January 25, 2009

A zombie film guide, part 1 (of 4).


I just had a massive zombie movie marathon weekend, watching about seven or eight that I hadn't seen before. So I was inspired to make a list. Here is part one of four of every zombie movie I've ever seen, with a small review and trailer for each. Each list will have 10 movies. I’ve got three more to watch before I finish part 4, which will put the total around 38 zombie movies. If you want to prepare for the coming zombie apocalypse, you'll need these as reference to continue your existence. You have everything here: slow zombies, fast zombies, virus-infected zombies, military experiment zombies, alien zombies, alien-created zombies, zombie pets, and even zombie sheep. These are in no particular order of preference. So, get your shotgun and machete, and get your fifth of whiskey, kick back, read some reviews, and prepare for the era of the undead:

Versus (2000)

The story isn't important. Trust me. As simple as it is, it's still confusing. But the basics are: an eternal prisoner escapes into a forest, that somehow resurrects the dead yakuza buried there, and his eternal evil twin has an eternal woman hostage, whom the prisoner loved in a former life, and they must battle. Yeah. But that was all just an excuse so that the filmmakers could make one of the most badass martial arts movies with no budget, and that's what it is. Most of these actors aren't actors. They're martial artists. You'll see shit that you couldn't do if you trained everyday for the next twenty years. And that's all this is meant to be: eye candy. It's all a fun ride, and easily the best low budget movie I own. One downside is that the zombies still use guns and knives, though they never technically call them zombies or explain why they are back from the dead (ie. evil spirits).

Best line: "You can't hit me! I have five hundred times faster reflexes than Mike Tyson!"

28 Days Later (2002)

This takes place in London, twenty-eight days after the initial out break occurs. Don't listen to Romero zombie elitists. Their argument is that a fast zombie isn't a zombie, and a zombie can't be "infected". It has to be undead. The problem is that Romero didn't create zombies, which they seem to believe. This is, in fact, arguably the best zombie movie to date. It's the most realistic, in the sense that it presents the idea that it could be a viral infection, and the characters are actually developed for a change, giving them intelligence enough to make logical decisions. You also can't ignore the fact that fifty infected people charging at you at top running speed isn't scary as hell. The suspense-filled last half an hour has yet to be topped in any zombie movie. This movie will prepare you for the coming zombie apocalypse better than almost any other.

Best line: "No, no. No, see this is a really shit idea. You know why? Because it's really obviously a shit idea."

28 Weeks Later (2007)

The follow-up to the amazing 28 Days Later takes place six months later. The U.S. Army steps in to help facilitate repopulating London, but, of course, it goes wrong. While this is slightly more of an action movie, the great suspense and horror established in the first movie still remains. Acting is still top notch, the story and dialog is still better than 95% of most horror, and you just can't go wrong with Rose Byrne. You can tell the production value is better than Days, and it pays off. You lose a little less of the characterization, but not much. It's barely a step down from its predecessor, and still well worth checking out. I look forward to the next one, if they still plan on making it.

Best line: "I don't see him, where is Fester Fuck nut?" "There, look, bald guy with his dick in hands on the 20th floor."

Automaton Transfusion (2006)

It's the usual. The military conducted experiments in a small town during Vietnam, to create soldiers that never tire or weaken. Then they got loose. Some teenagers band together and try to fight the undead. It was filmed in nine days and on around $10,000. And it shows. It's terrible. There are so many inconsistencies, such as zombies with super strength, and then some that can't knock down a door. As bad as the movie is, it was made by people who were probably film students and never took it too seriously. Which means goods things came about. I enjoyed the fact that they put almost every zombie movie cliché all into one movie: a group of four people - three guys and one girl, baseball bats, chainsaws, shotguns, parents turning and then attacking their kids, military experiments, hold up in a bar, hold up in a barn, hold up in a house in the woods, girls falling, jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, and a token black guy. The greatest scene? A zombie punches through a pregnant girls stomach, pulls out the fetus, then eats it.

Best line: "To be continued..."

Black Sheep (2006)

A man tries to genetically engineer his sheep in New Zealand. It goes wrong. That's about it on the story. But this is meant to be a horror/comedy, so you can't ask for much. Actually, I was looking forward to this movie for some time, thinking it might be on par with the likes of Shaun of the Dead or Undead. Unfortunately it wasn't. It could have been so much better. It still had its humorous scenes, but I think they tried too hard in some parts, and missed great opportunities in others. It's still worth the rental, but don't expect a great comedy.

