Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column.
Man o man, I love me some zombie films. There’s something about a good zombie film that gets my blood flowin’. With new zombie flicks popping up daily, I’m sure this won’t be the last time I shift the focus to the walking dead.
But first, here are a few bits you might be interested in chewing on…
Last week, I took a look at the excellent THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME (see the review here). The folks behind the film sent me this exclusive clip from the film to share with you all. The film is available on DVD & BluRay July 5th and is definitely one of the cooler, more intelligent versions of Mary Shelley’s classic I’ve seen in quite a while. You can find out more about THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME on their website here and queue it up on Netflix here! Enjoy the clip!
One of the first films I ever reviewed here on AICN HORROR was ABSENTIA from director Mike Flanagan. The film is a moody and original fright fest that deserves to be seen, and now it looks like it will be as it will be released on July 1st on Video On Demand. Check out my review of the film here and then seek it out to watch for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
Now let’s take a look at some zombie films worth shambling about!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
BLOODLUST ZOMBIES (2011)
RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD (2010)
QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL (2011)
THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE (1974)
And finally…The Limousines’ INTERNET KILLED THE RADIO STAR
Available on DVD / BluRay on July 5th!
BLOODLUST ZOMBIES (2011)Directed by Dan Lantz
Written by Dan Lantz
Starring Alexis Texas, Janice Marie, Adam Danoff, & Robert Heath
Find out more about the film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I wish Alexis Texas well as she leaves her porn career behind her and makes an attempt at legitimate films. Maybe she’ll have a big career in the biz someday. Unfortunately, BLOODLUST ZOMBIES isn’t the film that’s going to do that for her. I hate to rip on such a low budgeter, but I didn’t have much of a good time while watching this one. BLOODLUST ZOMBIES tries too hard to be like just about every other zombie film we’ve all seen a million times without bringing anything new to the table or even doing stuff we’ve seen in an interesting manner.
I don’t want to spend too much time or too many words ripping into this film. It’s just not fair. Though the script had a few clever moments (there’s a fun interaction between two survivors who don’t trust each other and communicate to each other from across the room), for the most part, the humor falls flat. Texas is gorgeous, but is given very little to do other than run from zombies until she gets sick of it and fights back. Even her sex scene with her boss is pretty lame.
I’m not against films adhering to genre convention. Sometimes it works (check out RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD below for a perfect example). But aside from a few chuckles and a half chub from watching Alexis Texas bouncing about, BLOODLUST ZOMBIES is pretty lifeless.
EATERS (2010)Directed by Luca Boni & Marco Ristori
Written by Marco Ristori & Germano Tarricone
Starring: Alex Lucchesi, Rosella Elmi, Gugielmo Favilla, Elisa Faretti, Ricardo Floris, Fabiano Lioi, Claudio Marmugi
Find out more about EATERS here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Reminiscent of machismo oozing zombie flicks like the original DAY OF THE DEAD and the recent LA HORDE, EATERS is a man’s man’s kind of zombie film. The film begins with a series of quick newscasts depicting a world going to shit. Governments fall. People riot in the streets. A chemical weapon is released with terrorist groups lining up to take credit. The Pope blows his brains out so he won’t come back as a zombie. It’s madness and depicted in a frantic and furious pace. Then the story really begins, following a pair of mercenaries, Igor and Allen, who work with a Doc Frankenstein type named Dr. Gyno, as they forage across the countryside in search of the man who is taking credit for all of the zombies (who calls himself the Plague Spreader) and maybe for some of the last women on earth, if they’re lucky. On their way, they run into neo Nazis, a decimated countryside, a midget version of Hitler, and zombies, zombies, zombies.
The thing I like most about EATERS is that it’s not another outbreak movie. The zombie apocalypse is over and done with by the time this film starts. I can understand why folks roll their eyes at zombie films these days, because, for the most part, they’re all about the initial outbreak. They aren’t about what happens next. It’s all about patient zero and the initial spread of the plague. EATERS has seen all of those movies and decides to pick up right after all of those films end, which right off the bat gives it a leg up on most zombie films for ingenuity. Instead of stomping on civilization’s sandcastle for the umpteenth time in cinematic history, EATERS focuses on rebuilding said structure.
Though not a perfect film (the acting is hit and miss and the effects are somewhat unconvincing in parts), there’s a lot of fun to be had with EATERS. The two main characters Igor (Alex Lucchesi) and Allen (Guglielmo Favilla) are gruff and tough, providing an action buddy cop movie feel to the whole thing. If zombie films are to stick around with the frequency they’ve been released in recent years, they have to move past showing us the initial outbreak. Though the market is saturated with zombie films, EATERS is one that stands out for using a different take on the genre.
