commentary) - Matt is sitting on the ledge when Rain and JD hear the first zombie. This is mentioned in the commentary as a reference to the Caterpillar." There's also a direct nod to Romero's Day of the Dead on a newspaper headline reading: "The Dead Walk!" Even if he was no longer attached to the film, at least they paid their respects.
In the end, I find the original film in the series to be the best, easily. The action isn't over-the-top like the other two, there's still horror in a horror movie, it's the most resemblant of the games its based off of, and Alice is more fragile and more vulnerable, which doesn't make her seem like some kind of zombie-slaying immortal. Isn't it more fun to root for John McClane than Neo? At least, that's how I feel. I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but I still remember watching this opening weekend with my brother and getting very pumped when seeing the panning back shot at the end. If you're a fan of the games, you have to admit that that scene got you at least a little excited. Two little interesting tidbits about the movie are simply to words that are never said throughout its entirety: zombie(s) and Alice. The zombies are never called zombies, just like old Romero movies, and Alice is never referred to by any name at all until the credits and/or sequels.

Best quote: "Bitch wouldn't open the door, so I had to fry her."

Weekly Video: Guy's Guide to Zombies

Part of the Portable Film Festival in 2007.


The Undead News Thread (20090812.02)


By now you've all heard about the upcoming flick Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson. Well, hot off the trail of the recently released red band trailer comes five little viral videos in which characters Columbus and Tallahassee give you their rules for surviving in a zombie-infested world. Check them out. The first released, #15, looks to have been released the same day as the red band trailer, and there are supposedly 47 in all. But I doubt we end up seeing that many before the film's release. "In the horror comedy Zombieland focuses on two men who have found a way to survive a world overrun by zombies. Columbus is a big wuss -- but when you're afraid of being eaten by zombies, fear can keep you alive. Tallahassee is an AK-toting, zombie-slaying' bad ass whose single determination is to get the last Twinkie on earth. As they join forces with Wichita and Little Rock, who have also found unique ways to survive the zombie mayhem, they will have to determine which is worse: relying on each other or succumbing to the zombies." Zombieland also stars Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin, and will be unleashed October 9th.

Rule #6 - Skillet

Rule #12 - Bounty Paper Towels

Rule #15 - Bowling Ball

Rule #29 - Buddy System

Rule #33 - Swiss Army