Best line: "I thought you of all people would appreciate efforts to deconstruct the colonialist paternalistic agrarian hierarchy that disenfranchises the Tangata Whenua and erodes the natural resources of Aotearoa."

Aunt Rose (2005)

Three criminals hold up in a family's house, who they hold hostage, and kill a few. But they overlook one, sickly Aunt Rose, upstairs. After they off a few of the family, Rose "revives" them to wreck havoc on the criminals. This movie is abysmal. It's terrible. The acting is atrocious, borderline sinning. And the movie as a whole is so incredibly boring that your own suicide seems a bit adventurous. The only redeeming feature of all this? B-movie scream queen Raine Brown's pretty face graces this piece of shit...until she dies halfway through and becomes a zombie. Fortunately, this movie doesn't ever try to take itself seriously at all, so laughing at it is necessary to finish it, before you finish yourself.

Best line: None.

House of the Dead (2003)

Some teenagers go to an island for a rave party, and find zombies instead. This is the single worst film I can recall watching. I know people toss that around a lot, but I mean it when I say it. I've seen a movie where Santa Clause battles Martians, I've seen a movie were two giant snakes fight each other, and I've seen a movie where the devil tried to stop Christmas, and none of them were as bad as Uwe Boll fucking up an already shitty video game. The man has tainted everything he's ever touched, but his first is still his worst. This movie is so bad that it's offensive. This man needs assassinated, just for the sake of credibility to man. Worst of all, he firmly believes his works are art. It would be like Ed Gein saying he was just trying to do some good in the world. The dialog is the best part though. I really can't even tell if it was written intentionally bad or not, as seen below:

Best line: "You did all this to become immortal. Why?" "To live forever!"

Dead & Breakfast (2004)

A group of friends, on their way to a wedding, get lost and stay at an inn. The innkeeper has a special box that can resurrect the dead, using an evil spirit. It can't really decide if it wants to be a zombie flick or a slasher flick or a comedy. Sometimes it's not any of those three, and it's just boring. Definitely the highlights are the interspersed scenes of the band Zacharia and the Lobos Riders, a creation of lead singer Zach Selwyn, occasional anchor on G4's Attack of the Show. It's folk/rock with witty lyrics, and they easily steal the show. Actually, his band is playing in a barn, and they even become zombies themselves. The movie itself has its humor, and the gore and action is actually well done, even feature my favorite horror cliché (started by Carrie and perfected with The Descent) of an enraged blond chick somehow being covered in a massive amount of blood and kicking ass.

Best line: "Had I known it was going to feel this good to bash your brains in, I would have done it a long time ago."

Undead (2003)

A fishing village in Australia is overrun by zombies, and an ex-fisherman who encountered a zombie fish a few years ago has stocked up and trained for the coming zombie invasion. This is a horror/comedy and one of the few that got it right. It's more action than Shaun of the Dead, but still funny as hell. You've got a lot of the mainstream zombie staples, like shotguns (triple barrel, actually), decapitations, panic room in the basement of someone who knew it was coming, and slow moving zombies. But this time around, you've got aliens and a halfway decent subplot. The dialog is subtle and witty and the ending is actually good (rare in a horror movie). It's definitely underrated and practically unknown, but well worth your money. Buy it.

Best line: "I'll fuckin' finish you off faster than a fuckin' birthday cake at a fat chick's fuckin' birthday party!"

Planet Terror (2007)

A biological gas is accidentally released turning a bunch of people into zombies. A group of people band together and try to stop them. This was half of the Grindhouse duo of movies released, this being Robert Rodriguez's answer to the 70's exploitation era, and was just as fun as I thought it would be. The special effects are top notch, the dialog is cheesy, and the characters are great. It's so over-the-top that it's a blast. Seriously. There's a lot of cameos, including Bruce Willis, since Rodriguez has a hell of a lot of friends. It's too bad that Grindhouse didn't do better at the box office, but that doesn't take away from the movie at all. It's a popcorn flick perfected, and that's all it was ever meant to be. It's probably the most fun I've had watching a movie in years. It's not brain fodder, so don't expect it to be.

Best line: "Tony, if anyone comes up to the car, I want you to shoot them. Just like in your video games: shoot them in the head." "What if it's dad?" "Especially if it's your dad."

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