Available on DVD & VOD June 28th / Part of Bloody Disgusting Selects!
RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD (2010)Directed by Marvin Kren
Written by Benjamin Hessler
Starring: Sebastian Achilles, Ingrid Beerbaum, Carsten Berendt, Melanie Berke
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Wow, I loved this fantastic little zombie film. Everything about this film is spot on. Though it doesn’t blaze any new trails in zombie lore, RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD doesn’t need to. It tells a standard zombie tale in a vivid, genuine, and harrowing manner. Poor schlub Michael makes his way to Berlin to give his ex-girlfriend back her keys and maybe grovel a bit for her to come back to him. But upon arriving to her apartment, wouldn’t you know it? A zombie apocalypse occurs.
I love it that there’s no explanation for the zombie plague. It just happens. And it happens quickly. By the six minute mark, we’ve got zombies. None of this slow build crap. Michael shows up. The ex isn’t home. The zombies attack.
Important to the narrative and in distinguishing this film from the rest of the zombie flicks out there is the locale. The whole thing takes place in an apartment complex with a courtyard in between the apartments. So while the zombies swarm below, the residents of the apartments are communicating with one another and trying to get into each others’ rooms for safety. It’s almost like watching multiple zombie films simultaneously in that each room has some kind of drama going on. One man is trapped alone and trying to deal with solitude. Michael is trapped with a young repairman in his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. A man below them has an infected wife that he keeps feeding sedatives to slow the infection. Another grieves for the loss of his girlfriend in the initial attack. Another apartment has been overrun by zombies. Another houses a drug addicted elderly woman. The set-up of the apartment makes for a highly original multi-screen effect zombie film--one like I’ve never seen before.
Aside from the apartment locale, RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD isn’t anything different than most other zombie films you’ve seen other than the fact that every thing is of top notch caliber. It’s a zombie film that does everything right and never makes a misstep. It’s tension filled, well written and acted, and most of all, not a minute is wasted or uninteresting. Though this film runs just under one hour, it fills every second with all the zombie awesomeness you’ll ever need. I highly recommend RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD. It’s one of the best zombie films of the year.
Available on VOD now/in theaters in limited release!
QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL (2011)Directed by John Pogue
Written by John Pogue, John Eric Dowdle, Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza, Luiso Berdejo
Starring: George Back, Andrew Benator, Jason Benjamin, Bre Blair, Lynn Cole
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I wasn’t one of those who hated QUARANTINE. Sure, Dexter’s twitchy sister wasn’t as plucky and likable as REC’s Manuela Velasco, but for the most part, I don’t know why there was such an uproar about the remake and such a dislike for it other than the remake was pretty damn pointless, serving only those who refuse to watch “films they gotta read”. Now, having seen REC and REC2, I definitely prefer those films to their American counterparts since the two original films fit together so seamlessly and the story of the first is expanded in such an ingenious way in the sequel. Arguably, REC2 is one of the few films which successfully improves upon the original (but that is a discussion for another day).
I wish that were the same for QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL.
QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL is just what you’d expect from a direct to VOD sequel of a remake. It’s got lesser known actors, the effects are less effective, and the plot is severely lacking in both originality and depth. Most of the charm of the first is either carbon copied or missed altogether. Whereas REC2 picked up immediately after REC ended, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL is a completely different story. For the most part, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL is QUARANTINE in an airport. Any story advancement that occurred between REC to REC2 doesn’t happen in this sequel. Instead of building upon the first, QUARANTINE 2 starts over again. In other words, it’s redundant.
Though the contrivance of the first person POV shot film is somewhat overused these days, it is an integral part of the REC series and was used in QUARANTINE as well. In the sequel, though, the first person POV is dropped and shot in a more conventional manner. Because of this, QUARANTINE 2 plays more like a sequel to 28 DAYS LATER than the original film. It’s just another infection film where a bunch of people are trapped in one location with blood spewing zombies are running about.
Lack of POV camera and redundancy aside, QUARANTINE 2 is not unwatchable. The film tries to play a game of “who’s got the plague” at the beginning as passengers enter the plane; some sniffling, some sneezing, some suffering from ailments like strokes and some are just drunk. Like SNAKES ON A PLANE, every plane passenger cliché is used, but this is a fun sequence. Though the secret twist is pretty evident from the beginning, the film gives it the old college try to keep us guessing who brought the plague on board, how they did it, and why. Though the acceptance of the existence of a plague and the logic that it is spread through bites and contact with fluids seems a bit rushed, once the infected start swarming, it gets kind of fun watching these annoying passengers getting picked off one by one. The effects are somewhat shoddy and a lot of the crisp, funhouse thrills and chills from RECs and QUARANTINE seem to move at a much more lumbering speed here. The final sequence is also somewhat effective as a pair of survivors try to make their way to freedom in a cramped tunnel with only night vision goggles to guide them. Only when the film falls back on its roots and shows us a first person POV in this scene do the scares feel a bit more genuine.
REC2 pretty much distanced itself from QUARANTINE by introducing religious elements that are never touched upon in the American version, so though I’ve compared the two film series throughout this review, one can look at these two series as completely separate entities. I didn’t expect another carbon copy Americanized version of REC2, but I was hoping for more than a rehash of QUARANTINE set in a different locale. Though vastly inferior to the REC series and the original QUARANTINE, QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL has a few frightful moments and reminded me just enough of REC to satiate my hunger until REC: APOCALIPSIS and REC: GENESIS are released later this year.
ZEEK OF THE WEEK!
THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE (1974)Directed by Jorge Grau
Written by Sandro Continenza, Marcella Coscia, Juan Cobos, Miguel Rubio
Starring: Cristina Galbo, Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy, Aldo Massasso, Giorgio Trestini, Roberto Posse
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
While we’re on the subject of zombies, I might as well recommend one of my all time favorites: THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE. I’ve seen this film quite a few times over the years and love it more every time I see it. Filled with moody music and scenes and cast with dark and complex characters, THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE is one of those obscure gems that no zombie fan should go without seeing.
Ray Lovelock (that can’t be his real name, can it?) plays George, a hip and brash beatnik museum curator transporting a rare sculpture across the English countryside on his motorcycle. While stopping for gas, George’s bike is hit by Edna’s car in a gas station. George rather brashly encourages Edna to give him a lift while his bike is getting fixed and the two become uneasy travelling buddies, both needing to get to their destinations in a hurry. But wouldn’t you know it, the Department of Agriculture is testing a new pesticide which not only kills bugs dead, but it raises dead humans as well. Though it’s not in his destination, George is convinced to go with Edna to visit her sister before heading to his client. Both find themselves in the middle of a police investigation as Edna’s sister is suspected of murdering her husband, though he was actually killed by a zombie. Convoluted? Sure, but this movie is too much fun to care.
Director Jorge Grau paces the film perfectly as the traveling couple slowly realize what’s going on before the authorities do. Grau smartly directs a script worked on by multiple folks, all of whom probably have seen their fair share of fright flicks. There are scenes that remind me of both GATES OF HELL and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The first time we see a zombie is straight out of the opening cemetery scene in NOTLD. But this is more than just a knock-off. Grau overlaps shots of jolly old England with factory smoke stacks, heaps of garbage, and smoking manhole covers in the beginning to ring the point home that this is a film trying to give an environmental statement. It’s made clear that the giant machine used by the government is the cause of all of this zombie-ness. Grau not only peppers in a message, but is able to handle the rather complex plot without losing focus. He also pulls off some truly frightening scenes of zombie attacks (the initial attack scene by a river is really well done, as is the final zombie massacre at the morgue and a middle section where our couple is trapped in a mausoleum). Grau lingers on the guts too in order to display some gruesome moments of feasting and shredding of victims’ bodies.
THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE is one of those classic fright films that some may scoff at from the name or the somewhat hokey cover art, but once seen, you’re sure to be a fan. From the police investigator who is too busy being grumpy at the “long haired kids with faggoty clothes” to notice that there’s a zombie apocalypse going on to the wide-eyed heroin shooting sister who is tormented by her photographer husband to the lead zombie, a dripping wet vagrant who drowned just before our couple arrive and looks a bit like an unkempt and water-logged Adrian Brody, THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE is filled with fun characters you normally don’t see in your run of the mill zombie film. The effects are gory as hell. The music is funky. And there are scenes of zombie mayhem that you’ll never forget. Seek out THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE. Though other films were more influential, it’s a zombie movie that gets a whole lot right.
And finally…how ‘bout some more zombies? Thanks to Matt for bringing this one to my attention. It’s got one hell of a macabre ending. Here’s The Limousines with INTERNET KILLED THE RADIO STAR! Enjoy!
See ya next week, folks!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!
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